This Christmas


4 comments
I'm posting the day after Christmas...shame on me. Yesterday was a whirlwind...visiting four houses over the course of the day - two sets of grandparents - two great-grandparents. I love seeing everyone at Christmas, but I also wish it wasn't so crazy so we could sit and spend time with each other.



Last year, we began a Christmas tradition that will be a part of our family every Christmas. On Christmas morning, the first thing we do, once we're up and ready, is go visit Ayden's spot. I realize it's not the picturesque Christmas morning tradition....but for us, it's what helps us feel complete. This year, Collen took part in the tradition. As you would expect, it was hard. I missed Ayden this Christmas....just like last Christmas. Tears were shed...as they often are when we think of and miss our Ayden. In that moment, I was "with" my two boys....but not in a way anyone would ever want to be with their children. But I found so much comfort...and yes, a little joy, in knowing that Ayden was spending his Christmas with the King of Kings....the reason we celebrate at Christmas (and all year).

This year, I have to say....Christmas was a completely different (and good) experience. Last year, I was wishing Christmas away. This year, I was wishing it would never end. I look forward to sharing many more with Collen and our future children. I'm thankful that we were able to experience Christmas through the eyes of a child (one who doesn't have a clue what's going on right now...but still...) after longing for it and aching for it for so long.


We're snowed in today, so we sort of got a white Christmas. We're just enjoying being together (and having a chance to nap...and nap...and nap some more) and reflecting on all that God has blessed us with this year. Hard to believe a new year is approaching....

I hope you and yours have a very Merry Christmas, and I pray that God will bless you in this new year!



Photobucket

4 months old!


9 comments
Yesterday, you turned 4 months old. A milestone we've been anxiously anticipating!
You do all sorts of fun things these days!
Here's what you can do:
- Reach and grasp for toys, faces, shirts, books...anything within reach. As soon as it's in your hands, you want it in your mouth!
-Jabber and squeal (although, you go through talking/silent phases)
- Bring your hands together
-Stand up on our laps (you love this!)
-Sit up with support and hold your head steady
-Your favorite game is to grab your toes
-Smile really big! No laughs yet...
-Turn your head to sounds and voices (you recognize your daddy's voice from across the room!)
-Roll from front to back...although you don't like being on your tummy at all...
-Sleep through the night! and napping 2-3 times a day (but you fight them so much!)
-You're wearing 6 month clothes, but some are still a little too big. They fit in the waist and hips, but they're too long and too big for your chest and shoulders.
We went to Collen's 4 month check up today. Our first 4 month check up out of our two boys. This time, I didn't know what to expect. I couldn't anticipate the instructions the doctor might give. It's all brand new now. We asked the doctor about checking Collen's serotonin levels in light of the recent study and correlation between low serotonin and SIDS. She didn't feel that the study was concrete enough to warrant serotonin testing since it may/may not give us false reassurance. She did, however, order an EKG to check Collen's heart since heart issues can also be related to SIDS (since the sudden stopping of the heart is a factor). She also referred us to a Pediatric Neurologist who is knowledgeable on SIDS studies so we can speak with her, discuss concerns, and possibly discuss some metabolic testing. I was so impressed with her willingness to just listen and show so much compassion. She's the first one who really seemed to be listening to me and understanding our concerns. She was so great with Collen, too (once we very kindly corrected her and told her he was in fact a BOY...). She let him hold her finger as she talked and he seemed so enthralled with everything she was doing....until the shots came. He did great with those, though. Only cried when she gave them to him; once she picked him up and handed him to me, he was smiling at her. He has grown quite a bit, but he's leveling out as far as percentages go.
Collen's Four Month Stats:
Weight: 16lbs 10oz (75th %)
Length: 25 3/8 inches (75th %)
Head Circumference: 44cm (90th %)
He has a shorter stature than Ayden and a bigger head than Ayden. I think he's taking after me as far as length and body type goes (except those legs....those are his daddy's legs!). He has tiny little feet, and he's quite chunky....definitely takes after me. Jeremy and I aren't the skinniest of people, so Collen's destined to have some meat on his bones! :)
All in all, we were so grateful to be at the 4 month checkup. It has been exciting to see what 4 month olds do. We try not to dwell on everything we missed out on with Ayden because our time with Ayden...as short as it was...was perfect. Thinking about everything we missed would mean a lifetime of "if onlys" and that's just not how we choose to do things. Ayden certainly wouldn't want that. We are enjoying every minute with Collen and loving watching him learn and do so many fun, new things!
Here are some more pictures from his monthly photo session - I consider these the bloopers. :) He's a funny boy...












