11 Months

Ayden would have been 11 months old today. I feel certain he would have already taken his first steps by now, and he would probably be saying a few words. He always amazed us at how smart he was. I know every parent thinks their child is brilliant, but as I've said many times before, he did things so much earlier than he was supposed to. We were always baffled by him and the progress in his development. I wonder if Collen will be the same way?

Today is not as hard as most would think. Every day without Ayden is a hard day. The rest of our lives will be filled with hard days. Sure, we have good days. And at this point we are having more good days than bad. But, life for us isn't going to be the "ideal" that most people expect. I realize that no one has a perfect life. We all experience loss. However, the ultimate loss is the loss of a child. I always pictured having a wonderful husband and us having the ideal life - kids, home, pets, complete happiness. And while we'll still have all those things, our happiness will be a little marred. We'll go through life rejoicing in our blessings but also feeling the loss of Ayden every day. Other people will move on....they'll think about us from time to time....they'll see us moving forward with our lives....but we'll never be the same "Lindsay and Jeremy" as we used to be.

God continues to bless us, and we are always awed by it. I think after such a loss, we felt like anything bad that could happen would happen to us. We're having to go back to square one with out faith...relearning how God's word views suffering, loss, pain, etc. Before losing Ayden, I knew that bad things happened to good people. I knew we weren't immune. I prayed over Ayden every night, and I would tell God that I knew he didn't belong to us.....that I know he could be taken at any moment, and that I knew all I could do was accept it and know that it was God's will. Those words were easier to speak when Ayden was physically there...breathing...living. Then, those words became my reality. I was left saying, "God, I did mean those words, but I didn't really think You would feel that I could live them." Now, our reality is a little more jaded. We know that at any moment, anything can happen. I know we shouldn't live in fear, but how do you not?

11 months have gone by so quickly. And next month will be one of the biggest milestones, yet. I don't even know how to prepare for that day. I imagine it won't be much different than today because as I said, every day is a hard day. It'll just be a little more sad to realize that a year ago, Ayden came into our lives and showed us the meaning of complete happiness, and unconditional love. He has changed our lives and the lives of others in so many ways. I never doubt God's purpose for Ayden's life because I've seen the fruit of it. So many people have been changed through Ayden's story - and it's all God. To see God work through such a tiny little person is so amazing....and then to know that it's our son....just humbling.


Collen at 17 weeks


As you can see, he was not shy at all. The last picture is actually one of the first we saw. There was no question that he is a boy.
Going to this ultrasound appointment of course took me back to Ayden's ultrasound. I watched Collen squirm around, and I was astounded at how different the two of them are. Ayden was so laid back....and he wasn't going to show us anything. He was perfectly content to just hang out and go at his own pace. Collen's pace seems to be much faster....definitely an energetic little guy.
As exciting as this is, it's very hard. It's difficult for me to imagine loving Collen with the same intensity as I love Ayden. Don't get me wrong, I already love Collen to pieces! But, I've only ever had one child....one baby...and then I had to deal with losing him. So, he is such a HUGE part of my heart...and me in general. It's just hard to balance it all....but I know I will once he's here.
A lot of people have asked if we are going to have a baby shower. Yes. Some may see that as kind of selfish, but it's different. The situation is completely different. Hand-me-downs are one thing when your family is complete....but ours is not, and the owner of those hand-me-downs is no longer here. I can't look at Ayden's things as anyone else's but his. Even the clothes he never wore.....I still see them as Ayden's...no one else's. It wouldn't be fair to Collen to put him in Ayden's clothes and to use Ayden's things because all I would see is his brother. It would just be hurtful for all of us. So, we hope to do something special with Ayden's clothes. People have mentioned doing a quilt, and I love that idea. So, we hope to do that at some point. The next hurdle will be actually changing out the nursery. I don't want to take down Ayden's things.....I don't want to box it up. I hope the house sells before we have to do that so we can have another reason for boxing it all up, and we can start fresh in a new house....in a new room.
I wish we didn't have to think about all of this.
Collen is so loved....and he is SO very wanted and adored. Thanks for sharing in our joy...grief...excitement...pain...etc. Can't wait to meet Collen and introduce him to you all soon.


"THE" news....

