Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Unwanted Reminder

Last night I was sitting on the couch, watching the Voice with Dave, my mother in law, and Addy- who refused to go to sleep. I had grabbed the iPad to check my email- because I forget to do it all the time- and was shocked to find the following email...

This studio did Ellie's newborn pictures a couple weeks after she was born in Feb 2010. We received a call from them around Christmas in 2010 reminding us to schedule her one year pictures. I went into the studio and talked to a manager. I told her Ellie had died, that phone calls like this were very painful, and please remove us from their database. The lady who was working, said she too had lost a child several years ago and understood. We hadn't heard from them until this.

They obviously got the message. They even added the word "deceased" to her file. But they didn't delete our information like I had asked. I know that the sending of this was unintentional and that no one meant any harm by it. It's just an automated system that sends out reminder emails. I get it.

What I don't get it, is how someone thought it was a good idea to add the word DECEASED next to (actually in place of...) Ellie's name in the database and just hope that someone would catch before it went out. Obviously last year someone caught it- because we didn't get a reminder email to schedule a birthday picture session for our dead daughter's birthday. But this year, it got through.

My first reaction last night was to call the studio and talk to a manager. So I did. He felt horrible. His voice shook as he tried to clarify my information. I cried. I asked him to please, please make sure this doesn't happen again. He said that before he left for the night he would be contacting his bosses, the VP of marketing and anyone else he could think of. I hope he did.

A few kind and protective people have contacted the parent company on our behalf, and I am grateful for that because I'm not really sure how to react. I know how I would have reacted a year ago. With flames shooting from my ears, I would have called as high up as I could go and let them have it. I would have put it all over their Facebook page and demanded them to right their wrong. But now, I'm not so sure how to react.

The anger I felt a year as definitely eased. The anxiety over losing Ellie and the constant fear of a trigger has lessened. I'm not really sure how to describe it and I think you can only really understand if you've been through the loss of a child. But the desperation, the complete and total devastation that I used to live in has faded. I don't feel like my grief owns me anymore. I feel like I'm (mostly) in charge of it. Certain things still hurt- a lot, and I still avoid certain places, people and things that I know will bring up those emotions. It hurts to admit it, but its getting easier. I don't like admitting that we are surviving without Ellie. But we are.

As too many of us know, accepting our grief comes with a new set of emotions... Guilt, for example. I could write a book on guilt. For me, dealing with the fear of anxiety and those triggers moments has been difficult. Those moments of desperation and extreme sadness are so infrequent now, that when I feel like one is coming, I shut down. I completely over react and my fight or flight response totally kicks in. I will do anything to avoid feeling that way again.

So when this email arrived in all it's insensitive and horrendous glory, it took me by surprise. I didn't have time to freak out before hand and no time to flee. I called the manager. And I thought I would leave it at that. However, lots of other people think that we should make a bigger deal of it than that. And a year ago, I would have agreed. I was so accustomed to the stress, anxiety, sadness, anger and frustration, that it was no big deal to take on another moron(s). But I'm not used to it anymore.

Last night when I called the manager, I was calm at first. But as soon as the words starting coming out of my mouth, I lost it. I sobbed. I could hardly get the words out. And afterward, I was really shook up. I could feel that my anxiety was up for the rest of the night and I can even still feel it this morning. I hate feeling like this. I'm torn, on one hand I think they really need to know what happened and make sure that it never happens again. But on the other hand, I just don't want to deal with it. Its a weird place to be in.

In the end, I just don't want to ever receive another email like that. Ellie won't ever celebrate her birthday, and nothing can change that. I just don't need a reminder of that- especially a week before Christmas....

Update: The director of Flash called us both, separately, today, on his day away from the office, to apologize for what happened. He felt awful and said that he was told of this last night and has been sick about it since. He said he knows an apology won't make it better or take away what happened, but that they were truly sorry and that our name has definitely been removed from their database so that it won't happen again. This man was very nice and I could tell that he was really upset by what happened. I really, really appreciate him contacting us and taking care of the issue. He also said they would like to make a donation to Ellie's Light, which is very nice. Like I said, we know mistakes happen and no one did this on purpose. But it did hurt and having them acknowledge that was really appreciated. Hopefully we won't have to deal with this ever again, and neither will another family.

