Thursday, 28 January 2016

Birth Announcement

Not sure if I pop up on anyone's reader anymore.  Not sure if this little blog makes it on to anyone's radar these days...

But here I am, back in this space, after having nearly A YEAR pass by.  I always thought I would come to this space for EVERYTHING I'm feeling - the good stuff along with the bad/difficult.  I thought I would blog about bedtime and day trips and new foods and beach days...along with doctor's appointments, sleepless nights, tantrums, and random episodes about trying times that come along with being a Stay At Home Mom.  Turns out I've taken a bit to IG, and have connected on an entirely different level with BLM friends -- and this space doesn't feel like the lifeline it used to.  But I still feel this space is sacred.  It's connected to all things Alexander.  It was created in his absence, and posts and potential paragraphs still float around in my head on the daily. 

(And I still try to get around to reading all the blogs I follow -- even if I rarely get around to commenting these days :( )

I'm in this space today because yesterday marked the 1 month countdown to Alexander's 4th birthday, and "plans" I had been looking forward to following through with are kind of unraveling and I'm feeling a little down in the dumps about it. 

I've been toying with the idea of doing a "Birth Announcement" for Alexander for several months now (well, actually since he was born.  But only in this past 6-12 months did I feel really strongly about formally putting something together and sending them out), and now that we're a month away, I'm feeling the pressure and the Big Orange Wonderful Company has let me down time and time again. 

Here's how the story has gone:

When I did Theo's birth announcement, I was torn with the fact that I hadn't done anything for Alexander in the same nature.  We did a keepsake hand stamped disc for his first Christmas with all his birth stats on it, and gave it to 10 close family members... but never an "announcement" of sorts.  When I was working on Theo's, I felt foolish in actually wanting to produce an announcement for Alexander with it being 16+ months after his death/birth. I mean, no one needed an "announcement" at this stage in the game.  Everyone knew he died and was born -- what did they want with a piece of paper with his picture and stats on it?  But I battled with the idea so much so that it took me 4 months to finish Theo's (that and I was slammed with "new" mom syndrome and totally sucked at getting anything done or retaining any type of focus for projects).  But I mocked up a little "if I ever do this for him, it might look something like this" sample, and it's stayed saved in My Projects ever since.  I struggled with sharing his image for years, and that fact pretty much tucked this idea away since this past year. 

I've felt more passionate about sharing his picture and wanting people to see him for who he really is.  And to be brutally honest, the sketch we had done for his 2nd birthday didn't really serve me with any finality with having his image properly represented.  I think he's such a beautiful baby, and I felt the sketch softened his features (in trying to take away the "hurt" maybe) to the point where it didn't really look that much like him.  It lacks detail and precision, and I don't know if it's because I had the order "rushed", or if this was the best interpretation the artist could come up with.  I don't have it displayed.  I also haven't looked into finding another artist to take on the challenge.  It took too much out of me then, and I don't want to revisit the frustrations that come with having your dead son drawn by another (albeit loving and caring) person.

Anyway, back to the Birth Announcement.  I reopened the saved project for Alexander's birth announcement in the fall as I was looking for Christmas card options for our 2015 card.  I went ahead and ordered a few in different finishes and different picture layouts.  I stuck with card option I had picked back in 2013 -- I wasn't up for shopping around and comparing options with his photos.  I loved the little hearts, and default fonts -- I just put blinders on and ordered some samples of the one card over Christmas. 

The samples arrived, and I didn't love it.  I wanted a pearl finish with only colour pictures.  So I went ahead and made those changes and placed another order for the ONE card. 

It arrived with the changes I had made, and I still didn't love it.  I think it was the lack of boarders around the pictures, and these stock cards layouts for the announcements aren't something you can completely customize using SF.  You just keep looking.  Ugh. 

(And I know there are other companies I could dive into and test out that allow for that kind of customization -- but I wasn't up for trying anything new, and in the past SF had good ship time customer service.  So I was sticking with what I knew).

There was an announcement layout I had found in Tiny Prints (again, back in 2013), only thing was it didn't allow me to put 12-15 pictures on the back.  But I loved the front.  I knew I could maybe find something similar on SF (which has the 12-15 photo layout for the back), but that meant I had to dig in and sift through and basically devote energy I didn't have for this project. 

I let Christmas pass.  And really, once the 25th was behind me, I was able to scroll through the birth announcement layouts with a much lighter outlook.  It wasn't easy, but I found 2 other layouts I liked (and spent several hours plugging Alexander's pictures in -- editing over and over and over and literally staring off into the computer screen with a dumbfounded wtf-esque nature), and ordered samples of them both. 

It was January 2nd.  I felt like I was ahead of the game.  I would get the samples in less than 3 weeks for sure (my Christmas cards arrived in 4 business days and I ordered 100 of those!!), and make a final decision.  I was adding on all the bells and whistles too -- pearl finish, rounded corners, coloured envelopes with a liner.  It all seemed fitting and a must do for Alexander.  I would only be ordering 10-20 or so -- maybe a few more after sending out an email to dear friends and family asking if they would like a copy too.  I also made custom return address labels specifically for these cards.  I searched the Canada Post website and found Year of the Dragon stamps to use for postage.  My BLM heart was getting warmed with satisfaction (you know, in the tiny ways it seldom comes).  I was looking forward to sitting down with the 3 options and going over them with Daniel and picking out a permanent picture keepsake announcement for our boy to send to our close friends and family. 


^^^ that symbolizes a lot of time passing
*sad face*

Weeks have passed and I've been served up with let down after let down.  I'm at the point where ordering now wont guarantee enough time to accept and then send out again with recipients having it in hand before February 27th.  I had SO MUCH time, and SF failed time and again.

One card, the folded 4x8 card option, arrived 2 weeks after ordering.  It had a big scratch/crinkle right across Alexander's sweet face, and the photo's themselves printed really dark.  The text on the front was cut off by the bottom of the card, and it didn't appear to be when I previewed.  Fail.  I liked this option because it was folded, and his pix were on the inside and it wasn't too "in your face" with my dead baby popping out of the envelope on first sight.  BUT, it wasn't at all what I initially had in mind.  I liked it, but didn't love it -- especially since the pictures turned out a lot darker than in the preview.  Plus, I still wanted to see how the other sample turned out.

Both sample cards were due to arrive before January 20 -- and it's the 28th today and the second one hasn't come.  It was a simple 5x7, 2 pictures on the front, and a collage of pix on the back.  All his birth info on the front, along with a few "winks" that spoke to me....only thing was it was set on a brownish background, which again, wasn't what I had in mind.  But the default font colour was called "Heavenly", and I took it as a sign and wanted to see how it turned out.  Maybe I would love it.  But I called SF, and they're deeming it "lost" because they cant track anything once it's crossed the boarder, and once things hit their ETA, they called it a loss and refunded me the $3 and change for the card.

But I don't care about the money or their "so sorry for the inconvenience" customer service.  I just wanted the damn card on time so I could make a decision and place my order to make it all come together before his birthday. 

I went back to the original design I had ordered over Christmas and tried to see if I could convince myself that this one was good enough.  And know what?  I left off his time of birth on the damn card.  Fuck.  #bigfatmomfail.  Even if I were to move forward with this card design, I have to go in and add his time of birth and I don't know if it's going to look too cramped. 