*Added post-post: Did I mention I got to see my midwife for the first time at her new place of work today? Well, I did. She has returned from maternity leave, and can I tell you how wonderful it was to see her?? LOVED IT! LOVED seeing her face when I turned the corner. LOVED that she was waiting anxiously when we came out of the ultrasound (you could have come in there, DeEtte....). She ruined the surprise for herself, though, by seeing the results on the chart (she didn't know they were there) before seeing me. :) I can't tell you how comforted we felt just being with her again. We love the Dr. - she's absolutely wonderful, too. She has been a source of comfort as well...so helpful...and so understanding of our paranoia and NEED for answers right away. I'm so glad I switched over to this practice (not hating on Greenville OB - still love them too!) because since it is smaller, it is more personable. More one-on-one care.....more time for conversation and "getting to know you" time. It's everything I need for this pregnancy.....and so much more. My midwife has been prohibited from taking a vacation in the month of August (well, late August....), and she had made it clear that she will be with us at the delivery at all costs. (woo!)

*HUGE SIGH* - It's safe to say today was a good day.

I know you've all been waiting....(im)patiently. :)

Ayden has a little brother on the way. We saw Mr. Collen Brooks Jones on the ultrasound today, and he is definitely a mover and a shaker. He squirmed the entire time, but we managed to get some good shots of him. He was not shy at all - the first thing we saw was his little boy parts.

Everything checked out great....no surprises. Textbook (I love hearing that term when it refers to me medically.....textbook is great!) I'm happy with being completely normal.

I'll post the ultrasound pictures soon, but couldn't wait to let everyone know.

Please be in prayer, as usual. We are excited, but as you can imagine....another little boy will be bittersweet, but also very special. We know we make beautiful, happy, sweet boys....so we're looking forward to sharing wonderful times with Collen.


One of "those" days...

It's been one of those days.

If you've lost a child, you know what kind of day I mean.

It's the I miss him so much it aches and I can't even remember how to breath properly but I have to force myself to be "normal" so I can make it through the day long enough to get home and let it all out kind of days. One of those days when it's just not fair. One of those days when the "whys" resurface. My number one why question is always, "Why Ayden?" Why did it have to be Ayden? Why the one thing in this world that brought us so much joy?

I've written before about how work causes me to compartmentalize everything, and grief usually gets placed into one of the "boxes" that gets shoved to the back during the work week. When the weekends approach, I feel the box pushing itself to the front....the grief has to come out. I'm glad that I'm able to hold it in while I'm at work, but I hate it, too, because I feel like I'm putting on a front. I feel like everyone thinks I'm back to normal. I know a lot of them know better, especially the people I'm closest to, but there are days when I want to scream, "Do you realize how hard this is for me? Do you know how badly I don't want this to be my life!?" I see the looks I get....the looks of pity (mostly from students because they have no clue what to say to me. I wouldn't know what to say to me either if I was a 17 year old kid.) I want them to know that they shouldn't be afraid to talk to me.....that I'm the same person I was. But I don't want them to think I want to talk about any of this, either, because I don't. I can't let that wall down with them. All of this is very complex....and much harder than I thought it would be....even if I make it look easier than people expected.

I received an email yesterday from a fellow SIDS mom. She and another woman, whom she met because they have both shared the same loss, have a blog that they run together. Yesterday, they both posted their stories. Against my better judgement, I read them. It took me back....and the pain just shot through my heart. I remember that day every, single day. On the way to work each morning, the memories from that day run through my head, and once I reach the parking lot, I'm left sitting....focusing on breathing....telling myself to face another day. All I can see is his face....and I miss that sweet, beautiful face. I miss that smile....and oh do I miss his voice. A few minutes ago, I watched one of my favorite videos of Ayden...one where he is "talking " to Jeremy....it's one of my favorite memories of him because it's so true to his nature. Just our sweet boy....enjoying our company....telling us all about his day...and there we are just smiling, laughing, and loving every second we have been given with him. And then it was gone. Just gone.....and I'm left here weeping....trying to keep it together the best I can.

On days like today, I just need him back. I just need to hold him....see him...touch him.

I was thinking about baby #2 today (so glad we'll have a name for him/her soon) and how much joy he/she will bring to our lives. However, I don't think we'll ever be completely happy again.....not like we were. We will always miss Ayden....no matter how much time passes. I will always cry for him and ache with loss. I will always hope for the future, though....and thank God I have hope.

