Friday, January 24, 2014

Mama's Heart Updates ~ 1/24/14

So, I figured I'd jot down how I've been doing lately.  I view this blog as sometimes writing to readers, but most times as a way to record my memories, special moments, and phases of this wretched grief process so that I can always look back on where I've been.

To put it plainly:  I do not enjoy blogging right now, though.  Still.

I have turned very inward.  Mostly because I feel the same…yet, maybe a bit darker even.  I think "depressed" could be an accurate term for me.  Though, you probably wouldn't know it if you saw me.  I am not typically a "woe is me" type of person.  This is the place where I spill my woes…and I even avoid it on here lately.

My anxiety keeps me home and unsocialized…as does the fear of this horrid flu that is going around.  "Knock on wood" we have not caught it yet.  I am very diligent and proactive about immune system building.  But, as you know, we have EVERY reason in the world to fear the flu virus.  I have read that there have been 7 deaths from this flu in just the Portland area!  Wow.  I have not been able to find any information on whether myocarditis was documented, but I highly suspect that it had to be the cause of at least some of the deaths.  Horrible.

When people ask me how I am I say that I am "surviving".  It's the best I can say.  It's the best I can do. Ivy distracts me enough during the "on" hours of the day when she is awake.  While I am with her I do not have the opportunity to dwell on my darkness…which is good.  I muster fake smiles when out in public.  When Ivy naps or goes to bed I overstimulate my mind with the computer (Pinterest or Facebook or research or blogs) along with some stupid show in the background.  I used to love to read. I hate it now.  Too much opportunity for my mind to wander to dark things.  I struggle to get to sleep at night.  I will lay in bed for up to an hour playing a mindless game on my phone until my eyes can no longer stay open.  It is the only way I can fall asleep.  If I just lay there, I will be haunted by recurring images of that nightmare of a morning…the last one I spent with my Precious Vienne.  And, that will lead me into a downward spiral of bad thoughts.  I can't let myself go there.

I am still struggling spiritually.  Actually, to put it more accurately - I am avoiding almost all things "spiritual".  We do still try to attend our church every now and again, though.  We love our church.  We love our "family" there.  But, sermons are very difficult for me to sit through.  I have a skeptical doubting thought about almost everything that is taught.  I still do not trust God.  How am I to learn to trust Him again?  I do not know the answer to that one.  And, therefore, I am very uncomfortable with the topic of prayer.  ….which, I think I've decided I will write about, solely, in another blog post.

My health was starting to get worse over the past few months, as well.  I have dropped over 20 pounds off my small frame since Vienne passed away.  That was not an intentional or necessary weight loss.  It's been very difficult for my doctor to determine what exactly has been causing my maladies.  I finally went in for a colonoscopy a few weeks ago.  Fun times, fun times.  And, they found nothing.  Nothing!  So shocking.  We thought for sure that they would find signs of Crohns Disease or Ulcerative Colitis.  But, nope.  My doctor is sure now that my sick body has been a result of my grief and anxiety.  Crazy, right?  Crazy how that can be translated to the physical.

My anxiety has been so bad that I just cannot handle much.  Why am I not on meds?  Well, for one, I am not comfortable with meds.  But, two, I am also still nursing Ivy.  Because she and I enjoy it.  But, my anxiety has definitely taken a severe dip from last year.  I feel that I can no longer control it now, in front of others.  It is palpable when I am in a group setting.  I feel like my exterior is all just a cracked shell and I am constantly and relentlessly trying to keep all the cracked pieces in place but it is so hard and so impossible.  Then, one little itty bitty tiny misstep or trip or bump causes me to lose hold of those precariously placed pieces.  And, I fall apart.  And, then I feel ashamed and guilty.  So guilty that I made a mess everywhere - spilling my brokenness all over the place.  So guilty that I may have disrupted the moment or the mood.  And, I am full of emphatic apology as I quickly try to sweep it all back up and put it all back into place.  I do not know what else to do or how else to manage it.  But no wonder my stomach is a wreck.

Mark and I are doing well, together.  He is my safety, my strength, and my ultimate support.  This man just knows me.  And, I am so thankful that I have a safe place in him when I am going through an anxious episode.  He never takes anything personally.  Ever.  When he senses that I am anxious, he will gently and quietly rub my back, whisper in my ear that I am doing a great job, and he will take Ivy or help me out with whatever I am struggling with.  He helps to calm me.

