#mommingstrong

Friday, September 13, 2019

My Baby is Going to School


Monday I sent my four year old off to his first day of Pre-K. My original plan was to keep him and his brother home as long as I could, because who wants to send their kids off into this crazy world.  After the loss of Brecken we decided it was best for Easton (and me) to attend school with friends and a teacher besides his mom. Because to be honest, he started to not like me teaching him, and that wouldn't work if I kept him home. 

The first day I sprung the news to him that he would be going to school he politely informed me that he was in fact NOT going to school because he knew everything already. Well then. So I followed up with a question. If you know everything than what is 2+2?  He then very confidently responded with a ... mom that is easy, its 4.  Um. OK. But your still going to school.

I spent the last few weeks getting him all ready. Cute over sized backpack... check. Snacks... check. New school clothes and shoes that actually fit... check. School supplies... check. Convincing him that he actually had to go to school.... hard but check. The only item unchecked was finding the mom strength to let him go. 

It was so much harder than I thought. After I watched him balance on that magical yellow line and go with his teacher and all his new friends to their classroom, I lost it. My baby boy that day wasn't so little. He was confident and happy and ready. Now don't get me wrong, I was excited for him. I am so happy this little chapter of his life is starting. But it was really really hard. 

It was hard because I got to send my four year old off to school but I will never get to send Brecken off to school It was hard because I got to make the cute class of 2033 shirt for Easton but I will never get to make a shirt for Brecken. It was hard because I got to watch Easton walk off with that over sized backpack and see the excitement on his face, but I wont ever feel that with Brecken. I got to check off all the boxes with Easton, but I will never get to check those boxes off with Brecken. So it was an exciting day but it was a hard day.  And that is OK.

One week down and school is going great. Easton loves it. It has been bittersweet but I stay strong for Easton. And I know his little brother is up in heaven cheering him on too.

Happy School year to all those kiddos and parents! Be strong. 




Thursday, July 18, 2019

One Year Baby Boy


Today officially marks one year, The one year angel anniversary. I may still be in a bit of a fog to think that I could blink and maybe, just maybe, I can still wake up. Wake up to that smiling happy little two year old that should be toddling around my world.

But one year ago I had to painfully say goodbye. I had to accept the fact that my sweet little boy was going to gain his wings to heaven and fly. Fly away from his mommy. One year ago today I rocked my baby in my arms for the last time. One year ago I held his little hand and told him that everything was going to be OK even though I knew it really wasn't. One year ago I sang him you are my sunshine for the last time. One year ago I found this unimaginable strength to carefully hand my little boy to his daddy as we watched him take his last breath. One year ago today I started living with that huge hole in my heart and started on this indescribable journey of grief and survival.


It has been a year but I miss like him like he left yesterday. I miss everything about that strong boy. I miss kissing him, hugging him, talking to him, and holding him. I miss his deep little belly laugh when daddy did jumping jacks. I miss the way he played his toy piano with his toes. I miss the sweet moments he shared with his big brother. I miss the park and zoo adventures we never got to go on. I miss all the milestones and firsts I never got to see and never will be a part of. I miss it all.

And I miss being his mommy.

Today marks the end of the many firsts. The first birthday without him. The first holidays without him. The first family vacations and trips without him. July 18 will never be the same. It will not just be a date on the calendar but a painful and hard reminder of what I lost that day.  Not a day goes by that I don't think about Brecken. I planted some beautiful flowers on his "special spot" that my dad had picked out for him. I visit his spot almost every day. I talk about him to Easton as to never forget that for 16 months he WAS here with us.


And today I find a little bit of joy. Joy that I got to have him in my life for those 16 months. Joy that the world got to know Brecken and that Brecken changed the world. Joy in knowing how giraffes are that happy reminder of him, and how others think the same. I find peace that he is free. Free from the Alpers Syndrome that took him away from us. I am comforted in knowing he is no longer attached to numerous tubes and medications. No more appointments and hospital stays. But most of all, he is safely wrapped in the loving arms of my dad.

This year was hard, it was challenging, it had its ups and downs and curves and waves. And now we move forward to the next year. And to always remembering Brecken.

