Thursday, May 23, 2019

10 years later, it's time for some changes

Happy 10th Heavenly Birthday, sweet baby boy. I must admit that I tried to write your annual blog post days in advance, I have been struggling with time management lately and I’ve just been a little busy. But I couldn’t do it. Every time I tried I’d write something that was familiar then I’d look back at my blog and realize at some point I already said these things. That I miss you, love you, and imagine who you would be. I’ve already written about how strong you are and how proud I am of you, what more can I say? It began to sound like a broken record.  And once again sweet boy, your Aunt Pam came to the rescue with a surprise call that made me realize, there isn’t much more we can say. As she celebrates Joey’s 10th year gone we are reminded that we just have to feel this way and walk in these shoes every year around this time, and while we know we need to feel it and own these emotions, we can’t help but want it to pass until the next year.

I struggled this year leading up to your birthday, to be honest, I didn’t even plan anything big. I saw myself as a mother who failed and I wasn’t crying because I didn’t buy a cake for you, I cried because I didn’t want to. I cried because here I was staring at this milestone year for you and all I could think about was how I don’t like going to Chili’s every year anymore, didn’t want a cake, and couldn’t stay up until midnight to do the midnight balloon release.  On top of not having anything inspirational to write, I was having some serious angel mom guilt.

I woke up this morning and got ready for work like it was a normal day, but I still felt guilty, so I grabbed some pink and blue ribbon stickers and stopped at the store to buy bagels and donuts for my co workers. When I got to work I put the food and stickers on the break room table and typed up a message that read: “Posada Life Family, 10 years ago today I lost a little piece of my heart. My son Vayden James Stewart passed away 3 hours and 45 minutes after he was born. We can’t celebrate him here on earth, so we celebrate him by sharing his memory. The pink and blue ribbons are for pregnancy and infant loss awareness, please enjoy the goodies and take a sticker in honor of Vayden.” 

As the staff started to arrive I was greeted with hugs of comfort and questions about you and your story, I even found another mother who wears these same ugly infant loss shoes.  I’ve been working with this woman for 4 months and we never knew we shared the same heartache. Everyone grabbed a sticker and wore it today in honor of you and to support me. It was beautiful. And by the end of the day, everyone thanked me for the goodies, and for sharing your story.  Son, you did it again, you continue to touch the lives of people you never had a chance to meet.

I realized today, after talking to Pam that it’s cool to have a ritual until it doesn’t give you joy anymore. Our old ritual is done, perhaps we will go back to it, but for now, we’ve got a new plan. We are going to take it year by year. One thing that we will NEVER change is sharing Vayden’s story, his name will continue to make a mark in the hearts of those who walked the journey with us and those who now walk alongside us. I don’t know if I will be able to keep up with the annual blog post, I may just pop in on the milestone years, or perhaps as always something amazing will happen and I will feel compelled to write.

I want to thank the new lovers of Vayden, everyone in Arizona that we have met, that know his story now. I am forever grateful for your love and support. Thank you for choosing to learn about our son, asking about his life, and offering your condolences, love, and support, even after all this time, it really means a lot to use. To those of you who continue to walk this journey with us, I appreciate you so very much, thank you.

Happy Happy Birthday Vayden, I hope I continue to make you proud.

Love, Mommy

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Happy 9th Birthday........And Now He Knows Your Story.........

On the morning of May 20, 2018 I sat in my bed with my two boys watching old videos, sharing laughter and stories from when they were younger. Varen aka Rainbow Baby (7) made a very hurtful and insensitive comment while watching a video that had a photo of Vayden in it when he said “I wish you would have just taken care of Vayden, and then he wouldn’t have died”. The child after loss enters into a family that has already been rattled and changed. Their position in understanding the loss is different because it never affected them like it did everyone else. Varen is also the last born of the family, a typical self centered child that thinks the sun rises and sets only for him. Not to mention his tender young age of having zero filter. I immediately stopped the video and took that rather rude comment as an opportunity to school Varen on the story of Vayden. If he was old enough to say something like that, he’s old enough to know the full story behind his brother’s life and death.

