Tuesday, February 27, 2018

5 years

Another year, another blog post.  This year felt more significant hitting five years.  Maybe because  of the number, or maybe because she would be starting kindergarten.  Each year gets quieter with those who remember (or at least those who say something), but it doesn't bother me.  What’s important to me is honoring this day with my husband and other children, and not so much the other stuff (although certainly still appreciated).  I still feel some internal pressure to exhibit our mourning in a certain way, but I’m starting to let go of that expectation.  I’m not sure if I’ll always do a birthday blog post or not, because I don’t want to just keep repeating the same stuff.  But it’s nice having the pictures of the other kids, so maybe I will.

I picked out and ordered an awesome footprint necklace that will have her actual footprints engraved on it, but there were some ordering glitches and I don’t have it yet.  We also have not ordered a headstone yet.  This year will be the year, I hope!  It’s sad to see her spot bare since they no longer allow any decorations on the grass at all.  We no longer have appointments in that area, so I don’t stop by nearly as often.

I’m trying to make a point of talking about Naomi more with my 2yo.  I tried prompting her yesterday with “and who is your other sister?”  She said, “Hay-ee??”  (Her best friend, Haley.)  It was hilarious and made me laugh, although not surprising since she guesses Hay-ee first for pretty much anything.

One thing that did happen was putting up some of our favorite Naomi pictures on the living room wall.  The frames had been hanging empty for a while (much to my mother’s chagrin), and my husband surprised me by getting them printed and in there for my birthday.  I had planned to get them edited before printing, but prints are not expensive so we can easily update them if/when the editing gets done.

Today we went to the graveyard and then had dinner at La Festa again.  We’ve done things a little bit different every year, but the La Festa tradition may stick.  The kids love to see the cooks spinning the pizza dough.

I love this tree and having the open field around it.

They spied a tree they could climb.

Enjoying a cannoli.

Monday, February 27, 2017

4 years

Another year has gone by, even faster than the ones before it.  I've heard the saying, "the days are long, but the years are short."  Well even the days don't feel that long anymore, just a constant swapping of sun up and sun down.  My Facebook memories continually surprise me with proof that my 23mo "baby" was scooting around on her butt one year ago.  We moved over the summer to a bigger house, which of course absorbed massive amounts of time and is part of why I wonder what happened to 2016.  The kids enjoy each having their own bedroom and always having a bathroom available.  We went from 940sf to 2,600sf, so it was a big change!  We were in the previous house for 7 years and are now renting it out to family, which makes it easier for me sentimentally than if we had sold it.

While the move was a local one and only a few miles away, I've noticed a social shift since last fall.  The people I saw frequently when pregnant with Naomi I now only see occasionally, and the people I saw occasionally I now only see rarely (if at all).  I also now have new people entering my life who haven't heard our story.  While I'm more practiced in talking about Naomi, she doesn't come up as frequently in conversations.

I think people, whether new or old friends, are still unsure what's safe or appropriate or whatever to say. So I thought I'd make it clear that it's totally fine to mention Naomi. I will not fall apart or get upset, I think about her all the time anyway. The last 4.5 years has taught me very clearly that I am an internal processor when it comes to my emotions, so just don't be surprised at my apparent non-reactions. I do still appreciate the love and concern directed my way, especially as time wears on.  The only time I have shut down conversations about her is when I'm leading breastfeeding support meetings, because I was concerned about not fulfilling my role in supporting the mothers attending.  However, I have probably been too scrupulous about that and should relax. :)

As I believe I have mentioned before, there is a local group of moms who have had a baby with acrania or anencephaly. I was the third member of this group and we are now sadly welcoming a sixth. Please pray for Carrie and her family as Winnie's birth approaches. In preparation for this, our group has been seeing each other more frequently. We have noticed that we each focus our warnings or guidance on the things that impacted us most, but these things vary widely between us. What is a central comforting thought for one is a passing thought for another. Yet we still understand each other like no one else can, and most importantly, we don't make assumptions or force "silver linings" on each other.  There is a viral story now about a couple with an anencephaly baby, and the public is loving it.  While there are times I felt perhaps I should seek a wider audience for thoughts I wanted to share, I have to say that I'm so glad we never gained that level of spotlight.

