Sunday, February 20, 2011

Disney on The Brain

I was recently approached with the question, "Why is Disney special to your family". When I asked the kids and T.J. we initially talked about all of our favorite shows and our favorite parts of Disney World. It is taking a few days to look around my own world that I have realized Disney is so much more a part of our family. It is true that this is the channel we have on while we eat dinner as a family. We can all laugh at Good Luck Charlie and Phineas and Ferb. We share inside jokes with a 2 and 5 year old from things that were said that make us giggle. We snuggle up and watch Toy Story or the new favorite Wall E and read the Disney books. I have to admit that Wy has more than a love for Toy Story 2. It is his favorite thing to watch and he would watch it over and over and over again. Luckily we all love it, so we don't mind! We own many Disney Dress ups, belong to the Disney Movie Club, have bought all of the books from the Disney Book Club, go on Disney Vacations, have Disney shoes, socks, clothes, jammies, underwear and bath bubbles. We have rugs, tables, chairs, outside toys, sippy cups, plates, bowls and even foods that are Disney! I even have a little Dr. Doofenschmirtz and Perry the Platypus on my window over my sink in the kitchen. I hadn't really realized how much a part of our lives Disney is. I have come to the conclusion that the reason for this is simple. No matter what the age of the child, whether it be 2 or 32 in our family, these things make us happy. At the end of the day that is what is important. That we are together and that we are happy, just so happens everything Disney makes it a little easier to get there!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Exhale Literary Magazine

I wanted to share a link to a literary magazine, Exhale. It is an online magazine featuring poetry, Essays and book reviews on topics of infertility, loss, and adoption. The poem I wrote for Wyatt is in this months issue.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Happy Birthday Anna...

I am feeling a little reflective tonight, as I sit and think about Anna turning 5 tomorrow, such a big age. She is her own person now. Fun, sweet, compassionate, silly, giggly, giving, kind, dramatic, beautiful and about 1000 other adjectives that could describe all that is great with the world. She has grown into such a neat person. I am so proud to say that I actually like her as more than my daughter, but as the person she has become. Maybe part of it is because she is a lot like me. I see so much of myself in her. She is anxious of new things and many things in general, she loves brightly colored clothes, she loves to snuggle, to organize, to eat, to laugh and she isn't afraid to make new friends. I have been told my my parents on more than one occasion, usually in a fit of Anna's drama, that she is just like me as a child. There are many things that are like T.J. as well, like her sense of humor, her love of art, her desire to make others laugh....even if it may be a bit over the line, and her love of Super Mario Bros. Then there are so many things that are so uniquely Anna. Her love of music, making up songs, dancing, singing, making up stories and knowing just when you need a hug or a laugh. She is an amazing big sister, cousin and friend. She is so smart and proud of the new things she learns. Sometimes I wonder who I was before she made me a mother, because I can't imagine I was even an ounce of the person she has helped me to be. For such a young child she has been through a lot. She has lost a baby brother, a baby sister and a foster brother. She has understood and thrived through each of these situations and made her daddy and I stronger, by seeing the strength she has. She welcomed a new brother with open arms and said goodbye to a dear friend in the last year. Things as adults we don't understand, yet she has still set a shining example for us. She has more wisdom in her little words and has lived more life than some adults I know.

As I think back to this day 5 years ago, I was preparing to go to the hospital for my induction. I think of how I could have never known how my life would change that day for the better and forever. I thank God everyday for this child that he helped us to create. There is not a doubt in my mind that she will do great things when she grows up. She has become such an incredible little girl in the past 5 years and I am so excited to continue to discover who she will become. Happy 5th Birthday Anna Banana.....

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Heartbeat Bill

There is a new Abortion Law being proposed in the State of Ohio. It is known as the "heartbeat Bill" and if voted in would be one of the strictest abortion laws in the country. The law would prohibit women from ending pregnancies at the first detectable heartbeat, which can occur as early as 18 days after conception. Hearing this news and thinking about it brings up such an internal conflict for me. I, a person who never even thought about abortion. Not for, not against, rather impartial. The topic was rarely brought up, so I rarely thought of it. Now as a mother, as a mother of babies who have died, as a mother who has "induced" a pregnancy at 21 weeks at the advice of a doctor, as the mother of a child whose birthmother chose to carry him and to let him go, I am so torn on this matter!!
The biggest part of me thinks it is amazing. I am so saddened by people thinking that babies are "disposable". The number of children in this country born with Down Syndrome has dropped drastically. People are choosing not to carry these babies, because they have Trisomy 21. I can't tell you how much I would have given to have Emma or Connor have Down Syndrome. I actually prayed for that when I was pregnant with Connor. But, alas they had Anencephaly. With the Quad Screening available at 16 weeks gestation, there are many things found that cause parents to choose to terminate. Trisomy 21, Trisomy 18, Trisomy 13, Spina bifida, Potters Syndrome, Heart Defects, and so many more. I have to say that most people who have babies with Anencephaly terminate their pregnancies. The things we are told in the medical world lead us to the decisions that seem the best at the time. According to this new proposed law, that would not be an option. Anencephaly cannot be diagnosed until at least 11 weeks, so where would that leave these parents? Would they be forced to carry their dying babies to term? Would there be some underwritten law within the law that allows for termination if the child cannot survive, or if medically necessary for the mother's survival.
Most of the time when people think of abortion they think of young girls getting pregnant and not wanting the baby. They go to planned parenthood and end the pregnancy. This is true for a lot of the cases. But, there are also cases like mine. Where there is a mom and a dad who want the baby more than anything, but the baby is sick and dying, the parents are distraught and unsure of what to do and this is the path they go down. Having been through a pregnancy both ways, I am now an advocate for carrying to term. If there is ever a mom in a similar situation to mine I always share my story and try to offer advice, but it is always her choice. Not everyone can carry a dying child to term, not everyone has been through the things that I have to realize I could. Most of the moms I know who have carried to term have lost a baby early in another pregnancy, either to abortion or another factor. That is part of the reason why we carried to term, we learned the hard way.
I also question how selective reduction would be handled. In cases of multiples, sometimes Doctors advise that 1 or more of the fetuses be taken to help ensure the health of the others. Would this still be something that could be done? I am sure all of these things will come into question as this proposal comes into law, but so far 40 of the 99 representatives have signed off on it. That is a lot of people. I wonder how many of those 40 have children, how many of them have lost a child to a birth defect, how many of them have a child with a special need. I wonder how many of them were raised Catholic or with a strict Christian background. There are so many things that bring us to have the beliefs we have as adults, I just hope that whatever comes of this bill they think of every parent in every situation before it is made official.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Part 2