In a gentle, loving, and kid friendly way I explained to Varen what happened to Vayden, how we fought for him and why he died. I made it very clear to him that everyone who came into our lives around Vayden wanted only the best for him and that nothing we did caused him to die. Soon after Varen asked me “how did it feel to have him?”  I said “it’s painful to push out a baby but I’m strong”, he said “No, were you happy, or sad, or excited?” and then the ball was in my court, with Vashon sitting next to him was I going to relive a painful memory that still brings people to tears, or was I going to briefly answer, change the subject and move on.  The question came one video short of Vayden’s slide show and I made the choice to offer my boys the raw and honest answer to their question, even though I knew it would steal a small piece of their innocence.
Why?............ I don’t know, perhaps it’s because the night before I binge watched 5 episodes of 13 Reasons Why and  I went to bed worried about being a parent when the teenage years come around. I see these kids on the news going to their schools and shooting other kids. When things like that happen the first few thoughts are, were the parents aware, how much did they, or didn’t they know? If I want any openness and honesty with my children, I will also have to give them mine in return.
So as Vayden’s slide show ran I spoke through the journey to answer Varen’s question. I told him” it was a happy and a sad moment, he was born and so beautiful , you couldn’t tell he was in pain, the Dr.’s took him to check him and gave him back to us and told us he would be with us for about an hour, but he was so strong he stayed for much longer, then when he was ready to go, he just fell asleep in my arms” Varen  and Vashon both began to cry, so I held them and we cried together as we remembered my son and their brother Vayden. I told them “we don’t always know why things like this happen but we know that it was for a reason, and then after all of the sad days and tears, sunshine came and a rainbow appeared, and then we had Varen” so I told them the meaning behind a rainbow baby, I told them all the wonderful things we have done in Vayden’s memory and I told them it’s ok to cry and to miss him and to sometimes be sad, because it is a sad set of circumstances and hiding feelings isn’t healthy.

The day went on without an issue, and then at bedtime Varen came into my room, Vashon & brother bear following behind, and Varen said “I’m still sad about Vayden” we talked more about their feelings and because Van is currently away I allowed them to sleep in my room. It was a sweet and emotional day for the 3 of us and the timing couldn’t have better, sometimes emotions and real memories catch us off guard. Every year my toughest day is not on his birthday, or the day I went into labor but on one of those last few days with my sweet angel, where I had no idea how much time we had left together.
I hope that while breaking Varen’s heart I also put it back together, with a new found understanding of love, compassion, understanding, hope, and most of all the strength to think before he speaks.  

 Welcome Varen to the Vayden Stewart Fan Club you are one of hundreds of people that love him and know his story.

Happy 9th Birthday sweet baby Vayden and just before your birthday, our family suffered a great loss, while you received the gift of another family member to our Heaven family tree, your Uncle Joseph Gibbs grew his angel wings on Thursday, May 17, 2018. This was an unexpected loss and your daddy, NeNe, Uncle Jay, Aunt Vanessa, and all the family needs you to take special care of him and continue to look after us. We love you!

 RIP Joseph “Uncle Dude” Gibbs, you are gone but never forgotten.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Who Would You Be?

Dear sweet Vayden,
               I often ask myself “What would he be like?” your brothers are so different, Vashon he’s loving and tender, he worries about things, he’s cautious and forgiving. Varen he’s wild, he’s loud, crazy, he’s funny, and fearless. You would be the middle child, so I imagine that you would be easy going, with moderate energy and non confrontational.

Yesterday on our way to Chili’s for our annual Vayden dinner, your brothers and I talked about you, and we imagined things like how the room would be set up and where each of you would sit in the car. Vashon came up with a great sleeping arrangement plan…..There would be bunk beds and one single bed, and each night you boys would rotate from bed to bed, so everyone got a chance to sleep on the top bunk, bottom bunk and single bed. Varen agreed. I sometimes get these bitter moment when thinking about the 3 of you, having 2 boys is awesome but to have 3 on earth would be amazing.

