Two Months

Two months. It has been two months since my Emerson was here with me.

I am so tired. All the time. Just tired.

I’ve been back to work for a month. It’s exhausting.

I got a tattoo on my right wrist of Emerson’s heartbeat.

I stopped my anxiety medication. It was just too much.

I take my PRN sleeping medication daily or I don’t sleep.

I still have not scheduled therapy but I know I should.

I am not healthy in my emotions.

I need to be for my children.

Sometimes I yell for no reason at my family.

Sometimes I leave the house

Sometimes I can’t breathe when I put Sorkin to bed.

I cry a lot. For every reason.

I feel manic.

I feel depressed.

I feel out of control.

Lincoln got two teeth in this last month.

He has started crawling.

He looks like his big brother Emerson

He acts like him too.

But he doesn’t remember Emerson.

Sorkin started, then stopped, then started having nightmares.

He still cannot sleep in his room.

He misses Emerson but just doesn’t understand the pain.

My husband has been home for the last two months.

He starts his new (old) job next week.

He’s tired too.

He feels the pain too.

We have good days together.

We share a lot with each other.

We have bad days together.

Sometimes we can’t help each other

Our relationship is changing.

We designed a shirt in honor of Emerson.

We hold onto what’s left of our family.

I am just so tired.

 

Emerson, what I wouldn’t give for you to come back. One more of anything wouldn’t be enough my Baby. I want you back forever. I miss you so much Emerson. My arms hurt from the emptiness which is the absence of your weight. I didn’t know missing you could be so heavy on my body. I love you Emerson.

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A week of monumental moments

Last week was a difficult week… for so many reasons.

I went back to work for the first time since Emerson was hospitalized. It was overwhelming. I felt like I was moving through molasses the entire week and I am not sure if I am quite up to speed or if/when I will get up to speed. I am so thankful for my employer and co-workers. Without any demands, Pinnacle let me drop work to spend the last week of Emerson’s life in the hospital full time and then allowed me to take a full month off. I am so grateful to the company I work for. They have supported me through the happiest (birth of two of my sons) and saddest (deaths of my sister and son) times of my life. Truly supported me. My co-workers took such good care of me. I know they all wanted to ask me how I was doing but I am grateful all 60+ of them did not. I did feel well taken care of by everyone and I know everyone was thinking about me. So thank you for making my week back as good as could be. I am proud to say I only had to leave the office once for a serious cry in the car; I did leak a few times in the office and cried my way home once or twice.

I also had my birthday this week. My second birthday since Anna died and my first since Emerson died. It sucked. last year it sucked too. Again, marking of time separating me from my family. Although my cousin Heather’s perspective has helped me a lot: each day takes me away from my time here on earth with my son and sister but takes me a day closer to eternity with them. It was a quiet day. A Wednesday. Thank you so much to everyone for reaching out to me and saying Happy Birthday. I am sorry that I just can’t respond to each person individually. I just can’t. I again am so thankful for my co-workers. My Captain squad took me out for lunch which was amazing and so helpful for me. That night we took the boys to watch my brother’s first baseball game and then mom and dad had some of my siblings over for a birthday cake. It was very nice to be around family. There was the huge gaping whole of missing Emerson but I just don’t know that anything would have helped that.

Another milestone missed this week was Emerson’s IEP meeting. We had scheduled it in March to ensure it was on the calendar. Matt and I had already begun working on our goals for Emerson and trying to ensure the best possible plan for him. I came back to work on Monday and the first thing I saw was this meeting scheduled for Friday. Emerson’s IEP meetings were not “fun” but they were such a huge part of bench marking his progress and setting goals for him. I loved setting goals and then watching him achieve and exceed them. I was so proud of Emerson. This was the day I cried at work and on the way home. and then at night after the boys went to bed.

Finally Sunday was mother’s day. My first mother’s day without Emerson the first child to make me a mom. It was a really difficult hard day. Sorkin picked out his mother’s day gift for me: it was a gold necklace with three little turtles on it. One for each of the brothers he said. We started the day at mass. Then headed over to the cemetery. There were a lot of people there and I couldn’t help but think of the difference between me and them: I was there to spend time at my son’s grave and they were probably there to visit their mothers’ graves. This is the natural order: children are supposed to live pass their parents. We had brunch then came home and I basically slept the rest of the afternoon. We ended up at my parent’s house in the evening for dinner. The entire day was just about the absence of Emerson for me. Our family has not been complete since Emerson died and days celebrating family are really unbearable at this point.

