Feelings of a Grieving Mom

Photo by Tiffany Snellbaker

Photo by Tiffany Snellbaker

After losing Cohen I have felt so many emotions.  It is no wonder that sometimes I think I am going crazy.

When I have a bad day or week and spend the majority of time crying, I feel like I am being too dramatic.  That I need to pick myself up and move forward.  That I shouldn’t be crying this much.  That I am going to damage Cole and Carson if they see me crying all the time.

When I have a good day or week and don’t cry too much I think to myself do I not love him enough.  How can I be having a good day when Cohen is not here?  I shouldn’t be feeling this happy.  How can I be smiling and talking and acting normal when my life is anything but normal?  Am I forgetting my sweet Cohen?

I feel like no matter what I feel like that day it just isn’t right.  I can’t be too happy and I can’t be too sad.

When I spend all day lecturing the boys and breaking up fights and feel frustrated with them, I think I shouldn’t be frustrated I should just be thankful that they are here.  Or I will think this is why Cohen is not here.  If this is how frustrated I get with two boys how much more would I be with three?

When I get annoyed with Carson for always touching me, I should just be glad I have him to cuddle with. Seriously though, this child loves to cuddle, not just cuddle but he feels like he always needs to be touching my skin.  So he is always sticking his hand up my sleeve to rub my arm.  If he can’t reach my are the hand goes up my shirt to rub my belly or down my shirt to rub my shoulder/neck (something we are trying to break since he is almost three).  Sometimes he even sticks his head up my shirt to be closer to me!  As I was writing this he tried to stick his head in my sleeve.  He also loves to rub a tiny raised mole on my cheek.  If he sneaks over to my bed at night he likes to put his ice-cold feet down my underwear!  But when I feel annoyed with him about all of this I feel like I shouldn’t be.  If Cohen were here I would be getting touched even more, would I be getting annoyed with Cohen too?

When I feel like my world is crazy, my house is a mess (which it usually is unless someone is coming over), and I don’t have time to do anything, I feel guilty because I again think this is why Cohen isn’t here.  Because I couldn’t handle three boys.

I feel that pang of this is why Cohen isn’t here when I see Cole and Carson acting like wild animals in the store.  When they are whining and I feel like I can’t take anymore.  That this is why we don’t have Cohen, because I don’t have the patience and am not a good enough mother to handle having three boys.

Deep down I know that those things are not true.  I am sure there are people out there just like me who have children just as wild as mine and their babies are here.  I know that it has nothing to do with any of these things but sometimes I feel like I need a reason.  I need to know why Cohen is not here, why I don’t get to hold him and hear him cry.

I worry about what other people think of me.  Do they think I am “over” Cohen when they see me laughing and talking?  I know I will never be over Cohen but do they.  Do they think I am overly dramatic when I leave the room crying because there are just too many babies/pregnant women in the room?  Do they think I should be doing better than I am?  Do they think I am doing worse than I should be?

I know I shouldn’t worry about what others think.  That I should just be me and work through my grief the way I need to, but I worry anyway.  The truth is people probably aren’t watching or judging me nearly as much as I think they are.

I feel so many things and sometimes I think I am just too hard on myself.  I just need to let myself feel what I feel and not worry if I am too happy or too sad.  I know that I will never forget Cohen so I don’t know why I would worry that I am.  I know that I love him so much and that my struggles as a mom are not the reason that he is not here.  I know all these things in my head but sometimes they take a little longer to reach my heart.

My Baby is Teaching Me

040

Photo by Tiffany Snellbaker

One day when I was sitting and thinking about Cohen it occurred to me that my little boy, my little baby knows way more than I do.  He knows all the answers to the million questions that I have,  Why did he die?  What good can ever come out of this?  Why did this happen?  What was God thinking?.  Cohen knows all of these answers and it probably doesn’t even matter to him.

He probably doesn’t care why he died.  In fact he probably doesn’t even know what death is.  He knows why this happened but it probably isn’t all that important to him.  He knows what God was thinking and while I don’t think it is a good plan, Cohen knows that in the end something good will come out of his death.

To think that my baby knows so much more than me seems so strange.  I am his mother.  I am supposed to have the answers.  I am supposed to be teaching him, to walk, talk, and be polite.  I am supposed to be the teacher and he is supposed to be learning from me.

Instead he is teaching me.  Teaching me that I can be strong when I have to be.  That I can live even after my worst nightmare came true.  To love deeper.  He is teaching me who I really am.

I never thought I would be able to live if I lost a child.  I thought I would curl up and die.  That I would never get out of bed and just sob and sob and sob all day and all night.  That I wouldn’t care about anything anymore and that I would either waste away into nothing because I wouldn’t ever eat or I would eat everything in sight.  That I wouldn’t bathe or ever leave the house.

