Saturday, November 21, 2015

Traces of Charlie

We had just come home from the hospital, leaving our lifeless Charlie behind.  Just the 5 of us now.  Charlie was gone.

I went upstairs to my bathroom searching for signs of Charlie.  I glanced down and noticed that my white bathmat was stained with yellow pee on the edge.  I chuckled thinking about a couple days prior when Charlie was standing diaperless by the tub waiting for the water to heat for his bath, and he peed on my mat.  He always got a kick out of watching himself pee.  I sat there looking at the pee.  Tears began to flow.  That spot was merely a remnant of his living, breathing, functioning body.  That would never happen again.  Sadness overcame me as I knelt down on the mat.  As crazy as it sounds, I pressed my nose to that dry, yellow stain and took in the smell of him.  I just needed something, ANYTHING, that would help me remember his scent.

My parents followed us home from the hospital that day.  Immediately they went into working gear.  They tackled piles upon piles of laundry.  Washing and folding for hours.  I was so grateful.  Later that night I walked into my room to see the piles of laundry they folded and I panicked!  What had I done?  They washed every piece of Charlie's clothes.  Not a scent of him remained.  I had no yogurt, booger, dirt-smeared shirt to snuggle and smell.  I was crushed.

As the days go slowly by, the traces of Charlie begin to fade.

We've already wiped the downstairs bathroom vanity clean from his smears of toothpaste artwork.  Oh, how he loved that sink and vanity.  It was his canvas, and toothpaste was his medium.

I've removed his countertop booster seat and cleaned the floor beneath it that had plenty of evidence of his food-throwing hobby.  He had really turned food rejection into a talent.  His mess used to be confined to the area directly below his chair, but as his abilities to chuck food increased, his damage radius grew to include the entire kitchen floor and its surrounding walls.

His favorite toys are tucked away in the garage and his carseat sits in storage collecting dust.

I know that eventually his room will change.  We will have to take the crib down.  Maybe we will sell that annoying, old, squeeky glider that all my babies were nursed in.  His clothes will get boxed up.

I'm doing my best to fill the house with pictures of him.  We see his darling grin around every corner of our house.  But nothing seems to be a good substitute for the visible traces of his living, energetic presence in our house.  I never want him to fade from our memory.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

birthday eve

We had just wrapped up a whirlwind, hot October day of the kids' soccer games and the Trunk-or-Treat at church.  Our kitchen was a bomb from concocting a hopeful winning batch of chili, and evidence of costuming 3 children was scattered around the house, along with dirty soccer uniforms and equipment strewn about.  However, after getting those highly sugared kids to bed, not much was going to interfere with my tired and aching pregnant body plopping onto the couch with a good TV show.

My due date was scheduled for November 16th.  Throughout my pregnancy (which I had adamantly declared as my last), I had shared with a few people that I had one wish.  I wished that my water would break so that I could experience labor in a different way.  It just seemed so fun to me to have your water break, and I had never experienced it with my 3 previous babies.  I pictured running around the house with excitement, grabbing suitcases, and running to the hospital with urgency.

So, that night we laid down on the couch, turned on a show and I elevated my feet.  We were utterly exhausted from the day's events.  My feet were tingling with relief.  Every inch of my pregnant body was aching.  Just as we were settling into the show, I felt a strong kick followed by a rush of warmth.  I swear I even heard a popping noise!  It had happened.  Not only had my water broken, but it had happened THREE WEEKS EARLY!  Now that was a wish I never dared to wish for.  3 weeks early!!  Was it Christmas???!!!!

I was so excited, I could hardly contain myself.  I said to Troy, " water just broke."  He was in total disbelief.  We both just started laughing.  I hustled to the bathroom to remedy the situation, then without another thought, I told Troy to start cleaning!  I knew we'd have to call my parents to come over, and even though they are my parents, there are some house situations you don't even want your own parents to see and usually our house is in one of those "situations".  So we shoved stuff in closets, wiped down counters, cleaned bathrooms, changed the bedsheets.  You name it, we did it.  I was also texting friends who I had just complained to that night at the Trunk-or-Treat about my pregnancy woes, and I'm pretty sure I had a permagrin the entire time.

Once we got a handle on the house, I called the hospital for instructions.  They wanted me in immediately.  I, however, decided to follow my own counsel and take a shower and get ready before rushing off to the hospital.  Glad I did.

My excitement was still pulsing through me when we got to the hospital.  I just couldn't believe my water broke and labor was happening 3 weeks before my due date.

Once we were settled in our room, and hooked up to the machines, we could breathe deep and take it all in.  Our last baby was on his way, and it felt just as exciting as it did with our first.

Things progressed much slower than I anticipated.  I guess I imagined the baby just slipping out by the 4th go-around.  Wasn't the case.  We spent the entire night in the hospital, not sleeping a wink.  I was so frustrated with the wires and the nurse visits every 1/2 hour.  I was wishing we had stayed at home to sleep in our own bed.

