Thursday, February 26, 2015

one bunny to rule them all


Is it just me or can you detect a slightly maniacal glint in those button eyes? The latest addition to our ever-growing knit bunny family is this adorable monster. Here he is next to one of my normal-sized bunnies for scale. (Read more about another knit bunny here, and check out the designer's blog Little Cotton Rabbits.)

He stands about 26 inches tall, or 34 inches if you put his ears straight up. For comparison, my other bunnies measure only 11 inches, including ears. This guy was created using the exact same knitting pattern, just with thicker yarn and larger knitting needles. I did have to make some adjustments to the sweater pattern to accommodate his extra large belly. His sweater is made from yarn I had leftover after making my sweater, so now we have matching outfits (although I usually choose to wear pants with mine, and he has clearly decided to go without).

Isn't his little tail cute? I included all the details from the original pattern, including the button closure on the sweater in case he wants different clothes in the future.

I finished knitting him back in January, but haven't had a chance to take photos until now. He's currently relaxing on the IKEA daybed we finally built last week (the boxes have been sitting in the hallway upstairs since November). Additional knitting project details are available on my Ravelry page.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

snow birds

Last night we got our third dose of snow in under a week. While most people around here were whining about how they were ready for spring, I was lamenting this mild winter and our lack of snow. I need at least one to two good heavy snowfalls before I'm ready for daffodils. Well, I got my wish. This past week has made up for the relatively wimpy winter with continuous sub-zero temperatures and over a foot of snow (I'm wondering at what point we need to shovel the deck so it doesn't collapse).

Dan had trouble getting his car out of the snow this morning to head to his second Saturday of the Oscar movie marathon. I went outside to see if I could help (I couldn't, but he did eventually get going), and noticed the bird bath looking so comical piled with snow.

The weather finally warmed up about 30 degrees today, bringing the temperature to just above freezing. I've been wanting to take pictures of all our pretty backyard birds against the snow backdrop this week, but I couldn't until today because A) my fingers would have frozen off, and B) the birds weren't making many appearances at those temperatures. Today, with a comparatively balmy morning in the low 30s, there was a smorgasbord at the neighbor's bird feeders. I stayed outside for a little while this morning (wearing my overall snow pants and sitting in my plastic lawn chair), and managed to snap a few photos of the birdies. (I'm guessing you'd rather see a photo of me in that getup, but that's too bad.) Here's a cute little sparrow; there were lots of these guys.

Seeing cardinals in the snow is always such a treat. They look especially plump when they're all fluffed up against the cold.

This little house finch was jealous of my attention to the cardinal and posed for quite a while. Those bits of snow on the branches are just gorgeous.

The little chickadees were too quick for my camera, but I was thrilled to catch this tufted titmouse. Once I heard his call (loud and annoying), he was hard to ignore.

Stay warm and safe. Don't get impaled by any murderous icicles. We have a few daggers hanging off the roof out back.

Friday, February 20, 2015

shadow box

I finished putting together a shadow box with a bunch of mementos from Nolan's birth. I've been keeping everything in a pretty box but wanted a way to display some things too. I built a little shelf inside the frame since there were lots of items that I wanted to prop up without mounting them to the backing. The shelf is secured to the box with L-brackets... I could probably paint the brackets white to blend in better, but they're mostly hidden by the frame anyways.

In the top half I put Nolan's birth measuring tape (with a little mark showing his tiny size at just 6 inches), my favorite ultrasound photo showing his profile at 19 weeks, a glass ornament with his name and birthday from my cousin Erin and her husband Ryan, an angel figurine from my Aunt Ruthann and Uncle Tim, our hospital bands, and a blanket & cross pin from Holy Sews which provided micro-preemie clothing for Nolan.

The bottom half holds a stuffed bear from Nolan's funeral (I have a different one from the hospital that sits on my nightstand), an angel keychain with tiny baby feet from my Aunt Cindy and Uncle Roy, Nolan's footprints from the hospital, a granite cross from the cemetery (it was two pieces cut from the same stone, and Nolan is buried with the second cross), and our family photo. I love the quote on the card with his footprints: "There is no hand or foot so small that it cannot leave an imprint on the world."

