Monday, February 28, 2011

Service Project for Trey's 2nd Birthday




Dear Family and Friends,
Trey’s 2nd Birthday is March 23rd and I would like to participate in a service project in his honor.  Ella is one of Trey’s angel friends who earned her wings dues to a rare disease called PVNH shortly before Trey.  Since then, Ella’s mom and I have formed a friendship and supported each other.  She has devoted her life to supporting her local NICU, Angel Families, and NICU Babies and their families.  She has started a program called ELLA’s Teddy Program in which people donate teddy bears that are given in memory of Angel Babies to their Angel Families and NICU Babies and their families.  For more information please see this link:

http://everyoneloveslittleangels.blogspot.com/2010/12/ellas-teddy-program.html

The teddy bears are only $9 and are available at StuffedSafari.com the following link:

http://www.stuffedsafari.com/Regis-Small-Tan-Classic-Teddy-Bear-p/bb-1894.htm

If you would like to donate one or more bears in honor of Trey’s 2nd birthday, please order them from the website listed above and send them to the following address:

ELLA’s Teddy Bear Program
℅ Yolaine Dupont
206-1082 west 8th ave
Vancouver, BC
V6H1C4

This is a positive way to honor Trey on his birthday and help other families with Angel Babies or NICU Babies.  Let’s see how many we can donate by his birthday on March 23rd.  We are hoping to start our own service projects in honor of Trey that support our local community in years to come, this is just a start.  Thanks so much for your participation and support!

Love,
The Chathams

P.S.  Please pass this on to anyone who might be interested in helping out!






Sunday, February 27, 2011

Over the rainbow




Since the news that our baby is a girl and is healthy and thriving, you have not seen two happier parents.  "Happy" does not even begin to describe our feelings at this point.  The only way I can describe it is that our rainbow baby sent us a rainbow of elation that washed away what I am now referring to as "the murk" (my own word coming from the word murky which is defined by www.dictionary.com as "dark and gloomy").  


Seeing our little girl dance and sometimes wrestle against the efforts of  the ultrasound tech and perinatal doctor reassured us that our little girl was a strong baby ready to take on the world.  All her measurements were on target and her heart and all its little parts were strong and pumping away.  The rainbow of bliss brought visions of all of the wonderful possibilities in life when bringing a daughter into the world along with humorous visions of my husband cleaning his shotgun in front of potential suitors and swallowing the wedding bill.  The wonderings began  in regards to what she would look like  and if we would we see Trey in her.  She has earned her own pronoun and we find joy in using her name instead of referring to her as "the baby" or "it".  It feels like Christmas, the visions of sugar plums dancing in our heads are REALLY visions of bringing her into the world, watching her grow, and experiencing every joy and milestone that parents cherish.  One could consider these "visions of sugar plums" were ACTUALLY long overdue visions of hope. 


Our hearts and minds were buzzing with all of the things we needed to do to get ready for her which we were more than ready to get started on.  For the first time in nearly two years, I excitedly entered a baby store and began setting up our baby registries and looking at little girl clothes.  Today, a friend and I are delving into the unused baby stuff we already have, packing up all the boy stuff (FOR NOW!!!!!), and making an inventory of things we still need so it can be purchased and/or added to our registries.   We've excitedly talked about future plans, even discussing how we would need to keep an eye on her growth and maturity so when the time comes to decide when she starts school, we will know if she's developmentally ready to go ahead as a young student or needs another year to mature (tricky summer babies).  We haven't planned much for the future up to this point.  It seems that, so far, during the second half of this pregnancy we are looking forward, instead of looking back like we did during the first half.


Up to this point, we've only had the task of waiting and keeping healthy.  These are easy tasks that don't require much mental or emotional effort, but now we have so much we need and want to do, it has superseded our emotional and mental routines that have taken over the last three or four months.   It's a refreshing change of pace to have things to look forward to instead of dread. Don't get me wrong, "the murk" has tried to sneak in, but the rainbow has brought so many jubilant  thoughts and feelings, "the murk" hasn't stood a chance.  I am sure this isn't the last we have seen of "the murk", but I am hoping that we have stored up enough mental and emotional sunshine that when "the murk" shows up, there is a fair fight.  