Anyway, on to today's events.  The big kids have school vacation this week and we decided to travel to Maryland for it.  I didn't want to miss Naomi's birthday at home though, so daddy could be with us (he couldn't come to MD).  I waffled between flights for today or tomorrow, nervous that flights today would "ruin" Naomi's birthday, but it all worked out smoothly.  I got all the packing done yesterday and we adequately planned out today so there wasn't any rushing.  One thing we did not really plan for though is how much snow would still be at the cemetery.  While we went from nothing to several feet of snow in the last couple weeks, rain had brought the accumulation down quite a bit.  I didn't even think to put a shovel in the van.  But our beloved snow shoveler (who I know would not want to be named) got there early and had already cleared a long path for us.  The "snow" that was there was pretty much solid ice, and had to be chopped away a square at a time.  We got there just in time to help direct him to the exact spot.  The cemetery had removed all our personal decorations last spring so there was nothing sticking above the snow to follow.  This year, we HAVE to get a headstone.  I distinctly remember saying in 2013 that if we didn't do it right away, we wouldn't do it for another 3 years.  Well it's been 3 years, so it has to happen now!

We picked up some flowers at Hobby Lobby and made snow imprints while the guys shoveled.

It was a little cold so the baby hung out inside the van to be out of the wind.  She loved checking out the backseat.

I was glad we decided to the cemetery before lunch and not after, as we might not have had enough time to fully find and clear the area otherwise.

Note the short detour left, before we pulled out old pictures to navigate more precisely.

The nameplate had been pushed down to ground level, making it harder to find.

When we got to the airport, I thought about how the kids wouldn't consider it a birthday unless there was cake.  Texted my mother to request birthday cake for tonight, instantly knowing she would completely take care of it.  The kids were thrilled and many Beanie Boos attended.  (It's also Roxie's birthday on the 29th.  Yes, Roxie the Beanie Boo.)

Assuming we get the headstone this year, I'm thinking it would be nice to have some sort of gathering or service once it's done.  So many of my local friends don't even know where her grave is.  Feel free to send suggestions or ideas my way for what to do for this.  My first thought was to all be there at the same time, but maybe something else where people can stop by and leave their mark somehow?  A sign in book wouldn't last long in the weather...

Saturday, February 27, 2016

3 years

Another year, another blog post scratched out in the last few minutes of the day.

Quite different than last year, the snow was not a problem for today’s visit.

I had planned on getting balloons again but big sister didn’t like that idea, so we decided to get some new spring d├ęcor instead.  Big sister picked out the purple humming bird, big brother got the red dragonfly, and together they chose the pink flamingo for the new baby.  The red cardinal for hanging off the shepherd’s hook is for Naomi.  Not the most coordinated theme but the kids are happy and I like to keep them feeling involved.

Discussions over who gets to be next to who.

The cemetery has posted signs with new strict rules about what is allowed to be left at grave sites, and I don’t know when they will begin enforcing it.  I’m using this as motivation to get a real headstone this year and hoping they will let those of us who keep the grass trimmed and neat to continue as we are.

This year has been brutal.  There’s just no other way to describe it.  Our sweet and loving rainbow baby is more baby than I’ve ever had before…  When people asked about her right after her birth, the adjective frequently used to describe her was “feisty.”  She is strong and knows what she wants, which includes having me at arm’s reach for most of her waking and sleeping hours.  I’m not saying this to say I wish it were different – but it does mean there is not much time for reflection or deep thought that is anticipated in blog posts.  We are also in the process of trying to pack up our house in order to list and sell it for a bigger place.

I did not make a cake happen this year, but I did show the kids the video we played at Naomi’s funeral again.  (Next year I need to remember to show them earlier in the day so they aren't crying right before laying down for the night...)  Since I’ve made some new friends who haven’t seen it before, and some might like to see it again, I thought I’d put it in this new post.

Friday, February 27, 2015

2 years

I've always been a deadline-driven kind of person, hence repeating what happened last year with a late-hour blog post coming in just before midnight.  (Sorry mom, it's pretty obvious now that I do not have a future career as a blogger.)  Also like last year, I'm typing this up in a hotel room.  Much closer to home this time, just a little local weekend getaway and not out in warm and sunny San Diego.  Would love to trade the snow away for that again, but at least it means we were able to visit the grave today.  Kind of.  This is what it looked like right after Christmas.

