Wednesday, October 30, 2013

CYG, Day 30: Growth

Capture Your Grief, Day 30. Growth: Do you believe you have grown or are growing as a person since the loss of your precious baby? How? How do you see other people now? How do you see the world? Do you believe you have a higher purpose? Do you believe your baby had a higher purpose?

Couldn't get in the water back then because of stitches.

I started out this post with some serious angst and I'm not really sure why because I'm in a pretty good mood and Halloween is tomorrow. I loooove Halloween. Actually, that might be part of why I have a tinge of melancholy tonight. I WANT ANOTHER BABY TO DRESS UP.

Anyway, I know I've grown and that I'll continue to grow. I know that Garrett was here and I am here for a reason. Sometimes I don't know what those reasons are and other times I get a fleeting glimpse.

I don't know if I see people differently but I do know I'm more aware of the whys in people's behavior and I try to have compassion which isn't my natural inclination. I'm kind of a "just do something already" person but I know not everyone is that way all the time. Even I can't pull myself up by my bootstraps all the time.

I told Tamara once that I look around sometimes and wonder whose life is falling apart, who just met the One; who was fired or who got their dream job. I remember running errands after Garrett died that were so painfully normal and thinking that my life has fallen apart and no one has noticed. I will follow that crying person out of the service someday, just like the one single person who has ever checked on me in all the many times I've left church in tears. I don't care how embarrassing it is. I'd rather be rebuffed than let someone cry alone in the bathroom if I can help it.

So, yeah. I've grown. I'm growing. But here's the thing: I would have grown anyway. This is just growing in a different direction than I expected.


Some sad news, the Capture Your Grief Facebook event page has been taken down. I didn't see it happen but internet trolls decided to descend upon it and harass some of the people posting, among other horrible things. I get that some people don't want to see a person grieve. I get that some people don't like all of the pictures people post. And, you know what? I don't like all of them either. But I simply move along and accept that not everyone grieves the way I do and not everyone has the same threshold of acceptance as I have. I don't find them and harass them. I really hate it because there were a lot of men and women in delicate places, either posting for the first time or considering it. And then this happens. Please pray for everyone involved. Both the families and friends who have lost children and endured this further pain and the people who inflicted the pain.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Autumn IS Ming-Ming the Wonder Pet

I'm totally going to post more about this after Halloween but I kind of made a costume for Autumn! She wanted to be Ming-Ming who is the duck in the Wonder Pets! Technically, all of us are a little old for the show but oh, my gosh, we love it. Even Mike and I will be doing some kind of project where we have to work together and Autumn is nowhere near us and we'll be all "WHAT'S GONNA WORK?! TEAAAAAAAAM WORK!" Here she is at the Funny Bones festival at Mullins yesterday:

I love how this turned out!! We had the Aviator hat already. I got it for something like $5 last year so that Autumn could dress up like Amelia Earhart for Famous Americans Day. The orange leggings are from a summer outfit and, well, I didn't realize they were so short on Autumn! Her bottom half isn't going to win any awards but it's okay! That's what happens with growth spurts. Not that I would know...

The yellow tutu was a friend's daughter's idea! I was telling her about Autumn wanting to be Ming-Ming back during the summer and she said that it would be too cute if Autumn wore something like this. A couple weeks later, I had to get Autumn's ballet things and went to the site's clearance shop. They had this awesome costume for a ridiculously low price so I got it figuring it could be part of our regular costume stash after Halloween.

The cape was so easy. I used the cape craft from the Nick, Jr. site so that the emblem would be right. I do need to sew the velcro onto the cape rather than rely on the adhesive. We lost one velcro disk. That was the only problem with the cape last night. It's sturdy and, since I made it out of fleece, it's warm. I don't have a photo of it yet, but I even made a tiny Wonder Pets cape for Autumn's kiwi doll Kiri. I decided not to bring my big camera to Funny Bones and, of course, I regret that so much. This cape photo is not amazing.

I decided to make some wings for Autumn. The tutu was too scratchy for Autumn's taste so I went with an idea I found on the Better Homes and Gardens site. I found a super cheap yellow shirt. That was harder than anticipated! I eventually found it on sale at Walmart which wasn't the most fun shopping trip I've ever had in my life. I avoid Walmart like the plague! Well. Any giant stores, really.

