Category Archives: Hope

…still in the family

Five years ago today, we met our firstborn.

It feels like a thousand years ago, and yesterday, all at once.

This past weekend, we celebrated Hudson’s beautiful but short life with close family. I want for Hudson’s brother and sister to always associate July 11 with celebration instead of grief, so every year, I make Hudson an elaborately decorated birthday cake and share it with those who shared those three awful/wonderful days with us in Spokane.

We have very large pictures of Hudson on the walls of our home, and have never been shy about talking about Anson’s big sister. Now three years old, Anson is beginning to have some small concept of mortality. While decorating Hudson’s birthday cake this year, Anson asked who the birthday cake was for. I told him it was for his sister.

“Baby sister?”
“No, this cake is for your big sister, Hudson.”
“When is she coming over?”
“Oh honey, Hudson isn’t going to be coming over.”
“‘Cuz why?”

Ugh. I quickly contemplated the various forms of response that I could serve up to my 3-year-old to explain where Hudson is and why she can’t come to her own birthday party. She’s in heaven crossed my mind as perhaps the rosiest of responses, but instead I just shot him straight.

“Because, Anson. Hudson died.”

No sugar-coating or fairytale-ing it.

Anson looked at me for a moment as if he knew this meant something important, then returned to decorating the frosting patch I had given him to distract from decorating the real cake.

During story time before his nap, Anson looked up at me and said “I’m so disappointed that Hudson died.”

Me too, buddy.

At bedtime, it felt important to include Hudson in our night-night tradition of “With — in the family, happy happy home”. A heavy-lidded, PJed Anson interrupted me mid-verse:

“Hudson’s not here anymore, but she’s still in the family.”

Well put, my wise little man. While Hudson’s not here anymore, she is still our first-born, the first to make the Hubs and I parents, a true heartbreaker who didn’t get much time with us, but somehow still managed to change the world.

My sister-in-law has a grandmother who is turning 101 while we celebrate what would have been Hudson’s 5th birthday. Think of what Hudson could have accomplished with 101 years. She moved mountains in just 3 days.

And while she’s not here to blow out the candles on her rainbow layered birthday cake, to rule the house and boss her little brother and sister around, to sass and dance and skin her knees and sneak a lick of frosting from the bowl, she’s still in the family. I see her in the beautiful blue eyes of her siblings. I hear her in their belly laughs. She’s the extra squeeze in our goodnight hugs.

She’s in those moments when we stop doing what we think is important and focus on what is truly important.

Happy birthday, girlie.

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Prayers for my son

All the parenting books say you need to get your kids into a bedtime routine.

So, we do a few things every night before we put Anson down in his crib.

Bath Time is most certainly Anson’s favorite.
Story Time is next: sometimes just one book and sometimes a few, but ALWAYS “Sleep Tight, Sleepy Bears.”

Then songs: sometimes just one song and sometimes a few, but ALWAYS “With Anson in the Family, Happy Happy Home”

And always, before I put Anson down in his crib for the night, I say a prayer for him.

We all have dreams for our children. We know we want the best for them, and we want them to be the best they can be. That’s the big picture. But there are these little prayers:

“Tonight, my prayer for you is that you have good friends in life, the kind who look out for you.”
“Tonight, my prayer for you is that you always see the good in others, even when it isn’t easy.”
“Tonight, my prayer for you is that you like getting a little exercise.”
“Tonight, my prayer for you is that you learn to push yourself.”
“Tonight, my prayer for you is that you aren’t afraid of things you haven’t tried.”

And on and on.

Usually they just pop into my head as I’m putting him down, but there are some that are a little more profound.

Like how I want our son to know about his sister, and how I want her to be a part of his life, without him feeling like he has anything to live up to.

We have two very big pictures of Hudson hanging on the wall of our staircase. Anson is often fixated by his sister’s face as we walk up and down the stairs. I like to think he knows that face is important.

Next to the big recliner in our living room (where I have often nursed Anson since he was brand new), there is a picture of the skyline taken from Hudson’s Hole at Vet’s golf course. It was given to us by Grandma and Grandpa Dub on Hudson’s 1st birthday. Ever since Anson was a tiny baby, he locks in on that picture, cranes his neck to get it just right in his view. I like to think he knows that place is important.

I wear a necklace every day with Hudson’s name and birthstone. Sometimes when I’m holding Anson, he’ll get a look of intense concentration and grab at the little round part with her name on it. I like to think he knows that name is important.

While the pain of losing Hudson is pushed to a small corner of my heart to make room for all this crazy elated joy over watching her baby brother grow, I do still feel that pain. I’m glad that as a mother, I can see my son and share the experience of raising him with my husband and not be overwhelmed with the “What We’ve Missed”. And I guess that’s just one more prayer for my son:

“Tonight, my prayer for you is that you focus on all that you have in this life, instead of on the things you don’t.”