In moments like these, I just have to write. If I don't, I keep it all in, which means the next time it cycles around, it'll be ten times worse. I've learned that it isn't smart to compress grief. You have to let it in....let it consume you....then let it go. Then...repeat at some point in the near future. So, I hope you all don't mind if, from time-to-time, you have read my "processing posts" where I'm just trying to work my way through it all. It helps me to write it down, and I don't expect comments at all. I know you're all out there....reading and praying. (thank you for that)

As April approaches, I feel like I will have more of these days. I want the month of April to just come and go.....as quickly as possible. It's going to be a long one.


Update on #2

I am 16 weeks today. So hard to believe we've already made it this far, but it also feels like we should be farther! We're about a week and a half away from finding out if #2 is going to be another little boy or our first little girl. I'm more excited about just seeing the ultrasound and knowing that all is well.

We do have names picked out, I think. The girl's name is pretty much for sure. I think the boy's name is set, too. I know I love it, but I'm not sure Jeremy is 100%, yet. We decided that all of our kids will share the same middle name. Ayden's middle name is Brooks, which is also Jeremy's middle name. I knew when I met Jeremy that we would use his middle name with one of our kids. After losing Ayden, we decided ALL of our kids would share the same middle name. So, obviously, if this one is a boy, his middle name will be Brooks. If it's a girl, her middle name will be Brooke.

Now, first names. We also decided we wanted all of our kids' names to end in "en" so they shared a common sound. We've been going back and forth for months now trying to decide on names that we LOVE -there are tons that we like. So, for a girl, (brace yourself, it's long) we have decided on Hannah-Kathren Brooke Jones. She would be called Hannah-Kate. I have loved the name Kate for a very long time, but I don't like it by itself. Kate Jones is just too short of a name. I have also loved the name Hannah for a while now, and I love what it means - "Grace of God." And God has certainly shown us grace by blessing us with another child. So, that's where we get Hannah-Kate. Kate means "pure," so I figure we can at least hold that over her head when she's a boy-crazed teenager. (Oh yeah...we're thinking ahead....)

If this one is a boy (and my gut-feeling says it is), his name will be Collen Brooks Jones. The boy's name was tough. Obviously, Ayden is our favorite boy's name.....nothing measured up to that name for me, so I struggled with boys' names. We had a few we liked, though - Brennen, Collen, Carsen, and Owen. The other night, though, the gut-feeling kicked in, and Collen Brooks Jones was it in my mind. My gut-feeling might be wrong, though. Jeremy thinks it is. So, I guess we'll see.

With Ayden, the gut-feeling kicked in 2 weeks before the ultrasound. Up until then, I thought he was a girl - I was sure of it. Then, the gears just switched. I knew he was a boy.

I won't be disappointed either way. I'm just happy to be able to carry another child. I'm happy to be pregnant again. I LOVE being pregnant. There's something about it that makes me feel so fulfilled, and full of purpose. I don't take it for granted because I know there are so many women who won't have this chance, and my heart aches for them. It isn't fair. Every woman who wants a child should be given this opportunity. It doesn't make them any less of a woman, though....and I hope they can realize that. Being a mother is so much more. If you can love a child unconditionally, with every fiber of your being, and be willing to give your life for that child without even thinking - you're an awesome mother. How that child came to you isn't important.

I have been feeling flutters for the past few days or so. They come and go. I especially feel them when I lean forward....since leaning forward makes the space in there a little cramped. This morning, I turned over to my left side while lying down, and it was like Jiffy Pop popcorn was going off in my belly! I tried to lie still so I could be sure I was feeling what I thought I was feeling. After a few minutes, it went away. I think the kid spazzed out for a few minutes and then wore itself out. I've felt a few nudges since then today as well, so I'm pretty certain I'm feeling baby movement. It's definitely comforting.

We still check the heart beat - usually every other day. Although, during a particularly paranoid week, I will check it every day. The heart beat is staying steady around 160 - 175bpm. And I don't believe the old wive's tales. Ayden's heart beat was always fast, and according to the old wives tales that meant he was a girl. All it tells me is there's a living baby in there, and that's all I need to know.

