Monday, December 31, 2018

We'll Take A Cup Of Kindness Yet

As we sit here while 2018 starts to disappear, it's natural to reflect on time gone by. From the mad dash last couple weeks to the past twelve months.

In 2018 we had two living children from start to finish. We went to Disneyland twice, Michigan twice, Tahoe, and SoCal. Chris and Elizabeth both had cross-country business trips (Chris even had one international). We spent the full year (for the first time) in our house. In fact, Everett was only slightly older than Imogen is now when we moved into this house. For whatever reason, that just blows our minds.

Family Photos at History Park - San Jose, CA - December 8, 2018 - Abby Alger Photography

We spent the holidays in Michigan this year. It was a longer trip than usual - a full 10 days! We saw lots of people we love, and missed some as well. The holidays are such a tricky time for us, and this year was no different.

For the most part, we compartmentalized and tried to focus on the present. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't. Oberon's absence is felt keenly.

As each year goes by, we find ourselves with fewer complete breakdowns. But those moments that catch the breath, that make the heart drop... they keep happening. Catching a glimpse of a photograph of Oberon. Noticing one of Obie's bees. A sibling, a cousin, a friend says his name...or consciously avoids saying his name.

Visiting Santa at Christmas in the Park - San Jose, CA - December 17, 2018

Our capacity reduces too. Keeping up the reasonably happy baseline takes a lot of effort, and we feel it. While we appreciate every message large or small thinking of our boy, we simply don't have the emotional capacity to respond sometimes. There is some guilt that comes too, and that doesn't make it easier to hold our end of a conversation (or frankly, relationship).

This time of year, we take more than we can give. It feels wrong to admit, and our inner Midwestern selves tell us to just suck it up and be nicer, but there it is. If you have kindness right now, we'll take it.

Friday, November 30, 2018

How Has It Been Four Years?

Four. Oberon would have been four this year. Longer than high school, longer than a bachelor's degree, exactly the amount of time we dated when we got engaged. Somehow that seems both exactly right and totally out of step.

This weird relationship with time continues.

November has been a weird month for our family. We've had some health scares (we're fine), ER visits (promise, we're fine), infectious diseases that kept the kids out of day care (they are fine), air quality so bad we had to stay inside, work travel, and then Thanksgiving weekend, which included Oberon's birthday. This resulted in Elizabeth barely going to the office for the better part of three weeks, and Everett and Imogen being home from day care for nearly two weeks. Our routines were all out of whack leading up to Obie's Bee Day.

Regardless of what's going on with the day-to-day, Oberon's birthday will relentlessly come each year on November 24. This year was no different. We actually took two trips to Uvas Canyon - one on Thanksgiving Day and the other on Obie's Bee Day. On Thanksgiving, we hiked the Waterfall Loop Trail and visited all the off shoots to various markers and waterfalls. Everett walked most of the way himself, and delighted in finding more and more waterfalls. We haven't hiked this section of the trail by itself in a while, and it was very healing to take our time and go to so many of these special places.

   Hiking the Waterfall Loop Trail - November 22, 2018

On Obie's Bee Day, we hiked the Alec Canyon Trail up to Manzanita Point (where Oberon's memorial bench is) and on to Triple Falls (which we almost never make it to). We talked a lot more about Obie on this particular hike. Everett was amazing and walked all the way to Obie's bench and then some (3/4 of a mile uphill). He voluntarily transitioned to the carrier as we made our way to Triple Falls and was mostly in good spirits the whole time. While we snacked at Obie's bench, we sang Happy Birthday to Obie, only realizing later that this was at pretty much his exact birth time, 10:21 AM.

Enjoying a snack and a rest at Obie's bench - Obie's Bee Day 2018

Elizabeth teared up a few times on the hike, only to have Imogen claw her neck or Everett venture too close to the edge of the trail and require reminding. Balancing the living and the missing.

