Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Reluctant Healing

A friend asked the other day how I have been doing. What I told her, and the truth is, that we are doing okay. In many ways we have acclimated to the absence of Jonah and have continued living our lives. The intense screaming pain that felt like we had limbs ripped from our bodies has subsided to a much more private pain. It's more of a dull ache. I can go through most days without crying, even though I always, always think of him. There are still those moments of flashbacks, of intense grief, of haunting memories. We still have not returned fully to the joy we once had, but we smile, we laugh, we have fun, and we have reached a point where no stranger would realize we had been through such a trauma.

All of us are so excited about the little boy who is going to join our family in August. My pregnancy has been easy so far, and I am relishing the feeling of baby movements. Our daughters talk about the baby all the time. They love to look for clothes for him in the store and look forward to the day when they can tickle his toes and "teach him how to laugh." It's so precious, and I am so grateful for the way they have embraced this new life that is joining us.

Things are different this time though. We wonder what, if any special needs this child will have. I wonder if I will ever sleep once he is born. Will I lie awake in worry every night? I hope not.

We have already gotten the comments about what a perfect family we will have, with 2 boys and 2 girls. I try to smile politely at this, but inside it hurts. No, it's NOT perfect. We are in some sort of limbo now where this baby is every bit as loved and valuable as Jonah was. It feels like we have our "before" family and our "after" family. 2 brothers who will never know each other and an innocent child coming into our lives who knows no grief and knows no sadness. I want to protect his innocence as much as I can, but I want him to grow up knowing about his brother. It will be a delicate balance.

I used to love personalized family gifts, where everyone's name is on them. Now they just seem wrong. How can I leave Jonah out? He will always be my baby. But to include him as, for instance, a smiling snowman on a Christmas ornament, feels awkward and weird. Both ways feel wrong. I hope to avoid all such products in the future because for now they just hurt. Family pictures are hard enough.

Time passes slowly and quickly at the same time. On May 19, Jonah will have been gone for as long as he was here. That is a bitter pill to take sometimes. Jonah remains ever 7 months and 8 days old, and his legacy seems to shrink as our other children grow, learn, develop, and age. I don't want him to be forgotten. I know we won't ever forget him.

I've been thinking lately that only in this first world country would I be allowed such navel gazing. I read an article yesterday about a mother in the Congo and the horrible atrocities of violence she has suffered. Even without such an extreme example, I think about my great grandmother, who lost her baby to whooping cough (my Grandmother's twin) and most likely had to go on about the hard work that filled her days. I think about women in less developed parts of the world who are grinding corn and carrying water even if they have lost a child. They have no counseling and no antidepressants. Incidentally, neither do I, but both are available to me should I feel them necessary.

Mostly, I think of orphans. I think of children especially with special needs who haven't experienced the love of a family. I hope some day we can bring one or two of those kids home to our loving family. Not now, but in the future. I don't care what color the child is or whether they are from the USA or anywhere else. It's a burden that has been laid on my heart. I know, whatever else Jonah experienced, he knew family. He knew love. We couldn't have loved him more.

These are the thoughts that have been bouncing around my head lately. Thanks for reading and as always, we appreciate prayers.

Saturday, March 10, 2012


Happy First Birthday my dear, sweet Jonah. Thank you for coming into our lives. We will never be the same after having you here. I am so sorry for all you went through in your short life, but we could not have possibly loved you more. My beautiful boy, we will always feel the heaviness of your absence and grieve what might have been.

I should be holding you while you try your first bite of cake and enjoy a party in your honor. I wish I could have sung Happy Birthday to you and given you your first birthday gift. I wish you could play with balloons with Melody, Lila, and Isaac, and that we could all take a stroll and enjoy some fresh air together.

Last year this day was one of the best of my life. I have come to accept that my heart and our family will always have a hole in it, but thank you for sharing yourself with our family. If only I could hold you one more time.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Endings and Beginnings

Forgive me ahead of time if this is not cohesive.

Today is the 16th anniversary of Jonathan Larson passing away due to an undiagnosed aortic aneurysm. Although I have never met the Larson family, I feel a special kinship with them. I loved musical theatre and especially the musical Rent before I knew the Jonathan Larson story, but once I heard Jonathan's story I felt a connection as a Marf. Now, losing Jonah the way I have, I feel an even deeper connection with the Larsons. They have been strong supporters of the NMF and careful protectors of Jonathan's legacy. Even though my Jonah was only 7 months old, and certainly didn't pen any Tony award winning musicals, I hope that I can show the world the beauty of his short life, what he meant to his Daddy and me, and help him to leave a legacy of his own.

2011 definitely ended in a whirlwind for our family. Just before Christmas we were surprised and overjoyed to discover we are expecting a new baby! A new beginning. We felt and still feel so blessed by this news and we look forward to welcoming him or her in mid to late August.

Christmas came and we did our best to enjoy it but we began to notice our 2.5 year old son, Isaac was very sick. We had taken him to the prompt care center for his swollen lymph nodes and he had been given antibiotics but whatever plagued him continued to progress. Isaac slept through most of the Christmas fun. Two days after Christmas we were alarmed to notice he was having long gaps between breaths and trouble getting air. I googled the funny movements his chest was making to find out they were called "rib retractions" and that we had an emergency situation.

We took Isaac directly to the ER, expecting an overnight stay at most, with antibiotics and some fluids since he was clearly dehydrated. By that night, after trying several interventions that didn't work, Isaac was sedated and placed on a vent. This was a very dark time for me. It was around 2 in the morning and my husband was at home with the girls. I was very afraid I was losing Isaac before my very eyes. I had sung "Silent Night" at Jonah and Mom's grave just days before on Christmas. Now all I could imagine was another loss, another funeral, another child gone.

Isaac pulled through though. He spent 48 hours on the ventilator and continuously improved during his stay. It was hard for me being away from home and from the girls. It was hard being in the hospital again, and it was hard seeing my little guy so sick, but I made it through too. Isaac and I spent New Year's Eve at the hospital, but we got to come hone for the first day of 2012. Another new beginning.

We are so grateful for the care Isaac received at the Peyton Manning Children's Hospital. He had such attentive nurses and doctors who included me in all aspects of his care. I felt completely in the loop most of the time. Isaac was diagnosed with nothing more than rhinovirus, a common cold. His immune system apparently over responded to the infection and the swelling caused his breathing problems. I'm so glad to have Isaac home.

We were able to see our new baby on ultrasound for the first time on January 17th. Baby had a heart rate of 146 beats per minute and looked exactly like he or she should for that age.

We miss Jonah every day, but we are so thankful for new beginnings.

Although it's a little late, Happy and Blessed New Year to all of you.