17 Days of Benny – Day 7

Day 7 – Month 7

By the time Benny was was 7 months old, we had celebrated his first Thanksgiving, Darcy’s 4th birthday and we were getting ready for Christmas.  Parker and I had finally finished splitting the bedrooms upstairs and Benny finally had his own bedroom!

He loved spending time in his johnny jumper and would get the thing going at a good clip while he watched Darcy play.  He also loved his exersaucer at this age, pretty much any situation in which he could jump, he was happy.  Around this time he was a drooling fiend as we waited for those first teeth to poke out.  He went from being the best sleeper to getting up at night from teething pain.  I think this is around the time that he really began crying and let us know when he was unhappy.

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Nurse Appreciation Week

I can say with complete certainty that there are things that I blocked out from ‘that day’.  I don’t like to talk about it and a lot of the details have become fuzzy at this point.  It’s like watching a movie, like it happened to someone else, because how could that have ever happened to Benny and me?

What I do remember about the hospital is pretty awful, painful and graphic.  I don’t want to talk about that.  I want to talk about what I remember that was good.  It’s weird to say the word good in the same sentence where I talk about my son dying, but bear with me please.

There was this moment, when I felt that I would shatter, when I was starting to feel something and completely freaked out.  Until then I was numb, I went someplace, I was shaking and not making much sense.  I didn’t even cry at first because it was all still unbelievable to me.  But then I fell apart.  I asked Parker how we were supposed to go on, breathe, live.

‘I lost my son too.  You will get through this’.  Through my hysterics I looked across the room to the nurse that was stroking Benny’s hair who had spoken.  It was such a simple statement, but the life raft I needed in that moment.  Here was my proof that this was survivable.  These words meant everything to me.  There were probably 20+ people around us, doctors and nurses.  She was the first one to talk to us and she was the one that made the difference.  Thank you Donna, 18 months later, YOU are what stands out in my mind from that day and for that I’m forever thankful.

17 Days of Benny – Day 6

Day 6 – Month 6

By the time Benny was 6 months old, he was eating solids and we had to add meat to his diet because he was so big!  He was constantly hungry and off the charts at the doctors office.  At around this time he was starting to sit up on his own and becoming more interactive.  He was definitely a cuddler and would snuggle in every night before bed.

In October, we also had to say good-bye to our Mason cow.  He was such an amazing dog with both kiddos and so patient.  This was Darcy’s first encounter with death and there were lots of questions from her 3 year old mouth.  I was so thankful (it sounds awful) that she had this experience before Benny died.  She was able to wrap her head around death being final and understood somewhat what to expect.  Thank goodness for our Macy cow to teach her one of life’s biggest lessons.

We got to celebrate our first Halloween as a family of 4 and enjoyed pumpkin picking with Tara and family and his first Trick or Treat with the Hoey’s.  Darcy was Dorothy and Benny was the Lion from the Wizard of Oz.  They were quite the pair!

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17 Days of Benny – Day 5

Day 5 – Month 5

By the time that Benny was 5 months old I was back at work while trying to juggle Parker’s company and the kids.  Things were stressful.  The seasons had just started to turn to Fall, what used to be my favorite time of the year.

Benny had started with Sandy part time and I was adjusting to our new schedule.  We visited the Topsfield Fair with the kids like we did every year, only this year I forgot to bring a hat for Benny, so he rocked a bandana all day long.  We really began to see the dudes personality come out about this time.  He was still super laid back, but all smiles and happiness.  He was interested in everything Darcy did.  At around 2 months Benny had figured out how to inch worm across the room on his back.  By 5 months he was rolling and inching all over the place.  He and Darcy was best buds at this point.  Life was good.

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Similarities

I feel like a blogging machine!  I guess this is what happens when I go too long without writing.  It’s almost like a cleansing for me, it feels like a nice long shower after walking 20 some odd miles in 90 degree heat.  But I digress.

We had our 20 week ultrasound some weeks ago.  This time (because my kiddos never have perfect ultrasounds), Fletch seems to have enlarged kidneys.  Not alarmingly so, but enough that I was able to go for a follow up around 28 weeks or so.  Of course being the crazy person that I am I researched everything having to do with Hydronephrosis and asked one of my friends who went through a similar thing.  Everything I was read/told said there was very little to worry about.