6 months x2

Since the babies are actually 7 months today- I better write down all their six month stuff so I don't forget! So bad at this stuff lately!!


Weight: 15 lb 9 oz- 12th percentile for age

Diaper Size: Size 2

Clothing Size: 9 months

Nicknames: Little Fly Guy, Giant Baby

Eating: Gentlease Formula- failed a third attempt at breast milk so I give up! Taking 6 oz first thing in the morning and right before bed, otherwise 5 oz at a time. He eats about 2-3 hours. Levi is a very pokey eater and sometimes it seems to take him forever to eat!! A few days before they turned six months we started them on cereal! Levi took to it right away and gladly finishes whatever we make for him!

Sleep: Wakes up around 5am to eat, goes back to sleep until about 6:30 and then is up for a little bit. Takes two morning naps, a good afternoon nap, short evening nap before going to bed around 7:30pm. He usually sleeps through the night! He takes naps in his Podster in the crib, and still sleeps in his Rock n Play next to our bed.

Firsts: First solids- multigrain cereal mixed with formula! First time sending big sister Ellie balloons on her 2nd Angelversary. First Halloween- Levi was a little raccoon! He was so adorable! It was very chilly here, but we bundled everyone up and out we went! Levi seemed to like being out, which was surprising since he doesn't normally like it outside. He made it all the way around the block- just watching all the action! First time going to Grandma and Papa's house. Its only about an hour drive, but it was a big ride for them! He slept the whole way in the car and liked checking out the new place.

Life with Levi: Our little sweetie! He loves to cuddle and gives great kisses and wonderful hugs. He likes to chew on our faces, my hair, our hands, his hands, his feet, my cup or whatever else I'm trying to put into my mouth- ok, he tries to chew on everything! Even his sister! He is still very curious and tries to get his hands on anything. You can tell just by the look on his face that he wants to get a hold of whatever he is looking at. He is pretty laid back compared to his siblings, but he takes eating pretty seriously- so don't mess with him when it's bottle time. He has the most pathetic cry at night when he wants his nuk- but he usually settles back in as soon as he gets it. He is so smiley and I love his behind the nuk smile! Levi loves to hold hands when he is in his car seat, so cute!


Weight: 14lb 4oz- 12th percentile for age

Diaper Size: 2

Clothing Size: 6 months

Nicknames: Bug, Buggers, Buggy Boo Boo

Eating: Pumped milk. Her bedtime bottle and first bottle of the day usually are 6oz. Otherwise she usually eats 5 oz every two- three hours. Addy also started multigrain cereal and we were not at all surprised when she was not interested in it after the first taste! We kind of had to trick her to get in!

Sleep: Addy usually wakes up around 5am for a bottle and then goes back to sleep until 6 or 6:30am (as long as someone holds her!). Addy takes pretty short naps throughout the day but occasionally we can get a decent nap in on the way home from therapy around lunch time. She falls asleep with her nighttime bottle, but almost every single night, she wakes up about ten min after we put her down to sleep. I hold her on the couch and she goes back to sleep. I don't know if she's worried she's missing something or just needs some extra cuddles. Like Levi, she naps in her crib in the Podster during the day, and sleeps in the Rock n Play next to the bed at night.

Firsts: First solids- multigrain cereal mixed with breast milk! First time sending big sister Ellie balloons on her 2nd Angelversary. First Halloween- Addy was a little owl! It was pretty cute! It was very chilly here, but we bundled everyone up and out we went! Addy hated her costume and started protesting as soon as I had her dressed. Addy continued to be upset so after a half block, we brought her home to the grandparents. First time going to Grandma and Papa's house. Its only about an hour drive, but it was a big ride for them! Addy fell asleep shortly after getting in the car then slept the rest of the way in the car and liked checking out the new place and playing with her cousin Layton. So close to sitting up!