I know you are happy in Heaven and I know you and Grampie are watching over us, but I also hope you know that I still miss you every day.
Happy 8th Heavenly Birthday sweet Vayden, 8 years old, yet you will always be my baby.


Monday, May 23, 2016

Just a teddy bear........

At first glance someone would look at Brother Bear and wonder why Vashon and our family love him so dearly. He's a well loved bear is what we call it, but just like "bless her heart" means something different in the south, "well loved" pretty much = a dirty old thing.

What most people don't realize is that Vashon's connection to Brother Bear is bigger than a child and his security item. Of course Brother Bear makes Vashon feel safe and comfortable, but he is now a part of our family.

Brother Bear was given to us from Kelly of Sufficient Grace Ministries for Women (and Families) Inc. he was included in a Dreams of You package that I received in the mail a few days before going into labor. From the website:

Comfort Bear: These beautiful, cream-colored, soft fleece Comfort Bears were created by Kathy Rutter in 2005 for grieving mothers to have something to hold to ease the ache of empty arms. Kathy created each one with a grandmother’s love and prayers. After a valiant battle with cancer, Kathy went home to heaven in October of 2006. Today her legacy continues as the Helping Hands Ministry gathers to sew the bears, sending a grandmother’s love and prayers along with each one.
Brand new Comfort Bear aka Brother Bear

I remember the first night in the hospital, I spread the Noodle and Boo lotion we used on Vayden over the bear and clinched him so tightly, soaking him with my tears.  

For a few weeks the Comfort Bear was mine, each night I would spread lotion over him and press the bear closely to my face, I became a bit protective over him, but little did I know that Vashon would challenge my protection, and force me to let go in many forms.

The cream colored bear was already starting to lose it's glow, I covered him with lotion daily the soft texture was fading fast. Occasionally Vashon would touch him, and I would stand close with a damp towel to wipe off any traces of dirt. One day Vashon came down stairs holding the Comfort Bear by the leg, I'm pretty sure I freaked out; but Vashon lost something too and Vashon was anti stuffed animals. At a recent doctors appointment I was questioned why Vashon didn't love on dolls or bears, baby them, feed them or tote them around. I simply replied "we don't have dolls in our house". So seeing Vashon with a stuffed animal was kind of a big deal. That occasional play with the Comfort Bear turned into a frequent thing, I was jealous, happy and heartbroken, "could my two year old know the severity of what we loss?". Vashon began to tote the bear around with him often, they'd watch TV together, play with toys, and sleep together. One day Van pointed out that Vashon was playing with his brother and then we name the bear, Cuddle Brother which later changed to Brother Bear. At that point I knew he was no longer just mine, and I would have to share him.

Brother Bear 5/21/16
Brother Bear became Vashon's best friend, at first I micromanaged their time together as any mother with a new born and an older child would do, lol. I'll never forget the day Vashon accidently pulled his button eye off. I cried, I balled my eyes out, pulled myself together, sewed his eye back out and used the situation as a 'be kind to our loved ones' teaching moment. But giving Brother Bear to Vashon taught me that I can't control things, just like being given Vayden and losing him. It was never up to me, and it was a great lesson and constant battle I have being a worry-wart. :)

Brother Bear has had three eye surgeries, two neck surgeries, a hundred washes, lots of stains, a minor hip surgery to reattach a weak leg, and he sometimes smells. But he has also been to so many places, seen so many faces, is loved beyond words and considered a part of our family. So no he's just not a teddy bear, he's our tangible memory of our sweet baby Vayden and one of Vashon's best friends.

Happy 7th Birthday to you Vayden and to you also Brother Bear, you will always be a part of me. Mommy misses you so much.

*Above you will see some of the many pics we have with the greatly loved Brother Bear.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Color of Love

I saw this quote that said "At times I fit into lyrics, more than I fit into life" therapy is what I call it. I have been using that a lot more these days. Have you ever heard a song and it was almost like it was written for you? I've been feeling like that for quite some time lately.

