Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Size Ones

At her pediatrician's appointment two weeks ago, Grace had gained back the 9.8% weight loss which came after she was born, and then some. She weighed in at a whopping 8.5lbs... I suspect she's tipping the scales at more than 9lbs at this point- she's quite the little chunk. I love chubster babies! :)

Clearly pleased with her weigh-in results.
I can feel her getting heavier- my arms growing tired after holding her through her numerous feedings. Last week, after delaying it as long as possible, we retired the Newborn sized baby girl clothes and diapers.

I wrote to Brandy about my apprehension in doing so. Because I'm so grateful she's growing big and strong, but it seems too soon for her to no longer be itsy-bitsy. She's four weeks old today- something which is so hard to believe- that we've had her here with us this long- that she's still alive... It seems too good to be true.

At birth, Grace outweighed Jack by more than a pound (the whereabouts seemed to be identifiable as having landed in her nom-able sweet baby cheeks, naturally). Changing to 0-3 sized clothing and size one Pampers Swaddlers seems like such a feat. It's acknowledging she's growing, but it's also yet another thing Jack never got to do- when he died he was no where near outgrowing his pint-sized clothes.

Whereas Grace lives for breast milk, her soft belly a nod to the nourishment she gets from Momma's good stuff, Jack wasn't the least bit interested in breastfeeding- he was a (pumped) bottle man. He didn't re-gain his birth weight- he didn't have the time. And of course it was the lactation consultation which led to the discover (and later the diagnosis) of Meningitis... It was something I was so scared to do-  to breastfeed her and hope for a different outcome than the last time. But it's working, and I'm so thankful she's a greedy little feeder because I'm not sure I could have mentally handled it if she wasn't.

She now wears the same size diaper Jack wore in the NICU- his generously sized to allow for the catheter and other various tubes and wires. I still have the single size one Pampers Swaddler they sent me home with in his memory box... And now I wrap, and unwrap the very same diapers for his little sister. Huh.

She's here, and she's outgrowing him. She's here in a way he never really was- growing- thriving even and I am so thankful for that. But I don't know how to process that everything she does from here on out are things he never will. I feel like this may be the biggest burden of parenting after a loss I ever experience- trying to cope with my anger, guilt and sadness for the things he'll never experience, while we celebrate her every milestone.

Tonight, she fake-cried, then when her dad and I laughed at her, she gave us our first mutual gummy smile. It's enough to break my heart- because I can only imagine what his might have been like.

She locks eyes with me as we nurse together, as though to thank me for the milk she drinks.  She coos at me, and pushes her feet into the palms of my hands as I rub lotions into her soft little feet. We shower together, her warm little body pressed gently to mine as I rinse Burt's Bees from her baby mullet. Sometimes I hold her, and kiss the top of her head, and I cry, remembering the boy who occupied these same hands, these same arms, these same kisses not all that long ago... Happy tears mixing in with the sad- it's hard to distinguish them from one another.

It's all so bittersweet.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

For a long time...

Postsecret.com, Mother's Day 2012.
For a long time I whole heartedly believed this.

In the aftermath of Jack's passing, I seriously wondered what I was going to do with my life. I had no sense of purpose- after all, I had planned out my life in segments- attend university, fall in love, get married, have babies, watch them grow... Live happily ever after.

Then the bottom fell out of my happily ever after and I was left to spiral out of control.

I remember, far too vividly, when I only left my bed to eat- not because of any desire to eat, but only to sustain my life... Or what was left of it.

I remember in the moments after finding out we would be losing Jack forever I announced I could not live without my baby- tears pouring from my eyes. And I meant it with every fibre of my being.

I had been anticipating his arrival since the second pink line appeared on the pregnancy test on May 5th, 2010. I had anticipated the life we would have together since long before Jack was even a twinkle in my eye, or those of my husband.

And all at once, it was gone and I had two choices:

I could live, forever being a little bit worse;

or, I could die.

I chose life. Death was never really an option for me- I needed to be there for my husband, for my friends, for my family. I needed to be here so Jack could be proud of me- to live on because he was unable to. To bring his siblings into the world and provide a life for them that I had wanted so desperately to give to him.

So we lived some semblance of a happy life for the past 16 months.

