Archive for the ‘Entering parenthood’ Category

A Book Worth Knowing About: “I Will Hold You in My Heart Forever”

July 9, 2012

I recently worked on a three-part series on grief for Metro Parent magazine. It looked at grief and loss from three perspectives: parents grieving the loss of a child; children grieving the loss of a parent; and parents grieving the loss of their spouse. It was a humbling experience.

For part one of the series, I came into contact with Michelle Murray. She is the mom behind “I Will Hold You in My Heart Forever…A Baby Book for Little Angels.” I drafted a sidebar on this book that didn’t make it into the final story that ran in the magazine.

I’d hate for the world not to know about this special book, so I include below the short article I wrote on Michelle and her creation. Please share the info below with anyone you think might be in need of this special book. Thank you Michelle!

Bereaved Mother Creates Baby Book for “Little Angels”

Michelle Murray of Toronto gave birth in 2006 to her first child, a boy she named Tyler. She knew from early in her pregnancy that Tyler would be fighting an uphill battle because of a severe heart defect detected during her 18-week ultrasound. Still she held out hope that her little guy would survive the three major surgeries he would undergo during the first five years of his life. Sadly, that was not to be. Tyler died at home in his mother’s arms at seven weeks old.

Devastated, Michelle and her husband Jason went on to have two beautiful and healthy little girls. While filling out her second daughter’s baby book while home on maternity leave, Murray realized that she had no baby book for her firstborn.

“He was here. He lived,” Murray reflects.

And so she embarked on a mission to find a baby book appropriate for accurately telling Tyler’s story. Murray had little success finding something for chronicling her son’s short life and the grief journey that followed.

“I didn’t want a baby book that called for me to write in things like Tyler’s first word,” Murray recalls. “A book like that would be incomplete.”

In her search for something appropriate, Murray came across some somber memory books but nothing that captured the happy moments of her pregnancy and the almost two months she had with her son before he died. She decided to take matters into her own hands working with her sister-in-law, a graphic designer, to create a baby book that works for any parent who has lost a child at any age.

“This book is good even for those who miscarry,” Murray says. “If you miscarry at five months, you have still gone through a lot of happy things from learning you were expecting to ultrasounds.”

Titled, I Will Hold You in My Heart Forever…A Baby Book for Little Angels, the book Murray created includes space for the happy moments every expectant and new parent experiences but also includes space for parents to share their experiences after their child’s death.

The book includes section titles like “The Day You Died,” “Where I Go to Think of You” and “What I Would Have Thought You’d Be When You Grew Up.”

“I wanted my two daughters who never met Tyler to see his life story. This was a way for them to get to know their brother,” Murray says.

The book is laid out in binder format so the pages that aren’t relevant can easily be removed.

“Tyler lived for only two months, so I took out the pages for ages three months on,” Michelle says. “Originally, the book only extended through baby’s first year, but funeral homes that carry it have asked me to add pages for children who were older when they died.”

Murray has also found that some parents who have lost older children are transposing the contents of the child’s original baby book into this one.

“It’s a more complete story of their life,” Murray explains. “I’ve heard from parents who have it out on their coffee table to make it easier for visitors to broach the topic of the child.”

Murray has received letters from many of parents who’ve found the book to be a source of comfort.

“It’s unbelievable the positive feedback I’ve gotten,” says Murray, who is expecting her fourth child—a boy due in May. “Tyler has touched so many families.”

Retailing for $39.95, I Will Hold You in My Heart Forever…A Baby Book for Little Angels, can be purchased online at www.foreverheart.ca.

What to do when you come upon time to pause and reflect on things

August 31, 2011

They say men do business on the golf course. OK. To me, that begs the question where do women do business? Well, while I’m sure that the answer to that question varies widely, lately — for me, anyway — business is getting done in the basement floor changing room of my office building (a.k.a my pumping place).

You see, in this crazy life of mine, the one that involves a toddler and an infant, full-time employment and management of a house that currently sports eight brown shutters and four green ones (much to the dismay of the neighborhood association, I’m sure), idle moments are few and far between. Not that I would have it any other way, of course. Still, it does leave one with little time to pause and reflect on things.

Enter lactation.

Twice a day, while at the office, nature calls, and I visit the basement to pump in the one area of the building where the walls are not glass (aka see through)! And I sit for about 10 minutes or so hooked up to my bestie with some of that oh-so-elusive time to pause and reflect on things. It is often in these twice daily stretches that some of my best ideas come to me. Free from my BlackBerry (as my hands are — how should I put this? — otherwise occupied), I actually close my eyes and think. Imagine that!

