CYG – Day 12

CYG – Day 12:  Normalizing Grief

This post is supposed to be about anything that you felt wasn’t ‘normal’ about your grief process.  Parker and I were very fortunate to be surrounded by some of the most amazing people that pretty much told us that anything goes.  We were never made to feel weird or awkward for feeling what we were feeling.  We also never judged one another about what we were feeling either.  We are pretty lucky to have an amazing support system.

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned, it’s that there’s nothing ‘normal’ about grief.  We often don’t think about death until it’s upon us because it’s too depressing.  And then you’re stuck in the middle of it treading water.  Everyone’s reaction to grief is going to be different, each journey unique.

CYG – Day 15

CYG – Day 15:  Wave of Light

I’m going out of order, but I really wanted to keep this post for today, which is pregnancy and infant loss day.  While Benny was older, I really relate to the others that have lost babies, as well as grieve our miscarriage following Benny.  Today is for all of those mammas out there that have suffered through this in silence and I know way too many.  Hugs.

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CYG – Day 11

CYG – Day 11:  Glow in the Woods

This post is about sharing some resources that have aided in my healing journey.  After the accident (I feel like every post starts this way), I spent hours combing the internet looking for ‘others.’  I would stay up until 2-3 in the morning to find someone that I could relate to.  I would read website after website, blog after blog.  For some reason the books that were sent our way made it all seem too real.

Then I started blogging as an outlet for myself.  A few weeks into that I found that I could follow other bloggers journeys.  I would wait all day for someone to post something.  I found ‘my people,’ others on the journey.  I also found myself in a weird group.  Most of the other bloggers that I met had lost older, adult children or infants.  I didn’t know where I belonged, it was so hard to find someone in the middle like I was.  Nonetheless, we were able to relate to one another.  A community of strangers supporting one another blindly.  It made getting through the day much easier.  Once I shared my blog and put it all out there, it felt even better.  I’ve met other moms that are just beginning their journey and now they’re using my blog as a resource.  I certainly don’t have many answers, mostly questions, but if someone can relate, then I did the right thing by sharing.

We waited several months, but went to our first support group meeting.  It was overwhelming to say the least.  We sat in a room with at least 20+ other families that had lost children, mostly adult children to suicide and addiction.  We felt like we didn’t belong and it was so hard hearing all of the stories.  We ended up switching to a smaller support group closer to home with my friend Sue.  After being there for the first few minutes I could breathe and relax.  These were our people.  Amazing, supportive people that had also lost children, but were so relatable.  I think we laugh more than we cry when we meet because we see life as a gift and our time with our children as such as well.  I feel very lucky to have met these amazing, strong women.

My sister called a few weeks after the accident in a panick.  She had a friend who was a grief counselor and had warned my sister that we needed to start seeing someone ASAP.  We got our therapists contact info from the pastor that did Benny’s services.  I just remember that first meeting, where she gave us the option to counsel us for couples, counsel one of us, or counsel both of us and as a couple (which is rare).  We both left there feeling like she was ‘the one.’  So we both spent the next two years working with her individually and as a couple.  Having that outlet was a huge help in coping with Benny’s death and enabled us to grow together as a couple, instead of apart, which happens so often.  Our therapist was also instrumental in helping us find Darcy’s therapist, that we were equally happy with.

I’ve talked about it a million times, but the Greg Hill Foundation really helped us.  Suddenly we were thrown in with other families that had suffered tragedy, Boston Marathon Bombing Survivors and everyone was so positive.  It’s an amazing family to be a part of.  It helped me to feel like less of a victim and less alone.

We’ve been very fortunate to have so many resources and great people in our lives pulling for us.

CYG – Day 10

CYG – Day 10:  Words

I’m going to share a song that has lyrics that are making me crazy because they resonate so much with me…

‘Loving can hurt
Loving can hurt sometimes
But it’s the only thing that I know
When it gets hard
You know it can get hard sometimes
It is the only thing that makes us feel alive
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We keep this love in a photograph
We made these memories for ourselves
Where our eyes are never closing
Hearts are never broken
Times forever frozen still

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So you can keep me

Inside the pocket
Of your ripped jeans
Holdin’ me closer
‘Til our eyes meet
You won’t ever be alone
Wait for me to come home

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Loving can heal
Loving can mend your soul
And it’s the only thing that I know
I swear it will get easier
Remember that with every piece of ya
And it’s the only thing we take with us when we die
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We keep this love in this photograph
We made these memories for ourselves
Where our eyes are never closing
Our hearts were never broken
Times forever frozen still

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Oh you can fit me
Inside the necklace you got when you were 16
Next to your heartbeat
Where I should be
Keep it deep within your soul’

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CYG – Day 9

CYG – Day 9:  Family

My family has changed considerably from a year ago, from two years ago.  We have welcomed another little boy, which amazes me.  I never thought I would have one son, never mind two.  We have added two new little kitties to our zoo, which has been a huge breath of fresh air.  We are now part of the Greg Hill family, such an amazing group of people that take care of each other.  We have so many new friends that we consider family.  We are truly lucky.

