Friday, October 18, 2013

To Mess..Or Not to Mess

Cecilia is an explorer. She loves to get into anything that is not a toy or meant for a baby. Electrical cords, dishes, remotes, boxes, laundry...all of her favorites. She loves to feel them, toss them around, clank them together, sit in get the picture. Usually she makes a big mess in the process of the clanking and tossing which for about a minute bothered me.

You see, I used to have this image of what our living space should look like and for some odd reason it always involves perfectly folded clothing, toys in cute baskets and not a mess in sight. Why I thought this way, no one could ever know. And, I don't know why it bothered me that a 10 month old baby makes a mess. Seriously, I think I lost my mind for a brief minute.

In reality I have found that I very much enjoy when Ceci makes messes and clanks things together and throws the laundry and diapers every where. I enjoy this small part of her life because it shows that she is learning, that she is interested and that she wants to discover the world.

 As a parent of a small child who is rapidly becoming not so baby like, I think often of how we will parent Ceci. Joe and I have a unique experience in that we have been extensively trained and worked with behavior modification. Granted this was primarily with teenage boys, but some of the principles apply to children of any age. We have always joked about using our training on our own children, but in the back of my head I know that we will use parts of it because it works. Now with that said, will I use my knowledge to train Cecilia to not throw the diapers around the room or to not climb into boxes...NO. Will I use our training to help her understand why she can't hit momma or play in the street..YES. You see the difference for me is that I think the throwing of diapers and making messes and playing with calculators is SO important for her development. She is learning cause and effect, likes and dislikes, and fine motor skills. Is her behavior is a baby. Now if she was 12 and exhibiting the same behavior we may have a problem on our hands. But for now I will gladly watch her create small messes.

This is not all to say that our baby can run wild until she is 12. We have started working on time outs, and rationales about behavior that she should not exhibit, and how to be kind. We want Ceci to learn and grow and have a good understanding that she does not run this house (although I am sure she probably does right now), but that we parent her because we love her. Will she learn that when she makes a mess, she has to clean it up..yes..and let me tell you probably sooner rather than later. And will she learn that when she hits people she wills it in time out, and when she sits in a box and rocks too far she might fall..yes and yes!

Babies are so marvelous because of how fast they learn and how interested they are in everything. I would be doing my child a disservice if I stopped her from doing these things. As long as she is safe, I want her to explore, learn and find things she loves. Her imagination can run wild!

Love, Sam

Friday, October 4, 2013

My Baby Francis

The first thing I need to say is I am writing this for myself, but I am also writing this because I think it is extremely important that people know it is okay to talk about a loss, especially a loss through miscarriage. I know it will make some people uncomfortable, but you do not have to read this. But I HAVE to write everything down...for me and my family.
So here it all goes.

I have two children, my beautiful Cecilia and my equally beautiful baby Francis who is in heaven. Our family was expected to grow in early March of 2014. At first I was so nervous about our expected new addition because I knew that Ceci and the new baby would be so close together-15 months apart. But, as with all things, I knew that it would all be okay, yes it would have been hard at times but it would not be impossible.

As the weeks went on I was getting so excited to meet our new baby. Yes I had to struggle through weeks and weeks of morning sickness, yes I was still nursing Ceci on top of growing a baby and having morning sickness and yes we were contemplating a big move back to Nebraska. There were so many changes taking place all within a few short weeks but one of the biggest changes was I was growing a baby that would be a big part of our little family. I was so excited, so very excited to meet this new baby. I couldn't wait to find out if they were a girl or boy, I kept imagining their little face and tiny hands and perfect little nose. I was so excited because I knew what it was like to already have gone though all of those feelings and emotions surrounding a new child. And then God had a bigger plan for our lives, one that I still not sure I understand-maybe I never will.

We took a weekend trip to Maryland to visit family and friends before our move back to Nebraska. The weekend went so well and on Monday morning September 9th, we were planning on seeing Joe's Grandma. I had woken up in the middle of the night and ended up calling the doctor because I was showing some signs that were concerning about my pregnancy. The doctor said to keep monitoring the signs and if anything got worse to call back. I was able to go back to sleep and woke up feeling a little better. I managed to get dressed and then as we were leaving I knew something was just not right. I couldn't quite put my finger on it. We had to make a stop at Walgreens to get a birthday card so I went in while Joe went to fill the car up with gas. This is the part where my life changed.

I lost our baby in the bathroom at Walgreen's in Maryland while Joe was filling up the car. Wow, still every time I say it or think it or write it there is still a part of me that can't believe that our baby is gone, and in such a traumatic way. (And let me just put a warning in, I have to say what happened and it will be uncomfortable. So please stop reading if you do not want to be uncomfortable.) But first I guess I need to say something about the phrase I lost our baby... I did not do anything intentionally for our baby to miscarry. I really don't like any of those words...miscarry or I lost.... because they imply that it was MY fault when it was not my fault, it was no one's fault. My body did not function how it should have so really the  I lost should just be read as our baby passed away...and let me say this too...God DID NOT kill my baby. Yes he would have known of this cross that we now carry for our whole lives but God did not kill my baby. Did he will for this to happen....I think not.,...but I need to do a little more understanding of this idea myself before I can even find enough words to write about that.

