Saturday, January 26, 2013

Remembering Vienne

I just wanted to share some ways in which we keep Vienne alive and present in our everyday lives.

(In November, Mark and I went and got these tattoos.  We love them.  Mark's is obviously Vienne's signature along with her first drawing of a star.  This signature is a copy of the first one she wrote on her own, without tracing.  The star is something I've mentioned in a previous post - something she randomly drew when she was 14 mo. old...a total fluke and coincidence that her scribble looked like a star.  I think I am going to get the star tattooed on my wrist, next (tattoos are addicting!  This is my 3rd).  I want something from her own hand.)

(My tattoo is a bit more of a story.  And, it represents a bit of my alternative ways.  As I've made clear before, I am a natural mama, a home birther, an avid breastfeeder, and lover of all things wholistic and pure.  So, with that disclaimer in mind, this is inspired from Vienne's 'Tree of Life'.  What is a tree of life, you ask?  It is the veins of the umbilical cord that sprawl across the placenta to form what is called your "tree of life" - the tree of veins that supplied all the nourishment that sustains a baby in the womb.  This tree formed our connection from her very start.  Everybody's "tree of life" is unique to themselves, like finger prints.  I distinctly recall that when Vienne was born, my midwives marveled over her specific "tree" for it was, as they claimed, so unusual and unique.  (But, of course).  I guess most "trees of life" look like actual trees, but Vienne's looked like this - almost like a windswept coastal tree.  I knew, back then, that I would eventually design a tattoo inspired by her tree.  So, of course, we took a photo of it.  Once she passed away, I KNEW I had to get it as soon as possible.  I designed this, copying her actual tree and make it to look like a hydrangea bush, as well.  If you haven't read earlier posts, hydrangeas were Vienne's flower -flowers that bloom in her favorite colors of blue and green.  Isn't the detail work beautiful?  I just love it.  It is not as large as it looks in the photo.)

(I wear these special charms on my neck every single day.  My only request for Christmas was this green opal locket.  The silver charms have the girls' initials, which I received on Mother's Day.  And, I just received the dino charm on another necklace for Christmas, and decided it must join my daily wear.  It's a bit busy, but I love it all and it means soooo much.)

(I have decided that I will always paint my toes in Vienne's favorite colors.  I think I own every possible shade of blue and green nail polish out there, now.)

(obviously, blue and green have become our family's favorite colors.  We gravitate towards the colors whenever shopping for clothes.)

(the photo collage wall I created in the entry hallway.  We walk by it several times each day.  We take Ivy along this wall and point out the pictures and she always smiles and points.)

(Large printed canvases upstairs in the landing)

(T-Rex, Tornado, and Alice - her favorite friends she played with each day - sit on the sills in the landing)

(Vienne's framed artwork in the guest room/office.  I rotate the paintings with the seasons.  From left to right:  1) her first painting of a rainbow.  2)  a Christmas tree made with layered green hand prints.  3)  The Hungry Caterpillar from her handprints, as well.  Yes, I am a pinterest-inspired mama, sometimes.)

(the new bathroom for Ivy - disregard Mark's brewing stuff under the window, there.  Of course, I had to throw out all the decor from the bathroom that Vienne died in.  It was the girls' bathroom.  When we moved into this new house, I needed something new.  Someone anonymously left this beautiful water color painting of a blue and green hydrangea at Vienne's memorial service.  I decided that Ivy's new bathroom should be decorated around this painting - a replacement of Vienne's old bathroom, but still including her in the new.  The new bath is blue and green and we love it.  It's a ridiculously huge spare bathroom!)

(upstairs hallway...dried hydrangeas kept from her memorial service and a shadow box of photos, outside of Ivy's room.)

(Dinos have become the new gift theme to give us and we love it.  We received this salt and paper shaker set for Christmas and this creamer as a house warming gift.  We also have a dino towel that hangs on our oven handle - fun little treasures hidden around our home to remind us of Vienne and what she loved.)

(We decided to start a dino and dragon mug collection.)

We also have a blue hydrangea planted in a pot out back.  An ornament that she made in Sunday school, that was recently found under the seat in the car, now hangs from my rear view mirror.  I sleep with her pillow case under my pillow case - the last one she slept on, and I cannot wash it.   We are also working on commissioning a painting of her in Jesus' arms, similar to the one I posted a while back.

And those are just the things from the top of my head.  

This helps, as much as it can, to keep my Baby near to my heart and mind.  I want to wear her on my sleeve, I want to share her with the world, I want to think of her always, I want her current and with me forever.  

