A sneak peek!


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

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Happy Birthday Jeremy


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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.



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Collen's First Thanksgiving


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We have much to be thankful for today. Namely...a little boy named Collen who has brought so much {back} into our lives. We were able to visit with my family for a bit today before heading over to Jeremy's grandma's house for Thanksgiving. Collen traveled well. He slept the whole way there and back, ate well despite not being in familiar surroundings, and wasn't too fussy. He was definitely the hit of the day and was loved on by everyone. Some people met him for the first time! It was a great Thanksgiving spent with family and friends. Check out pictures of Collen's first turkey day!

With Great Aunt Tricia - a little disoriented and fussy...

With big cousin Corben and Great Uncle Gene

Sitting on Great-Grand-daddy's knee


There is a story behind this picture. Every year, after the Thanksgiving meal, the women in Jeremy's family gather around this table with the Black Friday sales papers. Their mission - mapping out a shopping plan/route for the next morning. They look through the sale papers, hunting for the best deals and getting gift ideas. This is a tradition I have yet to become a part of....can't afford it, plus I don't have the patience for large crowds.


Sitting with big cousin Taylor


With his Great Aunt Mollie. He seems to love his Aunt Mollie :)
(I do, too)

And she loves him too....so much!


Poppa playing with cousin Wesley (our nephew - Jeremy's sister's son)




Collen with his Great Grandmother - she calls herself Great Mattie
(It's hard to see, but his shirt says, "I'm stuffed!")


So sweet...



Nana getting him dressed for the ride home



Smiling at his Nana





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Peace, Love, Joy


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As I mentioned earlier, Shutterfly is offering 50 cards to bloggers who blog about their Christmas cards.

Last yeat at this time, the thought of Christmas cards, a tree, decorations, and presents all made me so incredibly sad. I was so looking forward to sending out Christmas cards from the Jones family with Ayden's sweet face on them. All the joy of the holidays was gone. I had no desire to celebrate or take part in any traditions. It was just too hard. This year, it's still hard to face the holidays without Ayden, but now that Collen is with us, it's important that we put ourselves back into the spirit of the holidays, traditions, and celebrating because he is definitely worth celebrating! In this season of remembering the reason for the season, I'm excited about glorifying Christ with our family and taking in every second of Collen's first holiday season.

Over at Shutterfly, there are tons of Christmas cards to choose from. I thought this one was fitting for what we've been through over the past year and what we have regained by having Collen become a part of our family.

We have learned what it means to be at Peace...despite the circumstances. We have added so much more Love. And Joy has been restored to our lives.

I am looking forward to using this card design for our Christmas cards. It's perfect for us and where we are right now. So, friends and family...be on the lookout for this card and some adorable pictures of Mr. Collen. Oh, and Jeremy and I may make a cameo....we'll see.

If you're looking for gifts ideas, head over to Shutterfly and check out their options. They have customizable calendars that are sure to be a hit with family.

· Christmas photo cards to http://www.shutterfly.com/cards-stationery/christmas-photo-cards
· calendars to http://www.shutterfly.com/calendars
· holiday photo cards to http://www.shutterfly.com/cards-stationery/holiday-cards


The holidays can be tough for a lot of people. The holidays, although a bit happier this year, will still be a struggle for us. Last year was especially hard, but we had such wonderful people in our lives who reached out and helped us remember that we weren't alone. There are families who are facing the holidays without a child, a parent, a loved one....and it's going to hurt to face the coming weeks without that special person. If you know someone who is facing a particularly tough time this holiday season, reach out. Tell them you're thinking of them and that you love them. Tell them that they aren't alone. Acknowledge the loss and how difficult it must be and just give them a hug...send a card...anything. It helps.




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Where do you order your Christmas cards?


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I recently used Shutterfly for Collen's birth announcements. I've been meaning to scan that in so you can all see it! I wasn't able to order as many as I would have liked because they were kind of pricey, so they didn't go out to many people....just immediate family and close friends...who might as well be family.

I loved the birth announcement so much, I decided I would get our Christmas cards through Shutterfly as well. Then, I found out that they are giving 50 cards to those of us who blog about them! Awesome!!

