Category Archives: Memories

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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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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Best Mother’s Day Gift EVER

For Mother’s Day, my amazing hubby NAILED IT.

Four mini-sessions with our favorite local photographer, Melissa McFadden.

We’ll get to capture Anson at 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, and 1 year old.

Have I told you lately that I love the Hubs?

We will have no shortage of photo documentation of this little guy. I have taken at least a handful of pictures of him every single day of his life. (Thanks, iPhone!)

But one thing we DO have a shortage of is photo documentation of ME with the little guy.

Now, I’m not offended by not being in the picture out of personal pride or anything. I mean, my body has a ways to go before I’m back to pre-baby shape. I’m still wearing predominantly elastic-waisted pants. Lots of “flowy” tops.

I have tons of gems of Anson with his daddy.

Sleepy boys

Because I’m always the one TAKING the picture, I’m rarely IN the picture.

A while back, this article went viral on Pinterest and Facebook and I was missing my beautiful daughter and I thought, “When Baby Dub Dos arrives, you’d better believe I’m getting in the picture.”

So we have a few treasures like this:

Mommy and AnsonBut more often than not, they look like this:

Napping togetherSo on Tuesday, Mr. Whiskers stayed home and I got in a few of the pictures.

img_025 img_016 (1) img_034 (1) img_029 (1) img_028And of course, Anson starred in a few on his own.

img_022 img_014 (1) img_023 img_011 img_001 img_019 img_018 (1)

 

 

 

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Mother’s Day 2014

The year 2014 marks the third year that Zeb and I have celebrated Mother’s Day, with Me in the starring role of Mother. The year 2014 marks the first year that we’ve had the proof of our parenthood present and accounted for.

In 2012, we were eagerly anticipating the arrival of Baby Dub, aka Hudson Ruth.

In 2013, we were mourning the loss of her, and I was struggling with the awkward quandary of being a mother without a child to be a mother to.

And then, today.

The only Walter getting breakfast in bed was Anson.
Nobody slept in.
Everybody is blissfully happy.

I have found myself thinking often of what an awesome world we would live in if we had 22 month old Hudson today as well as 3 month old Anson. These two would have made a dynamic duo of trouble-making. Hudson would have been inquisitive, unhelpful-by-trying-to-be-helpful, loving, gentle and wonderful in her role as Big Sis. Anson would have doted on this Other Woman in his life, and would have grown up to be as protective of her as her father would have been. The world of Anson-PLUS-Hudson would have been paradise.

Who knows if I would have known how good we had it. Who knows if I would have taken this gift for granted. I’d like to think I would have cherished every day with the same fervor that I try to now.

We have much to cherish.

Tickles and giggles with Uncle B and cousin C

Tickles and giggles with Uncle B and cousin C

Future best friends.

Future best friends.

Couple-a dudes sitting on the couch

Couple-a dudes sitting on the couch

That juicy smile!

That juicy smile!

That's the Dub in him coming out!

That’s the Dub in him coming out!

A precious keepsake of Anson's first Mother's Day

A precious keepsake of Anson’s first Mother’s Day

 

 

 

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Reflecting on moments lost

The other day, I mistakenly clicked on a link a friend shared on Facebook and watched this video.

Video screenshot

Yes, it is lovely.

Did you catch the birthdate? This little guy was born 2 days before Hudson.

I’m pregnant and hormonal so I blame the Friday morning waterworks on that.

But seriously.

We were robbed.

This video runs 6:54. Crying, laughing, sleeping, taking his first steps, trying his first solid foods, the video’s little hero has 365 experiences in less than 7 minutes that my daughter will never have. We got three days with our daughter, but not one single second of interaction like a parent SHOULD experience with their newborn. I think of the joy and magic that can be captured in a second, seconds I would give just about anything to experience with Hudson, and I realize how much we take for granted these tiny moments in our lives.

Something about the dates in that video, dates when seconds should have been blurring together in our sleep deprivation and new parent frustration, made me feel the distinct, harsh, jagged pangs of loss and absence that I had been able to blissfully ignore for the past 6 months or so. There is emptiness buried under the happiness of our son’s impending arrival, and I’m reminded of it at surprising moments by unexpected 7 minute videos.

We have seconds and moments to look forward to, and we’ll be wiser than to take them for granted. But sometimes I yearn for the missing moments in a way that takes my breath away.

We love our son. We love our daughter. We ache for our daughter. And these feelings can coexist in one, most-of-the-time happy couple.

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Being a Mom

I just finished reading John Green’s The Fault in our StarsIt is brilliant and beautiful, and written with a younger audience in mind than my almost-30-self ( I’m not ashamed to read young adult fiction).

