Friday, November 22, 2013

Grief Has No Manners

What. A. Week.

I'm not sure who all reads this, but as a momma, this week has been kinda rough. Anyone know what I mean? Lots of two year old moments, fridge broke, lots going on, blah blah. This week was also just one heck of a grief week. I'm not sure what that even means, other than EVERYTHING was magnified. Every single emotion, frustration, issue; it was all over analyzed and made everything "more than it actually was". Am I making a big mess of sense here? haha.

I have been at this "life after loss" thing since February and it's not that it is easier, but I am getting used to it and I can predict a bit more about when I am going to break down, what will trigger a cryfest or how I'm going to respond to situations, etc. The last few weeks have been a cycle of sorts and this week was no different. The weekends are always so great and I soak up ALL the time I have with Nick and Ava together, just us. We have family time, art lessons/studio time, church, down is so nice. Monday rolls around and brings with it a broken fridge, a cranky toddler, and anything else that could go wrong, not to mention that some days not having my son alive just plain hurts. So, in turn, that puts me into a tail spin and things that should be easily taken care of and everyday issues become the start of a sort of depression and unless I completely let it all out, it just gets worse. There are days that I just wish I could sit and mope, be alone, in the dark with a bunch of netflix, a box of kleenex and a huge dr pepper. Totally irrational, but I truly just need to let it all go and be upset. I don't have that option, so I have to find ways to let it out and then get on with life. I can't force Ava to never go play with her friends because I am too fragile  to take her to playgroup where there are babies everywhere and so much talk of breast feeding, sleep patterns and the latest milestones. It is too hard to go almost every week, but my daughter loves her friends and wants to play. So I buck up, put on some mascara and a smile and take her. I cannot just hide in my house and never go in public, where life happens and people seem to have it all together.

 I want to sit and mope all day, from time to time and I still have to get up, tend to Ava, do laundry, wash dishes, make dinner,  etc. I don't get a day off from being momma to the child i DO have here. Granted, I get time here and there to be by myself and have a break. I am thankful for that and I soak it up, but grief doesn't cater to "only when I have some downtime by myself". It comes whenever it wants and sometimes it comes at the MOST inconvenient times. Grief comes when I see Ava run over to the mommies with the baby carriers and want to touch the babies and kiss them at playgroup. Grief comes when I see a little boy and wonder what Noah will look like at that age. Grief comes, never fails, after I've done a great job with my eye makeup. ha Grief comes when I get on to Ava for something she knows she shouldn't do and I know she needed discipline for, yet I feel like a terrible mom and that I deserve the death of my son. Grief tends to get irrational and very selfish. Grief isn't polite, it isn't scheduled. I wish I could pencil in grief time into my calendar so I would have it all planned out; alone-check, dark place-check, sweat pants-check, lots of kleenex-check, no babies, kids or other moms around-check. haha. I mean, wouldn't that be perfect. I'm not sure why grief comes and goes the way it does. It is so hard to be going along so well and then all of a sudden the floor gives way and you freefall into a pit that is so terrible, yet so comfortable. I almost want to be in it for awhile, to not rush the pain away, but let it do it work. It is a bittersweet place to be and it is necessary. I think each time I hit one of the deep places of sadness, loneliness, and pain, I shed another layer and feel refreshed.

In the same moment I can grieve that Noah is not here, but be so thankful he isn't here suffering. I can want to hang out with other moms and let Ava play and then as soon as we walk in I want to go away and hide. I can be ready to attack a week of chores, work orders and activities and 2 hours into Monday I can throw in the towel and need to curl up in bed. Grief has a mind of its own, but it doesn't have to control mine. I have realized that I can't pretend it doesn't exist, wish it away or ignore it. I have to let it do its work, pray through, ask for help, and hold on to the promise that God is still good, even when we don't understand Him. Through the hurt and pain, good things sprout up, I have found that I am growing deeper roots, even in the hurt and pain. I am finding more about myself than I have in a long time. I'm learning to be honest with myself, be less hard on myself (slowly), be more purposed and determined. Good things can come from deep grief. Don't try to get through it so quickly. (talking to myself) Just let God guide you through the waves as they come and go. Day at a time.