I was 15 weeks pregnant when baby Francis died. There are two things about this that I need to say. 15 weeks makes this loss a second trimester loss which is unusual after I had a completely healthy pregnancy with Cecilia-more on this later. Second this loss was a complete miscarriage meaning I actually delivered my baby. Baby Francis was about 4 inches long and had 10 fingers and 10 toes and looked perfect. I think that he was a he..although we really couldn't tell...hence the works for both girls and boys.

Joe made it to Walgreens, and wisely called an ambulance to take me to the hospital. I was so frantic, I know I just kept tell Joe that I was sorry, I was crying so hard and so was he. One of the Walgreen's employees took Ceci from Joe and held her while the ambulance came. It all seems so surreal now. I play this over and over in my head and none of it really makes any sense except the feeling that we suffered a huge loss.  The paramedics arrived and I was loaded into the ambulance. Joe was going to follow in our car because we still had Cecilia with us. As I was being put into the ambulance all I could say was please make sure that the baby comes with us, I could not just let people I didn't know treat my CHILD like they were trash. I didn't know what to do but I knew that we had to have the baby's body with us-they had to be treated with respect and dignity. Anyway, in the ambulance I started to feel light headed and I was going to pass out. I had no idea what was happening and I truly thought I was going to die. I could see Joe's face as he drove behind us and my only prayer was please don't let me die. I don't want to leave him alone...he just lost his child, please let me live.  The ambulance had to pull over because it was just the driver and the one paramedic in the truck. When they pulled over Joe had no idea what was going on and all he could see was them lowering the stretcher and that was it. He told me after that he did see them lock the truck case he tried to come in. How horrible for him to not know what was going on and to be helpless. He showed me that day just how truly strong he is and what it means to be a husband and father in the face of an emergency. I will  never forget the look in his eyes or the torment on his face. Never.

After the blacking out episode we arrived at the hospital and I was taken to the emergency room. There the nurses came in and did whatever they did and one nurse said to me "maybe this is for the best, you just never know" SERIOUSLY...that is what she said, maybe this is for the best. At the time I was not able to even process those words but about an hour later I was totally enraged. "For the best," Lady I just lost my child, how could this be for the best? All I wanted to do was scream at her. But I didn't...which is probably good. I really was very well taken care of in the emergency room and all of the staff were very compassionate and caring. I think that it made a lot of them very uncomfortable that we still had the babies body wrapped in a blanket in our room but I was not going to just hand over my child's body for them to discard because they did not recognize the gestational age of the baby. They did give us a knitted blanket for the baby and it still remains such a source of comfort and a little reminder that although we never got to see our baby wrapped it the blanket we have something tangible that is a reminder of our second child.

Once everything was taken care of in the emergency room and I was cleared to go we had decided that we needed some time to figure things our about the baby and so we were allowed to stay in the hospital for a few hours for monitoring. They only had room for me on the surgical floor which turned out to be a little blessing.  While we were being monitored a priest came and spoke to us. He talked about how we willed Baptism for our baby Francis and how there was no doubt that the baby was in heaven. I received the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick and he prayed with us as well. It was so very comforting to have a priest there for just those few short minutes.

One of the biggest confusing issues we faced that day was how to properly respect baby Francis's body. Because we  were so afraid that the hospital would have just discarded the remains we were convinced that we had to take the body with us to bury. The nurses were very hospitable and found boxes and containers that we could have used. It was so interesting to see everything take place because it was obvious that no one had ever made such a request. At one point a nurse talked about how the hospital had spoken to their lawyers and that it was okay for us to keep the baby with us. After Joe spoke with a few people we knew that taking the baby with us was not a good option at all. It was then that we started requesting information about how the hospital would have handled the situation. I am so thankful for our nurses and those people that we were working with because somehow they got the hospital to allow our baby to be buried with the other babies that had been lost even though they said that the hospital does not recognize the gestational age of our 15 week old child. Even though this meant that our baby had to be buried in Maryland it was such a huge relief to know that our child would be treated with respect and dignity.

Throughout the time I was being monitored, nurses from the labor and delivery floor would come down and offer condolences. One nurse came and brought us a knitted hat for Francis, two porcelain hearts, one for us to keep and the other to be buried with the body and a bracelet that said Francis. I can't even describe what I was feeling while all of this was happening. I knew that these people had a respect for the life we had just lost. Those gifts were truly beautiful.

