Saturday, May 30, 2009

Remembering Monroe, my first daughter!

5 years ago today I lost my first daughter at birth. Her name was Monroe and I was 35 weeks pregnant. The first month we tried for a baby we conceived. We were so excited that we told everyone right away! How arrogant we were thinking that nothing could go wrong…that we were invincible. So, at our 20 week ultrasound we found out that we were having a girl, that she had 6 of the 10 signs of Downs and that she was missing her esophagus. The OB tried to convince us to have an abortion quoting that “no marriages lasted after they have a child with special needs.” I was livid!!! We went for a second opinion. All the results were the same. We had an amniocentesis done to verify the downs, because an esophagus surgery with a “normal” child would go very differently and need less attention than one with a Downs baby. It was confirmed. To be honest I really could have cared less that she had Downs, I grew up with my sister with Downs. I was just more concerned about her esophagus and whether we’d have any healthy children in the future. So, we were high risk, had many ultrasounds (always with the anticipation that we would go in and she’d be all better), interviewed the best Pediatric surgeon who would fix her esophagus, toured the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit where she would be for a few months after she was born, and had genetic testing done to see if this was hereditary. Fortunately it was not hereditary.

I felt such a great bond with Monroe throughout the pregnancy. Because we were dealing with so many obstacles, I talked to her constantly about them. I prayed over her continually. I demanded that she suck it up and get better…I was her mom and she had to listen to me! She was my first child who I wanted to protect. She had Downs which made her even more fragile and sweet and precious. I actually bonded more with her during the pregnancy than I did with any of my other pregnancies. I loved her and I felt her love back…something only a mother could understand.

Around 30 weeks the doctor put me on bed rest. Because Monroe had no esophagus and was not swallowing any amniotic fluid, the fluid just kept building up and building up…making me ready to burst at any moment. Finally, I went to the doctor at 35 weeks, looking 42 weeks pregnant. It was a Thursday and he gave me steroids shots to prepare her lungs and said I could go off bed rest because she was developed enough and could come any day now.

The next day, a Friday night, I was sleeping when I awoke to a gurgling noise. I thought my water had broken. I went to the bathroom, realized I was dry and went back to bed. Saturday morning we had a lot of shopping to do to prepare for the baby, especially since I had been in bed for 5 weeks. Throughout the day I felt no movement, which was very abnormal for Monroe. I drank sweet drinks, pushed my stomach around, and jumped up and down…still no movement. We called the doctor and they said come in immediately. After many technicians looked at the ultrasound it was confirmed that she was dead. Rob and I just held each other and cried. I was blindsided! They said I could go home and come back to be induced whenever I felt like it – I asked for an emergency c-section! They didn’t allow that but admitted me right away and started the cervidil to prepare me for labor. I was in labor for 30 hours. I was devastated. How could I give birth to a dead baby?

But, she arrived May 30, 2004 at 9:00pm. When she came out…she was my baby girl…so beautiful…she was just sleeping right? I was a proud mom, so happy and wanting to show her off to everyone. I couldn’t stop smiling…until I gave her up. I was able to hold her for 2 hours until she started turning blue, cold and her skin began to peel off. Then I let them take her and I left early the next morning. I had many nightmares after that day. I felt like I had abandoned my baby, left her there; that she was still alive screaming in the morgue. A few months later we tried again and conceived easily. We lost that baby, which I named Lael, when I was 10 weeks pregnant. Again, I felt hopeless.

Here is a poem I wrote 8 months after she died:
“No one knows the pain I’m feeling” I vow
They just see my smile and my uplift brow
They think I’m dreaming of purses and shoes
But I’m forcing back tears I’m about to lose.

I talk about shallow and meaningless things
Cause they don’t want to be bothered by the pain I bring
Every thought is consumed with Monroe and Lael
What I’d be doing if they were with me right now
Anger then arises, I feel life is unfair
God has seen my good deeds, is He not aware?