Anyway, here's my supply list:
Yellow long sleeved shirt
6' yellow feather boa
Hot glue and glue gun

I did this under a blanket because it was unseasonably cold last week! And I am a major baby about cold weather so I broke out my electric blanket. Back to the wings...I cut the boa in half. I decided that rather than potentially restrict Autumn's arms by wrapping the boa around the sleeves like I initially planned, I zig zagged the boa over the top of the sleeve. I flattened the sleeve on top of my blanket first so that the seam was in the middle on the bottom and the crease in the middle on the top. See above picture because I think the benadryl I just took is impairing my explanation abilities, haha. Fall is my allergy season!

I used a cup to fill the sleeve as I glued to make sure I had the right shape. I glued where the big dots are until I got to the end of the sleeve and then I went back to make sure the coverage was right. I had to fix a spot on one sleeve but it wasn't a big deal. The glue hadn't set long enough to keep me from removing it. Once the feathers looked right, I went back to glue at the purple spots for reinforcement. I think sewing would work, too, but it would take longer.

It turned out really well. We were cracking up at Autumn flapping around the festival and, once, someone saw her and broke out into the Wonder Pets theme song! It was sooooo fun. Here we are together! Christy came as Dorothy, I was a 50's housewife (I will be way better coiffed on Thursday!!), and of course we have Ming-Ming. Rob, Elyse, Micah and Liana joined us, too! Super fun and it isn't even Halloween yet! Do you like my plastic bag? I forgot Autumn's bucket so Mimi rustled up that bag from somewhere so I wouldn't have to stuff my apron with candy!

Submitted to Skip to My Lou's Made by You Monday!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

CYG, Day 24: Artwork

I'm not really an artist so much as a person who does projects. But, I went on a major creating binge after Garrett passed away. I think it started with the birth announcement that I thought long and hard about. There just wasn't anything out there like what I wanted. Simple, no photo. And something that didn't cost an arm and a leg to print. There may be more out there two years later but I ended up making my own birth announcement and printing it through an online service. And then I made one in pink and another in green and I listed them in my Etsy shop. I've had the bittersweet honor of helping a few parents create an announcement for their lost little one. It's something I am so glad I can do even though it's a heart wrenching service.

And then Christmas rolled around. I wrestled and wrestled with how to acknowledge Garrett. I didn't want to sign his name or anything because that would be confusing although it seems some families do that. That year, I really, really needed him to be a part of our Christmas card. Again, no one seemed to have what I wanted. I didn't want MERRY AND BRIGHT but I also didn't want the memorial and card to be super depressing. So I decided on this:

I wasn't going to list any Christmas cards until November but I went ahead and put this card in the holiday section just in case anyone who happens to read this is looking for something similar and wants to pin it or bookmark it. It felt really good to put together the patterns and the wording. I'm guessing it has something to do with getting to play creator where everything is in its place rather than being immersed in life's chaos. I don't know.

Sometimes I wish I were a real artist who could paint or sculpt her pain. I'm not...but I'm also thankful that I've been able to channel some of this excess emotion into my own version of art. Our playroom curtains, one of Autumn's favorite dresses, the shadow boxes, these cards, any number of DIY projects have come out of the time I might have spent with Garrett. Out of the sad energy I've tried to morph into places and items that bring warmth instead of darkness.

This blog post is for the worldwide event Capture Your Grief in honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. 24. Artwork: Have you created a piece of artwork in the wake of your baby’s death? Or maybe someone has given you some artwork to honour your baby? Please feel welcome to share links to your own website or to other artists.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

CYG, Day 23: Tattoos/Jewelry

I don't have a tattoo, but I do have memorial jewelry. Mike and I both do. I've mentioned a necklace someone sent me that I let Autumn wear when she was having separation anxiety problems after I was out of the hospital. I also have a necklace that Lauren gave me. One disk has Autumn's birthday and initials and the other has Garrett's. For a long time, I wore it every day because I felt like I needed people to know I have 2 kids. I still need that and usually when people ask me if I have just Autumn, I say I have Autumn and a son who passed away. But, I don't wear the necklace like the black mourning arm band anymore. It wasn't anything I did on purpose and I don't feel guilty about tapering off on that particular compulsion, which is good.

Mike had a ring that I gave him. He still has it but it's too big. I think he also wore his ring like a symbol of deep mourning because long after it no longer fit, he'd wrap it in tape so he could wear it. When I ordered the ring, I had all of our initials engraved inside of it with the intention of adding more when we adopted. I'm going to order a new ring for Mike when we do adopt, at Mike's request.