Because even though his big sister isn’t here for him to grow up with, she is a part of his life every day.

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Sky full of stars

Hearts break every day, but there’s something about the loss of a child that does something different… not better, not worse, just a deeper impact on the heart. There is this new connection I feel to other mothers and especially to other mothers who have lost a child. And every time I hear about babyloss, my heart feels that deeper-than-a-break stab, my throat tightens, I hurt from missing Hudson.

A few months ago, an acquaintance of mine lost her toddler in a freak accident. She has an older son who now sees his baby brother in the stars.

And of course there’s this Coldplay song.

Catchy hook, easy to remember lyrics, the perfect song to belt in my car with the windows down in the summer sun. And I can’t hear that damn thing without thinking of my friend’s baby boy, his big brother looking out the window at the nightsky and exclaiming that he can see his baby brother.

And I belt it anyway.

And I send a little love across the universe to my friend, and her family.

You know when you’re singing and you start to cry?

When I belt out “I think I see you-ooooooooooo” I think of Hudson’s beautiful little face too. I think of her as a star in the nightsky: maybe a little wistful that she didn’t get to spend this life with us, but surrounded by such beauty, contributing to the awesome sky-scape with her own unique light, eager for the day Anson looks out the window and shouts to Mommy and Daddy that he can see his big sister in the stars.

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It’s the 2-year anniversary of the worst day of my life

On Hudson’s birthday, we celebrate. Today, I do my best to ignore the date, not to think about the early hours of July 14, 2012. The day my heart broke. My record-setting tears day. The day we went home without our baby.

There were several other Worst-Days that followed, but July 14 was the day that our daughter’s heart stopped beating. We’ve spent every day since missing Hudson, wishing that there were some time machine that could take us back to the early hours of July 11 and change everything.

Hudson changed everything for us, and in so many good ways that I chose to focus on instead of the few wrecked ways that I never could control.

So on the 2-year anniversary of the worst day of my life, I’m going to stay busy. I’m going to enjoy my son, my precious Day-Maker who changed everything AGAIN when he arrived on the scene. I’m going to appreciate my wonderful family and my amazing husband.

And I’m going to ignore the date.

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2

This has been a full, beautiful day.

The day our daughter would have been two years old.

There is a completely different life I could be living today.

I COULD be living life with One Red-Headed Beauty named Hudson. I could have experienced a world of firsts: steps, words, poops on the potty. I COULD be wrangling two children to bed instead of one.

But I don’t get that life.

So I COULD be someone who has spent the last two years focusing on the ways I was robbed. I COULD spend today hiding from the world that is, wishing for a world that can never be, crying and missing an entire, irreplaceable piece of me.

Sometimes I give myself permission to go there.

Today though, I am someone who is absolutely blessed. I could never have survived the last two years without the Man Who We Call the Hubs: his steadfast nature, his unwavering love of our girl and of me, his strength and his character have carried me through when I haven’t had it in me to be Better Me. Hudson’s Grandparents set excellent examples of both parenthood and marriage. My sister? there are no words. My brother and his sweet family? sweet, thoughtful, and present! My in-laws? How did I get this lucky?

And then there’s Anson. This year we have Anson. A year ago we faced Hudson’s first birthday knowing the Bullet was on his way, and today we experienced Hudson’s birthday with her 5-month old little brother.

Anson loved it.

Uninterrupted Mommy & Daddy time? Awesome! Grandma and Grandpa Shiz drove up for the day? Jackpot! Face time (and sing-along time) with GreatGrandmaR? Hi-ho, hi-ho, hi-ho! Plenty of Non-Mom&Dad People to drool/poop/love on? Anson spent the day in hog heaven.

We took a quick trip in our new “weekend rig” to Vets Memorial Golf Course to get a few pictures with Anson at Hudson’s Hole.

Anson+Hudson

On the walk back to the Blazer, a little white butterfly flitted across out path and I thought of sweet Hudson and smiled.

We hosted a small birthday celebration with our close family this evening. To decorate a bit, we printed up a bunch of pictures from Hudson’s short life and hung them from balloons all through our entry and hallway. Nowadays I don’t spend a lot of time looking at my pictures from Hudson’s life. Seeing these beautiful floating images of our daughter was like seeing them for the first time. They made me catch my breath every once in a while – the memories they brought back, the love they inspired, the way this little girl changed my life.

Last year we spent Hudson’s birthday in a trailer park in Yakima, so I thought “Heck anything is better and classier than that.” But I did go big in the cake department. More money and butter than I care to admit later, we had this masterpiece.

Hudson's 2nd birthday cake

And what’s a birthday celebration without a take-home gift? One of my goals this year was to publish the Meet Baby Dub book. Today I accomplished that goal, and presented my family with their own autographed proofs.