I feel hopeless when I think “I’ll never have a child”
Every pregnant woman I see just drives me wild
I try to be nice and seem interested in their life
But I’m screaming inside “This can’t be my life!”

My husband is stuck with an unhappy soul
No money or gifts can make me whole
I wish he could feel the loss I feel with each breath
But the pain is too heavy; it could lead to his death
So I choose to hide it each day from him and others
I shouldn’t hurt them just because I’m not a mother.

It took me almost a year, but I finally accepted that the “Sun rises on the good and the evil.” I accepted that life was put into motion and that shit happens, to all of us. Sometimes there’s no one to blame but life. Sickness and death is a part of this world and since I’m a part of this world I cannot escape its effects.

So 5 years later, how do I feel on this day? GRATEFUL for the children I do have!!! I miss Monroe deeply and sometimes even cry thinking of the beautiful life I could be having with her; but for the most part, I am so appreciative of the 4 beautiful children I do have. On a side note, twins do not run in our family at all (and I am the family tree keep so I should know) and the fact that I had twins was healing for me. I felt like I was given a gift, to compensate for the two I lost. Maybe one day I will know for sure? But as for today, I know that life can be short and I want to spend as much precious and special time with my kids as possible!! So every year on this day I have a birthday cake to celebrate the short time we had with her and then we each release purple balloons into the sky to remember where she is. In the future, I hope to take my kids to a “special Olympics” activity on this day or something so they grow up loving people with special needs…as I did.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Twins 1st birthday

So, I'm planning the twins 1st birthday party and doing a sports theme...#1 All-Stars. Here is a picture of the invitations I made & sent out. We are going to have a football field, soccer field, basketball court, baseball field and cheerleading area of course! I am having a lot of fun planning will be fun for the kids with prizes and yummy treats, but it will also be fun for the adults since it's a cookout. Hopefully the weather will cooperate or else we'll all be in the garage. Anyway, I also made a registry for the that tacky? I just thought if people didn't know what to get them (not that they have to get them anything because we have everything we need), then they would have a resource. It's under my Amazon wishlist: But I'm not sure what boys like or will want since I'm a girl and have 2 older girls. If you have any boys, check out the registry and let me know if I'm missing any great "gems". Thanks! And I'll post after the party with lots of pictures!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Playgroup at the Cleveland Zoo

Today we had playgroup at the Cleveland Zoo! It was very nice to meet everyone there (we did have one casualty...Jessica and her kids got seperated from us in the begining even though they were there the whole time). It was suppose to rain but turned out to be a beautiful, although HOT, day! We spent most of the time at the new dinosaur exhibit and the butterfly building. We also ate lunch by the waterfowl pond. I pushed a quad stroller and got a great work out!! :) Overall, the kids had a lot of fun and it's always nice seeing them play together and holding hands skipping through the zoo...priceless!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Today I took the girls to our town's Memorial Day Parade. It was so sweet and personable. It felt very "American". Everyone talked to us as we sat there waiting and it was just precious to see the Veterans, school bands and local queens. It felt like my childhood! I loved it! So my kids got to meet some more "American Heroes" today and hopefully that will give them an appreciation for their elders and soldiers. Loved it!!!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

A day in my life with 4 kids...

People are always asking me, “how do you do it with four kids…how do you get things done?” So, in an effort to answer their question, here is a video blog of my entire day with the kids. Don’t worry, it’s not 12 hours. I hope you understand me a bit better and maybe get a few good ideas for your own family life. If you have any ideas you think I would like, please share!