I have been able to visit Aunt Jean a few times in the passed couple of weeks. Each time I go we talk a little about "today" and mostly about before. She openly talks about how much she hates Alzheimer's Disease. She hates not remembering things and losing her thought mid sentence. I am glad she will talk about this with me. She has tried so hard for a long time to seem like everything is okay, so I am sure it is nice to finally just stop pretending. If not by choice, by neccesity. When we bring up the past I always talk about the nights I spent with her. Saturday nights, every so often, when Mom and Dad would go out. Aunt Jean and I would go through her jewelry, eat something including Green Beans and watch Empty Nest and Golden Girls. I vividly remember this part of my childhood, which is nice, because I don't remember a whole lot of it!
When I ask her about her childhood she was able to remember a lot. She told me how my Great Grandparents met. Emma Cundy (my Great Grandma Ahrens) worked at a restraunt and Bill Ahrens (my great grandpa) made a delivery there from a delicatessen where he worked. He asked her on a date and the rest was history. Aunt Jean said she and my Grandmother were always close growing up. Aunt Jean is older, but they shared many of the same friends. When they were young they lived in Clifton. She said they would often dress in their best clothes and heels and walk to Eden Park to hang out with friends. Snow, Rain, heat...always dressed in heels! I can't imagine walking 1/3 that far in heels. She said a friend of theirs Uncle ran the shelter at Eden Park, so they were able to hang out there. My Great Uncle John owned a Bar in Clifton. She said My Great Grandpa owned a linens company and provided the linens for the restraunt. My Great Grandma would not only cook all of the meals for the bar, but also make aprons and linens for my Great Grandpa. I asked Aunt Jean what her aspirations were as a child. She said she always wanted to be a Secretary. She started at 17 and was a Secretary into her 70's. I guess she was exactly what she wanted to be. When I asked her how my Grandma and Grandpa met she thought long and hard. She thinks it was when she was at Westinghouse and went on a date with a man there and Grandpa and Grandma were set up as doubles. I am not sure if that is how it happened, she got a little distant when thinking about this one.
When I went over yesterday she gave me all of the written history of the Ahrens, Cundy and Fosse families. This information dates as far back as the 1600's. I haven't had much of a chance to look over it yet, but I plan to soon. I guess maybe this little idea will be more than just a two part project.

A few of the pictures I added are from Aunt Jean's album. Aunt Jean as a toddler (with Jewelry on, she remembered always wearing jewelry as a child) , The Ahren's Family - Great Grandma Ahrens, Grandma Strasser(Dot), Aunt Jean and Great Grandpa Ahrens, My uncle John's Bar and Aunt Jean and her first car

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Return of the Guilt

It always amazes me how guilt can strike out of nowhere. I drove passed the cemetery yesterday and thought about how it has been weeks since I have been there. I can reassure myself that the snow, sleet and ice are part of the reason. The 2 children in the car, the sadness I feel when I am there sometimes, I have been busy yadda yadda yadda. I haven't been to the cemetery in weeks, am I a bad mom for this!!? I sat and talked with a dear friend of mine tonight about the guilt. About how I have been doing so great lately. Enjoying life and my children and I have been happy. It is times like this that the guilt hits me. Should I be this happy? I have 2 babies in Heaven. I have 2 children who are not on this Earth, how could I be happy? But, I am. It is the 2 children I have in my arms that help. My husband and my dog (as obnoxious as he is sometimes!) and my family. I can honestly say that time has helped me heal. I think about Emma and Connor everyday. I pray for them every night. I wear jewelry with their names and I stare at their pictures, but I do not cry. Then on days like today I feel guilty because I haven't cried. Has it been too long? Am I numb to this specific pain and I can no longer feel it? I don't know. I do know it is nice to talk to someone else who is the same kind of "crazy" as I am. I guess I am able to worry about my children here. I can worry about school, sickness, fighting, crying, eating, sleeping, rocking, playing and every other thing they do. For Emma and Connor I don't have much more than my grief. Grieving has been my entire relationship with them, so when the crying stops and the pain lessens what do I have? Maybe that is where the guilt comes in. I am looking for a new relationship to share with them. A way of moving forward without "moving on". A way to try and "know" them without ever having known them. This may be something I never figure out or something that happens totally on it's own. For now I will give myself a break. Be thankful that the crying comes less and the pain is more tolerable. I guess I will have to give myself a little time to figure this new stage of grieving out.