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... :(