7:00AM Wake up and make breakfast
7:30 AM Breakfast for boys
8:00 AM Get girls up for breakfast
8:30 AM Girls video time, Mommy preps dinner
9:00 AM Kid’s bath time or dress time
9:30 AM Boys nap time, girl’s bedroom time, Mommy showers & gets dressed
10:30 AM Girls clean up bedroom
11:00 AM Table time: Sophia’s school time, Bella’s color time, music time & Mommy preps lunch 11:30 AM Wake boys & lunch time for family
12:00 PM Clean up
12:30 PM Story time with girls
1:00 PM Bella's nap, Sophia's video time, Mommy & boy’s time
1:30 PM Boys to bed, Sophia's nap, Mommy relaxes for an hour
2:30 PM Mommy’s project time (event planning, budget, bills, laundry, ect.)
3:30 PM Wake boys for snack time
4:00 PM Wake girls for snack time
4:30 PM Girls video time
5:00 PM Bedroom time for boys, basement time for girls
5:30 PM Sign Language Video for boys, basement time for girls continues
6:00 PM Blanket time for girls, Mommy makes dinner, boys snack
6:30 PM Dinner with family & rewards chart
7:00 PM Boy’s bottles and getting ready for bed routine
7:30 PM Bedtime for all kids

P.S. I do have a cleaning service that comes every other week. That helps me spend more time as a mother. Although, I am still kept very busy with laundry, dishes, meals, grocery shopping, errands, daily picking up, ect. But it certainly relieves a lot of pressure!!

To see 5, 10 minute videos, of "A day in my life" narrated by me, go to: Click on Part 1 first and then continue in order.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Memorial Day Playgroup

Today we had our Memorial Day Playgroup. After lunch we colored a page describing Memorial day in preschool terms. We mostly kept it to discussing "a day we honor American heroes". Then we got some flags and muscial instruments and had a parade in our backyard! It was sweet and very can see in the picture how much fun they were having. There's also a picture of Bella playing her drum...she couldn't walk and hold it at the same time. Then there are the twins mezmorized by the flags. I love playgroup days! It's so nice to catch up with other moms and it's great to have your kids play and interact with other also helps when it's a beautiful day outside! Although, I just had my Jehovah Witnesses come to the door (lovely ladies who come once a month to chat). We talked for about an hour as usual then I asked if I could give their kids (who always wait in the car) a flag & candy. They don't do American flags or celebrate holidays. Very, very opposite of me! To each his own, but I find it a little sad not to be patriotic or supportive of the brave soldiers who lost their lives for our freedom. :(

Monday, May 18, 2009

Celebrating Memorial Day with your kids

Celebrating Memorial Day
Here is a photo of last year on Memorial Day of my two girls and my niece and nephew! I love red, white & blue on crisp!
Anyway, we will be celebrating it again next week and I'm just researching some ways to talk to Sophia about the day. So here’s how you may want to explain the day to your pre-schoolers:
Memorial Day began in the United States on May 30, 1868, after the Civil War had ended. Flowers were put on the graves of all the soldiers who were in the war, in order to help heal the nation. This holiday later included all men and women who had died in America's wars. It is now celebrated on the last Monday of May. We celebrate this holiday to honor all of our country’s heroes who were killed in wartime protecting our nation & home. Sometimes, parades, fireworks and picnics are part of the celebrations!

So if you are looking for ways to break up the monotony of each day, you can celebrate Memorial day with a few of these activities to do with your children:
*check with your city to see if your VFW is hosting a program or parade. Kids love parades!
1. Hang an American flag or stick flags in the ground down your driveway. Or teach your preschool about the colors of the American flag and color one on paper.
2. Help your kids make a card online to be sent overseas to our current soldiers.
3. Print off some song lyrics, such as "Star Spangled Banner" and "Proud to be an American" and sing these with your kids.
4. Visit a family member that is a veteran or if you don't know any personally, go to a local retirement or nursing home to visit a veteran. Check Bring a letter or colored picture to give to the veteran, to thank them for their duties to our country. If your kids are not shy, have them sing one of the songs you practiced.
5. National Moment of Remembrance: Participate in the National Moment of Remembrance. This is a time when we can all reflect on Memorial Day and those who gave their time for the military. This is usually observed at 3:00 p.m.
6. War Heroes. Find some information about a famous war hero from each war and create a notebook about 'War Heroes'. Your students can then read personal stories about soldiers who died, which brings home the war on a more personal level.
7. Write To A Soldier in Iraq. Many soldiers would love to receive letters or parcels from people back home. There are several organizations you can contact who will assign you a soldier to write to. On Memorial Day, it would be nice to send a care package to a soldier overseas so ask each child to bring in something small to add to the package.
8. Family Members in the War. If some students have family members who are in the war in Iraq or Afghanistan, have them talk about them. Tell the class who they are, what they like to do, how long they have been in Iraq or Afghanistan and what they do there.