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Raw nerves and stress

In addition to grieving Vienne, our lives have been slammed with ridiculous amounts of stress lately.  Some would say that I am probably under some serious spiritual attack.  And, that's probably true.  When I don't post regularly on here, it is because I am most likely really struggling.  Sometimes I find myself with something to say, but then I hesitate to post it because I feel insecure about always being such a downer on here.  But...then, I realize that this is my blog and it has become my grieving journal (as well as my way to share Vienne) and I should stop worrying about pleasing others.  And, then I remind myself, even further, that it has only been 4 months!  Of course, I am a downer!  I have every right to be.  I just don't want my friends to eventually pull away from me because I am always so sad.  My hope is that you have the faith, that I currently lack, that I will, one day, not be so so sad.

So, as for the stress and/or attack on my spirit and emotions...I delayed in sharing about it, but am now realizing that some of you would like to know how to pray for me...for us.  For some twisted reason, it seems that Ivy's well-being has really been the focus of attack.  It started on Christmas Eve.

Ivy has sustained a small little eczema patch on the back of her knee for quite a few months, since this past summer.  Adjusting diet, detergents, soaps, and creams has not seemed to help yet.  Since it was so itchy, we believe that she agitated it so much that it started to get infected and grow.  That's what first appeared on Christmas Eve.  We stayed in touch with her doctors for the week, but nothing seemed to help.  By New Year's Day, it had gotten out of control and we had to take her to Urgent Care.  That doctor diagnosed it as a ringworm infection (just a fungus not a worm) that also developed staph on top of it, which was spreading to the front of her leg and other leg!  He prescribed an antibiotic and an anti fungal.  These were her first prescriptions in her life...and if you know me, I am ridiculously hesitant about prescription medication.  But, of course, when it comes to staph, I do not hesitate.  Well, within a few days, her rash actually got worse.  We had to take her back to Urgen Care (because it was a Saturday) and they determined that she had an allergic reaction to the antibiotic!  And, then this doctor couldn't really determine what she had, so he referred us to a dermatologist the following Monday.  So, I called that dermatologist early Monday morning (actually, I called 3) and they would not take a new patient that same day.  So ridiculous.  I eventually found a dermatologist that would see her that day, though I hesitated because he has a poor reputation.  But, all I wanted was a diagnosis.  So, I took her in.  And, this guy was a jerk.  He wouldn't listen to me, he refused to look at the photos I had of the progressing rash, he spoke to me like I was an idiot mother, he told me she just had eczema and told me to put vaseline on it.  I walked out of there crying.
Anyway, to wrap up the story, I finally got her into a natural dermatologist that has determined she has eczema that was infected probably by a fungus and a bacteria.  We are working on finding out the causes of these outbreaks.  So, that is slowly getting in order....after 3 weeks of battling with it.  I was beyond exhausted, emotionally.  Weary was the word I kept using.
To add to all of that, on New Year's Eve, while David and Kinsey were visiting, Kinsey and I went to the grocery store.  I think, because I was all out of sorts with stress and distracted and what not, I somehow neglected to buckle Ivy into the the shopping cart.  I have one of those shopping cart covers and I always always buckle...of course.  But, I guess every mom gets to experience a dose of feeling like a horrible mom, because of something they neglected....right?  Yeah, on this day, Ivy decided to try to climb out of the cart...since I had forgotten to buckle her in.  I didn't even know she could do this.  I had my head turned, picking out pears.  A man saw her and miraculously ran and literally caught her, mid-fall, as she was tumbling out head first!  The glares I received in that moment were horrible.  I packed everything up and ran out of the store crying.  You can assume all of the thoughts that ran through my head on that horrible afternoon.  I was so shaken up.
Then, last week,  Ivy and I went to visit my girlfriend.  I was walking down her stairs, holding Ivy, and fell.  Both of my feet went out from under me and I fell straight on my right hip and wrist and bumped down the rest of the stairs.  Thank God Ivy was ok...just very frightened.  But, I sustained a massive bruise and swelling on my butt cheek.  Lovely.  I am still limping.
And, now?  Now, Ivy has her first flu this week - the nasty one that is going around, I think.  It's been pretty hard.  This is a new experience for me because Vienne rarely got sick.  She actually didn't get her first real illness until her second birthday.  Dealing with a very sick baby is really hard.  And, this is Ivy's first fever.  The last time a child of mine had a fever, she died.  You can imagine the feelings going through me every time I press my cheek to her forehead.  It's awful.

