Saturday, December 26, 2009

Aunt Jenn

I am the oldest of 4 girls. My sisters are 18 months, 5 years and 10 years younger than I, respectively. My sister Jennifer, who is 18 months younger, and I really grew up together. Because we were only one year apart in school, we were always involved in after school activities, had many of the same friends, etc. We had our share of sisterly fights, but we have always been very close (as I have with all of my sisters).

Jennifer is one of the smartest, most creative people I have ever met. She is also extremely thoughtful. When we were on the phone yesterday morning, she said, "Did you get Dashiell's present." We did not, so she told me what it was. I told her that I was so touched that she remembered Dashiell and thought to honor his birthday. After we hung up, she sent the email below. If this doesn't explain why I love her, I don't know what does.

From Jennifer's email:

I'm sorry that you didn't get a card informing you about Dashiell's gift. (We placed the donation at the end of Nov, so I assumed it would get there in time.)
Anyway, here is the description of the product from UNICEF:
It’s not every day you give a present that can help a malnourished child. It’s not every day you give a present that can help a malnourished child. This milk based powder for the treatment of malnutrition can be used in emergency feeding centres, refugee camps and hospitals. The formula includes added vegetable fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals and boosts the chances of a malnourished child getting better.
Technical information: F-100 therapeutic diet, 2 sachets of 456g. Milk based powder for treatment of severe malnutrition.

Allison, you said that you were glad we remembered Dashiell. Just so you know, you don't have to worry about us forgetting about him. He will always have a special place in our hearts, particularly on Christmas Day!

Aunt Jenn

Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy 2nd Birthday Dashiell

My precious boy, 2 years ago today was the worst, but also one of the best days of my life. I will forever be thankful for those few brief hours when I was able to hold you in my arms. So many people think that having your baby brother should make me "get over" losing you. I am so thankful for Kannon, but I will never get over losing you. I will never stop missing you and I will never stop wondering what would have been, but I promise to enjoy each precious day I have with your little brother. Without you, he would not be here. You gave me the gift of realizing how much I wanted to be a mommy to a living baby. In a way, I guess I'm lucky. I get to be a mommy to a living baby and an angel. So many people never experience either. I love you with all my heart, my little light. Happy birthday, my Christmas angel.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Mixed Emotions

Oh God, I have such a love-hate relationship with Christmas since that fateful day back in 2007. Two years ago today, just before boarding a flight to Orlando, I felt my precious Dashiell move for the last time. When we got to FL, I was feeling funny, just not quite right. Nevertheless, I had such a great day with my niece, Macy. She was so sweet. She got out one of her dad's cookbooks and read a "story" to my belly. She pulled up my shirt when she was done, kissed my belly, and said, "I love you, baby cousin." I was so excited.

The next morning, we opened presents, which essentially amounted to a mini-baby shower. We are currently using some of the gifts we received that day. About 1 hour after that, we headed to the hospital and my world changed forever.

Today, I am alternating between excitement to see Kannon tomorrow and depression of missing Dashiell, wondering how my life would be different. Of course, I realize that this is not productive, but as any angel mom would tell you, it is unavoidable.

At the moment, Kannon is napping. I am sitting on my couch typing and looking up at Dashiell's memory box and the urn that contains his ashes. I am so thankful for both of my babies. They have both brought me so much joy and the gift of a mother's deep love.

I know that tomorrow will be difficult, but I also know that there will be many moments of joy as I watch Kannon. I'm sure that my thoughts of Dashiell will be at the forefront of my mind, as well. There is never a good time to lose a child, but it is especially difficult to have such a joyous day juxtaposed with the worst day of my life.

Dashiell, my angel, I miss you more than I can say. I know you are with us and I believe that Kannon sees you sometimes. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas with your grandma. I know that I will hold you again someday, but I am comforted knowing that you are with her until then. I will never forget you. I will never stop loving you. I will never stop missing you. You will always be my first baby, my precious gift, my angel.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A dream come true

As I'm sure anyone could probably guess after reading my post about my mom, I have dreamed for many years about the day that I would bring my child to meet Santa. Today, that dream came true! This morning, Glenn and I took Kannon to Santaland at Macy's. One of the great things about living here is being a stone's throw away from iconic locations. Santaland is certainly one of those. He did so well, especially considering that he probably should have had a little more sleep before we went.

