Monday, February 28, 2011

Even the Trees are Moving on...

as i pulled into the parking lot at work this morning i noticed right away that the trees were beginning to bloom. i know that spring is right around the corner - obviously. but, goodness, i didn't realize how close it was. i've been dreading it. i've been dreading seeing everything that spring brings with it - life. and seeing the trees blooming this morning took my breath away. it's just a harsh reminder of what my son is left without - life. it's a slap in the face from mother nature to see that time keeps going, that everything is moving on, especially when i feel like my world has stopped, my life has stopped.

i never thought this native floridan would say this, but i wish winter would stick around a little bit longer...

Sunday, February 27, 2011

My Light is Shining

i'll admit, while i did look at a few baby name websites while i was pregnant with Julius, i did it moreso to find a name that i thought sounded good rather than to research the meaning of the names i did like. so a few weeks ago while surfing the web, i decided to look up the meaning of Juju's name. when i typed in Julius i got "down-bearded youth." i wasn't {and i'm still not} sure what that even meant. and i definitely wasn't impressed with myself for coming up with that name. but then when i typed in Luciano, i got chills. "LIGHT!"

my baby has definitely lived up to his name. he is my light in the midst of this darkness. i've said it time and time again, he taught me so much about life and real, pure love in his short time with us. i've learned more from my 4.5 month old son than many people learn in their entire lives. and though i found it fitting and meaningful when i discovered it {apparently D had known all along what his son's name meant - he gets the father of the year award}, it wasn't until church this morning that i really felt the power of his name.

at the end of the service we began singing a song about letting our light shine. and as i sang the words, i thought about my light - Julius. i thought about how he's changed me, how he's made me a better person, a more open person, a more loving person, a person who is now true to myself and my family. i thought about how i've decided to only do meaningful things while i'm trapped on this earth without him, how i would like to reach out and help those in need. and i realized that i'm allowing {or at least trying to} my "light" to shine, for all the world to see. maybe there is a reason that i've been singing "here comes the sun." maybe it's not necessarily about being hopeful, maybe {for me} it's about realizing that my sun/my son is my light. he's the light that will get me through the darkest part of my life so that i can eventually say "it's alright."

at least that's my take on

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Here Comes the Sun?

i'm a big Beatles fan {i blame it on my dad making us listen to "oldie goldies" during every car ride}. i put The Beatles on my birthing playlist {i even, very appropriately, sang "Help" to myself while in labor}. and on one of our shopping trips, while i was on maternity leave, Juju and i bought a Beatles cd to listen to on our car rides. when he was fussy in the car, i would turn up the music, and sing to him. it worked about 50% of the time. ;)

i've been having a rather rough time with being hopeful lately as i mentioned in my hope post. and i've been missing Julius pretty badly today. but this song has been circulating around  in my mind for a couple of weeks. i always dismiss it because it seems like too hopeful a song for me to sing right now. but thought i would share, for those who are more receptive, for those who are allowing the hope in...

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,
and I say it's all right

Little darling, it's been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
and I say it's all right

Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
and I say it's all right

Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...

Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been clear
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,
and I say it's all right
It's all right

Monday, February 21, 2011

Purging and My Time Capsule

the purging continued again this weekend, and carried on straight through today {it's a work holiday for D and i so we are both home}. i'm actually getting a bit concerned about how much of my previous life i've decided to bag up to be hauled off by waste management on thursday...without hesitation. it's strange that things i once considered meaningful, i now consider clutter. i read a quote on facebook last week, and upon further investigation, learned that it was actually said by yoda {very wise he was!}. the quote was: "train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose." well, let's see, i've already lost one of my biggest attachments - my son. and once you go through something like that, once you've lost such a significant attachment, you reassess.

i cleaned out my office, and found 16 notebooks that i had been stashing away i guess in case there was ever a notebook shortage in the world. i will be donating those to the Jenna Journal Drive. i cleaned out my dvd collection, and bagged up every dvd that i no longer watch or plan to watch. collecting every season of "lost" no longer seems important. and i no longer cherish the complete seasons of "sex & the city" like i used to. imagine that. i cleaned out my dresser, and closet. i'm not sure why i needed 2 drawers full of t-shirts. half of which i don't wear. jeans that were too small for me, but that i told myself when i lost the baby weight i would get back into. dresses i had not worn in a few years. i think i bagged up half of my clothes, which i now plan to donate. i'm pretty sure if i had to pick up and move right now, all of my clothes would fit into 1 large suitcase.