And, through all of this anxiety and stress, I have realized that it may have broken my numbing shell...the one I have maintained all this time.  I am really feeling things, now.  I mean, really feeling it.  It's as if the anesthesia of the shock has finally worn off...and the true ache over Vienne has set in.  Yes, it hurt before.  But, as I have written before, for the first few months I was aware of how numb I was feeling.  I was plowing through my days, numb and in denial...grappling for any distraction I could find.  I wondered where my emotion was.  I had no idea how incredibly strong the effects of shock can be on your body and emotions.  No idea.  Until now.  Now I'm feeling.  And, it really really hurts.

I look back on that first day...."the worst day of my life" day, and I feel almost ashamed of how I was.  I was in soooo much shock that I just sat around, receiving hugs and tears from people, crying with them, though remaining quiet and almost calm.  Yes, I screamed in hysterics during it all that morning when I found her and when Mark came home...but after that, well, I was just in shock and numb.

But, now?  Now I want to scream in hysterics almost all day long.  There is not a moment that goes by that I am not thinking about her...that I am not aching for her...and that I am not raging in my head over the unfairness of it all.  I am so angry.  So constantly raging in my head about it all.  What I can't seem to get over, lately, is realizing the cursed and dreaded path ahead of us that we have to walk for the rest of our lives.  That it feels like there is no hope.  This is our burden and there is absolutely no possiblity of changing it.  No matter what we do in this life, there will never ever be anything that will fill the Vienne-sized hole.  I can't get over this.  I keep dwelling on it over and over.  Do you know how daunting and depressing it is to be able to look at the rest of your life and know that it will always be filled with sadness and emptiness?

I was reading an article about grieving parents and was struck by so many statements and quotes that were written.  I read them and my jaw was literally as if someone already wrote my thoughts and feelings down about all of this.  It is strange to learn that other grieving parents feel the same exact way about certain things.  These following quotes are exactly what goes through my head over and over again... (the underlining is my emphasis)

"When a parent dies, you lose your past; when a child dies, you lose your future." - Anonymous

"A wife who loses a husband is called a widow. A husband who loses a wife is called a widower. A child who loses his parents is called an orphan. But...there is no word for a parent who loses a child, that's how awful the loss is!" - Neugeboren 1976, 154

"Parental grief is boundless. It touches every aspect of [a] parent's being...When a baby dies, parents grieve for the rest of their lives. Their grief becomes part of them...As time passes, parents come to appreciate that grief is [their] link to the child, [their] grief keeps [them] connected to the child." - ARNOLD AND GEMMA, IN CORR ET AL. 1996, 50-51

"It is frequently said that the grief of bereaved parents is the most intense grief known. When a child dies, parents feel that a part of them has died, that a vital and core part of them has been ripped away. Bereaved parents indeed do feel that the death of their child is "the ultimate deprivation."" (Arnold and Gemma 1994, 40)

"The sorrow for the dead is the only sorrow from which we refuse to be divorced. Every other wound we seek to heal, every other affliction to forget; but this wound we consider it a duty to keep open; this affliction we cherish and brood over in solitude." - WASHINGTON IRVING, THE SKETCH BOOK , IN MOFFAT 1992, 270

"Thus, bereaved parents must deal with the contradictory burden of wanting to be free of this overwhelming pain and yet needing it as a reminder of the child who died."  ~(all taken from an article titled:  "The Death of a Child - The Grief of the Parents:  A lifetime Journey" from

So many people just want to see me happy again.  When I post a picture of myself on here or on facebook, I often receive comments like "It is so great to see you smiling again!".  I have to be honest here...I hate that.  It makes me feel rushed.  What I hear in my twisted backwards irrational thinking is "Maybe she's over it finally.  Maybe she's ready to move on".  When I hear that people just want to see me happy, I hear that they don't want to sit with me during this hard time when I am not happy.  I hear that they can't wait when I am "past this thing".  Because, yeah, it's true, unhappy people are just plain no fun!  But, those kinds of statements shut me up and close me up tighter.  I become more afraid to show my grief because I don't want anyone to be uncomfortable because that smile in that picture of me was just for the camera...not for my life.  I have learned that it is very difficult for most to understand that even though my grief hurts like hell, I don't want it to go.  It's hard for people to understand that there is no "getting past this".  In all other tragedies in life, we look forward to getting past it...there is always another side.  For example, like in divorce, a car accident, a serious illness, a pet dying, loss of a job, loss of a home...etc. ~ there is always hope after those things.  Eventually, people can move on.  But, Vienne will always be gone and that piece of my heart will always be missing...and that will always hurt.  I am frightened of the feelings fading...for it makes me fear that feelings for her will fade.  Because my feelings of grief are centered solely around my precious cherished feelings for her, I desperately cannot lose that!