If you've never used Shutterfly, it's super easy, and they have some great layouts for cards, announcements, pretty much anything you want. Check them out! And if you'd like to get in on the free card action....click here.

We are doing our Christmas card pictures this weekend, and I'm SUPER excited!! Can't wait for you all to see them!!

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28 days


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Yesterday, Collen turned 3 months old. Every single day with him is an absolute blessing. I love watching him grow, develop, and hit new milestones. Just yesterday, I watched him discover that he could bring his hands together at his chest. I watched him do it for the first time! I was amazed that I was witnessing that. I know...it's not that big of a deal...but to me every part of him is a big deal. Before I became a mother, I never understood what the big deal was about a baby laughing, or clapping his hands, or cooing. Then, I had my own child, and when Ayden laughed for the first time, I was in tears. Every time he smiled at me, my eyes would well up, and I couldn't help but become a little emotional because he was smiling....at me. Now, to watch Collen hit those same milestones....the fun ones...the ones where they begin to interact with you and you can witness them learning so much so fast....it's amazing.

Then, I get sad.

Yesterday, as I rejoiced at 3 months with Collen, "28 days" flashed through my head.

We always tell people that Ayden was 4 months old when he passed away. That's not entirely true, but rounding up is easier than saying he was 3 months and 28 days old.

So, I look at Collen at 3 months old and can't help but wonder...."What if I only have 28 days left?" or..."What if today is my last day with him?" These are normal, natural fears that every mother has. Our life's ambition is to protect our children and keep them safe. But I couldn't protect Ayden from SIDS, and I can't protect Collen from it, either. So, fear creeps in. I'm getting better at rebuking fear, though....he doesn't have as strong a hold on me as he used to.

I was reminded yesterday, though, as "28 days" flashed through my mind that it's important that we never take a single second for granted.

Those 3 months and 28 days with Ayden were so wonderful. I will never, ever forget a moment of it. I will forever cherish those days with him.

The next 28 days will be momentous around here. When Collen reaches 3 months and 29 days, we're in new territory. We'll move forward with him as he grows (Lord willing...), and Ayden will still be there....3 months and 28 days. Yes, it's sad. Yes, it's tragic. But sometimes, when we are most saddened by our loss, we find a sweet comfort in knowing that we will always remember Ayden as a baby. Although that wasn't our plan at all; we wanted to see him grow and raise him and be with him for a long, long time - we find a bit of solace in remembering him as the beautiful, sweet, cuddly, chubby little baby that he was. I don't know what he looks like now. I like to think that when we're reunited, I'll get my 2nd chance with my 3 month and 28 day old baby boy, so until we're together again, I'll imagine it that way.


Although I'll do my best to fight it, the next 28 days will be very anxious ones around here. If you think about it, say a little prayer for us....for peace and assurance and that we remain faithful in trusting God.



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A Prayer Answered


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I am thrilled to report that Collen ate 8 times today!

Last night, I was at my wits end. Jeremy watched as I desperately tried to coax Collen into eating. Collen screamed and pushed away....and I sat there in tears. I just wanted to feed my child, and he wouldn't eat. It was completely heart breaking.

So, for a week now Collen has been on a "strike" of sorts between the hours of 4 and 8pm. He would refuse to nurse, and if I attempted to nurse him, he would throw his head back and just scream. Some days, he would refuse for hours on end and end up missing two feedings. A couple of days, he only ate 5 times. Concerning? Yes. Frustrating? Yes. I felt helpless. Nursing is hard even when the baby is eating fine because you never know just how much they're getting. Throw in the baby refusing to eat, and it's a recipe for a meltdown....on both ends (mom and baby).

After last night, I had had it. I was out of ideas....and out of patience. Not patience with Collen; surprisingly, I've been able to remain extremely calm considering the situation. Last night, though, Jeremy finally got to see what it was like, and he suggested that I call the Pediatrician and/or lactation consultant today. I didn't know what to do anymore, and my patience with myself was running thin.

I went to bed last night and just watched Collen sleep. I prayed so intently. I knew that I couldn't handle this on my own. I had tried everything to no avail. So, I told God that it was His. I couldn't handle it. He had to take care of it, and I trusted Him to do so. I told Him that I knew today would be better.

It was.

So. Much. Better.

