Monday, January 29, 2018

My Two Days

It's hard to believe that it's been NINE YEARS since God called our Ty-boy Home. 

Nine. Years.

I try push the thoughts and the pain away for 363 days each year.  Sure, they make their way out of hiding at times...sometimes at holidays or when I see little boys Ty's age.  Christmas and the start of school are probably the toughest of those days.  Otherwise, though, I keep them locked away.

Until his two days come back around... the day he left and the day we said good-bye.

The day he left was not an ordinary day.  I spent the morning interviewing candidates for my long-term substitute position.  The position that would cover my maternity leave.  We finished the interviews feeling awesome about one candidate.  She was the one.

At lunch I commented that Baby was being quiet, but I was probably just distracted. 

The afternoon was a blur - it always was when teaching kindergarten.  On the way to pick Tegan up from daycare I made a mental note to lay down when I got home.  Baby was still being lazy and that usually woke him up. 

Brendan and I got home around the same time.  As he left to go for a bike ride (yes, on a frigid January evening) I mentioned that I was going to go lay down because Baby had such a quiet day.  He said to call him if I needed anything.

Five minutes of quiet time, no movement.
15 minutes of quiet time, no movement.
30 minutes of quiet time, no movement...

I called my midwife.  I was sure I was overreacting but it was best to call.  Better to be on the safe side of things.  She told me to eat a snack, because they wouldn't let me eat there, and then head to labor and delivery for some simple monitoring.  I chose to eat a bowl of clam chowder.

I walked Tegan over to the neighbor's house, said thanks and then drove myself to the hospital.  I called my mother-in-law as I passed the Walmart and left a voicemail. "Hi Devin.  I'm sure it's nothing, but the baby has been quiet today and my midwife wants me to come in for monitoring.  I'll keep you updated.  Please say a prayer."  Called my parents as I exited into the highway.  Same message.  Called Brendan and left a voicemail; there was no need to make him stop his bike ride.  I was sure it was nothing and Baby was just being quiet.

I parked on the hospital side of the parking lot.  I rarely parked over there.  Second row, facing west, just a few spots from the end.

Upstairs, I was lead to room 305.  A nurse tried to hook me up to a fetal heart monitor - one of those ones that straps onto your belly... but she couldn't find the heartbeat.  I thought nothing of it.

The nurse brought in a 2nd monitor, maybe that was the problem.  Still, no heartbeat could be found.  I thought nothing of it.  My baby was just being stubborn and that's what she said, too. 

The nurse tried to wiggle him around and get him to move... but nothing.

So, they had me watch some TV while they got an ultrasound machine.  House Hunters was on.  The couple was looking for a house in Wisconsin - Oconomowoc.  We have a good friend from there.  Small world!

The ultrasound machine my midwife found was old and hooked up to a black and white tube monitor.  She "was having a hard time reading the image" so she was going to get radiology to bring up one of the new ones.  She suggested that I call Brendan.


Three calls later, Brendan answered.  He was going to turn around and head to the hospital.  I can't remember if he drove to the trail-head or if he biked there from our house.  Either way,  he was about 2 hours away... I think.

Brendan knew what had happened at this point.  I REMAINED CLUELESS!!! 

Not once while I sat there watching episode after episode of House Hunters did Ty move and not once did it concern me.  I was in the hospital, after all, and if something was wrong they would be rushing me off for an emergency c-section or monitoring me more closely, right?!

Shortly after Brendan arrived, so did the big fancy ultrasound machine and tech.  The nurse turned off of the lights.  The tech was chatting away, just like she had at my 28 week ultrasound... and then she fell silent. 

That's when it hit me that something really could be wrong.  As she left, I said, "dare I ask?"

I don't remember her response exactly, but it was something about how my midwife would explain things.

Brendan squeezed my hand.

In came my midwife... arms crossed... defeated expression on her face... just shaking her head no.

I screamed.  I cried.  I screamed again.  I lost my breath.





I don't really remember the order of events after that.  I wanted a c-section.  Tegan's delivery was awful.  Hours and hours of pushing.  I couldn't do that again knowing that there would be no screaming, pink baby to reward my efforts... but I wanted my baby out of me. 

I was so overwhelmed with so many emotions. 

My midwife convinced me to go through a standard labor and delivery.  They would give me an epidural before breaking my water.  I'd feel no pain. 

I hate that I felt no pain.  At least I could have focused on that.  I feel cheated somehow that I felt no pain.  I was so numb emotionally after a while that I wonder if I would have even noticed the physical pain of labor.  I'm sure I would have... but who knows.

