Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Seven Year Itch, Hayes Style

At Red Robin, over five dollar burger and apple walnut salad. And steak fries.

Zar: So who is your favorite Disney Character? Oh wait, wait, let me write down my guess so you know I knew who it was. (Writes tiny on a napkin behind his hand)

Me: Uh, okay. Mickey Mouse.

Zar: No.

Ella: Woo!

Me: Cinderella then.

Zar: Wrong. (tosses napkin at Erin)

Me: Robin Hood? You didn't say which Disney character I most would like to make out with.

Zar: (shocked.)

Ella: Ahhhh! Da da da.

Me: Who would yours be? Oh, Belle.

Zar: No, ha.

Me: Jasmine.

Zar: Nope.

Ella: Mmmmmm ba.

Me: Ariel.

Zar: Oh yeah.

Me: Uh, she's a fish.

Zar: Not when she's on land! Oh yeah! Plus, you can't talk, Robin Hood is a fox all the time!

Me: Exactly.

Ella: Woot woot!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I've been trying to live for the moment these past few weeks. I get too bummed out when I think too much of the future, even the very immediate future. Like, ah man, I have to work out today, and then I have to shower. What a giant downer. Therefore, you can see how the less immediate future could possibly put me over the edge. A long, exhausting life ahead. Attempting IVF, paying for said IVF, having IVF not work. Deciding whether or not to accept our family is one of four, with one represented by a string of plastic beads in family photos. Even thinking of eventually moving, which I would like to do one day, just exhausts me. And leaving Charlotte's pink bedroom will be hard.
There are plenty of good things, both immediate and future. I love the fall, and I love the holidays. I love Ella and love this stage she is in, cheering over every wave and grin and attempt to stand. I am so excited to watch Ella grow. Buying a pair of darling shoes that won't fit her for two years makes me a little weepy. And Ella's first trip to Disneyland this winter.
And so, for now, I am trying to make lots of little good happy memories, for me and for my family. Repeated visits to the pumpkin patch, multiple dress up occasions, lots of pictures. It's the easiest way to keep myself from purchasing a leopard print Snuggie and never leaving my couch again, simply exhausted over having to wash my hair.
For the record, I am still doing well wading my way through grief. It's bittersweet, but there is sweetness, for me anyway. I love talking about Charlotte, I love laughing over her pictures, I love seeing the cat curled up on her bed in the sun. But I want to be clear about something that has become very clear to me. My grief is easy and light, comparatively. I was given a baby who we were told would never even recognize us. We were told she would--and these words will echo in a dark part of my mind forever--"stare at the ceiling until she dies." And she was so much more than we anticipated. In hard moments, listening to her scream and cry during multiple IV attempts, seeing her so weak she could barely open her eyes, I would bury my head in my arms and sob and Zar would gently remind me "This is so much better than what we signed up for." Which was true. I can rejoice that the hard parts of Charlotte's life have fallen away, leaving only her joy and happiness and delight. And her 'tude.
We knew she would leave us, we knew we had done all we could, we knew we had made her life as happy and healthy as it could have been. And so my grieving is mostly just missing, with no regret, or fear, or guilt. Just sweet remembrance.
But here is what I want to be clear about. I would not be this way, if, heaven forbid, I lost Ella.
Reading the stories of others who have lost their children fill me with dread. I would not have peace. I would not have faith. I would not have my sanity. And that is why, even though I have lost a child, a sweet and beautiful and perfect child, that I can still praise God. I can still work out and wash my hair. (some days) I can still live this life. So don't be overly proud of me. This is a cozy, leopard print Snuggie kind of grief.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Our latest photo shoot from Katherine Wallin. We love working with Katherine, she is so fun and friendly and does a beautiful job, and it's less expensive than going to Kiddie Kandids! Check her out at We did these shots for our 7 year anniversary and Ella's first birthday. Ella wore Charlotte beads in most of them.
I am also hard at work on Charlotte's butterfly tree for this years Festival of Trees. I went to the decorators workshop and to Tai Pan and spent waaaay too much money on beautiful gold, green, and brown sparkly ornaments. And...I haven't bought the tree itself yet! Oh well. For Christmas gifts this year we might do a Butterfly Card with a "Your gift was a donation to Primary Childrens Medical Center." Tee hee. It's a special year, and Zar is especially afraid it's going to be a sad one without Charlotte. I think it's our first opportunity to make sure Charlotte stays a part of our family traditions, and doing this tree is a great way to begin that.
Ella has learned her first sign--MORE! She will sign it when I ask her "More cheerios?" and smile big when I clap and cheer for her. ...unfortunately she doesn't seem to quite grasp it's meaning yet...she will sign it then act furious when I offer her another bite of squash. At this point she recognizes the word and knows the sign, but probably just thinks it means "I'm awesome" based on the reaction it gets. We will keep working on that. Next up? MAMA.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Three Days of Birthday!
Ella celebrated her 1st birthday this past weekend. It was so fun, but too much cake! As you can see, she got a pony. She also got lots of darling clothes and socks and slippers and books and blankey and a copy of Mary Poppins. Oh yeah, and a tiny frog, Ella's Fella. I think we went a little crazy for her first birthday due to the year we have had. It's hard to believe that one year ago we were introducing fat little Ella to her big sister. How grateful I am that we had four months together before Charlotte left! It's hard to accept that at this point Ella has spent more time without her sister on earth than with her.
Ella's birth is such a miracle for our family and well worth three straight days of celebration (and cake). I can't imagine our lives without her, and how empty our home would be without her. She is truly a gift from Heaven. She is my comfort and joy, my second born, my bright eyed assurance that there is a plan for our family.
Happy Birthday my Ella Bella! Thank you for joining our family just when you did! Thank you for your smiles and giggles and long peaceful nights! Thank you for bringing happiness to our family during such a sad time! Thank you for having blue eyes like sister and otherwise being your own little person. Thank you for waves and kisses and naps.
I love you.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Fall Photos, my favorite time of year. Ella and I went up Millcreek Canyon this morning and did a little hike (her in a front a very little hike) and then I forced her to do a photo shoot. It was so gorgeous!
Above is Ella in a kitty suit with her real kitty Carmen who is so patient with her. Sometimes I just yell "Carmen, run away!" but she generally just goes limp and lets Ella climb all over her. Ella isn't as gentle as Charlotte was, as I'm sure Carmen has noticed.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