Collen ate 8 times today!! He only fussed once, and I was able to coax him into eating much more easily than the past few days. I called both the lactation consultant and pediatrician's office. The lacatation consultant didn't really tell me anything I hadn't already read online, but she and I did come up with a few strategies that I hadn't tried yet. I took Collen in to the doctor just to have some peace of mind on the wellness side of things. I wanted to be sure his weight was okay and that his health checked out. He had gained a pound and three ounces since his two month visit, and he is up to 15 pounds. He actually went down 5% on his growth chart - going down from 90% to 85%. That's not a big concern. The doctor didn't like that he was only eating 5 times some days, but he didn't have any clear answers for me. I liked what he said - "Babies don't read the books." In other words, they make it up as they go along, and they don't always do "what they're supposed to do." He didn't seem overly concerned and knew that I just needed his reassurance. (This Dr. is so wonderfully compassionate....I so enjoy seeing him.) I wish they were all like him.

The lactation consultant seemed to think it was a mini-nursing strike. However, one of you provided a suggestion that sounds very close to what seems to be going on. Collen is not a good napper. He cat naps, which leaves him more tired. Have you ever been so tired, but you were only able to catch a few naps here and there...never a FULL sleep? It leaves you feeling even more exhausted. That seems to be what he's doing. He will take a good, long nap in the morning, but most afternoons, I can not get him to settle down for a long nap. So, the evening rolls around, and he's sleepy, hungry, and wants to be awake and see everything. He knows that if he eats, he'll get sleepy, which means he'll miss something. At this point, he's so tired he can't settle down to eat, so he just cries....and cries...and cries some more.

Today, I determined that I would go back to feeding him every 2 hours. Overnight, I let him determine the length between feedings...typically 4-5 hours for 2 feedings. After that, it's every 2-3 hours. Feeding him every 2 hours again seemed to work in his favor. He might not have been overly hungry, but he wasn't to the point of starving, yet, so he was more agreeable when it came to nursing. If I waited until 3 hours, he would be more reluctant because he would get mad about having to work for the food....no instant gratification. This seemed to work out much better today. He fussed one time, and it was because he was sleepy...and hungry. So, I gave him his paci, just to soothe him, and then offered to nurse him. He went for it, ate, and then took a nap.

All day, each time he ate, I've just said over and over, "Thank you, Lord, for hearing and answering my prayer." I can't give anyone else the credit. He heard my plea, and my son ate well today for the first time in a week.

Today was a lovely day.

Thank you, Lord!


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Already?


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At 3 months old, you are such a happy boy.
You're 15 pounds of sweet baby goodness. :)
You have discovered your hands, and you enjoy chewing on your fingers. If you've all of a sudden become quiet, you probably have a chubby little hand shoved into your mouth.
You spend a lot of time awake, now.
You love to kick, kick, kick when laying on your back.
When you get really excited, you'll let out a loud squeal!!
You've given us a few little laughs, but nothing big....yet. We can' t wait to hear those first laughs!
You smile at pretty much everyone and everything.
You love bath time. You get so excited when we put you in the tub. You kick and splash....and we usually end up cleaning up a lot of water!
You enjoy sitting up and seeing what's going on around you.
One of you're favorite things is talking to Daddy. When he talks to you, you light up and will jabber back at him. You have a deep voice for a little baby. :)
Mommy is still you're number one. Once she comes into sight, forget everything else...your eyes are on Mommy. (She loves that oh, so much.)
You're loved more than you'll ever, ever know.
Happy 3 months, Collen.
We love you.
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Harder than I expected...


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First, I'd like to thank all of you who offered suggestions and advice!! It has been so helpful and has given me a lot to consider. Collen had a much better day yesterday, but I'm not sure why. I have to monitor his behavior and naps and such for a few days and see what's helping and what's hindering.

I like the "fourth trimester" concept someone suggested. That sounds very possible to me. He is becoming much more aware of his surroundings, and he makes it known if he is NOT happy with the way things are going. This boy is opinionated.....and he speaks his mind!

