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I made this for a church meeting we’re having next Sunday and liked the sentiment so much, I thought I’d share. You can click the image to see it full-size or click here to download. It’s ready to print as an 8×10. I know it’s still amateur, so am I, but enjoy anyway!

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Reminder

Until tomorrow, I’m selling 8×10 prints of my cake painting for $10! Buy it here. if you live near me (close enough that I could deliver your print to you), use the coupon code “IAMLOCAL” to get free shipping (which is really just me delivering it for you).

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Miscellaneous

So here’s a little update on life in general.

I’ve been doing moderately well with my Etsy shop. I try to add something new about every 2 weeks, and I probably sell something about twice a month. That means right now I make enough to buy new supplies and a few much-needed McDonald’s play area outings. (Sitting with a good book for an hour or two or even three while the kids run wild, without the mess and stress of being at home – it’s amazing.) I’d definitely like to do a little more business, but I realize it mostly means updating the images I use for my items. Since I have no photography skills and not enough revenue to hire a legit professional photographer, I’ve been using a black-and-white drawing of frames that I can insert any new item into. It works okay, but when you look at the whole collection of items in the shop, it’s too busy and confusing – and it makes it hard to really see what the products are I’m trying to sell. Anyone have bright ideas on how to fix this? Want to trade paper goods for photography services? Unfortunately, I’m well aware that my work is far too amateur to be worth much of a trade.

June has entered the terrible not-quite-threes. Evan did the same thing; for most of his two-year-old year he was sweet and obedient and wonderful, but then everything turned upside down. June is grumpy and grouchy and really, really hard to deal with. She screamed/sobbed/wailed for 40 minutes straight the other morning because I told her she needed to put pants on before going outside. And last week she threw a 30-minute tantrum because she couldn’t find the underwear she wanted. It’s exhausting – for me! June never seems to be as drained as I think she should be after a tantrum. I wish she were still as loving and sweet and happy as she used to be. These days I expect at least one meltdown, probably more, before Jarom gets home from work. I know it’s a stage and eventually she’ll move past it, but it sure makes life harder for all of us.

Evan loves preschool. He goes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, in the afternoon, and he’s supposed to bring a snack. One day I was stressing about getting everything and everyone ready to go, so when Evan came and asked me what his snack was going to be, I told him it was a surprise. (When I’m stressed, I hate answering questions; I tried giving an answer that would be the most effective in preventing any more questions just then.) Now Evan tells me he wants a surprise snack every time! He’ll run out of the kitchen covering his eyes if I say I’m getting his snack ready. And when he gets home from school, he’s always excited to tell me what his snack was. Recent favorite: butterscotch pudding. He was crazy about it. Right now their class is putting together “All About Me” books that they’ll bring home, all finished, next week – I’ll scan his to show you. Apparently for his family picture he drew himself as a zombie. No surprise there, honestly.

I’ve been a little on edge for a week or so. I don’t want to read, or cook, or paint, or even waste time playing games – I just feel slightly irritated about everything. I still manage to get things done, mostly because I’ve learned to embrace my moments of “I’m ready to get things done” feeling. I definitely don’t feel depressed or mopey, just . . . irritated and a little bored. I like food, but when I think about cooking, every dish I can come up with sounds roughly the same. And for some reason, right now I don’t want hot food. Weird.

What have you been up to lately?


Potter’s syndrome birth plan

I’m sharing this in case anyone preparing for the death of their newborn comes across my blog. I prepared this with some help from the Potter’s syndrome website, and I’m glad I had everything written out beforehand so I didn’t need to spend much energy explaining what I wanted to have happen in the hospital. (Also, the volunteer at the hospital said I was really well prepared. Go me!)

Birth plan for Mika & Jarom 
Baby: Christian

We would like the door to remain closed as much as possible.

Our biggest hope is that we will be able to hold our baby alive, even if only for a few minutes. Because he is breech, please make every endeavor to help Mika deliver him quickly, without harm to the baby.

Mika is not planning on having an epidural, but may change her mind depending on how the delivery is going.

We will have a photographer, as well as our parents, present during delivery. Mika would like to have the men exit the room when a nurse comes in to check how labor is progressing. No other visitors (except those noted below) should be allowed in without express permission from us.

When the baby is delivered, we want to hold him immediately. Please delay any non-urgent procedures. If he is born alive, we want to delay cord-clamping. We would like him to be washed/cleaned off while we hold him.

If circumstances permit, our bishop will come to oversee christening of the baby. This would need to be done quickly due to Christian’s extremely short expected lifespan, so we appreciate assistance in getting the bishop to our room as soon as possible when Christian arrives.

A friend will be coming to take imprints of Christian’s feet.

We would like time alone with the baby and our parents (the photographer may stay for this). We do not want to feel pressured to give his body back before we’re ready.

If there is a social worker, grief counselor, or other volunteer available to speak with us, we would like to have them come in.

