Friday, December 20, 2013

Time to Fall Apart

WARNING: This is a less than uplifting post, but I do have to get this out there. To be honest it has been difficult to get into the Christmas spirit... but hey, in some cases misery loves company so, without more ado here it goes:

If you'll excuse me; I need a minute, a day a week rather to fall apart. Nothing to worry about. I'm a big girl and I can clean up after myself. Somehow I will pickup the messy broken pieces, the unanswered questions, the untouched nursery (going on two years almost) and I will find some meaning when you can't make sense of things like I usually do. But not today, not tonight. Today I NEED. I MUST rather, Fall apart.

Today, I refuse to be inspirational and to do angel talk. Tonight I won't cling to my bruised faith. Tonight is a matter of grace. I'm taking this time to refuse to get better and move on; because you say so, because you hope so, because you have prayed that I do. I will move on eventually if there's such a thing; but please not today, not tonight. I move on everyday that I manage to get out of bed, when I breathe without pain in my chest, when I knit, when I work, when I go to baby showers and truly rejoice for a new life, when I attempt to cook, to clean, to make love... when I catch myself laughing; guilty of a carefree mood, happy even. I move on when I pray, when I worship, when I write. With black ink. But not today, not tonight.

It is time to fall apart because I miss you Zach, because all this sucks, because so many prayed for your healing, because your healing meant the ultimate price:  a lifetime without you. Because no matter how much good I do, how much I knit, how much I work, nothing will bring you back. It sucks because it's final, because you won't get fat or married, you won't get your heart broken, you won't get pimples and you won't rob a bank or become president. There are not do overs or second chances, just hope and faith that one day I'll see you again.

Tonight, I will unapologetically think about you and I will scream your name until the world turns blue in the face: Zachary! Zachary! My Zachary.

When it's all done, I will take a shower, look at my stretch marks and carry on with this whole concept of living for two. This too shall pass and I will clean up, eventually, when I get to it.  Because I clean up after myself. Because I'm a big girl, because I'm a mom, because that's what mom's do.

Some days I just miss you so very much...

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Time to say Thank You

Finally November! I was sick of this ungodly Texas heat! and I like to believe that I wasn't  the only one. It's time to sip some coffee, to read a good book, to enjoy this perfect weather while it lasts... the laundry can wait, hubby can make himself a sandwich and the cobwebs are not going to go anywhere if don't clean them today. I pray that you find time too in your busy schedule to be alone and take a long bath uninterrupted, I hope that you even go all out and paint your toe nails, I hope that you find time to be with God and really talk to him, and if all else fails, I pray that you find a window in your crazy schedule to just be... to focus on the important instead of the urgent, I hope that you cancel an appointment or two, I wish you a day of doing nothing, I hope that you get to say NO to something, sometime and I mainly hope that you find a true honest reason to say... Thank you.

In a world where no matter how perfect things can be, I will always find something, someone rather missing; so I had to think long and hard about a reason to be grateful for and I found it:You my friend are what I'm truly and honestly grateful for.

Thank you for being there, for not forgetting
for seeing me and also seeing a part of my son
thank you for whispering and remember his name
thank you for acknowledging when I seem better,
thank you for listening when I don't.

Thank you for inviting me to your baby showers,
for giving me the choice to go or not
and understand it either way
I know this can be awkward at best,
but you still let me share your joy with you,
and that really means a lot.

Thank you for not pretending that my boy didn't happen,
for liking his pictures 1, 5, 10, 20 times
even though is the same bunch of pictures...
in the end is all I have. Thank you for remembering Zach with me

Thank you for the lunches that you brought us to the NICU,
for the fried chicken in my front porch, for the paper plates
that lasted us for months when I was too down and too blue
to do anything.

Thank you for your tears when you were at a loss for words.
What could you possibly say anyway?
thank you for the lady that you sent  to clean our house,
for the beautiful garden that still grows,
and for loving your kiddos even more because as you can tell,
our children do not truly belong to us,
they are "borrowed".