I've ruled out the "just not hungry" theory because in the midst of his screaming, I tried expressing milk into his mouth (sorry if that's TMI for some of you....some of my former students read this blog...), and once he tasted the milk, he'd agree to nurse. I'm wondering if he's just being lazy....and wants his milk RIGHT THEN and doesn't want to work for it. He doesn't get a bottle very often at all, so it can't be that he prefers the bottle....it takes him longer to take to the bottle actually.

I don't think it's gas or reflux. He definitely doesn't have a problem getting his gas out....and he hasn't had an issue with reflux as far as I can tell.

I checked his gums....no teeth coming in. His gums aren't swollen. Although, he has become a pro at chewing on his hands and fingers these days - this led me to wonder if some teeth just might be on their way, but I don't see any signs of them.

The ONE thing that will appease him during these crying spells....sitting up and looking around. So, that brings me back to the "fourth trimester" thing. Perhaps, he's just so interested in what's going on around him...he doesn't want to settle down and eat.

We'll see. Like I said, yesterday he was MUCH better. He took a 2 hour nap after I kept him awake for much of the morning. These seemed to help a lot. He was well-rested when he woke up and more into eating. So, maybe structured naps will help, too.

I'm just going to have to feel him out and take note of what works and what doesn't work. Babies....interesting little creatures. :)

**********************
Now, to what was harder than expected....
I'm going to go ahead and put it out there....I am a HUGE Harry Potter fan. I've read (almost) all of the books, and I have been so anxiously anticipating the newest movie that came out yesterday! I have been known to show up for a midnight showing.....I'm that big of a fan. Alas, midnight showings are no longer possible these days. :)
My sister and I always go together. This is "our" thing. We are absolute NERDS over this stuff and will look at each other with goofy looks during the movie as to say, "You know what that means!!" Or....during last night's showing....we spent a lot of time saying, "Oh...I hated this part...." in squeamish anticipation of the scary scene that was ahead. This movie, no doubt, is the darkest of all....as it should be. But, wow....some scary scenes in this one.
Anyway, going to the movie meant having to leave Collen. Jeremy had a deacon's meeting at church at the same time the movie was playing, so we had to call in a babysitter. So, I called on my parents, and of course they agreed to come spend some time with their grandson.
Now, I could have just not gone to the movie. However, I knew that I needed to take some time for myself. In 3 months, I haven't done anything for me. I haven't taken time for myself....alone...to do something I wanted to do. So, I decided that this was the best way to "start small" by leaving him for a couple of hours.
Some of you may think I'm being dramatic, but it was so hard to walk out that door and leave him behind. The last time I walked out a door and left my child behind.....it was the last time I was saw him. So, I think the difficulty of this is understandable.
I fought back tears on my way to the movie theater, but once I got there, I was okay. I was anxious, and I texted my dad during the movie to check in. He assured me that all was well. I just didn't feel right. It took me back to the months after Ayden passed away. The feelings of..."My child should be with me. Why am I out...without my child?" Those few months were so terrible because I had to spend a lot of time reminding myself that he wouldn't be waiting for me when i got home. It's a very lonely, desperate feeling. This time, I had to keep reminding myself that Collen WOULD be waiting for me when I got home....and that he was going to be okay.
In the end, everything went well. He cooperated for my parents, and I enjoyed Part 1 of the last of the Harry Potter epic! As soon as it was over, I bolted for my car and was lucky enough to catch every green light on the way home! I know every mother struggles with leaving her child...especially when they're so little. Collen and I appear to be attached at the hip, and I wouldn't have it any other way. :)
This did show me, though, that I am not ready to go back to work. I recently turned down a part time position at the school I have worked at for the last 4 years. It was only one class...2 hours...and I knew I wouldn't be able to do it. It would mean finding childcare for 2 hours...and that would likely mean someone other than family, and I'm just not ready for that yet.
So, I'm looking into teaching online and have registered for training. I've also applied for a job with the state department of instruction that will allow me to travel and "work-from-home" so to speak. It is a bit more flexible than being in the classroom, and it pays well. So, we'll see. That one is a long shot, but it can't hurt to try!
Thanks again for the suggestions...and for reading. Things don't seem so interesting around here, but you guys continue to read and keep me uplifted and encouraged! It's a true blessing. :)

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At a loss...


