So, this year, Halloween was a bit different. Still tough...every holiday will be....but not as heartbreaking as last year.
This year, I wanted to dress Collen up, but for some reason I couldn't bring myself to. Instead, I put him in the token "First Halloween" outfit, complete with jack-o-lantern socks. He didn't need a costume. He oozes cuteness just as himself.
This weekend, Collen and I went with my parents to visit my grandparents. The last time they saw Collen, he was 2 weeks old, on the bili blanket, and trying to gain back the weight he had lost. We were a bit stressed over breastfeeding, jaundice, and the typical newborn worries. This time, Collen was a bit more interactive and definitely more snuggly without that bili blanket!
Overall, he did great for a 2 month old...being a in a car for 3 hours there and back and then an additional hour to get back home. We had a few meltdowns, but it was nothing a little nursing and cuddling with Mommy wouldn't fix. I love that he needs ME in those moments and that I can calm him in those moments.
Here are some pictures from our weekend. Hope you and yours had a fun little Halloween.
My mom said it could be my Christmas present, and since I really didn't NEED anything (a lot of wants....little needs...) other than a pantry, I decided this would be a lovely addition. I'm slowly changing the style of our furnishings to shabby chic; this will be our first big piece. It might stand out a bit now, but soon, it'll fit right in.
Honestly, I hadn't REALLY thought about it. I had made little notes in my head when Collen would make a face or do something that reminded me of Ayden, but I hadn't really sat down and contemplated what my two sons share and what is unique about each one.
It is extremely important to us to share as much of Ayden as possible with his sibling(s) (yeah...the plural of that word will not happen for some time now, unless it's completely unplanned!) A year has passed, and I'm saddened that at times, I will remember something Ayden did or a memory we shared together and realize that I had forgotten it ever happened. I know that's normal though; as life moves forward and new memories are made, the older memories are still there, and it's even sweeter when they pop into your mind out of nowhere.
So, I have been gathering, in my mind, what I see as similiarities and differences in our two boys up to this point.
The older Collen gets, the more and more he resembles Ayden. Sometimes, I feel like I'm looking at the same baby. They don't look exactly alike, but they are very, very close. In their appearance, they share the same mouth, and their eyes look very alike. The shape of their faces is the same. However, their noses and cheekbones are different. We will never know whose nose Ayden ended up with, but it resembled mine when I was a baby. Collen may end up with his dad's nose, which would be great because Jeremy has a nicely-shaped nose. (haha)
Personality and Temperament:
This is where our two boys have some differences. Ayden was much more content than Collen. Now, Collen is a pretty content baby. However, he has his testy moments. Luckily, I know what he needs in those moments, so he can be easily appeased. Overall, though, Ayden was our more content baby. We could take him anywhere, any time, (except on a train through a tunnel; he didn't like that), under pretty much any circumstance, and he would just be happy and content. Collen - we have to feel him out a little bit before taking him somewhere. Usually, he'll be fine, but we have to be a little more considerate of his mood.
What they share: They are smiley boys. :) And that makes my heart so happy. Collen and Ayden share the same smile. I loved everything about Ayden, but my favorite trait of his was his beautiful smile. To see that smile on his brother's face is witnessing Grace at work. After Ayden passed away, I would plead and talk with God, and would often mention missing Ayden's smile....just wanting to see that smile again. He gave me Ayden's smile back, and I'm so glad I can share that with Collen as he gets older. I think he'll think it's pretty cool that they have the same smile. Collen, just like Ayden, will smile and smile at just about anybody (and anything)! Like his brother, Collen wakes up so happy in the mornings, and will smile and smile and talk up a storm! I love that they share this similarity.
Collen is a tad behind Ayden in development. Ayden was always way ahead of the curve. Collen will be 10 weeks old on Sunday, and he has just started owning his voice and getting the hang of cooing and jabbering. Ayden was doing this at 7-8 weeks old. Ayden smiled at us, intentionally, at around 5 weeks. Collen reached this milestone around 6 weeks. And by 10 weeks old, Ayden was holding his head up very, very well. Collen is getting better, but he's still pretty wobbly. They are both big boys, though. Ayden always measured in the 75th-90th percentile, with his head measuring smaller. Collen is smaller in height, but definitely shares the chunky factor with his brother. Collen weighs more than Ayden did at almost 10 weeks old, but only by about a pound or so. If I'm honest with myself, I'm kind of relieved that Collen is behind Ayden developmentally. Ayden rolled over very early (3 1/2 months), and it made me so nervous. I know it isn't out of the ordinary for babies to roll over this early, but he was rolling over from back to stomach and the stomach to back...like a pro! That seems pretty early to me to be doing that. Although he could hold his head up perfectly while on his stomach, it still concerned me. So, if Collen waits a little longer to reach this milestone, I'll be perfectly content.