Even planner by occupation, but let's not compare!

Well, my name is Holly and I have four beautiful children who are my life! Sophia is 3, Bella is 2 and my twin boys, Trey & George are about to turn 1. I chose the title "Every day is a Hollyday with 4 kids" because I am a serial holiday celebrator! Ask any of my friends and they will agree. I also schedule my children's days, read a ton of parenting books, facilitate a playgroup every week, and basically just organize and plan every thing and moment of my life. Not that I'm not spontaneous, I love that too! I just like planning for good that a crime?

One day I was talking to my good friend, Jessica, and I asked her if I was weird for being so over the top with holidays and planning. She said no, that there were plenty of other moms out there just like me. So my mission is to find those moms. Where are you overachievers, planners, organized, scheduler, holiday freaks like me?

So, I am a natural even planner. I love to do projects, be organized, plan events, be scheduled, be creative, ect. So, as a mom, you have to use your strengths to your advantage. You find out what you do best and then try to incorporate that into your parenting style and life as a homemaker...this, I find, will bring you more happiness and satisfaction because you're doing a job you love and avoiding being an unhappy mom. It will also satisfy your desire to be back in your career, since you turned your homemaker career into something you love and are good at. So think about what you are good at and magnify that in your parenting...mold your life into your dream job so that you are more fulfilled.

This is my personality and this is my blog to express my personality, but I know that a lot of moms are not like favorite mom quote is this "Moms do the best they can with the personality they have, the husband they have, the children they have, the finances they have, the morals they have, and the time they have. No two family situations are the same, so why compare?"

So in reading my blog, don't compare your life to mine. My life is very unique to anyone else's. Just take whatever you find inspiring and add it to your life. I'm constantly stealing good ideas from my friends!

If you still feel inadequate, remember that I have a lot of weaknesses and fail, in comparison, to other moms a lot. Let me just point out some of my failures to make you feel better about yourself.

First of all, I have a hard time relaxing. Sure I can sit and watch a movie or lay by the pool, but my mind never stops. That's the downside of being a planner. I am working on relaxing my mind and body, but it does not come easy for me. I even take Zoloft to help calm me down! Does that make you feel better?

Sometimes I schedule too much and overexert myself. It's hard to take something off the to-do list, I just keep trying to shuffle things around on the list and prioritize, but rarely do I remove it all together.

Sometimes I exhaust my friends and family with my constant ideas and advice. But seriously, if an idea pops in my head it comes right out of my mouth...there is not much of a filter.

I have a friend who's home is spotless and doesn't have a junk drawer in her house. That is not me.
I have a friend who is a great actress and, seemingly, is always playing with her kids and making fantastic impersonations. That's not me. I play with my kids but I am no where near as funny as she.
I have a friend who is a fabulous cook. She calls herself a "foody". She's super healthy with what she cooks too. Unfortunately, that's not me.
I have a friend who's husband works/in school all the time and she never seems stressed by it. That's not me.
I have a friend who, seemingly, is best friends with her husband and they spend so much fun time together. Again, unfortunately, that's not my life as my husband works a lot.

So, every mom has her strengths. Planning events, celebrating holidays, planning my children's days, and organizing my life just happens to be mine. I wanted to blog about my strengths for 2 reasons:
#1 so I can find other moms who posseses this strength and we can bond and I don't feel like such a weirdo. Hopefully these moms will give me more ideas too.
#2 so other moms can maybe be inspired and get ideas.

So let's start blogging!