And this one's just for fun...because who can resist that smile??


Photobucket


Getting so big!


5 comments
Collen will be 4 months old tomorrow! He has grown so much in the past few weeks - it's amazing! He is doing new things - reaching, grasping, pulling objects into his mouth. He loves to sit and try to grab his feet. Whenever they are in view, he's reaching for them (as you'll see in the pictures below). He loves for you to stand him up on your lap. He prefers to be sitting up instead of lying back, but he can't sit up on his own, so he gets very frustrated sometimes. He wants to be independent, but he has a couple more months before that happens. Big boy... He still hasn't given us any big laughs. I was able to get ONE little laugh out of him the other day, but no more since then. His new thing is sticking his tongue out...all the time. He's definitely learning how it works, so perhaps some rice cereal is in his future. Here are some pictures from yesterday.... Check in tomorrow for his 4 month picture :)
















Photobucket

3 months 28 days


7 comments
Today, Collen and Ayden are the same age. After the morning passed, Collen became older than his big brother. It has definitely been a bittersweet day....remembering "that" day. Hard memories have passed through my mind as I've looked at Collen today. I spent most of the day remembering what Ayden was doing at this age...what he looked like...how happy he made me feel....how amazingly complete he made us feel.

I can't believe Collen is already nearly 4 months old. There are still days when I look at him and say, "I can't believe you're really here." After losing a child....and then gaining another...it's still a bit surreal. He is truly a miracle and an absolute answer to prayer. He doesn't make me miss Ayden any less...in fact, I miss him more each day. But having Collen in our lives has helped to ease the pain.

The 22nd, Collen will be 4 months old. From this point forward, the "firsts" lie with Collen, and I'm looking forward to it so much.


Little boy,

3 months and 28 days wasn't enough time with you, but we cherished every second of it. Although our time here was short, we look forward to forever with you when we are reunited once again. We love you and miss you desperately. We see glimpses of you in your brother. Although he is different in many ways, he shares so much of your personality, face, and your beautiful smile. You will always be his big brother....even when he's old and gray. And you always be a part of our lives. We love you, sweet boy.




Photobucket

Snow day


1 comments
Should be more like "icy rain" day. School was cancelled for the day, so Jeremy got to stay home with us! As I type this, Collen is snoozing on his chest. It has been nice to have him home during the week. Monday, Christmas vacation starts for him, so he'll be home with us for about 2 weeks or so. :)

I've been watching the first two Narnia movies today. We saw the newest Narnia movie on Sunday. It was so powerful - definitely a must-see. The ending especially has deep meaning to us. You'll have to see it to know why.

For today, these words of Aslan's are giving me some comfort:

"Thing never happen the same way twice, dear one."

I sure hope that's true.

Photobucket

A Jones Christmas


6 comments
Since I'm not able to send Christmas cards to everyone (oh, I would if I could!!), I wanted to at least do some sort of virtual Christmas card. So, click on the link below for our virtual Christmas card.

Thank you all for your continued thoughts, prayers, and kind words...especially during the holiday season. This year, Christmas will bring a lot of joy, but also a bit of sadness as well. We celebrate the reason for the season....the birth of our savior...the one who brought us salvation and the promise of eternal life through HIM. Big or small, be thankful for the many blessings in your life!

Merry Christmas to you and yours this holiday season!


A Jones Christmas

Photobucket

Finally finished!