But I have proved myself wrong!  I still get out of bed every morning.  I take care of Cole and Carson.  I manage to get Cole out the door and to school on Tuesdays and Thursdays and most of the time we are on time!  I do cry, a lot.  At least once a day I take time to just sit and think about Cohen and I cry.  Sometimes something will hit me and I will cry.  But I am able to function.  I still care about things.  I am neither wasting away or eating everything.  I am actually doing the opposite and have started eating healthier and exercising (something I have never done in my life)!  I have lost weight in a healthy way and am continuing to work on getting down to a healthy weight.  I do bathe on a daily basis and I leave the house.

This does not mean that everything is perfect!  If you see me driving down the road most of the time you will see me crying.  Last night I went to a family gathering for the first time in over 9 months and cried a lot of the time and had a hard time talking to people.  There are days where I do stay in bed until my kids beg me to get up and please feed them.  I still miss my son.  I still ache for him and cry for him.  I still hurt when I think of what we have been through.

But I am surviving.  I have not curled up and died.  Cohen is teaching me that I am stronger than I ever thought I was.

Cole’s Pirate Birthday Party (and therapy for me)

Our 5 year old pirate Cole

This past October Cole turned five years old.  I told Cole he could have a big party when he turned five because five was a pretty important birthday and because the next year he would be in school.

1275

This little pirate loved his mustache

We decided on a pirate theme.  I figured this would be easy since there are a ton of pirate things out there and could be really fun.

I ordered something in the mail and it came in a really big box.  I was trying to think of something fun I could do with this huge box and decided to make a boat for Cole’s party.  My husband thought I was crazy and maybe I was!  After a lot of work, I think it turned out really cute.  We used the boat at the party to take pictures of all the little pirates (and some of the big pirates) at the party.

1257

The pirate boat with my little pirates!

Then came the invitations.  These literally took me over two weeks to make.  Why?  Because I had the great idea to make them all look like old treasure maps.  I printed the words on the paper first and then I tore the edges.  Then I soaked the paper in tea and coffee for about 12 hours.  Our kitchen was a mess!  I had tins everywhere because you could only soak one to two papers at a time.  Then I made a little clothes line over the kitchen sink to dry the papers after they had soaked.  Once the papers were dry I burned the edges and smoked the paper to give it a real old look.  I used the same process for the envelopes.  I would joke to my husband that our kitchen looked like a lab.

026

The front

024 (2)

The inside

Then I turned my attention to the food!  We had cannonballs (meatballs), blue Jello with orange boats, cheese on sword toothpicks, and of course cake and ice cream.  My friends mom made the cake and not only did it look awesome but it tasted amazing!

341

The yummy food!

522

The amazing cake

Then it was time for the games!  We played walk the plank, where all the kids walked across the plank and when the music stopped they had to all try to jump on the plank as fast as they could.  We played pin the eye patch on the pirate.  And finally we had a treasure hunt where my husband actually buried the treasure in our garden and the kids got to dig it up.  The treasure included chocolate and gum coins.

411

1250

The treasure map

The treasure map

For decorations I had the boat that I made and I also made a big banner that said, “Happy 5th Birthday Cole.”  I also had a huge picture of Cole and Carson dressed as pirates on the wall.  We had red and black balloons and streamers everywhere.  The night before the party my mom, Cole, Carson, and I made pumpkin pirates to sit in a chest.  I used a big old chest as a decoration and to put the presents in.  I also asked the guests both the kids and adults to dress as pirates.

Our pirate family

Our pirate family

The party was fun.  It looked good and it was fun but it was also therapy for me.  I needed something to do.  October was only four months after we lost Cohen and I could feel myself getting more and more depressed.  I knew I needed something to do other than just my normal stay-at-home mom things because honestly even those things depressed me because I knew I should be doing more, more cleaning, more feeding, more wash, more diaper changes, all the things that come with a new baby.

So while I may have gone a little overboard with the party, it was helpful to me.  To be busy, to be doing something, to be distracted.

I feel like I need that again, something to do, something to occupy my time, something other than my normal day-to-day things.  Wonder what I can plan next? 🙂

In Like a Lion

1138

They say March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb.  I know they are talking about weather but so far this has been true for my emotions.

Over all February was a pretty good month.  The boys and I stayed really busy and my moods were pretty good.  I had good days and bad days but overall more good days then bad.

Then March came and with it came a flood of emotions that have left me feeling like I am barely keeping my head above water.  There are days where it literally hurts to breathe.  My whole body aches to have my baby here with me.

Since I don't have any 9 month pictures of Cohen I decide to share pictures of Cole and Carson at 9 months.  Cole at 9 months old.

Since I don’t have any 9 month pictures of Cohen I decide to share pictures of Cole and Carson at 9 months. Cole at 9 months old.

