Monday, December 1, 2008

Happy Birthday, Aaron Jr.

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One, Two... THREE ! ! !

This is Aaron Jr's third birthday.
We were pretty busy with some stuff that day, so it was pretty low key that evening.
I wish I had gotten a clear photo, but this was the best one of him looking. Oh well.

Here are Aaron Jr's four BIRTHdays..


Proud Papa...
This is about 3 minutes after Aaron Jr. was born. I love how proud Aaron looks as he shows off our son to those who were waiting out in the hall to hear the word. All of our parents were there, Aaron's sister April and her husband Dave were there, and my sister Lisa was there. Our baby was born ON Lisa's birthday.

This was Aaron and me a few minutes later. I had torn really badly, so I was shaking really badly, so I couldn't really hold Aaron Jr for a while. I had to wait for at least an hour to be stitched up. There weren't any photos taken of me with anyone that night, so I took this from a video from that night. This was a really long road for us.

We started trying right away after we got married to get pregnant. I had been diagnosed with endometriosis a few years earlier, so I knew it might take a while to get pregnant. Knowing that it could take a while didn't prepare me for the heartache that comes with infertility. Anyone who has been through infertility knows the pain and heartache you feel each month when you find out you aren't pregnant. The sadness you feel is hard to explain, but it is a deep sadness that makes it hard to focus on much else. Aaron was always telling me that it will happen when it is supposed to, but being the one who goes through all of the 'stuff' each month makes it so it is on your mind SO much. Then when someone tells you they are pregnant, you are SO happy for them, but you are SO sad for yourself. You feel like you are being passed by to receive the joy that will come from having a child. You are happy for those getting pregnant, but it is so hard to hide the disappointment that you have been left behind again... when you want so desperately to help create a life and bring more joy into your family.

I am grateful that it didn't take us as long as some to get pregnant. My heart aches for those that I know of who have been through a lot more than me with infertility and who are still aching to have children of their own. Just like any other trial, only those who have been through it can truly understand the heartache it brings on.

After nearly 2 1/2 years of marriage, I had surgery again to see what was going on with me. We tried for a few more months on our own, then finally attempted artificial insemination for the first time in March 2005. On April 6, 2005, I got up that morning and took a pregnancy test. I tried to wait patiently for the results. I had had SO many negative tests over all of those months and months and it was difficult to even look at the test because of the devastation I knew I would feel if it were negative again. Well, I finally looked, and I couldn't believe what I was seeing. The test simply read 'PREGNANT' on it. I ran in to Aaron and I woke him up out of a deep sleep to tell him the joyful and happy news. We were thrilled to finally receive the blessing to become parents.

The pregnancy went pretty well. There were a couple of scares with bleeding and hemoraging, but I felt so happy to be having a baby, hardly anything could get me down. I had the nausea and I had the normal pains of pregnancy... pain while trying to sleep, pain while trying to turn over in bed, pain while walking downstairs, pain from Aaron Jr kicking the same rib for months and months... but it was so hard to complain... I was happy for every discomfort. It all meant that I was going to have a baby.

My due date was on December 14, 2005... well, on December 1, 2005, I had a couple of my first contractions that night in bed. That morning, I had small contractions throughout the morning, then in the afternoon, I took Ode on a really long walk. When I got home, I layed down on the couch to catch my breath and the contractions started coming every seven minutes. Then every six minutes, then every 5 minutes. I called Aaron to come home from work and take me to the hospital. We got to the hospital around 6:00 pm and they started monitoring me. My contractions were around 4 minutes apart, but I was only dialated to a 4. They were talking about sending me home, but I hoped they wouldn't. The contractions were close enough, I figured it would be soon. They kept me and checked me around 8:00 pm and I was dialated to a 7. That is when they broke my water. Up until that point, the contractions were painful and difficult, but I didn't even know pain until they broke my water. Instantly the contractions were ridiculous. Two of my sisters had babies in those last few months and they had done it natural without any medication. I had always wanted to try to do that, so after they did it, I knew for sure I wanted to try. Well, an hour later, I was still only dialated to a 7. The pain was horrendous. I didn't know if I could pull it off. Another hour went by, and I think I was maybe at an 8 by then, but I was not progressing very quickly. They kept telling me to relax, but I didn't understand how that was possible. At one point, the guy who does the eppidural came in to see if I wanted one... while he stood there, my sister walked in behind him and started waving her arms behind him and mouthing the words, 'NO, you can do it.'