We got there around 8:20 (Santaland opens at 9) Around 8:45, a lady elf came out and led the crowd in Christmas carols. At 9, we began our journey through Santaland. Kannon was in awe of the trees, trains, animals and the elves. It was everything I had always imagined it would be. I've gone a little crazy here posting pics & video, but enjoy! He was great until they went to take his picture with Santa. I actually LOVE the pic of him screaming with Santa.
I'll also try to attach a video from Monday night, when the elves, Winklie & Pinklie came while Kannon was in the bathtub. They left him a book, a stocking and hung Christmas lights in the apartment. He was really only interested in the lights!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Playing in the snow

We had the first snowstorm that Kannon was old enough to appreciate last night. Today, he experienced snow for the first time. It was brief, as he doesn't have snow pants, but he loved it!

Where I am right now

Lately, I've been extremely emotional and missing my mom and Dashiell more than I can say. My mother was truly the ultimate mom - the gold standard by which all others should be measured.

At Christmas - well she WAS Christmas. When my sisters and I were little, every December 1, we would get a visit from Winklie and Pinklie. They were two of Santa's elves who would bring us an advent calendar. They couldn't spell at all and their notes always looked strangely similar to my mom's handwriting. They would look in on us periodically and always left us Christmas pjs on Christmas Eve.

On December 1, 1998, they came again and left us a fabric advent calendar to be reused year after year. Little did my mom know, but she had ordered the calendar before her diagnosis of stage 4 cancer. It was the last Christmas she was alive. Today, the calendar is hanging on my wall, with the note tucked inside.

When I think of how much my mom would have loved to be a grandma, my heart breaks. About a month before she died, after they decided to stop treatments, I went home and had the opportunity to say everything I wanted to. I remember crying and telling her how I was sad that she would not be here for my wedding and to see my children. She said, "Well, first of all, I will be there, you just won't be able to see me, but I'll always be with you. Second of all, I'll get to meet your children before you do." I have held onto that every day since she uttered those words.

The day after Dashiell died, I went to my uncle's house after being released from the hopsital in Orlando. My uncle is my only living relative from my mom's immediate family. He said, "Your mom got her first grandchild on Christmas Day." Now, when I think of how much I miss her and how much I miss Dashiell, I also think that he must be having the greatest Christmas of any of the grandkids, because he is with her. I am not particularly religious. My mother, on the other hand, was a devout Catholic. Some ideas from my Catholic uprbinging stay with me and I can't let go of them. One idea I have to hold onto is the thought that Dash and my mom are together in heaven. I still pray everyday that they stay close until I can be with both of them again. I picture her holding him and spoiling him rotten.

Two years ago today, Glenn and I went to St Luke's Roosevelt to take the hospital tour. I was so happy that day. Little did I know that my world would be turned upside down 5 days later.

I'm so thankful for my fellow angel moms. Most people in my life do not understand why I still grieve the loss of Dashiell. As much as I understand that they could never comprehend what losing a child is like, I can't help but get a little angry. Of course, I am so incredibly grateful to have Kannon and for all of the blessings in my life. That does not mean that I don't miss Dashiell. It does not mean that I don't think of him every day. It does not mean that I'll ever stop wondering what it would have been like if Dashiell had lived, or been born full term. It is possible to be thankful for your rainbow baby and grieve for your angel at the same time. If any of you angel moms are reading, thank you! Knowing that there are others that truly understand this idea is a great comfort to me and one more thing I am very thankful for.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Quick post - Kannon LOVES his book about the elves. Notice how he waves "bye bye" to Santa at the end. He started doing this completely on his own! It makes my heart melt!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

First Birthday Party

This will be really quick, as I am thoroughly exhausted. Who knew that a 1 year old's birthday party would be so stressful to execute! It was not all that I wanted it to be, due to circumstances beyond my control. My dad, Barb and Peter & Pat were supposed to come down from Syracuse to celebrate. Yes, my dad hates NYC so much, that he was driving the 5 hours down at 6am this morning and driving back at 2:01pm (the party ended at 2) this afternoon.

