Posted in Baby

But still . . . Christmas

We removed Katie from her carseat, securely buckled her into the stroller, and lovingly tucked her blankie around her little legs.

It was a short distance to the medical building, where we rode the elevator in anticipation of our 8-week prenatal appointment. We spoke with Katie of Santa and how he couldn’t wait to meet her later that afternoon.

We were truly elated that the day of our appointment had finally arrived. It had taken us five months of temping and charting to conceive.

Nichole? We’re ready for you. Wow … Katie is getting so big!

It was at that same 8-week appointment, nearly two years before, that we had heard the the first sounds of life from our beautiful Katherine. After a year of trying to get pregnant, finally hearing her heartbeat made her so real, so completely ours. And as we sat, in that very same room, we were thrilled to have her with us as we prepared to hear her sibling’s heartbeat for the first time.

Okay, this gel will be a bit cold … so sorry.

The moment when the nurse placed Katie onto my chest for the first time, when I felt her warm and wonderfully sticky body, will forever be a pivotal moment in my life.  After a difficult pregnancy and eight weeks of complete bedrest to stave off preterm labor, she was safe and warm and she was ours.

Okay, let’s take a listen to this little one’s heartbeat.

Once Katie got the hang of nursing, I came to treasure those moments that were ours alone.  That connection, holding her in my arms, smoothing her downy soft hair, holding her tiny baby girl hands while she looked at me, was a gift beyond measure.  I was so eager to experience those early days again, to snuggle our tiny baby while we established our nursing relationship.

Hmmm…sometimes the heartbeat is too quiet to pick up with this fetal Doppler.

When Katie was learning to crawl, we enticed her from her rocking position with her favorite pink bunny, placing it just beyond her reach, encouraging her to push herself to get it. That moment, when the lurching turned to crawling, was bittersweet.  My beautiful baby somehow, in just an instant, seemed less of a baby.

Let me just run and grab the sonogram machine.

Katie walked at ten months. Her first, tentative steps were taken in our bedroom, with the lure of her grandmother’s necklace, held just beyond her reach.  Once she began walking, there was no stopping her, our baby, still a baby, but somehow older than her months.

I’ll be back in a just a minute.

We’ve always treasured bedtime. When Katie was small, Craig began the ritual of reading three books to her each evening.  When they finished their books, I would enter her room, Craig would wish her a good night sleep, and then I would quietly nurse her before carefully placing her in her crib for the night, wishing her the sweetest of dreams.  I would close the door with one hand and blow kisses with the other, just as Craig and I do to this day.

Okay, let’s have a look … Hmmm.

We always knew that we wanted to have at least one more baby, to give Katie a sibling, to have another baby to love.  It finally felt as though the time was right and we were so eager to see how she would respond to a baby brother or sister.

Silence.

This family that we’ve built has filled an emptiness in my heart.  This life that we’ve given Katie, this life that she has given us, has brought me joy and a sense of fulfillment beyond compare. Being a part of a traditional family for the first time in my life has been completely amazing.

I’m afraid there’s no heartbeat.

Craig’s grip on my hand tightened and when I looked over at him, seeking his soft eyes, through my welling tears, he and Katie blurred into one.  One beautiful family within my reach.

I am so terribly sorry.

We gathered our things, too pained to know what to say to one another, too numb to know what to say to ourselves, and we went to see Santa, just as we promised we would.

In that moment, Katie couldn’t and wouldn’t know just how tremendous a loss we had just suffered, loss that would remain with us for always.

What she did know, what she could feel, was the wonder of the season, the magic that we’d been speaking of for weeks.  The love that we had for one another.

When you have a toddler, life continues. You can’t simply put it on hold while you grieve.

So, we celebrated Christmas as best we could, finding tremendous comfort in our beautiful daughter.

A Christmas of considerable loss and unprecedented sadness.

But still . . . Christmas.

Our second Christmas.

Above all, we were a family.

And we had each other.

I want to thank my dear friend, Kris, for holding my hand while I relived this painful experience.  I love you, Kris.  Beyond words.

This post is linked up with Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop.  The prompt was to write a post in response to one of five words. The word that I chose was excruciating.

Mama's Losin' It

Please Take Your Time … A Letter to My Son on His First Birthday

Dear Matthew,

Happy First Birthday, my sweet baby boy.

How is it possible that a year has passed since you entered our lives?

There’s so much that I want to tell you.  I long to help you understand just how much we love and value you.

For days, I’ve been trying to draft this letter to you, but every time that I sat down to put my feelings into words, I was overcome with love … pure love with no words attached. And the page before me remained blank.

Katie entered our world and brought us so much joy.  She was an easy baby and she enhanced so much of who I already was.  She is truly magical and has made me love more deeply, protect more fiercely, and appreciate life more fully.

When you entered our world, you were more challenging.  You didn’t sleep nearly as well, you cried day in and day out for months from terrible acid reflux. But you made me a better person. You taught me just how strong I am, how capable I am of loving even when things aren’t easy and perfect.  You taught me about myself, Matthew, and for that, I am so grateful to you.

Over the past year, you have grown into the sweetest baby.  You light up when you see me, you are delighted by Katie, and you squeal with joy when you hear Daddy’s car pull into the garage.

You love independent play, but every few minutes, you crawl over to me and climb onto my lap and hold me tight.  I always think that you are just checking in with me, looking for reassurance and a bit of love.

You are impossibly tender and loving. You hold on to me as though you’re trying to tell me just how much you love me.

I can’t imagine a world without you in it, Matthew.  I have come to love you more intensely than I could have ever dreamed.

Thank you for all that you have brought to my life.  Thank you for loving me and for making me a better person.