My Aunt and Uncle swung by the house later in the evening, and spent a little time visiting with us, holding Anson, being a part of our day without making it a big thing. But as I walked them to the door, my Aunt turned to me and gave me a big, extra-meaning hug.

“We love you,” she said. “And we love Hudson. She accomplished more in her 3 days than many people do in their entire lives. We’re all bonded in our love for her.”

Those words are the words I’m smiling myself to sleep over as our daughter’s second birthday draws to a close.

We’re all bonded in our love for her.

 

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The Day I went into Labor

Two years ago today, I went in to labor with Hudson Ruth.

Two years ago today, I kicked the day off with one too many bran muffins, played 9 holes of golf and went out to lunch with the Hubs, went to my scheduled doctor’s appointment, had my membranes stripped, and 2 hours later ate a Subway sandwich and took a shower before heading to the hospital to meet our daughter.

Baby Dub.

And of course, last night my dreams were all about labor.

Let me tell you right now that I don’t have any desire to go through that again.

There is no part of me that feels like less of a woman because my future children will be delivered by C-Section.

Before we had Hudson, somebody told me that the throes of labor were similar to a runner’s high. I am here to tell you that I did not get that, not even one little bit.

Back to my dreams. I’m miraculously something like 37 weeks pregnant with a little sibling for Anson and we haven’t found out what gender we are having. For some reason the delivery room is also somebody’s very nice outdoor patio. There are 6 other women in labor in the same room (er, on the same patio?), and Dr. M informs me that I am “Complete” but I have only felt one contraction and it was like, 2 hours ago, so I’m not exactly sure what we are doing here. “Is this baby just going to fall out of me?” I ask. Evidently that’s not how it works. In my dream, Dr. M is so happy for us, and there are other women pushing babies out all around me, and I’m supposed to have a C-Section, I know, but I’m just standing around, dilated to 10 centimeters and excited for this boy or girl to “just fall out of me.”

Dreams are weird, man.

I had a fleeting thought as I was getting ready for bed last night – tomorrow is the 2 year anniversary of going into labor with Hudson. Two years ago we weren’t These People Who Have Experienced Awful Loss. Two years ago we were innocent.

Two years ago I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to have a baby. And unfortunately, the taste of motherhood I got in the days that followed was far from the expected, far from the experience we deserved.

And here we are two years later and I’m writing this while my 5 month old plays on his piano key play mat. I take a break from typing to help him get his foot untangled from the little jungle birdie, and he looks up at me and smiles his delicious grin, and even though two years ago we kicked off the hardest days of our lives, I feel happy, blessed, in this moment.

I love my two gorgeous children more than I can ever express with the written word. It’s a warmth in my chest, a lump in the back of my throat, that burning sensation in your eyes, a smile you can’t seem to wipe off.

Life went crazy two years ago. There have been some dark days in the past two years. I am far from the person I planned on being. But today, life is the most beautiful it has ever been.

And forever, there is only ONE THING I would want to change about This Life. I wish, forever, that we got to live This Life with Hudson.

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4th of July

If there’s one day of the year when I should write, it’s today.

This is the day we looked forward to with so much anticipation back in 2012: Hudson’s Due Date.

On this day, two years ago, I watched fireworks and cried as I realized that I would not be getting my 4th of July baby. Our little firework showed up a week later and filled three days with so much.

The arrival of Summer 2013 was difficult. Summer belonged to Hudson. Warm weather, beautiful sunrises, gardening, golfing and spending time in the sunshine made me wistful for our sweet girl. And even as summer began in earnest and we KNEW the Bullet was on his way, I spent the month of July with a lump in my throat and the Missing-My-Girl just a bit heavier on my heart.

My mom told me once that you can’t truly begin to get over a loss until you’ve gone through a full year, because you need to experience all the holidays and milestones without that person.  Making our situation even more difficult: That year full of Firsts-Wthout should have been a year full of Firsts-With our baby.

And today was Anson’s first 4th of July.

Every once in a while I will pick up my baby and realize he’s mine.  I’m not sure if that makes sense to anybody else. In the Year of Firsts-Without, I remember comforting myself from time to time by imagining our future children and how wonderful our life would be together.

We are living that life now, in the Year of Firsts-With-Anson, and it’s better than I could have imagined.

As a parent, you hear this a lot: “Enjoy this phase, it goes so fast!”

Anson’s first four months have gone by awfully fast. It’s unbelievable how slowly the last half of a pregnancy can drag on, and how quickly that same amount of time can fly with an infant.

Another thing you hear fairly frequently from parents who’ve been there, done that: “Every stage is better than the last one.”