Thank you for coming to our lives, and mostly
thank you for staying and riding along.

Have a wonderful lazy month
and a gluttony filled Thanksgiving
hopefully with a meal that you don't have to cook.


Thank you for making  my life worth living:
A life filled with love and acceptance,
this world is a wonderful place, I hope you
enjoy it as much as I did.
My parents are very grateful.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Time for a $100 Giveaway!

As I mentioned on my previous post, I went on a shopping spree and I did some damage, more than what I should have done. I have a serious issue with shoes, more like an obsession. With all the things going over the last couple of years, this obsession went to a dusty corner in my brain, but now it came back in full force. This shoe issue got so bad that I became a Premier Member of "Designer Shoe Warehouse", so now there's no light at the end of the tunnel. This thing got so out of control that I even got a Boutique Box full of goodies and things that everyone craves or should crave.

A box full of awesomeness!

I want to pass the joy and the healing along to Special Needs Moms or Angel's moms. It is indeed a nice box that I hope and pray that it lightens someone's day when things seem just dark. This giveaway is for Special Needs, Angel's Moms, Preemie and NICU and PICU moms and it has an approximate retail value of $100, this is the description of the box (per DSW)

1. CK MAJORLY AWESOME MASCARA: Pick lenght or volume with this flake-free, smudge proof CK one mascara. Just twist the cap and customize your look!
2.GET GLOWING BRONZER: Look like you just stepped off a plane from Barbados (not NICU or PICU) with this gorgeous face bronzer from LORAC.
3.AHH-MAZING HAND CREAM: A life-changing hand cream exists. It's by L'occitane en Provence, and you will own it!
4.NEED RIGHT NOW GLOSS: Wanna hear, "Hey hot stuff!" more times than you can count? Put on this ULTA lip gloss. You're welcome.
5.THE COOL GIRL SCARF: What outfit wouldn't you new chic infinity scarf go with? It makes everything and anything so much better!
6. DO NOT DISTURB ME CANDLE: Take off the top, light it up and get your relaxation on. And how about that scent? Paddywax, you are incredible!

Now what do you have to do to win this awesome box?
Simple: If you are a Special Needs Mom, Preemie or Nicu mom or an Angel's mom, follow the blog and live a comment about you and your child, your opinion, anything really!, you can leave a comment on Facebook too, that counts.

I will choose a winner Friday, September 20th and I will contact the winner to arrange the delivery.

Have fun!

Disclosure: I'm not making a dime from advertising the box or the contents or the brands, I have not tried the products either so I'm not endorsing anything. This is just with the intent to pass some joy around. I will pay for the shipping if needed, so everything is %100 free as in ZERO 0 dollars.

Time for Self-image After Baby (When there's no baby)

Sometimes, when I devote myself to the art of doing nothing or "Dolce fare niente", (you have full permission to throw me a tomato if you don't ever have that, I understand.) what starts as a pinning session, inevitably ends up with watching Zachary's pictures and videos over and over and over again with some tears included. It will never get old. I always notice something different. Sometimes I see how much progress he made after his surgery, how cute he looked when he started to gain weight, and how he would  react to David's voice... lately though I started to notice something else: How ancient, depressed, overwhelmed and scared I looked. I supposed that this is somewhat normal, but even a year after his death, I couldn't help but noticing how my demeanor just seemed so gloom and doomed all around. 

I felt ancient, if there was a time where I had low self esteem it was when Zach was born. A part of me felt like a failure because I was unable to "make" a healthy boy. I felt that I betrayed my son and my husband, I felt ugly and with not much right to even try to look better. I lost the pregnancy weight fairly quickly not because I tried, but because of the stress and depression. Your body changes after a baby (duh?). You may not like your body after the baby, the stretchmarks, the love handles that don't go away, that darn crooked c-section scar... but you may stare at your bundle of joy and probably believe that it was all worth it. That's what moms do. They get up an move and even want to be and stay healthy for their children, they get back on track, or they embrace their new package as it comes. But how exactly do you do any of that when there's no baby? or when the care of your child is so complex that sleeping or taking a shower is a luxury?  