We have taken a break from counseling.  I feel the "whys" screaming at me, already, through the computer.  Let me explain.  I know that everyone believes that we should be in counseling…me, especially.  But, why?  I have discovered that is encouraged by many because deep down everyone wants to be able to help me in some way.  They realize that they can't…but suggesting or encouraging counseling is something that they can offer.  But, you go to counseling to get fixed, for the most part.  …to fix a broken relationship….to fix a shattered self-worth…to fix emotional issues resulting from abuse or….etc.  You know.  But, I started to realize, while in counseling, that this is something that cannot be fixed.  After time, I started to get frustrated that our counselor rarely offered advice or suggestions for things to try.  But, then I also realized that if he had, I would have been irritated and offended.  You can't offer advice to fix grief over a dead child.  That broken heart is just one of the few things that cannot be "fixed".  And, even my resulting symptoms I've developed from my grief cannot yet be fixed.  It's too early.  My anxiety is normal and understandable…he knew that I need to go through this and not squelch it.  Every single feeling that I expressed to him, he would reply back with "well, yes, that seems very understandable".  It certainly SUCKS what I am feeling and going through…but at the same time, feeling the opposite would be horrifying and weird.  Calm and happy?  One year after my child died?  Um.  No.  Maybe it would be appropriate to seek further help if I am still depressed in a few years…but right now, I realized that it was kind of pointless.  He was just a listening ear to talk to.  I can do that with people in my life.  Did any of this make sense?

This is where I'm at.  Not so pretty.  I don't feel so great inside.  I still need support and love.  I know it is a struggle for people to know what to say.  But, let me say something loud and clear:
Well, that's just awkward for everyone…and, gosh, just not very kind.  Yes.  Yes.  There are the stupid things that could be said….like what is shared in this blog post.  But, if you really cared and really had a heart for our situation, you would know not to say such thoughtless things.  Those are things you say to someone when you are not really thinking…when you are not invested.  (Thank you to the "Anonymous Reader" who shared that link, by the way.)

Thank you for being here for me as I wade through this muck.

{here is a silly cute picture of my darling Ivy, wearing a face that shares how I feel.  ;)}

Monday, January 13, 2014

Ivy turns 2

Our precious Ivy Lynnae turned 2 yesterday, January 12.  Two years old.  My second baby Girl is two years old!
And, let me tell you - this little Girl is one amazing treasure.  Mark and I are constantly in awe of her.  There will often be a moment, almost once a day, where Mark and I will look at each other and silently shake our heads and smile in wonderment over how gentle, meticulous, careful, sharing, mindful,  loving, affectionate, sensitive, and insightful she is.  Sounds familiar, doesn't it?
I just think she is one of the cutest little girls ever…

Here is a list of some of Ivy's favorite things:
Food:  Zucchini! (which she excitedly calls "keeny"), any fish, chicken sausage, bananas, and Grammy's apple sauce (which she calls "awesome sauce).  She's not very interested in sweets.  She is an excellent eater and enjoys most vegetables.  She is very well-fed.
Toys:  Her play kitchen.  She cooks for us every single day.  Her baby dolls.  And a new Little People Bus she just got.
Books:  Biscuit (a series of stories about a little girl and her puppy).  And, Beatrix Potter books - she can't sit still through reading them but loves the pictures and calls them all "guck guck dis" (which translates as "duck duck goose) because of the duck on the inside of the covers.
Bedtime Lovey:  her "baa-baa" - a teeny tiny plush white lamb.  
Clothes:  a pair of one-piece footed zip up jammies in pale blue with little yellow ducks.  They are the only jammies I have let her wear out to the store.  She would wear these every day.
Animals:  Elephants (she calls them "elesants" because she pronounces "f" sounds as "s" sounds…try to keep track of that one!).  Owls (called "hoo hoos").  Donkeys ("hee haws" - she loves Eeyore).  And, doggies ("woof woofs").
Movies:  "Winnie the Pooh"
Songs:  "Wheels on the Bus", "If you're happy and you know it", "ABCs".
Cute things she says and does:  *Like I mentioned, she pronounces "f" as "s", which can be tricky when interpreting.  She says "elesant!" and then lifts her chin and tries to make an elephant sound whenever she sees one.  
*When she leaves the room, she runs and looks over her shoulder and says "bye, see ya!"
*"Dono" = dino, "murse" = nurse, "gink" = drink
*She asks to hug and cuddle a lot (oh melt my heart) = she says "cu-yo" and cradles her arms like she's holding a baby and swings back and forth.
*When she gets very excited and is trying to tell me all about something, she starts to play with her hair with both hands.  
*Ivy LOVES stars.  Yes, it is because we have Vienne's star in many places.  Because both Mark and I have a tattoo of Vienne's star on our forearms, Ivy requests that we draw a star on her hand every few days.  Once it's worn off, she will ask for a fresh new drawing on each hand.  It's pretty cute.  I have no problem with her getting a tattoo of her sister's star when she's of age.
*She is very in tune to emotions when she is watching a show.  She will point and say "Pooh sad" in a very sad voice and seem like she is all worried.  She does not like it when any character is sad.
*She is a major perfectionist….major.  She has to push drawers in all the way…she will fix the drawers I left partly open in the kitchen.  When cleaning up (which she's not always in to), she will make sure that every last piece is picked up and put away.  All buttons must be buttoned on her cardigans.  
*She has a weird thing with her feet - she hates them being touched and insists on wearing socks all the time.  When we change her clothes she is emphatic about putting the socks on first.  
*She loves to play with water.  I will give her a cup half full of water and an empty bowl and she will pour the water back and forth between the two.  She is pretty accurate and meticulous about it.  She takes care of her spills by running to get a towel. 
*She likes her food separated on the plate, of course.  She is very aware when she drops a morsel of food on her shirt or the floor.  (You'd think this all came from us!  I mean, sure, we are neat and tidy people, obviously,….but we do not force it upon our children nor even expect it in the slightest.  But…goodness, it developed naturally in both girls.)