That is when I sent the eppidural guy out of the room. I knew I could do it. I had come that far and I knew I could finish it somehow. Aaron was great through the labor. He kept trying to comfort me and encourage me. He let me hold three of his fingers and squeeze them when I was having a contraction. Any more fingers was too much to get a good grip on and any less fingers wasn't enough. I just wanted THREE fingers. He was a good sport.

At one point, I was laying there and just didn't know if I was going to be able to do it. I didn't know if it was going to be possible. It was at that point that I felt the baby's legs and feet pushing against the top of my abdomen. I could tell he was working hard to push himself down so that he could get out. When I realized how hard he must be working to be born, I realized that I had no excuse. He was working just as hard or harder than I was. This was very traumatic for him. That is when I knew I could do it and had to do it. That experience was such a special and spiritual experience for me.

Around 11:30, I was still only at a 9, so they finally put something in my IV just to help me relax between contractions to see if it would help me dialate. It didn't touch the pain, but between the contractions, I was able to sit back and relax a bit and within 10 minutes, I was dialated to a 10. It was time to push. I think it only took about 3 or 4 pushes and he was out. Our beautiful baby boy. They set him on my chest and I was crying and I was totally in shock. They took him and started making sure everything was okay and weighed and measured him. He weighed 7 lbs 12 oz. and he was 21 inches long. He was perfect. That is when Aaron took him out to show him off.

Proud Mama...
Aaron took this. I was so happy. All of my dreams had come true. I was a wife and a mom. That is all I ever dreamed of and it had finally happened.

This was taken in the middle of the night. I was supposed to be sleeping, but couldn't and Aaron was supposed to be sleeping, but probably didn't want to. I grabbed the camera and took this photo of my two boys. This has become one of my favorite photos ever. Aaron sat there holding him like that for so long.
With what has happened in our lives, we were so blessed to be able to have a son for Aaron to enjoy for a couple of years before he was called home. And I am so blessed to have Aaron Jr. here. I am SO blessed to have a living reminder of my husband running around. He reminds me so much of him. Aaron Jr. continues to bless my life each moment of each day. I am grateful to have a son with Aaron's name. He is carrying on the legacy...

A kiss for my hard work. :)

FIRST birthday...

I forgot to take a photo BEFORE he destroyed the cake, but oh well. I got it all on film. :)

The three of us.

We did cake and presents in the morning because right after he got done with gifts, we headed to the mountains to hunt down our Christmas tree. The snow was really deep, and Aaron Jr. wasn't walking yet, so I had to hold him the whole time. Aaron was the one who hunted and cut the trees while I held Aaron Jr. I wish I had some photos of him pulling the tree out, but I got video I think.

I loved the look of the snow on this guardrail, so I asked Aaron to stop the truck on the way down the canyon so I could take some photos. This photo happened to get the truck with the tree in it, so I wanted to share it. We have some GREAT memories of going and cutting down our Christmas tree each year. It was to be our tradition each year. I loved doing that with Aaron.

SECOND birthday...

Aaron Jr's second birthday is a difficult one to reflect back on. His Daddy had passed away just two days earlier. We had been talking that week about what we wanted to do for his birthday. We talked about going to the zoo or going sledding. Neither of those worked out. Life had been turned upside down for us. We all still tried to make it a day 'all about Aaron Jr'. It was difficult, but I think he had a good day... considering. I hope.