And, I know - I know all the fluffy Christian things that all of you want to say back to me.  Believe me, I know it all.  I have walked with Christ for most of my life.  I know all the right things to say...all the scriptures to be used...I've heard them said before and I'm sure I've said it all before.  And, now I don't care about any of it.  None of that brings comfort.  You want to say to me that there is hope...There is hope in Christ.  There is hope because she is in Heaven and I can see her one day.  Yes.  That is true.  I know that.  And, so I want to go there now.  I don't want to stay.  I. do. not. want. to. do. this!

You're wondering how the counseling appointment went the other week.  Thank you for your prayers, by the way.  Unfortunately, it was not a match for us.  Sometimes, you don't realize all your required criteria until you are in the moment.  She was just a bit too young for us (like our age or younger) and does not have kids.  I really want to talk to someone who is a parent.  So, we've found a new one that we will be trying this evening.  She is older, she is a widow, and she has children.  Hoping for a match because we can't keep traipsing around going through the misery of telling and retelling our story.

Anyway, that's what's going on with me.  This is why I have been a bit quiet and just doing Birthday posts.

I am unquestionably weary from everything that has continued to slam into me and I am desperate for a change.  Even though I am angry and cynical, I am I did open my Bible for the first time ever this morning.  Maybe that's what you should be praying for, for me.

Thank you, my Beloved Friends.  xoxo

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Happy Birthday, Grammy

Obviously, January is our month of family birthdays.  I just like to write these special birthday tributes for those who were close to Vienne.

Grammy and Vienne were very very close.  As you've noticed my mother is my main commenter on here...she is one of my best friends, biggest supporters, most dedicated prayer warrior, and one of the most grieved over the loss of Vienne.  My mom is incredible.  And, she is an incredible Grammy.

Here are a few videos and photos of Vienne and Grammy together, over the years.

(This video is titled:  "I love Grammy"
This is V at age 2 1/2.  While eating some lunch, I decided to interview her.  Her facial expressions always always just get me.  Oh, she is so beautiful.)

(Grammy's first hold of her first Grandchild - May 1, 2008)

(visits from Grammy, around 3 mo. old)

("here, Grammy, let me help!")

(6 mo. oldish)

(9ish mo. old)

(cute tushy helping Grammy in the kitchen - over a year old)

(Christmas Eve dinner, 1 1/2 yrs. old - looking at pictures of herself on the camera)

("cooking" on Grammy's back deck - mud soup, of course)

("pe-ee hot!" = pretty hot"

(baking Valentine's Day cookies together! - 2 1/2)


(more outside kitchen play on Easter, almost 3 yrs. old)

(basking in the sun with her buddy, Bob - Grammy's other "Baby")

(with Aunt Katy and Grammy, almost 3)

(kisses for newborn baby sister, age 3 1/2)

(Vienne, the photographer, took this of her Grammy on an afternoon together)

(Vienne's 4th Birthday dinner at Grammy and Grandpa's)

(Grammy and her girls)

(Vienne loved to stay the night over at Grammy and Grandpa's - this pic was taken one morning, after spending the night with them.  She and Grammy put the puzzle together.)

(My Mom would often tell Vienne:  "Vienne, YOU are my Friend!")

(the last photo that Grammy took of Vienne, just two days before she died.  Grammy and Vienne went and picked this Cinderella dress up from a neighbor friend.)

Thank you for being my friend and my constant always.
Thank you for being the Grammy that you are to my girls.
You are a treasure to us.
xoxoxooxoxoxoxoxo to China!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Happy Birthday, Grandpa

Today is Grandpa Kohl's birthday!  Vienne and Ivy have been blessed to have 3 Grandfathers who love them very much.  Grandpa Kohl (my stepdad, Tom) developed a special bond over fishing, with Vienne.  It was their "thing".  A few summers ago, Tom came home with a little Spiderman fishing pole and small toys from the Dollar Store.  He set up a game with her, where he would go down below the deck and attach toys to her pole that she would get to reel in.  It was so sweet and cute.  This last summer of 2012, Tom set up a fishing trip with us, for a day.  We ventured out to Horning's Hideout, a cute little fishing pond, and we spent the day fishing and picnicking.  Vienne LOVED it.  Such special memories.
Here are a few pictures for Grandpa on his birthday...