For now though, I am riding high on this rainbow, trying to brush the clouds of "the murk" away.  There is so much to look forward to and so much to be happy and thankful for.  We have a healthy daughter with a VERY proud big brother in heaven, who I am sure was dancing around heaven on Thursday, super excited that Thursday was the day that his Mommy and Daddy were going to find out that the baby was a girl and she was thriving!  What a beautiful vision!  So many visions flood my mind, heart, and soul now.   Some use the phrase "over the moon" to describe their happiness, I am using my own phrase, "over the rainbow".  

Thursday, February 24, 2011

IT'S A GIRL!!!!!

Lorelei Byrd Chatham

We are MORE than overjoyed to announce that today we found out we are having a girl!  By all accounts, she is doing VERY well, all her bits a pieces are in working order!  We are SO looking forward to meeting our daughter and spending a lifetime with her!  We feel ENORMOUSLY blessed and OVERWHELMINGLY happy!  

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Angel Steps: Resources for Angel Families

Angel Steps: Resources for Angel Families: Here I hope to compile a list of support resources for grieving Angel Families. Please email me any and all support sites you have used that I can pass on via this page.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Angel Steps: Fund Raising Pages

Angel Steps: Fund Raising Pages: I have started a new page in which to display sites of Angel families trying to raise money in memory of their angels. Please check out this page if you wish to help another family make a difference in the face of their grief.

Mama said there'd be days like this

I'm at yet another point of anxiety in my journey.  I have an appointment this afternoon, my first one in a month.  It's been a whole month since I've seen or heard the baby.  This month was a little easier as I was able to feel the baby moving, almost to the point where I could feel it from the outside which is SUPER exciting because the sooner that happens, the sooner my husband can feel the baby moving.  I remember him first feeling our son Trey move, it was so beautiful for us to experience together.  These positive memories and visions for the future have kept me in higher spirits, still the appointment this afternoon plagues me.

The thoughts, fears, anxieties, and nightmares return, if only for today, for right now.The questions that ALWAYS plagues me on appointment days is "What if I don't hear the baby's heartbeat?".  Others say "You can't think that way" and to that I say "Oh yes I can, and I have, and I will until this baby is safely in our arms, even then I will wonder when the next shoe is going to drop".  Should I think this way?  OF COURSE NOT!  I wish appointment days did not bring this type of torture to me and not matter how much I try to busy myself, keep my mind occupied, or think happy thoughts, my mind and heart retreat back to the very dark place where my fears  and nightmares live.    People say "But all your appointments are going well, so everything is fine."  This is true, thankfully, up to this point.  Everything was going swimmingly with Trey up until six months into the pregnancy, even after he was born premature with so many problems, we were told and reassured that he was going to be fine.  So to my heart and mind, nothing is absolute.  It's not over until the fat lady sings, or in this case, until the baby lets out its first cry.

This pregnancy has brought back many memories, good and bad, of our last pregnancy.  When I was pregnant with Trey, I felt so sexy and beautiful, this time not so much.  It doesn't help that this pregnancy has blessed me with a wonderful array of acne.  My body shape is different this time around too, maybe that's proof that this baby is a girl.  I looked so cute in my maternity clothes last time around, but this time, I don't like the way I look in them, maybe I need new ones, new clothes for a new experience.  I also wonder about what is the same and what is different this time around.  Is it good when things are the same as they were the last pregnancy?  Is there something I missed last time that could be examined further if it is similar this time around?  What's different this time and is that a good thing?  I so wish I had a better experience to compare this pregnancy to and maybe the next pregnancy, I will be able to look back on this pregnancy and be grateful to be in a better place.

