Friday, December 16, 2011

Appreciation Communication

I feel like I have been pretty negative on here lately, and I've been particular sensitive to the negativity and problems of others, but I really can't stress enough that, though our list of issues has seemed particularly high in 2011, I wake up {almost} every day extremely happy and thinking how lucky I am.

It is so easy to admit that our marriage is the axis and both hemispheres of that ball of joy.  We have grown so much through our trials, and I have to share how proud I am of our effort to constantly show each other love and try to understand one another instead of jumping to conclusions, getting upset over something trivial, or seeing an action from an unfair perspective.

A simple exchange yesterday brought all of this to mind: 

I have been wanting Ben to clean the dishes and the kitchen for a few days, but he has been out-of-town so I let it go to let him do it at his own pace.  Before Ben left town he asked me to clean the sheets and I kept forgetting.  Last night I threw the sheets in the wash and he went to work in the kitchen (both without hearing something from the other). 

He leaves the kitchen to go study in the office, I pass him on my way to change the laundry: 
Suz:  "Thanks for doing the dishes!"

Ben: "No problem. Thanks for doing the laundry!"

I love that guy :) 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Happy Due Date, El

I woke up this morning like it was any other day.  I checked my e-mail, worked for a few hours, organized packages to take to the post office, watched the Today Show, scheduled where I need to go when to maximize my time....

But, no matter how much I try to ignore it, today is not a regular day. Today was my scheduled due date for Eleanor.  I anticipated being really upset today, and I am sad, but it's sort of a confused sad. See, from now on do I celebrate and remember her on her due date, which is sort of depressing, or on her birthdate?

Also, Christmas is coming up, which I also anticipate being sad on.  I had been really looking forward to Christmas this year- feeling very festive- then it hit me one day that Christmas had been our unofficial "D Day". See, we wanted her to arrive early, of course, but first babies are often late. We knew that Dec. 15 was my due date, but had, of course, no idea when she would actually come.  I would have been induced 7 days after my due date if I hadn't delivered yet, so we did, at least, know that we would have her and be out of the hospital  by Christmas Day.  I even designed this special Christmas baby onesie in honor of her- the best Christmas present we could have asked for. (My sister ordered three of those onesies for her triplets.  That felt sort of weird.)

So now I'm feeling very aware of the absence of our daughter from today until Christmas (I expect.) Let the season begin!

The reality is that we'll think about her and miss her at this time of year and on her birthday, but I'm trying to remember how happy we were on her birthday, too.  We felt so close to her that day and could feel that her spirit was so happy to have received a body.  We felt lucky to have been chosen to be part of an obvious Plan of Heavenly Father's, and excited to have a perfect child waiting for us one day. After the "high" of that experience wore off the sadness set in, but I struggle daily to remember that fulfillment and happiness we felt at first.

So, in an effort to {try to} stay somewhat positive today, I was thinking about the blessings we and our extended family have experienced since we gave in to following Heavenly Father:

  1. Ben and I have become very comfortable in Greensboro, even making good friends.  Losing Eleanor brought us closer to many people in our ward, and we are grateful for those friendships. 
  2. Our store, uVinyl, has really taken off! It's gone from 4-5 orders a month to 5-8 orders a day since October! Strange timing... 
  3. Megan had her triplets safely, and they were home healthy from the hospital in less than a month. 
  4. Ben started his MBA program, and finished his first quarter with final grades much higher than the average student. 
  5. Our marriage has become so much stronger as we learned to lean on each other and remember how important our family and love is
  6. Ben has started traveling again for work-- something he loves, but had been on hold for months due to the economy. 
  7. Ben was transferred to work on new projects in his company, and these project teams cause much less stress than the previous ones! 
  8. I have finally started volunteering with an organization I've had my eye on for years- Hospice.  I spend about 5 hours/ week with (after two weekends of training...ugh) a very sweet family, and love giving back to someone else at the last stages of his life. 
My ultimate I-Need-to-Invoke-Some-Tears-Because-I-Have-to-Express-How-Much-I-Miss-Eleanor Song: 

"To think I might not see those eyes makes it so hard not to cry.  And we say our long goodbyes I nearly do... Light up, light up.  As if you have a choice.  Even if you cannot hear my voice I'll be right beside you, Dear. Have heart, my Dear, and don't you be afraid, even if it's just for a few days... we'll make up for all this mess..." 

We love you, Baby Girl.  It's hard not to think of "what could have been" on this very day, but we do know that Heavenly Father has a plan, and that, one day, or reunion will be  so sweet. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Giving Thanks 2011

Let's face it: this has been a hard year.  A hard year.  After moving cities, a civil lawsuit, pregnancy, birth, and death of our daughter, shoulder surgery, and starting a time-consuming, strenuous graduate program, Ben and I agree that we are sooooooooooooooo ready for 2012! 