I hope that the upcoming year drags by.  I hope that you take your time learning how to walk.  I hope that you stay cuddly and soft.  Please take your time and stay my baby for just a bit longer, I can’t bear to have you grow up yet.

With a heart simply overflowing with love,

Mommy

Sometimes You Get the Opposite of What You Expect

I love my children.

I love playing, reading, and snuggling with them.

But you know what else I really love?  Naptime.

These moments allow me to rest and recharge for more playing, reading, and snuggling.

Matthew chose not to nap today.  It could be his teeth that are bothering him, or perhaps the ever-present reflux, but he absolutely refused to succumb to a good afternoon nap.

Fearing the worst–a crabby, clingy baby–I somewhat begrudgingly retrieved him from his bed. I was rewarded with hugs and smooches and we ended up having a wonderful time together.

He was calm and happy, interactive and pleasant.

Obviously, he and I don’t have as much time alone together as I had with Katie when she was small.  But this afternoon it was just the two of us.

It was one of those small moments that I speak about so often…and though I am still a huge fan of naps, I have to admit that having him all to myself wasn’t so bad.

It Might Be Time To Let Her Grow Up…Just a Tiny Bit

If I could freeze time and forever keep my kids little, I wouldn’t even hesitate to do so.

I love the squishiness of their little bodies and the wonder that they see in everything.  I love holding them and feeling the way that they just melt into me.  I even love the way that they are still dependent upon me for so many things.

I won’t even pretend that I’m one of those moms who eagerly awaits the first day of school, sleep away camp, proms, graduations, and weddings.

I’m the mom who truly mourns the end of babyhood and toddlerhood and I’m often in complete denial that my children are getting older.

I’m starting to realize, however, that it might be time for me to fully acknowledge that Katie is a preschooler and as such, she is ready for some big girl stuff.  (Thank goodness for Craig’s calm demeanor and his encouragement to let them grow and change.)

This is a picture of Katie’s bed:

Katie's bed as it was when we brought her home from the hospital and as it still is.

Yep, our three-year old still sleeps in a crib (and yes, we still use a video monitor on her).

I’ve often joked that we were going to keep her in her crib until college. And while that’s clearly an exageration,  we did plan to keep her in her crib until Matthew was sleeping through the night, as we thought it would be easier to handle one nighttime challenge at a time.

Well, that day has come.  Matthew’s been consistently sleeping through the night for a few weeks now.

My list of worries for why making the switch from a crib to a toddler bed worries me is long.  Here are several of them:

  • Will she still nap?
  • How will we make sure she stays in her bed?
  • Will our great sleeper suddenly start waking in the night?
  • Will bedtime be stressful?
  • Will she wake us up at say, 5:00 am, by standing at the side of the bed and giving me a heart attack?

Although my worries are plentiful, I’m beginning to feel that the list of benefits to her being in her own big girl bed is growing longer.

And as much as I dread the switch, there’s also a tiny part of me that is eager to see her face as she realizes that she’s being given a bit more independence.

There will be tears…and they will all be mine.

If any of you have any tips on how to make the transition go smoothly, I eagerly welcome them.

A Repeat Performance and Separation Anxiety

We have always gloated about loved the fact that Katie is a champion sleeper.  If there was an Olympic event for sleeping, she would take the gold.  She goes to bed at 7:30pm and doesn’t wake until 7am.  She also still naps from 1pm-3:30/4:00pm.  We are blessed.  {Please don’t hate us–Matthew is another story entirely.}

She used to lunge for her crib at bedtime and has always put herself to sleep.  For the first couple of years of her life, we lured her into her bed by making it the only place where she could have her pacifier.  When we took her pacifier away at 21 months, we replaced it with a little pillow, her first blanket, and some stuffed kitties, all of which we allow her to have only while in bed.  Things have been smooth sailing until about a month ago.

Now there is major drama every time we put her down to sleep.  She’s doing this new thing where, when I leave the room and I am closing the door, she says, “Goodnight, Mommy.  I love you.”  I then tell her goodnight and that I love her too.  I close the door and she repeats the process.  At first I indulged her, thinking that she would tire of this routine once she knew I was on the other side of the door.  But it has completely gotten out of hand.  One night I did it nine times.  NINE!  We now tell her that we’ll say it once and then we’re going downstairs to “pick up” (code for relaxing.)

When we don’t follow the script the second, third, and fourth times, she flips out, and goes from choked up to bawling in 3.2 seconds.  While she typically only cries for five to ten minutes and then falls asleep,  nothing makes me feel worse as a parent than having her cry herself to sleep.  We’ve always tried to ensure that her bed is a safe, secure, and happy place.

She’s also showing some distress if she thinks that one of us may be leaving to run an errand or something.  She  quickly escalates from nervous to panicky.

We’ve had an emotional, chaotic past couple of weeks, with uncharacteristic breaks in our routine, but these insecurities were present prior to that.

{We have chosen not to speak with her about Craig’s mother’s death, as we don’t believe that she is emotionally mature enough to process that yet.  Since she is incredibly attentive and observant, we have been careful to shield her from our discussions.}

I distinctly remember when I was a child, I was fearful to be the last one awake.  I would call to my mother repeatedly to ensure that she hadn’t fallen asleep.  I’m still this way.  When Craig shows signs of being tired, I stop whatever I’m doing and hurry to bed.  I’ve not really analyzed why I am this way, I’ve just accepted it.

But this thing with Katie is sudden and intense.

Has anyone else gone through this?  We never saw any anxiety in her when she was younger and we thought that we might be out of the woods now that she’s three.

Help? Reassurance? Tips?

About me

Nichole Beaudry @NicholeBeaudry Location: Northern California
Each and every day, I strive to appreciate the wonder, beauty, and whimsy in the small moments, the moments that, when strung together, form a lifetime.
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