This is my all time favorite picture of Charlotte, I think. It was taken with my cell phone if you can believe that. She had a bad diaper rash and I was having her soak her bum in the sink with some baking soda to sooth it.
I love her hair in this picture, the funny little side burns and the little tufts at her crown. So much fantastic hair! I love her little expression, because I was hooting about how darling she looked and pulling out my phone to snap a picture, and she is looking back like "Oh MOM!" And those eyes! What beautiful eyes she had! They never changed color, I'm sure I've mentioned that before. They stayed that dark newborn baby blue her entire life.
I love that you can see her little belly and even her g-tube button, dear little button that helped her get all chubby and grow that fantastic thick hair. That button was such a blessing to us and to her.
I even love that little blue duck in the picture. I had never noticed it before in this picture until I was bathing Ella in the sink a couple weeks ago and she reached over and pulled it out from behind the dish soap. Minutes later I passed by the microwave where this picture is stuck, and noticed the blue duck in the water. There used to be a pink and a yellow duck too, but only the blue one is left.
I have this picture on my phone. I have it as my desktop on one of my work computers. I have it printed and stuck to the microwave, next to an old Christmas card (the obituary picture), and a picture of Jesus that was stuck to my windshield one night when I came out of Primary Childrens to go home and get some sleep. I bawled and bawled when I saw it; I was feeling so exhausted and forsaken.
This is how I will always remember my Charlotte, of all the thousands of pictures I thankfully took during her life. This morning in bed I was thinking of the pictures I took the day she passed away, the last pictures that camera took, and they all came out blurry and out of focus. Which is fitting, as that is how I remember that day, through the blur of tears and a swollen puffy face. I remembered how she didn't even look like herself to me anymore, like she was already out of her body. Which she might have been. I started getting all tense and sad, and then this picture flashed to my mind, and her silly smile and the time she was sitting in my sisters lap, suddenly made a loud squawking sound (her dinosaur call) and then dove for my sisters arm and bit it hard. And I had to smile, because that was my Charlotte. Not the puffy, pale, very ill little one I held that day, that was not what her life was about. Her life was about happiness, and biting to be funny, and big blue eyes, and little blue ducks.