peace at last

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all.*

Thank you, Lord for blessing me with Louis for 17 and a half years.

I know he is sleeping in my Grandma’s lap now.

Comfortable.

Happy.

At peace.

Louis The Cat Sluiter
April 1994- October 2011
Best friend and Son of a B

*Lyrics from “All Things Bright and Beautiful” by Cecil F Alexander

shouldn’t

He quietly came into my first hour each day, still shrugging off sleep at 7:30am.

‘Morning, Mrs. Sluiter.

He took his place against the wall in the back.  Chatting with his neighbors.

Slowly waking up his contagious smile.

After lunch he always breezed into my room again…this time to chat with his friends before hurrying to his fifth hour.

You have me again this hour, Mrs. Sluiter.  Or at least you wish you did, don’t you?  Miss me yet?

He ran track.

He had lots of friends.

He was nice to everyone.

I wonder…

did he love to run when he was a toddler?

did his mother have to chase him in stores and through the yard?

did he have that easy smile when he was young or did he hide behind his mother’s legs?

did his mom count his fingers and toes and gaze into his eyes when he was born?

did she tousle his hair as she tucked him in at night?

did he like to hear the same book over and over every night before bed?

did he have chubby toddler hands and elbows when he was small?

did he make his mom presents in school?

did he always make friends so easily?

did he always work so hard?

did he tell his family he loved them often?  What about that day?

did his mom tell him to be careful when he went to the pool knowing he couldn’t swim and worrying about him?

did he hug his friends?  his family?

did he know who loved him?

sixteeen.

he should be taking driver’s ed and worrying about pimples.

he should be keeping in shape for another season of track.

he should be thinking about his junior year.

he should be with his friends enjoying a free summer.

he should be.  but he’s not.

I better have you for Spanish 2, Mrs. Sluiter.  Or I might just switch to French.  Just kidding!

On the last day of school he walked out of the room with everyone else.

It was first hour so they all had five more “lasts” to go.  Mine wasn’t all that special.

But he waved.

Have a great summer, Mrs. Sluiter!

“You guys have a super summer too!  Come back safe to me in the fall!”

my heart is so full of sadness.

he was someone’s friend, cousin, nephew…but all I can think about is how he was someone’s son.

someone’s little boy.

someone’s joy.

he was a newborn swaddled and smelling fresh.

he was a curious toddler

he was a big boy starting school.

he was an awkward middle schooler.

he was a well-liked, athletic, friendly high school student.

the list shouldn’t have to stop there.

it just shouldn’t.

my heart and prayers go out to all who knew him…but mostly?

I am thinking and praying for his family.

Specifically his mother.

she shouldn’t have to bear this.

this shouldn’t be how life is.

mothers outliving sons.

mothers with empty arms.

it just shouldn’t be.

*************

my heart and prayers go to V’s family and friends.

i will miss his face…and his smile.

heartcare

My post for The Red Dress Club is at Exploded Moments today.  It’s about a memory involving a game.

**************

My summer was slipping by.

I was stuck in the house day in and day out with a colicky infant.  People were doing things and having fun and relaxing their summers away, and I was crying all the time.

I wanted to get away from my child, but I didn’t want to.

I wanted to love him and snuggle him and have wonderful days.

But I also wanted to run out the front door because my head wouldn’t stop pounding from his screams.

He never slept by himself.  He always had to be held.

I couldn’t get anything done.

I had postpartum depression and didn’t know it.

*************

The plan was that Eddie would go to daycare full time when I went back to work in the fall, but that he would go maybe a half day or a day a week for a couple weeks before that just so he (and I) could get used to the daycare routine.

Notice I said “plan” and “was”?

Yeah.  We should have learned by now that when we make life plans?  They rarely go our way.

And my plan to love every minute of being home with my little boy?  Definitely didn’t pan out the way I thought it would.

Cort convinced me to call our daycare provider and see if she could take Eddie for a half day, one day a week.  Just to give me a break.

She said yes.

It was a relief and a terror at the same time.

I had never left my baby with anyone other than family–and at that point not even many of them had been left alone with him.

As much as I wanted to get away, I couldn’t imagine my baby being somewhere without me.

The day I left Eddie for the first time, I couldn’t even stay and chat.  I must have looked like I was in a huge hurry, but really I was racing against my tears.

They began to fall before I even got back in my car.

And I started to ugly cry as I realized I had run out so fast I hadn’t even kissed him goodbye.

That afternoon my house got cleaned from top to bottom for the first time in months.  And I took a shower.  Before 6pm.

It was wonderful.