Collen is his own little person. We love that about him. He's Collen. He has a personality true to himself. He is unique, and we discover new little quirks in him every day. He does share similarities with his brother, and we are so thankful for that. But, we enjoy seeing the differences, too.
Have I mentioned lately how in love I am with this little boy? He holds my heart in those tiny palms of his, just as his brother did/does. I look at them both and am overcome with emotion because I can't believe they're mine. They are a part of me and of Jeremy. It still amazes me! God's creation and the miracle of a child are so awesome. I feel humbled that God would entrust me with carrying these two little lives and allowing me to feel them growing, kicking, hiccuping, and then to be blessed with delivering them into this world. I look at Collen every day and thank God for trusting us with his life, and that's usually followed by, "Please....let us keep him."
Once Collen reaches the 4 month mark, his personality and little quirks will be unique to him alone. I will always wonder what Ayden would have been like at 6 months, 9 months, a year, 2 years. I have my ideas, but I'll never fully know. Collen will allow us (we pray!!) to experience everything we have missed with Ayden. I'm so glad they share similarities because although we never knew Ayden as a toddler, we will get a glimpse at him through Collen.
I look forward to sharing these similarities with Collen once he's old enough to understand. Our hope and prayer is that Ayden's siblings will be so proud of their big brother and want to tell everyone about him. Although our/their situation is not the norm, we hope it will mold our children in a way that helps them to strongly grasp and clearly understand Heaven. We also hope for them to understand that death is not be feared if we are living in Christ. Although this was not the plan WE had for Ayden's life and the impact he would make, and if given the choice we'd change it in a second, perhaps God had in mind for Ayden's life to help cement His love and His sacrifice in the lives of our children, those who knew Ayden, and those who hear his story.
You were such a brave boy for your shots. You got two of them today, and we have to go back for one more vaccine since Mommy didn't want you to have 3 in one day. 2 was enough! You only cried for a few seconds, and when Dr. Prevatte picked you up, you calmed right down. Such a good boy.
Here's proof of one of your shots.
Look at those chubby little legs....
Check out how much Collen has grown in a month! He's really filling out and getting quite chunky. His 2 month appointment is Monday. I plan to update his stats that day for you guys. He's a sweet, sweet baby, and we love him more and more every day. He makes our lives so happy.
He seems much better today. I watched him very closely yesterday, but as most cats do....he slept most of the day. However, when he was up walking around, I made sure I observed him. He seemed much more steady on his feet, and he even wanted to go outside, so I watched him walk down the steps with only a slight sense of hesitation.
He has been chasing Tucker around this morning, and he went outside to roll around on the back patio. His head doesn't seem AS tilted, but it's still a little tilted. I wish I had a picture for you, but he's elusive when it comes to the camera.
I cleaned out his ears, and hopefully that helped. But really...wrestling with a 16 pound cat is not the easiest of tasks, so I do the best I can to keep him groomed and keep his ears clean. At one point, I was literally sitting on top of him to keep him in place.
Hopefully, things are getting better. Thanks again for checking in ;)
My immediate thought - "Cats aren't supposed to stumble and fall." I looked at him, puzzled, and reassured myself that maybe he just tripped over himself.
Well, a couple days passed, and I noticed another strange thing in addition to the stumbling, which was still happening. His head was titled to one side. I thought, maybe he's just trying to look inquisitive? Sometimes, when he's tuned into something rather intently, he'll tilt his head. This was definitely different; as if his head was stuck in this position.
At this point, I became extremely worried. I think I noticed the head tilt on Saturday, and the stumbling has been going on since about Wednesday. Poor guy....
I watched him try to jump on top of his litter box (this is where he eats his food because if we put it on the floor, Tucker eats it.). He jumped on onto it, but then fell off. Ooohh....I felt so terrible. I did a fair amount of fussing over him and petting him and just checking him out.