My newest piece of jewelry is a Pandora bracelet. I don't really wear a lot of jewelry. I have my wedding ring and a couple of plain stacking bands I wear in aikido or group ex classes and I wear necklaces when I go to church but that's about it. I never really wanted a charm bracelet but the idea of having charms that mean something started to appeal to me recently. My mom, Donnie, and Liz (my brother and sister in law) gave me the Pandora bracelet last year and I have five charms now. I had a hard time getting a picture and, unfortunately for you, the best one also has my ridiculously beat up hand! Ha!

I didn't love the bunny that Pandora had so I found the cute bunny on Etsy and sent the link to Mike along with a couple of other rabbit beads I liked. He ended up getting me this one for Christmas. It's so sweet. Donnie and Liz got me the next bead and it stands for Inner Strength. How thoughtful was that? I can't remember if I asked for the Happy Little Girl bead or if I got it myself but it is, of course, for Autumn. And, this is fun, it's the same Autumn bead that Nanny, Lainey, and my mom have! It looks just like Autumn did, all roly poly and pigtailed. Sigh. Memories. The next one I got when they gave me the bracelet, it has a blue stone for my birthday in September.

The last bead is for Penny. She bought me a bunny the same time Mike did and told me to trade it for what I wanted. I hadn't gotten her birthday present yet (hers is only a couple of weeks after Christmas) so when I went to the store, I asked if they had any kind of best friend charms because Penny has a charm bracelet, too. AND THEY DID. And the charms were butterflies which is one of the things I associate with Penny. It was meant to be! So, I exchanged mine for one butterfly and got the other side for Penny. I love it!

Looking at what I just wrote, I realize I need a Mike bead! And maybe Molly, haha. I'll have to think about this ahead of Christmas...oh, man, it would be too awesome if someone had Warcraft themed Pandora beads.

This blog post is for the worldwide event Capture Your Grief in honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. 23. Tattoos/Jewellery: Do you have a piece of jewellery in memory of your baby? Or maybe a tattoo. Please feel welcome to share links too.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Easy Halloween Lights and Wrapped Pumpkins

Autumn gets really excited about autumn at our house, haha. Because my birthday is in September, I have some seasonal decoration that my mom has given me the last couple of years. Some day, I'd love to do more for Halloween which is one of my favorite holidays. Candy, costumes, decorations, parties, no winter holiday family drama...what's not to love?? I'm still using the chalkboard I made last year. I'm not really any better at fancy writing but I got tired of drawing and erasing and decided to go with this. I have some regrets about the alignments and the word "the" but I'm so not starting over!

I completely forgot to list this banner. I made it last year intending to put it in my etsy shop but I didn't remember making it until I got our Halloween decorations out! (I decided to go ahead and list it!) We're having our second annual "Not a Party" where I'll have chili, cocoa, and maybe a dessert for anyone who wants to trick or treat with us. Even though I'm keeping in mind that it is *not* a party and I'm not going to go crazy I have to at least do a little, right??

This is totally not me. Our House Fairy (ahem, Lainey) brought this over for Autumn. There was a sign on there that said "Autumn's Pumpkin Patch" but it rained so we took it down. I want to put contact paper around it so the sign can stay out in all weather. All we added were a couple pumpkins!

I wanted to do something Halloween-y but cheap on the breakfast room table. I saw a pumpkin wrapped in ribbon on Pinterest and decided to use some of the deco mesh from the belly dance party. I cut a length of mesh and used some Halloween ribbon to tie it together. I can use the pumpkins for Thanksgiving decor without the mesh later and then make pies!

I had the skulls and black cloth from the Halloween housewarming party we did here the year we moved in. That was sooo much fun and I'd love to do another real Halloween party!! I think I put the skulls in a candy jar last year but this year I took some red rock bead things that go into a flower vase to fill a mason jar and then I stuck the skulls on top. I'm pretty happy with this!

Now, this one we had so much fun with! I have saved almost all of our jars for projects and parties. Autumn and I decided to make decoupage Halloween lights.The item list is pretty easy and you can add more depending on what you want to make:
sparkle mod podge
foam brushes
assorted jars
tissue paper

Other supplies:
googly eyes

construction paper
pipe cleaners
electric tea lights

I could have mixed my own Sparkle Mod Podge but I decided to go ahead and get a bottle since it was on sale. When I run out, I'll probably make my own and store it in the sparkle bottle. I bought an industrial pack of foam brushes for like $2.99 when I made Mike's map so we just used those. Autumn had a pretty easy time getting the inside of her jar coated.

We tore pieces of tissue paper and filled the inside. I've seen people do the outside but I didn't really want to have to hold a glue-wet jar and then have my gluey hands make a mess of the tissue paper. Getting the paper to the bottom of the jar was a little tough but we solved the problem by using the handle end of a paintbrush.