First we celebrated with the Harkness side...

Then we celebrated with the Higginson side...

We ended the night with a birthday SINK bath.

Lots of friends and family showed up to wish Aaron Jr a happy birthday. Some friends of Aaron's came, Justin, Joann, and Dax. The reason I mention these friends is because of what happened that day. It had been a couple of days since Aaron had passed away. When Dax, Justin, and Joann were getting ready to leave, Aaron Jr walked into the room and was crying for me. So, I picked him up and held him. As soon as he looked over at these friends that I was talking to, he looked at Dax and said, 'Daddy', and he reached for Dax. There is actually a resemblance between Dax and Aaron. Dax happened to have scruff on his face that day as well, so it added to the resemblance. As soon as Dax took Aaron Jr, the rest of us in the room just about died. The heartache was so overwhelming. Aaron Jr. wouldn't let go of Dax, so they had to stay longer. We sat down and Dax sat there holding Aaron Jr. for quite some time. Aaron Jr. finally got down and played with some of the kids, but he sat on Dax's lap for a long time thinking that he was his Daddy. That happened at the funeral as well a few days later. That time, he screamed when Dax had to leave. It was so heartbreaking. It hasn't happened since then when we have been around Dax. He needed his Daddy those days and if he needed to think that Dax was his daddy, then I am glad Dax was around. Thank you Dax.
THIRD birthday...

He was singing to himself while the Happy Birthday song was sung. It was so cute.

Steve and Christa gave him this child's fishing pole and he has been obssessed with it ever since. He slept with it the first two nights after getting it. He calls it his 'fish'. Aaron's parents gave him Buzz Lightyear. Aaron Jr finally saw Toy Story and got a Woody doll last year for Christmas from some boys in their ward. He finally opened it recently and they gave him the Buzz.

My parents gave him a piggy bank and some money to put into it. He LOVES putting money in piggy banks.
He got a cowboy shirt from Aaron's parents as well.
I gave him a Chipmunks movie and a toy that stacks into the shape of a lighthouse... for obvious reasons. :)

After he opened his gifts, he kept asking me to take photos of random things, then he wanted to see what the photo looked like. Here are a few of the photos. He is obssessed with taking photos lately. I wonder where he gets that. :)

This is Aaron Jr. showing how old he is now. Anyone who asks how old he is now, he says 'Three', while he holds up all of his fingers... it is SO cute.
I hope and pray that Aaron was with us for Aaron Jr's birthday. He was sorely missed.
We missed you so much today, Aaron... we love you...
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Do you have this in pink? said...

What a beautiful post, thank you for sharing your birth story, it was really touching to read. The picture of Aaron and you embracing is so intimate and special.
I've thought of you so much the past week but just didn't have the right words for you.
I too believe giving birth to your child is a very spiritual experience, something that is almost beyond discription to those who have never done it before.
I'm glad you and Aaron got to share that amazing experience.

With love,


dani said...

happy birthday, aaron jr.!!! i hope you will like your chipmunks movie. i saw it for the first time thanksgiving day and thought it was so sweet!!!
much love to you and your mom,

Mindy said...

I loved reading Aaron jr.'s birthday stories... especially his first one. The part about you needing to hold three fingers of Aaron's, no more, no less, was a perfect example of love. It's a little thing, but those are the things that really matter.

You are a great mom, and I am so glad that you were able to have that blessing in your life.

Anonymous said...

That picture where Aaron is holding Aaron Jr. in the hospital in the middle of the kind of looks like a light from heaven is shining down on the two of them!

Seesalou said...

neat pictures, many that i have never seen before. there are many important stories shared in this posting that i'm glad to have read. it's so neat to think back on that night when you exhibited such strength. love you lots!

Kristi said...