At first, I thought the stumbling was due to some matted hair on his underbelly/bottom area. I figured the matted hair was "pulling" and causing some discomfort with stretching his legs. So, I took a brush to him and brushed as much as he would allow. He hates to be groomed, so the fact that I was able to substantially thin some of the hair out was a huge success. However, now with the head tilt, I don't think it's the hair.
So, I did want any desperate person does in this kind of situation. I turned to Google. Jeremy suggested I look up vertigo in cats. He is exhibiting the exact symptoms - head tilt and stumbling. Poor thing; I bet it's freaking him out. It's freaking me out! I watch him so intently.... He's my cat; our first pet; if something were to happen I'd be so upset. I mean, I know he's just a cat....but still....you know what I'm saying.
I'm going to continue to watch him tomorrow. If it doesn't seem to be any better, I may call the vet. I'm going to have to go with a vet who will make house calls, though. The main reason I don't take Sinatra to the vet anymore is because he turns into the evil cat from Pet Cemetary when we take him in. The vet can't get anywhere near him and the only way they can get him up on the table is by using a net. Yeah...you're not going to get a cooperative cat when you pull the net out. So, instead of wasting money for a visit where they say, "Since he won't let me near him, I'll just have to go with what I can see...." I think I'll look into a house call.
Have any of you ever experienced this? If so, is it worth a vet visit or will it go away on its own?
My sister, Megan, works in the NICU at the hospital here in town - Pitt County Memorial Hospital. I'm proud to say it is one of the top hospitals on the east coast! Well, when we lost Ayden to SIDS and the talk of a future child started coming about, Megan suggested that we insist Collen go home on an apnea monitor. They send a lot of their preemies home on them, so she was knowledgeable about the process and how it would work.
Basically, the apnea monitor is a band with two leads attached to it. The band fits around the baby's chest and is secured with velcro so it can grow with the baby. Cords are hooked into the leads and are plugged into the base of the monitor. The leads monitor Collen's breathing and heart rate. If his breathing and/or heart rate go below or above a certain level, the alarm will sound....very loudly.
Unfortunately, you can't ask for monitor just to have peace of mind. You have to have a prior history that shows you have a need for it. In our case, Ayden stopped breathing and his heart stopped beating simultaneously. In theory, if he had been on a monitor, it MIGHT have caught it in time for CPR to have helped. I highly doubt it since the nature of SIDS is so sudden and it seems to affect the brain in addition to the heart and lungs, but I wouldn't rule it out. So, Collen automatically qualified to be brought home on a monitor. Insurance will cover part (or all depending on your insurance) of your use of the monitor. Each month, we have to have the monitor "downloaded." The company who issued it to us calls, I hook Collen up to the monitor, we push some buttons and wait for some beeps, they download that month's worth of activity, and then the results are sent to a pulmonologist. Then his/her results are sent to our pediatrician who then relays the info. to us. (hhmm...haven't heard from our pediatrician, yet....). The down side = if we have 3 months in a row of "normal" results, we have to return the monitor. Yeah...3 months. I freaked out when I heard that (because we lost Ayden at 4 months) and contacted someone who works with Megan (she has been my go-to person with all of this and she has yet to let me down!), and she got on it for me. We're working on trying to keep the monitor at least through Collen's 4th month. SIDS peaks between 2 and 4 months, so I would sleep better knowing he was on it through his 6th month.
In addition to the apnea monitor, we are also using the Angel Care monitor. It works great for us - probably because Collen isn't scooting around yet. Once he starts rolling and getting himself into a corner, I'm sure we'll get false alarms. I love the Angel Care monitor because it tells me the temperature in the room, which is also a risk factor for SIDS (but don't get started on "risk factors"), so we're able to adjust if we need to.
We were told that any alarms from the apnea monitor were either true alarms or an equipment issue. When we first brought Collen home on it, it would go off at least twice a night. I would check him, and he would be fine. I finally cut the band shorter so it would fit more snug and that has helped. We have only had 2 true alarms (I think)....and in both cases, I think he just took a longer than usual pause in breathing, and by the time I got to him he was breathing again and sleeping fine. You know how babies sleep....scares you enough that you never get any sleep yourself because you stay up watching them breathe.