I'm holding a 3/3 fail, and Alexander's birthday is less than a month away.  Sigh. 

That's where I'm at.  Wind out of my sails.  Wishing that SF could have just mailed the 2 measly samples in ONE PACKAGE and have them arrive on time, and I not be faced with a failure for my hopes for his 4th birthday.  But really wishing this weren't a task at hand in the first place.  Dammit.

I didn't have anything else planned for his 4th birthday.  I still want to get a card together --but I feel it will be a little lost in translation if I'm sending "birth announcements" out 4 years and a few weeks after my son died and was born.  At least if they arrived on the exact anniversary of his death, it would have made sense technically.

I was 41 weeks and 1 day pregnant when he died.  He was born hours into the following day at 4:51pm.  He was 7 pounds 13 ounces.  53 centimeters long.  He was given the name Alexander because it's my very favorite, with the middle name David after my late father who I wanted to honor.  He was an entire person, and I miss him so much.  I wanted all these things on a piece of pretty cardstock along with his beautiful picture to share with those closest to me.  And for ME to have too.  I did an announcement card for Theo (which I don't love*), and I just wanted to complete this small gesture for Alexander.  A nod to my love and adoration for him. 

I wanted to send these cards out to BLM friends as well (with permission of course - I didn't want to be too in-your-face/pushy about this).  I haven't shared his picture with many people -- but I've been struck with a sense of necessity for it lately. 

I want to wait to give this "lost" card sample option time to arrive.  But I'm afraid if I don't place an order this weekend, I have zero chance to be on time.  I complained to SF customer service that this was a time sensitive project I was ordering samples for and having pieces go MIA really effed me over.  And yes, I told them it was for my dead son's 4th birthday.  They put a free shipping credit on my account for my next order.  Oh Happy Day, right?  Blah. 


Just a screen shot I saved from when I was trying to see if I could work out an option to go with the Tiny Prints card I liked.  Note, they couldn't reconfigure the options for the back of the card.  Sigh. 
Life of a BLM.

*This is the BA we ended up going with for Theo.  I don't love it because 1) it says "Introducing" and he was 4 months old by the time I ordered and sent them out -- and almost everyone we sent the announcement to had already met him. 2) we didn't have professional photo's taken and these were just cute snap shots and before sending them out I had a big "These don't scream birth announcement!!" moment.  3) we didn't even own a DSLR when he was born, so the photo quality didn't turn out that great.  But meh, time was passing and he was growing and it was getting boarder line embarrassing putting something in the mail when basically he was almost a year, haha.  But they went out to 150-180 people and there's no do over's and he lived so it's really no big deal.

this was the back -- which I like very much.  Love actually. 
This message was set to be on the back no matter what layout we went with
this was an additional sample I ordered WITH the 200 announcements.  It didn't allow me to fit all the text I wanted, but I really liked the layout.  But the fact that I ordered it anyway??? indecisive much??
this one was probably a favorite too.  I didn't like it because it was a vertical layout and I was convinced a BA needed to be horizontal.  But again, I ordered this sample WITH the 200 OTHER cards because I liked it.  Turns out, this is the one I wish I had went with all together.  Learning more and more about my indecisive nature lead me down the sample ordering for Alexander's cards. Too bad nothing is arriving on time... :( 

Friday, 27 February 2015

Winnie the Pooh


It's just after 10:30pm on February 26th.  This post will probably have me writing into Alexander's birthday.  Seems about right as I don't think I'll have anything left to write for tomorrow.  I don't mean that in a I finished my to-do list for February's blog posting, but I mean it in a way that I don't know what else to say.  There are heavy, multidimensional emotions that come with every much is the same with every year that passes, but (for me) there are pauses that I cant put into words.  As if this is all getting easier in a really hard way. 
This year in particular I didn't have all the time I wanted to sit with my missing and have my quiet time with Alexander.  Theodore is sick, and today this post was supposed to be written while he napped and the words were there, and the thoughts were flowing.  But he's sick, and fell asleep in the stroller on the way home from a quick let's just get out of the house trip to school, and where he usually transfers really well to the crib - today he woke a coughing mess with a stuffed nose and was inconsolable and sleep wasn't happening.  There are times when I'm ready to sit and get some writing done and it for some reason gets cut off.. I'm left feeling like I'm holding my breath.  And that's how I felt with Theo for a few hours until he decided to nap.  I finally took him upstairs and laid in the twin bed with him and let him flip flop himself around for however long he wanted until he was ready to sleep.  I threatened putting him in his crib and leaving the room if he didn't settle down, but that only got him as far as laying down for 10 seconds and then sit up and flop to the foot of the bed again.  But after a while, I actually started to drift off...I rarely nap these days (mainly because the stress of trying while Theo naps is too much, and I hate wasting time trying to nap), so I surprised myself with my separating state of consciousness.  Theo slammed his head on my pillow (hitting my head in the process) and started slow blinking... drifting drifting drifting... and before I knew it we were both asleep.  I woke to his impossible snoring, and realized is arm had hooked mine and we were now entangled.  Our faces were not 3 centimeters apart on one pillow.  I had the urge to get up and try to put him in the crib and get things done or write a bit... but I encouraged myself to live in the moment and sleep with my sick little babe.  And sleep we did.  I might have stayed up there for 40 minutes before I was woken up by an abrupt shift in Theo's position, where at that time I marveled at his aliveness and decided to put him in the crib and have a cup of tea.  It was 4:45pm at this point, and there's no clock in Theo's room, so I had no concept of time slept other than I went upstairs at 3:30pm. 
Cut to 5:30pm and Theo waking up a complete and utter disastrous state and such has been my evening up until now.  I'm trying not to sweat the small stuff, but I'm really down that Theo is such a mess for Alexander's birthday. 
But I'm here now, giving myself the time to sit and be quiet with my thoughts and feelings, and not ready to close off another year without my first born son.
I've had a love for Winnie the Pooh since childhood.  My father, who is British/Scottish, carried on many things UK based into our childhood from his.  I don't know if Winnie was a staple in his growing up, but he certainly made it one in mine.  He read "Winnie-The-Pooh" (the yellow hardcover) to my sister and me before bed when we were young.  I'm going to pin us at 8 and 10.  It is one of the first non illustrated books that I can remember a story so vividly from.  Even today as an adult, I remember that book.  We (my sister and I) were given lots of WTP paraphernalia while growing up, but somewhere in our early teen years it became more my thing than our thing.  In my mid teens, my father bought me WTP pajama's several years in a row for Christmas.  One pair got tossed in the dryer, and were unbearable after a couple of years... but after over a decade, I still have 2 sets.   
When I was pregnant with Alexander, I was excited for many things, but I was excited for the little baby I was going to dress in cute Winnie the Pooh onesies, footed pj sets, hats with ears... the cuter the better. 
I soon realized that I didn't want to go overboard.  When I was in a big baby store creating a registry, I saw myself scanning bathtubs, washcloths, laundry hampers, blankets...ALL Winnie the Pooh!  And I had a moment.  Too much, I thought.  I didn't want WTP to become this child's identity and all he knew growing up.  There were so many other DARLING little baby things to explore, I didn't want to limit myself to WTP only.  Clothes, and a few other accessories were enough... because even that alone would create a trend, but I didn't want to turn myself into the next WTP hoarder's edition.  But I knew it wasn't a secret that I liked Winnie the Pooh... I even got emails from a few people who were attending the baby showers asking if I liked Classic or Disney style Pooh.  (Classic was my answer as if it was going to be overkill, I'd rather too much whimsy over too much Disney).  But even thought I didn't buy a single WTP ANYTHING for this baby, I still ended up with a good bit.
And know what?  I loved it.  I loved all the little notes of Pooh and his friends among the other cute baby themed whatever pieces I received.  And it wasn't too much.  I got receiving blankets with jungle animals and polka dots, and fuzzy baby blankets with WTP alike.  It was all a good balance.
But back to those pajama's my dad gave me as a teen...
I'll remind you I was a much bigger person as a teen.  I was 181 lbs and 5'3 at 16 years old.  So these pjs were big.  (fact, my top weight with Alexander was 187 lbs).  When I was pregnant with Alexander, the third trimester had me wearing those pajama's. 

