Two years

My dearest, sweetest Lennox and Zoë. How I wish today were a day of cake and candles and presents, instead of quiet remembrance.

You should be two years old today.

You should be happy, noisy, silly, frustrating, funny toddlers covered in cake frosting, playing happily with the boxes your presents came in.

That’s what you are, in my heart.

Happy birthday, sweet ones. I love you.

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Petition for Preemies

November is National Prematurity Awareness Month. Please, take a moment to visit the March of Dimes’ website and sign their petition. It only takes a second and every little bit helps to make sure babies like Zoe and Lennox have a chance.

1. We urge the federal government to increase support for prematurity-related research and data collection as recommended by the Institute of Medicine and the Surgeon General’s Conference on the Prevention of Preterm Birth, to:
(a) identify the causes of premature birth;
(b) test strategies for prevention;
(c) improve the care, treatment and outcomes of preterm infants;
(d) and better define and track the problem of premature birth.
2. We urge federal and state policymakers to expand access to health coverage for women of childbearing age and to support smoking cessation programs as part of maternity care.
3. We call on hospitals and health care professionals to voluntarily assess c-sections and inductions that occur prior to 39 weeks gestation to ensure consistency with professional guidelines.
4. We call on businesses to create workplaces that support maternal and infant health.

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April 23, 2008

Dear Sweet Zoë and Lennox,

Today is your official due date. It’s the date your daddy and I circled on all of our calendars even though we knew the likelihood of your putting in an appearance well in advance of today. It still gave us a concrete goal to look forward to. I liked the idea that you might have your birthday in the same week as your grandma and your aunt. That it would be spring.

Then, when you arrived so much earlier, that date circled on the calendar took on a whole new meaning. It became the date when you would most likely be able to finally come home. It would be the time we’d say goodbye to the nurses and the doctors of the NICU and leave all those bright lights and loud noises behind to come home and be all together. April 23 seemed so far away in January. I drew a bigger, brighter circle around the day, I erased the countdown of weeks left in my pregnancy and added in a countdown of weeks until Lennox and Zoë came home. Those calendars are packed away now, in a box full of other memories and reminders of hopes and dreams.

I wonder all the time how things would be different. These past few days, I’ve done a lot of wondering. How big would you be? Would you both have hair now? Would it be dark brown like mama’s or more reddish-brown like daddy’s? I have no doubt that your eyes would be brown. Would Zoë’s toes still be funny, like mine? Would Lennox still have that serious, wise look? Would you like to be held lots?

I stand in a small room with lavender walls and white trim. I painted that room for you before I was even pregnant. I knew when we built the house that that room would be a nursery someday and when we painted it last spring, I went ahead and painted it the right color. I hadn’t made up my mind on how to decorate it yet. For a long time, I’d planned using “Where the Wild Things Are” as my theme. It’s one of my favorite stories and many years ago, your daddy bought me a collection of figures of all the wild things and Max, dancing in their wild rumpus that I would have put on the shelf and I’d thought about making some paintings from the book as well. Sometimes, though, I thought I’d just do something simpler, like stripes and dots. After all, I don’t think the two of you would have cared one way or the other. I’d picked out the furniture for your nursery years earlier as well. That’s how I got myself through all those failed attempts…I’d pour over websites and catalogs, making lists, picking out exactly what I wanted for you, when you finally came along. I spent those two weeks in the hospital, mentally placing two cribs, a changing table, a bookshelf, and a rocking chair in that small room, trying to figure out exactly where it all could go. But now, that small lavender room has a sewing table by the window that looks out over the rose bushes. There’s a desk with a shelf that is filled with my bins of watercolor tubes and brushes, pads of paper, rolls of quilt batting, pages and pages of quilt patterns. There’s a stack of storage boxes, things we couldn’t find a place for immediately so we stuck them in this room. I find it hard to be in here now. Before, I sat at my sewing table and worked on my quilts thinking about how, before long, I’d put the sewing machine on the shelf in the closet, take the table apart and put it in the garage, and instead of sitting by the window making quilts to give to other people, I’d be sitting in a rocking chair with you looking out at the pink roses, watching the bunny wiggle under the fence, while the clothes line spun with your diapers and t-shirts. Now, if I have to sew, I make Shannon carry my machine to the kitchen table. I don’t spend much time in the little lavender room. It just doesn’t feel right now. There were supposed to be two white cribs in here. There were two little organic cotton chicken rattles and a turtle and a bunny. There should have been a changing table with its shelves stacked with the cotton diapers. Two hand-knit blankets were supposed to be there, ready to wrap around you, instead of being wrapped in tissue and carefully packed away.

I miss you both so very, very much. Not a day, not an hour goes by that I don’t think of you. I wish you were coming home today. It is exactly the sort of day I imagined bringing you both home on. The irises are all blooming, and they smell so good. It’s nice enough that we just open the windows in the house and the breeze makes the sheer curtains billow. We have two swallows that swoop down over the flower bed at sundown, catching bugs. This is the first spring we’ve had any birds like that. The backyard is full of ladybugs and I’ve started seeing butterflies…little yellow ones, beautiful blue ones…all over. Soon, we’ll have hummingbirds. The sky is clear blue and the air just feels good. This is what I dreamt of. Pulling into the driveway on a day just like this, and bringing Sweet Zoë and Lennox home. Spending hour after hour, lying on our bed with the two of you.

I thought today would be a beginning.

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Last photos

These are the last pictures we took of Zoë. They were taken on Jan. 19 and 20. I downloaded them from the camera weeks ago, but just hadn’t gotten around to adding them. I’ll move them to the gallery in a few days.