22 comments
This week, Collen has me at a loss. Every day this week, he will nurse around 1ish in the afternoon and then won't nurse again until around 7pm. That's 6 hours....SIX! He normally eats every 2-2.5 hours. Here's his routine up until that point:

3ish in the morning - up to eat...then back to sleep.

5:30ish - up to eat...then back to sleep.

8am - awake, happy, kicking around - might eat.

9am - will likely eat...then go down for another nap.

10:30ish - awake again

12:30-1pm - eats again...awake for a little while...then takes another nap.

1:30pm - 7pm - various awake and sleep cycles. Will refuse to nurse by screaming when offered. Can be distracted by playing on his mat, swinging in the swing, walking around, and may sleep off and on in 30 minute intervals. All throughout this period, though, there are periods of intense crying.....frustrating and heart breaking.

7pm - finally discovers he's starving. The past two nights, I've had to pump (like I said...SIX hours...sheesh...) and give him a bottle. I don't want him to get used to a bottle, though. :/

After this, he's usually fine, and by 9pm, he's "down for the night."


This just started this week, and I have no idea what it could be. I mean, it could be colic...but I thought that was something that they outgrew as time went by...not something that just pops up 3 months into life. I've tried to figure out if it's something I've eaten, but I haven't changed my diet. I don't think it's a gas problem...although all the crying doesn't help with that because it adds gas to the situation. Could be be dropping a feeding? Seems odd since he's only 12 weeks old.

I. Just. Don't. Know.

Ayden did this, too...right around this time. To say it doesn't worry me a little bit would be a huge understatement. I like that my boys are similar, but when Collen displays a behavior that Ayden also displayed, I start to get scared.....just because SIDS is so mysterious and theories are pointing to issues with the brain and such. Any kind of change in behavior is going to be a little concerning for me....I don't like that, but it's just the way it is.

If you have ANY suggestions....I'm open to them. At this point, we've had 4 days of this when normally, he's happy and eating as he should be.

I'm a very patient person, and I remain calm, but is certainly frustratingly calm. It's hard not to take it personal when your child seems to be refusing you, but I know it isn't "me"....I just wish I could fix it.

I'm going to try to change up our morning routine tomorrow and see if that changes anything. He seems to sleep A LOT in the morning, and I think that's partly because I let him stay in our bed in the mornings. As a newborn, he slept a lot in the mornings, but he's transitioning out of that stage, and I'm thinking it's throwing him for a loop. We'll see....

Any advice is welcome. Thanks!

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A little over a year...


5 comments
It has been a little over a year....

...since we said goodbye.

...since I last saw your beautiful(handsome) face.

...since I heard you laugh.

...since I saw you smile.


It has been a little over a year....

...and I still can't sing "Blessed Be Your Name" without weeping. "You give and take away" isn't so easy to sing after losing you.

...and memories of you are still so fresh in my mind.

...and I can still remember how you liked to be held.

...and I miss you more than ever.

...and I love you more and more every day. My heart still swells with love for you.


It has been a little over a year....

...but my life won't seem complete even when 5, 10, 20 years have passed.

...and I still face the holidays with a little bit of dread because I know it'll be another holiday without you.

...and your little brother has joined us. You would have loved him. We love him just as we love you, but our hearts ache to have both of our boys together. Collen will miss you, too, as he gets older and learns more and more about his big brother....and that breaks our hearts as well.


It has been a little over a year....


It's hard to believe.

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It's here!


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My "pantry" is here! It's my first piece of shabby-chic furniture, and I absolutely adore it! This is my early Christmas gift from my parents! (Thanks Mom and Dad!!) My taste has changed over the years, and I'm in love with the antiquey, distressed style of furniture. Jeremy took one look at it and said, "When we first got married, there's no way you would have let it in the house! Especially with the pink flowers!" He's right. Not sure what prompted the change in taste, but I'm looking forward to re-vamping our style :)

Here are some pictures of this little lovely. Please ignore the hideous carpet. It is the first thing that will be replaced when we get enough funds together. I'm learning that I detest carpet (because I hate to vacuum), so the quicker we can get some wood down, the better!

There it is...hiding in the corner










We'll have to childproof this thing once Collen becomes mobile. I can just see the Chef Boyardee crashing down on him as he grabs onto the shelf.