I'll keep you updated on how things go at the ultrasound. I'm SUPER excited because my midwife is back at work after being out on maternity leave. I'll get to see her for the first time on the day of my ultrasound. I've enjoyed seeing the doctor, who is awesome by the way. If you live in Greenville and are looking for OB care - Carolina Women's Physicians....they're great. I went to Greenville OBGYN with Ayden, and they were awesome too. I LOVE their midwives, but mine happened to transfer over to CWC, so I followed her over. She's already delivered one of our children, might as well hang on to her for the rest.

Please continue to keep us in your prayers. We remember all of you in ours as well, and I think of so many of the families I have met through this blog often. I'm so thankful for the connections I've made. They have helped me cope and find peace and hope for the future.


Life with Fear and Paranoia

I wasn't always the person I am now.

I used to be pretty fearless, and I don't recall being very paranoid.

Then, I had a baby. I read about SIDS. Then, I experienced SIDS.

You may be saying, "She left out the pregnancy. The pregnancy didn't scare her?" Oddly enough, no. I realize now that I was completely naive in my pregnancy with Ayden.....totally innocent. Honestly, I think my mindset was, "As long as I take my prenatal vitamins, everything will be fine." I wasn't worried about miscarriage (I didn't fit the "mold"....well, my son didn't fit the "mold" either....we're proof that "molds" are overrated), I didn't even know what incompetent cervix was. Stillbirth? Does that happen anymore? Pre-eclampsia - my blood pressure is always fine, and I haven't had any swelling. All other possible complications - my response was, "I'm too young for that." These were my naive thoughts.

I've made it to 15 weeks and 2 days with baby #2, and I have lived in fear and paranoia with each passing day. I research any possible thing that could go wrong, and I read story after horrifying story as a way of "preparing myself" for the worst. Because really....I've lived the WORST....how much worse could it get? Every twinge, every move I make, every choice I make to eat or drink anything (the worst imaginable thing being a Diet Coke, which worries me because of caffeine - caffeine scares me, and I know it isn't a big deal!!! Do you see how paranoid I am?!) I wake up each morning expecting that day to be the day this child is taken from me just like Ayden was. How do I ever leave this child unattended once he/she is born? How do I ever trust this child with anyone else ever again? How do I let go of the fear and just trust?

I operate on the "if" mindset now. "If" I make it this far in my pregnancy. "If" this child is born. "If" God allows us to keep this child. "If" this child reaches 6 months old. No more "when" thoughts.

Losing Ayden ripped so much from me. I feel like I'm never going to live life as I used to. I know I won't look at things through the same perspective...ever again. I don't want our future children to see me as someone who is jaded....hanging on to one event that devastated me and brought my world crashing down....unable to move past that moment. But, I don't know how not to be that person right now. With time, I know things will change, but it's hard to see past all of it right now.

I'm not a big picture person anymore. I used to be able to look at the big picture and see the scope of everything. I can't see past tomorrow....and seeing tomorrow is stretching it. Another result of losing Ayden. Our "big picture" with Ayden was ripped apart, and we were forced to live minute to minute....day to day. So now, I focus on getting through the day and waiting to see what is in store for the next day.....with no expectations at all.

I feel like I'm trying, but if I'm honest with myself, I know I'm not trying hard enough. April 27 is staring me in the face....coming much too soon. Sooner than I thought it would. I don't know how to handle that day. I want to do something special, but I don't want a big "to-do" either. I don't want people to think less of me if I don't make his birthday a huge deal. I know they wouldn't, but still....the thought runs through my mind. And what if no one remembers his birthday? How do I handle that? It's all so hard....and I don't know how to take it all in. I don't want to be told how to spend that day.....to be told what we should do. But I don't want to approach that day as a day to just "get through" because it most certainly is not that kind of day. I want to celebrate Ayden and the life that he lived and continues to live. I want to celebrate his joy, his happiness, his big personality, and all that he IS to us and the many people his life has touched. But I don't like that I have to spend his birthday without him. And that one single thought is what is making this so hard.

Jeremy and I celebrated our nephew's first birthday this past weekend. It was great to see Wesley reach this milestone, and I was so happy to be able to share it with him. It was hard, but I wouldn't have missed it for anything. It's hard not to wallow in the fact that we will never have that with Ayden. I tried to push those thoughts out of my mind as I watched Wesley with his cake...opening toys....waddling around. I won't get any of it with Ayden. As soon as those thoughts enter my mind, I remind myself that I won't get any of it HERE......but I will celebrate with him one day. That one little reminder is enough to take the edge off.....just a little. Don't get me wrong....99%o of the time, the "what ifs" and the "whys" take center stage. That one little glimmer of hope helps, though.