7 comments
***Added info*** Some of you were interested in how I made the wreath. I first saw it at The Nester, and she has good instructions and links to other wreath-making sites on her post. Here is the link:
Nester - Coffee Filter Wreath

Thanks for your compliments! I really enjoyed making it, and it looks wonderful in our home!

******************************


So, about 6 weeks ago (or so...) I decided I was going to attempt to make a coffee filter wreath after reading a blog post about them over at The Nester. I'm not the craftiest of people, but I secretly dream of being one of those women who can make something charming out of nothing! So, I thought, "Hmm...coffee filters and hot glue....I don't think I can screw that up too badly." I liked the idea of this project because it was CHEAP. I got the coffee filters at the dollar store, and I think I got a pack of 150 for $1! Then, I bought a straw wreath form at Michael's for $4. I opted to paint the edges of the coffee filters to add a little charm to the wreath; I went with a gray/blue, which was on sale at Michael's. I already had a hot glue gun and glue sticks. All in all, the project cost me about $6.

Thankfully, I didn't screw it up, but it sure did take me FOREVER to get it finished. The Nester claimed she did it in about 2 hours. I guess I could have done that if I had 2 hours (more like 4 for me...) to just sit and work on it. However, little ones make life very demanding! But, I'm happy to say that it is finished, and I LOVE IT!! It is a lovely addition to our home! It definitely shows up the couch, though. Hmmm...perhaps a new couch would do the trick? hehe

Check out how beautiful coffee filters can become....













My next project: sewing cloth wipes.



Photobucket

Let's lighten the mood, shall we?


6 comments
Thank you all for your kind and encouraging words. I know that I can't change anything, and the "what ifs" can eat at you until you've convinced yourself otherwise. I'm trying to not give into fear and just trust God and His goodness. Once we make it to 4 months with Collen, I think we'll all be breathing a little easier.

Week 15 has been an eventful week around here. Here are some pictures of Collen throughout the week! This week he discovered his feet, and he's getting much better at grasping objects when he reaches for them. He isn't a big fan of tummy time, but he'll oblige for mom to take a few pictures. :) He's growing way too fast!!

























Collen has become very vocal recently, and we've learned that he is LOUD! He loves to squeal, coo, say "ah-goo", and "talk" whenever he has a captive audience....or sometimes, just to himself. He has quite the personality, and we're loving learning all about him and listening to every little noise he makes. (Please excuse Tucker hackin' in the background...he has such cooth and timing.)












Photobucket

Last night


12 comments
After I posted the link on my last post, I couldn't settle my mind. I was in the bed, winding down for the night, when Jeremy came in and told me about the link between SIDS and Serotonin being on the news. Of course, I googled it to read about it. I had heard of this theory before; it came out this year around February. I read about the most recent findings and how they are pretty sure this is what causes SIDS deaths.

You would think I might find a little solace in possibly knowing "why."

It did the opposite. It sent my mind into a whirlwind because IF a Serotonin deficiency is what caused Ayden's passing, then that means it could have possibly been prevented. A Serotonin deficiency doesn't mean "it's inevitable"; it just means "there's a chance." We lost our son to chance. The idea of losing him to something that was unpreventable was easier to handle; this took me back into the early stages of grief all over again.

When Jeremy told me goodnight, I think he noticed that I was a little affected by all this. He asked if I was okay. I told him I was, but I should have said, "I will be." I laid there with my heart so heavy, tears in my eyes, missing Ayden and wondering if all of this means that he COULD still be here.

I was left with so many questions:

"If Ayden had a Serotonin deficiency, does that mean one of us passed it to him?"

"What about Collen? Can he be tested?"

"Can we be tested to find out if it's genetic?"

"Would Ayden still be here if had been watched a little more closely? If he had been found a few minutes earlier..." (I'm not implying anything against the daycare provider....I know she was just putting him down for a routine nap. There was no way of knowing...)

"Does this mean it could have been prevented? There was a chance of it not happening to him?"

"Why couldn't they have found out all of this way before now?"

"If this case study is based off of 35 infants, how solid are the findings?"