This is what it looked like before it dried and you can see the paintbrush I used to stuff the tissue paper at the bottom. We only had black, orange, and white paper so we did a bat, spider, ghost, and pumpkin. I wish we had green so we could make Frankenstein! I haven't put the bat wings on yet but I'm going to punch a hole in the wings and attach them using pipe cleaners. 

Here are the other three! I love that spider!! The ghost was a little hard because the tissue was the same color as the glue but Autumn did a great job with it anyway. And her pumpkin is adorable. I cut out the small pieces but she did everything else herself! By the way, that table/bar cart is one of the projects I need to post!

Of course, we pretty much have to use battery powered lights because of the tissue inside. We have the ones that flicker like real candles so these are so fun! Right now I have all of the jars with the candy bowl but if we have time to make more, we might hang them on the porch or in the trees!

And that's our not-so-spooky house. Do you like our one spooky yard display? w(°o°)w

submitted to made by you monday at Skip to My Lou!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Lost for Words calendar plus a fitness pic!

It is 9pm and I'm about to go to bed! It's been an exhausting week. I'm in the process of auditioning at a very large gym. I'm not sure I'm going to get the job but it's been fun and incredibly sore making to go to kickboxing classes all week. This is to prepare for a second audition. Since the first audition showed I'm capable of teaching, the second one is to see if I can make the adjustments the director suggested and if I can fit with their, er, "brand." We'll see! In the meantime, I'm enjoying the chance to learn from other kickboxing instructors. Last night I went to a combo turbokick/body bar class and our friend Melissa who attends classes at that gym came with me! AND, we were twinkies. This has never happened before, haha. I decided to post it here so you can see me in my instructor clothes. Plus it's a good picture and how often does THAT happen after a workout??

I haven't stopped doing Capture Your Grief but I just don't have anything to say or photograph on the subjects for a few of the days. I'll pick it back up on Day 19 or 20. Who knew there could be anything that I don't have something to say about? Honestly, it's mostly that I've talked about it already, most likely at length!

Here's something exciting:

When Small Bird Studios and CarlyMarie Project Heal began accepting submissions for the Lost for Words calendars, I decided to send in one of my quotes. It says "I don't move on. I move forward, carrying the knowledge of great loss...and great love." I wrote the original version for the Day of Hope post and I have no idea why that stuck in my head or why I decided to go out on a limb and submit it but I do remember that I googled those sentences to make sure I didn't accidentally steal them, haha.

I never imagined the quote would be chosen. I also never imagined that it would have such beautiful art by Francesca Cox or that the month that I'd represent would be the month of Garrett's original due date. This is going on my wall for sure!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

CYG, Day 15: Wave of Light

This blog post is for the worldwide event Capture Your Grief in honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Day 15. Wave Of Light: Today is October 15th Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Light a candle at 7pm to help create a continuous wave of light around the world for 24 hours. Photograph your light! Please remember to share your location for this day as well. Wishing you all a ton of love for this sacred day of remembrance.

Monday, October 14, 2013

CYG, Day 14: Family

This is what my family looks like. Some of us are related by blood. Some of us met in church. Some in martial arts classes. Others we met along the way of life. One isn't human and doesn't like us much although we like her. But everyone here has supported us, laughed with us, cried with us and just....lived with us. I'm so thankful for my family of friends! In fact, I'm in the process of gathering photos for our stairwell. Some people have family walls...we're going to have a friend wall! If your photo isn't here and it should be, it's because you haven't sent me a photo yet!!

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.
Ecclesiastes 4:9–12

This blog post is for the worldwide event Capture Your Grief in honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Day 14, Family: What does you family look like now? Is it just yourself carrying your child’s heart in yours? Do you have other children? A partner? A pet? You may not have what society perceives as a family but we all know that just because you cannot see any children, that does not mean that they are not a part of your family.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

CYG, Days 12 and 13: Article and Book

I haven't read a lot of books on grief. I don't know why. We did the GriefShare study but other than that, I've avoided books. Someone gave me a copy of Heaven is for Real but I couldn't being myself to read it. Partly because I wasn't in a frame of mind to really appreciate that kind of book and partly because even at my best, that's not really my style. I have read a ton of great articles, though. I've blogged about some of them.

