Thursday, January 1, 2009


About 13 years ago Mr. Weasel lost his job. This came as a tremendous blow to our small family. We had a toddler daughter and I was a full time at home Mom. Great job, no salary. We had barely been scraping by as it was without savings and without extras. We worried and fretted and lost sleep. I took a job waiting tables at a miserable little greasy spoon with equally miserable hours just to keep food on our table. Rent and utilities were something we crossed our fingers about. We felt like we were at rock bottom. How would we survive this? How long could we live like this. This was clearly the worst of the worst that could happen to us.

After a few months, Mr. Weasel did find a new job that was even better than the one he lost. We moved forward, always keeping that time as our measuring stick for how bad things could be. Our biggest fear was not being able to provide for our family.

The years went on and were fruitful, both in work and offspring. Our family had grown by leaps and bounds. We had moved cities to better and better jobs always to make sure that we could provide for mouth after mouth. We had to be proactive to make sure that we never had to be in such an awful, dark and scary place again.

When our 5th child, Claire was born, my doctor quickly tore off out of the room. "where does he think he's going?" left my lips without any response as she was being weighed. The nurse placed Claire into my arms and Mr. Weasel and I began to cuddle her. She was sweet and beautiful and smiling. Real smiling. The nurses were bouncing "It can't be gas when she hasn't eaten, she's smiling!" We were instantly in Love.

The doctor returned with another M.D. in tow. "She has Down's Syndrome. We are worried about her heart and there is a 50/50 chance she will die within her 1st year". That puts things into perspective very quickly. There was no time to wallow in our baby girl not being perfect. She was perfect to us and we now had a focus, keeping her alive.

Within the first 12 hours of her life she had already acquired 4 specialists of her own and countless tests. She had to stay in the NICU and I couldn't be there when she was having tests done. I waited in my hospital room for word from the doctors while Mr. Weasel ran to the bookstore to buy every book he possibly could on raising a child with Down's.

Soon, both the geneticist and the cardiologist came in to make their reports. "She is perfectly healthy in every way. Her heart is in great shape. She is the strongest and healthiest Down's child we have seen. You have absolutely no reason to worry. she is beautiful". These were the happiest most wonderful words that I could ever hear. She would stay in the NICU until her oxygen saturation improved, but that was to be expected.

A short while later, the hospital social worker came into my room to say "It's okay to cry and to mourn". "Huh? "It's okay to mourn that your baby is not perfect and that your hopes for her future are not the same as a normal baby. I answered her with "Mourn what? I just got the news that she is going to live, I have reason to celebrate! I want to do cartwheels! I have no reason to mourn. She is perfect because she is her, now get out and don't come back." And that is how our whole family felt about her. The other Weasels were excited about their new baby sister and were slowly understanding that she would not learn as fast as they did, but she would learn, especially with their help.

When Claire was a week old we got to bring her home from the hospital. Words can not surmise the joy that filled our house that day. She was ours. No wires or tubes. No nurses help needed anytime you wanted to pick her up. Just our baby to have and to hold. Our family had never been happier or more content.

And then it happened. She had been home for one week. It was the middle of the night. It was time to wake her for a feeding. She was not breathing. We started CPR and called 911. The fear and panic swept through us. It felt like an eternity before help arrived, according to the clock it was a little over 2 minutes. They whisked her away to the ambulance and to the hospital, but it was all in vain. She never took another breath again.

Our world stop turning. We hit real rock bottom. There was nothing but intolerable pain, both emotional and physical, that there was no cure for. As my heart was shattered into bajillions of little pieces, my arms ached with a tangible pain. They ached with a need to hold her. Just continuing to breathe took all the effort and energy we could muster.

Once again, we quickly had things put in perspective for us. Everything that we thought was important was no longer a priority. A job? they're a dime a dozen. Savings? It's only money. Retirement? So what if it never happens. We now know what's really important, Our Family. Everything else is icing. They are nice, enjoyable luxuries. Wonderful to have and worth working toward, but they are not important. They are not worth losing sleep over. There will always be a way to work things out. All we need in this world is each other. That is what is important.

It has been over 6 years since Claire died. Much healing has taken place. We took our experience and grief and have tried to turn them into a positive by helping other parents who found themselves in this dark place. We've tried to offer them hope. Hope that they will survive. Hope that they will never forget their deceased children. Hope that life will get better with time. Hope that they will someday know joy again. Hope that they will learn to live again. I will never consider it a positive that Claire died, but positive things have happened because of it. We have become better people and developed many cherished friendships and helped to guide others through these murky waters. We have learned what is truly important.

So this past November, when Mr. Weasel became one of thousands in this economy to be laid off, we refused to lose sleep over it. What happens will happen. He will work hard at finding something, we will tighten the belts, but we will never again think that this is the worst position we could be in. We will not confuse this with rock bottom. We will laugh off the small stuff and cherish what is important in a deeper way. We will never forget our ClaireBear or the gifts that she has left behind for us. Not the least of which is perspective.

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de-I said...

Weaselmomma - you are an ocean of personal depth. All who are going through hard times need to know and hear about people like you.

Melissa said...

Having never been to blogher I haven't a clue but this post was truly touching.

I can't even imagine what you guys have been through.