But aside from the several “aha moments” that my pumping time and place have afforded me, I am also meeting new people! You see I work on the second floor of my office building, and I might never otherwise visit the basement bathroom where I now run into my new cronies: Gail and Lucinda** on a regular basis. And who knows, down the road when I need a programmer, I may just call on Gail. Or when I need a recipe to entertain a dinner party of eight, I just may ask Lucinda for a recommendation. Business done! All because of a little pump that could!

This all leads me to wonder what innovations, ideas and possibly even companies have been born of breastfeeding sessions when the sisterhood of nursing mothers have sat unattached to technology to pause and reflect on things. If we harnessed that collective time and brain power, just think what we could do!

Or if you simply want to use this time to close your eyes and think about George Clooney, Denzel Washington or insert your crush’s name here while reliving the moment in ninth grade when you scored the game-winning goal in the regional soccer finals, please do that. After all, when a mother comes by time to pause and reflect on things, she deserves to be able to do whatever the hell she wants.

**All names have been changed to conceal the identity of these frequent visitors to the loo (yes, I used the word “loo.” It’s just fun to say).

Hi Ho Hi Ho….It’s back to work I go!

June 16, 2011

Well they say all good things must come to an end. And so it is that I will soon bid adieu to my maternity leave. Please don’t feel sorry for me as I will have had 12 weeks at home with my munchkins when all is said and done. I am so very lucky to have had this time with them, BUT it is not without a heavy heart that I return to the office for I will miss my little sidekicks very dearly when I am back in my nine to five routine.

So to rally for my return to work next Wednesday, I thought it might be helpful if I scrounged up some inspirational quotes on the value of work. Perhaps if I read them enough my mind will give my heart a hand in mustering the strength I need to do what I need to do in a few short days. Oh and it doesn’t hurt that yesterday I made a trip to my happy place Target where I purchased a complete new set of colored gel rainbow pens and a crisp clean notepad for the first day back (am I the only one who takes great pleasure in a good pen and a brand new notebook)?!

So alas here are some quotes that will be my rallying cries for the next five days:

“The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.” -Donald Kendall

“Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment, full effort is full victory.” -Mahatma Gandhi

“Work spares us from three evils: boredom, vice, and need.” -Voltaire

“Work joyfully and peacefully, knowing that right thoughts and right efforts will inevitably bring about right results.” -James Allen

“We work to become, not to acquire.” -Elbert Hubbard

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” -Thomas A. Edison

“Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” -Theodore Roosevelt

”I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.” -Thomas Jefferson

So I will read these wise words spoken by wise people and remind myself of all the good things that result from my working outside of the home (not the least of which is the ability to fund my bi-weekly trips to paradise Target). So wish me luck and send any of your own personal words of wisdom or inspiration my way if you’re so inclined…I may need an extra large dose come Tuesday night!

He loves me, pump and all

April 22, 2011

I’m not sure there is anything sexier than being hooked up to a breast pump. I jest of course. In actuality, I’m pretty sure this task registers on the hubby’s “could have lived without ever catching a glimpse of that” list of things to which he must bear witness in this lifetime. And lucky for him, he gets to see this occurrence transpire several times a day as I attempt to create a stockpile of breast milk for our infant son.

It has become such a part of my daily routine that I have gotten somewhat lax in my discretion. For example, lately I have given to pumping at the island in our kitchen as I surf the Internet on my laptop. That means I am pretty much in a fishbowl for anyone who might be passing by our home. Thankfully we live on a cul-de-sac with no outlet, so random traffic is rare.

Today as I pumped, I about a had a heart attack, when out of the corner of my eye, I saw movement out the back window. It was a man spraying our lawn and though I doubt he was looking in the window (and if he was, I further doubt he would have caught on to what I was doing), I ducked down out of view of the window and dragged my pump with me–after all breast milk is like liquid gold–hard to come by and second to none for baby’s nutrition. I simply couldn’t let good milk go to waste.

So there I was pumping on the floor of the kitchen under the island–my sexiness factor at an all time low. No one was there to witness my predicament, but it had me thinking about the positions we sometimes find ourselves in once kids enter our lives. For example, a few days ago I was on the ground attempting to slither through a multi-colored tunnel that was a recent birthday gift to my two-year-old daughter from her aunt and uncle. What she seems to like most about this new toy is watching her parents struggle to fit into it. I thought I was doing well losing the baby weight until I entered this tube and attempted to emerge  from the other end at my daughter’s prodding. Let’s just say it wasn’t a pretty sight.

But before I had time to worry too long about whether my husband still sees me as attractive given the somewhat compromising positions I seem to find myself in more and more now that we have two munchkins, I received an unsolicited e-mail from him that has set my mind at ease.