The one that has stayed with me is In which God has asked too much of us by Sarah Bessey. I'm sure there are exceptions to this but I feel like the only the people who have never suffered or who refuse to actually deal with their grief can say to someone that God will never give you more than you can handle. Now, don't get me wrong, I get not wanting to deal with the grief and the hurt. I make a conscious decision, perhaps daily, to feel. To be awake. From Bessey's article:

And I want to dig a hole with my bare hands and stay there in a field and in the damp cold, and tell the world that I am so angry, so sad, so longing, I can hardly breathe.

Which leads me to a post I haven't written about yet. After that weird "dear teenage girls" article that came out about modesty (complete with half naked photos of her boys...), an article called Seeing a Woman by a pastor named Nate Pyle went viral. I thoroughly enjoyed his perspective and after seeing some other quotes from him ("If Jesus wouldn't fit your description of a man, you have done nothing but offer a worldly stereotype"), I followed him on Twitter and read some of his old posts. Around the same time, a friend happened to link his words on Confronting the Lie: God won't give you more than you can handle. He highlights part of text of 2 Corinthians 1:8 and 9

"For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers and sisters, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead"

Later, Paul will write it is when he is weak that the strength of Christ is seen. In other words, when we can’t do it any longer. When we are fed up. When it has become too much. When we have nothing left. When we are empty. When it is beyond our capability to deal with it. Then, in that moment, the strength of the God of resurrection will be seen. Until we get to that point, we rely on ourselves thinking we can handle it and take care of the problem.

Yes. These are the words of someone who has lamented. Despaired. And, frankly, these are the words I want to hear. Not that God is making me stronger. Not that God won't give me more than I can handle. Not that God is bigger. I guess on that note, I'll sign out with another quote from another blogger called A Psalm of Lament for a Boy Now Gone. You should read it. It, too, is beautiful in its sorrow and confusion.
Forgive those who think everything is fine,
who are eager to assert your good reign.
Strike dumb those who would dare to say
this was your will, a part of your plan.
Restrain those who would rush to affirm
that all things work together for good.
If you, God, can do all things, then couldn’t you
accomplish your good without this grief?

This blog post is for the worldwide event Capture Your Grief in honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Day 12. Article: Have you read an article about grief that you would love to share with everyone? Maybe it is something from Still Standing Magazine or a blog post from your favourite blogger or writer. Please feel welcome to share who wrote the article and how the article resonated with you and also the direct link to the article if it is online. Day 13. Book: Have you read a book about grief that helped you immensely in your journey of grief? Please feel welcome to share the book and links to where it can be purchased so others can find it.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Whoa, 11 years!!

Photo by Autumn Colley. (´∀`)♡

Happy anniversary to us!!
Mike and I got married 11 years ago today. Craziness! It's been an excellent life together and I feel like that's something extra special considering everything we have been through.

I look forward to seeing what is ahead. I look forward to seeing how we grow and how we continue to improve one another. I look forward to many more hugs and cold toes and arguments about color that are just for fun since you know I'm right because you're color blind. I look forward to more seasons huddling under a blanket because I'm freezing and you and Autumn are fine. I look forward to more family prayer nights on Autumn's bed. I look forward to when those nights include one more.

I also look forward to more of these cards, specially designed by one Autumn Colley.
I love you becos you are funy and sily
Our funny family. Complete with cat.

Friday, October 11, 2013

CYG, Day 11: Triggers

BEHOLD THE PORCELANCER. Autumn spent some time last year as a germ killing crime fighter. She wore a CAPE, FOUR HATS, and had a magical star of GERM KILLING. And a toilet brush. My friend Will named her. Matt brought her to life on paper.

Mike and I were talking about how there can be one of, oh, ANY triggers at any time. Less often than before. Usually random. But there is one thing that always vividly brings back pregnancy: the toilet. Ohhhh, the toilet. I had raging morning sickness. Zofran didn't help. No old wives' tales helped. Ginger didn't help. NOTHING HELPED. I got stabby anytime anyone said, "oh, you should just..." DON'T YOU THINK THAT IF I HEARD OF IT I TRIED IT?? You guys know I love to decorate. Well, while I was pregnant with Garrett? Mike's family had to decorate my house for Christmas. It was that bad.

I always made sure when I cleaned the toilets to scrub all around. I have the cleanest porcelain structures known to mankind for that reason. Which is saying something since I'm actually not a great housekeeper. I couldn't cope with looking at a dirty or dusty floor or base while I was puking. I still do that level of bowl care but whenever I kneel beside it to clean, I get taken back hard. It's weird. Something about the cleaning stuff and, well, the position.

