Tuesday, October 25, 2011

So Maeve was sick this weekend, she had a fever and a cough and was oh-so-miserable. What made it harder for me was that she wouldn't sleep unless I was walking around with her... at all. Not even a little. As soon as I sat, or tried to lie, she would begin to arch, and scream.

Maeve never, ever cries. Not when she's hungry, not when she's tired. Never. She never has. She's just a quiet baby, and I've learned to read her squeaks and whistles and figure her out pretty well. So all of this screaming was kind of alarming, and while her fever broke on Sunday night, this inability to sleep much at all (she did go down at 3 on Sunday night, and at 2 on Monday night!) combined with continued screaming led me to one conclusion:

Definitely some kind of tumor, causing excruciating pain.

I cried about this, feeling distraught as I paced the dark dining room at 1 AM. Here I was, desperate for sleep after 4 nights of none, wanting so badly for her to go to sleep, and soon she'd be in hospital for months, maybe forever, and how could this be happening?

In the morning, after I'd had my coffee, I remembered about ear infections. I thought about how interesting it is that my brain visits the idea of fatal tumors before it suggests the possibility that a congested baby might have an ear infection, which would cause pain and an inability to sleep.

Oh, well.

I did make an appointment to bring her in tomorrow, but today she had a long nap on my bed and now she's been sleeping there for almost 2 hours. Not in my arms, not while I walk. So I think maybe my hours of pacing the floor possibly dodged us a round of ammoxocillin (and as she threw up the tylenol I tried to give her each time, I doubt that would have gone over very well) and I am hoping we are in the clear.

Monday, October 17, 2011


It's time to write again.
My, how the time flies by, when you're spinning in circles all day long and then it takes an hour to make the lunches for the next day after dinner clean up because you're so tired. But it's all good work, for good people, and while I'm wondering who is going to make Liam's octopus costume and when, I'm still managing to hang onto my surfboard as the ocean undulates below me. Thankfully, Aoife has decided once again to be some variety of fairy princess for Halloween which means I can, with gratitude, send her to the gigantic dress up basket on the 31st of October to choose her own get-up.
This weekend was our town's fall festival. We live in a very small town up in the hills, and it's important for me to attend this festival every fall to remind myself how incredibly adorable this community really is. Of course there's the beautiful white church, town hall, and pristine library that comprise our town centre and sit perched atop a hill with panoramic views of the Connecticut River Valley. But on Festival day the back lawn of the library becomes a hubbub of activity with little tents, pens with all varieties of baby and adult animals, a cow pie bingo pen, lots of food tents, fairy house building, a craft table, and bounce house... and all the activities are free. Open to the public, and free. Amazing.
This festival consists of a kick-off 5K run through the hills (Liam completed his first 5K run, I'm proud to say, with Greg, Maeve, Grandpa and me!) followed by a variety of music, tours of the old blacksmith shop museum, home made sugar donuts, pies for sale, tractors to climb on, corn to grind, wool to spin, cider to press, and lots of animals to visit of course. There was a woodsman's competition and a trebuchet slingshot contraption flinging squashes into the forest.

The highlight of the festival comes at 4 PM when the Great Pumpkin Roll happens. At this time, all children get a small pumpkin and go to the top of the hill, and after singing a song, which is of course called, "The Great Pumpkin Roll," the starting gun fires and everyone pitches their pumpkin forward, and then great chaos emerges as each child rushes down the hill after his or her pumpkin. There are always a few tears as pumpkins are lost and kids trip on the incredibly steep hill on the way down, but there are way more smiles and cheers as the kids run sometimes half a mile down the hill after their pumpkins. One can easily imagine how quickly the 10 year old boys begin smashing pumpkins on the street on the way back up the hill and how shocked and horrified the 8 year old girls act as they compare how their pumpkins survived the journey and cradle them, hoping they will make it home for a good jack-o-lantern.
This year, our competitive by nature son was prepared to run all the way home if necessary (we live 1 mile down), and thrilled at the prospect of doing so. Aoife was almost going to opt out, as the throng of over-excited bodies pitching quickly downhill is always terrifying to her (and who can blame her, she's still barely 40 pounds) but a schoolmate's enthusiasm convinced her to at least pitch the pumpkin, and send Grandpa after it. Fiona spent the whole day saying, "Frow pumpkin down driveway, want to frow my pumpkin NOW down driveway, want pumpkin, want pumpkin NOW!" and then, in typical almost-two year old fashion, clung to her pumpkin and would not budge when the time came. It was an amazing day together, spent as a family, and it helped me to center in to the cute little community that I may have only lived in for 9 years but that has been my children's home for all of their lives.