The story is about Hazel and Augustus, two teenagers who have battled/are battling cancer. They meet in support group and fall in love. Hazel is an only child, and her cancer is terminal. At one point in the story, Hazel is in the hospital, surrounded by her mother and father, and she’s fighting to breath and her parents are weeping and telling her that it is okay to let go but Hazel can’t, she doesn’t let herself die, her lungs keep fighting even though her brain tells her to give up. And as she’s fighting for breath and for life, her mother buries her face in her father’s chest and says:

I won’t be a mom anymore.

This weekend, the Hubs and I went to Walmart (ugh) to buy the makings of our garage gym (aw yea!) and ran into one of our neighbors, the sweet woman who lives across the street. We chatted a bit in the line and then she asked, in that way that has a second, deeper meaning, “How are you guys doing?”

It’s rare that the Hubs and I have to answer this question in tandem, and so we both trot out our go-to phrases, “there are good days and bad,” “We have a lot to look forward to,” “We just try to keep busy” and on and on. Our Neighbor’s eyes welled up with tears and she said, “Well I hope you guys get pregnant again soon. You’re going to be such good parents.” And then she thought for a second and blurted out, “That was really insensitive of me to say. You ARE parents. You are good parents.

A lot of the condolence cards and notes on Facebook reiterate this:

You will always be Hudson’s mommy.

And I appreciate the sentiment, I really do, and there is a part of me that really believes it, too. But I’m not a mom, really. Not in daily practice.

I don’t have a baby to mother. I am just as useless around babies as I was before I had my own. I never got to develop that 6th sense with my daughter about what her cries meant. I never set a routine with her, determined her bed time, created a “take-turns on diaper change rotation” with the Hubs, figured out her feeding. I’ll never get to watch Hudson take her first steps or clap my hands with her first words or drop her off for school or take her to piano lessons or hate her first ex-boyfriend or ground her for staying out too late or hold my breath as she backs the car out of the driveway for the first time by herself.

But I am a mommy in my heart. As Hudson died in our arms, one thing I remember saying over and over was “Thank you for making me a mommy.” Being a parent isn’t just about the practical application, the daily tasks or interactions associated with having offspring. Being a parent, being a mommy, is also about what happens to the royal You when you have a child.

Your hopes and dreams shift from You to Them. Your sense of self is enlarged, because you just created this amazing little being so you know you’re pretty incredible but that all pales in comparison to what you’ve created. You would do anything for them… cliche though it may be, it is the truth. Your personal needs, they take a back seat. Your sole purpose goes from existing to providing. All you care about is making the world you need to make for your child. When you realize that You are not important anymore, and when you realize that you and You don’t really care… you’re a mommy.

That doesn’t change just because your child dies. I would still do anything for Hudson. I’m humbled. My priorities are different, larger. All I care about is creating a world for my children (well, along with creating more children, of course). When your child dies, you don’t go back to You.

It’s good for You to take a backseat at a certain point in life.

Always an ambitious woman, I was surprised at how motherhood struck me. When Hudson was born, I realized that there is no career I have a higher calling for than Mommydome. I don’t know if I will ever have it in me to be a stay-at-home mom, but that doesn’t mean I am not a full-time mom.

I’m always going to be Momma Dub. I’m always going to be Hudson’s Mommy. Whenever Baby Dub Dos arrives on the scene, I will be thrown into that wonderful missed-out-on world of Daily Motherhood Practice…

…the diaper changes
…the feeding and sleeping schedules
…the sixth sense about cries
…the millions of experiences I’m missing without our girl.

And those experiences will be new for me, but the whole being a mom thing?

I can’t even remember what it was like before I was a mom.

Mommy & Hudson

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Separation Anxiety

Even if we hadn’t lost Hudson, I think I would have really missed being pregnant.

You’re never alone.
You’re always doing something important.
You’re connected emotionally and physically to the most important thing in your life.

Being pregnant is awesome. I miss being pregnant, but I miss Hudson more.

I still get phantom kicks that break my heart. Today I looked at my C-section scar and thought about the miracle of birth, how they were able to pull that big baby girl out of such a small incision, how just months ago I didn’t have that scar but I still had a living child. I thought as I climbed into the shower that it doesn’t seem right that my baby could be dead. How could she not be alive when she lived inside me? How can I still be alive without her?

We left the hospital without Hudson, but with a little box full of mementos of Hudson. Locks of hair. The tiny cuff they kept on her ankle. Footprints. Hand prints. A little glove that is stained dark brown with spots of Hudson’s blood.

And a ceramic heart – the outside part for me, the inside part with Hudson.