It's funny because when I was in the hospital I had this friend visit. I love her and she will say just about anything. She asked me, "So, does having a crappy pregnancy where you puked for 6 months make this seem that much more unfair?" Everyone kind of went (((( ;°Д°)))) but I knew what she meant. And YES. It does make it seem that much more unfair! I'm sure people who had glorious pregnancies feel similarly. But, man. So, yeah. Triggers. At least when I'm feeling funky and flashbacky, the PORCELANCER is there to SAVE THE DAY.

This blog post is for the worldwide event Capture Your Grief in honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. 11. Emotional Triggers: What triggers emotions associated with grief for you? Is it the weather? A scent? Photos? Places? Holidays? Words? Certain people?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

CYG, Day 10: Beliefs

This year's Day of Hope prayer flag.

If I've done this right, Passing Pinwheels should be permeated with the things that I believe. I am a Christian. I believe I will meet Garrett again. I believe that all of this can be redeemed. I believe that something good can come of Garrett not being here. I struggle sometimes. I don't understand sometimes. I don't like the direction my life has taken. Through it all, I choose to believe. I choose faith. I choose Jesus and his redemption of everything, not just my soul.

I believe God is okay with that mix of emotions and confusion and hope.

This blog post is for the worldwide event Capture Your Grief in honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. 10. Beliefs: Do you have a certain belief about what happens to us after we die? You might believe that we go to a heaven or you might believe that our bodies eventually turn to dust and that is the end of our story.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

CYG, Day 9: Music

The first time I heard this song, I guess it was almost what would have been Garrett's first birthday. I was in the car and all I could think about was Garrett, the adoption process we started in early 2012 and our waiting nursery even though I know "Home" isn't about kids. When we were in the midst of our GrantJaden failed adoption saga, this song especially came to life for me. I hear it from time to time on the radio and just sigh.

I asked Mike what his song was and he said that he didn't want to tell me because it's cheesy. I was like, seriously? I'm the one picking a song from American Idol! He made me promise not to laugh or roll my eyes and then told me that it's "I Can Only Imagine" by Mercy Me. Autumn asks us a lot of questions about Garrett and how old he is in Heaven and what Heaven in like. I think I've mentioned that I'd like to write some of her wilder theories into a children's book. We always, always dialog with her when she's in that mood, no matter what we're doing or feeling at the time. But, really, all we can do is imagine. Guess. Extrapolate. We just don't know. Like Mike said tonight, he can only imagine Heaven and Jesus and what it's going to be like to see Garrett again.

This blog post is for the worldwide event Capture Your Grief in honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Day 9. Music: This might be hard to capture in a photograph so why not post a youtube clip of a piece of music that reminds your of your baby/ies/child/ren. Why this piece of music?

Monday, October 7, 2013

CYG, Day 7: You Now

I don't feel terrible these days. I mean, the crushing defeat is duller over two years later. I think of Garrett every day but every thought isn't a dagger to my soul although there are certainly those times. I'm in a hard spot right now where I'm watching friend after friend have babies or make progress in their adoptions. I hold Autumn while she cries and asks why we can't have a baby, too. I click like on Facebook photos and then hide them. Mike tells me that he does the same and I feel better. I'm not mad that they are experiencing joy. I'm glad someone is. I'm simply sad that we aren't.

But, at the same time, that isn't true. We do have so much joy in our life. Autumn is growing up into an amazing young lady full of compassion and wisdom beyond her years. Mike is experiencing success in his job and emerging as the troubleshooter whenever there's a customer to be soothed. I'm doing pretty well in my fitness and aikido career...I'm not breaking any banks but I have a few loyal students and that's something to be grateful for. And together we have a wonderful, reasonably peaceful life full of people who love us and people we love.

I am thankful for what we have. Probably more grateful than anyone can imagine. But, Mike and I both agree that waiting is hard. It's a step of faith not to give up on the adoption because it feels like maybe God just doesn't want our family to grow. Way back when we started the process...we were so certain this was the right path. But today? It'd be easier to give up, just so we don't have to live in expectation. I've fallen into this pattern of HOPE HOPE HOPE and then a let down because, "oh, yeah, bad stuff can and does happen." It's odd to feel like I've lost my bad things innocence. You'd think that would have happened the first time my dad had me hide in the floor of the car while he bought drugs.

This is a difficult season. In some ways, I feel like I had more faith in the aftermath of Garrett's death. Time drags and all I can think about is Abraham and Sarah. Joseph. Zechariah.* So much waiting. I guess it could be worse. We could give up. And I'm not sure what a life without hope would be like. I don't particularly want to find out.