Well, at 7am, I got a call from my father saying that he was having dizzy spells, was nauseous and had a bad headache. Clearly, he should not have been driving. I'd much rather have him be safe and resting in Syracuse than risking his life (and Barb, Peter & Pat's) on the road. The worst part about this is that my dad has apparently been experiencing episodes like this for the past few months. Of course, although I know it is not the same, I can't help but think back to when my mom went in for a physical and the next call I got was that she had stage 4 colon cancer. She died 7 months and 12 days after I received that phone call. I realize that it is probably not anything like this. I still had this thought in the back of my head all day.

The set up was really hard, since we were 4 hands short. Taifa came around 11 and was a huge help, especially since she picked up the cake. The party was scheduled from 12-2, but of course, Kannon decided to extend his morning nap until 12:30! He made quite an entrance, though! He wore the outfit that Dashiell was supposed to wear on his first Christmas. I thought it was a nice was of "having Dashiell there" to celebrate with us.

Kannon had a blast. He still would not eat any cake. He did touch it, though, and proceeded to cry because he couldn't get the frosting off of his hands! All in all, he really enjoyed himself and I am so happy that so many of our dear friends were able to celebrate with us.

I will say that kids parties are expensive!!! Next year, I'm thinking no party, just a long trip to FL to see the cousins and go to Disney. Who would have thought that a trip to Disney would be less expensive!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

First Birthday!

I can't believe it, but my baby is 1 today! Notice the first picture above. Last year, Kannon was so small that he fit in the stocking. You can now see in the 2nd picture how big he is - the stocking is hanging in the background. In many ways, this year has flown by and in others, it seems as though it has been endless. Kannon awoke this morning to find presents in a new toy box that looks like a pirates' chest! Of course, he went straight for the books. I had to work, so we did rush through a bit, but he was very excited.

I'm not sure what he is going to think of December. Winklie and Pinklie, the Christmas elves that used to visit me and my sisters when we were little, came yesterday and left a book about who the elves are, some Santa slippers and Christmas pjs. Today, he received a bevy of birthday gifts and Saturday is his party!

When I got home tonight, I baked a delicious (or so all the adults thought) vanilla cake from scratch. Aunt Taifa came over and he got some more gifts, including his favorite, the playskool busy ball popper! When we presented him with his cake, he wouldn't touch it - literally, he would not lay a finger on it. In fact, he looked at it and gagged! I guess we shouldn't complain. I'm sure he'll have a sweet tooth soon enough.

I feel so incredibly blessed for all of the beautiful people and things I have in my life. The past two years, without question, have been the most difficult of my life. I've experienced the worst day of my life, when I lost Dashiell, but I've also experienced two of the best days of my life- the day Kannon was born and the day Dashiell was born. I know that is strange to say, but meeting Dash was simultaneously horrible because of his death, but happy because I had the opportunity to see and hold him.

Today was wonderful and I feel like the luckiest woman in the world!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

First Thanksgiving

It has been entirely too long since my last post. This has been a crazy year of extreme anxiety, anger, hope, despair and joy. My back surgery was a success, but I am still recovering, to a degree. My health insurance company decided that I did not need any more physical therapy and cut me off in July. I started back in April 2x/week. Ironically, I was almost done and getting ready to be discharged. There were several weeks of regression. Things are still up and down, but so much better.

Kannon has been the most incredible blessing I could ever ask for. It's hard to believe that one year ago today, we were trying to imagine bringing a living baby home from the hospital. Now we have a vibrant, charismatic little guy who filled my world with beauty and color after the darkest year of my life.

