Dear Iris

Dear Iris,

I’m writing to you today because there is something that you should know.  You are far too young for me to explain it now, but someday the time will be right and you will be ready.  I’m not sure you’ll understand.  Shoot, I’m not sure that I understand.  I hope when the time comes, I will be ready myself – to tell you, to explain.

My sweet Iris, you have a sister.

I see you looking at the little urn, turning it over in your hands.  You reach for the book and soft little lamb that you are sure is meant for you.  I admit that I don’t really know what I’m doing when I gently lead you away.  

We named her Elby.  She was in our lives for such a brief time.  We looked forward to meeting her so much, but we never got to hold her in our arms.  We read to her and sang to her and in the end, we did what we thought was best for her.  I hope she heard us, heard the hope and love that we sent to her.  I hope she hears us still.

Iris, I know that if Elby had been okay, we would have never had you.  And I want you to know this: I would not take one step off the path that led me to you.  You were meant to be my daughter as much as Elby was – but in a different way.  You were meant to call me Mama, to wrap your little legs around my waist and give me hugs and kisses.  Of this, I have no doubt.

There’s another thing I know for sure: Elby is watching over us.  She is watching over you.

After your Daddy and I lost Elby, we were heartbroken.  We were confused and lost because our lives took a turn that we didn’t understand or expect.  We spent a lot of time talking and crying together, trying to make sense of what had happened.  One particularly sad day, we stopped at a park to look out over the water.  While we were there, a beautiful rainbow appeared right in front of us.  We both felt that Elby was trying to tell us that it was okay, that she understood.  That day, I started to heal.  My heart felt lighter than it had in weeks.  I will never forget it.

When we had you, it was the most wonderful, scary, and exhilarating moment of our lives.  We named you Iris because when we looked into your eyes, it suited you.  You were simply not any of the other names on our list.  You were Iris.

Weeks later, after we were home from the hospital and we were all able to get a little sleep, your Daddy and I decided to read up on the meaning of your beautiful name.  We looked at each other in disbelief.  My sweet girl, your name, quite literally, means “rainbow.”  In Greek mythology, Iris delivered messages to the gods.  She was the goddess of rainbows.

Iris, your Daddy and I firmly believe that Elby picked you out just for us.  That she sent the perfect little one to soothe our hurting hearts and to put laughter and joy into our lives again.  We believe she is watching over all three of us.

I hope one day I can tell you these things – when you’re ready to be told, when I’m ready to tell.  I don’t want Elby to be a secret from you.  She gave me hope.  She taught me so much about life and love and gratitude.  She made me the person I am today.  She made the Mama that I am to you.  

In so many ways, Iris, I feel like she gave me you.  And for that, I am eternally grateful.  For that, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Love you,
Mama

– ALW

The Dating Scene

I’ve  commented to friends that if I ever needed to enter the dating world again I would need to be sandblasted with diamonds. But that’s another story. I digress.

I’m finishing a weekend of solo parenting. For those of you who are single parents, or stay-at-home-moms or -dads, I applaud you. I always have, but it needs to be said again: “Bravo/a.”

How does one entertain a toddler without regular backup? Play dates.

Once you have a child play dates become more common, and in some cases, more desired that nights on the town with your beloved. Meeting for coffee when wee ones are little nubbins in car seats helps stave off loneliness and encourages basic hygiene. Later, as babies start to crawl, it’s fun to take them to others’ homes for them to chew on someone elses’ toys and again, get out of the house. In the first year play dates are more about the adult in the equation – sharing adult time where you can talk about anxieties, hopes and everything in between.

And now that I have a full-fledged toddler, each minute is about how to tire her out. I’m not an over-scheduler, but think of how to get her active and entertained so that she goes down for her afternoon nap and sleeps through the night. A surefire way to get this done is through play dates.

I’m fortunate that three other women were pregnant at the same time I was. We started by meeting for tea, newly pregnant and burping into warm cups. As we got bigger we shared ideas. And we overlapped on maternity leave, meeting weekly. Since then, we still meet monthly for Birthday Club, our toddlers born six weeks apart and two of them on the same day. Each month we take a photo of the four kids, smiling as they wiggle and waggle.

Birthday Buddies, Year 1!

Birthday Buddies, Year 2!

So on this weekend I did what I knew I could to tire out said toddler and keep us entertained: I scheduled three play dates, one for each day I was home alone. Lovely mamas and their children came over and we also went out to meet a little friend. We walked, talked, the kids stared and stole from one another. Tears were shed from minor spills and injustices, but kisses were blown and little hugs shared when they parted ways. For one or two hours, I was happy and content, and so was my two-year-old partner.

Frankly, it’s the best dating scene I’ve ever been a part of.

– MD

The Unknown

It’s been nearly four weeks now since my husband and I sat speechless in the ICU waiting for our son’s bone marrow biopsy results. During the week prior we had watched S’s health deteriorate quickly and knew something was very wrong. His normally high energy level had disappeared and he had very swollen lymph nodes, an altered voice, fever and lethargy. Many tests were performed and none of the standard illnesses were identified, however, some unusual results and new findings suddenly caused great concern for one other possibility. My husband and I shared the dark suspicion that bad news was about to arrive. We tried to comprehend why this horrible disease would invade our baby. We were convinced our healthy, strong, happy, funny little boy was about to face an uncertain future and he had just celebrated his fifth birthday.

In the time before the procedure I immersed myself in countless Internet searches (not recommended), studied the statistics, traditional and alternative treatments, remission rates and any other information I could find. So many questions to answer. How would we explain this to S and get him through this? How would we put on a happy face for him each day and try to keep life “normal” for his little brother? How would we save him? 

After we had held our screaming, thrashing little boy down while the nurses inserted the IV and took yet another blood draw I also tried to imagine what possible explanation we could offer as to why we would help people hurt him over and over again? 

We waited and waited for the leukemia diagnosis. Finally, the pediatrician stepped in the room and smiled. Negative.

Mononucleosis was the culprit, though it’s presence had evaded numerous prior tests. S’s health has improved dramatically and most of his symptoms have since disappeared. His energy level will be low for a few weeks yet but he will soon start kindergarten. We are thrilled that we can share in the beautiful joy and simplicity of discussions surrounding his new school, swimming lessons and play dates with friends. 

I look at our children, and all children, a bit differently now. At odd moments, like while watching a group of kids happily running around at a birthday party recently, I get a rush of anxiety and fear that I have to wish away. There are so many things people told me about how parenthood would change me but no one could have prepared me for the realization that, in a moment, our family could have entered such an alternate reality. Now the experience is with me, my baggage of appreciation for one simple thing-health.

Happy S

We are getting back into our normal daily groove. I’m about to take the boys to the library and, merely because it’s a gorgeous summer day, we might stop for an ice cream cone afterwards.

To the friends that stepped in to help at a moment’s notice, and to all the others we knew would, Thank You. We are so grateful to have you all in our lives.

S and R

– RC

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