All of this has me watching Collen even more closely than I already was. I pay attention to his sleep/wake cycles, and I monitor his breathing. I'm scared to death to put him on his stomach (which luckily, he hates anyway) for fear of him learning how to roll over at such a young age (like Ayden did). I know he will be rolling over in the very near future; I know I can't stop him; I don't want to; but if it's a part of development that he doesn't reach early...I won't be upset. He has much less control of his head than Ayden did....so it terrifies me.

This also has be back-tracking, making note of Ayden's behavior and certain characteristics:

-He wasn't a heavy sleeper.
-He was easy to wake up; although, compared to Collen, he was a much heavier sleeper.
-He was ALWAYS content....rarely cried...very complacent. (Could this be a clue??)

And then I'm baffled because

-He had such a strong neck. He could hold his head up while on his stomach. Why did he struggle with that the day we lost him?

-He could roll himself back and forth with no problem. Why couldn't he do it the day we lost him?

-He just doesn't fit the mold of this study....makes it harder for me to accept.


It hurts to think that this could have been caught. This might have been prevented. Ayden could still be here....

Photobucket

Worth reading....


1 comments
New research information on SIDS:

http://www.businessweek.com/lifestyle/content/healthday/642503.html

My question is: Will they now develop a test to perform on infants to gauge serotonin levels so an intervention can take place before the baby gets into a compromised position? If so, we could be looking at a huge decrease in SIDS cases...

I'd also like to know if parents are linked to the decrease in serotonin levels.

Missing Ayden so much...

Photobucket

I didn't know it would be like this...


10 comments
A while back, I wrote about 28 days and how Ayden was 3 months and 28 days old when he passed away. Most parents mark weekly, monthly, yearly milestones. For us, it's a bit different. As I mentioned in that post, Collen is approaching the 3 month 28 day mark. He's 15 days from it to be exact. To say that it has made me apprehensive is an understatement. As of December 21st, we'll be in uncharted territory. All we've ever known is infancy up to 4 months old. And we've also only known the tragic loss of an almost-4-month-old infant.

I knew I would approach this milestone with quite a bit of anxiety, but I didn't realize it would be so intense.

I've awoken from nightmares...checking to make sure Collen is still here, because in my dreams, I'm fighting to save him, but reluctant because I'm so sure he's going to be taken from me anyway. I go through each day wound so tightly with anxiety....just wondering if today is the day he'll leave us.

For the most part, my optimism is able to overrule the anxiety and paranoia, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't worry myself sick at times.

I hate that my mind works this way now....that my heart anticipates more heartbreak. I lost so much when we lost Ayden...ignorant, blissful innocence being the main thing.

I'm putting every ounce of hope into seeing Collen turn 4 months, 6 months, 12 months, 24 months...18 years...50 years old. I know I'm not promised tomorrow, but I can hope for it....

Photobucket

First snow!


7 comments
Here's what it looks like around our neck of the woods tonight:



We don't get much snow, so a sight like this is so exciting for us! I get so giddy when it snows! :)

Photobucket

Humbled


7 comments
I started my blog 2 years ago. It began as an online journal of sorts....a way for me to keep friends and family up-to-date on my pregnancy (with Ayden) and for me to be able to chronicle this new chapter in my life. On August 25th, 2009, my blog took a turn I never expected. I became a part of a community of blogging mothers better known as "Baby Loss Mothers." There are hundreds of blogs centered around the loss of a child. I've often wondered why the media doesn't recognize this. Blogging is so popular; so many people are a part of the blogging world. I recently saw something about blogging mothers on Good Morning America, and I also heard blogging mentioned on "The Talk" one afternoon. Both instances were about blogging mothers. They are just your everyday, stay-at-home (or working) mother...perhaps incorporating a special skill or hobby into their blog. That's great....all for it...and I'm glad they're being recognized. However, on the flip side....there's this community. A community of mothers blogging through grief; trying to get a grasp on a new reality; attempting to make the most of a life they never wished for themselves; a community of some of the strongest, most inspirational women I've ever "met." But, no one talks about this community. I guess it's taboo to talk about the death of a child. It's too hard. It's too sad.