And this is what it looked like this morning.

The crazy thing is that her area HAS been shoveled and snow-blown this season by friends and family.  It's just the snow has been drifting so much that all that work was filled in.  When we took the kids this morning, the kids and I stayed in the car while daddy got himself through the trenches of snow to place our balloons for us.

Each of us picked a balloon.  I chose purple, daddy chose orange, big sister chose red, and big brother chose green.  Unfortunately, my purple popped against the van as we were getting ready to place them.  But I was so relieved that it wasn't the red one that it didn't even phase me.  The red one popping would have meant a 30-minute round trip to replace it or be faced with dealing with an 8yo's broken heart.  I had originally thought we would release the balloons, but I offered that or weighing them down, and she chose to keep them there.

Big brother fell asleep on the way there and is usually cranky when he wakes up from a rare nap, so I prepared myself for that with some chocolate coins from the balloon shop.

Later in the day, I found out someone did go and shovel.  So after the kids were picked up for the weekend by grandparents, daddy and I stopped by before the sun went down.  Much better!

If we'd had snow like this in 2013, I think we definitely would have waited until spring for burial.

As far as updates since last year...  My last time pumping was 8 months, 2 days ago on June 24th, for a total of 16 months.  I slowed down gradually since my blog post on May 28th.  Skipping a few days at the end was strange, and I really thought I'd end up wanting to try "one more time" after that out of curiosity, but I didn't.

I got a positive pregnancy test on big brother's birthday, July 28, which is actually the day after I posted my last blog post.  I have never been an early pregnancy announcer, although I broke that rule with Naomi.  I knew I wanted the kids to be some of the first to know, and also know kids can't keep secrets.  And I wanted to know for myself if this baby's skull was intact before I had anyone asking me.  So we waited until ~11.5 weeks for an ultrasound, where we found out everything looked great, and didn't start announcing publicly until after 13 weeks, in October.  One advantage to this is that pregnancy feels a lot shorter when people don't know until you're already in your second trimester. :)  We also had a ~20 week ultrasound where everything still looked great, as well as finding out the sex of the baby.

Yes, Naomi is getting a little sister.  I'm 35 weeks now and no, we don't have a name picked out yet.  We usually have a pretty firm short list by this point, and Naomi had already been named for a couple weeks by now in her pregnancy.  Hopefully this changes soon because I'd really prefer some time to dwell on a name and be sure of it before putting it to legal paperwork.

In the picture above is the very first gift this baby got, little soft socks from auntie.  The little giraffe is something big sister picked out at the Holiday Shop at her school for Christmas.  And the onesie is the first hand-me-down we got this time, from a friend.

Physically, this pregnancy has not been easy on me.  It amazes me that I was able to parent and run a household with my husband 3 hours away during Naomi's pregnancy, when I can barely go to the grocery store this time.  My already low-levels of housekeeping have dropped even further.  I'm seeing a chiropractor regularly and that's helping a lot, but I still just can't do much.  The kids are now used to me asking them to pick up something off the floor that's only a step away from me, or that I have to sit down frequently.  My midwives say it's not because of being older, but just that subsequent pregnancies get harder on the body.  I think it's also that my gaps between pregnancy have gotten shorter each time, and I was really out of shape.  I'm actually looking forward to being more physically active after I give birth, which is a first.

I still have a ton of stuff to do to prepare for new baby's arrival.  Her dresser is in place with a few clothes in it, and I've purchased the few things we needed (new carseat and stroller).  I still need to do a big clothing sort to fill the dresser, wash all the baby gear, and most importantly, make some more space in this house so we have places to put said baby gear.  But having done this before, I at least realize that while it's nice to be prepared and ready, it's not a big deal to just wing it if things don't get done.  The co-sleeper and carseat can be done in half an hour, and those are the only true necessities.

When I first figured out my due date of April 2nd, it didn't feel that close to February 27th.  And I'm sure in other years it still won't.  But being 35 weeks and this big, it does feel a lot like February 2013.  Thankfully without the norovirus part.