It was a simple forward with an attachment showcasing breathtaking photos featuring Grecian landscapes. His note accompanying this slide show read simply, “To my beautiful bride…….we should take a trip to Greece…..put it on our top 100.”

And in an instant, I felt all was right with the world again–despite, at that moment, being hooked up to a breast pump.

Stealing a stranger’s sentiment

April 12, 2011

We welcomed a son into our family on March 30. We are so blessed and thankful for his health and his very being! I see God in this little boy at every turn it seems.

Prior to giving birth to the little guy, I had a conversation with my sister, herself a mom of three, about how I could ever love another child like I do my two-year-old daughter. I just couldn’t comprehend being able to have that much love for another child. She assured me that I would.

As per usual, she was most certainly right. And for the past 13 days, I’ve been thinking about how I could convey this feeling of love for my now two children. It came to me today in the words of a woman by the name of Heather Lende, a stranger to me but someone who shared her story in the May issue of Woman’s Day magazine that arrived in the mail earlier today. The issue is devoted to moms in this, the lead-up to Mother’s Day. At three points while reading through the issue and pumping breast milk into freezer bags, I was brought to tears. Seems the post-pregnancy hormones are still very much circulating through my body (as if I needed more evidence–thank you chronic night sweats).

Ms. Lende is the mother of five, four biological children and one daughter she adopted from Bulgaria 11 years ago. In the article, she talks about how when each of her babies was placed in her arms, she had a similar overwhelming sense of love and responsibility for this new being. She experienced those same feelings when a nine-year-old Bulgarian gypsy became her daughter through the miracle of adoption. Ms. Lende writes, “There is no occupancy limit on a mother’s heart. It expands with each child, whether you gave birth to that child or not–you just add another room.”

I loved it–particularly the “no occupancy limit” bit. Another room has indeed been added to my heart. It’s baby Brendan’s. Love you with all my “no-occupancy-limit” heart little boy. Welcome to our world!

What I know for sure…round 2

March 8, 2011

I’m about four weeks shy of my due date with my second child, and we’ve slowly but surely been pulling the nursery together for his arrival. Last night I went into his room to see what final details needed to be put in order before his debut. My heart grew a little heavy when I opened his closet door to see a solitary item of clothing hanging—a hand-me-down bathrobe from his sister. When I think back to this time before my daughter was born, I can recall this very closet overflowing with clothes—new clothes in all sizes and for all occasions.

Don’t get me wrong—I have stocked up on some boy onesies that are neatly folded away in his dresser drawers. But comparatively, my son is starting out with way less in the clothing department than my daughter did. I guess that’s just how it goes.

I’m hoping though that what I lack in attire for my baby boy I more than make up for in motherly experience having done this child birth thing once already. For any of you who’ve read my blog from its early days, you may recall a post I wrote on “what I know for sure,” which is also the title of Oprah’s column on the last page of each issue of her magazine. At that time in 2009, I was writing what I knew for sure about pregnancy up to that point. Today, I write what I know for sure about parenting now two years in.

What I know for sure…

  • The sleep deprivation of having a newborn is like nothing you’ve ever experienced before, but it too will pass.
  • No matter what advice veteran working moms send your way, it’s extraordinarily difficult to go back to work leaving your (in my case) 12-week-old baby in the care of another.
  • No matter what advice veteran stay-at-home moms send your way, going back to work (however it is that you choose to do so) is beneficial to you, your spouse and your child in myriad ways (and not solely financial).
  • There’s nothing like having your own mom there to help during your first days home from the hospital (thank you MK)!
  • The famous quote by Elizabeth Stone couldn’t be more dead on: “Having a child is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”
  • The words “I love you” have never held more meaning than when said out of the blue by a curly-headed toddler giving your leg a giant bear hug.
  • Breastfeeding is hard.  Breastfeeding is rewarding. A lot of people have very strong opinions on the topic. Listen to their opinions and those of others you respect. But ultimately, make the decision that is best for you and your child.
  • The best is yet to come!

A great business prospect…for someone

January 14, 2011

During my first pregnancy, my sister got me a book called “Hot Mama.” It’s a guide on “how to have a babe and be a babe.” I’m thinking I need to thumb through this right about now at 28 weeks pregnant and seemingly unable to keep food out of my mouth. Did I really need to eat a vending machine bear claw yesterday? No. Did every fiber of my being crave it and thoroughly savor the cinnamon laced dough topped with icing? Oh yeah.