i sat on my closet floor this morning, and went through my storage box full of memories from my past...calendars/planners {from as far back as HIGH SCHOOL!! i'm 30 yrs old for Juju's sake!}, programs from other people's graduations, weddings, etc., birthday cards, notes from friends {again, from HIGH SCHOOL!}, christmas cards sent to us from family/friends. good Lord, what was i thinking keeping all of this. holding on to everyone else's memories, and holding on to every.single.thing i've ever done. i've never been a "pack rat" and only keep 1 storage box, and a hat box full of stuff from my past. but i found all of this miscellaneous stuff overwhelming and suffocating. i think i got rid of about 60% of all it. i mean seriously, why did i need the card my parents sent me and D on our 1st wedding anniversary???

i've completed part of my "training." letting go of my past and who i once was before Julius was not at all scary. tying the drawstring on the garbage bag actually brought me relief. i felt lighter, more focused, freer. the only person who's stuff i won't let go of now, is Juju's. which brings me to my time capsule...

i was speaking with my dear friend mary {momma to Gage} a few weeks ago, and she was telling me about  what they did with some of Gage's things when it was time to pack them away. she said that some of the things that she could not bear to be without, she put in a fireproof/waterproof safe. what an amazing idea, i thought. i had one at home. we have kept old "important" paperwork in it - legal docs, old tax returns, old health insurance claims. i couldn't care less if i lost my old tax returns in a house fire. but i could not imagine being left without any of Julius' things. so i cleaned out our safe. i removed everything except the most important legal documents {including all of Julius' documents}, and i filled the rest with the most important Juju items. the ones that provided me with the most memories, and brought me the most comfort. the ones i could not live on this earth without...

then i closed my time capsule, made a space for it in our closet, and took a deep breath knowing that my Julius would always be safe.

Friday, February 18, 2011


some of you may have already noticed the adorable button on the side of my blog. franchesca has done it again. this time she has created a blog hop in order to celebrate hope and spread it to others. so every month on the 19th {yep, i'm a day early}, i will be making a post about hope, and where i am on my hope journey...

i have to be honest, i was really hesitant to join in. these days hope is not something that i have much of, let alone enough to share with others. but, even in my darkest moments, i have found my mind trying with all of it's might to wriggle it's way to the light.

so what brings me hope these days??

for the last couple of weeks, the person that has brought me the most hope, the person for which i have taken my every breath has been my hubby, D. after a particularly rough patch a few weeks ago, i found myself about to give up hope, about to throw in the proverbial towel. and then, as he always seems to do, D picked up on this, and swooped in to "save" me. one night we had a rather emotional discussion about everything that's happened. i don't think we had talked that openly and honestly since Juju passed away. and i know it's because he has been trying to protect me from more hurt. he knows how deeply grieved i am, and he doesn't want to make it worse. but that night we talked, and i cried {no surprise there}, and he listened. and though very emotional, it was good, it was healing, it was needed.

on valentine's day, as i was so busy buying presents for my baby boy, my husband bought me a card, and wrote a very touching, very heartfelt message in it. the last couple of lines of his message:

"...I am not finished building our family to whatever shape or form it may take. Please have hope for our future family and do not forget our long term together."

i can't tell you how much that moved me. to know that he has hope that we will be able to expand our family in the future, that there is more to our family story, brought me to tears. not only that, but it somehow gave me a renewed sense of hope. it gave me strength to hold on a little bit longer. it gave me courage to take one more step and one more hang on. so though i don't have *much* hope, it's still there, and for now the hope is brought to you by the letter "D".