Today, as everyday, I will continue to fight to keep my head above the murky emotional waters I am swimming in.  My life is SO blessed in SO many ways and have many things to be happy and fulfilled about.   I recently said to a friend that losing Trey left a hole in my happiness that only he can fill and the nightmare that was his birth and the days leading up to it stay with me just as much as my love for him and his love for me.   They haunt me during this pregnancy.  So for today, I will agree to be gentle on myself, breathe deeply, and look forward to hearing my baby's heartbeat today and maybe finding out the gender on Thursday.  I am hoping to celebrate this appointment as I have all of the others...maybe with a milkshake!!! YUM!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Stuck between a blog and a hard place

I am finding myself perplexed about the journaling process this time around.  After Trey passed away, I gave myself a year to journal my grieving process.  I had never really been into writing, never really considered my self a writer but after losing Trey, my emotions led my thoughts into what some have said was very moving, honest expressions of the grieving process (their words, not mine).  I found it easy to say and express anything, and for the most part it was received well.  People seemed interested in how I was doing and I think people could connect with certain aspects of my grieving process.

When I started journaling this pregnancy, I thought that I could once again delve into this emotional journey and the same flow of words would carry me through the way it did before.  At this point, I find that, while most have some experience with grief on some level and they might connect with the grieving process I wrote about before, not many can connect with facing the hope that is this pregnancy with grief still in my heart.  I get the vibe from others that I should not be anxious and fearful as I am.  I am not sure many can empathize with all of the negative emotions and the fears that have accompanied this pregnancy.   A lot of my musings have covered, in depth, the roller coaster (over used term I know) of emotions I am going through daily.  I am sure there are folks thinking that I should be overjoyed with the blessing of another pregnancy, and I am!!  I am sure there are those who have themselves convinced that I am effecting my health and the baby's health with my natural emotions.  The truth is I know no other way to feel but the way I am feeling, suppressing it will only make things worse in the long run, for me and our baby.  I am sure there are people who think its all in MY head, when there are others, loved ones, ESPECIALLY my husband, who have the same worries as I do, maybe not with the same intensity, but they're there.

The truth is, if I wrote about EVERYTHING that runs through my head and heart on a daily basis, I would sound like a broken record of negativity.  It's hard to find the words to express all that I am going through without sounding ungrateful and painfully negative.  Sometimes, I get a hankering to write but spend days trying to find a new angle to start with.  I am not writing to get people to feel sorry for me, I want to find clarity through my writing.  When streaming my thoughts, it seems like I have said it all before.  Maybe I am trying too hard.  It was so much easier before when the only subject at hand was grieving.  This time around, I should be shouting my elations from the rooftops.  My perspective this time around is skewed, stained, and changed.  My previous experience has made me quite the realist (totally against my nature) who knows all too well how things can go terribly wrong.  It's harder to see the silver lining.  I am wearing what could be considered the opposite of rose colored glasses.  I have wondered what color of figurative glasses it is that I am wearing.  My first guess would be gray, now that it's hard to see the world in black in white.  The band Live sings a song called "The Beauty of Gray", which is one of my favorite songs.  Maybe through all of these negative feelings and experiences, I can "see" beauty that others can't, feel what others can't, appreciate what others can't.  It doesn't put me on a higher spiritual plane or anything, but it's the one thing as an educator that I can't teach to anyone.

That brings me back around to my original thought.  I did hope that by sharing my journey, I could help myself heal while connecting with others.  I had hoped that my journey would give others not in my shoes a glimpse of my reality and maybe they would come away with a different understanding.  I wanted to share my truths to show others who have been through similar tragedy that they are not alone in their feelings.  When I started writing, I felt empowered at having the guts to  write some of the truths that I write.  I had never heard anyone express grief in such a way and being that it was my first experience with the grieving process, I had no idea on how the whole process went.  So I just went with it, said whatever, did whatever to get through, and writing was a part of that process.  I wanted my writing to accompany me through this pregnancy, through the good, the bad, the ugly as they say.  It has become quite a challenge.  I am somewhat convinced that the stagnant flow I am experiencing with my journaling this time around may be due to the judgments I feel everyone has about how I am handling this situation, a situation many have never had to endure.  This pregnancy and this child I am carrying ARE both blessings that I am more than grateful for.  I would give anything to be having the typical maternity experience, free of grief and fear.    I would love for the fears and nightmares to be wiped away.  That's not my reality.