Brendan quietly left the room to make phone calls to family.  My first call was to my principal.  He had just gotten off the phone with the candidate that we loved.  She would be my sub... for my medical leave - no longer a maternity leave.

Much of the remainder of my time in room 305 was clouded in near silence.  When the anesthesiologist arrived he tried to joke around a bit.  He must not have known about my situation.

A lab tech came in to collect blood for testing.  16 tubes... at least that's what it felt like.  She tried to joke about how much I was "donating".  She must not have been informed of my situation.

The night was dark.  Brendan slept the whole night.  I don't remember sleeping at all. 

I have remarkable blood pressure - always have.  Actually, it's often on the low end of normal.  Got that from my mom.  There were a few times where my blood pressure monitor sounded the alarms... it was low.  Really low.  I felt myself drifting away.  Floating while feeling like lead at the same time.  I almost thought that maybe I would just sink down and disappear into my sheets.  Then, they would come in and give me something to bring my BP back up and I would return to reality.  I hated that.  Reality sucked.

I had to be turned periodically through the night because over time the epidural would only numb one side of my body.  It would feel so cold. 

Camden or Ty?  We had not yet decided on a name.  And suddenly, it was crystal clear to me - his name was Ty.  That one thing I knew for sure.

I just wanted my nightmare to be over.  But did I?

By the time morning came I felt like I had aged 10 years.  Then... he was ready, he was there.  The moment I was waiting for had arrived and now I wanted nothing to do with it.  Delivering would mean that I was no longer pregnant.  That I would be one step closer to leaving the hospital with nothing.

The blinds and curtains had been opened in my room.  A calm light shown into my room.  The lights had been turned off.  Everyone was silent.  "Ok, Jenn.  It's time."  Within a few minutes I felt my baby boy be birthed from my body and my pregnancy was officially over.

The room remained silent.  The tears we were all shedding remained silent. 

The tiny, lifeless body of my son was gently blanketed and placed into my arms.  He was utterly perfect.  His lips, slightly parted.  His skin still pink.  The most precious little baby nose I had ever seen.  10 little fingers.  10 little toes.  A decent amount of hair.  Skinny as could be.  4 pounds 3 ounces. 18.5 inches long.  He looked so much like his big brother.

His jaw was slack - I had to hold it closed or else it would gently fall open.  I kept losing my breathing thinking that it was him trying to live.  Trying to breathe.  About to cry.  But no.  I prayed so hard that God would breathe life back into my sweet child... but that was not to happen on this side of heaven.

After a while, the photographer arrived.  I was so confused about why anyone would want photographs with their dead baby.  Oh how I am so grateful for the pictures we have. 

Next, our family arrived.  My in-laws first.  Their arrival was captured by the photographer.  Raw, painful, anguished, defeated...

Ty was passed around.  I was so worried that he would get cold.  I was constantly trying to keep him covered up.  It mattered to me.  Maybe the warmer we kept him, the longer his color would last? 

I didn't even want to think about the inevitable.

Tegan arrived with my sister and parents.  23 months old... just 2 weeks shy of his 2nd birthday.  He was very confused but he knew he should be quiet.  We tried to get him to sit with me and Ty, but he was scared of me as I was still hooked up to an iv and monitors.

To this day, Tegan will still, on rare occasions, get upset with himself that he didn't hold Ty.  Oh my heart!!!

We had 5 hours with our little guy... or at least the body that God had designed for his short life.  We know that when his heart stopped beating, his soul joined his Savior in heaven.

I don't remember being disconnected from the iv or the monitors.  I don't remember changing.

I will never forget saying good-bye.

It was shift change for the nurses... it was the right time.  No need to bring our pain onto another round of people. 

I don't know how I did it... but I gently placed my heart into that bassinet and followed him down the hallway as he was rolled away - sheet drawn over his face.  The sounds of newborn cries echoed from other rooms.

My heart was empty.

My womb ached.  It wasn't ready to be empty.  It was supposed to be still nurturing and growing my sweet boy for another 6 weeks.  This wasn't right!

I was required make the trek downstairs and to the exit in a wheelchair.  Maybe to keep me from running away... but I'm sure not.

And that was that.  The hospital was behind me and the real world was in front of me.

Part of me died on that cold Monday, January 26, 2009.  On the 27th, even more of me ceased to exist.

Time does not heal.  Don't listen to people when they tell you that.  You just get better at locking the pain away.  At first it's for a few minutes.  Then a few hours... before you know it a week has passed.  The world has returned to its normal.  But there you sit. 

Here I am.  Nine years later. 

I can now keep my pain and heartache at bay for the better part of 363 days out of the year. 