*************

Miss Amy has been a friend of mine for years.  She and I scrapbook together which means we have gone through pregnancies (mostly hers) and breakups (mostly mine) and laughed until we cried.  Plus she lives about 4.5 minutes from my house.  And that is just because I have to leave my subdivision to get to hers.  If I walked though the woods from my front yard to her backyard?  It would probably only take about 2.5 minutes.

She is loving and caring and wonderful.

She was the only person I ever wanted as a daycare provider, and when we got pregnant with Eddie, she didn’t have any openings.

Her license only allows her to take six children at a time and she was booked solid.

I refused to worry about it.  I knew something would come up and it would work out.  And honestly?  I had no idea that it would be so hard to leave my baby.  I was a clueless first time mom who had a rosey outlook on everything.

I remember being so excited when Miss Amy emailed us to tell us that she was losing a couple kids due to moving and other things and that if we wanted a spot for Eddie full time, it was ours.

There was squee-ing involved.

And we thought our world was perfect.

Then I had PPD.

But she was there for me.

Then Cort lost his job.

But she was there for us and let Eddie continue to come once a week, keeping a spot for him in case Cort found work.

And then Cort found work.

And we thought our world was perfect again.

*************

I never knew that leaving your child with someone else is like leaving a piece of your heart behind.

That first day that I left Eddie with Amy I cried of a broken heart.

She had part of it in her arms, and I could feel that.

Even now, when I am at work, she holds that piece of my heart safe all day.  She nurtures him and loves him like her own.  He said “Ahh ee” before he said “maa maa”.

It hurts less knowing that piece is being cared for, but it’s still an ache until I see him again at the end of the day.

But I always trust that when I get that piece of my heart back?  It will be in better shape than I left it.

*************

This weekend we got the news that next fall Amy won’t be able to take Eddie anymore.

There are lots of circumstances that I won’t go into, but with Eddie, she will exceed her six children limit.

We totally understand that she has to do this.

We know she is broken up about losing her little buddy.

I wish I could say that because I logically understand and know we will find something else, I feel fine about the whole thing.

But I don’t.

I cried ugly tears again last night at the thought of letting someone new hold a piece of my heart.

I buried my face in my pillow trying not to imagine my little boy meeting new people, learning new rules, and trying to nap in an unfamiliar place.

I know he will adapt.

He is braver and stronger than I am.

I just wish I could explain to him.  I wish I could make him understand and prepare him.

He is my heart.

How do I prepare my heart for this change?

*************

My dearest readers, Amy reads my blog.  And while I don’t believe any of you would say cruel things, I just thought it would be fair to tell you that she reads.  My intent is not to make her feel bad about any of this, just to share my heart.  And right now my heart hurts.

the cue

ahhhhh GO!

He runs full speed down the hallway in just a diaper.  His run is more of a prance and his blond curls bounce in rhythm to his quick trot.

Smack!  He gets to the end and both hands slap the wall.

When he turns he is all smiles and eye twinkles.

He backs up straight and tall with his back and palms flat against the wall, and pauses to make sure I am ready.

This is my cue.

I snap my arms and legs open toward him.

This is his cue.

MA MA!  GO!

He leans forward and with complete trust, rushes down the hall toward me.

His giggle melts me.

I can’t wait for him to get to my embrace.

His curls blow back from his face revealing the gleam of joy in his eye.

He doesn’t slow his pace as he approaches, flinging himself with all his force into me.

There is no fear of hurt.

He trusts me completely.

And in an instant, we are one person.

I wrap him up in me, close my eyes, and fall backwards.

We are one like we were in the beginning.

Our hilarity and tears and mischief are the same.

Time stops, but our merriment does not.

He has buried his face in my neck and wrapped his arms around me.

He is gasping for breath through giggles.

I am filing these feelings away into my heart.

His hair will not always be this soft and silky and blond.

His fingers will not always have the little dimples instead of knuckles.

His feet will not always be round and smooth.

He will not always smell of baby lotion and graham crackers.

He will not always trust me so freely.

Running into his mom’s arms will not always be his first choice.

I lie on my back and release him.

He scoots down and takes my hand and instructs me in his gibberish to sit back up.

Once I am up, he decides to lean in one more time before starting the game again.

Awww Ma Ma!

He hugs me and bends in to touch his nose to mine.

And with a snap, he turns to run back down the hall.

Ahhhh GO!

A blur of giggles, curls, and baby skin goes running from me.

My smile twitches.

And my heart makes a promise to that boy.

I will always be here for you to run back to.  My arms will always snap open for you.  Just give me the cue.

dear me…

Dear Self…

It’s been a year, my friend.