You know what? It happens every. single. day. And the fact that it is a taboo subject makes the grief that much more isolating. There have been many times when I've been made to feel awkward about sharing or talking about our loss because it was just too much for someone to handle. It makes people feel uneasy. They don't know what to say. They don't know how to respond when it's brought up. And oftentimes, we're the ones left feeling like we did something wrong by talking about it....because we made the conversation awkward. Well, I am so sorry that talking about my child, who happens to have passed away, made YOU feel uncomfortable. (I'm generalizing here....speaking for all the parents out there who have lost children.)

I get so hyped up about this sometimes because I watch TV and I see vulgarity, crime, hypocrisy, greed....all the evils of the world getting all the attention....being glorified. I watch Oprah's farewell season and how trivial some of the topics are. I want to write in and say, "Hey...you want a story? You want to reach people? You want to touch lives? Talk about our children. Make it real to people. Go out on a limb and talk about the taboo. Have a studio full of women who have been there, who are on this journey, and are surviving....and are stronger for it and making a positive difference in this world." (Granted, she did have a family on a while back who had experienced the loss of their children....I give her props for that.)

I saw Nicole Kidman interviewed today about her new movie, The Rabbit Hole. It's about child loss. I was glad someone was bringing this subject out. The last movie I remember touching on this subject (I'm sure there have been more...I know there have, but I don't go seeking those out...) was My Girl. And while I was glad someone was talking about, making a movie about it, and causing people to see anotther side of life...a darker side....I was still sort of angered by it. Because Nicole Kidman hasn't been there. She's an actress playing a part. We are LIVING IT.

I get tired sometimes of being a part of something that people just don't want to talk about. It's too hard. It's hard to imagine. It makes people uncomfortable. Again....try living it. You think it's hard to talk about it? hear about it? read about it? LIVE IT then tell me what's hard and what's not. Your perspective changes, and the world is completely different.

I don't know why I got on my high horse about this here. It wasn't what I intended to write about at all. I came to my blog to recognize people who have helped me along this journey. I was given a blog award - the "Cherry on Top Award" (for blogs with that little touch of something extra). I was struck because the person who gave it to me is new to this experience. She lost her son recently to SIDS, and she reached out to me. I can't tell you how humbled I become when someone calls me inspirational, strong, or credits me for a change they've made in their life. I just shake my head back and forth as I read comments that commend ME for something....and I just repeat over and over, "No, no, no, no. It's not me."

It's not me.

I'm not strong.....or at least, I don't feel like I am. Even at my "strongest" I feel weak.

And "inspirational" - I don't even know how to respond. I don't feel like an inspiration to anyone. I'm human. I'm a sinner. I make mistakes. I get angry. I lash out. I'm selfish. I doubt. I'm just trying my best to do what I feel is right in this new life of mine. Many days, I feel like I'm just going through the motions....waiting for the day when life feels "normal" again. It's been over a year, and I'm still waiting. I've made it this far just by taking it one day at a time. I've approached our loss and my grief in the way that was right for me and in the way that I would teach my children to approach it. And I'm not the first to approach all of this in the way that I have. So, I'm always humbled to be called an inspiration because I'm just doing the best I can with the cards we've been dealt.....and I've tried to follow God's leading in all of it. Some days, I ignored Him. Some days, I was so angry with Him. Some days, I pleaded for answers only to hear silence. But, I continued to trust Him....even when I didn't want to. Some may call that strong and inspirational. To me....it's just me handling it the only way I know how.

Thank you is all I can say. And if you've contacted me and said, "Because of you.....or...because of your blog.....or......because of Ayden....." it isn't me - it's HIM. Give HIM the credit because I don't deserve it. I'm just a tool. My blog is a tool. Ayden's story is a tool.....and HE is the one using us and our story for HIS glory. Every day, I wish it wasn't us....I wish it wasn't our story....I wish it wasn't my Ayden, I wish it didn't have to be any of our children, but I can't change any of it (believe me, if I could....oh, I would!). But, this is our reality, and I choose to use it to glorify Christ and the promises He has made us.

