Buy Something Beautiful in Memory of a Beautiful Girl

Longtime readers of this blog are familiar with Team Lucy, the Heart Walk team I created in memory of my daughter Lucy. Team Lucy has also raised funds for Children’s Cardiomyopathy Foundation and we work to raise awareness of pediatric cardiomyopathy and pediatric heart diseases and defects in general. (We were very busy during Heart Month in February!) Here is a link to the Team Lucy Facebook page for more information:

http://www.facebook.com/GoTeamLucy

Right now, we are back to our identity as a Heart Walk Team and we need your help. Our first fundraiser has been underway for almost a month. We are selling gorgeous jewelry from Origami Owl. A portion of every purchase goes to Team Lucy for the 2014 Austin Heart Walk.

The story behind Origami Owl is inspiring. The founder and owner Bella founded the company at the age of 16. She wanted to raise money for a car and she did it!

http://www.origamiowl.com/story.ashx

The fundraiser is a huge success so far! We have raised $224 for Team Lucy. But kids with cardiomyopathy desperately need every bit of help they can get. So, please, check out our fundraiser, get yourself or someone you love something gorgeous, and support Team Lucy! If you can’t purchase, sharing the campaign on Facebook and Twitter is a huge help. Several sales have been made that way. One person even joined the company after my friend Mary shared the campaign on her Facebook page! Team Lucy got a bonus for that. J Here is the URL for purchasing and sharing, as well as a link to a previous post of mine about why kids with cardiomyopathy so desperately need awareness and research funds:

Origami Owl fundraiser link to share and/or purchase: http://www.charmedsuite.origamiowl.com/parties/TeamLucy362001/collections.ashx

Link to previous post about pediatric cardiomyopathy and Team Lucy:

https://kittymomma.com/2013/08/25/team-lucy-wants-you/

And here are some photos of the lovely Living Lockets (Origami Owl’s signature piece) already purchased by supporters of Team Lucy (including yours truly):

 

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My sister-in-law Laure’s locket

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My friend Lisa’s locket

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My friend Lorna’s locket filled with her own beach souvenirs from Belize.

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My locket filled with symbols of my husband, me, and my kids.

Even though this fundraiser ends on 6/30, the Austin Heart Walk will not happen until October 18. You can donate and/or sign up to walk with us any time:

http://social.heart.org/2P0xzuH

Thank you all so much for reading and for your support of Team Lucy. We appreciate so much everything that has been done in memory of our beautiful daughter and to help children still struggling with this disease.

Go Team Lucy!

For more information about pediatric cardiomyopathy, please visit: http://www.childrenscardiomyopathy.org/

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Never Forget the Flushable Wipes

Chris and I sat in the living area of our hotel suite at Lost Pines, reading while the kids slept in the bedroom. Moments later, a wail from Lucy emanated from the bedroom.

With a sigh, I tore myself away from my phone and went to investigate. I cautiously opened the door, hoping that Max still slept. He possessed an amazing ability to sleep through his sister’s nighttime cries.

Quite a sight – and a smell – assaulted my senses upon opening the door. Lucy lay in the Pack n Play crying. Max stood leaning on the bed right next to the Pack n Play, clearly awake. It was also abundantly clear that there was a huge poop in his snug-fitting Old Navy pajama pants.

Poor Lucy. I would cry if my brother was standing next to my sleeping area with a huge poop in his pants, too.

All I could do was laugh. Chris asked, “What? What is it?”

“Max pooped his pants. He either woke Lucy up or the smell did it.”

We took a deep breath (not too deep) and headed in to the room to take care of the situation. I picked up Lucy and walked around with her, talking soothingly to calm her. Chris took Max into the bathroom, stripped him down, and tried to figure out how to clean up such a mess in the middle of the night in a hotel room.

And then the toilet became clogged when we tried to flush the mess.

I honestly can’t remember how we handled that part. I don’t think we tried to get a janitor or maintenance person in the middle of the night. I think we managed to get the toilet to flush somehow. Chris then placed Max in the tub, got him to lie on his back, and basically hosed him off in the tub, while Max laughed hysterically. There was no help for it. Everyone except Lucy laughed. I walked around with her, laughing and talking to her about her crazy brother, promising her she would get to sleep again soon.

The Home Stretch

This will be a short one today, since I already went to the doctor this morning (Everything looks great.) and endured another fasting glucose test. I’m wiped. Thank goodness that was the last fasting test.

The pregnancy is definitely more difficult these days. During the last week or so, my patience has been at a low ebb. Also, there are items on my to-do list that have resided there several months and I am ready to check them off!! I want to have the nursery done soon, as well as Max’s birthday party, so I can get into the final baby preparations. (At least there is a definite date for Max’s party.)