A lot of tears were shed this week. A lot. I cried. Matt cried. Sorkin cried. I am sure many of our siblings cried for missing Emerson and I know our parents also shed tears for Emerson. I know that none of these events were going to be easy, but having them all in one week was unplanned, unexpected, and unwanted.

There are more milestones coming up this month (appointments we had scheduled, buying a headstone for his grave, etc.) and more the month after and the month after and the month after. A whole life of milestones and I can’t stop them. I continue to pray for God’s grace and I continue to hope that I will make it through each day.

Before I saw him, I loved him. Before I met him, I knew him. Before I held him, I wanted him. For the rest of my life, I will miss him.

Thank you for making me a mommy Emerson. I love you.

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One Month

It’s been a month now. A month since Emerson was alive on this Earth. It feels like a lifetime. Like an honest to God eternity since Emerson was here. And at the same time I am trying to step on the brake of life: how can time keep moving forward without Emerson? I felt (and feel) like this about my sister Anna and her death too. Pieces of my heart are missing and I still have to go on.

Over the last month I have learned a lot about myself.

The first is that I am not strong for this. There are so many different kinds of strength, but the strength a body needs to get through this grief… I just don’t have it. Not right now. Not how I should. I am so broken. In the last month, all I’ve done is lay on the couch or my bed. I simultaneously have manic energy and no ability to complete daily tasks. I can’t comprehend doing the laundry: why. How can something so mundane exist in this pain? And so I don’t do the laundry. It’s the same with all the chores. Nothing gets done because I do it; Matt is carrying that load. In most ways, it is the same with the kids: I get up in time to take them to daycare and this is usually after Matt has woken me up two or three times. It is too much to have them home the full day and even on the weekends we try to be around other people. My day is filled with nothing and then I pick up the boys after daycare. I try then. From about 4:30 until 8:00, I try really hard to be engaged and to be present for them. It is so difficult for me. As long as we don’t stop, I can usually make it the full time. If it’s sunny and we can stay outside, I can usually make it until bed time. Dinner has been taken care of by many family and friends but now that’s done and my kids will need to eat somehow. Life keeps calling to me and I just lay in bed. It was like this after Anna died too. I have memories from that first year after her death, but not a lot and many of them are life from my couch.

This leads me to the second thing I have learned: I need help. I need to help my family get through this grief and I need to help myself through this grief. Matt needs me too. Because if I am not doing the daily living, someone has to and so far Matt has carried me. So I went to the doctor and started with some medications. We’ll see how those go. I am also planning on some grief therapy. I have the name of two therapist, but haven’t called yet to make a referral. I know I need to but it is part of the first problem. How can I need to do something as mundane as intake for therapy right now? I hope to do this tomorrow. But who knows what barriers I will run into, or make up, tomorrow.

The third thing I have learned about myself is that I am not quite on speaking terms with God. Don’t get me wrong, I still have faith but I do not have understanding or knowledge. Today, my faith is based upon the knowledge that I will get to see Emerson again. I don’t find comfort in the scripture of sorrow and suffering. Suffering for the sake of salvation feels like a whole lot of bullshit right now. Job was by far a better man than I. I struggle to understand what an afterlife will be like. Who will Emerson be? How we will interact? I still believe in God. I still believe that Jesus is our salvation. I just cannot find comfort in the suffering right now. I am just holding onto hope that I will make it to the other side of grief and find love again. I pray for wisdom. I pray for God to hold Emerson in His hands and to hold my family in His hands.

It’s been such a long month. I go back to work on Monday, because, contrary to what I’ve been told, I do need to start making an effort. It’s been hard for me to talk about Emerson to people outside my family. It’s been heartbreaking to take the family out and not have Emerson with us. Strangers only see us as a family of 4 and they don’t know about my son, Emerson. Sorkin is having such a hard time. He misses Emerson as much as us and wants him to come home. We all want Emerson to come home. It’s so hard to tell him over and over and over that Emerson is not coming home, the we don’t get to see Emerson again, that Emerson died, and Emerson is now in Heaven. How can a 2 (almost 3) year old understand when his mother cannot? Death is not easy.

I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. I don’t know when this pain normalizes. It’s not normal…any of this. We’re working on creating rituals to keep Emerson with us. We talk to him a lot. We visit his grave. We sing his songs. We are keeping the monthly routine of putting quarters in his piggy bank along with his brothers (Emerson used to love to do this).  It’s not enough. Nothing ever will be enough. But it’s all we have. Emerson moved on and we’re left behind. Tomorrow is going to come if I am ready or not.

