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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Right Where I Am: 14 Months

Fourteen months. It almost feels impossible that so much time has passed. I survived a year, I keep surviving. It doesn't seem like much, breathing in an out, trying to hold things together enough. At the beginning, the months went agonizingly slow. I just wanted to be further down the road. further away from the pain. All of a sudden, here I am with a new baby at my breast, wondering if he's anything like his brother might have been.

And guess what? It still hurts. Just as deeply as did before. The difference now I think is that it comes less often, I'm more distracted and I can hide it better than I did before.

To be perfectly honest, though, I am also happier. The lows are just as low, but the highs are higher. I drink more deeply from the happiness of my children. My smiley baby certainly does a lot to extinguish my pain.

There are moments that jump up at me and I have a flashback to that terrible night he came out the wrong way. The pain and fear are palpable and so very fresh. I am not sure that I will ever forget that. A sort of personal flashbulb memory. The sights, sounds and smells that night come back in very real ways.

My view on why he died has changed a bit, and my faith in God has increased. I still
wish for him, but I know it's just a passing thought. I know I can't have him now. I know it and yet I still imagine what he'd be like.

For a long time, I refused to think that his little brother looked like him, for fear that I'd replaced him. But his brother does look like him, and I get a glimpse of what might have been. Sometimes I catch sight of a little boy toddling around and remember, but my son isn't there. I feel like I will imagine what he'd be no matter how long its been.

I know someone with children my age who lost her son after his birth. I wonder if she's imagined. I would bet she has, counting the years silently. Silently, because people don't really care to hear about it for the most part. Those who do are certainly treasured. But unfortunately, the path of grief is often quite lonely.

And that is right where I am. 14 months later. Full of Joy and sadness and everything in between.

Join the conversation. Link your blog to Angie's blog and let other babylost parents know where you are in your grief.


Friday, May 20, 2011


I thought of writing a post similar to this awhile ago (meaning a couple years!) but now, I feel the subject is more relevant and much more significant.

My interest in names started when I was a child. It wasn't a huge interest but I would notice names that were unusual and was interested in what they meant. As a young teenager, back in early internet days, I did a lot of searching for names. The names were mostly Scandinavian in origin. I suppose to reflect my father's heritage. Names like Mette and Arvid were incredibly appealing to me. My brief dabbling in a name forum earned me a stern talking to from my mother. No more.

It wasn't until I got married that my interest in names was rekindled. I immersed myself in it. It wasn't so much an interest in naming a child, surprisingly enough, just a renewed interest in meanings and trends. It also made me a bit of a snob. I was only interested in names that were uncommon. The idea of naming a child something in the Top 500 names was unthinkable (ha!). Unless it was something time tested and waning in popularity like George or Anne. The older and more outdated the better (Nate still teases me that I like anything that is old and ugly. Read: Maude and Agnes). I raised my nose at the super popular names like Jayden and the like (not so much anymore), as well as anything made up (coughNevaehcough).

Now that I have named four children, my snobbery has changed a bit. I know what it is like to call a living person a name and also choosing a name for someone who didn't. I am more tolerant of what people choose and why they choose the names they do. I know how a name becomes someone and how they become a name. A name so tied to a particular identity that you cannot disassociate it from who a person is and how it shapes who they become.

So without further ado, I would like to share the names we have chosen for our children.

Cecily Ruth:

When I was a teenager, I was on a road trip to my grandmother's house. We had a pit stop at a mall. I went into a discount book store and picked up some one dollar books to read along the way. One book was an Oscar Wilde play. I had never been exposed to his work before and I fell in love with it. The language, the comedy, all that was in "The Importance of Being Earnest". I also fell in love with the name Cecily. When I got pregnant years later, the name immediately came to mind. It was perfect. Though, Nate didn't agree. Later, I learned it was just a misunderstanding and that he loved it, too. At the time, my grandmother was struggling with a bout of cancer and I felt strongly that we should somehow incorporate her name into the baby's name. And so, Cecily Ruth it became. I love that she has the name connection with my only living grandparent. She also shares a birth month and hair color with her awesome great-grandmother.