But those two days that part of me died.  Those two days that I remember saying hello and good-bye in the same breath.  Those are mine to mourn. To weep.  To scream.  To pound my fists into the ground.  To fall to my knees and lose myself in pain and anger and heartache.  Those are MINE!

And if you see me on one of those days, just nod and give me a hug.  No words are needed.  I know you don't know what to say, and that's good!  It means that you don't know my pain.  I wouldn't wish it upon anyone. 

But don't feel sorry for me either.  I don't want that.  I just need that proverbial shoulder to cry on. 

God works in some pretty amazing ways.  This year, when I needed support the most, my phone literally rang.  When I felt alone, I found arms around my neck and a hand on my shoulder. He covered me. ~j

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Pitfalls of a Non-Corn Dog-Mac'n'Cheese-Pizza-PB Sandwich Dinner

8:45pm (15 min after lights out)
C: Mooooo-my, I'm hungry.
Me: Well, when you only eat half of dinner you get hungry.
C: Well, I'm hungry.
Me: Yes, sweetie, I understand that but it's bedtime. You can have some water and then you need to get in your bed, please.
C: But I need REAL food. Water isn't REAL food! Aren't you going to take care of your child???
Me: I did give you real food at dinner and you chose not to eat it. We warned you that you'd be hungry at bedtime and there'd be no snacks except what was left from dinner. You chose not to eat that. Now, please get into your bed.
C: NO, I'm still hungry!
Me: ONE...
C: OKAY --> proceeds to slam door and cry right inside of door while playing with the door stop.
{10 minutes of crying}
C: I'm still hungry
***repeat above conversation***
C: {crying} Please stop breaking my heart... 
C: It's broken now... the only way to fix it is you giving me real food... 
C: {while crying} Now it's REALLY broken. I don't know if it can be fixed now...
C: MOOOMMM!  Why are you being silent?  SPEAK TO ME!  Now my tummy is angry with me.  It just needs REAL food.
Me: Tell your tummy that I say NO and that it should have accepted the food that I offered it at dinner.  1/2 of a banana, a cutie orange and 1/2 of a dinner roll aren't enough and it knows that from previous experience.
C: {through tears} You're going to make my tummy SO angry!  It's going to yell at me.
Me: FINE!  Come down and pick out something. UGH!
C: {all cheery, in a sing-song voice} Okay!  What do we have?
Me: The same things we had an hour ago when you watched your brother pick out a bedtime snack.
C: I knoooow, but which of them isn't sugary so that I don't have to brush my teeth again?
Me: Just.  Pick.  A.  Snack!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Time is My Enemy

Yeah... the title is a bit negative... but it's so darn true.  The older I get the faster time goes and with that the faster my children grow and get older (profound, I know, right?!).  But time is really ripping my heart apart a lot lately and I'm doing so much to try to push that pain away.  How are my kids so big?!

Oh Casey!

 I cannot believe that my little girl is THREE AND A HALF years old.  WHAT?!  How did that happen?  I swear I was just rocking in the glider, nursing my itty, bitty 37 week gestation sub 6 pound baby.  

I hardly even remember her learning how to crawl and walk!  AHHHH!!!!!  AND, we are all of 3 years, 8 months and 29 days old and she has the temper and mannerisms of a 13 year old girl.  If I didn't know better I'd think the girl was already PMSing.  Hahaha - maybe we'll get this out of the way now so that when she is 13 she'll be sweet and charming.  

She LOVES baking with Mommy, playing in the sandbox with big brother Tegan (her favorite big brother because Ty doesn't play with her - her reasoning, not mine), singing like Ariel and Rapumzel, growing her hair "so, so long" and being in her underwear.  

She wakes up most mornings with a dry pull-up because she's "such a big girl" but insists on still wearing them because "I'm still kind of little, Mommy, and I don't want to accidentally pee in my underwear even just a little by accident when I'm sleeping."  

But I could watch her sleep all night... her little bum in the air with her knees curled under her and face on the bed (or floor).  Yes, she still often sleeps in the same positions that she did as a newborn

Tegan - oh, Tegan... When he was born he stole my heart all over again.

He's signed up for flag football but only so-so interested.  He love science and engineering and robots and all things like that.

Even was in a science camp this summer and built a solution to Singapore's overpopulation problem.

He's a month into 1st grade and I am struggling as a teacher/mom that he does not really enjoy reading TO me.

He loves writing and using inventive spelling and is SO very good at it, but when it comes to reading, he still has minimal interest.  Don't get me wrong, when he puts forth the effort he can read quite well, but still doesn't have much of an interest.  Math is another one of his favorite things.  Up until school started he loved for us to write up a page of one and two-digit addition and subtraction problems.  Now that there's almost nightly math homework, the requests for those has pretty much stopped.