Kannon has been walking for about 3 weeks on his own. He currently has 6 teeth and several others coming in. We go to the doctor next week for his one year appointment, so we'll learn about his stats then, but he is big! About 3 months ago, he started climbing and he's super crafty about it! He will push toys or books over to the couch or bed, pile them up and climb right up. The other day, Glenn went into the bathroom for a minute, literally, to put his pants on. When he walkedd back in, Kannon was standing on top of the couch waving the remote in the air! He claps, waves "bye bye", loves "the little einsteins" (the only show he's allowed to sparingly watch) and will even pat with them when rocket takes off. He's also constantly babbling - definitely Judy Mayne's grandchild! It sounds like his own language, but I think he really does say "hi". He also says "dada" and was saying "mama" 4 months ago, but has kind of stopped!

I try to teach him sign language, but he thinks it's hillarious. He laughs and has quite a sense of humor. He generally goes to sleep around 7:30pm, wakes for a bottle around 5-5:30 and will go back down until 7-7:30. Next week, we begin the weaning from the bottle - joy! Between that and teething, I think we're in for no sleep.

I finally got not one, but two job offers back in September. One from Columbia University Business School as business manager of the external relations office and one from the Hospital for Special Surgery as Assistant Director of Ambassador Services. The hospital job paid A LOT more than Columbia, but I loved the people at Columbia, as well as the short commute and relaxed, family friendly atmosphere. It was not an easy choice. I would have been working with the VIP patients at the hospital and I was truly interested in the ability I would have had to impact patients' recovery and overall experience, but having worked with that echelon of people before, I know that your schedule is dictated by their schedule. Also, the commute was 1 hour each way. That, combined with working longer hours was not worth the extra money to me. I fought so hard to get Kannon here safely. What sense would it make for me to miss his life?

I started at Columbia in October and hired a sitter for Kannon. He loves her and the transition was much harder for me than it was for her. The job is wonderful. I'm learning things I never thought I would even be interested in. The best benefit of all is that I have the opportunity to go back to school (an Ivy league school, no less) for free to get a Masters degree. In what, I do not yet know, but I am sure I will take advantage of the opportunity.

Nothing makes me happier than coming home to my little guy an seeing that smile. I feel like I'm back in the land of the living again. It is so nice to have regular daily conversations with adults! Don't get me wrong, if we could swing it financially, I would stay home with him in a heartbeat, but if I have to work, I'm definitely in the right place.

So, Kannon will turn 1 on Wednesday. We were planning to take him to the Bronx Zoo that night to see the holiday lights, but it turns out that they aren't doing the holiday lights this year! They are lighting the tree at Rockefeller Center that night, but I do NOT want to navigate that crowd, especially with H1N1 around. I'm thinking that we'll just celebrate at home and watch the tree lighting on TV. The big party is on Saturday! I can't believe my guy is one!

So this Thanksgiving, although I have already cried my tears for Dashiell, I am so thankful for my beautiful family, my job, Lucy, my friends, this apartment and for my optimism. Without that, I would not have made it through this year.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Kannon in the ER & Back Surgery

As if things were not difficult enough already, my back has gone from bad to worse. On Feb 2, I had an interview at American Express to possibly move into a new position. My back had been getting better, with the help of regular acupuncture treatments. Unfortunately, since insurance does not cover treatments and I am out of a job, I had to stop going. As I was getting ready for my interview, my back really started to hurt again. By the time Glenn got home, I realized that I would have to use my walker to get to & from the interview. Great! That's exactly the way I want to walk into an interview (no pun intended).

I made my way down to the Amex building, did my interview in excruciating pain and came home. Thank goodness, Taifa came over that evening. Glenn left for his show and suddenly, Kannon started to have quite a bit of difficulty breathing and his lips were turning blue. My sister Kelly called and heard him over the phone. She said, "that is not normal. Call his pediatrician now." I called and she told us to get to the ER.