I still don't know the answer to that, and yes inside I may have become ancient, but I decided that I don't necessarily have to look the part. I recently changed my haircut and my hair color, also got rid of the last pieces of maternity clothing and nursing bras (yes, I was still wearing that... more times than what I care to admit) I got rid of the gray, black and sad grieving wardrobe  as I continue to elaborate on the fact that the amount of guilt or self inflicted pain is not proportional to the love that I have for my son. 

This is and will be a lifetime work in progress, but that's OK. It's OK to try to look good again. It's OK to take care of me again, or to think at least that even if a day is pretty crappy, my hair looks fab. Who knows I may even go all out and even work out and do something healthy like eating right and cutting down on the Diet Coke. But let's don't get too carried away for now, shall we?

Zach as a one day old. His face was bruised and very swollen,
his skull looked "abnormal", yes we were told that.
His feet were completely clubbed.  
Zach at two months old. The swelling long gone,
he became chunky,
with the cheeks that we fell in love with,
the position of his feet was getting better,
my boy fighting like a champ. 
Me looking like crap. It's almost as if Zach
was encouraging me instead of being the other way around... 
Picture taken at our last trip to Austin. I feel more at peace,
and even with the pain I can feel happiness.

Time to Catch Up

Hello Stranger!

I've been away from the blog for a while; actually I've been away of pretty much everything Zach related (face to face meetings, keeping up with his garden, going to the cemetery, knitting hats for preemies, crying in his nursery... etc.) Who would have thought? grieving is hard work!

The reason behind it is not that I'm completely over it, as I've said many times I will never be; but with my new job I have been really busy adapting and playing catch up in a completely new environment behind bars and full of testosterone. It has been extremely healing to be in a new place surrounded by new colleagues that don't know the whole spill, it is great to be seen with new eyes,  there's no pity, and most of all I enjoy not having any expectations over the things that they should say or do because that would only spoil all this new beginning.

On the other hand, I have been struggling with what to share on the blog and whatnot, maybe for safety reasons, maybe just plain paranoia. I also don't want the blog to be about my adventures and misadventures of teaching behind bars, this is still and will be Zach's blog, which has become like that good old friend that you don't have to call everyday; however that friend is there willing to listen and to catch up wherever you left off.

Besides working for a living, David and I have been working in our marriage. We are taking time to heal together and enjoy each other's company, as we try to find things to talk about other than work, bills and Zach... it hasn't been easy; but we are working on it. We even took a quick trip to Austin, just like we used to do, and to top it all since his awesomeness tops his killer looks, he got me a quick ticket for a speedy getaway to Washington D.C. to visit my sister.

This is basically it in a nutshell, I will expand on this things with other posts, otherwise this post will never end. Please stick around. Is good to be back!

Boat ride on the Potomac river. 

Walking around Old Town.

Nice quality time with my niece. 

David and I catching up in Austin.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Time to Teach From the Place that I Know

Today was my last day at my job. Even though I was desperate ready for a chance to move on, it was bitter sweet to leave yet another thing that connected me to my boy. It was to leave behind a place where Zach and I spend some good time together, while he was in my belly kicking his way around. It was leaving behind a place where I had to put on my poker face day in and day out throughout the pregnancy despite the news about his health; in order to keep my sanity and do the job. It was coming back from maternity leave with no baby, and being humbled and grateful with everyone's support and understanding way beyond their call of duty. It was also getting back into the swing of things and proving at least to myself that I'm stronger than what I gave myself credit for.  

