Wednesday, February 29, 2012

"Look for me in the whirlwind or the storm." ~Marcus Garvey

About Me Blog Challenge Day 2 (give or take...):  The meaning behind my blog name.

Everyone has storms in their lives.  Some are slight showers with breaks in the clouds that touch your life, but don't define you.  Many are unexpected but welcomed, cleanse, and make your world more beautiful than ever before.  Others... are monsoons that wash away your very being; tornadoes that uproot everything you once knew, flipping your world over.  Nothing can reverse the damage done and everything looks different from this new, uncomfortable angle.  You find yourself dangling upside down, struggling to hang on to a piece of debris that feels as if it's searing your flesh in an effort to make you fall.  You're in the same world as everyone else except they are not upside down like you are.  You feel yourself continuously being pulled into the remaining darkness left of the storm, while they're enjoying the sunshine.  They barely noticed the devastation caused by the storm, for it wasn't theirs.  It was your storm and yours alone.  You'll find some friends/family, who they are may surprise you, right there in the thick of it with steel toed boots to lead you confidently through the rubble, thick gloves to grip your hands so you don't fall, and a flashlight for when the darkness overwhelms you.  Other friends are not equipped to pull you from the wreckage or are afraid of your new world and disappear causing you to lose your grip - this is where your friends with the thick gloves come in handy.  Along the way, you come across others trapped in the devastation of their storms, you recognize each other's storms, and help each other in ways no other friends/family could.  These fellow Angel Mommies hold a very special place in my heart and always will.  They are the friends holding umbrellas when the rain starts to fall.

Throughout my life there have been storms, but nothing compares to the births and deaths of my sons, W in 2006, and E in 2011.  

When W was unexpectedly stillborn, I never knew a storm that intense existed, let alone that you could survive it.  There was an amazing rainbow tossed in there with the healthy birth of my daughter, D in 2007.  While still struggling with the aftermath of the storm, she helped me see the beauty of it all and gave me hope.  It took a handful of years to navigate my destroyed world until I came to a point where I realized I had accepted my new world, accepted W's death (which doesn't mean I liked it), and had learned how to be happy in this new normal, learning to live the rest of my life without one of my children.  My broken heart never came together the way it was before and the scars of his storm will remain forever, but I was getting some of that sunshine I had seen pass me by over the years.  My sense of humor unearthed itself.  I laughed – a lot – truly appreciating how good the laughter felt after years without it.  I found joy in some new activities while others I had once enjoyed have never resurfaced.  I survived.  I was a happy again, a different happy, but happy.  I loved my family and was so proud of everything we survived together, with my husband as my anchor, never letting the tides of grief push me out too far without pulling me back.  The storm clouds are always there and sometimes come out of nowhere on a day I expected sunshine.  But for the most part, the dark clouds were kept at bay, and I could feel the warmth of the sun again.  

We decided it was time to add to our family and quickly learned we were carrying our sweet son, E.  Another storm came crashing down, this one more like a hurricane that I watched on the doppler radar as it crept closer, sweeping me up in its current, beating me to a pulp with the familiar agony before throwing me into the upside world again.  This time, it was the water that was my biggest threat, weighing me down, drowning me, terrifying me.  I'm not a very good swimmer and I was so afraid of going through a storm of that magnitude again.  Getting E's diagnosis, being forced to make a decision about his life and death, and carrying him were a crazy pattern of storms, sunshine, and unknowns as we tried to enjoy the only time we'd have with E in our lives.  Again, I had to find the friends/family who could handle the hurricane.  Acquaintances became friends, while friends became acquaintances.  I met another realm of angel moms and it always amazes me how many of us suffer these storms...  The day E was born and the days he lived well were like the eye of the storm - calm, beautiful, filled with so much love and happiness for our little boy and his proud big sister.  I held two of my children in my arms at the same time, a dream come true!  The aching empty spot belonging to W was still there as always.  Our life with E was full of sunshine, and yet we knew the worst was yet to come.  And it did after just 3.5 days...  Now, 5 months after his death, the hurricane is still here and I'm still working very hard on *weathering the storm again.  (*Get it?  See, it's pretty obvious.)  This time, also trying to help my daughter through her own storm, suffering the death of her baby brother she loves so much.  My husband and I learning how the storms are affecting each other this time around and working hard to give each other what we need to weather them, since no two people experience these things the same way, even the second time around.  Weathering the storm.  It's all we can do, it's the only choice we have, and it'll take the rest of our lives to do it.