Cohen would be 9 months old now and he has now been gone longer then I carried him.  This has been hard for me and I have been thinking about it a lot lately.   I can’t believe that it has been 9 months already.  My heart still hurts like it was yesterday.

Carson at 9 months old.

Carson at 9 months old.

He would probably be crawling and  I can see him so clearly in my mind trying to get his brothers Legos, putting everything in his mouth including the cat food, and getting into everything.  I have actually felt sad that Cole is not yelling about Cohen getting into his Legos and messing them up and that I don’t constantly have to remind Cole and Carson to keep their Legos in their room so that Carson doesn’t get them and put them in his mouth!

I registered Cole for kindergarten next year and I have been thinking a lot about the fall and that Cole will be starting school.  He can’t wait to ride the bus and to be going to kindergarten.  I on the other hand am dreading it.  He goes to preschool now on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 to 2:30.  I have not really enjoyed it especially when we don’t have plans to do something.  It is like a slap in the face every Tuesday and Thursday that I only have one child at home.  The house is too quiet, there should be a 9 month old crawling around getting into things.

Carson is much more laid back then Cole and enjoys playing by himself.  This can be nice but it also gives me a lot of time to think.  To think of how things should be, how we planned for things to be, how I want things to be.

I have been crying A LOT!  I think I have cried more in first 2 weeks of March then I did in the entire month of February.  Poor Carson saw me crying the other day and said to me, “Don’t cry mommy!  Cohen not die.  I fix him.  I get parts and I fix him.  Cohen not die anymore.”  I wish it were that easy, to get parts and fix this.

Yesterday was a better day.  I went out with my cousin, her daughter, and Cole and Carson.  We went to a museum that had a Lego exhibit, went to lunch, then to a place called Ballocity, and then finally out for ice cream for dinner (not very good for my diet and probably not the healthiest for the kids but hey it’s not like I let them do it everyday and when we got home they were both asking to eat veggies so my hubby made some for them).  It was a fun day.  I got to spend time with my cousin and my kids had fun.  I love watching my boys smile and laugh.  I smiled and laughed and I needed that.  I need more days like yesterday.

  1185 1184 1189

I am hoping with spring coming and the weather getting warmer that it will lead to more better days.  Being stuck inside isn’t fun for me or my kids.  I love the sun and the warmth of spring and summer.  I love going to the pool and having play dates at the park.  I love watching Cole and Carson get good and dirty and have always said that you can tell how good of a day they had by the size of the dirt ring in the bathtub after their bath.

So here is hoping that March goes out like a lamb not just the weather but my emotions too!

Letter to Cohen

024
photo by Tiffany Snellbaker

I wrote this letter the day after Cohen was born and read it at his memorial service the next day.

My Dearest Sweet Baby Cohen,

From the moment I found out you were growing inside me I loved you so much. I was so excited to be carrying and having another baby in our family.

At the same time I was scared about how we were going to be a family of 5 with the children now out numbering the adults but I knew that we would be fine and that we would be a perfect family.

As soon as I knew you were there I wanted to tell the world, but I tried to wait until you grew a little bigger. Well, buddy your mommy is not very good at keeping secrets that she is excited about and I kept telling more and more people until your Daddy finally gave up and told me to just tell everyone and stop pretending to “try” and wait 12 weeks.

Our first 12 weeks were great! I had a great first trimester. I was tired and would sometimes feel a little sick but over all I felt good.

I remember feeling you move for the first time on Christmas. Those first movements always feel a little funny, like a tickle or and itch in my belly that I couldn’t scratch. I loved feeling you move, it made everything so much more real.

The next 12 weeks were a little harder. I was so so so so tired, my iron was low and your brothers kept me very busy. Then the pharmacy messed up and I was taking too much medicine and couldn’t sleep much.

My favorite part of the day was after your brothers laid down for a rest and I would eat lunch and lay down and feel you squirm, kick, and flip around. I would lay there and cherish your movements. Sometimes I would talk to you, sometimes I would sleep. You were a crazy little guy in there! I remember thinking though that you always let me sleep.

At night when I would lay down after a long day you would move around but I never felt uncomfortable that I could not sleep. I loved feeling you move as I fell asleep at night. Even as you grew and got bigger I never remember feeling uncomfortable with your movements. You never stuck your foot in my ribs and having you move was never painful.

Daddy and I decided early on not to find out if you were a boy or a girl. We found out with your brothers but we wanted it to be different with you. At 30 weeks we finally got an ultrasound. We took your brothers with us and it was so amazing to see you move. Even though we had decided not to find out your gender, I thought I was going to be sneaky and watch really hard so I would know. I always had a feeling that you were a boy. I cried and cried after the ultrasound because my plan didn’t work and I couldn’t see for sure if you were a boy.

You were so perfect with 10 tiny fingers and toes. I thought you looked like you had huge lips. The tech showed me you had hair! I love you so much.