Thank God Taifa was with me, because I would not have been able to bring him myself. By this point, I could not walk standing up. I had to lean all the way over my walker. Long story short, Kannon was released with the diagnosis of an upper respiratory infection. I was so scared it would be RSV and was incredibly relieved.

The next morning, the pediatrician called and wanted me to bring him in. I realized that walking was even more difficult than before and that it was dangerous for me to be alone with Kannon. I could not even pick him up. Paul came to the rescue this time. What would we do without Tai & Paul? He took us to the ped. As I "walked" into the office I was in so much pain that I could not hold back the tears. They offered me a wheelchair, but sitting is even worse.

Since then, I have had a consult with a neurosurgeon on 2/10. They can't believe how severe my case is. They actually wanted to admit me on the spot. However, they will not be an approved provider until 2/16. The office called and tried to have Aetna make an exception, but to no avail. Thanks a lot, insurance (come on Obama, let's get that health care reform done!) By the time I got home, I could not stand up. I had to crawl on the sidewalk to get back into my building and Glenn had to wheel me up to the apartment on a luggage cart. Side note: I don't think anyone even took a second look at a sobbing woman crawling on the sidewalk - gotta love NYC.

I had to return to the hospital the next day for a consult with another surgeon, since the one I met with before would be out of town next week. After that, I had to have preoperative testing. They had to get me a stretcher because I could not move by this point. I can't believe that I have to wait until next week to have the damned surgery.

I have been in more physical pain than I would ever wish anyone in a lifetime. Fortunately, Dr. O, my surgeon at Columbia Presbyterian, managed to move the surgery up from 2/19 to 2/17. I would have 30 more babies without pain meds before I would go through this pain again. The surgery is not supposed to be a big deal, but the Dr thinks my recovery will be much longer than normal, due to the incredible amount of inflammation in my back. Also, I am not allowed to pick Kannon up for 6 weeks after the surgery.

I hate to even say this, but what next? First we lose a child, we go through a very stressful pregnancy, finally get our earth baby, I lose my job and then need back surgery & can't even hold my baby? SERIOUSLY????

Thank God my father in law is here. It's a tight squeeze, but he has been a godsend. I am so thankful for him. I'm not sure what we will do about 24 hour care post surgery, but right now, my father in law is our angel. I'm sure that my friends will continue to help, but I can't expect them to be here 24/7. I wish something could be easy or go well this year.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The dark side of the rainbow

I have debated for a few weeks about writing this post. I do not want this to be misconstrued. Let me preface this by saying that I feel incredibly blessed to have a healthy baby boy in my arms. I know that so many people struggle to have children and that we were extremely lucky to conceive our rainbow baby so quickly.

That said, the past few weeks have been extremely difficult. Kannon is not an easy baby. In fact, he is an incredibly difficult baby. Even his pediatrician says so. When he is not sleeping in my arms or feeding, he is screaming. He has colic. Living in a studio apartment with no escape would be bad enough, but on top of that, having major back problems, to the point of not really being able to walk well only compounds my frustration.

As the mother of an angel, I spent so much time envisioning peaceful times with my newborn. I thought life would be idyllic. Little did I know the hell that sleep deprivation causes. I now understand why that is a method of torture. When Kannon is screaming and I'm feeling as if this child hates me, I can't help but to imagine what life would have been like with Dashiell. I logically realize that this is incredibly unfair, but I can't help it. Dashiell will always be the perfect child. Of course, this is unfair to Kannon, not to mention that Dashiell could very well have been a tough baby, too. Missing Dashiell so much makes me feel guilty, which just compounds all of these feelings even more. Perhaps if Kannon was a girl, I may feel differently, but I doubt it.

I know this too shall pass, but I had to write this, should another angel mom be reading this and feeling the same kind of guilt I am.

On top of all of this, I just learned that I will be laid off from my job. Great timing! I pray that the darkness of this winter lifts soon. I pray that I will grow out of this feeling that Dashiell should be here and that I can bond more with Kannon. I love both of them more than I can express in words, but I just can't help wondering what life would be like had Dashiell lived and been born in April.