Hiking all the way to Triple Falls - November 24, 2018

To round out the day, Elizabeth crocheted a bee during naptime and we all made birthday cake and frosting. We read a special new "birthday book" about how hugs can help us feel better. Earlier in the week, we had made sure to read some of our baby loss and Obie-focused books. Not all of them, and not all at once, but more than usual.

Obie's Birthday Cake 2018

Bedtime came, and it seemed like we were going to make it through the day reasonably well. As Elizabeth snuggled with Everett, they talked about the day. Elizabeth thanked Everett for doing such a great job hiking to Obie's bench and for singing Happy Birthday. Evie started tearing up and whining.

Everett: I'm so sad!
Elizabeth: Oh, honey, why are you sad?
Everett: The only thing that will make me feel better is for Obie to stay with us.

Heart. Drop.

After reassurance and cuddling, and acknowledging that it is sad that Obie isn't with us, and we are all sad about that, he seemed to calm down. And then...

Everett: Mommy, in a few days I'm going to die.
Elizabeth: Why would you say that? Is it because Obie died?
Everett: Yes.
Elizabeth: Darling, Obie was very sick. He was sick when he was born. But you are not sick. We checked you out very carefully and you are not sick like Obie was.

This was followed with more reassurance, but with subtle caveats that only loss parents truly understand. At this point, we called Chris in too and had some extra snuggle time. Finding the balance of toddler boundaries and routine with supporting Everett when he needs it was a bit tricky, but we tried to find the right place.

Of course there was falling apart after the fact. And discussions spanning the days since then. Are we doing the right thing being so open with Everett at this young age? Should we try to hide some of the more intense emotions? Ultimately, we think our approach is the one that works best for our family (open, honest, frank discussion). But that does not stop the self-doubt and guilt. Everett and Imogen should have sheltered, carefree, tragedy-free childhoods. That is what we would have wished for them, but it isn't our family.

As horrible and as tragic as it all is, we would never want Everett or Imogen to think that if they died, it wouldn't impact us in a huge way. Oberon's death impacted our family so much because we love him so much and he remains a part of us. The message we would send if he was hidden away seems worse. Admitting the pain validates the love and importance of all our children.

Hiking at Uvas Canyon - November 22 and 24, 2018

We made pie too - Day After Thanksgiving Apple Pie - November 23, 2018

Monday, October 29, 2018

Imogen is ONE!

She's one! And she took her first steps today!

Happy Birthday, Imogen! (Party day - 10/27/2018)

It feels unbelievable, but the next moment it feels like it has been so many more than twelve months. Her personality is shining through an often-crinkled nose, she's shakily steadily standing on two feet unassisted, she loves music, she loves dancing to music, and she'll eat almost anything. That's our girl.

Prepping for her birthday party was fun, but also stressful. Elizabeth had a late-planned work trip that took her away the three days prior (eek!) and Chris was supporting an audit at work, so we had to really plan ahead. Thankfully, Grandma and Grandpa Fiorani came to visit and they could help us divide and conquer the to-do list!

Grandpa and Grandma Fiorani with Immy at her party - 10/27/2018

October has been an all-over-the-place kind of month. It's Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, both Elizabeth and Chris had work travel, Elizabeth's dance studio had a show, Imogen turned one, dear friends moved far away, Halloween shenanigans, and - oh yeah - we went to Disneyland.

Disney California Adventure - 10/8/2018

In a lot of ways, we're just doing our best to ride the waves right now. There is SO MUCH right in front of us, and we are trying to enjoy that.

A House Divided - 10/19/2018

In that spirit - what's been going on with our kids this month?


The birthday girl charms everyone with her crinkly smile, giggles, and two bottom teeth. She is such a bright light, and honestly such an easy baby. Although we probably should start using tot or toddler?

Immy at her first birthday party - 10/27/2018

Her birthday party, "There's No Age Like One," was Wizard of Oz themed. We had a lot of fun with a yellow brick road (spray paint chalk), the Emerald City, Munchkin Land, family costumes, themed treats, and a hot air balloon photo both set-up; we are pretty excited how everything turned out. She had fun too.