Any ideas on how to get through the awkward moments around moms, hit me up. haha. I'd love to know how any of the women who have suffered child loss get back into the "social mom" game.

In Him,

Friday, November 15, 2013

"We're going to see Bubby"

Anytime we go to a hospital, which since Noah died, has been about 4 or 5 times, Ava thinks we are going to see her Bubby. We, of course, explain to her that Bubby is still with Jesus in heaven and then proceed to tell her why we are going to the hospital and who we are going to actually see. I think it is sweet that she gets excited to see her Bubby. In her little mind, that is all she knows of her sibling, was the hospital. She doesn't understand getting to take a baby home, or having a sibling to play with, having to share toys(at home), or mommy's attention. She is obsessed with babies right now though. She has a baby doll named Bubby. She loves to get Noah's blanket off my bed and use it for her babies, during her nap, sometimes she gives it to me and says, "Bubby's blanket, he was a sweet sweet baby". etc. She knows all she needs to know for a 2 and a half year old. She is so smart and sensitive. Ava knows when mommy is sad and will crawl up in my lap, hug me and say, "it's ok mommy. I love you. You miss Bubby?" She loves deeply. She is aware. I wonder how this process will look as she gets older, but I hope that she will always look back at each step of her becoming more aware of her Bubby and the impact he had on us all, with pride. I pray that she will always know that she is a huge part of Bubby's story, that she is a huge part of Mommy's healing and that she is the apple of Daddy's eye, the one who can always make us smile, surprise us with her sayings, frustrate us with her (mommy's) attitude. haha. She is our sunshine and as she likes to say, "I'm mommy's sunshine and daddy's moon". :) She brightens up our life and I know God gave us to her first for many reasons. She gives me so much to live for everyday. She pushes me to be better, to extend and teach grace, to love, to laugh, to stop and play, to soak up life. She is such a joy and I'm beyond grateful for her role in our family.
brand new ava
going home

Mommy & Ava's 2 week adventure before Bubby came
 Ava had to grow up so much when this journey started and as I watched her go through the process, as we all did, she just amazed me at every point. I cannot tell you how much she adapted under such crazy circumstances. She started the journey as a baby and has grown into quite the little, sassy, spontanious and goofy little girl. She truly is our, "amazing Ava" as Tpaw coined.
Driving to Ft. Worth to start the journey

Big sister day!

The only way she would get in the big bed with mommy
Ava would not get in my hospital bed with me unless there was a popsicle involved, so I totally bribed her. She did amazing on Bubby's birthday! She was well behaved, she did so great with it all and made mommy so proud.
meeting Bubby for the "second" time
During the entire week I was in the hospital, she was so sweet for her Mimi and Pop and everyone she was around. Her grandma, papaw, etc. She ate great, played well and gave mommy plenty of snuggles and kisses.  I remember wondering how I was going to split myself in two so I could be with both babies. I couldn't be at home, with my newborn and my eldest, doing all the normal things, snuggling, letting her hold him on a pillow, etc. It was hard for me to not be with both of my babies at once. She always

kept me smiling. Through everything, she made it better. I cannot imagine going through it all without her. I am certain that God knew we would need her gorgeous eyes, silly smile, funny laugh and constant energy. God knew I would need her snuggles, kisses and hugs to keep going. I just know that God has huge plans for her in every season of life. She certainly has shown us that from the day she was born.
waiting room fun (always in a waiting room)

RMH breakfast

footy jammies at RMH

Pop & Ava spent lots of time on the slide
I cried every Sunday afternoon that she and Nick and sometimes mom and dad would leave. I just knew she would forget me or come back to ft worth and be scared of me or something. Silly I know, but I truly worried that she would fall behind developmentally as she traveled all the time, had no schedule, was with different people all the time, eating randomly, napping in waiting rooms, etc. As a mom, I was so strung out on not being there and not being with Noah at the same time, but every time, she would just impress me and show me some new thing she learned or wow me beyond my expectations.

brushing her teeth like a big girl

Playing on the Cook's playground
playing with Daddy
Ava loved the playground and the "cove" at the hospital. She would play for hours and it was so nice to have something for her to do during all the downtime when she could not be in Bubby.  I am just still, so thankful for all she learned and experienced during Bubby's life.