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

healing words

as a bereaved mother everything takes on a new meaning.everything. even though D and i were not big into valentine's day before, it was very sad for us because it was our first valentine's day without our baby boy. and i have a feeling that other holidays/special days {even those we didn't really celebrate} will be twinged with pain and the weight of Julius' absence. but as i was checking my friends' blogs that day, i found words that spoke to me, touched my heart, and brought me some comfort {and laughter}.

my sweet friend, brooke {momma to Eliza}, posted a quote that a blogger she follows had written that touched her heart. and when i read it, i was rendered speechless. it summed up everything i had been feeling, and given the day, was completely fitting. it was:

"My heart panics, but when it catches up with reality, everything becomes clear: she is still with me, she is still gone. No more, no less. Wherever I put my heart and my energy now, it is because of her and what she has made me. She can’t possibly be left behind."

it is a synopsis of my life since october 12th. i celebrate Julius' short, full life with us; but i deeply mourn his absence...everyday. it is for him and D that i continue to breathe. it is because of him and what he has taught me that i reach out to others. he cannot and will not be left behind. and that fact itself brings me some comfort and healing.

i then wandered over to another dear friend's blog {susan, momma to Catherine}, and found reading her words to be a very cathartic experience. she summarized her post so well in her opening paragraph: 
My friend suggested the other day that I am touchy. So I have been pondering whether her assessment is justified. Certainly I leave many more conversations feeling hurt and offended than ever before. Perhaps it is fair to say that I need to be treated with kid gloves. I am traumatised, laid low. Yet, I have given the matter a lot of thought, and I rather suspect that the issue is more complex than that. I think it is a matter of expectations; for me, the world has great expectations – bereaved parents should “move on”, “shut up” – “after all it has been so long!” Whilst inversely, the world at large is all too forgiving of the tactless, thoughtless and gauche who surround us in their droves. After all, “they mean well – they just don’t know what to say”.
it's true. i find that society as a whole tends to be more forgiving of those that "put their foot in their mouths" rather than the ones grieving. i have also found that even in *my* grief, i tend to make excuses for the silly things people say/do because "they just don't get it." which brings me to this morning, when i received an email from someone asking me to help out and join her cause relating to babies and birth. i felt the wind being knocked out of me while reading that email. and i immediately deleted it after i had read it. but then i thought to myself "why should i suffer in silence? why should i be so forgiving of this email faux pas while my heart is hurting?" {even moreso at that point}.

i thought about susan's post. and i decided that i was going to stick up for myself, and my grief. i was going to do something so outside of my comfort zone because i HAD to. so i replied to the email, and i asked her to please remove me from her emailing list because i found it "hurtful" to receive an email of that nature when my child had recently passed away. and i pressed send. and then of course, in typical tiffany fashion i started to second guess myself..."did i do the right thing?" "did i come across too harsh?" "i hope i didn't hurt her feelings." it took a second for me to snap out of it, and to remind myself that i had done nothing wrong. i am a grieving mother, who is in constant pain from losing her child. i do not need to read emails like the one i was sent this morning to remind me of what i have lost. don't get me wrong, i don't think the email was sent to me out of malice at all {as a matter of fact, i have always thought very highly of the woman who sent it}, and in any other circumstance, i would be more than willing to help out. but this tiffany, this newly changed, grieving tiffany can not. and this grieving tiffany must let people know from now on when they are causing {even unintentionally} extra pain. i have to admit, it felt good to send that email. so thank you, susan, for giving me the strength to stand up for myself and my grief. i'm not sure i would have done it had i not read your post.

i also wanted to take time to talk about the progress i've been making with collecting journals for

as of yesterday, i have collected 16 journals to send off to franchesca! thank you to everyone that has donated a journal(s)! i also took some time this weekend to create the stickers that we will place inside the journals before we send them off.

the sticker reads: this journal has been donated in honor and memory of Julius Luciano (05.30.10-10.12.10)
i am constantly amazed at the generosity and the loving nature of the people around me. thank you all for your continued love and support. that is what is currently sustaining me during the absolute worst time of my life.

and a big thank you to my friend, deanna, who made a special valentine for my baby boy which brought me to tears last night.

around the heart which has his name on it, it says:

"As long as I live, you will be remembered.
As long as I live, you will be loved.
As long as I live, you will live."

that says it all.