Emerson, we miss you so much. Your spirit filled our house and it is so quiet now without you. Your brothers miss you and so do mom and dad. We love you Bubba.

 Trueblood Family with Emerson March 28th 2016-162 copy

 

 

How is it possible to live without Emerson?

There is an interesting phenomenon around parenthood. Before your child is born, you cannot imagine how your life will be changed. You try. You plan. You prepare. You buy toys and set up a crib. You pick a name and clothes. Yet you have no idea what your life will be like and how a whole new person will fit in it.

Then your child is born. It is amazing. Your whole world shifts and you cannot imagine your life without this person. That other you, the you before them, becomes a distant memory of another lifetime. And this happens quickly within days, hours, minutes even.

The same thing happens with successive children. You wonder how this new person will fit into your life and how it will affect your relationships with existing children. Yet when the new baby comes, it is perfect and natural. Life without that person is impossible to imagine.

In fact, I often remark to my husband, can you even imagine what our life would be without our kids? And we try but everything we imagine is flat and empty without our boys. I could not imagine my life without my children.

Yet here I am. Living my life without Emerson. I still find it impossible to imagine the rest of my life without Emerson. How is this possible? How is a person that I love more than myself gone forever? How do I make it to tomorrow?

Emerson. My first-born.

The pain is so hard to describe. I think my Aunt said it best when she told me that it is like a piece of yourself dies when you lose a child. I think that’s as close as I can get to describing it. It a very bizarre feeling to try to explain. My arms have felt empty since Emerson died; even with two other boys that I’ve held and loved.

I’ve been trying to figure out what it means for me now that Emerson is gone. I have been trying to figure out who I am without him. Emerson is a big part of myself. He shaped me as a mother.

I find that I still have more questions than answers. I’m not sure at this point that I will ever have the answers and I’m not sure that the answers will ever be good enough. I’m going to keep taking it moment by moment, and I am always going to feel like a piece of myself is missing.

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On the Eve of Emerson’s Funeral

When my sister Anna passed away on June 12th 2014, I found myself sharing images and thoughts of her frequently on Facebook and other social media sites. I could not share her enough. It was healing to share memories of Anna.

So I find it interesting that at the passing of my son, Emerson, that I have disappeared from social media. Emerson passed away Monday 3/28 2016 around 6:30pm. His passing has caused me to collapse into myself. I have pulled everything in tight. I have struggled to follow-up with people reaching out even as I long for their support and love. Grief is unpredictable.

On the eve of his wake, I find that I need to break the engulfing silence of my grief. Over the last week, my husband and I have made a lot of heartbreaking, difficult decisions: we arranged my son’s funeral. Cemeteries.  Caskets. Flowers. Music. Readings. Pictures. Obituary. So many choices.

The pain I feel in losing my son is so raw and so immense that I don’t know what to do with it. I am in a cosmos of grief; it washes over me every moment–covering me in its enormity. My only life savers are my 2 remaining sons. They are my salvation.

I’ve been spending a lot of time in memories over the last week. I am trying to pull together every little piece of Emerson. Anything at all to remember every second of his life. My husband and I found a few unwashed articles of clothes and put them in a gallon baggie; we want to save his smell for as long as possible. We took out his bin of memories. It was too small. We printed pictures. There were not enough. We watched videos, they were all too short. There can never be enough memorabilia.

Tomorrow is Emerson’s wake; the day after, his funeral. I get to see my son’s body two more times before I never see it again. I will never get to stroke his hair again. Never get to kiss him. Never get to hold his hand. There are a lifetime of nevers ahead.

5 years ago, March 2011, I found out we were pregnant with Emerson. I did not know then what I know now. I didn’t know about the pain, the hurt, and the challenges. I also didn’t know about the love, the joy, and the treasure of being a mom- of being his mom. Emerson is the easiest person to love. He lit up our life. I am so grateful that God gave me Emerson. I wish He had given me Emerson forever. I wish the natural order of life won; that my husband and I died before him. But it did not. I do not regret my decision to have my son. I could never regret that. He has made me into a woman far better than I used to be. He has shaped my motherhood. He has defined my values. Emerson is my sunshine. forever.

I feel as though I’ve aged two lifetimes since that day in March when I first learned I was pregnant. I am not the same woman who I used to be. I hope, as the days progress, I can continue to share my love of Emerson. I hope that he continues to pour his strength into me and opens me up as he was open.

Emerson, I cannot express how much I love you nor how much pain this separation causes me. I miss you more than I can explain. I will always hold you in my heart and I will wait for you in my dreams Peanut Pie.