I've been thinking a lot lately about how small our house is going to seem in 5 years, or maybe in only two, and how at some point we might actually consider the thought (just consider) of moving somewhere else. It really could only happen if we found the exact homestead that we envisioned originally, the dream that was too high to aspire for when we scraped together just enough to buy the tiny cottage that we were able to renew and expand to become what we call home today. It would have to be the farmhouse with acres of land and an attic to renovate into our bedroom, with a barn big enough for a swing and an existing place for our hens and enough room so that we could have a dog or two without wondering where even the dog would sleep. But I'm starting to realize that if we did, or could find that place at the time when our house was feeling too small, it might have to happen.
I know many people who have moved after their babies died, but I can't shake the feeling that I would be leaving Charlotte behind if I ever left this place. I think there's also a piece of me that feels so attached to this house because I feel like I absolutely became the woman I am here. I moved in here a slip of a girl with a basketball under my dress and I've become a wise, aged mother over the years, and more than feeling like I couldn't leave, I can't bear the thought of somebody else taking over this domain which is so sacred to me.
Maybe I'd have to be one of those weird sellers who would only sell their house to a family they really, really like.

And what of the placenta of the daughter I lost, which now lies encompassed in the root system of a very successful, 25 foot plum tree? What of that?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Little Fi

What Fiona loves best is when, after her tub, I let her climb up with me into our sleigh bed and nurse her while she's bare naked, lying down.
Fiona slept with me every night of her life until she was nine months old, you'll recall. She was the snuggliest, coziest, most delicious little baby to snooze with until suddenly she wasn't. Suddenly she was a wretched bedmate, thrashing and moaning, nursing and ripping the nipple out of her mouth in frustration, only settling when I would jump out of the bed in utter despair, not knowing how to soothe her. It took me a few weeks to put two and two together and realize that this child craved space, and she's slept very happily in her crib ever since (albeit not through the night until the dawn of the ever-so-ingenious nightlight).
So, to snuggle with her cozied against me, naked to boot, is simply a delight.
She's so tiny, Fiona is, she's almost two but she's just over 20 pounds and just petite all over. She has this fluffy head of baby curls that are getting quite long and she's so wiry and strong and amazing to lie with. She still absolutely loves to nurse and I love to nurse her. It's such a sweet, quiet way to love each other.

Lately when we're nursing in bed after her bath, she's taken to gazing upward at the photoframe above the bed with all the photos of Charlotte in it. She knows it's Charlotte, but obviously can't understand who Charlotte is, or what happened to her. Her comments vary, and I don't even really try to rationally explain it to her because I know she's too little.
"Charlotte's asleep."
"Charlotte's sad."
"Charlotte's nursing."
"Charlotte wake up. Mimi have bandaid."
"Charlotte happy."
Once, a while back, before I had specifically identified the photos over our bed as Charlotte, she thought they were photos of me holding a dolly. At that point she probably thought Charlotte was a candle we lit on our dining room table, as her context was "Let's light Charlotte's candle".

It's funny for me to compare her knowledge of Charlotte at this point to Liam's when he was her age. When Liam was a baby, and it was just the two of us, I told him the story of Charlotte over, and over, and over. It was like a book we read, the story of the mother and father who wanted their baby but she died, and then they had this amazing little boy to bring joy back into their lives. His information about Charlotte was her story over and over again. Fiona has probably never even gotten the whole story, all laid out in a straight line like that. She gets whispers of it in her ear, she gets photographs all over the house that everyone in the family refers to and tells her it's Charlotte. She has everyone going around saying their wish for Charlotte before we eat. She even chips in now, saying, "We love you, Charlotte, we miss you," and I'm sure she wonders who it is she's talking to. When Fiona was tiny I was having such awful PTSD (if I may call it that) that I could barely think about Charlotte let alone tell her story out loud to the baby in my lap who lived.

I feel like I should make her a book about our family, explaining who everyone was, who came first, who came next. There's just so darn many of us now.
And I love it.

Monday, October 3, 2011


I did have one, teeny temper tantrum the other night. It would be simple for all of you who have been blessed with living children to guess what it was about, and harder for those of you who long for sleepless nights to fathom...
of course, sleep.
I'm tired, quite.
Maeve Eloise sleeps quite well, sometimes. There were nights when she'd do 5 or 6 hours at a time, leaving me wondering how I could possibly feel so rested. I'd been up 3 or 4 times a night with Fiona up until a month or two before Maeve's birth, and now they were neck and neck, each getting me up once or twice.
(Fiona, incidentally, who has been up at least twice in the night every night of her life suddenly sleeps through the night due to my ingenious idea that perhaps a night light would help).
But some nights, she's nursing every ten minutes.
Like tonight, when I thought I could sneak down and do a blog post. But two minutes after I came downstairs, she's awake.
She wants to go to bed at 6:30 PM, with me.
No can do, girlfriend.
That's all I've got for tonight. My little Mae-mae calls, and my beautiful images of myself snuggled in bed with her, tummy to tummy, feeling her tiny little belly rise and fall against mine, will have to wait until tomorrow, or some other night when I might get five minutes instead of two to tell you about what things are like in the happy, happy (sad) house.