Monday, November 21, 2011

Two Little Monkeys

Good friends are sometimes hard to come by, but when you find one, you know that they will always have your back.  Last year at Christmas Charlotte made a new friend (courtesy of her Aunt Angie) that saw her through a lot of good times and a few tough stretches as well.  

Meet RedButt 
(So lovingly and creatively named for her precious little red behind!)


 Charlotte loved RedButt from the get-go.  I mean, what's not to love about a silly pink monkey with crazy long arms and legs, big silly ears and a big ol' smile on its face?  RedButt would dance and sing and always knew how to make our Charlotte smile!  They spent lots of hours playing together and every night RedButt would sit on the ledge of Charlotte's crib and watch over her while she dreamed.

And while I knew that our little monkey friend was quite the entertainer, I didn't realize how good of a snuggle buddy she was until Charlotte's surgery in January.  She did her best to keep our little lady feeling safe during the for long days/nights spent in a hospital bed. 

And she came in surprisingly handy when it came to keeping Charlotte's breathing tube propped out of the way, and at giving her arms a soft (and familiar) place to rest.

Here our monkeys are just minutes after that pesky old tube was removed.  RedButt never left her side...not for a minute.  Now thats a good friend!

It was never easy to see our little girl after surgery...not then...not now...but oddly enough, every time I look at these pictures I get a smile on my face.  At first glance I see my poor little baby hooked up to countless wires and tubes and covered in bandages/tape, but when I look past all of that, I see my perfect little girl and her bestest monkey pal.  It was a strange feeling of "normal" during a time that is anything but that.

The holidays are sneaking in and I find myself getting more and more emotional...anxious...sad...about the thought of "celebrating" in Charlotte's absence.  I don't feel like decorating.  I don't feel like Christmas shopping.  I don't feel like doing much of anything.  Yet at the same time, I know that I can't just sit here and mope or I will drive myself crazy. 

So now what?  What can I do to keep my mind occupied?

Make monkeys.

Yup, you heard me.  I'm going to make more RedButts!  

I've been in contact with the Fox River Mills sock company (the makers of the "official" sock monkey socks) and they hooked me up with a SWEET deal on their monkey socks.  Just today I came home to find a box on our doorstep filled with 40 pairs of socks (20 pink/20 brown) and there are even more to come!

I don't have a plan totally in place, but I would like the monkeys to go to heart kiddos like Charlotte...specifically those who are stuck in the hospital over the holidays. Sometimes my brain can only handle one thing at at time.  Now that the socks are here I'll work on the rest!  If anyone has any brilliant ideas, please pass them my direction.  

Now, I'm guessing you're all probably on Earth is Kristen going to make THAT MANY sock monkeys?  Well....ummm....lets just say that I'll be looking for volunteers to help out!  If you are local (either Sioux Falls or Omaha so that I can get you the socks and a pattern easily), can sew and would like to make a monkey or two, just let me know.  The more the merrier!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Goodnight Prayers

From the time she was born, Matt and I made bedtime prayers a constant fixture in Charlotte's nighttime routine.  We would pray over her each and every night before leaving the hospital (ugh, I hated leaving without her) and continued to do the same once we were home sweet home.Whether it was in times of fear and uncertainty or while snuggling in the rocking chair at home, the prayer was almost always the same...

God, please watch over little Charlotte tonight while she sleeps.  Keep her free from pain and give her the sweetest dreams.  Protect her with the help of her guardian angels and wake her tomorrow with the bright shining sun.  We pray for all other sick kiddos near and far, especially our heart friends....  May their families feel your loving arms wrapped around them and rely on your strength to get them through their days.   
Thank you for my family and for all of the blessings that You have given us today.

I still catch myself uttering this prayer as I lie in bed at night, often while lying on a tear soaked pillow.  I have no intention on stopping.  

I don't want to forget the words that Charlotte heard so many times.

I don't want to forget the quiet moments with our little girl...the moments filled with faith and hope. 

Baby girl, 

I can hardly believe that it has been 18 months since your Daddy and I first saw your perfect little face.  Its been a hard day without you, and I'm sure that you have seen my tears.  Eighteen months...what a big girl you would be.  Sigh...18 months...I miss you so much.  

Sending special birthday snuggles and kisses to my special girl on her special day.  
I love you, Bear....I LOVE YOU LOVE YOU LOVE YOU.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Unanswerable Questions

Every once in a while (okay, a lot of the while) I stop and think…

“What were we doing this time last year?”

I checked the blog archives this morning and saw that 1 year ago today I woke up in the hospital after about 2 hours of sleep. We had brought Charlotte in over night because of some crazy breathing that was later deemed to be croup (though in my heart of hearts I still believe it was a banana allergy…have you ever witnessed croup without a cough?!)  It was her first non-surgical stay in the hospital and the first time that we had been to a hospital OTHER than Childrens.  Not to mention it was the first time that mommy had to deal with doctors/nurses that didn't know Charlotte's whole heart history in detail.  In a state of frustration and sleep deprivation I may have told a doctor "Right now I know WAY more about her heart than you ever will."  Eek...sorry Dr. Who-Ever-You-Were.  I'm pretty sure that they all thought I was a crazy woman and were HAPPY to send us on our way!

Other times my thoughts drift to the harder questions…

What would we be doing right now if Charlotte were here?

What would she look like?

What milestones would she be reaching?  Would she be walking and talking? 

What sort of trouble would that little nut be getting into?

Would she be a better eater?

What would she have wanted from Santa for this year?

Would she let me rock with her at night or be a squirmy little wiggle worm, always wanting to escape a play a little while longer?

I could go on and on...

I have lots of friends/co-workers that had babies around the same time that Charlotte was born. I see their pictures and while I smile and celebrate their accomplishments…my heart breaks simultaneously. Those babies are now toddlers and are doing things that we will never get to see our little girl do.  They are growing and thriving and walking and talking.  They are huggable and squeezable and kissable.

I would be lying if I said that a part of me wasn't jealous. 
Of course I'm jealous...they have what was taken away from us.

Instead of wrangling a toddler I'm left here with all of my what ifs.
...wishing that I could just hold her one more time.
...wishing I could have watched her grow just a little bit longer.
...wishing that I could kiss her chubby little cheeks.

I cling to memories and all of the "what were we doing last year" questions.
They help me remember every detail of our time together.

I love you baby girl.  This time last year, forever and for always.