Family costumes on party day - 10/27/2018

Party set up - 10/27/2018


In the past few months, Everett's cognition has really developed. He has more independent thoughts and follows lines of reasoning much better than before. We are doing our best to support his creativity and independence, even when it tests our patience (or makes a mess).

Everett dressed up as a "robot" for a Halloween party - 10/21/2018

He is starting to get braver singing along to songs like "Ride" by ZZ Ward and "Life Is A Highway" performed by the Rascal Flatts (thought, he just informed Chris that needs to be removed from the playlist because he doesn't like it anymore).  If you recognize those as songs from the movie "Cars" - three, cheers for you.  Tonight, we overheard him singing the complete rendition of Baby Shark while drifting off to sleep in his bedroom.

Everett with Dracula Mater - 10/8/2018

Evie had a BLAST at Disneyland, and we are so happy we took him again (bonus points for taking him one last time before he needs his own ticket). We'd never been at Halloweentime, and it was quite fun (only a little spooky).


Of course, our boy is missing. He is ever present in our hearts, and Elizabeth has been more vocal about him, his loss, and our grief this month. For the fourth time, she participated in the Capture Your Grief photo sharing event (@obiemama1124 on Instagram).

Lighting candles on Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day for the Wave of Light - 10/15/2018

This project is always complicated. Do we delve back into the rawness of grief? Do we opt out because it makes that day easier? As usual, there are no right answers, just what feels more right in that moment.

Being quiet hasn't felt right yet.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

Last year, we moved. One of the big reasons we wanted to move is so that we could have easy outdoor space. With the weather cooling down and Everett getting more opinionated about what he wants to do, we are starting to really enjoy it.

Everett's favorite thing to do in the evenings is to "go for a ride around the block" and "find some friends." He'll talk to anyone who is outside - man, woman, child, dog. He will try to race, he will tell you his name and ask yours, he will explain what we are doing. It's adorable to us and hopefully not to annoying to others.

Riding - September 26, 2018

Wandering around the neighborhood is...nice. We've said hello to lots of people and are getting to know a few more of our neighbors. There are a good amount of small kids, and it's great to start introducing them so young, even before some of them have class together in elementary school. Maybe some of these kids will spend hours at our house. Maybe we'll trade off babysitting with that couple for date nights. Somehow, in the part of the day where evening starts turning to night, the future feels more real.

We can do the small talk now. That's such a crucial ability when our toddler is starting conversations with everyone. Our stomachs don't drop and we aren't fighting back tears each time. If those conversations lead to more, they'll find out our story then.

They'll find out we had another son first. We had a precious baby who we miss every day and do not hide. He made us parents. He made us a family beyond a couple. He was the first one who kicked in Elizabeth's belly, the first one we rushed to the hospital for. He was the first one we held, the first one who cried, the first one we cared for. Those experiences - crammed into thirty-some weeks of pregnancy and thirty-three days of life - they are foundational for us.

These evening strolls are such sweet moments. Sweet moments we dreamed of, then were torn away and felt impossible, yet here they are. Not in the way we ever imagined or hoped for, but here.

Imogen - September 2, 2018

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Summer Bugs

How can summer be nearly over? This one flew by.

Goofing around - July 28, 2018

August is usually a busy month for us, and 2018 was no exception. Family vacation in Tahoe, birthdays, play dates, Grandma visit, bought a van, took three trips to San Francisco (twice with the beasties), and the little ladybug officially became mobile.

Happy Birthday, Daddy! - August 8, 2018

Hitting milestones with Imogen is a ton of fun, and it reminds us of when Everett went through the same stages. We reminisce and think about what's coming up around the corner (using a spoon, cruising, walking, talking). As Immy grows, her personality comes out more and more. She loves Evie - especially when he interacts with her or sings. She loves reading, singing, and especially chewing on everything she can get her hands on. While we didn't have to worry much with Evie and putting things in his mouth, we will not get that free pass with Immy.

