Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Week Before Quinn

In reminiscing, we realize the week before Quinn came was a blessed time. We had decided to let her come on her own and not induce labor, as we had with our other babies. We trusted God to work out the timing. I have to admit I was extremely frustrated as my due date came and went, and each day after held its own struggle of acceptance.

I used the time to finish getting a few things ready for Quinn. I whipped up a blanket for her to match her diaper bag. I painted her monogram on her wall art.One day while sitting in front of my sewing machine, I was irritated with whole world, as only a 9-month-pregnant woman can understand. It seemed as if right then God whispered to me that this day was a gift for me to enjoy. I suddenly realized that Helen and Jack were playing happily together in the baby room, it was a beautiful day outside, I had a schedule cleared of any outside responsibilities and there was peace in my home. I had all this time to be creative, to live in the moment, and here I sat, grumpy and irritable. It changed my thinking, and I quickly made a little mattress and quilt to fit my old doll crib that we had put in Quinn's room, enjoying every moment.

The last Sunday before she was born, we went to church. Before we left, the whole family naturally gravitated toward Quinn's room. Owen took a belly shot of me.
Jason took another one.We goofed off until it was time to leave.
Jack loves the "two babies" that were mine when I was little. My Mom reminded me that they came from my cousin Andy. So thanks, Andy, and forgive me if I never sent you a thank-you note back when I was 2 or 3 or 1.
We tried Jack's new shoes on him, my Economy Shop find of the month. American made, leather upper, I forget what brand, hardly worn, for a little bit of nothing. There's obviously still room for growth.
Owen loves to show off the fan and light switches. It's his little piece of control.

And Helen, mostly sunshine that day.

There is no doubt that Quinn's room is our favorite room in the whole house. Jason worked so hard at finishing the walls and ceiling in time. Our family gathers there for prayer at night. It feels like a sanctuary.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

On Our Way to the Funeral Home

How do you choose a burial outfit for your baby? A terrible question. One I asked my friend, who 3 1/2 weeks before Quinn was born, gave birth to a sweet little baby boy with Trisomy 18. He lived for almost 2 hours.

Lightning doesn't strike twice in the same place. Or is that just made-up saying we quote to reassure ourselves against disaster?

I think we all would much rather recite the Lord's Prayer metaphorically than actually walk through the valley of the shadow of death ourselves.

Nothing in Quinn's closet was appropriate. Most of it was hand-me-downs from Helen that I couldn't bear to lose. I didn't have time to sew anything. While I was crying to Jason about it, he gently suggested I make the dress, stating that if I was going to sew for her, now was my chance. We begged God for help.

I found the perfect piece of material in my stash, in a box from cousin Heather. I had been saving it for something special. I closed myself in Quinn's nursery and carefully cut the pieces from the pattern.

Then Life happened--exhaustion set in, kids bickered, visitors came, meals were served and conversation took over. My mom offered to sew the dress if I trusted her enough. I gladly let her.

We tweaked the dress, turning up cuffs and adding rosebuds to the collar. I found a ribbon from my baptismal dress that made a perfect sash.

We knew the tiny dress would swallow Quinn whole, but we also knew it wouldn't be seen. It was the act of making that was therapeutic.

The dress was finished just before our appointment at the funeral home. I got a few quick pictures.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Plastic Thank-Yous

"Thank you for your kind expression of sympathy" sounds sterile and pathetic. How do you thank people for loving you so well through their actions--buying paper supplies for meals and cheese balls for the kids, cleaning the house, washing embarrassingly dirty windows, mowing the overgrown yard, laundering the contents of smelly hampers, bringing platters of chicken wings, buckets of fresh fruit and foil pans of lasagna, flying from out of country, feeding the fish, running after toilet paper and cereal, taking and arranging pictures of our little girl, cleaning up after crazy family meals, going to the funeral home with us and listening to us spell the names of our deceased grandparents, sewing a burial dress, softening the visual impact of a tiny baby casket, sending a huge arrangement of the most tiny, delicate pink roses to the graveside, singing "Safe in the Arms of Jesus" just the way I heard it in my head all that long, terrible first day, and making a funeral so....beautiful?