This, I can also vouch for. Every single day is better than the last one. I can’t explain it, but it’s awesome. Anson changes so much from day to day. I swear I went to get him one morning and he LOOKED OLDER. This morning, I tried to sit Anson up on his own and he went timber the second I took my hand away. By the afternoon, he could balance himself sitting up for a couple of seconds!

Though I miss Hudson every single day, today, I’m so grateful for the Firsts I get to experience with Anson.

On Anson’s first 4th of July:
Like a true American, he puked on himself before noon.
He had a yelling match with his cousin C.
We learned that he is un-phased by the erratic POP and BANG of fireworks.

And there was this:

Sweet, sleepy boy.

Sweet, sleepy boy.

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The 11th

In the year following Hudson’s birth and death, I wrote something each month on the 11th, to mark the milestones we should have been celebrating with our growing little girl.

And then, we were pregnant with Anson, and Hudson’s first birthday was spent contemplating all we were missing but also celebrating her brief existence and the coming arrival of her baby brother. And with the passing of July 11, 2013, the 11th started to sting less.

Sometimes the 11th of the month comes, and my mom texts me to let me know she’s thinking of us and of the joy our little girl would have brought us, and I’m surprised that it’s the 11th.

^^That actually happened today.^^

This weekend a dear friend came to visit and meet Anson. Amidst the questions about nighttime feedings and diaper changes and who does Anson look more like, she asked me how I was doing emotionally.

Another friend whose first child was stillborn shared with me that some of her most emotional moments over the loss of her daughter came years later, when she was caring for her infant son.

I won’t pretend that I haven’t had countless thoughts of our beautiful girl since the birth of our son. But I’m so filled with joy over the little guy that I don’t have a lot of room for sadness over the missed moments with Hudson. If anything, all these moments are made more beautiful knowing how precious they are, how much we would have given to experience them with Hudson.

Back to my friend’s question: How are you doing emotionally?

I’m happy.

Let me be clear, Anson’s arrival doesn’t fix Hudson’s far-too-early departure from our lives. Hudson’s life is its own beautiful part of our story, just as Anson’s life is a new and wonderful chapter, and he is his own unique person. We experience Anson’s life more fully because of his big sister, but I want to be careful not to tie the two too closely to each other. My hope for Anson is that he always knows how much he is wanted, how much he is loved, in his own right and not just because his big sister died.

So today,  the 11th, gets to be the day that Anson spit up on 3 outfits and went through 3 diapers in an hour.

It also gets to be the day his big sister Hudson would have been 20 months old.

This life doesn’t give us only beautiful experiences. It’s up to us to find the beauty in all of life’s experiences.

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Mommy & Daddy & Anson

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Mommy & Daddy & Hudson

 

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Wonderful

Sometime I will have the energy and motivation to share more than this, but for now, my days are filled with this.

Introducing Anson Joseph.

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And life could not be more wonderful.

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The day after the day after tomorrow

This is the way we think now.

It’s the 10th of February, which means tomorrow is the 11th of February and tomorrow, our daughter would have been 19 months old. And I bet she would have been excited about meeting her baby brother.

With her, this adventure would have been so different. Our yearning for a second child would be different, certainly. But our anticipation, the excitement of possibly completing our family, the boy-girl duo that would most certainly have been best friends and trouble makers for life… well, all that would have been awfully different if Hudson’s life hadn’t been so tragically short.

But without her, this adventure has been just that – an adventure. Not better or worse, but its own special thing. Bullet’s arrival the day after the day after tomorrow is an important event, regardless of his sister’s legacy. You might say we wanted him more because his sister left so soon, and you might say we’ve better appreciated this pregnancy because we know how tragically a pregnancy can end, but bottom line:

Bullet gets his own fanfare.

With just 2 full days left to face before his arrival, I have so many competing emotions that it is physically depleting. Or maybe that’s just 38 weeks and change of pregnancy making me so exhausted.

The day after the day after tomorrow, we will meet our son and begin getting to know him all over again, his life outside of the womb so much different than the life inside. We’ll see who he looks like. We’ll discover his quirks, and see first hand the expressions that accompany his vigorous movements. We’ll be aware of his presence in such a different way – kicks and squirms inside of me becoming cries and gurgles on the outside.

We’ll raise him to be the best of both of us, and we’ll celebrate him in ways big and small over the course of his lifetime. We’ll see new sides of each other – and we’ll fall in love with all these aspects of each other just as we’ve fallen in love over and over again in the time since we’ve known each other.

The adventure doesn’t stop at arrival, I know. There will be a day that I feel guilty for wanting to a break from Bullet. There will be tears of frustration and tears of joy and probably a few barn-burner fights between the Hubs and I. It won’t be all sunshine and roses and kittens. There will be poop.

Lots and lots of poop.

But the day after the day after tomorrow, “Life as we Know It” gives way to “Life as it Will Be with Bullet”, and I cannot wait for that life to begin.

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