But, in the spirit of Thanksgiving and gratitude, we felt it important to be accountable for recognizing the many things we have to be thankful for: 
  • That the year is almost over!
  • To be able to get pregnant
  • We no longer have a lawn to take care of
  • A beautiful house in good condition with a caring landlord
  • Have a job
  • Success and inspiration for uVinyl
  • How much we have grown in love and understanding as a couple
  • Eleanor
  • Receipt and availability of good health care
  • Successful shoulder surgery DONE!
  • All the friends we've made in Greensboro so far
  • Ben accepted to grad school at IU, now 1/8 into program!
  • Understanding from the Gospel
  • Ready access to information for knowledge and improvement 
  • The freedom to volunteer
  • The ability to travel, especially our trip to Ben's mission field, Korea
  • To visit Suz's mission in NYC
  • Family reunions in Utah with the Fields, and MI with O'Briens
  • All the support from ward, family, and physicians during Eleanor's birth 
  • Our health!
  • Live in a beautiful, cultural city
  • Friendly staff at the Post Office 
  • Delicious home-cooked meals and the talent to prepare them
  • For old friends who still care. 
  • Open-mindedness to try new things
  • To have the beach and mountains both nearby
  • An affordable airport in our city
  • The temple 1 hour away
  • The health and good fortune of many members of our family, though they have had their own trials
  • To be happy where we are
  • Working cars
  • To be financially stable
  • Diligent Visiting Teachers
  • Good books
  • Patience
  • Family that opens their houses to us anytime we want to visit
  • Health and car insurance
  • A good camera and just enough knowledge to use it

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Grave Marker Update

I am happy to say that the great Grave Marker Mix-up of 2011 has been resolved!

We e-mailed my blog post to the cemetery so they would better understand the impact of this seemingly innocent mistake, my mom called their office so they would understand how upset we were, and they called me multiple times to apologize.  

After two days of trying to figure out what had happened and how it was going to be fixed, the cemetery called to say that Eleanor's permanent marker was scheduled for delivery on December 2, and that they placed a temporary marker on her grave in the meantime.  I went to see it as soon as I could, and it was very special.  Tears came to my eyes--the temporary marker seems very real, and I loved seeing her name as much as I thought I would!

I decided to be a big girl and thank the office employees in person for their thought in putting up a temporary monument.  I approached their building and their door opened for me by a woman who said, "Hello, Mrs. O'Brien." as if she'd been waiting for me!
She is the cemetery director, and explained why the mix-up happened.  She has only been with the cemetery for three years, and, in that amount of time, Eleanor is the first infant they have buried.  Infant markers are ordered in a different way than adult markers, but nobody had been around long enough to know that! She had processed Eleanor's paperwork just as they would any other, and were as surprised as we were that the order had never gone through.  To make matters worse, the company that produces the markers had just changed the markers they offer and their computer system hadn't yet turned around to process orders from the new stock.  Because of this, her marker wasn't able to be rushed ordered once it did, eventually, go through.  

Everyone there was so upset about this mistake! They have lots of empathy and respect for us, and the special gravesite service we held was really meaningful to them.  They just hated that, of anybody, this had to have happened to us.  

I was still upset about the mixup, but very glad to have seen them in person, cried together, and hear the full story of what happened and their heartfelt apologies.  

Here is the temporary marker:

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


My friend, Jessica, recently started a blog.  She wrote consistently for a while, but hasn't had a new post in weeks.  Yesterday I told her I missed hearing her thoughts and feelings, and wanted her to post again.  Being new to the blog-o-sphere, she asked, "What do I blog about?" I told her to write about what she does, her home, her husband, her activities, what she enjoys, what she is passionate about... Basically, what's important to her.

I'm taking my own advice.

It may be venting, complaining, and all-out negativity, but it's how I feel. It's what's going on in my life.  It's what's important to me [and Ben].

I had a breakdown today... while I was at the Post Office, of all places.  A full-on cry-fest.  Over Eleanor.

Eleanor was born on Saturday, Sept. 10.  My mom made funeral/ burial arrangements for us that weekend, and we had a small gravesite burial service on Monday, Sept. 12.  It wasn't a horrible day, actually.  I took a lot of pictures and was still so proud to have given her a body.  I haven't even looked at those pictures, though.  I've been waiting for some more time to go by.  My goal was to process the event of her burial more fully when her grave marker was put in place.  I would take pictures of her plot and finally blog about her burial when all those pieces had been put together.

We were told to wait 4-6 weeks for her marker to be put in place.  At 6 weeks it still wasn't there, but I gave them a couple extra weeks of leeway before intruding myself.  I casually inquired a couple of times, but at the end of October Ben asked about the status of her marker while I was in Columbia.  They told him, once again, that they would call when it came in.

Today, over 10 weeks post-burial, her marker still isn't there.  I called myself this time, and was told that the order had never been placed.  Had we not been called? No.  I was told that they didn't even realize it hadn't been ordered until Ben came to their office.  Well, he visited on Oct. 28, but the marker wasn't even ordered until a full week later!