After the day that changed my life, I swore to live my life differently: I swore to live for two, to face my fears, to keep my faith strong and to tell everyone that where there is life, there is hope and purpose... sadly, this wild dreams started to fade away with the whole thing of working for a living at my "normal" job. Routine, normalcy, lazy sundays...who would have thought? what I craved so much when my world was upside down, is the very thing that lately has been sucking the life out of me, mainly because deep inside, I refuse to live a "normal" life, to go back to the same old routine as if nothing happened, to simply go out and about because  is time to move on, because the scare wore off, or because we seem to be OK now. The thing is... ZACH happened, and a corner of my heart knows that full well; the clock points at a 3:11, 4:11 or something 11, day in and day out, as this little angel is reminding me that I had promised more... 

 I've been praying for some good time for a change, a career change specifically.. a new job. A job where I could help other people, a job that would allow me to heal while I help others to do the same, a job that would stretch me and challenge me, a job that will make me, FORCE ME to talk about God and bring my faith to the table, a job that will take me back to that place where I could see God at work again. 

Somehow I wanted to get back into the whole madness of teaching; but I struggled to put all the pieces together: I loved teaching elementary and working around children, but being around kids all day on daily basis is something still pretty raw and emotional for me, just a short video at the church about summer VBS brings an ugly bugger filled cry and another broken dream that my poor hubby tries so very hard to contain with hopefully enough tissues. On the other hand, being able to relate to a parent that is concerned because their child cannot read well, or multiply or what have you is almost impossible for me at this point. My most likely answer: You do realize that your child blinks, swallows and breathes on it's own, isn't that just amazing? Is nothing against parents having the "normal" parenting experience, is just a sign for me that God is sending me to a different path, He is sending me to teach from a place that I know, and He is sending me to a completely unknown place, uncharted territory almost. 

I will be teaching from the place in my heart that I know best: from the brokenness, from the ashes, from having to rebuild your expectations, your dreams, your life and your whole self from scratch. I will be teaching life skills at a correctional facility for men that will soon be released and back into the society. My job will be to equip them with skills and tools necessary to rebuild their life. I am humbled to have my husband's understanding and support, and I am excited and convinced that God heard my prayer and gave me the job that matches exactly where I am spiritually and emotionally. I am also well aware that without my boy I would have never even dared to take that chance, but I take more chances now, because I'm living for two. 

We are closing one chapter Zach, and starting a new one: We did it!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Time for "The NICU Care Project"

Along with some amazing ladies we found that there is healing in giving, there's hope when you reach out, and joy in knowing that you are making an easier path for others who share the less traveled road.  It was a blast and an honor to spend quality time with this amazing ladies, and mostly to reach out to other NICU families.

Thank you my Zachary Owen for making all this happen.You opened our eyes and opened a world that we didn't even know that it existed, you came to shatter our self-centered world and you showed us that there's more in each soul than meets the eye. I love you son, and miss you like crazy, and I know deep in my heart that you and all your buddy angel friends were watching.

We love you and miss you always sweet boy,

First Ever Nicu Care Project,
Thank you very much to all the ladies that helped
with their time, donations and OCD skills. 

It was a great excuse to clean the house (Colombian style),
here is the table before the madness. 

Table with all the madness: We were thrilled and
also overwhelmed with everyone's generosity. 
Sharon, Jo, Sara, Mica, Stephanie, Kim and Maria came to the rescue,
Thank God! because I honestly didn't know where to start...

Busy ladies at work ( They didn't even touch the food)
so quiet and focused...

OK, fair enough you all can have a break...

So grateful for all the new and lasting friendships that my
boy brought to my life!