What’s stayed the same are our friends, our amazing, faithful friends that have embraced us and taken care of us since everything first happened.  They are a huge part of our family.  I don’t know where we be without these people.  The extended family members that constantly email, text and call us to check in have been amazing.  We are so blessed.

We’ve lost a few members of our family too.  Some friends have disappeared and I’m working on being ok with that.  Two weeks ago we had to make the decision to put our dog, Bailey down.  I’ve been with her longer than I’ve been with Parker.  It was a heart breaking decision to make and it’s been really hard not having her around.  It was the first big change to the family due to death since Benny.  It was hard to watch Darcy cope through loss again.

CYG – Day 7

CYG – Day 7:  Memory

Benny’s birth was not at all what I expected.  Darcy had come into the world so quickly (within 4 hours of my arrival at the hospital), so we just expected Benny to come sooner.  At this point, we were still unsure if we were having a boy or a girl.  Part of me didn’t want to know and the part couldn’t, but the ultrasound techs could never get a good look.

I remember waking up in the morning feeling sick and canceling my meetings for the day.  I worked from home a little bit, but a part of me knew that it was game time.  I cooked on the BBQ that night during contractions and we took our last family walk around the neighborhood as a family of 3 to keep labor going.  By 7 we had dropped off Darcy and made the treck into Newton Wellesley Hospital.  I was pretty sure that the contractions were consistent at this point and I was worried about making it there on time because it was an hour away from Worcester.

Imagine my surprise when we got there and I was only 1 cm dilated!  I was not very happy at all.  During the exam I went to a 3 and I figured game on.  I was 4 when I walked in with Darcy and it was all so quick.  I wasn’t looking forward to the pain that I knew was coming.  I chose to work with midwives during my deliveries because I believe that natural, unmedicated childbirth is what’s best for me.  My labor with Darcy had been intense back labor with little to no break in contractions.  I wasn’t looking forward to this again.

I remember the nurse and midwife both commenting that I was probably carrying an 8 pounder.  Not something that you want to hear when your first baby was only 7 lbs. 3 oz!  We walked around the hospital and hedged our guesses on weight, height and gender.  Our nurse recorded everything on the white board in our room.

After several hours (and here I was thinking this was going to be fast!), they broke my water to get things moving.  Well, once they did that, it was like I wasn’t pregnant anymore, my belly all but disappeared.  That’s when they changed their tunes and said that it was only a 7 pounder, such happy news to hear!

I spent the early morning hours in the tub relaxing and breathing through the contractions.  Parker and I spent time hanging out with our nurse and getting to know her well.  She was amazing.  Things finally kicked into high gear around 5 AM when my contractions started to come on top of each other.  This time I had a break though, so after several minutes of intense pain, I actually could breathe!  This was so different than what I remembered and I was so relieved.  This was manageable.

After about an hour of really bad contractions and three pushes later, Benny arrived.  There was so much serenity to this birth.  My midwife was so calm and soothing, the sun was just beginning to rise and there was a quiet in the air.  I knew the instant that I delivered him (because I pretty much pulled him out and held him right away) that he was a boy.  I remember holding him to my chest, stunned that he had blond hair.  Meanwhile, everyone was asking me what he was.  Parker started crying as soon as he saw that he had a son.

I don’t remember Benny really crying or screaming as his siblings had.  He was so easy to nurse, latched right on like he had been doing so his whole life.  I remember the nurse holding him and asking him if he would be the one to declare world peace.  Everything seemed so easy with him.

If every birth could be like his, I’d have 10 kids.  Clearly though, that is not how it’s happened, but that’s ok.  That’s what makes Benny so special.  He came into this world so calmly, emitting this amazing peace.  Of course once he was older, that would all change, but for a while at least he was my serene baby.

CYG – Day 6

CYG – Day 6:  Books

Today we are supposed to share books that have helped us along the way.  After the accident so many people gave us books.  I haven’t opened one of them, I couldn’t, still can’t.  I’m just not there yet.  I have found the most comfort from reading others blogs.  It’s not polished or edited, but real and raw.  I have connected with so many people through blogging and I am so happy to have this outlet for myself as well.

CYG – Day 4

CYG – Day 4:  Light & Dark

This is an interesting topic for me because it’s something that I deal with daily between Benny and Fletcher.  I’ve written before that I don’t know where one begins and one ends sometimes.  I think any parent that has a child of one gender and then goes on to have another probably confuses the memories, calls the child by the wrong name, etc.  What makes it even harder is the resemblance between the boys.  When Darcy was born she had black spiky hair and looked like Parker (obviously that changed), but both boys came out blonde and looking like Darcy and I.

