Tuesday, August 26, 2014


My sweet, handsome, challenging, Star Wars obsessed, funny, strong-willed, creative, smart, loving big kid starts 4K in a week.  A WEEK!  What?

How did he go from this
to this
so fast?  

And as a biased Mama, can I just say, that is one beautiful kid.

Cole and I have had our share of rough moments recently.  Moments that sometimes made me think, "Why do I bring out the worst in my son?"  A few weeks ago, however, I had a discussion with another mom who is also a preschool teacher.  I mentioned to her how challenging some days are for me with Cole.  Tantrums.  Anger.  Constant battles.  Tears.  Moments that made me feel like an awful mom.  She told me that she hears this from parents all the time, and she always tells them that the fact that we think about the hard moments and analyze them means we are good parents.  And the fact that our kids show us the worst, most frustrated, most challenging parts of themselves means that they feel safe with us and know we love them unconditionally. Such a nicer viewpoint.  And I do appreciate that Cole saves his worst behavior for me and doesn't show that side of himself to many others.  Please don't get me wrong.  We have mostly wonderful times together.  He's cuddly and funny and creative and sweet.  At the end of the day, he says things like, "I love snuggling my Mama" as we cuddle on the couch.  He's truly my best buddy.  I know how much I will miss him when he's at school.  We've been together pretty much non-stop for over 4 years.  School will be an adjustment for both of us.

Cole is excited about going to school.  He'll be attending Orchard Ridge Nursery School for 4K, which is where all of his big cousins have gone.  He's excited about the playground and the animal toys and snack.  He has expressed a little nervousness about not knowing any children in the class, but so far, he's not focusing on that.  I fully expect a bit of sadness the first week, but I'm hopeful that his excitement sticks.

With the return of school and the return of September comes the return of my higher anxiety.  School means "First Day of School" photos all over the place, and despite the fact that I will be taking some of Cole this year, I'm not looking forward to being bombarded by them again.  I didn't expect them to hit me so hard last year, but they of course were a reminder of all the Firsts Molly will never have and all the photos of all my children together that I will never have.  In his own way, Cole is aware of that as well.  A few weeks ago I was taking some pictures of Cole and Rosie.  He stopped me and said, "Wait, should I go get the Molly bear?"  I love that Molly is never far from Cole's thoughts.  He's an amazing Big Brother to both of his sisters. 
Yellow for Molly, hugs for Rosie as we bought our minivan

School also means a time for taking family photos.  Cole's 4K teacher has asked for a family photo, which is always a difficult concept for me.  I think of them as almost-family photos.  We try to incorporate Molly when we can, but it isn't always possible depending on where we are.  I'm not sure which of the following two photos to give to his teacher:
Option 1: With Molly's stone, but Cole looks a bit intense
Option 2: No symbol of Molly, but Cole looks natural

 And September means Molly.  All over the place.  Her birthday, trees starting to turn yellow, memories flooding my brain.  It's not bad necessarily.  September is beautiful.  And I can't say I think of Molly more in September because I think of her all the time, but it is definitely a time when I am seeking comfort wherever I can find it.  I don't know what we will do to mark her birthday this year.  Last year we did a lot to honor her and to help ourselves through the day.  This year will be different - Cole will have school and Rosie is here.  The day can't be just about Molly as it was last year.  I'm not sure if that will feel harder or not.  Never can tell what Grief is going to do.

Cole will occasionally mention wishing Molly was here so we would have two babies, or so Rosie would have "a buddy."  Oh, how I wish that, too.  I know we wouldn't have Rosie if Molly were here.  I know that.  But a girl can dream.  And dream I do.  About being so tired and having no idea how lucky I was.  About an almost-2-year-old chasing a 10-month-old.  About the love and the fights these two girls would share.  About my girls sharing a room and clothes and friends as they get older.  I suppose these dreams will never go away.  At each step of Rosie's life I will wonder what her relationship with Molly would have been.  Molly's absence will always be palpable. 

And on the flip side, our gratefulness for Rosie will never cease.  She is just who we all needed.
 Rosie is smart, silly, funny, busy, sweet, and lovable.  She gets so much attention and love from so many people.  We are so lucky to call her ours.  I'm doing my best to soak in as much of her wonderful babyhood as I can because before I know it, she'll be off to school like her 
big brother.

"If there ever is a tomorrow when we're not together, there is something you must remember.  You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.  But the most important thing is, even if we're apart, I'll always be with you."
~Winnie the Pooh

Monday, December 23, 2013

2013 Holiday Card

As always, thank you for your support and kindness as we have continued navigating our journey of grief, healing, and hope.  We are so very lucky to have such wonderful friends, family, neighbors, and acquaintances.  The past year and a half would have been so much more difficult without all of you.  We wish you hope, joy, and your own healing during this holiday season and the coming year.