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Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones (and words will always hurt me)

I wish I was a little more like my mother or my mother-in-law: a little more patient, a little more rational, and a little more willing to write off bad behavior. Unfortunately, I am not. As hard as I try, I just can’t escape the foot-in-mouth syndrome. I kept hoping that once I turned 25 my brain would be a little more mature, but sorry internet, it’s not. So here, for your enjoyment, is another hot-head Maria Trueblood on a war-path blog (please be aware, these are my opinions. they are not the opinions of my husband, mother-in-law or father-in-law).

My son was discriminated against this weekend. Actually dis-invited to spend the night at his great-aunt’s house due to a medical condition. Here’s my account of what happened:

My husband and I were taking the boys to see my husband’s grandmother aka Nanny (maternal) in Champaign, IL. This is about a 9 hour car drive from our place in Minnesota. We decided, with Matt’s parents, to break up the trip in about 4.5 hour chunks. So Friday we were to drive to Madison to stay with Matt’s maternal aunt and meet up with Matt’s mom. Saturday we were driving to Champaign and meeting up with Matt’s dad along the way. We were going to see Nanny Saturday, stay overnight in a hotel, and see her again on Sunday. Then we were driving up to Madison Sunday spending the night with the same aunt then drive home from there on Monday. The first part went great: we arrived in Madison around 7pm. Matt’s cousin, his wife, and their daughter (about 19 months) are currently staying with his aunt. So we were excited for the boys to have a playmate. Sorkin, my youngest, and the little girl hit it off immediately. It was great. Things went well into the next day. Then just as we were about to leave Emerson, my older son (almost 3) had a diaper that leaked up his back. 

This is the problem. Emerson is currently being treated for C-Difficile (if you google it, be warned it is a super-bacteria and will terrify you parents). I needed to bleach the changing pad where his pooped leaked and ensure that the bedding was put in the wash. I needed to be responsible for the situation so I did not get anyone else sick. So I requested bleach and then I felt obligated to explain that Emerson has C-Diff since there was a young child in the house. I was asked by Matt’s cousin-in-law what C-diff was and gave an explanation. In hindsight, it was probably too blasé and hurried. I did explain the following:

C-Diff is a super bug. It is naturally occurring in every person but becomes a problem when it is out of balance. It is the result of Emerson being on frequent antibiotics and his c-diff being active. I did say that bleach kills this bug and we, Matt and myself, are cautious when Emerson has it.

Of course this was told in the course of us getting ready to go and having hands full with kids. I probably did not do enough to educate around the topic.

Still, we went on with our weekend as plan. That night (Saturday) my mother-in-law had a text from her sister regarding c-diff and wanting more information (the text came earlier in the day). I said I was willing to speak with whomever and provide more information. I did say that looking online would be a bad resource and checked out webmd to see what information they have available. Once I got to the risk factors I was comforted by the way the information was presented. Matt’s Aunt said that her son and daughter-in-law had done some research and felt comfortable with what they found (this was reported to me in a conversation with my mother-in-law, I was not on the phone conversation). I again said I would be willing to speak with them if they would like more information.

I once again put it from our mind as we were visiting Matt’s Nanny on Sunday. We went out for lunch on Sunday and were about to head back up to Madison when my mother-in-law broke the news: Matt’s cousin, and cousin-in-law did not feel comfortable with my son spending the night and we were no longer welcome (oh, but Sorkin was a delight to have). I was told Matt’s aunt felt uncomfortable with making that phone call but obviously not enough discomfort to prevent her from doing it anyway.

My son. My baby boy. I am worked up. I was worked up then and I am worked up now. I can’t even believe it. How can someone treat my son this way? How can someone in my husband’s family treat my son this way?

So here is my open letter, dear internet, please enjoy:

Dear _______________
I am so sorry for you ignorance. I am so sorry for your small world and your small minds. How can you look at one of my children as wonderful and the other as some horror to keep out of your home? How can you feel educated after reading information on the internet?

Here is what I wish you would have taken the time to learn: Your daughter is at low risk for C-Diff. She is young, has a healthy immune system, and is up-to-date with her immunizations. I wish you would have listened to me when I said Matt and I are cautious. We are not cautious just for Emerson. We are cautious for Sorkin, for us, and for everyone who could be exposed to c-diff. This is Emerson’s third time being treated for C-Diff. In that time, my second child has never been diagnosed or infected with c-diff. In that time, my two siblings with chronic illness (who are at high risk) have never been infected. My three grandparents and your grandmother have NEVER been infected (also high risk) from Emerson.  