Monday, February 14, 2011

valentine's day

Giveaway Winner and other ramblings...

well, i'm going to do the important stuff first, and announce the winner of the 2nd giveaway - a blog makeover by franchesca at Small Bird Studio. the winner was chosen, with Juju's help, by the same technical process that the previous giveaway winner was chosen {i liked incorporating Julius in the selection}. and the winner is..............................................


congrats, brigette! i hope that winning this contest has brought you a little bit of sunshine on this valentine's day. and i hope this blog makeover gives you another way to memorialize your dear Kael like it has helped me do with Juju. please send me an email, and i will put you in contact with franchesca.

thank you to everyone that participated. if you didn't win, and would like to have a blog makeover, stop by Small Bird Studio and see the lovely franchesca. she is amazing to work with, is reasonably priced {she even offers a discounted price for baby loss parents}, and a portion of every blog design this month will be donated to march of dimes - team KJ.


and now for the rambling...

this weekend was a very difficult one for me. saturday was the 4 month anniversary of Julius' passing. and as expected, i woke up with tears in my eyes and an extra heaviness in my heart. i miss my little boy tremendously, and milestone days like that day just amplify all the emotions i'm feeling. since it was saturday, it was zumba day, and so i decided to teach my class. zumba has been an outlet for me, and i always leave class feeling so loved and happy {i've got some amazing people in my class}.

well for a few days leading up to saturday, i had been thinking of buying a storage bin and packing some of Julius' things away. so after class, i headed over to target {which was a nightmare itself because it seemed like in this freaking city was there that day} and bought one. i was a bit wounded when i arrived home, but was still feeling brave enough to tackle the task. and so, i walked over to the glider that since his death has been filled with sympathy cards, and packed them away. i walked over to our dresser, which we kept his clothes in, and which had not been opened since his death, opened his drawers, and packed his clothes away. and as i did all of this packing away of my son's life, i cried, and i cried, and i smelled and held his things, and cried some more. i moved onto the closet and his changing table and packed some more of his things away. i didn't sort through anything - and don't plan to for a while. but i just wanted to put everything of his together, in a safe place. and on the side of the storage bin, i wrote a little message to him: "i carry your heart, i carry it in my heart."

since i didn't get a chance to share a pic of him yesterday. i will share a series of pics of him today. one of the hardest set of pics for me to look at are the pics from his baptism. i even turned off our digital picture frame because it seemed like every time i looked at it, it was on these pics. that day was very special/stressful for me. besides the obvious of my son being baptized, i was stressed about how he would react {most babies tend to cry during their baptisms}. and then while at mass, which we went to right before, he decided to that he was not going to take a bottle. at all. {and i was not in a breastfeeding-friendly dress}. so in order to get him to stop being fussy, i bounced him to sleep. and asleep he stayed... 

until the pouring of water on his head...

and then he was awake...

but instead of  crying, he actually thought the whole thing was really funny...

yep, my son smiled at Father the entire time. he was a charmer, who could melt your heart with his bright smile.

Happy Valentine's Day, baby! I wish you were here to celebrate with us. I wish I could shower you with extra kisses and hugs today. Daddy and I miss and love you so very very much. We carry your heart, we carry it in our hearts. ♥

Saturday, February 12, 2011

4 month ago...

Dear Juju,

Today is your 4 month angelversary. You have been away from me for 4 whole months. This pain really hasn't gotten any easier to bear. I still have my breakdowns. I still have moments where I'm paralyzed with grief. Sometimes I can only concentrate on your absence and the weight of your absence. I try daily to incorporate my old life into my new life of grieving you.

Baby, I wonder what you would look like as a 8.5 month old. How long would your frohawk be? How much would you weigh? Would you be eating solids? All I can do is wonder. You will forever be 4.5 months old to me. I miss and love you more than words can ever say.


Friday, February 11, 2011

So humbled and proud...

well this post is going to have a very different tone than my post earlier this morning. my emotions are understandably all out of whack these days, and grief just intensifies/magnifies everything i'm feeling. but thank you all for continuing to read along and provide insight, love and support. it means so much to me.


this afternoon, our new site In His Name had the honor of being featured on the blog Honoring Our Angels.

Monica, who lost her precious daughter Devon in november 2008 started this site as a way to provide a list of resources available to those who have lost children. she says on her blog:

"I started Honoring Our Angels to serve as a resource for all those that have lost a child. I know that after Devon passed away, I only heard about available resources through word of mouth. I searched tirelessly through the Internet to find what I was needing only to have most of my time wasted. Honoring Our Angels is that resource that I always wished I had.

I hope that you can feel connected to others that have experienced similar loss, find the resources that you are needing, and find opportunities and way of giving back and serving others that are struggling."

i know after we lost Julius, i was desperate to find resources to help me deal with the immense pain. i was blessed enough to have a very good friend that unfortunately had, herself, become a BLM. and she sent me tons of links, books, etc to help me during those first couple of weeks when i couldn't do anything for myself. but when i was "strong" enough i had to search and search for other resources, especially SIDS related resources, groups, etc. my hope is that our site may help those families affected by SIDS/SUID. i hope that we can provide them with helpful resources, put them in contact with helpful people with the SIDS community, and that we can, at the very least, walk with them on their grief journey.