It's pretty amazing how drastically different our life is this year compared to last Christmas.  I was in so much pain last year.  Although the holidays will always be difficult without Molly, our family has begun to heal.  Rosie has brought us so much joy, and seeing our oldest and youngest children together is priceless.  Cole is constantly telling Rosie how much he loves her.  As long as I have that, there is nothing else I need for Christmas.

Here's a few highlights from our year:


Touching Stingrays at SeaWorld

Fort Meyers Beach

Making Easter cookies.  First time Cole agreed to a baking project.

Finally getting a little interested in sports

Swim lessons with the beloved Kaitlin

On Uncle Steve's boat.  A favorite summer activity.

Dane County Fair in July

Fun with Cole's new buddy Uncle Clark

August baby belly


Cole suddenly became interested in learning how to write his name in August

Silliness while buying balloons for Molly's birthday

Molly Day 9/9/13

The return of "Evan Days" in September

Cole joined a soccer team this Fall.  Jury is still out on if he liked it or not.

We went to several farms this Fall.  It's one of my favorite Fall activities.

Ella's Deli.  We had no idea that the next day we'd be meeting Rosie...



Celebrating Cole's 4th birthday at a small water park 11/25/13

We can't even describe how much Cole loves Rosie


Merry Christmas!

“Christmas doesn't come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more..."
~Dr. Seuss

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanks Giving

I am thankful for piles of laundry unfolded and dishes unwashed because they mean I have been too busy snuggling my baby and playing with my 4- year-old to get anything "useful" done.

I am thankful that I get to change 14 dirty diapers a day because it means Rosie is healthy.

I am thankful that Cole is strong-willed because it means he won't let people walk all over him, even though right now it means arguments, tantrums, and time outs.

I am thankful for Rosie's 8:30pm - 10:00pm nightly screaming sessions because I know all too well that some parents never get to hear their babies make a sound.

I am thankful for stretch marks and baby weight because they mean that my body has made miracles - something I do not take lightly when I know so many people who would accept any consequences to their body if it meant they could grow a child.  My changed body shows how hard I worked to bring my three beautiful children into the world, and as much as I'd like to look like the "old me" sometimes, the "new me" is so much stronger and proof of the journey I have traveled.

I am thankful for 4am feedings because I know Rosie is growing.

I am thankful that Cole doesn't like kisses because it makes his freely-given bedtime smooches so valuable.

I am thankful for my tears because they mean I love Molly so much that I miss her with every breath I take.

I am thankful that I don't have time to see The Hunger Games because it means I have a baby that needs me close all the time right now.

I am thankful for Cole's current separation anxiety and dramatic sadness when I leave because it means he loves me enough to want me close all the time.

I am thankful that I miss my parents while they are in Florida for the winter because it means I am lucky enough to have a good relationship with my mom and dad.

And...I am thankful for a husband that works hard for our family, for two happy, healthy kids in my home, for quiet moments cuddling Rosie while she sleeps, for Cole's creativity, humor and sweetness, for a sister who is also my best friend, for a brother who listens to me, for the lessons Molly has taught me, for Cole and Rosie having the chance to grow up close to their cousins, for kind neighbors, for Rosie's new smile and her perfect hands and toes, for Cole saying, "Mama, this is the best party I ever had" after his Winnie the Pooh birthday party, for every time Cole asks to hug his baby sister, and the way Rosie seeks out his voice.


For family.  For the family I was born into, the family Brendon and I have made, and the family I have chosen.  Thankful doesn't cut it.  I am so lucky.

"Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude."
~A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh

Monday, October 28, 2013

Rosalee Hope Dybdahl

She's here!  After what seemed like the longest 38 weeks and 6 days of my life, our second daughter entered the world pink and healthy and beautiful.  A miracle.  A gorgeous, crying, hungry miracle.  After the silent delivery room we experienced last September, hearing Rosie cry was the most wonderful sound in the world.  She's a pretty noisy little girl unless she's sound asleep.  Even in a light sleep, she grunts a lot and breathes loudly.  I'm grateful she makes so much noise.  If she didn't, I know I would be constantly checking to see if she's breathing, which I still do plenty despite all of her sounds.  The last 2 weeks have been wonderful.  And emotional.  And exhausting.  Overall, we are incredibly happy.  However, as we expected, there have been some very mixed emotions as we brought home one daughter while still grieving another.  I have moments when I feel like being happy that Rosie is here means I'm letting go of Molly a little bit.  Or moments when I cry while I'm nursing Rosie because...well, because I'm hormonal and tired and looking at Rosie makes me wonder what Molly would have looked like at 2 weeks old.  And because I still wish Molly were here.  But then Rosie would not.  And the cycle goes on and on.  Grateful for one, missing the other.  Wishing for both.  As always, grief is confusing.  And grief mixed with so much relief and happiness is even more confusing.  My coping mechanism has been to focus on the positive.  The two kids in my home need my attention more than Molly does.  And when I'm being logical (which is not all that often right now), I know that Molly understands.  She would want me to take good care of her big brother and baby sister.