Forever and always baby boy. Mommy loves you.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Raph the Giraffe


Most of you know that giraffes have held a very special place in our lives and a huge place in Brecken's story. We have accumulated everything and anything giraffe. Our collection continues to grow, but it will never get old. As many of our pictures and stories with giraffes in them have become evident, most of you have not met THE "Raph the Giraffe". He is no ordinary giraffe. He is special and he is amazing.

And here is his story.

When I was pregnant with Brecken, a giraffe named April (who resides at Animal Adventure Park in New York) became an internet sensation as millions watched her through pregnancy and birth on live streaming. April and myself were due with our babies on the same day. As we both went over due, her much much longer than me, it was often joked about that maybe I should stream my pregnancy and birth just like her. Although I never agreed to it, it was the beginning of the giraffe theme we gave to Brecken.


On March 4, 2017 when Brecken made his entry into the world, his wardrobe and our house was quickly filled with giraffe blankets, stuffed animals, and giraffe toys. In January of 2018, when Brecken was admitted to the hospital with uncontrollable seizures, his auntie Megan walked in the PICU with a giant 4.5 foot stuffed animal giraffe. She named him Raphael, the patron saint of healing, and around his neck, a key. The key to strength. And that was the day "Raph the Giraffe" was named.

                                                

Raph stayed at the bedside of our sweet little Brecken every day. He attended morning report with the doctors, nurses, and team. They dressed him and talked to him. He came home with Brecken after their 45 day stay in the hospital. And he went back and forth with Brecken to many more hospital stays. His love and strength followed. Raph was at home with us when Brecken gained his angel wings to heaven and the day we laid him to rest in his "special spot". Raph holds his permanent residency in our living room. Right where his love, strength, and guardianship will remain.

We love our Raph. He certainly is a special one.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

A Trip to the Lodge


Everyone has a place where they feel safe. Where they feel comfortable. A place where you can feel the deepest darkest hole in your heart but also feel the happiest joy. A place where you can cry and laugh in the same sentence. A place where you can be nothing but yourself but also be sitting in a group of strangers. A place that is freeing for the soul. That place, my place, was Faiths Lodge. 

My husband Daryl and I attended a long weekend in Danbury, WI at a place called Faith's Lodge early June. It is a lodge tucked away in the scenic countryside of northern Wisconsin. A place where dragonflies fly around, you hear nothing but the chirping birds, and look upon the beautiful lake that the lodge is next to. It is truly peaceful. It gives parents a time to reflect, get away, celebrate, grieve, or to refresh after the loss of a child. 


I was very hesitant to come to Faiths Lodge. As a "silent griever", I am really, really good at hiding my emotions. How would I be able to open up and talk about the darkest part of my life with strangers? Would I talk to these people? Would I spend five days crying? What would this weekend provide for me? Would it be beneficial for us as a couple? Would it just yearn for my sweet Brecken that much more?

Attending Faiths Lodge was hands down the best thing I have done for myself as I continue to navigate the difficult path of grieving my son Brecken. Even though I want to selfishly keep that weekend to myself, I cant. I have to share. Those five days while attending this retreat, I felt safe and I felt free. I was able to take away my smiley face mask and my superhero cape and be vulnerable and open. It was good for my soul. 


I met some of the most amazing friends, strangers no more. I was able to celebrate the short 16 month life of my little boy and share the hard and painful stories of the months after. We sat around the campfire and told each other our fears and our worries. But also told each other the best and favorite memories we had of our little loves. We laughed and cried, we grieved and remembered. And sometimes we didn't have to say anything at all. Because we all just got it. 

These people are my people. Right alongside me in this undesirable club. This club no one should ever have to be in. But they are the strongest most amazing people in the world. People I have learned so much about and so much from. Amazing moms and dads who think about and remember Brecken as much as I will remember their own. I thank Faiths Lodge and those I met during my weekend there. Brecken has some cute and strong little friends to play with in heaven, and that in itself gives me comfort. 


Sunday, May 5, 2019

You Mama, Are Not Alone


I am a member of a club that I really don't want to be a part of. A group of moms (yes of course fathers too) who lost a child or children. Not a single person, on this earth, should be a part of this group. No One. Today is National Bereaved Mothers Day. A day to recognize and give support to those strong mamas who have a gaping hole in their heart that will never go away. Those moms who have had to say good bye to their babies way too early. The moms who carry the love for their children, no longer in their arms, but in their hearts.