A year since you felt that you were caving in to what you thought was a weakness…an embarrassing flaw.

A year since you read Emily‘s blog post about not feeling right after having a baby and tried to brush away the fact that all the commenters suggesting she seek help?  Were talking to you too.

A year since Cort read the post and thought it rung true for you too.

A year since you sat and had yet another horrible ugly cry meltdown in your brown chair, and since Cortney sat across from you and suggested you call the doctor.

A year since the call.

A year since the visit.

A year since the first little pill.

It would be two more months yet before I could admit this to the world, but at least I had admitted it to myself.  And to Cort.

It would be even longer before you would decide you also needed AND wanted to talk to a therapist, but by then you had discovered that you were not, in fact, blogging in isolation…there was an entire world…blogasphere, if you will…out there.

You made very close friends because of your postpartum depression.  Not only did people in your life come forward in emails and private asides about their struggles, but you met Casey (through Emily) who let you know you aren’t alone.

And from there you met Katherine and Lauren and Miranda and Grace and Kimberly and Amy–women who have become so very important to your daily life.  They are you…us.  They have shown you that they are us and are successful, and have downfalls and bad days, but they bounce back.  And so can we.

In this past year you…

…have learned to communicate better with Cort.

…found patience you didn’t know you had.

…been able to work through Eddie’s meltdowns instead of having one of your own.

…stopped bottling your feelings because you were afraid of them.

…accepted that you have something chemically different in your brain now than you did before.

…realized you can’t “do it all”…at least not alone.

…have tried to become a voice for all those who feel the way you do…who have traveled your path…but are silent.

…have started to accept yourself.

You have come so far.  I am proud of you in so many ways.  And so are others.  Cortney, you families, your friends…they love to see YOU.

It’s not over, though.

You didn’t hit the year mark and get a nice release form to turn in stamped “DONE”.

This is not over.

Your anxiety is back and you may be dealing with depression for the rest of your life.  Right now you are struggling with this.  You need to accept that this is what it is.  Life is different now, but those things don’t define you.

You have the tools to get through the rough parts now.

Cortney has a new job.  The transition is much harder for you than you would like to admit to people.

He has always been home to make your world less chaotic.  Of the 21 months that you have had a child together?  He has been home for 17 of them.

You feel completely thrown into whirlwind of utter confusion.  You feel lonely and abandoned.

This is the anxiety talking.

You can do this.  You just need to adjust.  And it’s TOTALLY OK to need an adjustment period.  DO NOT feel bad about that.

You also need to forgive yourself.

Yes, your undiagnosed PPD made you all crazy and mean and awful to be around.

But you got help.

Everyone has forgiven you.

Even those you were the worst to.  Yes, even Cort and your mom have forgiven you.

You need to let go of how terrible you were.  You need to let it go so you can go forward.

They have let it go.  They never EVER hold it against you.  You need to stop holding it against yourself.

Friend, you are not “fixed”.  Some things can’t be “fixed”.

But you are better.  You have survived.

You are a survivor.

And you will, in the immortal words of Beyonce, keep on survivin’.

Love,  Me

“no” is an answer

Oh I believe in miracles…

I believe in a better world…for me and you.

Oh..Oh I believe in miracles…

I believe in a better world…for me and you.*

Dear Lord, please heal Cort’s dad.  Take the cancer away and make him whole.

No.

Dear Lord, please let this bleeding be normal and NOT a miscarriage.

No.

Dear Lord, I want to be a mom so badly.  Please help my body know what to do.

Not yet.

Dear Lord, please don’t make me go through another miscarriage.  I am too weak.  I can’t do it.

Yes, you can.  And you will.

Dear Lord, please save me from being on the “cut” list for work.

No.

Dear Lord, please help Cort keep his job in these hard times.

No.

Dear Lord, please make these demons leave my head.  Please make me the mom others think I am.  Please help me fix this crazy.

No.  You can’t fix yourself alone.

Why, Lord?  Why us?  We are good people and hard workers.  We try to be like Jesus and love people and give of ourselves.  WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO US?

—silence—

Lord, I want to turn my back!  I want to do this alone.  I think you must have lost your “plan” for us somewhere.  You have left us!

Go ahead and try.

Lord, this is our plan…please oh PLEASE let it work.

No.

Lord, I can’t be in charge.  I can’t make anything work right.  Just please handle it for me.  Please let me find someone who will love me for everything I am RIGHT NOW.

Here is Cortney.

Lord, I can’t make things better with Cort’s dad.  He is going to die.  Please let me know what to do to help Cort.

I will strengthen your shoulders and pad your hugs.