Speaking of focusing on the positive, how about a birth story?  Since early October, I had been having occasional contractions.  So when I woke up in the early morning hours of October 13th with contractions, I didn't think much of it.  I probably should have thought more of them since they were more regular and painful than I had been experiencing, but I tried to sleep through them.  At some point I fell asleep, and when I woke up I expected the contractions to be gone.  They were not.  But I'm a stubborn girl, so I powered on.  I made pancakes for my family (a little slower than usual with a few breaks to breathe) and insisted that we continue with our plans to go to Eugster's Farm with my sister's family.  By mid-morning, my contractions were consistent, but very short.  My thought was that if I was in labor, I probably had plenty of time before I would deliver.  And I still had a hard time believing I was in labor since I had never gone into labor on my own with either of my two previous pregnancies.  Once we got to the farm, it became more apparent that I was indeed in labor.  We started with a tractor ride, and Deanna and Jake started paying close attention to my contractions.  At that point, they were between 5 and 10 minutes apart, but still fairly short.  They were intensifying, however, and I knew we wouldn't make it for very long at the farm.

The last pic of my baby belly.  38 weeks and 6 days.

After the tractor ride, the kids ate lunch and watched a puppet show.  It became clear very quickly that Brendon and I needed to leave.  My contractions were getting stronger and I was feeling a lot of low pressure.  After kissing Cole good-bye and listening to him cry because he wanted to come with us, Brendon and I walked as quickly as I could to the car.  Deanna kindly took some wonderful photos of Cole after we left to reassure us that he was fine almost instantly after we were out of sight.  She made us a lovely book for Rosie entitled "On the Day That You Were Born" full of photos from the farm and hospital photos.

I love this one.  To me it looks like he is bathed in light from Molly.

We arrived at the hospital at 1:30pm.  Once there, everything moved very quickly.  While in triage, we learned that I was 6 cm dilated.  I was shocked!  And thrilled.  Things were moving, my body had gone into labor on its own, and Rosie's heartbeat was nice and strong.  On the walk to our Family Birth Suite we saw the nurse who had been with us for most of my labor with Molly.  It was wonderful to see Nurse Joy.  We know that Molly's delivery affected the nurses who took care of us, and it was nice to share some happiness with them.  Once in the Family Birth Suite, my body took over.  Things started changing and moving along incredibly fast.  I had planned to try to deliver without medication, partially because medications complicate VBACs, and partially because I was taking a blood thinner called Lovenox during my pregnancy which can cause complications with epidurals.  I did indeed deliver with no medication, but even if I had wanted some, I don't think there would have been time.  (And now that I have gone through this process 3 different ways - C-section, labor with some medication, and a completely natural delivery - I have a new respect for drugs.  I am proud of the way I delivered Rosie, but if we decide to have a fourth child, I fully intend to get some pain relief.)  At 4:34pm, 3 hours after arriving at the hospital and after less than 30 minutes of pushing, Rosalee Hope Dybdahl entered our lives.

7 pounds 13 ounces of pink, healthy, warm Baby Girl

Desperately trying to scratch her face.
Early on in my pregnancy, Cole named this baby Rosie.  We aren't completely sure where it came from, but he either named her after a train from Thomas and Friends, a horse from an episode of Franklin, or Caillou's little sister.  Brendon and I have a hard time coming up with names for our babies, so we decided to let Cole's suggestion stick.  It was also important to me to name her early so that I could differentiate this pregnancy from Molly's.  It helped to be able to call her Rosie from 19 weeks gestation, although I'm not going to lie and pretend I never slipped in my head and called her Molly.  Her given name is Rosalee to honor my Grandpa Leroy Dahlen, and my Dad and Brendon's Mom, both who happen to have the middle name of Lee.

Three hours after Rosie was born, Cole came to the hospital to meet his youngest sister.  He brought along Deanna, Jake, his four cousins, and Nana and Poppy.  It was a bit overwhelming to have such a big visit a few hours after giving birth, but we really wanted Cole to come and meet Rosie as soon as possible.  And after waiting so long for this baby, I couldn't bring myself to ask everyone else to wait a day.  If I had, I'm pretty sure James's head would have exploded.

And then less than 48 hours later, we were home.

We are adjusting pretty well to once again having an infant in our home. It's completely different than having only one child at home.  When Cole was a baby, we held him all the time and probably didn't leave the house all that much.  We hold Rosie as much as we can, but it's obviously a lot more challenging with an older child who wants lots of attention.  This lends itself to lots of Mommy guilt, which I'm trying to let go of as much as possible.  I'm exhausted, which doesn't help my emotional state, but still so grateful.  Even through my exhaustion, I know that Rosie is Hope realized.  And, oh, she's just so yummy right now.  I want to soak in every ounce of her newborn deliciousness while I can.

Welcome to the world, Rosalee Hope!  We waited a long time for you.  You are absolutely a well-loved baby.  We are so happy and relieved to have you safe in our arms.  We promise to take good care of you.

It was the tiniest thing I ever decided to put my whole life into.
~ Terri Guillemets