We delivered 16 NICU care packages, and about 20 sets
of preemie and micropreemie hats and onesies. 
Delivering our packages! Remember JO?
you can read about her here:angels along the way

The Hospital's Chaplain, sweet Gwynneth, who
helped us tremendously during our NICU stay, it was
wonderful to see her again!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

First Angelversary: The day that changed my life

I'm grateful that your short silver thread crossed mine.
I love you son.
According to the ancient Greeks, the three “Faiths” or goddesses control the silver and delicate thread
of our lives. They get to decide when we will be born, how long we will live and when to cut that delicate thread, or in more plain words:  When we will die.  According to me; there is another thin and delicate thread in life that separates people in two groups: the ones who have experienced intense loss or pain, and the innocent and carefree that haven’t.

On the day that changed my life, I stared at my reflection in the mirror acknowledging the new gray hairs, the wrinkles and the under eye bags that were not there two months ago. I was also able to see Zach’s oxygen levels on his monitor; and I also had to give him credit for how far he had come on his battle for every breath since birth.  I decided that maybe some make up would help me cover up the exhaustion, the lack of control and the overwhelming feeling of having to become an expert, overnight in everything that was Zach related. I also convinced myself that SOMEHOW we were going to pull this off.

I was unable to get a magic wand to make my baby healthy: To heal his muscle weakness, to grant him a blink and a swallowing reflex, to give him facial expression so he could cry or smile… at least once. I was tired of praying and unable to “fix him”. But I was able to care for him, accept him and give him the best possible life: A life filled with love.  I swore to be strong for him, to catch up with the laundry, the housework and the life that was placed on hold after 50 days in the NICU. This was our new normal now, which included: a chunky angel, a g-tube, continuous oxygen and a monitor. (a.k.a.  pulse oximeter )

I was determined to make the best of it, when suddenly his monitor beeped just as it did so many times in the NICU: His faced turned red, then blue and then his heart rate and oxygen levels went up and down; just like the emotional rollercoaster that started 22 weeks into the pregnancy, when we were told that there were problems. The monitor stopped beeping, and he was stable again. As I held him, I felt his breath battling uncertainty on my chest. A battle that became all too familiar after each genetic, blood or metabolic test that would come back “normal”; or inconclusive at best. During the pregnancy, we were told that our best case scenario would be an isolated orthopedic problem. The worst case… would be that Zach’s fixed wrists and clubbed feet were a symptom of a larger neuromuscular condition. Needles to say…We’ve never prayed harder for an orthopedic problem.  

It was time for a diaper change, when another beeping of his monitor brought back that blue shade and the memories of his birth: a silent room that confirmed our worst fears: It was the worst case scenario. Zach was put immediately on life support and rushed to the NICU.  My husband‘s fear showed all over his face as he described to me all of our baby’s “problems”, before I was even able to see him. My heart broke with the shattered dreams of soccer and baseball games… with the resounding question that still haunts me: - Why? His numbers went back to normal and with that, the reassurance that he was given to us for a reason, fearfully and wonderfully made, he fought to come home to us, he was still our miracle worth celebrating.

The rest of the day was triathlon of diapers, formula and more monitor beeps and blue shades, lasting each one a small eternity, leaving me unable to think or to even grasp what was really going on.  Last thing I know, we were running into the ER screaming: -He is not breathing! And in seconds a myriad of doctors and nurses were rushing in to assist our boy. As the all too familiar ventilator approached us again, our last meeting with the doctors hit my brain like a bullet: Without a diagnosis there was basically no hope, they feared that his brain was not sending the basic signals to perform basic life functions, his muscle weakness wasn’t helping him gain strength to keep up with his growing body, and they feared that there would be at some point, a breaking point. We were given the option to decide when to take our baby home, and we discussed. Gulp. Do not resuscitate scenarios.

Suddenly there I was, in a room full of doctors and nurses, explaining Zach’s fat medical record in less than a minute with terms that not long ago were completely foreign to me; saying words that no mother should ever be in a position to say out-loud, crying and facing our most feared truth: It was time to let go. Zachary was catatonic at that point and we were given a room to have privacy. The next morning we were meeting with more doctors; to set up his now official hospice home care. With all that madness I had forgotten his medicines and feeding pump at home, so I rushed back to get them as my husband stayed with our boy.