Lastly there's Ty - he'd be in preschool this year, likely with the same teacher that Tegan had (Teacher Mary Olson) and loving it because she is the most amazing preschool teacher.  He would likely be loving trains and matchbox cars and nerf guns and, of course, all of the toys that Tegan loves because that's how little brothers are - they love whatever their big brother loves.  He is on my mind daily... almost never NOT on my mind.  Is that bad?  Does that mean that I'm not moving on?  Does that make me depressed?  I want it all.  I want him back but I want Casey still here, too... which wouldn't be so had he lived.

School is tough this year.  My morning class, especially, has a handful of kids that really test me from the minute they arrive to the minute I get them on the bus.  It scares me that each year there are more and more kids coming into kindergarten that have never been held accountable for anything, never had consequences, never heard the word "no" or never had parents follow through after saying "no".  Some of these kids think that they are in charge and have no respect for their teachers, parents, peers, etc. and it breaks my heart because I don't want to believe that their parents let them become like this on purpose.  No parent thinks, "Hey, I want my child to grow up being disrespectful and dishonest and irresponsible."  So what do I do?  I hold them in my heart, all of them, all of my kids, all of my students, honest and sweet and respectful and caring and loving and hard working and the opposite and those in the middle.  I pray for them at night, hug and/or high five them when they arrive, smile and remind them all that it's up to them to make it a great day.  It's their choice - and it might not be hard and they might not love all of the day and might even really not like an activity here or there but if they stick with it I DO try to make it all fun and exc
iting and engaging in the end.  I email and call parents with the good and the bad, I write weekly newsletters sharing the good and reminders of how to make the tough less frequent.  I'm firm and strict and hold high expectations and am disappointed when my students don't live up to them because I know that they CAN and I tell them that.

Thanks for listening and supporting and understanding and loving me through it all...

Wednesday, September 05, 2012


My first baby is now a kindergartner!  Yes, Tegan started K today.  Unfortunately, since I'm a teacher I wasn't able to be there to get him on the bus and get all the cute pictures.  Here's the one that I was sent via text that nearly broke me... my baby is in grade school!!!

Tegan assures me that he had a great time except for the fact that LEGOs weren't a choice today at Choice Time.  I assured him that with patience he'll get to play with them and reminded him that we have 100's if not 1,000's at home.  So, what did the kid want to do after arriving at home?  LEGOs?  Nope, watch a cartoon.  HA!  The kid is exhausted - which I totally expected.  He was also excited to learn that a friend from his preschool (in Shakopee) is in his class.  There's also a friend from his soccer team in his class, too.  I'm so thankful for these 2 familiar faces for him.  I was definitely worried that he wouldn't know anyone and get scared and/or upset.  Praise God for these little surprises!

I know this is super short, but with the school year still young for me I, too, am tired after my long day.  Take care and God bless!!!

Saturday, May 05, 2012


Preface: at a minimum, the following is a way for me to get some (OK, a lot) off my chest.  If you get something out of it, that's a bonus. :)  It's long... but all important.  However, the last paragraph and link kind of sum it all up (kind of...)

As you all know, we lost our son Ty 3 years, 3 months and 9 days ago today.  I grieved, I still do, and did my best to pick up and continue with life as best as I could.  3 months after Ty's death I became pregnant with our sweet little spitfire, Casey.  My focus then shifted to having a "successful" pregnancy, as I call it.  Thankfully, the Lord answered that prayer and we were given our Wawa on New Year's Eve... 2009 began with heartache and ended with immense joy, celebration and renewal.

Looking back I believe the first year or so of Casey's life was a bit of a blur for me.  I was allowed myself to focus on her, and T, too, of course, but there's definitely something about being given the responsibility of taking care of a new life that overtakes you.  That child is so helpless that there is not really time to think about anything else and for me that allowed me to push my pain and grief aside - not completely but significantly.  I couldn't grieve intensely and give Casey and Tegan what they needed at the same time.  I view this as a blessing.

Once Casey became more independent, and especially after she stopped nursing, I found that there was more and more time to allow myself to more intensely focus on the loss of Ty.  A year passed and I had learned to balance and manage my contrasting emotions in way that worked for me.  I wasn't in a constant sate of grief and pain, but Ty was always on my mind... resting on my shoulder, but in a way that I could appreciate and embrace the new woman I had become after enduring the pain and heartache of being reminded that I am only in control of my choices but not the world around me.

Little did I know that my world was going to be rocked to the core yet again.