I pray that God will continue to see us through. He has brought us a long way already....even though we stumble along most days. Not knowing what the future holds is what scares me the most. I can hope that this new child is going to be with us for a loooooong time, but I'm not promised that. I'm not promised that I won't ever go through this again (although I beg and plead with God every single day to please not put me through this again). We aren't promised all the good and pleasing things. We are only promised that God will never leave us or forsake us (even when we feel like He has completely abandoned us.). I'm still working on believing that 100%, but I do know it's true.

Please pray that the fear and paranoia begin to subside as my pregnancy (God-willing) continues to progress. Selfishly, I pray that the coming months and weeks go by so incredibly quickly that we'll be in the short rows before we know it. I want to find peace again; I feel it slooowly creeping back in from time to time, so I know it's a realistic goal. It's just going to take time. And I hope God gives us a lot of time.....the three(four) of us. I could ask you to pray for all sorts of things, but if those things are not God's will....there's no point. So, all I can ask is that you pray for God's will for us to be granted....whatever it may be.

Thank you all for your encouragement, kind words, and prayers. You have no idea how much of a comfort you have been. I wish I could thank you all personally for the help you have been throughout all of this. Please know that we read every comment and email, and we appreciate your thoughts and prayers so much. Thank you for remembering Ayden for continuing to check in just to see his beautiful face. And thank you for the little things like saying his name, telling us you told Ayden's story, sharing that you thought of Ayden today and smiled, or just including him by saying "the four of you." You all mean so much to us, and we have been so blessed by you.


Rare..."not-like-me" post


It is the absolute WORST thing one of my students can do. I've been home all day (and yesterday since snow closed school) editing rough drafts of research papers. It's not an easy task...much like it is not an easy task for my students to pull resources, materials, time, energy together to write their research papers. I know how much they put into them, so I don't consider it a chore to edit them.....IF they do it the right way.

The wrong way? Plagiarize.

You don't plagiarize in my class and get away with it. I absolutely abhore and detest plagiarism. Granted, I realize it's going to happen. I don't expect their papers to be completely free of it. I'm not a tyrant or anything, but I do have high expectations - especially when I provide 2 weeks worth of class time to do the research, note cards, bibliography, provide the proper "how-to" instruction, and then give them time to actually type the paper. I consider that VERY kind of me. My teachers never gave us that oppotunity, nor do many of the teachers in the county allow this kind of time for their students. However, since I teach in a rural community, and I realize many of my students don't have the needed resources outside of school, I choose to give them the time they need.

I've watched my classes over the past couple of weeks. Many of my students took advantage of the time they were given, and they worked hard to get their work done....the right way. As usual, I also had a few who chose not to use their time wisely. And, as I told them at the beginning of the semester, once you get behind you will stay behind. (I also told them I am always right....they're beginning to learn that that statement is more true than they first imagined.) These few chose to listen to music instead of doing their work. They chose to disrupt class, show no effort, and now they are paying for their lack of initiative. Typically, which is the reason for my rant, when they finally realize their poor time management, they turn to plagiarism, which results in the boiling of Mrs. Jones's blood.

Okay. I'm done. I rarely get like this. I just detest apathy and lack of initiative when I have given ample time and opportunity for the work to be done the right way. It is not fair to the rest of my students who decided to do things the right way for the slackers to get by with it. So, now I have to decide on an action plan. The policy is that plagiarism results in a zero....period. That's the first plan of action - instill fear of failing. In the past, at this point in the semester, when a student plagiarizes and I catch them (never a question of "if" - always a matter of "when"), this is when we find out if they want to put forth enough effort to continue moving forward....or just give up. I'm all for pushing them forward, but I can't give them the will power. Which is why they just need to listen to me to begin with and just do what I tell them to do when I tell them to do it. That sounds very prideful of me, but I feel like I'm good at my job, and I'm good at preparing them for this part of their senior year. I can't save them all, though.....as much as I wish I could.

Okay, I'm really done now. Today's lesson: If you plagiarize in my class, you will be caught, and when your teacher happens to be pregnant....do whatever it takes to keep her fat and happy.

My posts will return to their normal content from this point forward.