The songs we used for Vayden's memorial slide show hold so much importance. Color of Love by Boyz II Men. That song tells such a warming story of living and learning to love. Vayden taught me so much about love, true, real and honest love. I go back every year the week before his birthday, I read my blog and relive what I went through, this is how I continue to heal each year. I had so much love, and passion for Vayden from the moment I found out something was wrong. Fight or Flight, and I was all fight. I educated myself on anything and everything to do with his condition, I tortured myself with things that would break any person with a heart and soul. I overly prepared myself, and when I found out there was just no more for me to do, I didn't quit (despite what some may think) I LOVED. I loved enough to know that to much damage had been done, that healing would come in the loss and that the pain, stress, & agony was no longer what either of us needed. Vayden fought, and I fought too, but at some point we were fighting two different battles, until we got on the same page. In a past post, I said....."I just want time, anytime, just time" and he gave that to me, because he loved me, and I let him go because I loved him.

So from in the lyrics of the song

So how I want to thank you,
I can't thank you enough,
For showing me the meaning,
The meaning of true love,
 When I was lost and so in need you opened up your heart
 When I needed you to comfort me you opened up you arms
 I couldn't face another day you said don't be afraid
You showed my heart the, showed me the way

Vayden never left me, because the things he taught me stay with me in my heart, he taught me true love and it feels absolutely amazing.

Happy 6th Heavenly Birthday Vayden, I always miss, I will always love you, and thank you for showing me what true really is.

Love Always,

Friday, May 23, 2014

A Milestone Type of Year..... Happy 5th Heavenly Birthday

I should be gearing up for the last of day preK for Vayden. He would be a sweet 5 year old, with bundles of knowledge and that cute little kid voice. You know, the one that has that sweet innocent tone, but you can understand everything they say. 5 year olds remember words to songs, and read simple 2-3 letter sight words. It’s an awesome age if you think about it, while they crave for independence, they also still need you. You are the coolest mom or dad in the whole world and everything they do changes day by day.

I could go on and on about the type of 5 year old Vayden would be, but instead I will just write a quick update about how I’m doing and how the family is doing 5 years later…….

A popular question for me is how am I doing? I have my days, my “why me” days, the “it’s not fair” days, and my most recent day was “did that really happen to me? Did I really lose a child?” Then I get this boost, this amazing energy from within and it all stems from the love and support from those around me. I mean I have the BEST support network. I have met some wonderful people, and have done some wonderful things because of Vayden. That is amazing; to know that people, even strangers love him and admire the things I’ve done in memory of him. So to answer the question, I’m doing well, I’m human, but I have way more good days than bad now that we’re 5 years post loss.
Today was wonderful as the loved poured in from all over. Simple reminders that all of you love my family and most of all Vayden. You are the ones who keep his memory alive. I am forever grateful to all of you.  

Happy 5th Heavenly Birthday Vayden, I know you’re perfect in Heaven; I miss you so very much.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

4th Bithday......Already

It's hard to believe that it has been 4 yrs since Vayden was born.I miss him so much, have been so busy and he has brought so many wonderful things to my life and my ability to support other infant loss families. What was once an online support has grown into a paid position with a wonderful non profit organization, I get to help families who suffer a loss as a job, and while some people may say "I don't know how you find that exciting" I say, "I get to show another woman, that even though she feels like she's going to die, even though right now she wants to die, she will not die. She will not die because I didn't die, and that's what makes this the best job ever"  I get to show people how to walk the journey, and the best part of it is when they ask "how do you know?" I can reply "because I did it already".

This job is so special because my story is my training, my heart makes me the ideal candidate for the job and my boss and the rest of the staff I work with love me, believe in my and most of all love Vayden.

4 years seems like a long time, so much has changed since 2009. We've added a member to our family, lost some loved ones, and our biggest change was our most recent move from Moore, OK to California. Man am I glad that I fought to have Vayden cremated. I would have been so broken hearted leaving him behind in OKC. I seriously never thought we would leave Oklahoma, but that is the life of the USAF.

While you all wish Vayden a 4th Heavenly Birthday, please remember and keep in your thoughts and prayers the city of Moore, OK. That tornado was seriously heartbreaking and Moore was our home for many years.

Happy 4th Vayden, I know the color of love and it lives inside of you.