Life with Addy:  Addy loves to be the center of attention, and if she isn't, she does her darnedest to make sure people know she isn't happy about it! She is so funny and has the cutest little giggle. Addy loves her toys, but would much rather be involved in whatever is going on around her. She sports quite the little attitude and is becoming a Mommy's girl. She is high maintenance but oh so cute. You can't not laugh at her antics and bids for attention. She even tries to get her brothers' attention- usually without success, which only adds fuel to her fire!

A few more pictures of the small people...

Sending our love to Ellie on her second Angelversary!
Playing while we carve pumpkins

The Determined Face
Chewing on a red bell pepper! Not a fan!

First bites of cereal!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

New Firsts

Its been two years since we last saw our little girl- tucked into a small white casket. Since then we've survived two rounds of every holiday- some three. We've weathered every season change and all the emotions that come with them. I've returned to Children's Hospital where Ellie died several times. Hell, we've even sat in the same ICU where Ellie died, just doors down, and listened to a doctor tell us we, once again, had a very ill child.
After two years of surviving, it's pretty safe to say that we've survived all the "firsts." Not to say that holidays aren't still heartbreaking, and anniversaries aren't hard. But after two years, you start to get a little less fearful of those triggers and anxiety producing firsts. The heavy fog and crushing pain of the first year has eased, and the lows are further apart. I've gotten so used to being able to breathe again, that it surprises me when something makes me catch my breath.
I knew that the babies would bring with them, a whole new set of firsts. Every once in a while something will make me sad, but so far none of the babies first have been that hard. After all, we had nine months with Ellie. So up until now, everything they've done- she did too. So far, its been just like any other siblings that come after another.
But now the babies are six and a half months old. They are turning in to these amazing little people and each day grow closer to nine months and ten days old. Levi looks just like his big sister- so much so that when I look at Ellie's pictures, I have to look twice. And every day, Addy acts more and more like Ellie. She is a little stinker and just wants to be in the mix. Every day the babies get older and inch closer to the day when they will have out lived their sister...
Levi- or "Giant Baby"- started wearing nine month clothing about a month ago. It crossed my mind that 9 months was the last size that Ellie wore. But the thought was fleeting. Levi wears blue and green clothes that have cars and baseballs on them. He wears the clothes his big brother wore- or something brought just for him. It was a first but a gentle first.
Addy, our loud but tiny little lady, still easily fits into most 6 month clothing. But some things are starting to get a little tight. Its one of the moments I've been dreading... it's time to get Addy some 9 month clothing... So I knew I had two options...I could ignore the two tubs in the basement labeled 6-9 months girls and just start from scratch, or suck it up and go through the tubs. I knew it was ridiculous to let a box full of perfectly good clothes to just sit down there.. But I also knew the tub had some clothes that Ellie never had the chance to wear...
When we moved, I put some important pieces of Ellie's clothing- the last dress she wore, the pajamas, her denim skirt, hair bows, in a separate tub. A tub that was just for Ellie. And no one else. The rest were taken straight out of the drawer and put into a tub- others off the closet rod, still on hangers. The last time that those clothes were folded or hung, were for a little girl that was still alive. A little girl that lived, that breathed, that laughed and smiled. For a little girl that isn't here anymore.
Sifting through the tub of pink and purple was the hardest thing I've done in a long time. When most moms go through a box of old baby clothes they think things like, "Oh she wore this the first time we went to the zoo" or "Awww, she wore this for her nine month pictures..." Not things like, "she wore this the last time we were at the mall and for our last tea party two days before she got sick and died," which is exactly what I thought when I came across a long sleeved purple onesie with a cupcake on it...
In the tub, there were a few things that Addy could fit into, but I just couldn't bring myself to wash for her. I guess those will just be Ellie's. And inside the tub were also the items I fear the most... Those that she never wore... But most of them are 12 months, so I wimped out put them back.
I guess putting the babies in size three diapers- the last size Ellie wore, and facing the last round of clothes she wore, were enough firsts for this weekend...

I took this outfit out of the tub tonight... Man I miss her...