These days, I catch myself being oversensitive and nitpicky with Max. I remember this happening during the pregnancy with Lucy and during the postpartum time. I swore to myself that I would be more patient this time and I have been so far. But the last few weeks have seen me picking at him before I even know the words are coming out of my mouth. I’m not considering and choosing to be crabby or impatient. It’s just happening.

I know this is normal and I am probably not giving myself enough credit for the times I am patient and loving. However, Max has been cranky this week, too. I think he might be getting nervous about the new baby. He also might be feeding off of my mood. I honestly can’t tell most of the time if I am cranky because he is being difficult or he is being difficult, because I am cranky and impatient.

I feel like I did not handle him well after Lucy was born and I want so badly to be more patient and make more time for him this time. I treasure our bond and the fact that we have become so much closer the past year. My increasing cantankerousness has me worried for the postpartum time. I have to remember that I am a very conscientious person who learns from her mistakes and that the postpartum time with Lucy was generally a vast improvement over the postpartum time with Max. (Lots of physical pain with her, but the mental and emotional stress were much, much less than after Max’s birth.)

I just love my little boy so much and I never want to make him feel like he’s an annoyance. The fact is, though, he’s human and sometimes he is an annoyance. Also, I’m human and I’m going through what many consider the toughest part of pregnancy right now. Maybe my family is just having a hard time right now and we have to weather it just like every other hard time.

I just don’t want to spend the next six months snapping at him. I want to help him grow up and take responsibility for himself and his place in this family, but I don’t want to make him feel like he is screwing up constantly. We all want this baby girl so much. I want this to be the happy time our family deserves. I don’t expect it to be stress-free, but I don’t want the stress to overly diminish the joy.

Finding a Time Capsule

Nesting has set in with a vengeance. That means attacking all of the “clutter piles” that have taken up permanent residence in our home over the past few years.

I attacked one consisting of two baby gates and plastic bags of assorted clothes a few weekends ago. The contents of one of the bags blindsided me.

In it were clothes Lucy and I wore during her last hospital stay. They resided in this bag in my bedroom for over a year. We came home from that marathon hospital stay in Dallas and simply dropped all of the hospital paraphernalia in that corner of the room. I forgot I even owned these clothes.

The contents consisted of a pair of dark blue jeans (mine), a shimmery green top (mine), Lucy’s little purple hospital gown, stained dark pink and white socks from Old Navy, her reindeer pajama bottoms, and her panda guitar pajama bottoms.

Once I opened the bag and realized what was in it, I just stared, softly saying, “Oh, my gosh” or something like that.

Once Chris realized what was in the bag, a silence fell over us. A somewhat awkward, pained silence. It passed fairly quickly, thanks to some comments on my part. You just don’t expect this sort of occurrence a year later. I couldn’t believe they had been lying in that bag a few feet away from our bed this whole time.

When I spoke to my aunt Martha after Lucy’s death, she suggested I get some of her clothes, or something that had her scent, and put it in a pillowcase. I tried to follow her advice, but nothing seemed to smell like Lucy. I went through the laundry and checked her stuffed animals. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what Lucy’s scent was. I wondered if I was a bad mom for not knowing. I remembered what she looked like, sounded like, and felt like in my arms, but I could not conjure a scent.

I gave up on that quest, but remembered it while looking at these lost clothes on my lap a year later. I brought each article to my nose and carefully sniffed. They actually did exude a scent, but I wasn’t sure if it was Lucy’s. It wasn’t an altogether good scent, but it triggered an indefinable reaction in me. I felt something of the feelings I felt in the hospital, I think. I couldn’t tell if the scent was the hospital or Lucy or both. I thought I vaguely smelled formula.

I felt so strange having unwashed Lucy clothes a year after I thought her things had all gone through the wash for the last time. I put them in the hamper, then thought better of that and retrieved them for my closet. I needed more time with that scent. I needed to find out what other feelings or memories it could trigger in me.

I previously planned to wash them, but now I am not sure when or if I will. These clothes might have more stories to tell me. Part of me will always hope for more to Lucy’s story.

The Smudged Portrait

Serene, eternal smile

Tiny white teeth peeking through

A Band-Aid barely visible in the crook of her elbow

The only outward sign of her recent hospital stay

Ladybugs dance with hearts across her white pinafore

 

The hall light reveals the smudges on the glass that obscure her perfect little mouth.

Smudges from a mother’s kisses

It’s been 13 months today, since I last saw that smile.