Crap! It was 8:05 and I was late for his medicines and eight o’clock feeding. A nurse stopped me as she saw me running through the hallway, like a madwoman: -Can I help you?

-I came to see my son, He is in room 240.

She quietly moved aside and pointed the way.

When I came into the room, my husband David was holding Zachary in the recliner and said the words that will continue to echo in my heart until I die:
-Your son is face to face with Jesus. He passed at 7:32.

My knees hit the floor with Zach pressed once more against my chest. Our reflection on the glass window was just too painful to watch: His little body curled up with whatever was left of me, as I screamed at the top of my lungs: MY BABY!

He was two months and two days old. In a matter of seconds his skin became soft, and he felt so… cold.

That day life kicked me out of the modern mom debates that my old innocent and carefree person wanted to join so bad: Breastfeed or formula? Work or stay at home? Spank or discipline with love? Instead I was thrown into a set of decisions that no mother should ever make.  Instead of swearing that I would feed my baby  just organic food… there I was, swearing that I would never forget him and choosing over an open or closed 3 feet long casket.

Zach painfully pointed to our self-centered world and shattered it to pieces, he showed me that every breath is worth celebrating, and that contentment consists of a warm bath followed by a massage and Mozart’s music. He showed me that not doing can be just as powerful as doing, as friends, family and total strangers were brought together to support, encourage and help. He showed us that sometimes, we just have to let go and accept that no matter how hard we try, we can’t control it all.

That day, David and I became once more childless, this time not by choice. The Fates decided to cut that fragile silver thread that was my son’s life. As short as it was, it was enough to teach us unconditional, almost visceral and irrational love. Love with everything that it entitles: Accepting, celebrating, speaking up and letting go. Love that brought me down to my knees , that served me a huge slice of humble pie; love that made pray sometimes in anger, sometimes in worship, sometimes with my face on the ground begging for a blink or a breath. There is just no going back after that. No matter where life takes me now, I will never forget this day: The day that I joined the ones that know deep loss and deep pain… hopefully I will also join the ones that are turned into better people because of it.

Sometimes I miss my old care free and innocent self; but I miss my son even more.

Now the only thing left to do is celebrate his life. After all, his tiny delicate silver thread crossed mine, bringing a hard earned new level of appreciation for all the miracles that my old self probably took for granted: eyes that blink, wrists that bend, legs that kick… our fragile human nature so whole and so broken at the same time.

These days I look at myself in the mirror, still trying to cover the same flaws that are part of this new self that now wants to reach out. As I put on my mascara and try not to cry, my questions big and small fade into acceptance. Memories become more meaningful and less painful. But I still remain forever changed. I crossed my imaginary line and knew deep loss… personally. I became the mother that naturally any mother fears to become. I also became a different kind of mom: Zach’s mom. An angel’s mom. But still… a mom.

What an imprint you left in my heart sweet Zachary.
Miss you always.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Time to Rejoice for Max's first year

This picture of me and my sister Olgui brings a lot of emotions, also sweet memories of both of us being pregnant, and the great comfort that I felt when she just took off from DC to Texas to just be there, because I was just about to loose my marbles. We all know that my sister went to Italy and I went to Holland, in different but both beautiful journeys. 

One year later, Max is my beautiful nephew, born just about a month after Zachary. We finally met him "in person" last Christmas during our trip to Washington D.C., He is all smiles and has brought a lot of comfort for all our family, I told him in secret that my boy was always going to watch over him, I know that their bond is stronger than what I can explain. He makes me smile, and I rejoice with my sister that he is here with us, happy, growing and smiling away.

This video is in your honor dear Max, to thank you for all the smiles that you have given us, and all the smiles that are yet to come, 

We love you Maxito!, Happy first year!