Monica, i thank you for featuring our blog, giving us another amazing avenue in which to reach families in need, and providing your support to us and our little man for whom we live!

if you have experienced a loss, or know someone who has, please check out Honoring Our Angels for a list of resources available to you, and to see how you can help those in need.

Grieving Mother's Assistant for realsies

as each day passes i am more and more convinced that i need, as tiffany described, a "grieving mother's assistant" {GMA}, or at least a tattoo on my forehead that says, "don't ask me about my baby. seriously. don't." time heals all wounds? that's crap. it will be 4 months since i lost Julius tomorrow and the gapping Juju-shaped hole is still just as big. time heals? well in 4 months it still hasn't gotten any easier to deal with the awkwardly painful question "how is your baby?" which is what i found myself dealing with AGAIN yesterday. and the only reason that i feel i survived that question last night is because a dear friend was standing next to me, and absorbed some of that fatal blow. i'm actually pretty sure i heard the exact moment that her heart broke {thank you for being there my sweet jane}.

4 months, and it still hasn't gotten any easier to deal with the silly things people say even though they mean well. "you know you can always have another baby, right?" yes, i know {or at least i pray and beg and hope} that i can  have more children. but that doesn't mean that it hurts any less that i have lost my son, Julius. one does not replace another. Julius is gone forever from this world, from me. so, i'm sorry, but telling me that i can have more children really does not help my aching heart at this moment. and furthermore {you know i'm ticked when i start using words like "furthermore"}, it's shocking that someone can make such a bold statement like that to me. how does anyone know that i'm going to go on to have more children. no one knows that. people may truly want me to go on and have more children. they may feel like i deserve to have more children and be happy again, but they don't KNOW that i'm going to have more children. so making blanket statements about my ability to bear children in the future really really does not help. especially when i already feel betrayed by God and the universe.

yes, i really do think that i need a GMA/tattoo/note cards or something. and while i'm somehow mangaging to alert people that they shouldn't ask me how my baby is doing, i should also pass out cards about what to/not to say to a grieving mother.

this is one of my fav pics of him. he was a boy of many faces!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

missing him more and more each day...

i remember this pic like it was yesterday. he had just made his way into the world. we all got settled on the bed, and my midwives cleaned him off, swaddled him {which he never liked}, and placed him in my arms. it was an amazing feeling, and i remember just staring at him for the longest time in disbelief. it really didn't click until i had him in my arms. i mean, i knew i was pregnant {i had the tests to prove it}, and i felt someone in my tummy, but it wasn't until i saw his face that it made everything "real." yep, he was real, and he is mine. and though he's no longer here with us. the love still remains...

the very 1st pic my love ever took! 

we miss and love you so very much. valentine's day is coming up, and we wish you were here to celebrate it with us. daddy and i weren't really big into that holiday anyway, but you would have changed that. you already changed us so much. your four month angelversary is coming up, please stay extra close to us this next week. we need your light and your strength. 
loving you always and forever, 


and remember, if you have not yet entered the february giveaway, there is still 3 more days to do so. just go to this post for details and to enter. good luck!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


change has been the overwhelming theme of the last couple of weeks. i've recently heard it said that a change comes about in a person's life out of "inspiration or desperation." i think we all know which of the two i'm operating under {it's desperation, for those that want to give me too much credit}. and as if someone is trying to drive the message home to me, i found this quote on the blog Honoring our Angels: "in this life we will encounter hurts and trials that we will not be able to change; we are just going to have to allow them to change us." i don't know where life is going to take me, and this has done nothing but terrify me. i hate change, i hate the unknown, and my heart and mind have been clinging to every "constant" they can. but the thing is, it doesn't seem to be working for me. at all.