I guess when it comes down to it, this journaling experience WILL be different.  I am sure there will be those who can't put themselves in my shoes and will never be able to understand the place where I stand and the place I come from.  I have always vowed to be honest when sharing my journey and I will continue to do so.  I know that, just like before, I will emerge from this experience and writing about this experience with a certain level of clarity and a certain peace that can only come from releasing my emotions and not holding them in.  It may be taboo to speak and think in the ways that I do regarding this pregnancy, but it is reality.  I'm not striving to say the right thing, just striving to live my truth.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Glass half full


Today, I saw one of my colleagues who is less than a month away from giving birth, well, I see her everyday, but today was different.  She is so close to being full term, something I have never experienced.  I began to think about it and even look forward to it.  I know many complain of discomforts during the last few weeks of their pregnancy, but I would've given ANYTHING for my son to be able to finish out the pregnancy and be birthed healthy.  I think my perspective, though similar, will be glittered with happiness and enjoyment that I get to experience what so many feel are the toughest days of pregnancy.  Being able to deliver to term is more of an affirmation of a healthy pregnancy and baby.

Of course this realization also gave me a little trepidation and sadness.  Without a doubt, Trey needed to come out when he did for his own health and mine as well.  Thinking of those lost weeks reminds me of why he was born early and all of the biological reasons we don't have him with us now.  As each week of this pregnancy passes, I am thankful for the time we have with this baby.  With half of the pregnancy safely behind us, we move into a period of looking forward to more fetal movement, the birth,  and meeting our child for the first time. Our last pregnancy afforded us plenty of opportunities to feel Trey's movement, and though we did get to meet our little boy, it wasn't under the most ideal meeting or birthing experience.  I am so hoping for a birthing experience that is closer to "normal".  Well, as long as I am being completely honest, I wouldn't mind being induced, I think we had enough pre-labor drama to last a lifetime.  But, as I said, anything closer to "normal" would be a blessing.

We've got quite a while before we have to deal with all of that, and although when I look back it will seem like the time flew, it's still crawling at the speed of molasses.   For now, I am content to ponder the flutterings of the little one inside me who is now as big as a cantaloupe and as long as a banana from head to toe.  That in an of itself is AMAZING!!  I love reading each week about the baby's growth, surprisingly it feels like I am reading it all for the first time.  I am struggling to remember certain details of my last pregnancy, like what the flutters felt like or how certain foods made me feel or even if I was this "big" at this point with Trey.  Those are positive think points that I thought I would remember, the negative aspects of the last pregnancy seem to be more evident to me.  I am REALLY trying to change my focus, so remembering the more positive experiences is important to me.  It is more than easy to get caught up driving in the circles that are my negative emotions and feelings surrounding this pregnancy.  While I have to be gentle with myself and allow myself to endure the waves of these emotions and the fears that go along with them,  I don't want to look back and realize I have spent 9 months not enjoying this pregnancy for the beauty and blessing it is.

As with most journeys, we'll take it one step at a time.  Next week, we have a doctor's appointment and an ultrasound.  We are hoping our little one is a little more forthcoming with its gender but we will be more than satisfied with the knowledge that the baby is healthy and thriving.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Waiting for the other shoe to drop

I started writing this on Monday after a hard day during which my mind swam around the fears and anxieties that plague this pregnancy.  When I first started, I found myself writing the same words and feelings I have written about time and time again, and it was in no way touching the panic and anxiety I felt that day.  There were so many thoughts and fears running through my head that day that I had to fight back tears and catch my breath most of the day.  Needless to say, it was hard for me to focus long enough to express what I was going through so after sitting in front of the computer for over an hour, typing and retyping what I had written, trying to convey the heaviness of the day,  I set it aside.  In the three days since, I have had time to calm down, focus my thinking, and exhale, yet the words to describe the tornado of emotions I was feeling three days prior still escape me.  I guess the only way I can describe it is all of the emotions, fears, and anxieties I have written about bombarded me at once, with great speed and a larger force than I could have imagined.  Usually these emotions come in waves one or two at a time, hardly the tidal wave I experienced on Monday.  I am thankful that it has passed and I wouldn't be surprised if I see the tidal wave again.  So instead of rehashing my feelings, I'll let someone else's words speak for me and let their music soothe my restless soul.