These have a matching top... but it was collared and button down, and it bothered me then
I wore these DAILY around the house.  They were one of the more comfortable things I had to sleep in with such a relaxed waistband.  (They were loose on me as a fat teenager too!  I wasn't that big!  But my dad didn't ever want to buy too small... nothing hurts more when a large is too small - so XL all the way for gifts! lol)
another pj from my "childhood".  I wore this while pregnant, but didn't sleep in it. 
I didn't like the length for sleeping, but wore it around the house. 
No picture in it as it made me look like a tent while pregnant.
I haven't worn either pajama since Alexander died.  For 2 obvious reasons.  Not that I was ever planning on ridding myself of them, but I certainly wont now. 

For my 28th birthday (Dec 20, 2011 - 7+ months pregnant), Daniel special ordered these slippers from the UK for me.  I wore them in our new house all the time.  The floors were cold in the winter, and these became my 24/7 footwear for in doors.  I bought another pair of department store slippers to pack in my hospital bag because I didn't want hospital floor ick on these.  I didn't wear these in the hospital, and I didn't wear them after Alexander died either.  Not only were they pretty much the ONLY thing on my feet for the 1.5 months we lived in this house before he died, but they were also falling apart a bit.  I guess 180 pounds on a daily basis was too much for this slipper.  But I didn't want to ruin them further, so I stopped wearing them after he died.
see them on my feet?

All of the Winnie-the-Pooh everything we received, I used with Theo. 

When I was pregnant with Theodore, I didn't fantasize about WTP preciousness the way I had with Alexander.  My only fantasies were of him being born alive.. which at times felt like I was chasing my wildest dreams.  But the WTP craze over all things baby kind of settled down when I was pregnant with Theo.  I didn't want history repeating itself, so I couldn't get excited about all the things I got excited for while waiting for Alexander.  A Winnie-the-Pooh footed pajama was not in Theo's future for a homecoming outfit, and fawning over baby blankets and bedding didn't seem safe either.

We bought a little dinosaur pj some time near the end of my pregnancy with Theo (dinosaur/Theodore.  I'm so creative in it rhyming, no?), and with a leap of good faith and in a what do we have to lose except another baby kind of attitude we washed and packed that dino outfit the weekend before we were induced.  And with some miraculous good luck, Theo was born alive and dino's and other reptiles were his thing while he was an itty bitty newborn.  Turtles particularly lasted a while... but as he grew into other gifted clothes, and all things baby - jungle and forest alike - became his thing. 
wearing gifts from Alexander's baby shower...from I don't know who
But having him in the Winnie-the-Pooh things bought for Alexander hit a sensitive spot in my heart.  I always had a "finally" moment when wrapping him up in the pooh bear blankets or strapping on a WTP bib.  I was finally able to live out my Winnie the Pooh love affair with my child.. but it was oh so bittersweet.  How I missed Alexander with every sight of that bear.  But it has become something I look forward to seeing rather than something that hurts my heart.
a few blankets from the shower, all still in use for snuggling around here
one of my favorites.  It's held up in so many washes, and is still super soft
Theo seen in all of Alexander's things.  The receiving blanket was part of a shower gift too. 
He's wearing the onesie from the outfit seen below

I had a hard time putting Theo in this outfit.  It was a 4-pc cardigan, hat, footed pant, and onesie set, with Winnie's smiling face on the bum.  I cant quite put my finger on it, but it felt too happy (?) to put Theo in it?  I don't know.  But Theo also received this own little WTP themed 3 piece set from a family friend after he was born, but it had Tigger all over it.  I remember thinking that this person must not have know I loved WINNIE ... but then it hit me after a few times of dressing him in it that she gave it to him because it has "T"s all over it, and his name is THEO!  Duh!  She probably didn't even know that I loved all things WTP. 
But something about having one that was "his" and one that was his brother's made me feel less weary about dressing him in both.
Theo was not a stroller baby.  He cried and fussed most of his early life, and my stroller dreams got crushed FAST with this kid.  He hated the freaking pacifier no matter how I tired and tired to keep my finger in it while WALKING, I just gave up.  I might have even cried as put the canopy down and pushed my screaming child.  But one day he magically fell asleep when I was out for a walk... and I lifted the shade to see this precious child in that little outfit.  My heart nearly burst with a zillion different emotions.  I snapped this picture with my old phone.  Wearing a little WTP.


Winnie the Pooh quotes are everywhere. 

A few still make me smile and warm my heart in how such a childhood memory can be so relevant in my silly grown up mind

But then there are the ones that tug at my heart.  All the ones that I probably read while I was pregnant with Alexander and didn't know what the hell was going to hit me...


I would still like to print that last one and have it up in the house somewhere.  Sadly, it kind of ties my story together. 

On Alexander's first birthday, Daniel's sister Tina is the only person who gave us a gift.  She was the one who organized the majority of the shower details held at her parents house.   She picked out the cake and the little saying, "A little hunny is on the way!"  She to this day misses him openly and honestly.

On the eve of Alexander's first birthday we were at Daniel's parents house (for I don't know what reason), and as we were leaving, Tina pulled in the driveway.  She said, "oh good, you're here. I wanted to give you this... well, it's for Alexander.  I don't know what you want to do with it, you can open it now, or tomorrow...but it's for him.  It's his."  And she handed me a little blue bag with baby blue tissue paper.  I ended up opening it in the car, and cried my eyes out.  I think the only thing I could muster out was "...because she knows..."