It is designed to withstand the heat of cremation, so the little inside heart went with Hudson as her tiny, perfect body was turned to ash. The outside part was turned into a beautiful piece of jewelry that I can wear as a necklace or a bracelet, designed and handcrafted by a lovely friend and talented artist whose creations can be found here.

Ruby is Hudson’s birthstone.

That “missing you” feeling really does feel like anxiety. A flutter in my guts, a pain in my heart, a closed throat that makes it difficult to breath. So on those days when missing Hudson is particularly painful, I have these special things to remind me of how connected we still are.

On the cellular level. Hudson is a part of me, and will be a part of her siblings, in a very real and tangible way.
Emotionally. Hudson is thought of and missed every single day, by me, by my husband, by family and friends.
We’re connected through wearable treasures like the one pictured above.
Even through facial hair.

When I’m pregnant again, I will probably think of Hudson with every kick from her baby bro or baby sis. I can’t wait for that truly visceral reminder of our beautiful baby girl, mixed with the hope and anticipation that is sure to come with the next addition to our family.

And in the meantime, I have some gorgeous jewelry and a husband with luscious face salad to remind me that our beautiful little girl is forever with us.

Feeding Hudson

When your baby is in the NICU, there are all sorts of physical changes that the mother goes through that just kind of get overlooked.

One of those changes is the breast milk coming in.

After a few days, it sort of hit me – at some point, my breast milk is going to come in and what do I do with it?

Hudson was being fed through a series of tubes, a bag of protein that looked like Mountain Dew and a syringe of fat. A few nurses in the antepartum area left me thinking that it’d be best to avoid pumping in order to shut off the milk as quickly as possible. I felt like it was an admission of defeat but didn’t want to argue.

I’m so grateful for the Hubs, who talked to our NICU nurse, who talked to the doctor, who told us that I’d be able to feed my colostrum and breast milk to Hudson with a Q-tip and save the excess for her to use later. If she wasn’t able to use it, I could donate it to the hospital for other babies.

The lactation specialist came to talk to me, and set me up with a breast pump and all the goods to “get things pumping”. She warned me that I’d probably only produce a few drops of colostrum the first time, but that whatever I was able to produce could be used.

I got a half an ounce.

I was so proud of that little jar of colostrum, “Liquid Gold”. I came back upstairs with my treasure, feeling a little weird about waving it around “Look what I can do!” The family and friends we had in the waiting room all were suitably impressed. Mothers who’d been through the breast feeding regime all oohed and ahhed and commented on how much that was, and I was proud of myself: I was born and bred to be this baby’s mom and provide for her in any way.

I couldn’t wait to get in to Hudson with my Liquid Gold. It was the first best part of that day.

Nurse A hooked me up with a Q-tip, told me to soak it, and once it was soaked I could rub it on Hudson’s lips, gums, tongue. I let that Q-tip soak much more than it probably needed to. Moms with cameras were summoned.

Soaking up that Liquid Gold

Hudson’s First Taste

Oh so gently, I rubbed the goody-soaked Q-tip on Hudson’s perfect little lips… careful to avoid the breathing tubes but trying to cover the entire surface area of her mouth. Her tiny, juicy tongue protruded just a little as I ran the Q-tip over it, stayed resting on her lips for a while after the feeding. I lingered perhaps a bit too long, wanting to savor every second, wanting Hudson to get every drop on that Q-tip.

I think she likes it!

The first best part of my day

I know that breastfeeding mothers form a special bond with their baby as they feed them. While I was never able to hold Hudson’s face to my breast and feed her the way a mother should, the moments when I was able to bend over my beautiful daughter with a few drops of colostrum were some of my most personally fulfilling and special memories in the three short days I was blessed to be Hudson’s mommy.

I pumped two more times that day, yielding 1.5 ounces the second time and having to switch bottles from one side to the other for risk of overflowing. The third time I pumped, I got 2 ounces of colostrum!

Too much information? I don’t know that I care – these were proud moments in my brief days as a mommy, and I want to brag a little, to remember every detail.

Pumping was a bonding time for me and the Hubs, too. I married such an incredibly supportive and thoughtful and wonderful man, who went out of his way to help me experience just a fraction of what every mommy should. Feeding our daughter was a privilege I’m so glad I got to enjoy, but I think it was satisfying for my husband too.

Later that evening I got to feed Hudson again. I’m pretty sure I “milked” that second feeding too, drawing it out more than probably necessary, exhausting that Q-tip and hovering over our daughter’s precious little mouth longer than I needed to.

Friday with Hudson was the best day, filled with memories that I cling to and cherish when her absence hurts my heart and makes it hard to breathe.

She gave a little shiver after the feeding, like, “Mmm that was GOOOOD!”

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