Here’s the thing though, once you’ve lost a child, there is no faith in the Universe.  There is no way to tell myself that it’s all going to be ok.  Panic takes over.  You go into worst case scenario mode, which is exactly what I did.  It must have been so much easier to have babies before Google.  I had to turn off the tablet and walk away and spend some time with Darcy to clear my mind.

At my 28 week ultrasound, I was nervous and pretty much badgered the poor tech, who would tell me nothing.  I cursed myself for not bringing my glasses to try to read the numbers and measurements that she was typing in.  Fletcher was also not so happy to have his picture taken and wouldn’t fully cooperate.

The problem here was that after my scan, they said that the doctor would call me within a week with results, sooner if there was an issue.  Seriously???  Meanwhile at home Darcy was very sick with the stomach flu, so I was distracted for a few hours until the phone began ringing.  It was the doctors office-to tell me that they had my bloodwork back and wanted me to take more Iron.  I almost killed the nurse over the phone and told her that I was in full blown panic mode about my ultrasound and really wanted to know if they’d heard anything.  She said she’d get back to me.

Meanwhile, on the other line my midwife was calling.  I got that message and blanched.  I knew it was not going to be great news if she was calling that soon.  She said Fletch had slight Hydronephrosis, really nothing that would harm him in any way and they could do a follow up ultrasound in a month.  Well, after asking her 100 questions, she decided it would be better for me to get a level 2 ultrasound with the PICU at UMASS.

I had to ask, was it UMASS Memorial or UMASS University?  Parker and I still haven’t been to the hospital where we last held Benny and had to say good-bye.  We go to extreme lengths to avoid even driving near the place.  Thankfully it was Memorial, so I agreed and we were set to go for yet another ultrasound in a week.

I felt much calmer after talking to the midwife and honestly a little sheepish.  Here I am all pro natural/zero intervention/no medical birth and I’m agreeing to every medical test in the universe over here.  This is how I’m different now.  This is where my lack of faith comes in.  Everything isn’t always ok, it doesn’t always work out.

So Parker and I went over to UMASS Memorial to have ultrasound #5 and meet with the Neonatal doctor.  I have to say that the ultrasound tech was amazing.  She looked at everything and was so encouraging the entire time.  She kept saying ‘looks good’ which made me breathe easier.  She took some amazing pictures and to my surprise, Fletcher was calm throughout the process.  He had his foot in his mouth at one point and of course his hands up by his face.

The most fascinating part was the 3-D.  I’ve never had a level 2 ultrasound, so I was completely unprepared when the tech played around with the pictures and came up with a face.  It took me a moment to realize what I was seeing, but it looked exactly like Benny.  I started crying and Parker stood up to try to see what I was looking at.  We were both blown away.  Similar nose, lips, hand up by the head and it even looked as if he had a mohawk starting.  This was something that we always knew could be possible, but seeing it was something else.

The doctor came in and said he was fine, everything looked good.  He said that if we were over in Europe that they wouldn’t even consider his kidney size to be an issue.  Worst case for this kiddo is another ultrasound in a month and maybe a follow up once he’s born.  That’s it.

So it got me thinking, were all these ultrasounds a warning for us that he would come out looking like Benny?  I’ve made my peace with it now and actually expect it.  I know he will be very different regardless of what he looks like.  I’ve been trying to prepare others so that it’s not a total shock when he’s born.  We have another ultrasound, I will be curious to see if we get a better look without his foot and hand near his face.

Here’s the thing, regardless of what Fletcher looks like, he’s mine.  He will never be a replacement for Benny, he’ll be his brother.  They might look alike, but it will never be the same again.  I’m not the same mom that I was.  If I could, this little boy would be wrapped in bubble wrap until he’s at least 30.  I will be that crazy helicopter mom and I’m still not sure how I even feel about that.  Only time will tell I suppose.

17 Days of Benny – Day 3

Day 3 – Month 3

By 3 months we were calling Benny ‘the dude’.  He was still smiling non stop, not really crying and stunned me by rolling over at his 10 week appointment in the doctors office.  We had some set backs too though.  He had been found to have a slight torticolus (where his neck is stronger on one side than the other) and twitch to his foot that sent us to UMASS for an EEG.  All turned out well, but Sandy always said that Benny was the one that would keep us guessing.