And it was this:

I easily would have owned this had Alexander lived.  It would be for his nursery or on a shelf somewhere.. I might have even spelled out his entire name.  But I didn't ever buy it for myself.  Even after he died, I had seen it... but I didn't ever buy it.  Too heartbroken I guess.  But she did.  And she gave it to him for his first birthday.  And my heart will forever be indebted to her for always including him, mentioning him, loving him - openly and publicly - all the time.
It was only this past year did I realize Winnie-the-Pooh was kind of Alexander's "thing".  Funny, because it's pretty clear that it should have dawned on me much earlier!  And I've always associated Winnie with Alexander in some way or another, but because it's still MY love, I didn't think it was his "nod" or "wink" or "symbol".  It's true that it's not the only thing I think about when I think about Alexander (even though this post might seem like it!), but if there's a consistent "symbol" that I tied to him from before he was born, that pooh bear would be it.  (I even called him "pooh bear" while I was pregnant ... but I called my cat that  And I have mixed feelings about that because I was born and raised on Winnie (to some extent), and Alexander didn't take over and "own" all things WTP.  It's hard to explain.  But a few months ago, Daniel told me he saw a WTP t-shirt at the Disney store that made him think of me.  It was a nightgown pajama thing, and he said he was going to buy it, but wasn't sure of the size.  Weeks later, I was at the Disney store and looked for that sleeper.  It was gone as it was on sale, but they had WTP t's for ladies.  I browsed the selection, and because I was already hit with a bug to buy something WTP, I bought one (please note, I haven't bought ANYTHING WTP for myself in years...maybe my entire adulthood!  But I have a kid now, so it's cute).  And truthfully, I was only thinking of myself.  And maybe Theo a little, as I knew he'd get a kick out of pointing Pooh out on my shirt.  It wasn't until I got home and was looking at it another time did I think of Alexander and all the WTP dreams I had for him.  See?  Now, WTP baby clothes? that's another story.  He'd probably come to my mind in an instant - but all things baby do that.
But to kind of sum it up... I was having some mixed feelings after Alexander's 2nd birthday about how I don't have a "thing".  All things purple make me think of him... and if you check my iphone case, and my water bottle, and my etc etc etc... they're all purple.  (It was already a favorite colour of mine, but now it takes the cake).  There is a butterfly on Alexander's urn, and butterflies do make me think of him... but I felt they were too coincidental/common to be his thing.  I mean, there wasn't much selection for an urn his size...  But to this day if you show me a purple butterfly... I'll take it as a wink from him.  But last year, I would do this to myself, ... how do I not have something strongly connected to my first born son?!? and then go on to reminisce as I see Theo playing with his Winnie-the-Pooh bear and realize how much it makes me think of Alexander and my anticipation for him.  See how I was missing it?!  But I was.  I didn't think I/he had anything.  And it wasn't until it hit me like lightning not long ago while staring at my FB profile picture of the A with Winnie standing next to it, that OH YEAH, I do have a thing for him!  It makes sense and it's been right under my nose... and all this time I thought I was so aimless. 
And I don't want to lose the authenticity of my emotion here.  I don't love it for Theo because it only reminds me of Alexander, but I love it for Theo because I would have loved it for all and every one of my children, and Alexander started it all. 
But this brokenhearted mamma has gone on and on and on.  It's now almost an hour into his birthday, and I'm going into "overthinking" territory in my tired state of mind.
His birthday is here, and right now at 1AM, after diving into so much of expecting Alexander.. anticipating him... it's almost like I can feel my comfortable big belly with him alive inside.  He was the best kid, and god help me, him not being here could knock me off my axis.  I am just not the same without him.  And right now, as sad as that makes me, I'm considering that a good thing.  The impact that he's made wrapped in how badly I want him back and need him here I can only take as a testament of my love.  And if I ever had any doubt that I didn't love him enough, I hope to house this feeling in my darkest hour and know he was real, and it was all but love that he's left behind.
And Alexander would say...
Dear Mommy,
Love Alexander

a BLM friend of mine sent me the same message in a text today. 
I didn't know this, but one of the "A"s in A.A Milne is for Alexander.
Thank you all for so much support through this month of February xo

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Alexander's Homecoming Outfit (and other cotton things)

In that diaper cake that was mentioned in "Baby Shower's for Alexander" was this pajama.  It was given to me by my mother, and after all she did for me and Alexander's baby showers, I wanted to devote Alexander's homecoming outfit to her.  I wanted her to feel like all she did mattered, and was huge and thoughtful and wonderful and made an everlasting impact (because it did), and seeing her first grandchild being brought home from the hospital in something she picked out for him was just the way I wanted to return the love to her. 

After a scan I had when I was 40+2 days pregnant, I was told the baby was weighing in at 8lbs 2oz.  This pajama was 0-3 months, but I had a feeling it might be a bit big.  It got washed and packed in our hospital bag.

Theodore didn't ever wear this pajama after he was born.  He wore 99% of Alexander's things, but not this.  It was his outfit.  His homecoming outfit.  Something kept me from making it "their" clothes.  It's still just Alexander's. 
We also packed 3 long sleeve onesies.  Long sleeve, because ...a February baby.  They came in a 3-pack, and were a gift from a friend from the shower we had here at our house.  They all got washed and packed.  2 solid baby blue, and one striped white and blue.  At first, I only put Theo in one of the solid pieces, and kept the stripe and one solid in the drawer where the pajama lived.  As Theo grew, and I became more comfortable in putting him in Alexander's things, I put him in the striped one too.  I kept one solid one, in the drawer, never worn by Theo. 

This was our back up homecoming outfit.  My sister got it for Alexander, and I thought it was darling.  It was labeled "1 month" for size, and it was itty bitty.  I figured it would be perfect if he wasn't the giant baby the scans were telling us he was. 

turns out Alexander wasn't the giant baby after all.  he was 7lbs 13 oz at birth. 
This has been worn (and we've washed it several times) by Theo.  It is in the drawer with Alexander's homecoming pj's and other cotton things.  Even though Theo wore it, I still have kept it aside and not packed it away with all other outgrown baby clothes.  It was in Alexander's hospital bag, and hits pretty close to my heart, so it stays in the drawer. 
On the day Theo weighed in at 7lbs 13 oz at a doctor's appointment, I put him in this outfit
he was about a month old, which made him very close to what Alexander
was when I was 41+ weeks pregnant with him, and at his birth
There were a few other onesies that were packed in Alexander's hospital bag that I packed in Theo's hospital bag too.  In that diaper cake, there were 3 onesies.  One white with colourful stars, one striped in multicolours, and one all blue with the word "Beep" on the chest with a few cars.  I packed the stars for Alexander, and I then packed the same one for Theo's bag.  Theo wore it in the hospital the day after he was born.

This final one is a doozy.  My heart my heart my heart.

I don't remember when it was, but we went shopping at Carter's.  I saw a little 3pc outfit that was a onesie, cardigan and pant set.  It was olive/brown and white striped cardi, with olive/brown pants, and the onesie was white with "handsome" written in navy/brown/olive letters.  It had a little guitar on the cardigan.  Adorable.  All things rock and roll remind me of my dad, and what a sweeter way to show my love and missing for him than to dress my first born son in little guitars and music associated cuteness.  But I also saw this pajama.  Navy blue footed pj with guitars all over.  I showed Daniel both, and said, "I have to".  In not wanting to overbuy in 0-3 month sizes, he told me to pick ONE, and we'll buy the other once we know what size Alexander is and will wear for more than a SECOND.  So I picked the cardi/onesie/pant set.  Theo wore that set too... I loved it.  Alexander's clothes, devoted to my dad, on the little brother who made it.  Heart explosion and heartbreak all at once.

After all the showers were over, and bags were opened, and outfits were washed, folded, and organized, I still couldn't get that pajama out of my mind.

It was a mild February in 2012. I don't have it in me right now to look up temp histories, but I know it was unseasonably mild. I could walk out with my coat open and be fine.  I didn't even need winter boots.  I don't think we even had any snow!