Putting this together took a while; I worked on it every day for the last week. The process has been therapeutic as I've spent a lot of time thinking about all these little objects and how to arrange them. I have so many memories from such a short time, and I don't want to forget anything.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

keeping busy

I read somewhere that grief is like riding a roller coaster in the dark. You know there will be ups and downs, but you can't see what's coming. I feel okay one minute and I'm a teary-eyed mess the next. I do seem to feel a little better, both emotionally and physically, each day that passes. My worst times happen when I'm not keeping myself busy, and I start thinking about how different everything is from how it could have been. I could be having baby showers, wearing maternity clothes, preparing a nursery, but instead I'm visiting my little boy at the cemetery. It just doesn't feel right.

I'm finding ways to work through the sadness. I've shared our story with a Facebook group for triploidy loss. It's amazing to hear similar stories from other group members who carried to 22 weeks since I was feeling so alone. Our doctors said that I was the furthest along they'd seen a triploidy pregnancy. We also met with a therapist yesterday, which I thought was very helpful. It's nice to have someone besides family validate what I'm feeling. Keeping busy is the most important thing I'm doing to stay sane; it keeps my mind from wandering. Here's an update on some of my latest activities:

Card album
We've received so many thoughtful sympathy cards, so I collected them all into a large binder ring and made front and back covers from thin cardboard wrapped in scrapbook paper. I made a similar album for our wedding cards following this tutorial from Something Turquoise, and I already had all the supplies needed. This was a good way to keep all the cards together and still be able to flip through and read all the comforting words from our friends and family.

cozy birdhouse | my book of sympathy cards for baby nolan

cozy birdhouse | my book of sympathy cards for baby nolan

Shadow box
I'm also putting together a shadow box with mementos from the hospital and little gifts we've received. I've been building a little shelf for the box this week, and now I'm ready to assemble everything.

Felt birds
The night before I checked into the hospital, I ordered a stack of wool-blend felt to make bird ornaments from patterns I found online at Downeast Thunder Farm. For the first week after Nolan's birth, I was spending every minute on the couch, and the only thing getting me out of bed in the morning was working on these birds. I picked nine of my favorite birds from the patterns online, and they're waiting to be assembled into a wreath or wall-hanging. I just haven't figured out exactly how I want to display them yet.

Dan went to the first day of the AMC Best Picture showcase on Saturday. The theater shows all eight Oscar nominees over two Saturdays, four films each day. I just can't sit through that many movies (unless it's Harry Potter), so my mom came for the weekend and we spent Saturday at the mall. It was nice to be out of the house for a day, even if it was a little sad to see lots of families and babies.

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Sunday, February 8, 2015

my little angel

Nolan's funeral was on Friday. We had a short service at his grave which is located in the baby area of our city's Catholic cemetery. It was chilly outside, but the cemetery looked so beautiful with a dusting of snow on the grass. Our pastor Father Ed, who also worked with Dan and me for our marriage prep, read his beautiful and comforting reflection. My parents, godparents, and siblings drove into town just for the day even though they missed work and school, and my mom had to spend several hours in the car to pick up my sister from college on Thursday. Dan's parents made the long drive with his sister (who braved the trip and put together an awesome care package despite her broken collarbone), and Dan's brother flew in just for the day. Everyone made sacrifices just to support us on this difficult day, which was so meaningful. There were two beautiful flower arrangements with Nolan from my grandparents and from my parents and siblings (I wish I had taken photos, but I was a bit of a mess). Dan and I each took a white rose from the little bouquet we asked the funeral home to prepare. Leaving my little boy there at the end of the service was one of the hardest parts of the week. It was somewhat comforting that he is surrounded by babies with recent birthdays whose graves were decorated with little toys and balloons; he isn't alone.