Feelin' The Same Way  by Norah Jones

The sun just slipped its note below my door
And I can't hide beneath my sheets
I've read the words before so now I know
The time has come again for me

(Chorus) And I'm feelin' the same way all over again
Feelin' the same way all over again
Singin' the same lines all over again
No matter how much I pretend

Another day that I can't find my head
My feet don't look like they're my own
I'll try and find the floor below to stand 
I hope I reach it once again

Chorus

So many times I've wondered where I've gone
And how I found my way back in
I look around awhile for something lost
Maybe I'll find it in the end

Chorus

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

All my children



Lately, I have been thinking about my children, my son in heaven and the little on I am currently carrying.  The term that gets me is "children".  To date I have been pregnant with two children, that is another odd statement being that only one of them is still living.  It feels weird to think of my children or to think of this as my second pregnancy.  Usually during a second pregnancy, women have a child they are chasing after, but I do pretty much what I did the last time around, take care of myself and do a lot of relaxing.  Yet another set of things that I am not supposed be doing right now, being the Mommy of two children.

I wonder how other Angel Parents deal with the questions "Is this your first pregnancy?" or "How many children do you have?"  Most of the time I am proud to say this is my second pregnancy but I know it bodes the question "How old is your first child?"  When people ask how many kids I have, I always struggle with my answer.  I want so much to say I have one son, but dread further questions that will reveal his tragic fate and the ultimate embarrassment of the asker.  I am proud to talk about my angel but don't want anyone to feel uncomfortable or caught off guard and stuck regretting ever asking me.  Unfortunately, I will have to face these questions for the rest of my life and I will have to wrestle with how to answer them.  I am not sure how I feel about being uncertain of my answers to these questions.

I feel like I am betraying Trey and his memory not to claim him proudly no matter the question.  I am not worried about the way the conversation will make me feel, because I am proud to call him my son and to call myself his Mommy.  It's just hard to watch the reactions of well meaning people asking questions that most of us would normally ask a new friend or acquaintance.   We are so used to hearing the good news that comes with being pregnant and having a baby, no one expects to hear that the baby passed away.

Another thing I have started to think about is will any of our future family pictures ever feel complete to me?  To be honest, I have thought about having pregnancy photos taken before I have this baby, including one where John and I are holding a framed picture of our son.  Yet I wonder, is that morbid or obsessive?  In the past I have had to wrestle with others' ideas of what goes too far regarding the things I do to remember our son.  Part of me always wants Trey to have a place in our family photos even if we never share the pictures with anyone else, we will never be a family without including him.  I'm not sure if these pictures including Trey will be hanging on the wall or tucked away for us.  It's quite a thing to consider, it's not the norm.

We have Trey's pictures in a frame up in our bedroom and there they will stay.  I am ready to answer my future children's about who is in the pictures to the point that they know they have a big brother who was very sick and went to be in Heaven so he wouldn't be sick anymore.  Not sure how I will word it or how much I will divulge, but they will know.  I can imagine it won't be easy and that timing will have a lot to do with how and what I tell them.  He already has his own stocking and mini Christmas tree and I hope my children will help include him in the holidays.  I don't see myself simply packing away his tree or stocking, but who knows what more time and healing will bring.

I may be jumping the gun by thinking to far ahead in the future, but who DOESN'T think about all aspects of the future when they think about their kids.  I would much rather be planning where Trey will go to school and how we are going to pay for college.  Keeping him included in the family tactfully is much more difficult.

 I guess all I can do is be patient and trust in time that my heart and my love for Trey will guide me towards the things I need to do for myself and my family in order to keep my idea of family in tact.  I will say one thing, I never in all of my future planning saw myself pondering these elements of my life.