One of the most heart wrenching parts of the whole day was when I had the chance to hold my tiny baby in the blanket that he laid in. All I could do was sit there and let the tears stream down my face. I knew it would be the only time that I would ever get to hold my child and I yearned so badly to kiss his sweet cheeks and to see his beautiful smile and to smell that perfect baby smell. In that moment I would have given anything for the whole thing to go away. All I wanted was to wake up and still be pregnant and for the whole thing to be a nightmare.  It was all just so much. Even sitting here right now, I miss my baby with my whole being and it is still heartbreaking to want to hold and snuggle a child that I will never get to again.

When it was time to say goodbye for the last time, we laid our sweet baby on the knitted hat and placed the small porcelain heart on his chest. We left a note in the blanket and just said how much we loved and cherished our baby. I kept telling myself that we would one day meet again in heaven and that I would get to embrace my child then. This memory still is so raw, so painful, so sad. I can't think of having to leave our baby. Having the baby taken from the room was so final. In all of the pain and sadness I knew that the tiny body was just that a body, and that Francis' soul was with God. But there was and is still so much to grieve.

We stayed in Maryland that night with Joe's brother. I was so terrified to go to sleep because I was scared of how much pain and sadness I would have the next day. Never in my life had I ever felt that. It felt so heavy and so overwhelming. I was completely encompassed in grief. I remember talking to my mom and she said something I will never forget..."as parents our prayer for our children starts out that they might be healthy and happy and have a relationship with God and as our children get older our prayer changes to please let my child get to heaven" She said, "what an accomplishment for you and Joe to already have a child in heaven." Seriously, what an amazing thought, and I can't even say how much I think about that and how much peace it brings. Yes, I am still grieving, and yes I still cry and miss my child more than I can even say, but knowing that we have a child in heaven has its own amount of comfort. Just imagining how loving our Blessed Mother is and how she has my tiny child wrapped in her ever merciful arms brings joy to my heart.

In the days that followed there were so many emotions and feelings that are hard to explain. One of the hardest was driving away from Maryland and leaving our baby there. I knew from the beginning that it was going to be important to me to talk about and say out loud what had happened. I needed my story and my experience to not be shut out because it is uncomfortable and painful. For me to heal I need my child to be talked about and loved and wanted.

So many people said so many comforting things and I will forever be so thankful for those words of encouragement and love. People also were not afraid to ask me how I was even though they could have had a huge meltdown come their way. Losing a child will never be easy for anyone and it will always take a lot of time to heal. I hope that whoever might one day read this, know that if you ever have a time of great sadness, please know that I will listen, or talk or not talk and just cry. It was by the love of so many that slowly my heart is becoming new. Each day is a new day, some are good and some are not so great. But each day I have an understanding and peace that I have an advocate for me up there with Christ and our Blessed Mother. Talk about a direct line!!

If you have read this thank you for taking the time, I know it is long and maybe uncomfortable. My story means something to me and I will not be ashamed to share it or talk about it! Forever, my baby Francis will be a part of my family. Forever he will be my child. One day I know that I will see him again, and what a sweet day that will be.


**Baby Francis was buried in a cemetery on Monday September 23. He is buried with other babies that went to heaven too soon. We are so thankful for the kindness shown to our child.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

SuperMom Syndrome

Why hello there. It has been far too long, and there are a thousand things I hope to share soon. But for now I must start with what has been on  my mind A TON lately.

Being a "supermom". Okay seriously I know that to many of you veteran moms out there you know that there is really no such thing, and one day I truly hope that I can fully understand why this concept is one that I struggle with so badly.

As a new-ish mom of my wonderful, ornery, bossy and absolutely loving daughter I find myself occasionally struggling with feelings of inadequacy in the motherhood department. Our culture is one in which we have access to an overload of information, stories, pictures, words of wisdom and opportunities to compare our families to others. All of this can be so overwhelming and I have found that I do struggle with seeing what other families are doing and wondering where I went wrong.

For example, my 9.5 month old still does not sleep through the night. I have tried all I can think of and for some dumb reason it makes me feel like a bad mother, and honestly a bit hopeless. But, my 9.5 month old LOVES all kinds of food. I can put almost anything in front of her and she will gobble it up-especially if it has pizza sauce on it! So see its all sorts of crazy in my sleep-deprived brain. Once second I feel hopeless and the next I can't help but be proud of my foodie baby.

What I am trying to say is that when I take a second to step back and think about all of these thoughts, struggles, events and joys I realize that just because my daughter is different than another baby does not make me a bad mom. All it means is that my family is doing just as we are supposed to be doing-learning as we go. And all of those other families are doing the best they can too. And the beauty is that non of it is wrong.