I'm not good at reciprocating the award-giving. I usually don't have time to sit down and do all that it requires. So, I hope it's okay if I change it up a little. I do want to recognize some of the women who have helped me. Because once upon a time, I was new to this. I was seeking answers. I was feeling alone and desperately seeking out people who were experiencing this loss. I needed to see that it was possible to move forward. These women and their blogs were the first ones I came to. They brought me so much comfort and provided insight and wisdom that helped me through. My life has been changed because God placed them in my life and because their sweet children were a part of this world (and gosh, I can't wait to meet those children someday!)

Thank you.....

Grayson's mom
Caden's mom
Mark's mom
Laynee's mom
Cora's mom

There are many others, too, but these ladies were the first five I stumbled upon. I think of them and their children so often, and like them, I wish the world could know our stories and know our children. I will always remember your children, and they will always hold a special place in my heart.


Photobucket

Christmas Food Court Flash Mob, Hallelujah Chorus - Must See!


2 comments
I saw this on TV today, and I just had to share it with you all. Almost every time I hear this song, I get chills and tears flood my eyes. I know that if I had been sitting in the food court, witnessing this, I would be bawling my eyes out. I bet it was a beautiful moment.

One day, I'm going to be a part of a flash mob. It looks like so much fun! (But I can't sing like this...so I'll have to be a part of a non-singing flash mob.)

Check it out!





Photobucket

A double life


11 comments
I'm going to try to articulate this as easily as possible, but if it comes out making no sense at all....I apologize.

The other day, I was changing Collen's diaper. Nothing out of the ordinary...just your everyday diaper change. But, every diaper change brings a sense of deja vu with it.

"I've done this before....in another life....at another time." - This is the feeling I get.

Ayden.

And this is where it gets weird.

Some days, I feel like my time with Ayden was a dream. A beautiful dream. A life I had a long, long time ago. A separate life. In the life I'm living now, I feel like a different person. I feel like I'm living another life.

The two lives don't feel connected, and I'm left feeling like I'm in a time warp. Memories of life with my first born...floating around in my head...the feeling of complete, wreckless happiness swirling around in my mind and swelling in my heart. Then my mind says, "That was me? That was my life? My life wasn't always this?"

I feel like I've been living without Ayden for years. I feel like it was so much longer than a year ago.....but it still hurts the same. I feel like my heart has been broken forever, and I wonder if I'll ever be the "old me" again.

I don't think it's possible.

I would love to be the "old me" again, but that "me" can never be without Ayden here, alive. I lost so much of myself when we lost him. I lost "the picture perfect life." I lost innocence. I lost the ability to be carefree. I lost the ability to think rationally (because now...I consider every possible bad thing that could happen at any given time).

I'm still me, but I feel like there are two of me, and they're so disjointed; they'll never be the same person again.

And all of this happened over a diaper change.

Photobucket

10 comments
So, I had too many pictures to choose from! I had to go with a layout that included more pictures. I love how it turned out....just wish we could all be in it together.



With Love Blue Christmas Card
Shop Shutterfly for elegant custom Christmas photo cards.
View the entire collection of cards.




Photobucket

A sneak peek!


14 comments













If you're in the Eastern NC area and looking for a talented photographer - check out Karen's site: http://www.twentytwophoto.com/

Photobucket

Happy Birthday Jeremy


7 comments
Happy 28th Birthday to the guy who stole my heart away 10 years ago.....



Thank you for all that you do for us and our family.
Thank you for being my best friend, my rock, my safety net, my hero, my comfort....
Thank you for supporting me and providing for our family...


You are a loving husband, a wonderful father, a loyal friend, a brother in Christ. You have touched many lives through your example and witness, and I know you will touch many more.




I love you, and your sons sure do love you, too. I loved to watch Ayden light up when you walked into his view. And now, I love watching Collen do the same thing.
Happy Birthday, Jeremy. I pray we share many more together.



Photobucket