cozy birdhouse | little angels

Our families came back to our house afterwards where we had lots of food, including some fancy pickles and sausages from Dan's brother, a big Edible Arrangement fruit basket from my group at work, and an angel food cake from my Aunt Ruthann. We've continued to receive cards, flowers, and gifts from people, including my friend Elena and her husband, a group of our friends from work, my manager and his wife, Dan's group at work, and his friend Kevin from college. My parents brought us a pretty Beleek cross and some money to buy a little memorial tree for our yard, and my godparents gave us a little Irish blessings angel. Our house looked so pretty for company with all the flowers. I don't know if or when I'll have another chance for our families to just sit together and chat, and I relished every moment. We talked about Nolan's birth and my recovery, but I also liked the distraction of discussing random stuff like Christopher's struggle to house train their little Wheaten Terrier, Watson. Emily posts lots of cute photos of him on facebook with the hashtag #wheatensofig, and Dan and I admitted that it took us way too long to figure out that meant "wheatens of instagram (ig)" and not "wheaten so fig." We were really confused trying to figure out if "fig" was some new slang term all the cool kids were using. (It's catching on with my family, I'm not going to stop trying to make "fig" happen).

I was exhausted by the end of the day and spent the evening laying on the couch with a small glass of wine, my first since September. Even that moment made me a little sad knowing that I shouldn't have been able to drink anything until at least June if everything had been normal with this pregnancy. All these "firsts" are just so hard.

My mom bought me a little book of "uplifting thoughts" that has a bible verse and short reflection for each day of the year. I know that these passages are meant to be broad so they can apply to lots of situations (kind of like a horoscope), but these are just so perfectly suited for how I'm feeling.

February 1st (Nolan's birthday): "Enjoy your precious life, but not as an end in itself. Think of heaven as your true home."

February 6th (Nolan's funeral): "Focus on the gift of life as best you can, and not the loss of life. It is possible to decide to be happy, even in the most terrible circumstances."

Not sure I'm ready to be happy, but the amount of time I spend feeling miserable seems to be lessening each day. My amazing husband and family help so, so much.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

hello and goodbye

We began the process of inducing labor on Friday and checked into the hospital Saturday morning. Dan stayed with me the entire time, and both sets of parents were there to support us as well.

Nolan Patrick was born to heaven at 5:23 pm on Sunday, February 1st. He measured 6 inches in length and weighed just 2.4 oz. We all got to hold him for a long time and admire his tiny features. His grandmothers fussed over him for a while, dressing him in the micropreemie clothing donated by Holy Sews through my mom's friend Kathy. A nurse took photos of him and of us holding him. Back before we found out about Nolan's problems, we had talked about the activities we looked forward to doing with him, and Dan said he was excited to watch football with our little guy on the couch. It was so perfect when the Super Bowl came on TV and Dan was holding Nolan, all cozied up in a bundle of blankets.

cozy birdhouse | my little angel surrounded by family

I am at home now and doing okay physically, but I keep melting into hysterics at regular intervals. I just feel so empty and sad, and I miss my little boy every second. The nurses at the hospital were so kind and put together a little memory box with all sort of mementos including Nolan's receiving blanket and tiny footprints. Planning the funeral and burial this week has been so difficult, but everyone who has helped has been very patient and understanding.

cozy birdhouse | my angel's tiny footprints

We chose the name Nolan because it means champion or fighter, and that's exactly what our little boy has been, beating all the odds to live as long as he did. His middle name, Patrick, is for Dan's uncle who was killed in a car accident at a young age. Nolan has plenty of caring people to look after him in heaven, especially Dan's uncle and grandparents and my grandparents. They took good care of us when we were small and now they have an extra special boy to spoil with love.

Again, thanks to everyone who has taken the time to send an email, text, card, or flowers. We received a lovely basket of daisies and roses from Dan's Aunt Megan and Uncle Steve, and jar of springtime favorites including cheery sunflowers from his cousins Ted, Laura, and Sara. We've also enjoyed the cookies and little plant left on our porch by my friends Laura and Courtney while we were at the hospital on Saturday. My friend Kathy sent a gift card to a little knitting shop, which will be a welcome distraction once I am up and around more. Thank you to everyone who has sent prayers our way also, we love you all.

cozy birdhouse | purple roses

cozy birdhouse | sunflower arrangement

cozy birdhouse | succulent arrangement