Saturday, June 28, 2008

In Memory of Hannah

In May, I was participating in the Great Diaper Hunt contest. (It's fun, and hey, I won a diaper bag, a diaper, and some other stuff in November). When I came across an entry from one of the sponsors mentioning that she just found out her son was stillborn. I went to her blog and began reading.

I was immediately struck by so many things. While the basics of our story are different, I feel like our responses are pretty much the same.

For those of you who don't know, our daughter Hannah died when she was five months old. The short version is that she was born with an annular pancreas, which means her pancreas was wrapped around the exit to her stomach. Because of this, her intestines never developed properly. In order to make sure that she received adequate nutrition, she was given TPN, an intravenous nutrition. The downside to TPN is that it can wreck your liver, which it did in Hannah's case, and she died of liver failure. (Side note: Become an organ donor. No excuses).

Shortly after her death, while we were in the heaviest part of grieving*, I began to read books on loss in order to see if I could find something to help me make sense of it all. I couldn't find anything. As a Christian, I was angry and frustrated and sad and everything else, but I didn't blame God. I knew God shared my sadness and in the new earth I wouldn't have to deal with this. (One of the cards I treasure was from a friend who wrote that God was weeping with us, and if you are ever looking for words to send to a grieving Christian parent, those are helpful. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT tell them that their child is better off because now they are with God. That is NOT helpful). All the books I ended up reading had nothing to do with how I felt. In fact, I have never really come across anyone who has grieved in a similar manner to me, until I began reading Heather's blog.

Here is a Christian woman who has lost a child. She is angry and sad but she knows hope too. In fact, this post was what made me finally write about her. (I should clarify. I have never contacted Heather nor do I know her in person. I just admire how she writes about her grief and loss, but I will be sending her a link to this post). I remember so many of her emotions, and I've heard so many of her comments. Her responses have been almost exactly what I've thought or said.

So, to Heather I want to say, it does get easier, but sometimes that makes it harder. Your memories are so few that you desperately want to hold onto them. It's scary when they fade a little. The unexpected holidays are the hardest. I was surprised at how hard New Years was. Hannah's whole life was lived in 2005, so how could it be 2006, a year in which she never existed. You are right to accept joy. If the future holds more children for you, they will never replace Sawyer (as you know), but their laugh provides healing that nothing else can.

On another side note, I struggled with prayer for a long time after Hannah's death. While she was in the hospital, I prayed like I never prayed before. (During our time there, I felt like we got several messages straight from God. I was in the washroom on the ICU floor and carved in to the toilet roll holder was the word "prayer"). But after she died, I stopped praying because how could such honest and open prayer be denied. This year I attended a Bible study at my church, and we spent several months on prayer. It was during Holy week** that I read this post, and I had a major revelation about prayer. God lost his son, and Jesus prayed that it wouldn't happen. How awful it must have been to know that you had to deny such a request. A request that I'm sure was not easy to deny. I've been able to see my loss in a new light.

*Shortly after Hannah died, Henry and I went on a trip to learn how to breathe again. While hiking in Maine, we had a discussion about the difference between grieving and mourning. I think that grieving is an immediate act with a timeline, and it does come to an end. Mourning is neverending. We will forever miss Hannah.

**As yet another side note, when I was pregnant with Hannah, I really related to Christmas - the joyful expectation of birth. With Moses, it was Easter - the joy that comes after loss.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Soft Tacos

Soft tacos or wraps are one of my favorite "go-to" meals. I always have the ingredients in the house, and they are super easy to make. You can use almost anything in them that you want. Some of my favorite fillings are salsa, guacamole, cheese, sour cream or yogurt, refried beans, and sautéed veggies. In fact, the soft tacos above have all of those in them. Here is the order of how I get everything to the table while it's still hot (or cold).

1 lb. ground beef - Of course, I want you to use organic or naturally-raised beef.
1 1/2 T. chili powder
1/4 - 1/2 t. cayenne pepper
1 c. shredded cheese - cheddar or pepperjack are my favorites
1 c. salsa - I use our homemade salsa.
1 onion, sliced
1-2 bell peppers, sliced
1 c. guacamole
1 c. sour cream or yogurt
1 c. refried beans
2-4 tortillas, any size
  1. Wrap the tortillas in a dish towel and put in a very low (250 degree) oven. Alternatively, you can microwave them for 30 seconds.
  2. Brown the ground beef on medium-high heat.
  3. While the beef is browning, throw the onion and peppers into a skillet and sauté over medium-high heat just until they soften.
  4. Add the seasonings and turn to low. Let simmer while you prepare everything else.
  5. If you don't have prepared guacamole, take a ripe avocado and mash it with garlic salt and lime juice. Yum!
  6. When your meat and veggies are done, put everything in bowls on the table.
  7. Turn off the oven and take out the tortillas that you will be using immediately. Leave the rest in the oven to keep warm.
  8. Put a tortilla on your plate and load up! (Henry likes to use two tortillas because he always has too much filling).
Again with this dish, you can modify EVERYTHING. Don't like some of the spices? Take them out. If you like cilantro, add it! (I, personally, think it tastes like armpits). Use what's in season and adjust to your heart's content.

This dish is part of this month's Grow Your Own event launched by Andrea of Andrea's Recipes. This monthly food blogging event celebrates the foods we grow or raise ourselves.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Well, it's been over a month since I last posted.


That doesn't mean I haven't been obsessively composing posts in my head during that time. I have been. It's just the distance from my brain to the computer is rather large it seems. Anyway, there are a few things I thought I'd update you on.

1. We've been selling our beef at the Sorauren Park Farmer's Market. It runs Mondays from 3-7. If you're in the neighborhood, come visit us. It's been so great meeting and getting to know people. Everyone has been really supportive and excited about what we're doing.

2. Here's a link to the Slow Food event I mentioned earlier.

3. We had a surprise calf! It turns out that one of the cows we bought was pregnant. Henry went to do chores one day, and there he was. The cow was really too young to get knocked up and wasn't able to take care of the calf. We've been bottlefeeding him. Henry named him Knuckles because it took him a few days to stop walking on the knuckle of his foreleg.

Knuckles and Moses

Don't worry, Knuckles won't be dinner. Instead, he will become a lead steer, which means we'll use him to help us lead the cattle wherever we want them to go. Because we bottlefeed him, he pretty much comes running whenever he sees us. Cows are herd animals - and greedy - so if one of them goes toward something, the rest have to make sure they get their share.

Since we didn't want Knuckles to be lonely, we bought a heifer which we named Niko. We're bottlefeeding her too. I'll get a picture of her up as soon as I get a chance.

So, let's see - right now, I'm bottlefeeding two calves and still nursing my son. Hmm.... Any bets on who gets weaned first?