So in mid February, I walked about 20 minutes to my nearby Carter's and bought that pajama.  I kept with the common sense mindset that I would keep the tags on and return it if I needed a bigger size, but I just HAD TO HAVE IT for when Alexander was born. 

I needed it for my son.  I was missing my dad pretty big back then when my baby was so close to being here.  I wanted so bad to have my dad here, my baby's grandfather, to experience this wonderful time with.  I ached for my dad, and I cried many nights while pregnant with Alexander just wishing he was here to see me with my big belly and feel the baby kicks.  I wanted nothing more than to TALK to my dad while I was gearing up to be a mother for the first time.  I wanted my dad to hold my newborn son.  I wanted him to hold his grandson.

And with all that emotion behind me, that pajama had to be bought.  And bought it was.

 Tags are still attached.  Theo didn't ever wear it.  I didn't specifically plan on that, but every time I hesitated on removing the tags and washing it, I stayed with that hesitation, and tucked it back in the drawer. 

 I still have the bill too.  One thing I couldn't throw out after he died.  For nearly 3 years, this receipt has sat in my medicine cabinet in my upstairs bathroom. 

I don't remember when I unpacked Alexander's hospital bag.  I know I attempted to several times, months and months after he died... but I always repacked it.  Almost like taking down the baby shower cards, I just couldn't do it.  I packed it back just so, just as I had it waiting for weeks and weeks to take to the hospital.  I'm pretty sure I was halfway or more through my pregnancy with Theo when I decided I better unpack it, and get ready for this baby... and give myself that space and allow that distinction of feelings to find it's way.  Preparing for one, and the preparing for the other.  Not a redo, or a continuation, but ANOTHER baby. 

I'll wrap it up for tonight.  I've had a few good cries.  They were needed.  I want to cry more.  The house is dark and quiet.  The days of early grief are almost mirrored in my surroundings.  But not, because all the toys and clutter and things and things and things are every where I look. 

Oh how I wish those things and things and things multiplied after Alexander arrived home safely.  But these little cotton things are kind of all I have. 

My tears are for almost 3.  Almost 3, but feeling like we lost him yesterday.  Memory lane can be so gut wrenching, but it's a therapy I've been delaying for years. 

My tears are for almost 3, and for diving in, and getting it out.

Looking back... Looking ahead

I was just coming to the computer (after procrastinating for over an hour) to do a post about Alexander's clothes, and my love/his ties to Winnie the Pooh.  Does anyone else go back and randomly read their old stuff?  I was searching through my post list, and started reading about the scary times I had while expecting Theodore.  We had made it through Alexander's first birthday, and we were in the "ok baby just get here now...alive" mode of living. 

I clicked randomly on This Post.  It was titled "Long Overdue".  Man, did I write a lot.  I tip my hat off to everyone who made it to the end of that post, and am still so thankful for the support.  While I was reading, I caught myself at this part.  And I started crying that hard, chest gripping cry.

My Feelings

As I get closer and closer, and the possibility of (maybe, just maybe) us landing a living baby in the next few weeks becomes more and more of a reality... I cant help but want Alexander more.  I just still want my son.  In every way I did when I first lost him, I still want him that much.  I've had quiet meltdowns, and Daniel and I have had some pretty over the edge blow-ups (at each other, and at life's circumstances that come along with pregnancy and preparing for a baby), and they're all because of how much we miss him.  All because of how much we just want to go back to February 2012, and somehow get our son back.

I'm not afraid that I wont love my next born child - I know I will.  I already do.  A lot.
I'm still afraid to live my life with out my son.  I just so don't want to do it.  And having no choice in this fact is really hard.  Especially in knowing that all the majority of friends and family are expecting us to be worlds and worlds better off now/soon since we'll have what we seemingly lost.  And I just don't have it in me to set everyone straight.   
I am still heartbroken that one can make it and the other cannot.  I stayed working as long as possible in hopes to avoid too much alone time with myself and have that very clear notion be the only thing on my mind.  I've cried so much over these past 4 days.  Maybe because I actually have had the time to sit and cry, or maybe it's because I've allowed myself to let go of tasks and responsibilities that usually fill my head regarding work, and I'm left with what I've had to quiet down for months and months now.  I'm just still so sad about it all. 
And I cried so hard because even now, almost 2 years after writing that entry, it's all still true.  All those pulsing emotions, full of so much hurt and missing and pain... they're all right here now.  God, how does this all stay so true?  So relatable even years out?  I know why, and I cant believe it all at the same time. 
I wanted that boy, and I still do.  I had an emotional day today as we saw Theo's preschool program teacher off as she's transferring tomorrow.  There were lots of families there.  There is a mom and son couple that used to come regularly ... but I haven't seen them since before Christmas.  The son's name is Alexander.  I told myself this weekend that if I'm going to see those people ever again, it will be this week.  The week leading up to Alexander's birthday.  And there they were today.  Alexander is her second child.. and they all came as a family today (the dad was there too, but their daughter was in school), and Daniel came along with Theo and me too.  Some how all 6 of us got stuck at the snack table together... and there they were, casually talking about how "Alexander was such a dream baby [compared to his older sister]".  I don't know if it was for survival purposes, but I actually numbed it out.  After the third or fourth time hearing his name, the sting was completely gone, and the ache was detached.  I knew they were talking about their son (who was born on a very different day in 2012, and looks very different from what my son looked like), and it didn't weigh on me as we continued to talk.  Daniel and I did make eyes with each other several times when the happy family across from us "warned" us about the massive difference 2 children at home has against 1.  Really?  I figured it was EXACTLY the same...duh.  I almost wanted to look over my shoulder to the invisible camera, and ask the director, "where did you find these guys?  Are you kidding me with this??"
It's Tuesday, the 24th.  There are only 2 more days until his birthday, and I don't think I'll have much time to write other than right now.  Daniel took Theo to his parents house, and I pushed off writing this post and puttered throughout the house eating candy instead... delaying any writing.  Or, maybe it's because I didn't feel the exact words itching at my finger tips, I just delayed the act out of feeling the block.
I wont get out all I wanted to get out.  I made a list at the beginning of the year of topics, brainstorms, flashbacks I'd neglected to jot down in the years gone by.  All of January I was compiling this list, but alas, February's end is near, and I've just got out a few simple posts.  (well, 'simple' is a bad word, but I didn't want to say measly). 
This was my list.  It's from my iphone notepad, and it's super random.  All point form.  Maybe I'll expand on some of these later... but for the purpose of completing my "something" for Alexander's 3rd birthday, here is my list:
Milk - After Alexander
Hand expressing. Milk everywhere. The smell. All my clothes.  My bras.  The reusable breast pads smelled like Baby's breath.
The avent pimp. The sound.  Nightly/daily.  For weeks (or months?).  In the tub, smelling the spring air and breast milk - that was my life.
Pumping ounce after ounce, pouring down my kitchen sink.
Connection- maybe -Why I can't willingly, happily, pour the extra milk I pumped with theo

The timeframe of gloom - post death - first 2-3 months  all gloom...planning the bc trip?

He built the fire that was motherhood within me

Thank you cards (done)
Name game and other shower quirks. Advice book. (done)

 Pottery mugs from BC

Pajamas / clothes


Winnie the Pooh

Life splicing. Comparing 6 months to 6 months - grief vs living baby.  What life was supposed to be. Side by side post with pix of theo. What is 3 years supposed to look like?