Ty's loss was obviously one that was completely unexpected.  The thought of losing a baby after every test and scan showed "perfection" had never crossed my mind.  One day my sweet baby was moving and the next he was gone.  Then last fall, just as I was living and enjoying my new normal, the world changed again.  My nephew was diagnosed with cancer and scheduled to begin chemo the next day... within 24 hours it became known that the cancer had spread too far to treat - Andrew's condition was terminal unless God performed a miracle.

Andrew was born 2 days after Ty was received by our Lord and Savior.  He was the child that I looked to and smiled through tears at imagining how he and Ty would have played together.  Now he was set to have that opportunity - to not only play with his cousin but live in the light of his Lord.  Stated in that way it sounds so exciting and positive, and it is... but not without causing those of us that remain behind, here on Earth, grieving that we could not go with him or keep him here with us.  After 7 short weeks Andrew met his Savior face to face and lives every day in His glory, playing with Ty and feeling no more pain.

The pain has remained with me, though.  I am not grieving Andrew's earthly death more than I did/do Ty's, but it's taken me back a long way in where I was in my grief over Ty's death.  I've prayed and searched my soul for ways that I can enjoy quiet time, alone time... but that's the one thing I struggle with.  As the end of the school year approaches I am also reminded of how quickly time passes and how much I still want to do with my students.  You may not understand the connection there, but it's very clear to me.  The end of a school year is by no means a "loss" but it is the end of a chapter... a time that I have a huge amount of responsibility over 20+ little lives... I know that the time with them as "mine" is coming to an end and my life will change when those little souls and eager minds are not with me 5 days a week.  We become a community, a family in some ways, and then the year is done and the family is dispersed.

I feel like I've been rambling a bit... so to bring it back to focus, I have been praying that God would show me where my family and I should be attending church.  We've never really felt "at home" in any church we've visited, and now that the Tegan and Casey are getting older I really want them to begin developing a broader and deeper understanding of God and the Bible and why Brendan and I believe in it and God and Jesus... why it is all so important to us and the foundation of our lives and family.  Last week we went to Grace Church in Eden Prairie.  At 25 minute drive from our new home but known to be amazing.  B and I attended there off and on the first few years of marriage and then began to attend churches closer to our homes.  We've really struggled with regularly attending any church since Tegan was born as he's always fought going to the nursery and Sunday School.  Last week a prayer was answered when we went to Grace and both kids went to Sunday School with little to no hesitation and LOVED it by the end.  For Brendan and I, the service was lead by a guest pastor.  The message was engaging and interesting but all week we've been told by others that we've got to go back and experience Pastor Troy.

Tonight, in my time alone, my soul began to ache.  The same thing happened last night.  I ached to hold Ty in my arms, to see the sparkling eyes and toothy grin of Andrew, and even felt pain and fear after a brief scare with Tegan this week (he has an inguinal hernia that began to be painful which can indicate a serious problem). phone rang.  An elderly gentleman from Grace was calling to thank us for attending/visiting last week and invite us back - that we simply need to experience Pastor Troy and the gift he has for teaching the Word.  He was so easy to talk to and so very genuine.  I decided to go to the Grace website and look through archived sermons... I came to the following and it was exactly what I needed.  It's about 28 minutes, but you finish with a lifted heart and joyful soul.  Jesus is ALWAYS with us.
What to Do When Your World Crashes! | Grace Church


Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Has it really been since Casey's birthday that I last posted? Really?! Wow - let's just say time is flying... it's been a crazy few months!

Tegan is now 5, winter has come and gone (we think...),... I'm drawing a blank (sure doesn't sound like we've been busy, but I promise, we have).

I'm brain dead these days, or maybe it's just easily distracted. Maybe I've developed Adult ADHD. You never know...
Here's a few pics to tide you over for a while. Spring Break is just a little over a week away!!!!!

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy Birthday Wawa!

I cannot believe it's been 2 years since we welcomed Miss Casey into our arms. What a joyous evening that was.

Here we are 2 years later and we now have a big little girl full of spunk and opinion running circles around us wearing one of her tutus (aka "pretties") and sunglasses while we change her "babies" clothes for her. She is truly a ray of sunshine in our days. Yesterday she decided on her own that it's time to start potty training. Maybe not for every time she goes, but in the past 24 hours she's peed on the potty 4+ times! Today I bought her some pull-ups (I call them "big girl diapers" to help encourage C) and even a pack of Minnie Mouse undies. She has no interest (thus far) in the pull-ups and her Bitty Baby is using a pair of the undies as a blanket. Hm......

Happy Birthday, my sweet baby girl! I will love you always and forever!