Laura said...

Amen. Thank you for once again baring your heart and soul to us. There's not much more to say, but this is beautiful.
Love to you all.

Mike said...

Thank you for sharing your story. We all need to have a little perspective in our own lives and you and your family have shown us yours.

Happy New Year to you and the family.

Melisa said...

It feels weird to say "Great post, Barb!" on such a serious and touching subject, so instead I will just say that it was really well-written and I think it's a great submission to the BlogHer folks.

You are right; having something so tragic happen in your family can really put other situations in proper perspective.

I'm thinking of your precious Claire today and know that she is watching over your family.


Momo Fali said...

I am so sorry for your loss. My heart breaks for you. Not that I, in any way, understand what you've gone through, but having a child with health problems has definitely taught me the lesson you have shared in this post. Life, love, and family are what it's all about.

Weaselmomma said...

@ de-I ~ Thank you. That's quite a compliment.

@ Melissa ~ I just hope the BlogHer chicks like it. I would love to speak at the convention.

@ Laura ~ Thank You. I just hope it passes muster so that it wasn't posted in vain.

@ Mike ~ Perspective is impotant to hold onto.

@ Melisa ~ I am certain that she looks out for us all the time.

@ Momo ~ It's the hard way to take such an important lesson to heart. I'm sure you have learned it long ago.

terri said...

You are amazing. I am in tears after reading your words. I know putting yourself out there takes you out of your comfort zone, but it is a beautiful thing when you do it. If this post doesn't get you chosen to speak at Blogher, then they don't deserve you anyway.

nonna said...

although i cannot imagine actually wanting to get up and speak in front of all those people, i really hope you get your wish.

to be able to learn such a valuable life lesson from something so tragic and to actually become even closer to each other when a lot of families end up torn apart by such tragedy, it speaks highly of you and your husband and the strength of yall's love for each other.

i am hoping that i can kidnap seashore and both of us be able to go to blogher this year. if we can find a cheap enough place to stay we might be able to manage it. i hope we do get to go so we can visit with you and all of my new bloggy friends!

Anonymous said...

Never hear of BlogHer before a few weeks ago. I have sent my nomination email! Good Luck!

Lisa@verybusymomwith4 said...

This was a wonderful, touching and inspiring.
And puts everything into perspective.
Bless you and your family in the New Year.

Bad Momma said...

That was a beautiful post!
I love your outlook on life.

Happy New Year to you and your family.

Weaselmomma said...

@ Terri ~ You are so kind. Now go nominate me!

@ Nonna ~ Hopefully I will be staying downtown at the convention and you two can share a room with me. If not my door is always open for the both of you to stay. So work on the kidnap!

@ Janed ~ Thank you and I hopr to see you at BlogHer.

@ Lisa ~ Thanks for coming by. I hope to see you again soon, Happy New Year!

@ Bad Momma ~ Thanks, now go nominate!

Laura said...

Don't you know that nothing you post is in vain?? :) You have touched someone, somewhere (& I don't mean in an inappropriate way) and helped them through a difficult time, JUST BY POSTING THIS, not to mention all the work you've done supporting others over the past six years (& before that, too, but not necessarily in this arena). I don't know what Blogher is, but I hope you get it, because YOU DESERVE IT. Either way, though, this post could not possibly have been in vain!

Michelle said...

I had no idea. I am so sorry for your loss. Your words are incredibly moving, as I sit here with tears streaming down my face.

You must speak. There are too many out there without hope, without a lifeline, without the surety that life will improve someday. I truly hope you are chosen. Good luck!

The Microblogologist said...

Laura said pretty much exactly what I wanted to say. Does this blogher thing allow for nominations from nonmembers?

NukeDad said...

Beautifully written, Barb. I will be sending an email to the BlogHer folks for you. There are many lessons that can be learned from this post. I hope you get chosen.

Chris H said...

What a touching post... and a precious personal story. I hope you win!

Vodka Mom said...

That was an incredible, incredible story. Whew.
I am in awe of you.

Weaselmomma said...

@ Laura and Micro ~ I guess I meant to say "So I didn't post it without personal gain" lol.

@ Michelle ~ You know what to do now. Go nominate me!

@ NukeDad ~ Thanks.

@ Chris ~

@ Vodka ~ Funny, I don't get a lot, lol. You should come back when we are just goofing off around here. I think we'd have fun!

seashore subjects said...

Weaselmomma, you know that I love you and all of the weasels. It never ceases to amaze me, how strong you are - to share and to help parents who have lost a child to SIDS. You are truly amazing.

Weaselmomma said...

@ Seashore ~ You are so getting kidnapped and coming to blogher.

M@ said...


If they don't ask you to speak, they suck rocks. I'm sorry about the subject matter, but I have to say you write amazingly well. I'm sitting at work all choked up.

Thank you for sharing.

Mama Smurf said...

Totally crying for you.

Thank you for reminding me to put things into perspective.

RhondaLue said...

What an inspirational post!!!

Yes, we all need to remember that rock bottom is a matter of perspective,for sure.

I'm sorry for the loss of your precious girl but thankful you shared your story. I'll go nominate you now!

Mrs4444 said...

Thank you for sharing this, Weaselmomma. And thanks for being you.

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