C-Diff is scary. But guess what, it’s not scary for you. It’s scary for Emerson who has C-Diff. It’s scary for me and my husband who wonder if this will be the time the antibiotics don’t work. It’s scary for every parent who has a child with a weakened immune system. 

You cannot live in fear for what may happen or what could happen. How can you live that way at all? Emerson cannot live that way. We had him in a bubble. For 6 months, my son lived in a hospital. For the first month of his life, he flitted between life and death. I am not prepared to lock my son in the house to keep him “safe”. There is nowhere in this world he is safe. There is risk everywhere, for him especially.

Emerson misses so much of his life due to his health status. He stays home when his cousins are sick. He doesn’t travel often and never too far from a good hospital. This is his reality. It is scary, but it is not his life. His life is full of love. His life is full of joy. Emerson has been through more than most children his age. He has definitely been through more than I have been through and (I feel confident saying this) he has been through more than your daughter has been through. 

I am so sorry for you. I am sorry that the two of you cannot look at both my children and see their beauty and worth. I feel bad that Emerson is just a risk to your daughter for you. He’s not. He is a joy. He has a great personality; he is funny, gentle, patient, and stubborn. Also, Matt and I, we got this c-diff stuff. We know how to protect him and we know how to protect your child. We would never (and i cannot emphasize this enough), we would NEVER  put another person (child, adult, elder) at undue risk. Of course the risk is present. I could never guarantee that your child would be c-diff free. Yet I feel fairly comfortable saying that unless your daughter ate my son’s poop, she would not get c-diff from him (and even if she did that, if she was not on a broad spectrum antibiotic, her body would probably not react to the c-diff the poop presented).

There is nothing you can say to make this right. There is no apology or explanation. From one parent to another: what you did is inexplicable to me. You made my child “less-than”. You made my child an “other”. You sent the message that there is something wrong and different about Emerson which means he is not worthy to be in your home. How dare you. How dare you continue to perpetuate a world where ignorance, intolerance, and discrimination are acceptable.

Sincerely,

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ps: I hope you have at least enough sense to see this as MY opinion and not the opinion of my husband, mother-in-law, or father-in-law. I am off the reservation. I am rogue. I have no one’s blessing to say what I say.

My Promise to My Sister

Anna and I grew very close in the last few years. I would say we were always close but that’s a lie. We have always been sisters and had each other’s backs, but we fought a lot during our high school years.

I remember one particular fight during my sophmore year of college and Anna’s freshman year. It was about JC. He and Anna had just started dating and I had a chip on my shoulder about him (background on that: he had given Anna flowers while she was, for all my knowledge, dating her boyfriend at that time. I did not like this move one bit. I later learned [like years later] that Anna and her boyfriend at the time were on a break). So Anna and JC were hanging out in the dining room at my parent’s house. Anna asked me about her and JC and I said (mostly joking, but really not) that JC was not on my A list. He wasn’t on my B or C list either. Anna went OFF (she was obviously madly in love). She let me know very plainly that she did NOT care what I thought of JC and that I better get on board because he was here to stay.

Fast forward two years: Anna and JC come out to visit us in Chicago. It was cold and gross and we still had a good time. If I had to pinpoint the point where Anna and I started getting close again, this would be it. Like all siblings, we needed our own space to become our own people but we were both finally at a place where we wanted to be friends again.

Fast forward three more years: Anna spent a lot of time with me, Matt, and the boys this last year. JC was working overnights and we lived close by. Anna and I had a lot of special conversations. There is one I remember very clearly today (and every day since her death). Anna told me that I needed to take care of JC if she died. Anna did not want JC to be left alone and she wanted to make sure someone she trusted had an eye on him. I told her of course I would take care of him. Then I made some light-hearted commented to move the situation on. It wasn’t that I didn’t take her seriously. As I said, we had many serious conversations and I knew how worried, anxious, and scared Anna was the last few months of her life. I just didn’t want her to fixate on her death. She knew that I would take care of JC.

And I take that promise seriously.

The only problem is, I am not Anna. There is no one in the world who can take care of JC like Anna. They really completed each other. I feel so inadequate. And especially today. Today is JC’s birthday. He is 23. Anna would make this day so special for him. There would be little notes every where and a dinner planned. Possibly drink with some friends. It would be perfect. And JC has a plan for today. He says it is what he wants to do, but I feel like I am failing Anna today. I am not her and I cannot give JC the kind of birthday Anna could.

I miss you every day Anna. How could I not? But today especially, I wish you were here. I love you always.