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Yesterday we decided to have a fun family day at the zoo. It was a beautiful day! But as I sat and watched my husband and son run around the playground having fun, I soon recognized that deep, ever so recognizable pit in my stomach. I watched all these moms running around with their small children, holding and kissing their babies, and making sure they had their little's in sight. And for that moment that hole in my heart was ever so present. I wanted to be running around with MY sweet little Brecken while Daddy and Easton had their fun. I did not want to be sitting here. But the more I thought about this, the more I thought about how I probably am not alone here.

My family also attended a wonderful Children's Hospital Memorial service this afternoon. We got to bring a picture, read Brecken's name out loud, and light a candle for him alongside families for 70 other children who have passed away all too soon. After the service we released butterflies. And I got to meet a few other bereaved mothers who, unfortunately, are on this grieving journey with me. And whether I be at the playground, the zoo, the grocery store, or a special event I know I am not alone.

This "club" I talk about is not a real club. Its not formal. Its just a name I give it. But the mothers I have met, that are a part of this group.... They Are Amazing. They are the strongest women I will ever know. These women are understanding and loving and welcoming. They are always there to lend an ear or give a hug. And, well, these moms JUST GET IT. They get the pain and sadness that come along with that gigantic hole in our hearts and follow the same (yet so different and individual) rocky path of grief moving forward.

I do not want to be a part of this club. But I am. And although the sacrifice and heartache that cost me my membership, I need this club now. If there is any place where I feel connection and understanding, these are my people. I want to hear their story. I want to know about their children and how they lit up this world just like Brecken did. And I want to be there for them, just like I know they will be there for me. I am on this journey right along side them no matter where we cross paths.

Today is to recognize and acknowledge that you Mamas are STRONG. You are AMAZING. You are COURAGEOUS. You are BEAUTIFUL. And to those Moms I have in my life, I am glad I do.

You are NOT alone.




Monday, April 22, 2019

And Just Like That Your FOUR!


Last night as we were driving home, I glanced behind me to check on Easton. After a fun, exciting, but very busy holiday weekend, he had quickly fallen asleep in his car seat. But this time I took just a little longer to soak up this sweet baby of mine. Yet, he wasn't my little baby anymore, he was tall and handsome and well... all grown up. All the emotions of the day I brought him home from the hospital flooded my mind and the thought that tomorrow he will wake up as a FOUR year old. How did my sweet little tiny baby become such a grown boy?

He was born on earth day and he certainly is my nature loving kid. He loves being outside every second he can. He likes finding sticks and taking walks and spending his afternoons at the playgrounds. He is incredibly smart. After telling him the other day that he was officially enrolled in 4PreK this fall, he told me that he doesn't need to go to school cause he knows everything, even telling me what 2+2 was. (he was correct and said 4 as he counted properly on his fingers). He is independent and strong willed. I constantly have to take a step back when he informs me he can do it himself. And well bargaining is getting extremely difficult these days.

                                              

Although I am biased, the love Easton has for his Mommy, is by far his best trait and simply my favorite. He wakes up and loves to snuggle buggle all morning. He puts up with my million jillion kisses and hugs he gets every day. And he is always finding hearts everywhere he goes to remind me that hearts tell us we love each other. This little boy amazes me every single day. Not a day goes by that he teaches me something new. And I couldn't be more proud to be his mama!

But I would have to admit that parenting him through the last couple years has been the most difficult. Going through the loss of one child while trying to nurture, comfort, and understand the other child is complicated. I often forget that he is grieving too. He has bad days and he has good days. There are days when I wonder if he understands what has happened and days when he says something that tells me he absolutely gets it.

                                               

He DOES miss his baby brother and his Papa because he tells me. He wants to know where the stairs to heaven are so he can visit them and he wants to know when they are coming back. And he very much understands why this world is sad because they are gone. But he has been a huge reason why it has been easier to keep moving. He keeps a smile on my face and my heart more full. And I am thankful every single day for him.

So my sweet, amazing, smart, funny boy. My Easton Paul. My FOUR year old. Always know momma loves you more than you know. Always keep that sense of wonder and curiosity. Keep us laughing with your witty sense of humor and infectious laughter. Stay strong and brave. Always and forever know you have amazing guardian angels watching you from above. I cant wait to share more and more birthdays with you.

Love you to infinity and bebob.