(Grandpa with his first grand baby, Vienne Juliet)

(Vienne's first fishing pole)

(learning how to work it, together)

(fishing over the railing...oh my goodness, her little tush is too cute! - age 3)

(I got something!)

(Easter at Grammy and Grandpa's, 2012)

(Grandpa with two of his granddaughters - so sweet)

(our family fishing trip at Horning's Hideout, summer 2012)

(tending to her caught fish...ok Grandpa and Mark did the catching...but she was great at helping!)

(look!  look!  so proud.)

(ok, you can tell that we loved this photo.  She is bravely holding a fish head!  She wanted to watch ever part of the gutting and cleaning - so fascinated and never grossed out...all while my Mom and I couldn't watch!  Vienne looked at the decapitated fish body and asked "where's it's face?".  So, they handed her his "face".  hahahah...eeewwww)

(Grandpa and his Joy-Bug, Ivy, on her first birthday last week.  He is quite smitten with her and she with him.)


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Happy Birthday, Aunt Kate

My sister, Katy, turned 32 today on January 15th.  I remember that my due date with Ivy, last year, was exactly January 15th...and she was born on the 12th.  Katy's daughter, Miriam, was due in early April and she was born just one day before my birthday on April 8th.  Very special, to us sisters, that our daughters were born near each other's birthdays.

On this post, I just wanted to write a little tribute to Aunt Kate and her special bond, though, to Vienne. Katy and her husband, Jeremy, are my girls' god-parents, as well.  I couldn't choose anyone better to replace us as parents if ever that were to be needed.  My sister, Katy, and I are very close.  We share the same morals and priorities in life.  We were raised the same and share the same values.  She is an AMAZING mother.  She is also an amazing Auntie.  The way that she immediately loved Vienne as her own, the moment she was born, just brought me to tears.  Vienne and Auntie Kate had a true bond. As I have written before, Katy loved Vienne with a true true fierce love...something she has not been able to explain.  I remember going on a walk with Katy and Vienne once, and Kate was talking about her love for Vienne and she just welled up with tears, she couldn't explain it or control was just intense.  Just thinking about that tender love my sweet sister had for my Baby Girl makes me well up with tears now.

Here are some sweet pictures of Auntie Kate and her dear Niece, Vienne....

(Katy in her very first role of being a brand new Auntie to her Brand new Niece, Vienne Juliet, on May 1, 2008)

(around 4-5 months with Aunt Katy)

(Katy, admiring her darling Niece)

(Katy and Vienne playing on the beach - about 4/5 mo. old)

(both of us playing with Vienne in her bedroom in our Cannon Beach home)

(Thanksgiving with Aunt Katy - 6 mo.)

(Oh dear, Uncle J and Aunt Kate were trying to make Vienne choose which beer is better...we were debating if we really should've asked them to be her godparents after this....heheh)

(ah, geez, you guys!....I hope everyone knows this is a joke.  Right?!  We would NEVER let our baby try beer.)

(just lounging and playing with Auntie Katy)

(So cute!  All dressed up as a flower girl for Auntie Kate's and Uncle Jeremy's wedding!!  At 9 mo.  Unfortunately, there weren't any photos of Vienne IN the wedding because she was asleep!)

(Uncle J holding Vienne who is wearing her "My Auntie Loves Me" onesie...yes, yes she does)

(they were very connected)

(just had to include this awesome photo cuz Kate took it of Vienne when we were visiting one HOT summer weekend in 2009.  HI-larious of Vienne!)

(Summer 2010 - playing on the slides together at the park)

(kisses, for you Aunt Kate xoxoxo  *tears*)

(goofing around with a camera together)

(love this)

(Vienne and Auggie - Katy's old dog.  Now these two play in Heaven together.  :( )

(A beautiful pic of V that Uncle J captured one time when she was visiting)

(Vienne, Auggie, and Jeremy)

(Katy and Vienne blowing out candles together at Christmas, 2010)

(Katy and Vienne on her 30th surprise birthday party)

(Katy and Vienne on MY birthday in 2011)

(my beautiful Daughter.  my beautiful Sister. - last winter, 2012)

I love you, my Sister, one of my Dear Bestest Friends.  Always.  Thank you for loving my girls as your own.  I treasure you always.  xoxoxoxoox