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Time To Rejoice With Those Who Rejoice

"Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn"
Romans 12:15

If you saw my Facebook news feed, you would find several journeys: dear friends of mine having perfectly healthy babies (almost daily, no exaggeration), babies about Zach's age hitting milestones left and right and doing a great job of becoming beautiful toddlers, fellow grieving moms sharing their ups and downs, and many warrior special needs moms and dads sharing their daily battles and accomplishments. In matter of seconds I get a minuscule glimpse of what God's news feed may look like...

Rejoicing for those who rejoice is a daily challenge, until now stored in a secret corner of my heart. A corner carefully placed between my broken dreams and not knowings, a corner that is mostly relieved with the news of a healthy new baby, mainly because their parents have been spared from the less traveled road. Even though I am truly happy, my heart still aches at the same time, finding it much easier to mourn with those who mourn because that's a feeling that I know all too well, day in and day out. I may get out of bed, work, cook,clean, and go out and about; all this while grieving. Pretty EXHAUSTING, so much that sometimes just loading the dish washer feels just like running a marathon. 

This constant sadness that I manage to cover most of the times with some make up and a poker face is still there, this pain is now a constant companion, and like my shadow; it will only go away when I see my Zachary again. But not all is gloom and doom. Grieving is a process, a life long one, but a process nevertheless, and with that comes growth and learning. This journey comes with good, bad and sometimes just plain awful days, but it's also intended to shape us into God's likeness. 

I'm not going to lie, I have felt pangs of jealousy and "Why me?" moments left and right, is a battle that I fight almost daily, but I discovered a new weapon: The comparathon and self pity is only being disrespectful of Zachary; is denying his worth, his beauty, his battles for every breath and the accomplishments of his short life. As painful as his absence may be, he is still my miracle child worth celebrating. He is still a miracle of God.

Truly rejoicing with those who rejoice is not something that I do now out of pure goodness of my heart, it has been a skill that I've had to re learn, it has been a conscious effort to stop the pity party, to honor my son for the true blessing that he continues to be, is refusing to go to the threshold of the mind that points to the things that are lacking and ignores all the things that we must be grateful for. Is making a constant decision to refuse to be disrespectful of  my son, is being aware that I grief while I rejoice for others because I miss my him dearly, not because I wish that he would've been "different".

I'm learning to embrace other's joys and sorrows under a new light, under the belief that God delights when things start falling into place according to his plan, even when in our eyes things are falling apart. I rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn because I truly believe that God knows each one of us personally, He gave us his son Jesus, the One who knows and shared our human experience, the One that is always there, in the good, the bad and the ugly, the One that one day will show us his nail scarred wrists and smiling to us will whisper: -I Know. 

"Prince of Peace" by Akiane Kramaik, child prodigy .
Made this piece at 8 years old. Image from

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Time for a Letter

One of the suggestions of one of the parents was a personalized letter. To be honest, I thought that it was a wonderful idea, but I was somewhat intimidated. I mean, how do you put all this emotions into words, how you don't sound preachy or fatalistic, or even hurt their feelings by making assumptions when you don't even know them personally? We do share a bond though, which is having your child fighting a good fight in NICU, and I can honestly tell that this is an experience that changes people lives... for good. 

I left that bond took over, and this is how the letter turned out, feel free to use it, and other suggestions are more than welcomed:

Dear family:

Congratulations for your beautiful baby. We may not know each other personally, but two years ago our lives changed when we met our boy Zachary, who was in the NICU for 50 days.
We understand that this can be a very emotional, overwhelming and sometimes exhausting experience; where joy and hope comes… in baby steps. We just want to let you know that God knows your son or daughter personally, and has a very specific plan for his or her life. Jesus will walk alongside with all of you every step of the way, giving you strength, patience and a dose of unconditional love that you never dreamed possible.
Our prayer is that with this basket you feel in some way God’s love, provision and hope. We pray that this gift is useful, and that makes your stay in the NICU, if not “easier”, at least more comfortable. We also hope that you find the list of community and internet resources useful, and that you count on us if you need a listening ear, a shoulder to lean on, or someone to pray for you.
In Christ and with much love, 

The Harmonsons

As usual, thank you for reading, thank you for caring.