For this birthday, I jumped in with both feet and threw her a fun Classic Pooh themed party.  I love to craft and create (as you've probably seen in posts about Vienne's birthday parties) and so I was excited to get back into it, this year for Ivy.  The planning of the party is what is fun for me…all the creative details…but actually doing the party, now that's another story.  Very difficult on my nerves right now.  But, it is worth it for my girl.  Everyone had a wonderful time.  It was a lovely little party and I believe our Baby Girl enjoyed herself.  
Here are some photos from the evening ~

Welcome to Ivy's 100 Aker Wood party

burlap bunting banner with sparkly little honey bees and a star in the middle because Ivy loves stars.

honey bees

The spread.  I wish the photo was better.  This was the best we got.  I colored the map of the 100 Aker Wood that I had printed at Staples.  Used twinkle lit trees from my and my mom's Christmas decor and stuck more sparkly little honey bees all over the tree branches.  Printed and framed some simple Classic Pooh images from the internet.  Found a cute porcelain Pooh figurine at Goodwill.  "Hunny" labels for simple clay pots.  Moss and pine cones.  And, scored some pieces of wood and logs with tea light holes from my sister in law, who just threw her girlfriend a Pooh Baby shower.  Oh, and of course, the classic one blue balloon.

"Hunny" pots filled with honey sticks and homemade honey marshmallows, dusted in cocoa powder.  I stuck the marshmallows on candy sticks and wrapped them in little cellophane bags.

The beehive cupcakes.  I tried my best at these.  I found an image on Pinterest that I was trying to copy.  Cut and made the honeycomb printed wrappers.  Grain free chocolate cupcakes with homemade toasted honey marshmallow cream topping.  The toasted marshmallow topping was supposed to look swirled like a beehive…but the kitchen torch kinda melted the swirling.  And, they were each topped with a sugared honey bee - which were the only things on the entire cupcake that was sugar - everything else was made with honey.

Ivy's cupcake with two hand-dipped bees wax candles.

Mark torching the marshmallow cream.

Pooh bear ears for everyone.

My little Birthday girl!  Isn't her dress darling?  It was handmade for her by a sweet friend of ours.  This was the perfect occasion to wear it with her vintage black granny boots.

The drink station with coffee, tea, and homemade honey-mint lemonade.  Phew I went through a LOT of honey!
For dinner, we served Ivy's favorite meal - fresh caught salmon (caught by her Grandpa Tom), roasted zucchini and carrots, and herbed brown rice.  It was simple, easy, yet delish.

Utensils, napkins, and birch tree straws.

Kids' tables with easy mess-free crafts.

sticker scenes and paper dolls.

Owl's Tree Howse sign, leading up to the fort in our loft.

At the top of the stairs, you have to crawl through the entrance to the "tree house" fort.

Inside, sheets were hung and draped about and mattresses on the floor for jumping.  It was a major hit.

Cute Daddy.

Beautiful Birthday Girl


well…it's a dino rocker, of course!  From Uncle David, Auntie Kinsey, and Cousins Elliott and Charlie.

She LOVED the owl clips that went with a darling outfit, from Uncle Jeff, Auntie Eileen, and cousins Ella and Faith.
She Also loved the awesome nordic Naartje boots she is wearing on one foot from Uncle Setth, Auntie Lacey, & cousins Caleb and Kai.