Skyping with Mommy 

Mommy & her babies

                                                                                                         Sometimes Ava gets                                                                                                            pushed to the side 
                   when it comes to the story 
                     of Bubby and I felt like it 
                          was time that I showcased 
                            her and her amazing 
                            journey as Big Sister.  
visiting her bubby

Ava's first plane ride

waiting room nap (again)

Bubby's valentine from Sissy

Valentine's Day with Mommy

Snow cones with cousins on Bubby's Memorial Day

First family photo
Last Family photo of 4

More hospital fun
another waiting room nap

 Ava has been and still is Mommy's Sunshine. There are weeks like this one, where I do not want to raise another child. I do not want to have sleepless nights, potty train again, etc. Lord knows what he is doing and what he has planned for us, but I learned from Noah that I must be surrendered to His plan and not count on my own. The frustrating days are deeply frustrating, but the amazing days are more than incredible and remind me that our toughest days are always worth it. Ava has been and will continue to be our sweet girl and we are so thankful that we get to watch her grow, develope and learn. The other day I looked in the mirror in the car and saw her worshiping. She had her eyes closed, hands raised and was moving her head back and forth and singing along to "Forever Reign"... She's smart, she's aware, she is amazing. I realized that without her Bubby and his story, she might not have such a deep knowledge of Jesus as she does. I'm thankful for that.
Meeting Bubby and Nurse Kathy gave her a "magic wand"
Sometimes I miss hospital life. I do. I didn't struggle to realize the worth of my family. It was made aware daily. I didn't forget how precious my friends were, I was always desperate for them. I am thankful for the life lessons we learned, the life we shared and lived, the love we grew and the way we got to watch Ava grow and learn while Bubby was alive.
I'm thankful for nurse Kathy, who informed us and made us aware that Ava could come into the PICU and meet her brother. We didn't realize it until she let us know, because we were used to the NICU rules. Without Kathy, we might not have our first family pics or have the sweet moment of Ava seeing her bubby for the first time. Thankful for the nurses that would always go out of their way to make Ava feel at home and loved on at Cook's.
Bad days come and go, often, but Ava always makes even the worst day bearable with her love and her smile. She is my precious girl and I will forever and always be thankful.

LOVE you Ava! Mommy and Daddy are so thankful for you and your part of our story.

Blessings to all,
Noah's Mommy

The W's

Friday, November 1, 2013

My Favorite Month

I love November. I love Thanksgiving. So many people have their favorite holidays. Usually you find that Christmas and Halloween are up there, followed by 4th of July and maybe even Easter. Thanksgiving has been almost run over by Black Friday, now starting on Thanksgiving evening/afternoon. Seriously? We can't have 1 day out 365 that we aren't focused on buying something, trampling over each other and can't just play a game or be still and watch a movie, maybe visit with family until whenever the shopping fools get up and go do whatever they do. ha. I just have no desire to ever do Black Friday. There IS a reason they call it black, right? Anyway, I just love thanksgiving. We come together, make a bounty of food and enjoy it as well as fellowship with closest family and friends and then rest. We watch football or take naps, sometimes at the same time, play games, catch up with the cousins, lounge in the recliner and read a book, and then go back for seconds and another piece of pumpkin pie. Maybe it seems gluttonous to some, but maybe it is an actual holiday where we aren't focused on GETTING anything. We don't stress and run around trying to find something to get someone with the little budget we have for them or going into debt trying to impress. We aren't disappointed if we only got a scarf and not some expensive gadget or wad of cash. We simply get together, to be together. Hopefully we all find ways to express our thankfulness for what WE ALREADY HAVE, not what WE WANT TO GET.

I have fond memories of thanksgiving. We had so many houses to go to because our families live here that we were always hopping from house to house, but each side has things I vividly remember. My mimi was an absolute wonder in the kitchen. She would make her list, shop, (three different stores, for the best deals) plan ahead by cooking certain things ahead, preparing other things the night before and then had a written schedule with times on it for when certain things went in the oven and when other things came out, when to set the table, what napkins to use and one year she made little place card sail boats out of pecan shells and toothpicks, with little white flag name cards. We used those for years. The family would squeeze at the table and pass around every dish, stuff our faces and visit, laugh and just be together. I know she relished those times and soaked every moment up.
My radiant Mimi (and pumpkin pie)
Mimi knew how to live richly. She made every holiday and every Friday night fried chicken dinner, every Sunday roast lunch, every half a grapefruit breakfast and a whole wheat bagel with coffee in the morning, matter. She just loved life. She rarely complained and Thanksgiving was her crown and glory. :) Christmas was a close second, but I just saw her glow and then an hour or so after the big dinner, she would get a piece of pecan pie, a little dollop of cool whip and savor each bite of that pie like she earned it. and she did.