We are planning to do a burial through Wheeler Mortuary in Springville. We request that the hospital staff alert them at the appropriate time that Christian’s body is ready to be picked up from the hospital morgue.

We would like to keep the baby’s blanket and hat as mementos. If possible, we would like a lock of his hair (if there is any) and any hospital bracelets or bassinet cards. If there are other items you think we may appreciate, please send them with us. We want to know his weight and length before we leave the hospital.

Once we feel ready, we would like Mika to be discharged – without staying overnight, if possible. Please include any necessary prescriptions, including something to help Mika sleep.

A note: almost everything went according to the plan we prepared. We were able to hold Christian, bless him, wash him, dress him, and stay with him as long as we wanted. My OB sent me home with a generous supply of Ambien to help me sleep. As I mentioned before, we were given a beautiful box of mementos. One of the few things that didn’t go as planned was the epidural, which I had to get when it looked like there might be an emergency C-section. Thankfully, the hospital staff followed our wishes as closely as possible.

If your baby has a birth defect and neonatal death is a certainty, I strongly recommend putting together a birth plan. Being at the hospital is stressful, sad, and physically and emotionally draining, so spend a while before then thinking of how you want the day to go. You can contact Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep to arrange for a professional photographer to be with you in the hospital, free of charge, to have some beautiful pictures of you and your baby. I also suggest reading Still Standing, a magazine that addresses child loss and infertility. And, of course, get in touch with me if you want.


Multi-word post title

Have you ever noticed that I only do single-word blog post titles? This, obviously, is an exception, but I’ve been pretty consistent about it for…a while. Anyone want to go through the archives and figure out how long it’s been?

Ok, a few things. First: Becky is the winner of the giveaway! I realized after I wrote the giveaway post I wasn’t extremely clear about, well, anything. I chose a winner based on the extremely random criterion, “Which of these people have I not done a project for or have a project planned/in the works right now?” So there you go. And I will do another giveaway in October, just because this was fun. I’m also working on several of the quotes you guys posted. Becky, if you’re local, we can meet up for cupcakes or donuts and I’ll give you the print – otherwise, email me at mika@hilleries.com with your address and I’ll ship the print to you. Edit: if you didn’t win, you should be excited because it means (did you catch this?) I already have plans for a piece of art for you! Probably a custom one! Of course, it could mean that I’ve done a project for you in the past…in which case, you’re already a lucky winner.

Second: yesterday I decided to put Evan and June together in the bigger of the two kids’ rooms (it was most recently June’s room, though it started out as Evan’s) and make the smaller room into a playroom. Today while June was on her date with Grandpa I got everything cleaned up, with a lot of grudging help from Evan, and got the playroom set up. Since the bedroom has carpet, I’m going to try a very strict NO FOOD IN HERE rule. We’ll see how well that goes.

Third: I know this isn’t that case, but lately I feel like I have “gotten over” Christian’s death. It is still sad, but most of the time I don’t dwell on it. Is that normal? Is it denial? Should I be having more breakdowns, or just expect a breakdown in the future? If I keep feeling good and happy, does it mean I’m heartless?

Fourth: are you aware that it’s more than halfway through September of 2013? When I write the date I have to remind myself it isn’t 1997. True story. However, the fact that it’s September means we get to eat chili and drink hot chocolate (not together) and be realistic when we think about wearing sweaters. And next month I’m planning a trip to visit my parents, and June turns 3, and it will be Halloween, and then Thanksgiving, and then Christmas! I’m excited, if you can’t tell.

Fifth: thank you for reading this far. I know blog posts are supposed to have pictures because blah blah photography SEO readership blah blah, but I appreciate your reading skillz.

xo Mika


Personhood

In looking ahead to the six-month mark since Christian’s birth, and then to the one-year mark, I’ve wondered how I can commemorate his short life – and, more importantly, how my life has changed since having him. So I have tried to pay special attention to the ways in which I’m different now than I was in March or April. The biggest change I’ve noticed is that I am more willing to believe that every person I encounter is really a person, a person who might be having the absolute worst day of his or her life. I say “believe” because intellectually, I already know that everyone is their own individual and has unique experiences – it’s something else to feel it and acknowledge it. This has made me, I hope, more patient and compassionate, in theory if not in practice.

What I’m thinking of doing, then, is asking my friends and family (and myself) to make an effort to spend Christian’s birthday believing that every person we encounter is really a person, and then treat each person as such. To not dismiss someone because of the way they dress, or where they work, or because I’m in a hurry and don’t want to expend energy being nice.

We still have more than 7 months until then (September 24 will be 5 months since Christian died), so maybe we can do some practice runs before then.

What are your thoughts?


Giveaway

In honor of my recent happy days, I’m giving away an 11″ x 14″ print of this:

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To enter, leave a comment with a quote you’d like to see made into a print. I’ll pick a winner next Friday, September 20. If there are more than 50 entries (one per person, sorry) I’ll do another giveaway in October. Good luck!