Recently I have seen so many uplifting articles about how moms need to be a support for each other and that there is no one perfect way of raising a child. And let me just tell you how true that is. Recently, I had to start supplementing Cecilia's breastfeeding with formula and I had such a hard time with it at first. Then I realized how much it helps me feel like I am doing something right. If I had surrounded myself in a culture where formula was frowned upon, or where I was judged for feeling relief from that nightly bottle, I would probably lose my mind. This all goes to show that there is no one perfect way of parenting or being a mom.

We mothers, need to stick together and be a support for one another. I feel so lucky that I have a very strong support of new and veteran moms to help me along my journey. And one day, who knows maybe we will all find what it truly means to be a supermom for our own children.


Friday, June 28, 2013

Finding Balance

Joe and I have been working really hard to try and live a balanced life. It is so easy in this world we live in to get sucked into tv, our phones, facebook, eating out, or even not using our close proximity to the Basilica to attend Mass in the morning. There are so many things that we always talk about doing and sometimes those things never come to be because we let laziness or media or even our sometimes sleep deprived bodies tell us we are too tired to just not ready to get up and live how we know we should be.

For the last few months we have worked hard to find this balance--in everything from our budget, exercise, cooking and time we spend apart. Our job absolutely allows us so many incredible benefits outside of just living in this amazing city. We have the mornings and early afternoons to be productive, to use daylight hours to go on walks and to even recycle our cans at the local grocery store. Seriously, once we started to notice all of the ways we could work to balance our lives there was a flood of new activities and structure.

We are not always successful at this balance either. For example, the last two weeks we have been a little on the crazy side. We had to have work done in our apartment which meant our schedule was thrown off completely. We didn't have use of our kitchen or our normal times for naps, or exercise or dinner. Let me just say it has been SO HARD. It is really amazing how easy it is to get used to a schedule especially one that feels so good to live with.

Next week we will be in West Virginia for a vacation/Spargo family reunion. It will be nice to be with family and have time away, but I sure do look forward to our return to normalcy and to our balance life!

What are ways that you have found to be helpful in your search for balance? I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions.

As always,

Love, Sam

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Connecticut Birthday Weekend

this year for my birthday Joe, Ceci and I visited my cousin and his girlfriend in Connecticut for a short getaway. they live right on the ocean and we had a marvelous time listening to the waves crashing and enjoying the salty breeze. here are a few pictures to enjoy!

beautiful panoramic shot taken with Joe's phone

i thought this quilt was so cute. I would love one for Ceci!

this house was built in the 1890s. it was truly incredible.

this baby did not mind the grass at all

not so sure about this ocean business

Monday, June 3, 2013

I Am Wrong

beautiful thought
3 little words that have such power...maybe in some ways as much power as those other 3 little words. I. Am. Wrong! Wow, those are definitely not my favorite words to say but oh how important that they be said when necessary.

Joe and I were having a "discussion" on the benefits of drinking chocolate milk after a work out. (silly I know) I just knew that it was a load of crud that chocolate milk was good for the recovering body. As we were "discussing," in the back of my head I thought, "maybe I should just drop it....I really don't want to be wrong" but I guess my inner desire to be right won out and the "discussion" turned to a fact checking session.

SURE ENOUGH. HE WAS RIGHT.  All of the facts checked led to one conclusion....I had to muster the courage and humility to say those dreaded 3 little words. I was dead wrong. Man did that stink, but immediately those words led to this thought....

In marriage we are called to lift one another up, to concede at times and to positively challenge each other. There was really no reason for me to egg Joe on. I don't know why I wanted to be right so badly, but I am sure glad I was wrong now because of what I learned. Joe is my husband, my partner and my strongest supporter. I need to always remember that I am those things for him as well. Sometimes I need to put my ego aside and say " yes love, you are right" and leave it there- regardless of how much I am screaming the opposite on the inside.

Most importantly, though the thought I found most rewarding was in saying, out loud, that I was wrong. Those words immediately made me flash back to our marriage prep about being able to express when I am wrong and how to be gracious when I am right-which for me means that I am called to love and to show that love even amidst the most silly "discussion."

Marriage is such a beautiful gift and requires so much grace. I am forever thankful that my husband-through his grace- allows me to opportunities to express when I am wrong without him gloating about his "win."

When I said those words that day, that I was wrong about the silly chocolate milk, I hope that Joe knew that what I was saying is "I love you, I am wrong and it is good that you are right."

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Brooklyn Bridge Adventure

A few weeks ago we walked the Brooklyn Bridge and then took a tour of the September 11th memorial. Our day was perfect! The sun was shining, we got some great exercise and was able to cross two things off of our "We Live in NYC but Still Want to do Touristy Things" List. This is our day in photos.  Enjoy!!

I loved how worn this wood is.

Lamp post and Manhattan Bridge in the distance.

Lovely Haiku.

Sweet baby face!

September 11th Memorial Pool.

Walking back across the bridge I noticed these locks. I thought it was kinda fun!