Oh!  Almost forgot to share.  I have worn the Naomi Grace necklace for two years, but have been thinking it would be nice to have more variety.  (Some dear friends actually pooled money for me to pick out some items like this for Naomi's last birthday, and I do finally have some things in mind, but I have not brought it to fruition yet.)  So this is what my husband picked out for my birthday, one birthstone for each of my four children.  Yes, that is April's stone you see there, but he assures me that he checked and we can swap it out for March's stone easily enough if baby comes early.

Facing the idea of bringing home a living baby is fresh and scary in a new way, different then when I had my first.  I'm sure it will remind me of exactly what we missed out on with Naomi in a way that the faint memories of her older siblings don't register.  But for now, we stick to what we've been doing for years now - prepare however we can and wait on the rest.

Happy 2nd birthday, Naomi Grace.  As your sister wrote on her balloon to you, "we love you and wish you were here. xoxo"

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Rachel's Race

Next Saturday, my friend Stacy's non-profit Baby Rachel's Legacy will be putting on Rachel's Race.  It is both a fundraiser and a way to spread awareness of anencephaly.  (Which is technically a slightly different diagnosis than acrania, mostly related to suspected causes, but same end result.)  There will be four different anencephaly/acrania families represented at the race, including Team Naomi.

I have been very negligent in preparing for this event!  There are 16 members right now, with 12 adults and 4 kids.  I've had one donation come in from a family member.  But I didn't get t-shirts designed, haven't gotten any donations from local businesses, haven't done fundraising, etc.  So now?  Now of course I am going to see how many of those things I can get done in six days.

If you are a local friend who wants to join in the race and haven't registered, you can do so here.  You can join Team Naomi as either a runner or walker.  The paths for each are different and the walkers will actually come right by Naomi's grave.  Naomi's grave is a few rows away from Rachel's grave and I will be manning a table in that area with pictures of our babies and other info and mementos.  If you aren't local, there is also the option of joining as a "virtual walker."  It's basically a way to donate and intended for those unable to join due to geographical distance.

Right now Naomi's grave is decorated with a ladybug theme and some yellow accent garden stakes.  Instead of doing official team t-shirts, I am asking everyone on Team Naomi to wear a red shirt.  I have also made a Facebook group for Team Naomi members to connect with each other for planning logistics.  If you aren't in there already, it's because I don't see you on the event list for the team.

Now for the fundraising...  Baby Rachel's Legacy has officially gotten their 501(c)3 approval!  So all donations are tax deductible.  If you are able and willing to donate, you can either do it through the paypal tab here or you can give it to me directly.  Giving it to me directly means nothing will be lost in paypal fees, but do whatever works better for you.  I just ask that if you pay online, let me know so that I can track it as part of total funds raised for the team.  We will not be able to access online donations the morning of the race to account for it.

I think that covers it, but let me know if you have any questions.  See you Saturday!

This was taken in the middle of May, which is the beginning of spring here.  The grass has grown in nicely since then.  I have a new kissing ball made by Stacy that will be hanging on the shepherd's hook the day of the race.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

15 hours, 15 months, 100 gallons

On my birthday post, I said I "might go for just a bit longer."  Well I guess I've done that.  Dropping to only two pumps per day made it incredibly easy to just keep going.  About a month ago it occurred to me that weaning at 15 months would be cool since Naomi lived for 15 hours.  Then a little over a week ago I was waffling, so I thought I would sit down and calculate my ounces again, since I had not done that since the birthday post.  I was blown away to see that I was at 99 gallons!  I had really thought I was too far off and output was too low to reach it.  Not only that, but crunching numbers showed me that if everything was maintained I would hit 100 gallons at exactly 15 months.  The beauty of these numbers all aligning makes all the measuring worth it. ;)  (Although seriously, if I am ever exclusively pumping again for any reason, I won't let myself even start tracking it this closely!  Measuring to the milliliter is nuts.)

Because I didn't wind down over this last week, I'm not actually done today.  I am only getting 12oz a day (less than a third of what I was getting a year ago), but I don't think it's healthy to go cold turkey, so there will definitely be some more gentle weaning time.  It is really hard to mentally accept the idea of not pumping anymore though.  All that stuff they say about creating habits is true.  The groove of sitting down to pump, pouring and freezing milk, washing parts is entrenched into my day.  It still takes great mental effort to even grasp breaking this routine.  It's my autopilot that my day is built around.