sunday i really started feeling as though change is coming. it's not a physical change {i've already gone through that painful change}, but more of an internal change, like i'm starting to morph into someone else. it's really hard to describe. and usually when i feel overwhelmed, i clean. and that's what i did. i cleaned up/out several aspects of my life. i got rid of books on my bookshelf that were just taunting me by being in my house {"the discipline book," - pretty presumptuous of me, eh? "the BABY SLEEP book" - seriously???}. i cleaned out my nightstand and moved some of his things to a storage bin. i cleaned up my facebook friends list {don't know why i felt the strong urge to do that one, but i did}. i cleaned some things out of the garage, and made a pile to give other things away {like the 2 guinea pig cages i was saving for Juju's 1st and 2nd piggies}. i removed all of the outlet protectors that i put up shortly after i found out i was pregnant {again, pretty presumptuous of me}. for some reason, i just feel like i have to "shed weight" in my life in order to move forward toward my new life. my new life of being a grieving mother and...

right, the rest hasn't been filled in yet. the rest is still "to be determined." and though i hate {and will always hate} that i'm being forced to wait and find out what life has in store for me. i'm being forced to relinquish control of my life {or the control i thought i had}. i'm trying hard to be open to it, and accept where life is taking me {which is definitely not to be confused with accepting what has happened}. i'm trying hard to be thankful for the experiences i've had. to say, "you know what? though i want nothing more than to be an earthly mom again and NOW, if i don't get that chance ever, well, Julius was absolutely perfect, and i'm so blessed that i had the chance to grow, birth, know and love him" {most of the time i take the opposite approach of throwing a temper tantrum because he was ripped from my arms}. i'm trying hard to grow with life, instead of against it. hopefully, with Juju by my side, i can - little by little.

even after spitting up, he still knew how to work a camera!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Birdie Lips

Juju used to do what we so affectionately called "birdie lips". at first it started, in my opinion, as his way to alert us that he was hungry {of course he was always hungry, so that might have been just a coincidence}. but then he started doing it all the time. it was so adorable, but i was starting to get confused as to what he wanted because he would do it right before i fed him, right after i fed him, and lots in between. it didn't help that he wouldn't take a pacifier either. silly boy! i'm desperately missing those birdie lips today. :'(



Monday, February 7, 2011

Sharing my love...

at some point shortly after rebecca lost Lily, i decided that i was going to start taking pics of Juju daily. i was determined to cherish every.single.second with him since i had just witnessed through rebecca how quickly and unexpectedly life can change. and i'm so glad that i did that. {i guess you could say that Lily made me a better mother. thank you, Lily.} because of the daily pics, i have close to 300 pics of him on my phone. he was such a squirmy little boy, so i always ended up taking like 10 pics just to get 1 good one. i really only posted a fraction of the pics that i took of him. sometimes when i'm feeling "strong" i pull up the pics on my phone, and go through them. i did that this morning, and as i stared at this pic and cried, i decided that i would share a new pic of him each day until valentine's day. this is me, sharing my love, with all of you...

such a goofball, like his momma!

also, if you haven't yet already done so, check out the february giveaway for a blog makeover sponsored by franchesca of small bird studio. the giveaway will stay open until midnight on feb 13th, and the winner will be announced on valentine's day. good luck!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Epic fail

i have been struggling lately with feelings of failure. i feel like i'm a failure of a mother, like i failed Juju, like i failed our family. and because of my failure, my baby paid the ultimate price. now i know that having a live baby does not a "successful" mother make and vice versa. and if i were to read this in any of my fellow BLMs blogs, or hear any of my IRL friends say this, i wouldn't hesitate to jump in and tell them that they did NOT fail as a mother, that they are amazing mothers. but i just can't seem to hold myself to the same standard. funny how that happens. i guess the saying is true - we are our own worse critics.

my mind and heart are in constant battle with each other. my heart knows without a doubt, that i gave Julius more than all of the love i had to give. my heart knows that i cherished every moment with him, and that i would give my very life for him. but my mind....well, my mind tells me that i should have been there for him. as his mother, i should have saved him. as his mother, there had to have been more that i could have done to change the course of events that ultimately lead to my son losing his life and me being left, as brooke so eloquently put it, in this wizard of oz grayed-out world of constant sadness.

guilt has always been a strong part of my internal makeup. i can pretty much guilt myself into/out of practically everything {i used to joke that it is because i'm catholic. and if you're catholic and reading this, please don't take offense}. so it was absolutely no shock when i went "there" blaming myself immediately upon hearing the news that Julius had passed away. the overwhelming guilt has lessen quite a bit since reading the book The SIDS & Infant Death Survival Guide, which opened my eyes to the fact that SIDS is unpreventable. but it in no way completely removed the guilt from my mind. and every once in a while, it creeps back up to the surface and takes hold of me. it's as though most of the time it has me by the ankle, and every so often it manages to climb it's way up and grab me by the throat. and recently it's been around my throat.