A new Pooh movie and a plush Eeyore toy from Grammy (or "Amma" as Ivy calls her)

I made her a sweater.

cake, candles, and song.

Cross-eyed wonder!!  haha.  She LOVED the song and blowing out candles and asked for it over and over.  We sang and relit a few times.



Christmas 2013

Well, we made it through our second Christmas since Vienne passed away…but it was the first Christmas that we actually celebrated since, without her (we skipped it last year).

I know I have been so inconsistent with this blog, lately.  And, I know that I keep saying that, as well.  ;)  I think I am struggling with some depression when it comes to my grief and facing this blog doesn't help that depression.  But, at the same time, I battle with guilt that I need to keep this blog going for Vienne.  This is one of my few ways that I get to still be her mother…to care for something for her.  I just don't feel that I have anything good to contribute, as of late.  I feel that I would dishonor this with all the negativity that flies through my head, when I let myself dwell on my grief.  Blech….



Here is a recap of our December for you, in pictures.  <3

(Ivy's first trip to a Christmas Tree farm.  We visited the farm that we last went to with Vienne, 2 years prior.)

(Just had to include this picture because of her precious priceless belly-laugh smile.  How can you not love it??)

(Our new place all decked out in Christmas festive ware.)

(I made a new tree topper star - a copy of Vienne's star)

(traditionally, I am a bit of a Christmas spazz - this is my snowman and Santa collection.  I started the collection for Vienne's first Christmas.  This was the first year that Ivy got to appreciate it.)

(Mark and Ivy opening a 12 Days of Christmas countdown gift, from Kinsey.  She sent us 12 dinosaur books to open during the countdown.  It was very special.)

(Mark and Ivy reading one of the dino books.  I love how they are conversing in this pic)

(A sweet friend surprised us with this darling gift in the mail - a teal dinosaur tea light holder.  Ivy loved it)

(Another Vienne-themed gift - T-Rex inspired Nikes for kids!  Some of our dearest friends, Jeff and Eileen, gave these to Ivy.  Jeff designs shoes at Nike.  He saw this new design coming out and immediately new what they were going to give Ivy for Christmas.  They even included a copy of the designers drawings of the shoe and T-rex.  Even in Vienne's colors!  How perfect are they??? …Ivy is blowing Jeff and Eileen and their girls kisses in this photo. {we had to try them on over her jammies, we were just too excited.})

(We visited the Alpenrose Dairy Christmas town.  This is us with my sis, Kate and cousin Miri.)

(Christmas morning in our jammies - the photos from my phone uploaded all blurry on my computer.  Poo)

(my tiny little dotty Christmas baby)

(the boys in 'staches.  Step-brothers-in-law…etc.)

brothers-in-law being total doofs.  It's so great to have guys married into the family that get along like brothers.)

(Uncle J and Ivy)

(Mom and Kate opening gifts I made, inspired by Vienne, while I nurse Ivy under the blanket.)

(Ornaments my mom had made for me.  Each one has a picture of Vienne from each of her Christmases with us)

Miri sporting the blue and green dino hat that I made for her.)

(Grammy and Ivy Christmas morning cuddles)

(little girls bundled and waiting to go on a Christmas afternoon family walk)

(siblings and babies)

(I just like this pic because of the connectedness - Katy holding Miri's hand, Grandpa holding Ivy's hand, and Mark pulling the wagon.)

(there's that joyful grin of hers)

(I just love these next 3 photos of Ivy and Grammy together.  Both are so beautiful.  You wouldn't believe my Mama is almost 57 would you??!)

(oh those eyes of Ivy's)


The following photos are of the things I made for everyone, in remembrance of Vienne~

(here is a pic of my sweet *nieces*, Faith and Ella, wearing the dino hats that I made them for Christmas.  So flipping cute!)

(this is the ornament that I made for everyone in our family.  Vienne's star.  It was made with a wire that was wrapped with wooden raffia and then sprayed with gold glitter.)

(I also made this glass ornament with a black and white photo of Vienne kissing a snowman, and filled with "snow")

(I painted natural reusable canvas bags - black paint and a hydrangea stencil)

(this was my favorite gift that we made - we scanned some of Vienne's artwork and had them printed onto cards.  I also had a stamp made of Vienne's signature and stamped the back of each card with her signature.  Of course, no one wants to actually use the cards and will probably frame them instead.  It was a fun and sentimental project for me.)

And that's about it.  I hope your holidays were lovely and meaningful.