When Shannon started cleaning her mouth with that bit of gauze dampened with sterile water, she tried to suck on it (I went and bought her a NICU pacifier the next day, but it wouldn’t fit between the sides of the logan’s bow holding her breathing tube so she never got to try it). Her O2 stats went up and her heart rate leveled off nicely. She may have fussed when others “messed” with her, but not when her Daddy did. Then, when he wrapped his hand around her whole torso…that came in a close second to the effect of my holding her. All of her alarms stopped going off, she closed her eyes and went right to sleep. She loved having him around. Even the sound of his voice had a calming effect on her.

That’s my mama’s hand on my back

Daddy’s hand is big and strong and safe

I can almost see you!

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How to help

I have set up a memorial fund with Cook Children’s Hospital on behalf of Lennox and Zoë. All donations made in their names will go towards neonatal research. If you wish to make a donation, you may either:

mail it to:
Cook Children’s Hospital
Attn. Development Office
801 7th Ave
Fort Worth, TX 76104

go to

Please be sure to indicate that you are donating in memory of Lennox and Zoë Simpson of Fort Worth, Texas 76120. My name is Allison Simpson (I believe the online form will want that information). Cook will send us a notification of your donation and a recognition to you.

I have contacted the Red Cross to see about establishing some sort of memorial blood donation “fund” as well. In the meantime, those in North Texas can still make donations through Charter as listed in the sidebar. *Update* The Red Cross does not have a method for the sort of memorial donations we have in mind.  We could sponsor a drive in their memory, but that would still be something local.  If donating blood is something you are interested in doing, either email me (allisonwonderland at gmail dot com) or post here when you do and I’ll create a list to acknowledge the donation.  

I’ve added links to the March of Dimes to the sidebar as well. Donations can be made in memory of Lennox or Zoë.

Shannon and I thank all of you in advance. Nothing will ever take away this pain, but to know that some good is being done in Lennox and Zoë’s names is a huge comfort to us.

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Our sweet Zoë is home now. Her daddy and I brought her home Saturday, on a beautiful, warm and sunny day, not unlike the day in April on which we would have been bringing her and Lennox home, had things gone oh so differently.

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For Lennox

A very dear friend wrote this poem for Zoë when we lost Lennox. At the time, I didn’t want to post it because I needed to focus on her so much that I had to wall off a lot of my grief for Lennox and part of that meant hiding away the things that reminded me of him. It’s such a lovely tribute to him, though, that I wanted to share it.

Two Souls, One Heart (Zoe’s Loss)

You gave yourself so I could thrive,
Through me you’ll always be alive,
What was for you an end, for me a start,
I guess we’re two souls in one beating heart.

You didn’t stay long by my side,
For each moment lost, tears were cried,
But still, I know we’ll never be apart,
Because we’re two souls in one beating heart.

The years will pass without you here,
I may forget you through the years,
But I’ll feel you brother, my missing part,
Forever two souls in one beating heart.

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Shannon and I are overwhelmed at the amount of love you have shown us and our sweet Zoë. We have to read your comments in bits and pieces still, but we do read them.

Sometimes when you feel most alone, you find out just how many friends you have, even if you’ve never met them and don’t know their names.

I know many of you have asked if there is something you can do. We are going to be setting up some memorial funds in Zoë and Lennox’s names soon. Our plan is to set up a donation fund with Cook Children’s Hospital to raise some money for neonatal research and to see if we can set up a memorial “fund” with the Red Cross for blood donations. Obviously, we no longer need the donations to offset the blood that gets used, but both Shannon and I rather like the idea of Zoë and Lennox being remembered by getting blood donated to help others. As before, once I have the details all worked out, I will post them here.

I’m not sure what will become of this blog. I’m not taking it down, I’m just not sure how it goes on without my sweet Zoë.

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3:30pm Jan. 24, 2008

I don’t have any words left.

My Zoë died this afternoon.

We don’t know why yet.

My Zoë is gone and my Lennox is gone and I don’t know if anything will ever fill this hole.

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My three-week birthday, or how to scare my mama

First of all, Miss Zoë is three weeks old, in the world, today and she hit a whopping two pounds! Hooray! She’s also been moved to a new room in the NICU. Now that she’s proven herself stable she moves to room 3 from room 4. It’s away from the construction and they rarely admit babies directly into room 3, so ideally there will be less hullabaloo to upset our delicate flower.

Unless she’s the one CAUSING the hullabaloo.

This morning we got there shortly after her usual “maintenance” which always upsets her and causes her to desat, or drop her blood oxygen levels. Normally, though, she brings them back up within a few minutes and eventually stabilizes. Not this morning. We want her to be no lower than 82% and ideally in the low 90s. She was in the 50% range. The nurse tried repositioning her, suctioning her, giving her a sedative, increasing her oxygen level from the very nice 30% she’d been at all night higher and higher until she hit 100%, but nothing worked. On the plus side, Zoë’s color was good, her heart rate never budged, and she wasn’t fussing. An x-ray ruled out a pneumothorax, showed lungs that had improved since the last x-ray three days ago, and a respirator tube that had gotten shifted around. They repositioned the tube and Zoë’s O2 levels went back up. As we left the NICU, they were weaning her back down off the oxygen so hopefully she’ll be back at 30% before too much longer.

Mama needs a sedative of her own now. Mechanical issues are preferable to health issues, but until you can figure out the cause, they’re pretty damn scary.

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