I hit the 100 gallons with my morning pump, but forgot to take a picture.  Between that and knowing I won't be home tomorrow morning, I decided to do "one more" full hour-long pump tonight, shown below.  So I'm not done like I thought I would be, but I'm closer, right?  That's what I keep telling myself. ;)

(Six ounces.  In my pre-EPing days, this would have looked like a lot to me!)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Emmanuel John

Last week, Emmanuel John was born with the same condition (fetal acrania) that my daughter Naomi Grace was born with.  I was privileged to meet and hold him when he was one day old.  He lived for FIVE days, wow!  This slideshow was from his memorial service yesterday.  A beautiful baby who will never be forgotten.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Happy 1st Birthday, Naomi Grace

One year.  It's hard to believe.  For the last year, anytime someone has used the phrase "that feels like a lifetime ago," I think to myself, that WAS a lifetime ago.  A whole life has come and gone in that short frame of time.  Fresh cut flowers live a longer life than Naomi did.

Everyone wants to know how I'm doing, and I still haven't come up with a satisfactory answer for them.  Or rather, for myself, since they would be fine with me saying just about anything.  I'm the one who cares about speaking with precision and the words often fail me.  As of today I do have a way to word my answer to the "how many children do you have" question.  I read it in one of my support groups.  I can say that I "have had three children."  As I've written before, I don't like to use have by itself as that is not accurate.  I usually don't want to throw out the full answer right off the bat, when it's still uncertain whether this is polite small talk or a real conversation.  This phrasing is accurate yet not a complete unloading, which is my personal preference.

I thought the holidays would be tough but they were fine.  Christmas 2012 was a nice lull time in my pregnancy with lots of positive memories, so I think that lent itself to Christmas 2013 being easier.  For my Christmas present, my mother-in-law printed out the majority of my blog on nice heavy cardstock and had it bound.  It is nice to have something tangible since we all know how website services like this wane over time.  (Anyone remember geocities?)  I still have a list of gifts that I'd hoped to acknowledge and share with you all here...  As of today there is another lengthy list of thoughts and gifts for me to respond to.  A delivery of fresh flowers, a stack of cards, and numerous Facebook messages that I haven't even started to read through yet.  At this point I feel guilty for so many balls I've dropped rather than return, that it's hard to even start with one of them.  But at least for today, I wanted to just experience the day rather than have the computer sneakily suck it away from me.

I'm actually writing this from a hotel lobby in SoCal.  (I know, I know, I shouldn't admit to not being home online, but there's no way around it and I do have that ferocious guard dog protecting the house.)  I'm in the lobby with the occasional chatter of employees behind me because this is the closest I have come to getting even one minute of quiet since arriving here.  (Definitely didn't think it through with having 4 people in one hotel room and expecting an ounce of alone time.)

So why am I in CA?  My husband was asked to come out here for work for two months.  Our daughter's school break fell right in the middle of it, so we decided to come visit.  One of my biggest hesitations in coming was thinking people might think I was "running away" from Naomi's first birthday.  But that wasn't it at all.  It was just important to me to be with my husband today, which I think most people would understand.  A couple friends even stopped by Naomi's grave on my behalf for me.  I picked up a nice cake last night that we enjoyed before heading to a friend's house for dinner.  It was a last minute plan that included getting to meet a long-time internet friend who lives in Alberta.

I am still pumping.  I can't believe I made it a whole year!  As of this week, I'm down to just 2 pumps per day.  I don't know how long I will maintain that before dropping again.  I have an app on my phone that has allowed me to keep a detailed log of my pumping.  Here are my total numbers.

Total number of pumps: 1,516
Total hours: 1,164.38 (which equals 48.5 days)
Total milk: 340,167ml (which equals 11,338.9oz or 88.59 gallons)

Of those ounces, 7,192 went to the milk bank, 840 went to a local baby, and the balance has gone and is going to a very dear little boy who is a family friend.  He is an older baby but has several serious medical conditions, and his mother reports that him continuing to receive breastmilk is likely the key to him managing to stay out of the hospital for the last few months.While they would never pressure me to continue donating, it is hard to even talk myself into quitting with this, so I might go for just a bit longer.  (Which is exactly what I've been saying for almost a year now...)