*I chose those particular Biblical figures because they all had long waits. Mike says that's how he read it but a couple friends mentioned how long these people had to wait, possibly thinking I meant only that Sarah, Joseph, and Zechariah and Elizabeth happened to get what they wanted. Which is true, but not what I meant to focus on. Also, I had John the Baptist's dad's name wrong. I don't know what I was thinking!

Emily Dickinson

"Hope" is the thing with feathers—
That perches in the soul—
And sings the tune without the words—
And never stops—at all—

And sweetest—in the Gale—is heard—
And sore must be the storm—
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm—

I've heard it in the chillest land—
And on the strangest Sea—
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb—of Me.

~Emily Dickinson

This blog post is for the worldwide event Capture Your Grief in honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Day 7: You Now: Where are you in your grief right now? How are you feeling? How far have you come? Are you wrestling with anything? Is your heart heavier or lighter now?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

CYG, Day 5: Memory, A Guest Post by Tamara

After they unhooked me from all the machines and drips, the day I left the hospital.

I'm a little late with Day 5: Memory because at the last minute I asked one of my best friends to write for this theme. Tamara wrote an incredibly moving post for Garrett's first birthday and when I read the description of today's subject, the first thing I thought of was Tamara visiting me in the hospital and how my blood type is now seared into her memory.

Thank you for everything, Tamara. Not the least of everything is sharing your soul with us and for grieving with us even now. I am so excited to celebrate with you next year as you and Landon get married. It's time for some happy!!

*     *     *

I am not a mother. I have never been pregnant, have never adopted, have never attempted to become a parent. But yet, I write today, as part of the Capture your Grief series. Why?
For two reasons, which are listed in this order for the convenience of the reader's understanding rather than their emotional significance: First, when I read many of the "Identity" posts, people said things like, "He was a son, a brother, a nephew, a grandchild." I'm representing the other part of that equation today. I grieve for a child that I am completely unrelated to, at least if blood is your measure of a relationship. His mother is my best friend, who I have known since 1997. The second reason is because I want to honor that brief little life.


I remember happy things. I remember playing with a naming app online, finding "Garrett," and suggesting it to his mother. I felt so happy when they picked "my" name. I remember my friend's pregnant belly. Thinking about how she looked seven months into her pregnancy made me remember waving "Bye!" at her belly because...well, Sharaze is a pocket ninja and might keel me if I patted her belly. I remember my happy assumptions that he would soon be here. I remember our happy discussions when he was "baking." Things like how to raise a boy to be a man that really believes in the equality of the sexes, even.

And, I remember other things.

The memory that makes me cry every. time. I think of it is the sound of Mike's voice as he rushed to tell me that Sharaze was okay, and then there was a hesitation on his end, and in that moment I knew without being told. "But, we lost Garrett," he said next. I remember eventually being allowed to see my death-defying friend. No Evel Knievel, no daredevil attempt to leap over school busses and automobiles. No, my friend defied death by living through the end of her pregnancy.

I remember that they finally let me see her, they didn't really know how sick she was or might still be. A day-and-a-half after Garrett's death, her room was still a hotbed of activity. I remember that at one point, right before we found out she needed emergency surgery, a nurse came into the room, and laid a bag of blood on the bed while the nurse arranged the network of IV's going into my friend. I read the label. B POSITIVE. I wrote once before that I didn't know then whether that was a Divine Command or some terrible joke.

Be Positive. Hah.

The truth is, some days it's a lot easier to be positive than others. My friend has had a series of tough breaks since the death of her child. The flip-flop-flip recommendations from her doctors as to whether or not she could survive a third pregnancy, family members that didn't "get it" as to why she can't "just" get pregnant again, a heartbreaking failed adoption, a child that desperately misses her brother--you name it... it's been rough. All this on top of the death of Garrett. All reasons to ignore the oddly-timed observation, B POSITIVE. And yet, I know Sharaze and her husband Mike have chosen the positive. I do not know if I would have the same intestinal fortitude, if our situations were reversed.

I hope that grief-stricken parents look through the Pinwheels blog, because I think if there were ever a model of "healthy grief" Sharaze and Mike have exemplified that. And really, that's a huge part of Garrett's legacy, the ministry of the Pinwheels blog. And, too, I hope you realize that for every niece or nephew, there is an aunt or uncle. May God bless each of you, and your families, too.

This blog post is for the worldwide event Capture Your Grief in honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Day 5: Memory, What memory do you have of your child that stands out for you the most. It may be a positive or negative memory. When you think of your child what is the first memory that comes to your mind?