People love much and well. Thank you for all you have done.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Quinn Ruthie, September 9, 2010

Quinn was born at 3:02 am after an easy delivery. She could not breathe on her own. Because of expert medical intervention, she was able to live for almost six hours. We held her alive for almost an hour. It was a precious time, and we were full of awe. She was beautiful, and she smelled so good.Her heart rate became slower and slower. She was peaceful for the entirety. We don't know exactly when she slipped away, but we suspect it was while I was holding her.

We loved you with all our hearts, Quinn!

Friday, September 10, 2010


Today we left our dead baby at the hospital and drove home with a silent back seat.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Window Solution

Around 15-17 years ago, when Jason's grandpa and grandma still lived in this house, they bought a hot tub for health reasons.

That independent clause makes me smile.To make room for the tub, they added a room to the house, right off the master bath. It served its purpose, but the room was never an inviting space. By the time we moved in, it needed major repairs. We delayed the project, more pressing needs catching our attention. Baby #4 forced our hand.

It had been my dream to repair the leaky valves in the tub, make over the room and create a little retreat, but in the bright light of practicality, we sold the jacuzzi to a[nother] young farmer for $100. Jason's dad helped him extract the tub. It was a feat that required a whole wall removal. Even Henny Penny was impressed.

They then installed new, beautiful windows. We hired a friend to do some exterior work that Jason didn't have time to do--a new roof!--and then Jason and Jim hung new siding. They had plenty of help.

When my parents came down this past spring, we put Dad to work. Up to that point, we still weren't sure how we were going to finish the walls. We had kicked around the idea of corrugated tin, and I hadn't decided about the exposed brick, but we ended up going with good ol' sheetrock on all four walls, and reserving our pine floor boards leftover from the whole house remodel for the ceiling.
Once again, lots of help was present.

Dad and Jason had a great idea for the interior window that no longer served any purpose. I cannot tell a lie: watching it being removed gave me great satisfaction. (Picture wide grin of mouth with exposed teeth, sucking in of breath and clapping of hands three times quickly in succession, Aunt Mary Jane style.) It had been one of those decorating nightmares that I had tried to ignore. I mean, what do you do with a dysfunctional, useless window to nowhere? Hang a curtain? I didn't even clean it, I was so annoyed with it.I loved their idea, and Jason worked hard on the carpentry. Here's the completed window project--Bathroom side and baby room side! The changing table is directly under the shelf in the baby room.
Now it's one of my favorite parts of both rooms. From shame to glory!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Tales from the Fritz Files

Little Fritz-man has finally discovered how to use a chair to his advantage. Chair events have included one in his room to select his preferred shoes of the day, and one by my key cupboard to obtain my truck keys for his own pocket. This means my two-year-old clomps around the house with huge blue crocs on the wrong feet and real keys in his waistband.

This was one day before lunch. He was hungry, and took matters into his own hands. I only know that there had been less than half a bag of chocolate chips left. He had the number down to two when I found him.
It's fun to observe his imagination. One Friday, Owen came home from school with the most obnoxious prize ever--a noisemaker. Jack seized the toy upon its owner's abandonment, and it became Mr. Eddie's airplane, complete with loud sound effects.
Mr. Fritz gets quite silly at bedtime, when sleepiness starts to set in. This particular evening, he found the stickers and the Mr. Potato Head glasses. I confess I put the sticker on his schnoz, but he loved it, and left it until the next morning.

He cried when I removed it. The extraction didn't hurt him; he was just sad to say goodbye.Here he is, back in his culinary perch. Jack is extremely comfortable up on the counter when I am baking. This was a batch of mocha whoopie pies, inspired by my sister-in-law's amazing creation of yester-month. Licking beaters is an amazing event. I usually attempt a sneak-slip into the sink before the kids know what is going on, but this time I folded to his cuteness. It took him a while to glean every morsel, and even then I had to...err...coax him to relax his grip. Jack's other hobbies include unsolicited ketchup and mustard retrieval, starting the VCR and kitty dunking in the bathtub.