It's sometimes awkward for me to talk about the pumping, not out of physical modesty, but because of the intensely positive and overwhelming reactions it elicits.  I think I can manage to be arrogant enough on my own, I don't need assistance!  But I figured today would be a good day to share, and if I'm celebrating it with everyone else, then maybe it won't feel like such a spotlight I'm standing in.

One more thing.  There is a woman local to me who I share some random coincidences with.  Ten years ago, we met at our small private liberal arts college that is 12 hours away from here.  (She is from this area, I am not.)  We did not know each other well but had some upper level classes together.  She spotted me at a church a few years back then we ran into each other at my old job, and we have randomly seen each other at local mom events over the last few years.  We now have something new in common - her fourth baby due in April has an acrania diagnosis.  If I had thought about it ahead of time, I would have realized that eventually I would meet other future loss moms, seeing as I've known a few who have gone before.  But this soon, and for it to be someone I already knew, and for the exact same diagnosis (even rarer than anencephaly) was shocking.  We have gotten together a few times and I offer whatever I can, but it doesn't feel like much.  This is not the kind of club where you are happy to see new members joining.

If anyone is wanting to do something in honor of Naomi's birthday, making a meal for this family would be one thing you could do.  There is a sign-up link I can share with you.  Another suggestion would be to donate to The Shepherd's Crook, especially if you specify it for the adoption of Lilyan Rosenow.  She has severe medical problems and needs to be adopted quickly so that she can begin treatment and get her urgent surgeries.

Well, I had hoped to post on Naomi's birthday and it looks like I will meet that goal with 8 minutes to spare, since I'm on west coast time.

Happy birthday Naomi.  Not an hour goes by that you are not in our thoughts.  It hurts to be moving "further away" from you, yet easier to see the blessings you have brought to our family and to so many others.  Thank you for being you.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The combs or the long hair

Still here.  Still pumping.  Still all angsty about my lack of blogging.  I feel stuck in a Gift of the Magi conundrum, where the thing I want (writing, or the beautiful combs) is going to require giving up what I already have (pumping, or the long gorgeous hair).  And then what will I write about?

People often ask how long I am going to pump for.  Now I'm often asking myself.  For a while I was always surprised when it was time to write a new month onto the date line of a freezer bag, but even that has become routine.  I have hit the point that I've heard other EPers (exclusive pumpers) refer to where everything just gels and you kind of feel like you could do this indefinitely.  I'm 8.5 months and it's funny because 8 months feels close to only half a year, yet 9 months feels like almost a year.

I noticed a few months ago that my credit card wasn't being charged for the hospital-grade pump I am renting.  I thought maybe the hospital was being nice, or maybe someone had called in and was covering it for me.  It turned out to be a royal mess with all the new Affordable Care Act stuff.  At first I was annoyed because I was being required to return my pump, then I realized that I'd saved close to $400.  (I do already own other pumps, I just like this one the best.)  I thought maybe this was a sign to stop, but decided I didn't want to do it in a hurry, so went ahead and rented the same pump from a different hospital.  (Where I rented it from their gift shop because that makes a lot more sense than renting it from trained lactation professionals who will support and advise me, like hospitals used to do.)

Today I found out that if I want to continue donating to the milk bank, they will need me to do an updated blood test.  So, sign to stop?  I don't know.  I like the idea of going to a year (9 months is almost a year, after all), but the holidays are always stressful.  Or I should say December is stressful with a kid birthday and Christmas, as I usually don't lift a finger for Thanksgiving.

At my peak, I was able to break 40oz in one day.  I used to average 36oz per day.  After travel times and dropping pumps (only three times per day now), I now average 30oz per day.  This is a little on the high end of normal for an EPer.  I definitely do not think I would have lasted this long if my supply had been low, even though every drop is "extra" and never demanded from me.

Every drop I have pumped (except for a couple spilled ounces) is recorded in an app on my phone.  The time it takes to measure out actually feels like more of a burden then the pumping itself, but I can't let go of the data.  I use the excuse that I need to be careful not to overfill the bags anyway.  But really I just like numbers.