But “Hot Mama” isn’t solely about diet and weight gain. It touches on such other topics as hot mama clothing–an area I need to ponder as I peruse my limited selection of maternity clothes. I am roughly 12 weeks out from delivering a baby. Do I really want to spend money on clothes that I may never wear again? But at the same time, I am so sick of the five-day rotation of clothing and my relative dearth of maternity pants, which I have adamantly refused to purchase this go around, that it seems I will have to augment the selection or continue down my path of not-so-hot mama.

Let me share with you my dilemma. I am five feet 10-and-a-half inches tall. It’s challenging enough in a non-pregnant state to find fashionable clothes that fit my goonish frame. I can think of at least three bridesmaid dresses I’ve purchased over the years and on which I’ve had to spend at least an extra $30 more than the other attendants simply because extra fabric was needed to accommodate my longer than average body. I actually refuse to shop from stores that charge more for their tall sizes. There’s absolutely nothing I can do about my oversized body people!

But I digress. Imagine now being visibly pregnant and needing to sport maternity clothes for both aesthetics and comfort. Now imagine trying to find affordable, cute, LONG maternity clothes. Not an easy task. As a result, the outcome often looks something like this:

And while there are a few outlets out there that sell maternity frocks for us giants, they’re few and far between, and the selection is not always as broad as one might like. So, I put this out there to someone looking for a new business venture in 2011. How about a fashionable line of clothing for tall pregnant women? Sure, we’re not as numerous as our smaller counterparts, but we’re desperate and willing to pay!!

If I didn’t have eight million balls of my own in the air, I’d pursue this myself. Until then, I would firmly support (aka feverishly buy from) such a business and shamelessly promote it on my blog! ;)

Discovering mom in the Christmas tree

December 17, 2010

My 21-month-old daughter idolizes her dada, and it warms my heart. But from time to time, I get to feeling a little bit like chopped liver. Especially when she pulls family photos off the shelf and points out only daddy in images that very clearly and prominently feature the both of us. No mention is ever made of the fair maiden (aka mom) on her beloved father’s arm. Even when asked, “who’s that next to daddy?” she typically has no response.

With the holiday season in full swing, we have a Christmas tree trimmed and on display in our living room. It contains many ornaments with photos of her or of her mom and dad  on their wedding day. Of course in these photos, her eyes zoom in on her hero, and she loves to pull the photo ornaments from the tree to gaze at dada and repeat his name. Honestly, it’s getting a little old.

But the other day, she came running to me with an ornament she had retrieved from a tree branch and began shouting “mama, mama” as she approached. I looked at what she was holding and couldn’t help but smile. She saw some resemblance to me in one of the “nine ladies dancing” that are part of a set of ornaments representing the “12 Days of Christmas” that were passed down to our family from my parents.

And it wasn’t a fluke. She has done it several times since then. While I don’t know that I am the lightest of foot when it comes to dancing, I quite like that she thinks I resemble this young lass who obviously keeps on top of her roots (me not so much) and is way more curvy than her real life lookalike.

You can bet this ornament will remain in the rotation for years to come!

A new gig

December 9, 2010

So, recently I wrote about being rejected. I happily write today about being accepted! The Detroit NewsMichMoms blog is allowing me to contribute posts twice a week. I’ve added a link to my Blogroll at right, and you can find my first post here.

Please feel free to send me suggestions for topics on which to write about either here or there. I know many of you who read my blog are moms yourselves. Would love to get an idea of some of the things you struggle with, cherish about being a mom, etc.

Thanks in advance!

Some of the best television out there

December 7, 2010

We watch a lot of “Sesame Street” around the Bluethmann household. Our little girl has what you might call an obsession with Elmo and his many friends. And now, after having taken in many hours of the show, I can honestly say that “Sesame Street” is pretty awesome. I am convinced that many of the new additions to my daughter’s vocabulary are a direct result of watching the show. I know it has certainly helped her to grasp the concept of counting and to learn her ABC’s.

Since my husband and I typically watch it with her, we both have our favorite and not-so-favorite characters (my husband likens Baby Bear’s baby talk to nails on a chalkboard), skits (I always get a kick out of the Tall Tall Texan) and songs. But without a doubt my favorite “Sesame Street” moments are when famous celebrities make an appearance. Often they perform a custom rendition of one of their hits like this gem that follows from Jason Mraz.

I am also particularly fond of this guest appearance by Norah Jones performing a twist on her hit “Don’t Know Why” about being stood up by–you guessed it–the letter Y.

Though I am careful not to let my daughter watch too much tv, I am OK with letting her hang with Oscar, Grover, Ernie and Elmo. They’re actually pretty cool cats.


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