If she stops eating hats, I'll eat my hat! - August 25, 2018

Everett had a blast hanging out with his cousins for a long weekend in Lake Tahoe. Oh yeah, and he can swim and dive under water now. His language is hilarious - often telling us, "that's not correct!", "you made a mistake!", or "sometimes you have to share." He can do his ABCs forwards and backwards (which Chris still struggles with), climbs into the van all by himself, and wipe his own hands and face clean.

Beach babe watching Evie play in the sand - August 5, 2018

Paddleboarding - August 5, 2018

Ruby Red Anniversary Family Picture - August 4, 2018

Things can get stressful and busy, but when we sit back and look at it. Parenting these living's easy. Getting to share with them, teach them, listen to them, and cuddle them is so rewarding. And the "tough stuff" isn't even that tough. So, we're tired. So, we're overscheduled. So, we're stressed about making sure they have enough enrichment and social interaction. While there may be moments where it feels like a lot, those moments are few and far between.

New van! - August 10, 2018

Giving Stitch a check-up - August 11, 2018

The heaviest thing for us is the same as it's been the past coming-up-on-four years. The missing little boy. Our Oberon. All these day-to-day stresses are just so minuscule in comparison, we often just laugh at them. So, our toddler screams in our faces. We do our best to remain calm, name his emotions, explain that we understand why he is upset, point out the actions he can choose to take. Sometimes we laugh. Because that screaming, that developmentally appropriate expression of emotions, it is so unmistakably alive. How alive Everett and Imogen are may give us fleeting moments of frustration, but it never gives us grief.

Enjoying the sun - August 12, 2018

One of Chris's birthday presents from Elizabeth - Artist: CarlyMarie Dudley

Friday, July 27, 2018

Immy Meets The Mitten!


Finally, Immy meets her Michigan family!

Deel Xmas In July - July 7, 2018

We're an odd bunch, but a loving bunch. And finally, there's a baby girl on Elizabeth's side! The next youngest girl to Imogen...Elizabeth. Immy did pretty well with all the change and all the strangers, but she also leaned hard into being a Mommy's girl on the trip. (Mommy was OK with it.)

Imogen got her first go at "the money tree" - the best holiday game ever, invented by her middle namesake Nanny (Ruby). Elizabeth remembers playing this game every Christmas Eve, and it's incredibly special to share it with Evie and Immy now. They may get sick of it when they get older, but they still get money so odds are they'll put up with it.

The Money Tree - July 7, 2018

The trip was exhausting (as always), but we got to spend time with people we love (as always). There was a little snag when Everett got a fever and we had to call off some plans and rearrange others. The plus side of a sick toddler is it's an excuse to cuddle and watch a movie, so Chris and Elizabeth finally saw Cars. It was adorable watching Everett watch it. There's a scene where the picture is a sweeping vista outside of Radiator Springs, and Evie just whispers..."woooooooow!" 

One of the coolest things is watching Everett interact with his cousins and our friends' kids. We know these moments are fleeting, because the older kids get the less they'll let Mommy and Daddy set up play dates. 

This trip to Michigan was less emotionally charged than in the past. That doesn't mean there weren't moments (like when someone at The Henry Ford noticed a lot of us had Oberon gear and called us an "Oberon family"), but we weren't stuck in a tense state the whole time. It was nice.

Meeting Great Grandma W - July 10, 2018 

Early July feels like forever ago. It's been such a jam-packed month! Immy is learning and changing by the minute - she's already doing the hands and knees super rock, so crawling is just around the corner. 

As always, when we get home we realize we should have taken more pictures. We didn't get a picture of Imogen with everyone she met. We didn't get Everett playing at the new splash pad in Dodge Park (HOW DID WE MISS THAT?). 

But we did get some. And we cherish those.