The Byrd side ALWAYS has cheese grits (homemade by aunt linda), pink fruit salad (by gran), a kids table and a grown up table, cousin time, playing spy at the old house upstairs, group pictures, using the pretty dishes (even as kids we got to use neat dishes), green bean casserole and the pickle tray. I always ended up getting a bread and butter pickle on accident and had to sneak it to the trash. eew. Football naps and reading books are where you will find the Byrd/Goodell & now Weisgerber and Whitfield men after the meal. Most likely you will find all the Byrd girls around the table laughing and remembering old times, catching up each other on current events and just enjoying being together. When we were little, I can remember enjoying and sometimes getting wounded in a battle of spoons. :)

Thanksgiving is a nice long day of comfort all around.

Mimi's recipes in my kitchen. 
I got to where I was old enough to help with Thanksgiving cooking and so I learned to make Mimi's crescent rolls. Staci began making pies when Mimi couldn't quite muster the energy to do it anymore. Mom would make a small turkey and I would make Mimi's dressing. Not stuffing. Dressing. :)  We made things as close to how they were, but they weren't exact. That was ok though. Byrd Thanksgiving is still the same, sometimes with an empty seat, because we are all strung out about the state/country. Times change. This time last year I thought we would be home by Thanksgiving, but we weren't. In a few days, it will be a year since Noah had his 2nd open heart surgery to get his pace maker placed. I just sat in his cubicle knowing we wouldn't make it home for thanksgiving. Crushed you might say. God was working on me. I was feeling selfish and having a pity party that we wouldn't get to be home, around family, with our traditions and usual events. I was frustrated to say the least. I was so weary of the hospital, the lonely weeks, the fast weekends. Our sweet family in Ft Worth, of course, hosted Thanksgiving and we were welcome to be there and were thankful to as well. I wanted to be a part of it and so I thought I would make crescent rolls. I got up early and started the dough, let is rise, etc. It wasn't working out right. It was stiff and just not like it was supposed to be. I was frustrated, again. I gave up. I was going to throw the dough in the trash and send nick to walmart to get Mrs. Baird's brown and serve rolls (which are good by the way), and then go sit and pout the rest of the day about the failed attempt. My dressing turned out good. The rolls were to be my one thing from home that would make the tradition stay alive, since mimi wasn't. The first thanksgiving after Mimi passed away and I just could not go without crescent rolls. (i know, a lot of whining over bread) It was more than the bread though. It was the memories, the traditions, the feeling of abandonment from the Father, that Mimi wasn't here anymore, we were stuck in a town we didn't really know, our son was STILL sick, nothing was right, no one was in the right place, and God didn't seem to care. That was my heart. That was why I went in the bedroom and cried. I just cried and pouted. I showered, got ready to go throw the dough away and then talked to my mom. I remembered that mimi was an improviser. I thought, well, I will do what I can with the dough and see what happens. I rolled out the dough, cut rolls out and put them on a pan. I let them rise a little, as much as they would, and then put them in the oven. They were gone in about 15 minutes, once lunch began. I suppose they weren't too bad. They weren't actually crescent rolls. They were just plain ol rolls. They were a little dense and nothing like mimi's really, except that they were there, the dough wasn't sitting in the trash defeated. So, I was thankful for another Mimi lesson that day and soaked up the rest of the day with family, tried to enjoy taking turns going into Noah's room. (mom and dad stayed up there all day with him, so Ava could have some mommy and daddy time at a home, not the hospital) It was an interesting day, but we also go to spend time with family we never get to, we were made fully aware of how blessed we were, even in the middle of such hardship and hurt. Noah was in recovery mode still, during the weekend, but a few days before we had thanksgiving, I had been able to hold him for the first time, he had been taken off the ventilator for the first time(after 51 days) and he got to meet his uncle keith, see his grandma and mamaw and made some big Thanksgiving memories.  God always gives us something to be thankful for. always.
holding Noah a second time 