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Our boys and their baths...


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I've been trying to capture a picture of Collen smiling in the tub, but once he sees the camera, he's fascinated by it and won't smile anymore. One day....

But, I thought I'd put both of these up just to show our two boys off. Collen loves a bath just as much as Ayden did. I love that because bath time was something Imissed so much after Ayden passed away. It's nice to have that back again...








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The "Overlap"


7 comments
I know that my blog has been plastered with pictures and happy posts about Collen since August. He is my world right now. Every second of every day is consumed with being Collen's mommy, and I love every second of it.



But, I'd be lying if I said I didn't struggle with being Collen's mommy while aching to mother Ayden at the same time. Yes, yes....I know...I will always be Ayden's mommy. I will continue to "mother" him even while he isn't physically here (I know some of my readers too well, huh?! Already anticipating comments....), but be real....he isn't here. I can't kiss him. I can't bathe him. I can't dress him. I can't become a nervous wreck over him. He isn't here for me to be mommy to him. I miss him so, so much. My grieving process was sort of put on hold when Collen was born, so my ability to take it one day at a time has been condensed. Now, the grief hits me hard and then may not hit me for a few days or weeks. Example: Jeremy was watching Collen for me while I did some cleaning. They were in our room, and Jeremy was showing him videos on the computer. All of a sudden, I hear Ayden's voice coming from the other room. I hear that adorable, boyish coo of his, and I just broke down....with a clorox wipe in my hand. It just hits harder now.....



Since Collen was born, I've been completely wrapped up in taking care of him....as I should be. But I've struggled because my time with Ayden and my present with Collen are becoming overlapped in my mind. This happened during my pregnancy with Collen as well. For 18 out of 25 months, I was pregnant....with two boys. For a span of 7 months, I was a mom to our beautiful Ayden....then he was taken away....my arms were empty....and then my womb became full again. Your mind can play tricks on you when two pregnancies are so close together....especially when the child from your first is no longer with you. You begin to relive your pregnancy with that child. Every movement Collen made, I compared to Ayden. And now that he's here, every facial expression, every coo, every milestone, I compare with Ayden. Their brothers.....of course we're going to compare!



I find myself struggling because I don't feel right about being happy again. Now, that doesn't mean that I don't feel like I should be happy. I know I have every right to and that it's healthy for me to be so full of joy again. But, if I'm honest with myself, I will never be as happy as I once was. My life will never hold the magnitude of joy that it once did. That's what life and loss will do, I guess.

I don't grieve Ayden as I used to. The pain of mourning him actually helped me feel closer to him. Now, it's as if I can feel him fading....the distance is crippling. My memories are becoming fuzzy as I make new memories with Collen. I don't in any way resent this, it's just hard. I can still hear his laugh. I can still hear his sweet voice, but at times, they start to slip away. Collen reminds us so much of Ayden sometimes. In those moments, it's almost as if they are the same baby. When I see Ayden's smile on Collen's face.....I have them both with me.



As Collen grows and moves past the 4 month mark, my memories with Ayden will become even more distant. He'll always be 4 months old. That's where my memories stop. And that breaks my heart. I have a tough time even imagining Collen older than 4 months old. I find myself soaking up every moment with him because I'm afraid that he'll only make it to 4 months old too. I find myself looking towards December 22nd almost in a dreading sort of way....wondering if he will be with us then. I know that sounds kind of morbid to some of you, but that's just where my mind goes after what we've been through.



I have full confidence that Collen WILL make it 4 months old, but my mind and my heart (and my reasoning) conflict a lot.



Ayden will always be with me. I will always be his mother. I just wish everyone around me could know me as Ayden AND Collen's mother.



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Collen's First Playdate


5 comments
Today, Collen and I met up with our friends, Lauren and Davis. Lauren was featured in this post a while back...when we were both pregnant. :)

This outing was more of a playdate for Lauren and I. The boys slept most of the time. Collen had to take a lunch break while we were there, but he did great! He cooperated for our painting project, and we plan to go back again to do some more Christmas painting. :)

Here is what we did today:


I must work on my penmanship for future projects....

Nice and sleepy after eating his lunch :) Cuddled up with hippo


Us and the boys!
First playdate = success!






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