How it changed me - for the worse? If not for the worse, definitely as a person. Compared to my father, where losing him made me MORE of who I already was, losing Alexander is making me less. Not in value, but in ME. The me that I've been since childhood, adolescents and a young lady. His death and this experience is changing her. And I'm frustrated that I'm not strong enough to get her back and BE HER through it all. I'm still too mad. I'm still too sad.

Purpose and grief. Early days vs now. In the early days, I devoured every word, history and all. Waiting with baited breath for rainbow babies, hoping my pregnancy would turn out the same. There was purpose in it. Early on - I'm blogging because I'm in the thick of it, I'm reading because this is how I SURVIVE.  And this ache, this grief, it had purpose. It's as real as the sky is blue. Now, the grief is still there...but it feels less functional. What do I do with it?  How does it bleed into my life. Love? I miss that early stage for this very reason. As bad as it felt, compared to now, my grief felt filled with purpose. With reason. With dimension.

This old house (done)

** and to add to that list now, yesterday it hit me that I wanted to post about the pregnancy journal I had to keep and bring with me to every appointment as the practice required it.  I didn't have to do anything other than bring it, but it was full of prenatal stuff, birth plan prep, and hospital bag advice.  There was also a chart that the office kept - handwritten - on the first page, of all my pregnancy stats: weight, belly size, etc.
That was it.  Some topics were too loaded to want to sit and write about.  They kind of had to be there to write about it... the fire had to be going, and my keyboard had to be accessible and my time had to be free, and then and only then could some of the things get formed into a proper post.  Like the Milk.  I could have written an entire post on my phone that day while I was pushing the stroller with Theo, but blog writing is becoming a luxury of sorts it seems I cant really cater to.  That's ok.  Maybe these little blurbs are enough.  Maybe THIS will be the post I read back on one day that makes me dive into more.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Baby Showers for Alexander

Oh wow.  I cant believe I'm sitting down to write this post.  I've been searching through old files and collaging pictures for a few days now - but I've been letting this post whirl around in my head all month (if not for nearly 3 years).  I have a lump in my throat.  I know I will cry.  I know this will be hard.  But dammit, I've been so compelled to do this ever since Alexander died, I've got to start somewhere.

A baby shower wasn't on my wish list when I was pregnant with Alexander.  Really, I was fine without one.  I don't know why - and I try to get my mind off the train of thought that maybe I was physic - but I didn't feel "safe" in doing one.  I just felt like it was counting my chicken before the egg hatched, you know?  I didn't ever feel DOOM, I just felt it risky.  Like...let's just wait.  Let's just let the kid get here and get settled in our new home before we start buying bathtubs and swings.  I knew there was a handful of stuff we were borrowing (car seat, bassinet, hand-me-down clothes).  So I didn't feel it necessary to receive all this STUFF before we knew how we were actually going to require anything after the baby was born. 

I didn't want to be swimming in STUFF ...BABY stuff... when I didn't even have a proper living room set. 

I didn't think this way for ANYONE ELSE.  Just me.  I'm not against baby showers - I even threw one for my friend in 2009, and attended 2 more for other friends in the very next year - I just didn't feel right doing one for me.  Maybe it was all the attention and fuss. That's not my style - I don't like anyone going out of their way for me.  I love to go over the top, and shower people with gifts and be thoughtful and all that... but knowing people were changing their schedules and shopping (and stressing!) over me really felt wrong. 

My mother came to dinner at Daniel's parents one night when I was, I'll say...6/7 months pregnant?  I know our house was purchased but not move-in ready, but I cant remember the exact day she was over with Dan's parents.  But anyway, my mother and Dan's mother were trying to talk out of my ear shot at one point, and they were talking about a baby shower.  I caught my mother by her car before she left and was frank with her.  I said don't sneak around and don't try to surprise me.  I wont like it, and I meant it!  My mother knows me, so she didn't go along with any façade, but she did tell me she wanted to organize a shower for me, but her and Daniel's mother weren't seeing eye to eye.

Thing was, my mother wanted to do it at her house (an hour away) or at our new house (with almost no furniture).  Daniel's mother wanted to do it at her house so all her family (and we are talking 40-50+++ people!!!) could come.  I didn't want it at Daniel's parents because then none of MY friends would come (they're 20-30 minutes away from the city, and my friends don't all own cars), my mother's house was out of the question, and finally, I wasn't comfortable in holding it our new house because we haven't even been living there yet!

But the motion kind of moved on without me, and my mother twisted my arm in having something at my house and she worked on the guest list I sent her.  Daniel's mother was persistent to express her "need" to have something at her place (and invite half the world in the process), because in her words "I want to get my money back".  I was so turned off at the thought of letting Daniel's mother host a party for me just so she could feel like she's getting what goes around comes around in the fashion of having price returned from her family for all the times she gave gifts to other expecting mothers alike.  When one of Daniel's sisters asked me why I didn't want (another) shower held at her parents house, I said, "I don't know anyone all that well, and I feel bad for asking everyone to come and buy me/this baby things in a setting that's not intimate....I honestly don't know all their names, let alone who they ARE in the family!"  And she replied, "but that's when you get all your stuff..."  And she was serious.  It's tradition in their family to invite EVERYONE and EVERYONE gets/gives something, gifts or money.  It's not important that you NEVER see these people otherwise, it's tradition to go and give.  In turn, all of Daniel's sisters and mother have gone to dozens of baby showers in the family (if not hundreds), and they didn't see it as weird to accept a load of gifts from "distant" family members. 

Anyway, long story short... leading up to the shower my mother and I were planning for January 29th, another shower got planned for Feb 5th (one week later exactly).  I agreed to it in the case scenario that they only invite the cousins that I've MET and knew vaguely by name.  I felt overwhelmed, and didn't need a meet and greet at the same time as attending another shower. 

I'll start with the shower held at my house.  It kind of ended up being planned and organized by me.  I'm a bit of a control freak (when it comes to things/issues directly effecting me), and with my mother being an hour away and only doing one visit before the shower, I choose the colours and (VERY MINIMAL) party decorations myself and planned out a few games.

cake made and decorated by my mother's sister-in-law
This ended up being the only pictures I took of the shower decorations.  I know... is there a word that describes something less than MINIMAL??  But there was a huge food table where I sprinkled little baby themed confetti all over, and I had little lavender/green and blue/green balloon clusters all over the house, and the banner "It's a boy" was hung again over the bay window with more balloons and baby theme plates. 
I was particularly short with my mother that day.  I was so stressed and felt like I was drowning.  We had moved into the house the weekend before the shower date, and I felt so under prepared with this party.  Looking back, I know it's a stupid party and who cares if you have nice chairs or pretty table settings... but back then, I cared.  This was the first time ANYONE was seeing our new house (all done and fully renovated) and all I had was my couch and ugly TV unit.  We bought a couch from IK.EA and ottoman - which we knew we would use in the basement afterwards - specifically for this party.  There were folding chairs and old puke yellow hand-me-down dining chairs for people to sit everywhere... and we bought and assembled the couch just days before the shower.  But my mother kept saying "no one will care, no one will care"... and the different person that I was then (full of hormones) I snapped back, "I CARE!!" and we (regrettably) had a not-so-great day together.
But all that being said, once people started showing up and things got into full swing... it was actually a great day.  Everyone had fun, and NO ONE CARED that my house wasn't fully decorated (shocking, I know). 