Collen will likely sleep in our room for his first year of life. Some may find that extreme and a bit overly paranoid - my answer to that is always - you imagine losing your child. Your whole perspective changes, and you'll d0 anything to be able to say you've done everything possible to make sure your subsequent child is safe, healthy, and alive.
Hope I answered the question well. Any other questions for me? I enjoyed sharing some informative content for you. :)
Perhaps it is their sweet, soft baby bellies or those pudgy little rolls.
Or maybe it's those dimply little cheeks...
Collen is beginning to enjoy bath time, and that makes it so much fun for all of us. He has discovered that he can kick around in the water, and of course I had to capture it for all of you to see!
You can read my post from a year ago here
T-shirts were made...
Butterflies were created and sold as fundraiser for First Candle. I now have all of these butterflies in a scrapbook, made by the student who organized the candlelight vigil. I will forever cherish these butterflies because they were made with such love and care for us.
And candles were lit in the courtyard outside of the school.
Today is a national day of rememberance. Tonight, at 7pm, light a candle in memory of our babies who were taken too soon. Whether by miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDS, genetic disorder....our babies deserve to be remembered. Please join us in lighting a candle and saying a prayer or just remembering the babies in your lives who have gone before us.
We love you, Ayden. We miss you every second of every day. You are forever in our hearts, and one day, you will be back in our arms again. We long for that day with such intensity! Thank you for blessing our lives like we could have never imagined!
Collen is growing by leaps and bounds! For the first two weeks, I was concerned that he was going to be on the smaller side....slow to gain weight (not that there is anything wrong with that...but we make big babies...so I expected him to plump up!). Well, for the first 2-3 weeks he was busy getting back to his birth weight. Once he got back to his birth weight, he just kept packing them on! He is one chunky 7 week old.
For some odd reason, I was under the misconception that breastfed babies were naturally smaller...less chunky. However, I'm learning that that was some lie that somehow infiltrated my mind! At his one month appointment, he was nearly 11 pounds, so I'm guessing we are closing in on 12-13 pounds by now. He has the cutest little tubby belly, and it is oh-so kissably sweet! He also has some rather chunky thighs, which are just too adorable.
He is really starting to show his little personality. He wants to coo so badly. He'll get his mouth in the cooing position, but he can't quite figure out how to make it work. I think by next week we'll be hearing some cooing. He is, however, mastering the squeal! He is in his best mood in the morning when he wakes up. He will smile and smile and smile! If you get him excited enough (a fair amount of baby talk is needed to accomplish this), he will let out the cutest squeal! And then he'll look surprised because he doesn't realize he made that sound. :)
Collen is becoming more aware of his hands, and he will bring them to his mouth. He will also bring his hands together at his chest. When we lay him down, he will kick, kick, kick those legs! And when he gets sleepy, he will rub his little eyes. So, he's definitely where he should be developmentally.
He's obviously eating well, so nursing is going wonderfully! For the first 2-4 weeks, I would say, at least once a day, that was going to quit. But I forged ahead, every day being the day that would be my last. When I hit 4 weeks, I couldn't believe I had lasted that long. By 5 weeks, it had become much easier, didn't hurt anymore, and had become less of a burden (yes, I said burden. Breastfeeding is confining, and I'm used to being on the go, so it was pretty cumbersome going from being able to go, go, go to having to constantly be a food source.). Now, at 7 weeks, it is going very well, and we're both having a positive experience with it. I actually dread the day when I have to eventually give it up; it's definitely been a bonding experience. I'll miss it.
Here are some pictures of Collen from the past couple weeks. I have to get better about taking pictures....and especially capturing videos. I promise to be better!
Gushing at his mommy :)
Waiting for pjs
1. Met up with Daddy (the highlight of our day)
2. Drove back to Greenville
3. Went to the Pottery to look for a freestanding pantry (gosh, those things are hard to find!) Didn't walk away empty-handed; bought some fall flowers for Ayden's spot, bought a beautiful (and very reasonably priced) lantern and wreath for our dining table), and a candle for the lantern (which turned out to be too big!)
4. Went to the memorial park to visit Ayden's spot. Had to feed Collen there; it was very peaceful and quiet just sitting in the car...me and Collen...such a calming essence about that place.
