Thursday, June 28, 2012


After Ryann died, we were given several books on grief, but they never really clicked with me. So many of the books seem to be how-to's on getting through. On top of that, so many books are aimed at people who have lost parents, siblings, or friends. While I don't want to diminish each of these types of losses in any way, I would find myself getting angry or even laughing at people who were so torn up over losing a grandparent a decade ago who was trying to give me advice on losing my daughter. I found that I had an overwhelming need to make contact with other families who had lost children, to read about their experiences, to gain strength from our common experience. And I became an avid blog lurker.

One of my favorite blogs that I keep tabs on, that I've linked to before, is Jack at Random. He is now a father of three. He and his wife have a beatiful 3-year-old girl and an amazing newborn boy. Their second born, Margot, was stillborn due to a freak accident at 38 weeks. Their story continually gives me courage. Like us, they also are keenly aware that they wouldn't have a son right now if Margot would not have died. Because of her death, Leo was created. Such a joyful thing that will forever be inextricably tied to the most awful event in their lives. Just as I forsee us with Clifton, they also revel in the day to day frustrations of raising their children. They know too well what it's like to not have that opportunity.

Last night I fell asleep crying. There are moments when the absence of Ryann is palpable. Moments when I really feel the unfairness of her death. Scenes from the hospital flash through my mind. Kissing her goodbye. Usually either Clifton or Ryann feels close and real to me at any one time. I think this has more to do with the pregnancy itself than with how things will be in the future. And with Clifton growing inside me, I've found myself so fully invested in him that Jared has taken over nurturing our memories of Ryann. I am so grateful and always astounded by how effortlessly Jared and I switch our roles so that both of our children are cared for at any one time. Last night while I was swept up in memories of Ryann and Clifton was starting to feel like a foreign appendage in me, Jared just laid next to us, comforting me and whispering his love to Clifton. This morning, after a night of mediocre sleep, I was back on duty with Clifton while Jared headed off to work with Ryann tucked safely in his mind. In a way it's as if Jared really has been Ryann's primary caretaker this year after all.

Moments after Ryann's birth.

Jared and Ryann, the morning after Ryann's birth.
Although this picture isn't in perfect focus, it's one of my all-time favorites.
I love that it shows how close Jared and Ryann were, Ryann looking
almost peeved at the interuption of the photographer.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Lost Moments

This week has brought several moments of realizing things we will miss. These moments tend to randomly pop up and make us red-eyed and sniffly at inopportune times. My moment this week was imagining Clifton’s little kid scrawl of his name in the corner of crayon artwork and naturally imagining Ryann’s right along with it only to realize that Ryann’s will never actually happen. Jared’s moment was during our church’s communion service. Our church practices foot washing as a part of the service and a few rows over from us was one of our daddy-friends washing his twin 5-year-old feet, and Jared realized that he never had the chance to share this with Ryann.

These moments are always bittersweet. We can imagine what these moments would have been like, we will experience them with our other children, we experience some of them now vicariously through Ryann’s best friends, but these moments will continue forever and we will never actually know what Ryann would have done in each of these situations. Our image of Ryann will probably become increasingly Picasso-like as we piece together how we think she would have reacted or what her hobbies would have been. We can’t stop ourselves from trying to create a complete portrait of Ryann, but by doing so we start to obscure who she actually was.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Loving Living in Lincoln - 1

I've heard a lot of people complain about living in Lincoln. There is near constant snarking about how tiny and podunk it is. People seem to think that there's nothing to do, that what is available is sadly small and lacking, and that everything would be better if we were all transplanted to the big city. Of course I have no doubt these same people would gripe about plenty in that environment too.

And thus begins what I imagine will be a regularly recurring feature - Loving Living in Lincoln.

Truth be told, I've heard this exact same type of complaint in every single place that I've lived. (And to those who know me well, that's saying quite a lot.) It seems that no matter where people live they manage to think that it would be more fun-exciting-delicious-beautiful somewhere else. I have two things to say to that.
  1. Make a concious effort to love the place you live.
  2. If you still dislike where you're at, what you're doing, where you're living - Change It.
I think a lot of the complaints stem from people tending to settle into their scheduled lives and travelling in their well-worn paths rather than actively seeking out what your own town has to offer. Assumptions are made that interesting things just aren't out there because you don't see them, which is untrue. Not many people take the opportunity to be a tourist in their own town.


In the last couple of week Jared and I have hit up several of Lincoln's hidden gems.

We drove through the Emerald Historic district during a summer rainstorm and lusted after houses.

Popped over to the Hyde Observatory to join hundreds of people in viewing the transit of Venus, the last one any of us will ever see. Funny side-note - I actually viewed the first transit of Venus from this very same observatory as a student here in Lincoln.

Strolled through Waterfest, a fun day aimed at educating children about erosion, water pollution, and safety. We also happened to be interviewed by Channel 8 News.

Tried out a new Mexican restaurant.

We've made it to every Jazz in June so far this month, only one more to go. The first week was jazz-fusion, which vibrated my belly like a drum and woke an angry Clifton.

We're elated that the Lincoln Farmers Markets are up and running again. Now to re-time our grocery shopping to the weekends. So far our favorite purchase has been locally raised and made chevre, a delicious goat cheese from ShadowBrook Farms. We've been eating it on everything this week.

Prep for last week's cupcakes.
Zested lemon, finely diced strawberries, and minced thyme.
Lemon from Trader Joe's, cheap cheap cheap strawberries from Hyvee, and thyme from our railgarden.
I consider these another benefit of Lincoln.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Baby Cookin' Update - 26

Twenty-Six Weeks                                           

Size of Baby - Cucumber, about 15 inches long and a bit over 2 pounds.

Cravings - Cheese, candy, pastries. Oh dear.

What is different this time around - Last time I was well into my energetic stage of mid-pregnancy, this time I'm barely starting to wade in. I had my first few bouts of legitimate nesting in which I cleaned our apartment from top to bottom, including rarely done projects such as the microwave and real Pine-Sol mopping of the floors. Each time after I was done I sat or laid down for a few minutes and then Jared had to pull my upright and half carry me down the hall since my gimpy hip had seized up. Luckily each time it does that it seems to stretch out pretty quickly once I'm on my feet.

Symptoms - Starting to feel quite large and slow now that the summer heat is creeping in. I always have to laugh at myself when I'm walking back to work after lunch, although my pace is a slow stroll it feels like I'm really pushing myself. Clifton's also starting to be much easier to feel from the outside of my belly. He's really active and I can feel him moving almost all day, although his most active time is definitely from 6-10pm. However, although both he and Ryann were very active in-utero, they feel very different. While Ryann was a serious jabber and would frequently poke elbows and knees out the side of my belly, Clifton is a wriggler. I describe it as feeling like a fish in a sack. Always moving but with infrequent distinct kicks.

Appointments - We have a check-up on Monday with our midwife. We also have another ultrasound scheduled for around thirty weeks. This is just a precautionary ultrasounds. Everything looked perfect in our twenty week scan and the doctor just thought we could all use another one at thirty weeks for our peace of mind. We're looking forward to getting a good 3D face shot. Last time Clifton was still looking pretty skeletal. This time he should have time to put a bit of meat on his bones.