2 out of 3 of Daniel's sisters brought their kids and a few of my friends with their kids... and on top of that, a bunch of other family and friends stopped by.  I made a trivia game with gift cards as the prize.  Everyone had fun, and it really got everyone talking (and cheating!!).

the game
I also put together a slide show of baby pictures of myself and Daniel.  I felt like no one would have anything to LOOK AT since our house was so empty, so I threw it together not only because it was super cute, but also because I needed a feature for the party.  There were about 100-150 pictures of us, side by side as babies.  It looped and provided just what I needed as a party piece.  I would post some, but like I said, 150 pictures... so... no, lol. 
Anther "activity" I did was a name suggestion box.
I was still a little uncertain... on the fence with Alexander and Anthony and Christopher was a distant third.  I knew I wanted David as a second name (and was even toying with the idea as David as the first name - after my late father).  So I had a little note pad and decorative bag for people to leave their suggestions in.  A lot were based on names people were well aware I was already liking, and some where kind of out-of-the-blue names.  (Funny, I'm just now going through this bag again after maybe 2 years of not looking through it, and I see that Tonia suggested Adrian.  I liked that name, and was sure I was going to use an "A" name for my baby.  3 1/2 months after Alexander died, and her son was born, she named him Adrian (Adriano).  My heart doesn't know if it should hurt or be warmed by that). 
My mother started and brought an advice journal where guests could right their best advice for new parents - whether they were parent themselves or not, it was for everyone to share some loving words for the "parents-to-be".  (Note: I don't call pregnant couples "parents to be anymore".  Clearly, they're already parents!).  I'll post about that soon.

There I am, SUPER pregnant, 37+ weeks along...making my way through gifts.  The change pad in the middle right picture we still use with Theo.  The bath I returned after Alexander died.  That religious painting was from Daniel's mother.  That might be a story for another day - it's hard to explain - but it's still tucked away behind the dresser in Alexander/Theodore's room.  Oh, and my brother showed up...ha!

More gifts and kid craziness.  Mathew stood by me and "helped" me open all the gifts.  I found it annoying because his mother didn't even try to suggest he give me space (so really I was annoyed with her), but found it cute all the same.  We still use the baby hamper, I returned the pack-and-play and exchanged it for a rocking chair, and the clothes didn't ever get worn by Theo (accidentally - I just stored them away and didn't pull them out on time/in season for Theo to wear).  
The keep sake box we have, but it's only got a few keepsakes in it from Theo.  That little plaid outfit I had Theo in around 6 months old.  I think I ended up keeping all of the clothes we received for Alexander.  Unless I thought it was absolutely hideous and returned it BEFORE he died, I think I kept them all.  Theo made his way into a lot of the outfits, but there a few pieces I have that are still only Alexander's.  (I'm hoping to post about them this week).  And I kept the tree blanket.  I loved it.  It was on the twin bed after Alexander died for the longest time.  I wanted to do Alexander's room nature themed with touches of "Classic Winnie the Pooh" when we finally got the chance to do it... I thought that blanket would look so great hung on the wall among the small touches of Winnie I had planned to put up.  Winnie and his friends all lived in the forest, the blanket felt fitting in a not so matchy matchy way.  The bottom 3 pictures are of me opening the gift from my mother.  She got me a big basket of knick knacks all baby related.  And this Winnie the Pooh blanket was one of them. 
(that blanket started to shed and fall apart in the wash when I was preparing for Alexander.  I got rid of it in fear that the fibers would suffocate my newborn child.)
Unfortunately, my mother and I got into a bit of a heated conversation that night after the shower.  I try not to think about it, and really, I don't remember how it all started or what it was based around... I just remember criticizing her for getting me "too much stuff" (I might have used the word useless too - not my best day).  I remember telling her that one of my big anxieties in having this new home with a new baby was TOO MUCH CRAP everywhere.  I didn't want the gifts and all the stuff because we weren't settled... and I didn't want the stress of returning anything or storing anything or figuring anything out when we were on the brink of much more important stresses.  I remember specially blowing up during the conversation about the bath sling she included in the gift basket.  I received 3 baby baths that day... and she gave me all this stuff and NO gift receipts, WHAT THE HELL WAS I GOING TO DO WITH THIS STUPID SLING?!?  (Please note: I used that "stupid sling" for the first 2-3 months of Theo's life as I bathed him in an oversized basin in my bedroom). 
I was unreason, jacked up on hormones, injected with new house stress.  My mother left that night, and I was in tears.  I felt myself focusing on the wrong things, but at the same time I couldn't help it.  I woke up the next morning and went through my mother's gift piece by piece, and felt like the worst daughter on earth.  The dear woman put so much thought into getting all these little things that she used to use/do when she was looking after us as newborns.  I felt my stomach knotting with disbelief that I got so harsh with her.
I quickly took to my email, bawling my eyes out, and sent her this:

Thank You, I Love You



to Erna

Hi Mommy,
I was going to send you a card, but I feel like I want you to receive this information right away.
Thank you for yesterday.  I went through the gift you got me this morning, and I feel like I didn't thank you enough.  I know a lot of time, thought and effort went into everything you got for me, and the gift receiving experience yesterday just went by in a flash, and I didn't have any time to collect my thoughts and feelings and properly express them.  You got me all the bare necessities all wrapped with tenderness, love and care.  I love learning about how you learned how to mother us, and the experiences you went through while going through the trail and error of becoming a parent.  Your gift made me think of what it must have been like for you to have me - and no one else is capable of giving that gift.
Spending time with you is something I do less of more and more as the years go by... and with this new chapter starting in my life, I would like to change that.  I know there's a lot more I want to share with you in the future - and while opening your gift again this morning it made me realize that you probably feel the same way too. 
I wish I could do yesterday over and make you feel more appreciated.  I would have complimented you more (told you how pretty I think you looked!) and told you how happy that I was to have you there, in my home, hosting all the people I have in my life. 
Yesterday, I got caught up on focusing on all the wrong things, and failed to focus on and acknowledge what was really important - that you're my Mom, and you're doing great and I love you for it.  I'm sorry, because I know that didn't come across, and I feel terrible for making you feel bad.
There were very few pictures taken yesterday - but the ones that I have of you I feel you look anxious, and I cant help but feel responsible for putting you in that state.
Something I have learned as I've become an adult is that nothing is worth making someone you love feel bad.  At the end of the day, it's all just a pile of things that could easily be donated on thrown away - and Daniel and I could start over with this baby shopping list. Nothing gives merit to making someone who is trying their best feel inadequate.  No matter how you may be deciding to act or express yourself - I didn't follow through with the reminder I often give myself that allows me to see things clearly... you are the only mother I have, and you are perfect in being exactly that.  And that is always enough. 
I hope we do something in Cambridge in late March or early April with all of your family on Paul's side to celebrate the birth of your first grandchild. 
Thank you Mommy for yesterday - I love you
Love Veronica
I'll see you this Sunday at 21 N cres.  I'm hoping Valerie and Mike can come too... that way I'll know a few people there!