Time for a Care Package List

This is an extra post, just in case that someone in similar shoes feels lead to complete a package for another family. To get some ideas on what to include, I asked the experts at, parents that have been there and done that, and the response was overwhelming. I pray that we are able to get more packages like this in the near future, and we are humbled and honored that our first package found the perfect family for it. 

This is a suggestion on which items you can include, if God leads you to do the same thing. Please don't feel like you have to add them all; this is just a guide. 

Items Included:

Blanket for parents
Swaddle blanket for baby
Planner with pockets for business cards
Book "The places you'll go"
Man's toiletries: shaving cream, razor, toothbrush, deodorant
Hand sanitizer
Cozy Socks
Hand Lotion
Lip Balm
Relaxing Body Wash for mom
Starbucks Gift Card
Nearby Restaurants Gift Card
List of community and online resources
Personalized Letter
Gift Basket Wrap Paper or Bag

Other items that were suggested by Amanda, who is a dear friend and also as she puts it an earthly momma to a heavenly baby (see her story here):

bible, journal, disposable camera, matching baby and mom bracelet, hand and feet molds, small unisex crochet blanket and hat.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Time for a Happy Birthday

Dear Zach:

I feel that just a couple of days ago, I was getting my bag ready and heading to the hospital to get induced... and here we are hitting this milestone...ONE YEAR. Ready or not, here it comes. Were we ready to meet you a year ago? Not at all. But it all came, and we learned to eat elephants one bite at a time.

I took a week off from work just to have time to celebrate you; believe or not, being the mom of an angel is hard work. There is no "manual" or tradition for this kind of milestone, so as usual we are starting from scratch. I browsed online for ideas from mommies like me. The best advise? Whatever you decide, don't "Do Nothing" at all, that's the hardest thing to do.

We took that advice and got busy: Went to visit you, changed your flowers, and our two favorites: We brought cupcakes for the NICU staff  that took care of you; and we also decided to put together a "Care Package" for a family walking a similar road. It was nice to stay busy preparing it all, brainstorming, making lists and doing all the shopping. It also brought some bizarre conversations, that now I just laugh them off:

Me at a posh cupcake place: Hi, I wanted to order some cupcakes. It's for my boy's birthday.

Cupcake lady: How neat. Do you have a theme?

Me: (Wondering if I should tell the whole spill or not) Oh...oh... mm... angels?

Oh well, after choosing a star topper for all your cupcakes, we put the care package together. I will include the list on another post just in case that anyone out there wants to do the same. It was surreal to say the least to be back in the NICU, to hear the all too familiar monitors, to know that at some point you were there, just a few steps away from us. It was wonderful to see some of the nurses that took care of you again, and to know that they still remember you. Today we were covered in prayer, flowers, cake and balloons at our doorstep from dear friends, early in the morning. You brought really great people to our lives. For that we are extremely grateful.

I am going to bed with a smile, knowing that you are not forgotten, but most of all, knowing that our care package went to the right family who just had their boy two days ago and who lives far away from the hospital. They are still trying to figure out all the logistics, probably with all the emotions still raw. I know that our package will in some way bring them comfort, and we have the certainty in our hearts that it couldn't have gone to better hands. That was an answered prayer, we do serve one amazing God!

Thanks to you boy, we are aware of this type of needs and your short life keeps reaching others. Even though we miss you dearly, it was after all, a Happy Birthday.

Happy Birthday Sweet Zachary Owen.
"Mi pulga, Mi pumpkincito"

NICU Package completed, praying for more to come!

We received flowers, muffins and a balloon
at our doorstep from very sweet friends of ours.

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