5. Went out to Ayden's spot to switch out his arrangement. It was surreal to be there with Collen. The last time I visited, I was pregnant, and the thought of Collen actually being here with us was still unreal. I took him out of the stroller so he could sit with me by Ayden's spot, and I talked to him about his big brother. He sat and looked at me, listening, and looking at the flowers. It was a sweet, but very sad, moment.
6. We went to Lowes to look, yet again, for freestanding pantry...couldn't find one. But did find a curtain for our bathroom and 2 mum baskets.
7. Went home to find Aunt Megan waiting for us. It was time for Collen to eat again, so he ate and we watched (but didn't finish) Beauty and the Beast.
Now, I get to the topic of this post....
I had headed outside at Lowes to look at their mum selection. It took all I had not to buy the HUGE mum basket. It was absolutely gorgeous, but I was not about to spend $20 on flowers that are sure to die once they came home with me. I finally settled on 2 smaller baskets for our front steps. As I was going through the checkout, the lady behind the counter came around to ooh and aahh over Collen. She asked the usual questions and made the usual comments, "How old is he?" "He is beautiful!" Then, she said, "Makes you want to have another doesn't it?" I laughed. 2 babies/births/pregnancies in 2 years has been taxing on my body. I'm only 27, but I feel like I'm 60. I answered, "Not anytime soon, but someday." She then asked the not-so-common question - "Do you have any other children?" When I was pregnant, I was used to answering, "Is this your first?" Now, I'm faced with, "Is this your only?" So, I went with my heart and said, "We did, but our first passed away when he was four months old." Most people leave it at that, embarassed that they asked and received a complicated answer. This woman, though, went on to ask, "What happened?" So, I gave her our most simple answer, "He went to sleep and didn't wake up. We don't know what happened."
Then, Grace stepped in....
She looked at me and said, "That happened to my first, too. My daughter was 9 months old."
In that instant, we were no longer strangers.
I looked at her and said, "So you understand."
She said, "Yes. You probably never let him out of your sight, do you?" "And you won't let anyone else keep him."
She got it. She knew the fear and anxiety that I was/am feeling every moment of every day. She knew all of the questions that enter my mind. She knew what it meant to feel pain and joy at the same time.
We talked a little bit more. The conversation lasted all of 4 minutes, but in 4 minutes, I made a connection with someone I had never met before, and I left feeling less alone in my grief. As I was leaving, she reached over and touched my hand and said, "I will keep you in my prayers."
God placed her in my path today. I left Ayden's spot struggling with having two children but only one here in my arms. I left feeling alone in this because our situation is not the norm. Meeting this lady at Lowes made me feel less alone and a lot more hopeful. She had gone on to have two more daughters, and although life has moved forward, I could see that she still aches for her first child and hurts over her loss. Her first daughter is still very much with her; she isn't forgotten.
I walked away wanting to turn around and ask this woman if she wanted to go have coffee sometime. I didn't want her to think I was crazy. But....I just might seek her out again.
You never know when God is going to step in....
So far, our room is pretty much set up. The living room is getting there. We're having spacial issues in there, so we're trying to figure out how to make our furniture work with the space. The kitchen is a work in progress. We had a pretty spacious pantry in our old house. We don't have a pantry in this house, which is presenting some issues. I have some ideas, though....
The guest bedroom and Collen's room are both still a mess. There is a path to the changing table in Collen's room, but that's about it. He sleeps in our room, though, so the only reason we have for going into his room right now is to get clothes for him. His room is the next one I will tackle....probably tomorrow.
Anyway, as I was looking around at all of the boxes....all of our belongings....I became overwhelmed with sadness. Because, here we were, moving into a new house.....making a new start...moving forward...without Ayden.
All of his stuff was in storage boxes, and I was standing there wondering what to do with it all. Both of my boys should have a room in our new house. I should be unpacking Ayden's things and setting them up for him in his big boy room. Now, I'm left wondering how I will bring myself to put some of it away into a closet somewhere. We have a trunk that a lot of the special items will go into, and for that I'm thankful, but you should never have to reduce your life with your child into a box.
I go into our nursery and it isn't Ayden's room anymore.
It was as if Ayden didn't have a place in our new house. In our old house, I could go into HIS room and feel closer to him. It was still his space...filled with his things....filled with our memories with him. Just realizing all of it made me ache all over, and I missed him more in that moment than I ever have before. I had to remove myself from the group for a few moments to just let it all out and then regain my composure.
I just miss him. And life will never be the same without him.