We talked on the phone that night, and I kind of centered myself again.  Pregnancy is crazy, and I will say I didn't think it was effecting me in that crazy hormonal irrational way that is so stereotypical... but it was that night. 

But fast forward one week, and we were at the second shower!


Here I am, with all of Alexander's cousins.  The date was February 5th, 2012.  Sabrina on the far left (born December 2010) on to Emily (born December 2008), Isabella (born April 2008), Mathew (born August 2007) and Sarah (born July 2009). 

Tina (Daniel's sister) did all the party decorations and she picked a loose theme of Winnie the Pooh / honey bees/pots.  It was in the basement of their parents house and it was set up like a little hall.  5 long rectangular tables with 10 settings on each, all with touches of yellow and blue.  She had little honey bears at all the place settings (as the take home favor).  She did clothes-lines hanging from the ceiling with baby clothes/newborn onesies hung - all for Alexander. 

Luisa liked the slide show idea, so she asked us to somehow run it for her party too.  We did, on a lap top, much less "feature"ish than it was at my house... but it was there too nonetheless. 

My mother brought alone the advice journal (and the name suggestion bag) and the dozens of vaguely known family members added to our memories.

Here are a few pages - from shower guests from both parties.  I'm pretty sure you can click and zoom if you're interested in seeing what exactly was written... but I pulled just a few from close family, and a few more to give a feel of what people were writing in general.  2 - from my mom.  3 - Tonia.  4 - my sister.  6 - my godmother.  8 - a funny friend of mine.  12 - someone's daughter at the second shower.

Here are all the name suggestions after it was all over.  My brother (and I think Daniel) poked fun at the activity, and submitted all joke names (I think/hope).
Back to shower #2:

Me and my mom, me with Tina, Me with my mother and Luisa, me with my sister and her fiancé, and me with Daniel and his parents.  Lots of pictures of people, but not any of the decorations.
I was much less stressed on this day as everything was out of my control.  (And really, because I could go into labor any second and have a full term 38+ week gestated baby and was ready ready ready).  It was clear that everyone at this party had done this before in some way or another and everything went smoothly.  Tina worked the crowd during our huge and over the top catered meal with trivia and group fun.  She had like 20 $5 Tim's cards in her back pocket and was giving them away in an auction like manner.  It was hilarious and cute. 
But after we all ate and had some fun.. it was a marathon of gifts to get through.  I'm posting these for no other reason than I'm pregnant with Alexander and Daniel and I are as happy as can be.  And I only agreed to do this if Daniel was up there with me and reading the cards and thanking people as we went along (because honestly, I didn't even know who to look at when seeing the names in the cards!!!)
My faces are totally random and weird.  I thought it was the cutest thing to put clothes up against Daniel and picture them on the "mini me" he was expecting.

The top left is a Winnie themed gift, but the bear was a hand-me-down (regift?) as the shirt said "2011".  I gave it to charity as 2011 wasn't Alexander's birth year. The middle horizontal row was a gift from my sister - centered around Winnie the pooh.  She found a copy of the book my dad used to read to us before bed (I'm holding it in middle left), and wrote "1st book for your baby's library".
It was no secret I loved Winnie The Pooh (I've had a love for him since early childhood), and was so looking forward to showering my first born with my ongoing Winnie Love. 

The kids starting to get antsy and we had to let them in on the gift opening.  Especially when it was THEIR gifts (gifts from their parents to us) we were opening.

The last gift was from my mother.  I was overwhelmed by her generosity.  I wasn't expecting anything as she already gave me a bunch of stuff at the shower we did together at my place.
I still have pretty much everything that was included in that gift "cake".  Or maybe it was called a diaper cake - because the backside was all newborn diapers.  But we have or use everything to this day.  All the washcloths rolled up are still a daily staple in our house.  The star and stripped onesies I had packed for Alexander's hospital bag, and decided to pack the stars for Theo's hospital bag (and he wore the stripes too).  There is a "baby Winnie" pajama in there somewhere.  That was going to be Alexander's homecoming outfit.  Well, maybe... it was on the bigger side, and we packed another pajama my sister gave us as a back-up.  But the one that was in this diaper cake is still tucked in a drawer.  It's one of Alexander's things that Theo didn't ever wear.  

I wrote Thank You cards to all the guests that came to the shower at our new house.  I picked them out days after that shower.

 This little mouse, skipping along, happy as can be.  Because that's how I felt.  I still have a few.  I cant bare to part with them.
I wrote every note out in a book first, enabling myself to edit and not run out of room.  They were personalized and written with so much gratitude and excitement.  In every card, I talked about "I cant wait to see you again after our baby comes".  I still have that note book with all my rough drafts...


But that it's.  For our baby.  For our boy.  Going through all these pictures and remembering this time is such a tug-a-war of feelings.  It all makes me so happy, but so so sad. 

I was looking through some pictures and a part of me wanted to forward them off to the people who bought the gifts.  Almost in a way to remind them who they spent the time and money on to buy a gift for.  And to remind them that just because he died, he still deserved every last bit of it all, and that he STILL matters.  My heart might be going in the wrong direction here, but I see a lot of the outpour from before he died and I get bitter because the outpour of support after he died wasn't nearly as quantified.  The "I'm sorry's" where quiet and quick, and what happened to us was whispered about behind closed doors.  Oh, the pain in seeing how real he was is so enormous.  Had he lived, he would still be so huge in our lives... but because he died, he is so often (if not always by some) forgotten. 

But we loved him so, and when I was left in shock that night he died so suddenly inside my belly at 41 weeks ... I thought about these baby showers.  I was so embarrassed and ashamed.  All this work and outpour and time and money.. and I couldn't pull through with a damn child to show for it.  I think I said the words in the hospital I knew we shouldn't have had a shower.  And not because I thought it was bad luck or CAUSED anything... but because look at what can happen and dammit what a goddamn shame.  But I did think that that feeling of all things caving in on me around making these baby showers work was a bit of a nudge.  I don't know what for.  But a nudge.  Maybe if we DIDN'T have the shower's, everything would have been so much more low key, and live or die, maybe it all would have been easier?

I don't know.  I just know it was so hard to know that just a FEW WEEKS before he died we were celebrating and having a blast expecting our baby.  How is that possible?  Why is that allowed? 

I came home after his stillbirth to a mantel filled with all these cards.  I was going to take pictures of him and send a birth announcement out with a thank you card to all the people who came to Daniel's mothers for the shower because the jarring task in writing/completing 40-50 thank you cards when I was "any day now" status was too much.

But I love the love all the same.  I love how much he was loved, even if it was just for a moment in time.  He was loved and wanted and anticipated by many.  All of these cards stayed on my mantel for months after he died.  I didn't know what else to do with them.  I wasn't ready to say goodbye.  I never will be... but at that time, taking the cards down felt like I was closing his chapter.  Like I was "calling it".  He's dead, better take these down.  Couldn't do it.
But I'm thankful that I got this post done.  I'm thankful I've put all this out there, and created a central place for all my feelings. 
I've had to spread this post out (life got in the way).  It started in the morning, and now it's almost Theo's bed time.  I got through it all with all but a huge lump in my throat.  I will probably have a good cry now as I reread, and edit and reflect.
Thank you, anyone and everyone out there, for reading about my beloved first born son xox
*cue the tears* correction, I did cry when I went through my old email to my mother