I remember rubbing my belly, even in public which Daddy thought was strange. I loved to feel you move.

At 32 weeks and 6 days I started to show signs of early labor. I panicked thinking you were going to come right then. Daddy and I worked really really hard that next week to get things all ready for you.

I started having weak contractions and I felt you move down. I could breath better but I also had to pee ALL the time. As you moved further down it was hard for me to walk and my hips hurt so bad. I started having more contractions and was not feeling good.

I wanted you OUT to hold and snuggle and feed and kiss. I wanted to have you here to hold. I was a grumpy lady for a few weeks cause I was so ready to have you!

It was getting hard to sleep cause my belly was so big but I still loved to feel you move. I would always tell you that I loved you so much but I was ready for you to be out!

At 38 weeks and 1 day we went to church. During church I kept telling Daddy to look at my belly cause you were going wild in there. My belly was bouncing around like crazy! Maybe you were dancing to the music.

I remember some nights Daddy and I would lay in bed and the whole bed would be vibrating from you moving so much. With your brothers I can remember thinking sometimes, “Man I wish this baby would settle down cause he is hurting me,” but I never once thought that with you.

On June 5, 2012 as Daddy and I went to bed I turned to Daddy and said, “The baby didn’t really move today. I think something is wrong.” I remember feeling like that once or twice with your brothers too so I figured I probably was just worrying too much.

I remember thinking you much have moved further down and were soon ready to come because my hips felt better. I also remember that I started having really bad heartburn again.

Right before I fell asleep I thought I felt you move. I felt better and I was able to sleep.

The next morning I woke up and got your brothers ready to spend the day with Daddy’s mom.

I thought I felt you move again.

I cleaned and did wash and took a good nap.

I started having a few contractions.

Daddy came home from work and we got ready to go to the doctor to check on you. On the way I told Daddy, “We are going to go (to the doctor) and all the doctor is going to say is everything looks good see you next week. When I want him to say, You’re in labor go right to the hospital.”

We go to the doctor and they started to check us out. Everything looked great. I told the doctor I was worried cause you hadn’t moved much. He didn’t seem worried.

He told me to lay on the table and went to hear your heartbeat. He listened for a minute and couldn’t find anything. He moved around and still nothing. He moved all around my belly and nothing. They told us to go to the hospital for an ultrasound but I knew.

I prayed on the way to hospital that God would bring you back but I knew, I knew you were gone.

At about 4:27 am on June 7, 2012 you were born. You were perfect in every single way. You looked like you were sleeping and needed to wake up. You look just like your big brother, Cole. You were the sweetest most perfect baby I have ever seen. From your tiny toes (that have funky toenails) to your perfect brownish red hair. I love you so much.

Cohen-3-1
photo by Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep

Oh sweet Cohen Bradley when you were in me I had so hoped that you would be a girl but from the moment I started pushing you out it didn’t matter. The second I saw you I loved you more than a million girls. Please, please, please know that you were so wanted and loved. I am so sorry if you ever felt like I didn’t want you because you were a boy because sweet Cohen it is not true.

I would do anything to have had the chance to hear you cry, to have fed you just once, or to have seen you move.

While you never took a single breath outside of me, I had so many hopes and dreams for you. This whole summer was about you and I so looked forward to snuggling with you outside while watching your big brothers play. I looked forward to taking you to the beach and bonding as a family of 5.

I will always have 3 children, 3 boys. You weren’t here long and I only had you outside of my for such and short time but you have forever changed me. You grew in me and I loved you from the second I knew you were there.

There is a great hole in my heart where you will forever hold a place. I cherish every second I got to hold, snuggle, and kiss you. I will never forget you and you will live forever in my heart. I love you baby boy. I love you more than you can ever know.

Jesus hold my baby tight. Conner teach him the ropes in heaven. Play together, talk together, and even though heaven is perfect maybe get into a little boy mischief together. Chase butterflies, play ball, and have fun.

Be ready little Cohen cause one day I am going to com to heaven and I am going to want to hold you and kiss you and just have the time that I didn’t get here on earth.

Jesus please hold my baby tight and tell him his mommy loves him and can’t wait to see him again.

I didn’t have you long sweet Cohen but I would do it again. You baby boy are worth everything even the pain. You have already taught me so much and I am sure you will continue to. You have made me stronger than I ever thought I could be.

How I would have love to see you play with your brothers. I know they love you and a part of them died too. One day the 3 of you will hopefully play together in heaven and our family will truly be complete.

I don’t know how I am going to go on without you. I wanted you move then words can express and I love you so deep, deeper then I can say.

You will always be my third born, my third boy, my third child. No one will ever take your place.

Mommy loves you sweet baby. Mommy loves you my perfect perfect Cohen Bradley.

You are forever a part of me and forever in my heart.

I love you so.

Love,

Your Mommy