Lord, he lost his dad and his appendix and now he is alone in the hospital.  What do I do?

Stay with him.  I’ll be there too.

Lord, I only have one try left.  I can only try once more.  Please bless us with a child this time.

Here is Edward Steven.

Lord, please help me keep my job.  My family needs me to provide.

You will teach Spanish.  You can also teach at the college.

Lord, I can’t change myself.  I need help.

Here is Cortney.  Here is your family.  Here is an internet full of support.  Here are your friends.  Here is your doctor.  Here is Celexa.  Here is a therapist.

Lord, what will we do?  Unemployment runs out in August.

Here is a job for Cortney.

Sometimes the answer is no.

But sometimes?  The answer is yes.

No matter how many times you falter.  He will save some “yes’s” for you.

This week?  He finally said YES to Cort’s job prayers after many, MANY no’s.

We are blessed.

*lyrics from “I believe in miracles” by Pearl Jam

If you also believe in miracles, please pray for our nephew(s)/niece(s) in Ethiopia.  Our siblings were dealt a GIANT “no” this week in their adoption process.  Please read about it here.

Click to vote every 24 hours for Sluiter Nation to win the Mom Central grant!

And don’t forget to shop my Thirty-One party!  Ends this week! (go to “my events” and shop my party–Katie Sluiter).


a packaged deal

I have had enough.

I am ready to purge.  To get rid of that which I do not need.

I am at my wit’s end with this and I am going to dump it.

I’m going to put it out there away from me, and hopefully someone stops by and picks it up.  Not for themselves, but to take away from me.

I mean, I guess if you are a masochist you could keep these things.  I suppose. And there will be a few of you I suppose.

But I am done with this stuff.

DONE.

In fact, I don’t remember ever wanting these things.  They just showed up.  And now I can’t GIVE them away.

But I am still trying.

So, that being said, the first item I am listing here is the a like-new Case of Guilt (made just for me by PPD, but is easily transferable to your particular needs).

The adhesive on this Case of Guilt is like new.  Seriously.  I realize it has been stuck to me for about twenty months now, but it hasn’t lost any of its cling. I am fairly sure–although I have long since lost the original paperwork–that it was was made with molasses combined with a super spray adhesive for extra powerful binding ability.

Or perhaps there is cement in there.  Like I said, I don’t have the original paperwork…only that which I could find on Google.

Either way?  It still sticks.

Also this particular brand of Case of Guilt is extremely emphatic.  It comes with a special built-in amplifying system to avoid ignored missed messages from the guilt.  So even if you are sitting in a loud movie without your kids?  You will definitely hear the Guilt booming right over the loudest theatrical gun battles telling you that you should be home being a more involved parent to your children.

PPD brand Case of Guilt also comes with a self-charging battery so it will never die on you when you want it to need it. In fact, in the almost two years that I have owned it?  It has never ever needed its batteries replaced.  It came with a lifetime guarantee to ALWAYS be there (the guarantee is transferable, by the way, so we can take care of that upon exchange).

It has unfortunately never failed me.  Even when I have been at work making money to feed my family?  It is there reminding me that I am not with my son.  It is never-ending and persistent. You can count on that.

I am throwing in two other items with this Case of Guilt:

Unreasonable Self-Doubt and Uncontrollable Paranoia

Both are also PPD brand and 100% compatible with the Case of Guilt.  In fact, the Self-Doubt and Paranoia were originally marketed as accessories to the Mom Guilt, but I am offering them all as a package deal.

Both are being offered as-is, although they have very little wear that is noticeable.

The Unreasonable Self-Doubt is scheduled to coincide when the Case of Guilt clicks on letting you know you are not living up to what people want.  Immediately the Self-Doubt will begin breaking down your confidence leaving you with virtually nothing to grasp onto that seems worthwhile.

The Uncontrollable Paranoia is meant to trigger the Case of Guilt.  It’s like a fail-safe for the Guilt.  The Guilt has never failed, but in the case that it shows signs of not igniting?  The Paranoia will guarantee it.

The entire package is being offered for FREE.

I do not want anything PPD Brand in my life anymore.

If interested, it will be on the curb.  Because that is where it has been kicked to.

and just like that…it’s done.

Our Christmas started with fun and memories…

starting Christmas Eve off with a water fight with Granny

reading the Christmas story

Eddie helped uncle Cody

And daddy helped Eddie

we had so much fun opening gifts, snacking on treats, and playing euchre.

finally we dragged our tired bodies home around 11pm.

Eddie was up all night.

We were up all night.

Finally Eddie slept with us.

and then the phone rang at 7am.

Grandpa Sluiter had passed to heaven.