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Benny’s a little older than Fletch in the photos, but the resemblance is there.  My mother in law had a photo at her house and Parker and I weren’t sure which child it was.  I’ve decided this is a good thing and to go with it.  Fletch certainly has his own (whiny) personality that sets him apart from his brother.

There are days when it’s hard though, when I’m exhausted and covered in spit up and I think to myself, my goodness, would we be dealing with this infant stuff again if Benny were here?  Would we really have had more kids?  It’s hard not to get really angry in those moments, to not think we’d past all of this and dealing with 3 year old stuff instead.  I’m being brutally honest here.  Now, I would never wish that Fletch wasn’t here and after all that we went through to have him, I know how lucky that we are.  Those moments are rare and fleeting, and I wish it wasn’t always one or the other, but that we could have them both here together.

This is my dark.  My one or the other.  It sucks.  I could never choose between my boys, I love them both so much.  It was never my choice in the first place.  Some days it feels like a choice though.  When I realize that the day has passed and I haven’t spent any real time thinking about Benny, but I spent the whole day with Fletch.  The guilt is insane.  I haven’t been to the cemetery since Fletch was born.  I’m working on figuring out how to have both exist in my life.  It’s this weird balancing act that always seems out of whack.

Fletcher is my light, he is my happiness and my hope.  I would do anything in the world to see him smile or get a chuckle out of him.  There is nothing that I love more than to snuggle that little man or see him interacting with Darcy.  He has brought so much life into this family.  He has brought so much happiness into my life.

How do they coexist together?  How do I grieve when I am so happy?  Anyone that thinks having another child after yours is deceased makes it easier is dead wrong.  It makes it complicated, because Fletcher’s life will always be intertwined with Benny’s death.  It’s so hard to grieve and feel joy simultaneously and that’s what I’m struggling with.

CYG – Day 3

Day 3 – In Honour

I started this blog in honor of our son Bennett.  I spend a lot of time on this blog talking about grief, anger, hope, etc. but today is all about Bennett.  I’ve written bits and pieces about him here and there, so I’m thinking today that I’ll share some stories.

About a week or so before the accident, we were having some family time in the living room.  Parker and I were sitting on the couch and Benny was in his climbing stage.  He kept climbing on the coffee table and looking at us with that Fletcher twinkle in his eye looking for our reaction.  After about the third time of this Parker decided to turn the table on it’s side.  He looked at Benny and said ‘good luck!’  Well, not to be outdone, Benny climbed right onto the table on it’s side while Parker just started shaking his head.

When Benny first started walking in the summer of 2013, he would run from his bedroom to the bathroom at night for his shower with Darcy (baths weren’t an option with this child).  He’d do his little naked dance and inevitably pee the entire way.  It got so every night I would follow him with a towel.  Darcy finally turned and looked at me one day and said, ‘Mom, why don’t you just put him on the toilet?’ (duh).  So we started every night and that kid would go.  He was only 15 months when this started, but he would actually use the toilet and figured out how to hold it until then so that I wasn’t cleaning pee off the floor every night.

Benny was a pretty calm little guy as far tempers go.  With Darcy things were often a battle of wills, with Benny it was just so much easier.  He was a very mild baby too, didn’t really cry for the first 6 months.  As a toddler, he was usually very happy and pretty easy to parent (as far as attitudes go).  It was rare for him to throw a tantrum, but when he did it was hilarious!  I would often have to look away and laugh as he would get onto the floor in frustration.

Benny was a dream baby.  He slept through the night early on, he rarely ever cried and was SO even tempered.  There were days that I would panic that there was something wrong with him, Darcy had been so spirited from birth.  Benny was my snuggler.  He would find that spot on your shoulder in your neck and just settle in.  He was a terrible napper, but just so happy all of the time.  I was so lucky to have had such an easy going baby.

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Day 30 – Intention

After the accident happened, I knew that I needed to do something, anything, in Benny’s name. While I’m still trying to vet exactly what that is, I intend to give of myself in honor of Benny’s life. He lived and even though it was short, he was here and he was mine. My intention is to try to better other grieving parents/childrens lives, be it though a non-profit or just simply reaching out. No one should have to bury a child alone.

I’ve been toying with the idea of starting up ‘Benny’s Bunnch’ as a parent/child grief resource. I know that there are groups out there such as Compassionate Friends, but I’m looking at something more than a grief group. I think back to the hospital sending us home with tons of paperwork with terrifying statistics. There was no follow up whatsoever and no guidance. We are just lucky that we have social workers in our family that were able to push us in the right direction. We got help almost immediately. I have met several other people on this journey that haven’t had this type of support and perhaps would have benefited from it. I haven’t yet figured out what form this should take or a time frame. I just know that I want to help others. This process is much easier when you don’t feel alone. I’ve been surrounded by other moms that have helped to guide me. It’s time to return the favor.
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