So, here we are. One year later. I look into November and remember making a thankful poster for Noah's room, instead of our thankful tree we always do. I remember fighting so hard to keep an attitude of thankfulness and gratitude even when I wanted to cry and whine every day. Somethings never change. I want to sit and cry and whine some days, that Noah isn't even here now. He doesn't get to be passed around at family gatherings, he won't know the taste of mommy's childhood thanksgivings, the joy it brings me to get up and watch the parade while making the dishes we bring to the family gatherings. I just wish that he could be a part of our lives in the tangible ways my heart wants. I know I know, he might not have even been able to be in crowds of family, enjoying life at all, depending on how severe his needs for oxygen were or how he felt on a daily basis, the issue of cold and flu season. I know, he is in a completely better place, in a way that I don't even understand yet. I know. I'm thankful. I don't need to be reminded that he is healed now. :) I know full well.

day before his pacemaker surgery
I'm thankful. November is a time to be thankful. For EVERYTHING, not just the things we like, the good things that make our life complete, but the things in our life that sometimes suck the life out of us. I'm not saying be thankful for things that are wrong, sinful or should be eliminated from our lives. Those things need to be repented of and dealt with. I 'm talking about being thankful for the things that seem inconvenient at the time, the things that are just not how we like them. Be thankful that you drive a 2000 model that runs well and doesn't require car payments, instead of whining about how you wish you had a newer one. Be thankful that your children leave messes, have a dirty room, maybe even drive you crazy, because you get to hug them, love on them, tuck them in at night and have them in your arms. Be thankful because some moms have sons and daughters over seas serving our country and their safety is in danger every minute of every day. Be thankful to have your husband or wife home with you because some people have been left in a position they never thought they would find themselves in this Thanksgiving, alone perhaps. Whether it is distance or severance, people will be lonely this holiday. Someone, somewhere is thinking of a loved one who passed recently or maybe a long time ago. A man or woman is sitting in a prison cell, truly repentful and seeking the Lord and misses his family. Another prisoner might be sitting in the cold concrete room angry at the world and wanting to give up on life at all. The holiday season isn't about YOU. I have come to realize that it isn't about thankful trees, pecan pies or crescent rolls but about a Savior and the life we have available to us because of that Savior. Do what you do, at each holiday, in light of that. Don't focus so much on the traditions and the must haves that we miss out on the could be's and the means for service, thankfulness, and love. (to others, not just ourselves)

one of very few family of 4 pictures. Thankful.

Today, Ava and I will start our thankful tree. I want to instill in her traditions and past times that she can look back on and smile upon or even carry on to her kids someday, but we will be adding some new things this year as well. Noah made us a better family. He MAKES us a better family. He is and forever will be our boy, even if he just made it home quicker than we did. So, we will continue to live thankfully and share our thankful hearts, the reason we can be thankful in such heartache, with others.
Find a way to show your thankfulness besides getting up at midnight on Black Friday and squishing people to buy an xbox or some big tv. Maybe think of something outside the "box" and let gratitude become expressed tangibly. There are plenty of people that need your love. They need your thankfulness to show, so they can catch some of the hope you have.

I know I feel challenged today.

May November continue to be my favorite, not just because of all the yummy traditions and super fun activities, but because in 2012 a little boy reminded me that life isn't about traditions but about the One who made a way. Made a way for Noah to be in heaven. Made a way that I can be there too, someday.

Anyone want to join in? Make November a month to remember, by finding ways to love and serve. (someone other than yourself) I know that focusing on the good will not always make it easier for me during the holidays, serving others doesn't always take the sting of the loss away. Missing Noah is an everyday occurrence, not just a holiday thing, but Mimi reminded me of "making the best of" any situation, even after she went home, and before Noah joined her. So, I WILL  make the BEST of this month, this holiday coming up, the pain I deal with so often, it all becomes a part of the journey and the journey is a good one.

Thanks as always, for riding this road with us, for the support and love we receive from each of you.
Be blessed this thankful season,

Noah's mommy