Friday, October 4, 2013

CYG, Day 4: Legacy

Photo by Elizabeth Wiggs. Taken in 2011, in place of what would have been newborn photos.

I remember being so scared that no one would ever say Garrett's name again. That he wouldn't be anything at all except an empty spot at the table and in our hearts. Or, at worst, to the outside world, he'd be the reason I almost died. The evidence that God didn't exist or did but didn't love us. So many fears.

They weren't unfounded. Any number of those endings could have happened but Mike and I realized early on, thanks to wonderful people who shared their stories, that if we wanted Garrett to live on in more than just our memories and in Heaven, it was up to us. We needed to talk about him. We needed to say his name. We needed to tell our story. We needed to show how much we hurt and cried and yet still had hope.

And, I think that's Garrett's legacy.  I'd rather have Garrett here where he can create his own legacy. But, since this is the path our life has taken, I choose to honor Garrett with hope, openness and health, both emotional and physical.

The fact that Garrett existed brought our family closer together. This is from my first post about Garrett's death, from our family blog:
I told Mike this morning that if baby Garrett's life does nothing else but draw us all closer to each other and closer to God, nothing else but make his mama and papa love each other and appreciate each other more than ever, then that's a darn good legacy for a baby.

He has bonded friendships more tightly than I could have imagined (you can read our friends' year one tributes here).

The GriefShare program we went through with our community group taught us each about grief and how to mourn for ourselves and with others.

Garrett is one of the reasons I write today. This blog is here because of him.

Losing Garrett confirmed that an open adoption is what we wanted. We could never ask a birth parent to say goodbye forever.

I have been able to minister to other hurting parents through my Etsy shop with memorials and Christmas cards that acknowledge loss.

Surviving gave me the courage to pursue the fitness career I talked about for years.

This is a good legacy.

Passing Pinwheels
Kenneth Alan O'Shaughnessy
 Colors burning in the bright summer sun
Kaleidoscoping in the breeze
Friends beside me to share in all the fun
There are no other joys like these
Passing pinwheels from hand to hand
And smiles from face to face
Sharing our simple God-spun joys
Blown our way by grace
Sometimes we have to create our own wind
When the breezes cease to blow
We blow and blow with all the breath God gives
To try to make the pinwheel go
Passing pinwheels from hand to hand
And smiles from face to face
Sharing our simple God-spun joys
Blown our way by grace
And when the soft breezes blow in the clouds
And the sun hides behind the rain
We pass the pinwheels safe on the porch
Until the fair winds blow again
Passing pinwheels from hand to hand
And smiles from face to face
Sharing our simple God-spun joys
Blown our way by grace
All we need is the breath of God
A little paper and a stick
A bunch of friends who'll stay with us
Through the thin and thick
Passing pinwheels from hand to hand
And smiles from face to face
Sharing our simple God-spun joys
Blown our way by grace

This blog post is for the worldwide event Capture Your Grief in honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Day 4: Legacy, Do you believe your child left a legacy behind? It could be something very simple but meaningful.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

CYG, Day 3: Myths

Platitudes are among the worst. When someone is grieving, the only thing I can ask is to please avoid minimizing a loss. Miscarriage, stillbirth, infant loss, child loss, and all the other kind of losses to death and the loss of expectation to divorce or break ups or job losses...none of those things are helped with trite verses or phrases. I know most people don't intend to deepen the wounds. And I try to take people at their intentions and not at their words or tone. But if anyone wants to know what to say to a grieving person? "I'm so sorry." "I'm here for you if you need to talk." "Can I bring dinner?" Send a card. Bring coffee or a cherry limeade--which is all I wanted when I was in the hospital and thank you to my wonderful friends who brought me limeades and sno cones.

I have an off and on series called What Not to Say to a Grieving Parent. It's pretty amazing the things people say. The ones that hurt me the most were suggestions that I might have caused what happened (next time don't exercise as much--exercise saved. my. life.) and the idea that I won't feel better until I birth another child. There's always an awkward silence when I say I cannot have any more children. But even if I could, Garrett was Garrett. Autumn is Autumn. And even the baby we almost brought home to adopt has a place in my heart. He is a loss, too, if not the same kind. All of them are people. Souls, if you will. They aren't interchangeable.

This blog post is for the worldwide event Capture Your Grief in honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Day 3:  Myths, Do you believe there are any myths about grief? You could write the myth on a piece of paper and photograph it.