Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Please accept my overdue, but most sincere, thanks to all of you who reached out to me about our Max's short life.  I was absolutely floored by the number, the openness, the compassion of the comments, emails, texts, letters, and phone calls I received.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

So many people shared with me stories of their own losses and several people mentioned that they wished they had known about the possibility of burying their baby's remains.  The logistics of taking care of Max in that way were difficult to navigate and were the source of the most worry in the whole process, even though I had the kind and knowledgeable guidance of our priest.  So, I just want to mention that if anyone ever finds themselves in this situation, please feel free to contact me.  I know state laws differ and hospitals may handle things differently, but I would be honored to share with you our experience, in the hopes that it could alleviate some of your worry and uncertainty.

We are plodding along the road of acceptance, buoyed by the love of our family and friends, finding ourselves overcome at times by the persistent sadness of losing Max, but mostly able to rejoice in his being with the Lord.

We received the results of the genetic testing, and Max's chromosomal make-up was normal.  It wasn't until the doctor called that I realized I was holding out hope for an answer to the lingering why.  Ever since, I've been trying to focus on just trusting.  It's a powerful lesson that I am continuing to work on.

I don't want to miss out on posting the happy times from before and since, so...a mish-mash of memories:

We went to a Maryland county fair!

The coolest thing we saw was this mama cow and her brand spankin' new calf.  The calf had been born just an hour and a half before.  The pair provided quite the biology lesson for the boys.

Buddy Boy turned three.  What an awesome three year old he is!  He's still our jokester, but he has become fiercely capable, as well.   He loves to snuggle, has a thing for "giddyups," choo choo trains and basketball goals, and has all of a sudden started writing letters and numbers and drawing pictures.  He's also his baby sister's most devoted protector.

We made the annual trip south to the Gulf of Mexico for my family's beach trip.
The time of extended play between the cousins is always so sweet.  I am thankful that my children can grow up knowing their cousins well, even though we live far away.

The Mister got us all paddle boarding.  Tons of fun when the water is very calm, not so much fun with waves.

Baby Girl was a total beach baby.  Unlike her brothers at her age--or even now--she was fearless about the water.  We had to keep our eyes very open, but it made it lots of fun to have her there.

Buddy Boy, on the other hand, had Gaga-staged ocean fear interventions a few times each day.  They worked pretty well, too.  He was at least playing at the water's edge by the end of the trip.

Of course, the best part had to be that we had the Mister with us for ten days straight.  I don't think that's ever happened before!  It was really, really great.

We decided to drive to the beach this time...19 hours over two days.  We also asked our dear summertime nanny to come with us.  I credit the success of the driving expedition to the presence of Nanny in the back row of the minivan with Baby Girl.  While the Mister drove the entire way, I tended to the needs/wants/fleeting desires/passing whims of the boys, and Nanny kept Baby Girl happy with snacks and stories and blanket readjustments.  It was definitely a group effort, but there were only maybe 20 combined minutes of tears the entire way.  Pretty good, I think.

Nanny also made the trip so much easier for all of us, lending an extra hand when any of the children needed a meal or a nap, and keeping the three sleeping babies at home, while the rest of us went out to dinner some nights.  She made the trip a true vacation!  Plus, she's just really fun to be around!

My parents are so sweet to take us to the beach each year.  It's like a week-long family sleepover, and I love it every time!

My in-laws came to town for a visit, and took us to the National Aquarium in Baltimore.  This is the second time we've gone and loved it just as much as the first.

My dream house would have a floor-to-ceiling black-lit jellyfish tank.  It would also have toddler-height potties and sinks next to the real deal in every bathroom.  So, you know, yin and yang.  Or something.  Jellyfish are just so cool.

The children started preschool at a new {to us} school in Virginia.  Little Guy is thriving in a 4-morning a week program, and the younger two are each enjoying two mornings a week.  For the first few weeks, I was driving out there from our apartment in downtown DC, and that was quite a hike.  Thankfully, it's just about 15 minutes from our new house.

Speaking of which, we bought a house!!!  Home tour to come.  :)

In the last few weeks before we moved, we soaked up the benefits of our downtown location, with lots of trips to the Mall and the museums.

And our views.  We sure do miss the views from the eleventh floor.

Being soothed to sleep each night by the saxophone player outside the Metro stop is probably the other thing I miss the most.  But we are loving life in semi-suburbia.

We started attending our new church and absolutely love it.  Our old church was lovely, but we were the only family there most of the time, as the church serves mostly tourists and weekday businesspeople.  There was absolutely no parish life...not a single group or function ever...just beautiful Masses, for which we were very thankful.  Our new church is vibrant and active, full of young families.  I have joined a women's Bible study and already know more fellow parishioners by name than I ever did in six years of attendance at our old church.  We are thrilled!  And the boys really love Children's Mass in the school gym.  Basketball goals!

A few very sweet friends--my DC mama tribe--gave us a rose bush in remembrance of Max.  They told me to expect blooms in the spring, around the time of his due date.  A few days later, we enjoyed the first of Max's roses, in mid-October.  It has been flowering ever since.  Every time I see his roses in our yard, I think about him being in full bloom now, and I smile.


Mary-Margaret Brown said...

You are incredible! Your openness and honesty helped me and so many others. What a blessing to you and us! Looking forward to seeing you and the mister in Palm Beach for a fun weekend celebrating Anna! 8 weeks!

Julie said...

Beautiful comments and pictures from start to finish!

Anika said...

So many things to comment on. Yay for 10 day vacation with the mister. Yay for new home. Yay for new church!

Anika said...

So many things to comment on. Yay for 10 day vacation with the mister. Yay for new home. Yay for new church!

Mary Beth said...

Elizabeth, I've been praying for you and Jacob when I first heard of your loss of Max. Your faith and trust in The Lord is a true testimony to everyone. Thank you! MB