Luckily for me, I am married to an incredible husband and even more so, and incredible human being. Don't get me wrong- he drives me absolutely bonkers by leaving his dirty underwear in a pile on the floor on his side of the bed. He puts dirty dishes in the sink when he could just as easily have put them in the dishwasher (which drives me batty and is the source of most of our arguments). He looks to me to ask whether I've seen a particular item of clothing, because I can count on one hand the number of times he has ever used our laundry pair. But he's so much more than that. He makes sure I know that I am loved, and that I am appreciated (even when it doesn't feel like it), and he makes sure he has every confidence in my ability to parent Grace, along with Jack's memory. He is fiercely protective of this little family of his, and I am so thankful for that.

Snuggles with Dad 
Last night we lay in bed, Grace snoring (yes, she totally snores...) in the bassinet beside me, and my husband asked how I was feeling. I shrugged, telling him I felt good. I feel happy. And then tears rolled off my cheeks as I declared how much I still miss him. How grateful I am to be able to mother her but how much I desperately wish I could mother him, too. How sorry I am not only for ourselves to have lost him, but how much I regret that he didn't get to experience the life we had hoped he would- the one we still hope his sister will.
Pretty girl
I guess, in a long-winded way, all I'm trying to say is that we've come through the other side, bruised and battered but not beaten. I miss my son so very much, and the day-to-day monotonous stuff I get the pleasure of sharing with her is all the sweeter because I know how much I longed to do this last year, heck, how much I longed to do this a month ago.  I've found I have an uncanny level of patience, which I never had before. I mother her the best way I know how- because it's a privilege denied to me 17 months ago. I mother her the best way I know how because I want him to be proud of the momma he made simply by being.

Boy who stole my heart
The girl who helps heal it.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

3 + 1

I've been holding out on you.  One week ago today, our family grew.

We are a family of 3+1, a summation which *should* equal four, and yet one of us is forever missing. My heart still breaks thinking I will never get the chance to have everyone here, all at once. Like it's just too much to ask.

This is the little sister, Grace Jack McCannell. Born at 9:11pm May 1st, 2012. 8lbs2oz, and 20.5 inches in length.

Sixteen months to the day her big brother made Scott and I parents, he gave us this gift- the chance to be parents to a screechy babe once again. She arrived a week or so ahead of her scheduled c-section, but that is a story for another day.

My thoughts are a little incoherent as I've been working on this post over the past few days... Nothing seems quite right, and I find myself coming back to make adjustments... I'm just going to hit publish because if I don't do it now, I don't know when I ever will.


She looks so much like him, it takes my breath away at times. I see her daddy showering her with kiss after kiss and my heart swells for them, and yet breaks for all Jack is missing... All we were robbed of in losing him. I watch Scott smile when he looks over at us nursing in bed beside him, I witnessed him take her for walks in the middle of the night when she was restless at the hospital. He is every ounce the father I knew in my heart he would be.


Having a little girl takes some getting used to. I love all the pink hues, but oh how I miss all my sweet baby blues. This daughter of mine wears many of the things I had purchased for him, and as I type this she naps beneath the soft baby blue blanket her Nana knit for her brother, but didn't quite finish before he was gone. I had to run an errand today and upon returning home, I loudly exclaimed, "we're home now little boy", only for the last syllable to catch in my throat. It still hurts, 16 months after his birth, and nearly 16 months after his death... I still long for him.


She "talks" in her dreams, mumbling- making soft little coos- her little eyelids fluttering while she sleeps. I hope in those brief moments between dreams she can see him... I tell myself she is talking to him,  telling him all about the things we have done, all the kisses and snuggles she had during the day. I hope she tells him we still talk about him, that we still miss him every second of every day, and how much we wish we could have both of our beautiful babies in our arms.

Tomorrow is 8 days since her birth- the point at which in his short life he was declared so his organ donation process could begin. She will have been alive, officially, longer than he ever was. That hurts to think of. Of course I've always wanted her to outlive him, but it still stings to know that his time was so very fleeting. She is a very real example of all we are missing.


Of course this time has been joyous, but I would be remiss not to mention how deeply my heart hurts for Becky, at the loss of her beautiful daughter... All this after losing her sweet Liam in January 2011. Since reading about Evelynn, I have been so very angry for her. At the root of it all, for this injustice to have happened twice, to a wonderful set of parents, is outrageous. I am furious at the world for taking such a beautiful little soul from her parents and I will never quite be able to wrap my head around any of this.
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