Remembering that story from Aaron's 2 year birthday with Dax was heartbreaking. I remember losing it big time.
That picture of Aaron with Aaron in the middle of the night is so precious - father / son bonding time.
We love Aaron to pieces. I miss having him around. After our kids went to bed he would talk with you and be so sweet and say some pretty funny stuff.
Love you

Marc and Megan said...

Leslie, this is such a beautiful birthday tribute to your precious son! The heartache and pain that you had to face before finally receiving the most treasured miracle... and then the joy that came with his birth... it is all so inspiring. The photos you've shared speak volumes of the love between the three of you, and the joy that you bring each other. It is such a privilege and a blessing to get a glimpse of the love that binds your family together.

Tabitha said...

Happy birthday Aaron Jr ~ looks like you had such a fun day and the cake looks very yummy!!
Great photos Leslie, ~ and thank you for sharing your birth story with us ~ so special.
Love and big hugs Tabitha XXXX

Tawnie said...

Happy Birthday AJ. Beautiful pictures and memories.

Natalie said...

It is so neat to hear other mom's birth stories. My son's 2nd birthday was in October and I watched the birth video for the first time in a while. It is an experience that is hard to put into words. Your story was very sweet. You were just as brave then as you are now. I made it about an hour, after contractions started, before I had an epidural! :) I'm glad you have not only pictures of your time with Aaron, but video as well. Just precious.

I hope you enjoyed the day with Aaron Jr. It is always a blessing to read your posts. Thank you!

Leslie said...

Happy Birthday aaron Jr! I hope you had a great day!! And what a great day to have a birthday! Thats my first baby's (well she is 11 now).

what great pictures you always have and great words to go with them. Thank you for sharing with us!!!

Jennifer said...

A truly beautiful post! You are an amazing woman! Happy Birthday to Aaron Jr.!


Brandy said...

Not much to say, Les, just tears. What amazing memories you have together with your sweet family.

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday to a very special little boy.

You know what Leslie? You even look beautiful 3 minutes after giving birth....that is not allowed!

Love to you,


Jyl said...

Happy Birhday Aaron Jr. Leslie you poor thing.. sounds like you had a rough delivery. But what a miracle baby.. and even more so, what great pictures you have of Aaron and Aaron jr.

Hollie said...

Happy Birthday Aaron Jr.!

And Leslie, thank you so much for posting about infertility. My John and I have been trying for 1 1/2 yrs now, with our 2nd most recent failed artificial insemination - I can feel myself loosing hope with each negative test I get. But talks with God and reminders from people like you - my heart starts to regain it's hope again. Thank you.

Crystal said...

Happy Birthday Aaron Jr.

I went to the Festival of Trees yesterday and saw the two trees dedicated to Aaron. They were beautiful! Hope you are having a good Holiday season.

k.m.b. said...

I remember all it took to get little aaron jr here. I loved seeing your face everytime you came in! You definitely went through a lot and have such a little miracle to show for it! You're the best and i miss seeing you every month!

PS You're talking to the ultimate in "mother bears". holy cow. I have issues. Does it get any easier??

Rebecca_Adams said...

Pictures are worth 1000 words, and this post was full of them! :) Thanks for the great stories of Aaron Jr.'s birthdays! The part you talked about infertility is exactly how I've been feeling at times. Yes, it is exciting to hear of others getting pregnant, but it is really heartbreaking at the same time. You said it all just perfect, and you've given me more hope. Thank you! I know everything happens on the Lord's timing. I just hope I can have the blessing of being a mother someday. I'm happy you got the chance to experience it! Aaron Jr. is so adorable and growing more and more handsome every day. :)

Joann said...

Leslie, I loved this post. I love all of your posts, but this was just sweet. That picture you pulled from video is just perfect. I always love pictures of daddies with their babies. Just precious. I remember when Aaron Jr. went to Dax. It was so heartbreaking. I just remember us all bawling! It was great of Dax to sit with him for a while. I think it helped them both. You are such a beautiful Mommy, Leslie! Happy Birthday little Aaron!