Letter to Max at Five Years

Dear Max,

I am writing your annual letter to you early this year, since your baby sister is due two days after your birthday.

Two weeks ago, you finished preschool. You will be 5 at the end of July. I can’t believe we are almost 5 years into this parenting gig. The last 5 years have been the most amazing of my life.

However, both good and difficult times have the potential to amaze a person. Our family has endured much during the last school year. Even though Lucy’s death and the loss of Baby Bean occurred before it began, the repercussions of both were still fresh. Baby Bean’s loss was less than a month before you started preschool.

During the last week of school, you brought home a portfolio containing all of your schoolwork from this year. At the beginning of the year, you produced an indecipherable scribble when asked to write your name. Now you can see a clear “MAX”. At first, you could count to 11, now you can count to 29.

During the early days, you didn’t want to go and would cling to me at drop-off. Now, you still give me a hearty, tight, hug, but then release me willingly and go to join your teachers and friends.

We enjoyed a wonderful week of vacation before you started your summer program. I planned just a couple of activities, not enough to be overwhelming. I knew that you and I both needed our home time together. You are a homebody at heart, just like me.

The summer program got off to a bit of a rough start. They instituted a behavior chart program since last summer. You didn’t earn a whole sticker the first day, because you didn’t listen very well. You were so upset, but on the second day, one of your teachers told me you were her best listener during art class. You finally told me at the grocery store after school that you “earned a whole sticker like you always dreamed of”.

I am so proud of you for trying and succeeding. You have yet to go through an independent phase. We haven’t heard “I do it myself” from you very often, but when you decide you want something you really go for it. Whenever you play the letter-writing game on your Leappad, you become so frustrated when you don’t stay in the lines and earn your three stars. You cry and get so upset, but you always keep trying through the tears. You cry and cry and try and try. Sometimes you ask for help, which I am glad to see. I’m glad you know how to do that. And I do hope you learn how to give yourself time and take a break when you need it. I hope you will learn to harness your determination and make it work for you, instead of running yourself into the ground with it.

At this time in my life, the anniversary of Lucy’s death seems to be the fulcrum on which my year turns. In the year since our family changed forever on that day, I have enjoyed so many precious times with you. I feel more bonded to you than ever. I did my best to help you through your confusion and grief and, despite your young age, you helped me through mine. Sometimes I wished I could collapse into a ball and do nothing, but I couldn’t because you needed me. Although that was hard at times, I am so grateful to you. You have given me a reason to get up every morning since your birth almost 5 years ago and that was crucial this past year.

Max, you have been my almost constant companion for the past 5 years. As an introvert, that has worn on me a bit at times, because I just can’t be around anyone all the time, no matter how much I love them. I need alone time to recharge. But you have been pure joy, the firstborn I needed. You are a wonderful, loving, smart, sweet boy.

When I found out you were a boy, Grandma told me that “boys sure love their mamas”. That wasn’t the first time she relayed that information to me. I basically understood what she meant, but wondered what was so special about it. After all, she and I have always been close. I didn’t get a chance to compare with Lucy very much, so I don’t know if this is solely a product of your age or if Grandma is right. But you have shown me so much love during the past year. I can tell that you would choose to be with me over anything else just because I am your mom. I don’t think I have ever felt such love and pure-hearted devotion from anyone. I am the center of your world. This love is such an honor and so much to live up to. I know it won’t last in such a pure form. You will become an adult and my very human flaws and foibles will become more visible to you. Your feelings for me will become more complex.

So, I will cherish these last two months before Scarlett arrives, this last summer before full-time kindergarten, these sweet years when I am your first love.

I will cherish that “My Little Pony” is your current favorite show unsullied for you by the fact that Target only sells MLP underwear in the girls’ section, subtly (and wrongly) telling you it’s not for you.

I will cherish the pride I feel in your new reading skills and your excitement to meet your new baby sister.

I will cherish the growing comfort and security you seem to feel in the world, as evidenced by your happy participation in Show Day at Little Gym, where you insisted on doing all of your moves “pony-style”.

I will cherish the dreamy smiles you give me as you drift off to sleep while I sit next to you at night.

I will cherish every cuddle session on my lap, every time you “kiss [my] beautiful blue eyes”.

I love you a million Oreos, Max-moo, my little byoo. (Not sure how I came up with that, but I call you that all the time. I think it’s short for “Beautiful Boy”, one of the songs I love to sing to you.)

The next time I write to you, much will have changed, but I hope you will feel more loved by me than ever, along with enjoying love and adoration from your new baby sister. She is so lucky to have you, as are we all.

Love, Mama

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