Cordelia Susannah:

Ha! Well, after the dream I had while I was pregnant with her, for awhile, I thought it must be a boy. Then, I became increasingly convinced that it was a girl and that we should choose a name for her. Nate wouldn't budge until we learned her sex at a scan. Names that we had previously considered with Cecily were out and we were sort of at a loss. We somehow agreed on the name Alice but then one evening , as I was huge and pregnant, Alice Cooper came on a talk show. I freaked out. No way did I want her to share a name with him! (I wasn't exactly rational at the time!) I mentioned the name Cordelia in passing to Nate one evening and he said, "How about that?" Yay! I loved that it had a literary connection as well, though comments have tended more toward Anne of Green Gables rather than King Lear. I don't mind that, I am a devoted fan of L. M . Montgomery (Lucy Maud, any guesses where my love for Maud came from?). We were split on middle names. I wanted Mary and Nate wanted Lorraine. As I was poring over our family trees, the name Susannah kept popping up. In my head, she became Cordelia Susannah, I couldn't shake it. I didn't tell Nate until after she was born. I had just barely pushed her out and he was asking me what her middle name was. Susannah just sort of came out. It suits her, I guess!

Phineas John:

The name Phineas also came from our family tree. Nate had multiple ancestors named this. I fell in love with it when I was pregnant with Cordelia. Phineas James was what we had selected until I had that dream. John, instead, became his middle name. I knew I would have a son named this. When Cordelia was born, female, of course, I had a feeling my next child would be Phineas. My beautiful boy. I had no idea that some of the dream became reality. My son, my Phineas. His name. So perfectly suited. He even looked like a Phineas. The meaning of the name, though debated, means "oracle" which seems so incredibly appropriate.

Frederick James:

Fred. The family name for the ages. I will have to remember all of the Freds. Nate's father and also maternal grandfather have Fred, just Fred, as a middle name. He also has a great-uncle and great grandfather named Fred. His aunt is Freda as was his grandmother. Just to add to the fun, we thought Frederick would fit in quite well. Not Fred, but just a bit more elaborate. It also had a literary connection and a connection to an historical figure I have admired since I was in school, Frederick Douglass. Nate felt strongly about using the name James. When I was in labor, we finalized the name. Funny how it was the middle name we'd considered for Phineas, but was more fitting for his younger brother. I love that connection. And then, shortly after he was born, we'd learned of Uncle Jim's cancer. After Jim's passing, we both felt that the name James was to honor and remember him, though it seemed merely coincidental.

If you have made it through all of that, I congratulate you. I love how multi-layered the names of our children have become. How one generation follows into another. How lives can touch simply by sharing a bit of our identities, our names.


Friday, May 6, 2011

Easter and Everything Else

I wrote a post about names, but events changed what that was meant to be before I published it. I will still post it with the events that I will share here.

Easter. Easter is so different for me now. Last year, Phineas died on Good Friday. Two days later was Easter. A day that I have very little memory of really. I was in such a state of shock. It also happened to be General Conference for the Church. I did not watch. Many people said later that there were so many messages that seemed meant for us. I am still meaning to read all of the messages from that day, but I have not done it yet.

Though Easter came later this year, memories of the prior year were very strong. Spring took a few weeks longer to "spring" so to speak, so it looked similar outside. The daffodils, the trees just barely getting leaves. It was as though everything was coming full circle.

Easter. A time of remembering Christ's resurrection. A time of rebirth and renewal. And you know what, I did feel renewed. New life has come to our family. I felt so incredibly blessed. The beauty of the Connecticut spring was a blessing last year and is a blessing again this year. This Easter was on the 24th, thirteen months after Phineas's birth. The first time I didn't dread the date.

We had a beautiful day. Church where we visited with friends. An egg hunt in the drizzling rain and dinner with my sister. A walk along the lake. A lovely low key day. A day to remember and look forward.

That picture makes me laugh. The joy of photographing children.

And then, we were blindsided again. A few days later, Nate's uncle Jim passed away. After only a few weeks of knowing he had cancer at all, he succumbed to it. No one knew how quickly it would take his life. So it is I suppose. We are well versed in how things can go from being fine to not.

The night before his passing, I was washing dishes after the kids were asleep. I thought about life and death worried about Uncle Jim and who he might leave behind. I thought about my little boy and the purpose of his life. Why some lives are so short and others are not. When Nate got home, we discussed some of these things. Why some things happen, about death and life.

I feel like Phineas's life and death made me a better person. Would I go back if I could and change things to have him here? The answer is no. I would so love to have him here, toddling around and giving snuggles and laughs to us, learning to talk. But to gain one thing, others must be sacrificed. There is no way around it. I like the person I am becoming, as shattered and destroyed I was, I am slowly piecing together a new and better me. Because of Phineas.

I remember Jim as such a kind person. Someone who wanted everyone to feel welcome. I was overwhelmed by Nate's family when I first met them. Jim was one who was so friendly and straightforward. The way he cared for people is definitely well worth emulating. Nate tells me he was one of his favorite uncles (shh, don't tell!). A man truly missed.

You can never go back and change things, you can only remember and take the lessons life has taught us, cherish the gifts and memories others have given us, and move forward.

So long, Jim. x


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