Morning came and still no sign of baby any time soon.  The day rolled on with very slow progress.  I'm pretty sure they started me on pitocin to get the ball rolling.  I think that had something to do with potential infection after your water breaks, but I can't remember.  At any rate, the initial excitement was starting to dull.  We were getting antsy to meet our boy.


Finally around 6 pm I was ready to start pushing.  Troy suited up to deliver our boy.  Our doctor, Dr. Phelan, was always nice to allow him to deliver the baby as he coached from the sidelines.  We set up the video camera in just the right flattering and modest angle, and it was GO time.  I pushed only a few times and our precious son, Charlie Troy, was born on the 27th of October.

He was perfect. We noticed right away his unique ears.  They looked different than the rest of our kids.  He also had a really cute mouth.  His upper lip protruded forward over his bottom lip.  We adored him.  We studied him and held him until the kids arrived later that night with Grandma and Grandpa.  We couldn't wait to show him off and to see each of our kids meet their new brother.

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As expected, the kids fell in love.  They each took turns holding him.  They stared as the nurses took his measurements and ran their tests.  They just couldn't believe he was here.  We were all in LOVE!
We could have never imagined in that moment just how special this little baby would be.

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(He was a whopping 8.1 pounds.  I thought that was impressive for his early due date, and it made me even more grateful he didn't go full term!  He was also 19 inches long.)

Sunday, October 25, 2015

For my boy

I have sat at this computer 50 times in the last 6 weeks attempting to articulate my feelings about the passing of my 22 month old precious baby, Charlie.  Each time I am paralyzed with fear.  Fear of my inability to write eloquently.  Fear of who will be reading this story.  Fear of recounting the details that scare me.  Fear of sharing miracles that are sacred to me.

But for my sweet boy, I have to put one finger in front of the other and type.

My prayer is that I can document all that needs to be written on Charlie, his life and his death.  It's also my hope that anyone reading this will feel of my absolute adoration for a loving Savior and an all-knowing God.  It is without reservation that I testify that they live and love us so personally.  I have always believed this, but never as much as I have in these last 6 weeks.  I believe our Heavenly Father has an eternal plan for us.  I will trust in His plan, though as a mortal it is at times hard to be patient.  I will never doubt the miracles I have seen and felt in the days proceeding and following Charlie's death.  I believe heaven's angels were sent to carry us, and continue to do so today.

Thank you for your love and support.  I hope you enjoy our little corner of the internet.


Charlie Troy DeGraff
October 27, 2013 - August 27, 2015

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Yosemite - Staying Cool

Yosemite temps were in the 90's during our stay.

Being at our dusty camp felt hot and miserable, and just the thought of hiking triggered perspiration, so we opted for the river as a daily outing which was delightfully refreshing.

Not to mention that 2.4 seconds back at camp made everyone FILTHY, so the river was a nice way to "shower".

It was my favorite part of the trip.


Jack and Yasmin spent a day climbing broken trees, building rock "rafts" and crossing rivers.

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One morning we got to the river early in the morning and we were the ONLY ones there.  It was amazing to be wading through the middle of the water in complete peace and away from the crowds of tourists that populate Yosemite.
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Sam loved feeding the ducks.   He would squeal with excitement as they inched closer to him.


Troy's swan dive.  This was followed by him attempting to teach me to dive from something other than the edge of a pool. attempt is not pictured.  Let's just say it didn't look this graceful!

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This was an amazing experience.  We were wading through the river when out of the bushes appeared this deer.  It was so beautiful and not the least bit timid about us being there.  This was one of those moments I was so glad my camera tends to be a permanent appendage.

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You can't tell from the picture, but there was just enough current to carry Lucy on a lazy float down stream.  

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Jack is riding the "dad ferry"

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Yosemite - Wild Raspberry Harvest

Who knew that wild raspberries grow all throughout Yosemite?

Of course, my kids who have a radar for pickable fruit, instantly discovered this hidden gem.
They begged and begged for 3 days to go and pick raspberries, so on the final day in the park we obliged.

And as it turned out, the little spot we found had beautiful light for photography so I was in heaven.

We discovered that these raspberries are best when almost purple.  The red ones were a little on the tart side.  And since we haven't died yet, I am pretty sure they are indeed raspberries and not some other look-a-like poisonous cousin.

Jack goes into a zone when he is picking berries.  It's like his "happy place".   He doesn't talk to anyone because he's too occupied with finding enough berries to fill his bucket.

Lucy on the other hand is far too lazy to do the actual work, but finds sudden energy when the bucket is full and ready for eating.  Let's just say we review the morals taught in "The Little Red Hen" often.

We LOVED having cousin, Yasmin, along for our trip.  My kids adore her and it made it fun to have one other person with us.

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