But it was still Christmas…

Opening gifts in Christmas jammies

camera bag!

Gussy!

so many new things!

our day was filled.

after our gifts we got ready and headed over to my grandparents’ house.

then it was home for a quick nap for ed and then to my parents’ house.

50 mm lens!

Eddie made my mom (and all the grandmas) ornaments

with all that was going on, we were pleasantly distracted by so many blessings.

but once we were home…

and eddie was in bed…

a quiet finality washed over us.

eddie using his new personalized stool

of course our little man was unaware.

He went about his morning today playing with all his new toys.

laughing and pointing at all the new items in the house.

but there was a feeling…

and end to something.

not just Christmas.

a fake tree next year, perhaps?

but to a life.

Grandma called to ask Cortney to be a pall bearer today.

and I packed up Christmas and put it away.

The Blackest Friday

It was important that this day be as normal as possible.  Remember that.  Normalcy was important to me.

Black Friday of 2007 started out normal and I was ever thankful for that.  My mom and I did our shopping and we had a good time.  I didn’t bring it up the entire time we were out.  Not during our first few shops.  Not over coffee.  Not while when we walked past the baby stuff.

When I got home with all my packages, I intended to decorate the house with Christmas and wrap all of my newly bought gifts.  Just like any other year.

But this is when my “normal” was shattered.

While I was out, Cort had made plans for us with our friends (who, by the way, are usually only in state once–maybe twice–a year).  This wouldn’t be a big deal to me if those plans had fallen into the customary time period after my decorating and wrapping frenzy, but the plans called for us to be ready to go in less than 2 hours and I hadn’t even showered yet.

I know.  Big deal, right?

My world fell apart.

I was immediately angry at Cortney for messing up my “tradition”.  Inconsolably so.

“Just decorate tomorrow,” he offered.

“THAT IS NOT THE POINT!” I told him. “TODAY is when I wrap and then decorate all to the sounds of Bing Crosby.  Why can you not respect this?  Why would you make PLANS for us during this?  Do you not know me at ALL?”

He was speechless.  He even offered to cancel the plans.  But I wouldn’t let him do that.

“how would that look?” I questioned him.  “what would they think?”

So I begrudgingly showered and got all ready.

And went out to eat and to have beers.

And acted normal.

But ignored Cortney. I mean, how could he be so thoughtless?

The rage built.

After dinner we all headed over to our friends’ house where we could sit around and visit and share some wine and snacks.

I continued to ignore  my husband.

It got so bad that nearing the end of the night he came to the chair that I was actively ignoring him from and asked if I would like to go home.

I said yes.

We left an awkward wake behind us.

I started crying somewhere between here and there.

Once home my memory blurs.  I think the yelling started as we got ready for bed.  I finally started telling Cortney how this entire day was a big suck for me thanks to him.

He didn’t yell back (he never does).  He just looked sad.

But he questioned me.  He questioned how in the world this small change in my “normal” Black Friday routine could be THIS awful.

I raged at him.

And then?  I collapsed into the ugliest cry I remember having and blurted out,

“We were supposed to have a baby this week.”

And proceed to cry so hard I couldn’t get my breath.

In the dark warmth of our living room, on the leather couch where I had lain recovering from the loss, Cortney sunk and wrapped his arms around me.

“Oh, honey,” he managed.

It all started to make sense.  I was grasping for routine.  For nothing to be out of the ordinary.  For everything to “proceed as normally scheduled.”

When it didn’t?  I lost my shit.

And we sat in the dark on the couch for a very long time.

He instructed me to breathe.  To take deep breaths, and to talk about it.  Neither of us had mourned that loss like this.  And I didn’t expect the due date to hit me so hard.  I thought I was over it.  That it never bothered me that much.

But it did.  I had just suppressed it.

In the winter, when we had found out my due date, it was perfect.  All of our friends would be in town.  Family would be around.  Everyone would be ready to celebrate our baby. Somehow that fact made our unexpected pregnancy ok.  It made things start to look up.

But that night while Cort’s arms held me, my arms were empty.

No baby.

And I started to cry all over again.

It still never escapes me that if the first time around had happened, we would have been throwing a 3-year old’s birthday party this week.

Sometimes I still don’t know how to feel about this.  If we were having a birthday party, Eddie maybe wouldn’t be here.  And he is…well…there are no words for how that little boy makes my heart swell.

But yet…

someone is missing.

(two little someones, actually.  but that is another post.)

The very next Thanksgiving, Eddie was baking away in my tummy and we have never had a “normal” Thanksgiving weekend again.

I am closer to Cortney.

And I have never loved this holiday more.

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