He spent lots of time outdoors with Darcy and I that summer and logged many miles in the stroller as I got ready for the 3 Day.  Parker followed me along the 60 mile route with both kids.  Benny was around 10 weeks old and thank goodness that he was a good nurser because I was able to make through the walk with quick nursing breaks.

During this time we also took our first (as a family of 4) camping trip with Tara and her family.  Yes, we slept in a tent and it was like hedonism with all of the naked kids running around.  We went swimming in the lake and brought Benny in, who didn’t protest, but seemed to enjoy the cooler water.  He was still our super chill dude.

At about this time his mohawk was in full effect too.  Both of our children seemed to have the most unruly hair!

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17 Days of Benny – Day 2

Day 2:  Month 2

Benny was born at the perfect part of the summer.  I was so lucky to be able to enjoy time off with both children and be able to be outdoors.  In Benny’s second month of life he was able to enjoy his first circus, Fourth of July and his first Father’s Day.  For Father’s Day we traveled down to Long Island with my sister’s family so that Benny could meet my father and my other sister.

At that point, Benny was putting on the weight and was a fantastic sleeper.  We hit some record heat days in his second month of life, but he was still as chill as ever.  Darcy was born with so much piss and vinegar that Benny was a breath of fresh air.

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17 Days of Benny – Day 1

Similar to my ‘Capture your Grief’ project back in October, I’ve decided to spend 17 days focusing on Benny’s life instead of his death.  When he passed he was 17 months old and his birthday is May 17th, so how fitting.  Each day will chronicle a month of his life.  It’s time to write this down before it becomes all muddled with my pregnancy brain.

Day 1:

Benny was born in the early morning hours of May 17th, 2012.  I’m not sure who was more surprised, Parker or I at the fact that we had a little boy.  I think I was more surprised at his wispy blond hair and how much he looked like his sister and me.  He weighed in at 7lbs. 13oz. and was 21.5″ long.

Benny was a disaster in the hospital.  He had a really tough time with colostrum and was spitting it up as soon as I was able to give it to him.  We had to change him almost hourly.  It was a little frightening, but once my milk came in he ate like a champ and had no problems putting on weight.

Darcy was the first to meet him and was only 3 1/2 at the time.  I can’t even wrap my head around her being so young.  She held him like a champ and was super excited once we came home.  That all changed pretty quickly once she realized that she wasn’t the ‘main event’ anymore.  She had some jealousy, but never took it out on Bennett, but rather me.  I did prefer this, but goodness it was tough.

I remember most about those first few days was Benny’s smile.  The night we came home from the hospital the little guy gave me his first smile.  And this wasn’t just a partial, but a full on smile with dimples.  I was shocked.  Darcy made us wait 10 whole weeks and here was Bennett just giving them away!  He also never cried.  When he was hungry he would make what we lovingly called ‘baby noises.’

He was possibly the most laid back baby.  Maybe it was because I was more of a laid back momma and this was child #2.  We just felt so lucky to have such a chill little dude.2012-05-17_07-39-12_649 2012-05-17_14-15-42_84

Year Two Reflections – Seasons

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A year ago I was dreading Spring.  I was quite happy to hibernate indoors.  I didn’t want to be reminded of rebirth and growth and new life.  I suppose that I still don’t.

Although, this year I’m excited to get outdoors.  I want to breathe in fresh cut grass and dig in the Earth.  Maybe it was the endless snow, maybe it’s the new street out front of our house, perhaps it’s looking forward to gardening that has me so excited.

Last fall I was told to plant garlic in my garden and it would bloom in the spring. (Thanks for the tip Katie!)  I was so depressed after gardening season that this seemed like a great idea.  Darcy started back at school and life happened and well, I never got around to it and I regretted it.  About a month ago, I noticed the garlic cloves that I had purchased were growing on their own in my pantry.  I’ve since potted them and now they’re thriving!

A sign of my little man taking care of things for me once again.  A sign he’s never gone, never will be gone.  I can’t wait to plant these in his garden.

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