I was given this news over the phone while mailing packages at USPS. I broke down in the middle of the transaction.  Luckily, I really like everyone I've met at their office, and the woman helping me was really kind. She, too, had had a stillborn baby.

She passed me a box of Kleenex and asked what was wrong. I'm sure she wasn't prepared when the first thing out of my mouth was, "My daughter died a couple of months ago..."

In addition to it being my goal for "moving on", I have been looking forward to seeing her grave marker for many reasons.  Her cemetery is down the road from our Post Office in one direction, and from church in the other direction, so I visit when I mail stuff for uVinyl (at least once or twice a week), and on Sunday afternoons with Ben.  Every time we go I *HOPE* her grave marker is there because I fervently want to see her name written out in weather-and-time-proof metal and granite.  I want her to be official.  I want her place to be official.  I want to have a designated vase for fresh flowers.  I want to add some loving words in vinyl.

I know this isn't my fault, but it feels so personal.  I feel like a neglectful mother. My child is in a nameless grave. She was, literally, forgotten. By multiple people, including me, for not checking up sooner.  I think I've handled our loss as well as could possibly be hoped for, but her being forgotten is something I can not stand for or let go.  All day I've started crying whenever I think about it.  It feels like the worst part... Like she was worth so little... And that's not ok.

How would you feel? 

 The view as you drive in to her cemetery

I love this bright tree right in front... 

There is even a beautiful pond in the cemetery, which I love. I think Eleanor loves nature.

They call the area where the babies are buried "Babyland". 
See the cluster of flowers around the trees toward the fence?

This shows the windchimes and Easter Eggs that have been tied to the trees in the middle of Babyland.  There are a lot of little toys, etc., for the children here.  It's sweet. 

Eleanor's spot is the one with the hay over it...

By the time her marker is added the ground will be frozen.  It will probably be snowing.  It makes me really upset to think of waiting until Winter to see her name.  I want her to see her name. 


Sunday, November 13, 2011

How To Raise Triplets

Some things I picked up from spending time with Megan and the babes:

1. Give them a proper Welcome Home.

2. Swaddle as tightly as possible, as often as it takes.  Those kiddos are used to being in tight spaces, so it's a miracle for keeping them happy and calm!

3. You have two options for watching all three at one time.  

One in your arms, two within arms reach (for pacifier assistance).... 

Or one in your arms, one on your legs (when two need body comfort, but you can't put one in each arm on your own), and the third on the floor within arms reach. 

4. Let them sleep wherever they are!

5. Prepare all 36 daily bottles at one time.

6. Use a rolled-up blanket to support the bottles in each babies mouth.  You can't feed all three at one time alone!

7.  Enlist all the help you can get. Hey, 7-yr-olds can be some of the most tender babysitters :)

8.  Put them in really cute clothes their aunt made for them... 

9. It always helps to match... They are triplets, after all!

 Different colors works, too.  Just as long as they are so cute strangers stop you in the street :) (Be honest... You need all the validation you can get right about now!)

10. Attention, ATTENTION, A.T.T.E.N.T.I.O.N.!!!!!

Triplets Photo Session

I am not very adept at photography (and I don't really have to be... I am surrounded by family and friends who take amazing photos for me!), but my sister, Megan, who just had triplets, doesn't even own a camera! Someone had to step in and take advantage of this prime photo opportunity.

Many of you have been asking how Megan and the babies are doing, and we all really appreciate your support! Here are a few I got [tried] while I was in town recently.

They are 1 month old, and between 4 and 5 pounds each.

C.O.U.R.T.E.N.E.Y. s.u.s.a.n.n.a.h

D.Y.L.A.N.  l.e.i.g.h.

"I could never love anyone more than I love my sisters"
("She's completely bald in front.")

I just love this one because they have their arms locked... How sweet!

W.E.S.T.O.N.  b.r.e.t.t.

all. together. now.

(Notice Courteney smiling!)






Big Brother love... 

Will with his baby, Weston

Colin with his baby, Courteney. 

More to come, I'm sure! We will be in town, again, over Thanksgiving, so I want to get some more siblings shots with the original 3 kids :) 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Personalized Etched Glass Cookie Jar!

We have been really fortunate since moving to Greensboro to find some good friends. There is a large number of young couples and families at church, whom we have a lot in common with and love hanging out with! There is a group of women who get together regularly during the week to watch movies, cook, or just talk, which I really love and desperately need.

One of them, Aimee, turned 25 the week before Halloween.  I was happy to invite everyone to my house for some Halloween cookie decorating and a movie.  I made this easy, beautiful cookie jar for her before everyone came over...

Happy Birthday, Aimee-- thanks for automatically welcoming me into your life at such a difficult time in mine. I am so grateful to celebrate our young friendship!