i know i will never completely stop blaming myself, that i will always play out those "what-ifs" in my head. i know i will never fully dispel the thoughts that, unfortunately, my inadequacies as a mother cost Julius the one thing he deserves the most - his life. but i hope that he knows that despite all of that, i loved him {and continue to love him} more intensely than i have EVER loved another person in all of my life. that his mere existence gave way to a love within me that i never knew possible. it's almost as if there was a secret room of love that only he unlocked. and even though he is gone from this earth, that room can't be closed up, in fact that room grows more and more every day and is filled with love for him. ♥

**updated to include a great, in-depth article that talks about parental grief. it even has a section specifically for the grief of SIDS parents, which ressonated with me, especially in light of what i have been feeling lately. one paragraph that stuck out in particular was:
SIDS parents also are very often plagued by "if only's" that they are never able to resolve. They mentally replay such thoughts as: "If only I hadn't put the child down for a nap when I did." "If only I had checked on the baby sooner." "If only I had not returned to work so soon." "If only I had taken the baby to the doctor with that slight cold."
it brings me some comfort to know that this seems to be a normal feeling.**

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Doing good in Juju's name giveaway #2

i'm really excited to be doing another giveaway in memory of my baby boy. and i hope that once again Juju and i are able to bring a smile to another BLMs face.

so before i say what the giveaway is, i will give the backstory. i know that most of you have heard me talk {er, write} about one of my closest IRL friends, rebecca. in june of last year, 3.5 short months before we lost Juju, she lost her precious Lily. she started a blog before she even got pregnant with Lily to document her journey, and of course, i was one of her followers. anyway, when i was visiting her blog one day shortly after she lost Lily, i noticed that her blog had gotten a "face lift." the whole thing had been redone, and pics of Lily were added. it was amazing. i remember thinking to myself how glad i was that she was able to include her baby girl on her blog. then it november, exactly 1 month after Juju passed away, i found myself doing the exact same thing.

i wasn't sure that i was even going to continue blogging after he passed away, especially not after i received a couple of nasty comments from anonymous posters immediately following his passing. but i decided that i was going to keep telling his {our} story. i'm still here, so obviously, my story is not over yet. and since he is the reason that i am forever changed, since he has made me a different person, a better person, a more loving person, i'm going to continue to share him with the world. so i asked rebecca for the info for the person that designed her blog, so that i could also memorialize Juju on mine. he is the reason i started the blog after all.

and that brings me to the person who is sponsoring this month's giveaway, franchesca of Small Bird Studio...

i honestly can not say enough good things about her. she is absolutely amazing. she is so kind, caring and compassionate. but unfortunately, she is also a BLM. she lost her baby girl, Jenna Belle, in 2009. you can read all about Ms. Jenna here. and i recently found out that Small Bird Studio is named after Jenna. so awesome! you can read all about how Small Bird Studio got it's name here. when she read that i was going to start having monthly giveaways, she so generously offered her services for one of them. i tell ya, this woman...there are no words adequate enough to describe her. ♥

the giveaway:
so that brings me to the giveaway...this month's giveaway is for a blog makeover done by the one and only franchesca. and it includes:
                                                               ♥ Custom Header
                                                               ♥ Custom Background
                                                               ♥ Standard Text Sidebar Titles
                                                               ♥ Choice between two or three columns
                                                               ♥ Text color matching
                                                               ♥ Custom coloring on sidebars and post area
                                                               ♥ Installation

i'm hoping that one lucky BLM will get to make their blog a more personal space, and that they are able to memorialize their precious baby(ies) the way that rebecca and i got to memorialize ours.

how to enter:
it's easy. just leave me a comment telling me 1 {or as many as you want} way that you have integrated your little one and their memory into your daily life {for example, blogging, journaling, etc}. i love to get ideas for things that i could do to keep me connected to Juju and share him with others. i will keep this giveaway going until midnight {CST} sun feb 13th. and then on feb 14th i will announce the winner {because i'm sure BLMs will need a little extra happiness on that day especially}. good luck!