I've always loved messing with words, puns, and the like.  I'm able to put spins on titles to my work; whip puns out like a pro, and help others come up with a little witty repartee to satisfy their needs.  When it came to my own blog, I went completely blank.  Trying to come up with a way to include all of my children, what my life is like without giving too much away or being too negative, what my blog would be about, and how I could put a creative spin on it was overwhelming.  I feared the permanence of choosing a terrible name and it held me back for months.  Finally I threw out a plea to my friends/family to help me name my blog.  A wonderfully creative (and genius!) angel mom friend of mine, Leslie M., immediately came up with "Heathering the Storm" because of all the storms I've had to weather in my life, plus my name thrown in putting a play on phrase - and a rhyme I've heard all my life having the name Heather.  As soon as I read those words, I knew that was my blog's name.  I wish I could take credit for the name because I LOVE it, but I will take my place in the front row as she takes center stage for this one!  Thanks, Leslie, you’re a genius!!!

I came across the quote, "Look for me in the whirlwind or the storm." by Marcus Garvey and that's exactly where you'll always find me.  In the storm, heathering my way to calmer days.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” ~Jim Rohn

Hello, all, and welcome to my blog!  My name is Heather.  I'm married, I'm a mom, and I love all animals.  In an effort to get a blog started and keep it going, I've decided to do a 30 day blog challenge entitled "About Me".  Once the 30 days are finished, I hope I've figured out something to write in that particular section.  It's been a long time since I've written anything, so I'm hoping this blog will oil my rusty writing muscles while I share with you how I'm learning to balance the storms of my everyday life as a bereaved mother, Heather-style!

Day 1:  A recent picture and 15 interesting facts about yourself.

Here I am on Valentine's Day at Sea Turtle Rescue, Inc in South Padre Island, Texas!

1.)  I love to travel and see new places, but I'm terrified of flying.  I'd rather drive for 5 days instead of hop on a plane to be there in 5 hours.  Flying also kinda disgusts me - germs everywhere!  I'm the weirdo handing out clorox wipes and antibacterial hand wipes to my fellow passengers, while my daughter encourages them to sneeze/cough into their elbows, not their hands.  Just ick.  I'd much rather be in my own vehicle with my own germs. 
2.)  My favorite dog breeds are American Pit Bull Terriers and Border Collies - both of which blessed my life for many years.  I will forever fight for American Pit Bull Terriers, if not for them, then for my daughter whose best friend happens to be one and I'll never let anyone separate them.
3.)  My husband and I were married by our friend who got ordained to marry us and we were married outdoors at my aunt's gorgeous lakeside resort in Minnesota.  Our wedding reception was a bonfire on the beach!  Our 3 dogs were there and wearing collars decorated with flowers and the wedding colors.
4.)  My husband and I have 3 beautiful children, 1 daughter here on earth and 2 sons in Heaven.  Our son, W, was stillborn on 12/19/06, no cause was ever found.  We had our beautiful daughter, D, just under a year later in 2007.  Our son, E, was diagnosed in utero with severe heart defects (Tetralogy of Fallot with Pulmonary Atresia) and also a seizure disorder called Miller-Dieker Syndrome.  He was born on 09/08/11 and amazed us with 3.5 wonderful days with him in our arms, soaking up our love.  E died due to the heart defects on 09/12/11 in our home, spending every minute of his life held by someone who loved him.  He was definitely a Momma's Boy and wanted to do nothing but nurse!  I love all of my children and ALL of them will always be a part of our family.  I'm hoping beyond all hopes that we can have another living child to raise and we'll get to watch our living children grow up, until one day when they're old and gray, they'll bury us - the way it's supposed to be!
5.)  After many years of being Pro-Life, I'm now Pro-Choice after being faced with that difficult decision between horrible and awful.  Regardless of the decision, it's a decision made out of pure love.  We chose life for our son, knowing he would most likely die anyway (and he did), but it was extremely difficult and not for everyone - I would never take that choice away from someone now and will fight for the right to choose.
6.)  I love to laugh and be silly.  A LOT.  
7.)  I started and run a support group for mothers who have suffered the death of their child(ren), mostly geared towards miscarriages, stillbirths, and infant deaths.  It has shocked me with how much it has grown and makes me so proud to see the amazing support everyone offers each other.    
8.)  I want to change the way our society grieves, views grief, and handles the bereaved.
9.)  I am a Harry Potter freak.  The books are falling apart and I've had to replace my DVDs...more than once!
10.)  I will wait forever for my Hogwarts letter and I get way too excited if I hear/see an owl...
11.)  I love to create with all sorts of mediums:  paper quilling, clay, wire, beads, drawing, coloring, and any crafts with my daughter.  But I have problems finishing crafts since I'm usually working on many at the same time.
12.)  I eat 2 jumbo bags of snack size Hershey bars every week.
13.)  I was a guest columnist for our local Sunday newspaper writing humor columns.
14.)  I hate heart defects with every fiber of my being and curse them for killing one of our sons.
15.)  I drive a mini-van and I love it.

Tomorrow's Blog Challenge?  The meaning behind my blog name....which is pretty self explanatory but I'll do my best!