I should have some sort of beautiful conclusion here, right?  But my alarm will be going off in in a just over 5 hours from now, and I don't want to delay yet again in posting, so, goodnight.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

6 months

I had originally intended to post monthly.  It's funny, during pregnancy, you know that things can change at any moment and not to count on anything going according to plan, but it feels like that should resolve after giving birth.  I should be able to plan out my time and do things in the order I prioritize them, especially without a newborn interrupting me, yet life has continued on just as messy as it was before.  I will have a thought pressing on me to blog about, but I'll do it after the kids eat.  Oh wait, after I pump.  Shoot, I forgot to reply to that e-mail.  Someone's calling me.  All littered with the ping of Facebook and requests for another sippy cup of milk or help on the potty.  The only consistent time I have at home without kids needing me is after they are in bed, by which point I am often not in the right frame of mind for writing.

I got hung up on feeling like I needed to explain why I was pumping before I could discuss many details of it.  This was a mistake because I don't think I can ever really express why, and now I've missed out on sharing much of my journey.  (Although really, part of me is skeptical that many would find it as fascinating as I do.)  I have documented it all with photos and logs, but it's not the same rebuilding it later and I groan at "and a great time was had by all" writing style.  I might try to catch up on at least some of it later, maybe...

In my process of self discovery, I have realized just how private a person I am and that I am actually a bit shy.  Now my mother has always bemoaned my private nature, but it didn't make sense to me because I am naturally an extrovert and rarely is there a topic that I shy away from.  I have no qualms speaking in front of a small or large crowd.  But when it comes to the topics close to my heart, I definitely shield myself.  I deal with it in my own time and space and not outwardly.  Unlike with multitasking or time management, where I'm hopeless navigating on my own unless I have a listening ear available.  On issues where every word and intonation counts, I prefer writing over speaking since I have a backspace.  I can pause and let my mind wander before coming back to where I was, to finish grasping at the thought floating out of my reach.

Why am I explaining all that?  Because I know there are many in my life still concerned and wondering about me, who are watching me for cues.  They see me introduce myself to someone else and not mention Naomi.  Meeting new people is always a little awkward, because I don't want Naomi's story to be a prerequisite to getting to know me.  I don't want anyone thinking I am in denial or ignoring my thoughts about her if she is not on the tip of my tongue.  It's more like I want to wait a bit, to have sure footing before bringing forth something so special and personal to someone who is a stranger.  (This is where the shyness comes in too, I don't like unloading such a huge emotion on someone moments after meeting them, because it's so much direct attention on me.  And the idea that they might think I am seeking that kind of attention makes me queasy.)  I am 100% fine with people referencing Naomi by name, asking me questions, or checking up on me.  Mentioning Naomi won't be a painful reminder because I never forget her.  Emotional support from friends and family is not something I am lacking by far, which I am grateful for.  I find comfort in the silence, knowing the support is there even though I'm not expressly calling for it.

I still trip over the question of "how many children do you have?"  I feel like I "should" say three, but technically I only have two with me.  I don't HAVE Naomi, that's the whole problem.  So, still trying to work out my pat answers to questions like that.

I remember learning about grief stages and such pre-Naomi.  I knew grief took a lot of time, but for some reason I thought it would be like one more thing on the to do list.  1) Fix breakfast, 2) shower, 3) cry for 20 minutes, 4) get dressed.  It's not like that at all.  It's not one more thing to fit in the list but an undertow pulling in all above it.  It's not a new independent thing to struggle with, it takes all your normal struggles and intensifies them.  So if you're lazy, you will be lazier.  If you overeat, you will eat even more.  And if your executive functioning skills are the equivalent of a monkey on a typewriter, your house will look like mine right now.  At least, this is what I'm telling myself when I think about how I haven't deposited any of the checks people mailed me for The Shepherd's Crook or how I still have last winter's outgrown clothes in the kid dressers.

"They" say that the worst point is six months out.  I feel like around four months was worse, so I don't know if that happened earlier for me or if I'm just in a lull.  Sometimes having a heads up on something isn't helpful.  I do often wish that I could just STOP the clock and freeze my kids and just have TIME to deal with stuff at my own speed.  To saunter through the condolence cards waiting for me, to carefully choose pictures to print and hang, or to catch up on posts in some of my support groups.  But time and I have never gotten along too well and try as I might, it just keeps passing against my will.