Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I can't believe...still

It is almost a year ago that I found out that I lost my little girl... I can't believe it still.  Last year at this time, I was in holiday mood and the festivities were actually festive.  I was busy with my plans for after the holidays, that would be my preparation for my baby to come home.  A year ago, at this time, I was full with belly and proud to be so.  I was carrying well and daughter was a busy little acrobat. 

Today I can't believe it happened to me still.  I can't believe I am still a bereaved parent, and now after a year of my life has been spent grieving I think the acceptance process may begin.  I know early on, it may have seemed that I 'accepted' the lose, but, truly by accepting it I simply was not rejecting the notion of it.  Now accepting it means something different.  It means realizing she is gone and never coming back.  And I think that is the most frustrating, sad and lonely part for me.  All the tears in the world will not put her back in my arms.  And it is so hard to believe, but, I think I am starting to realize I have to.

An entire year has past and nothing has changed and all the same life has gone on.  And it is so hard because apart of doesn't want life to go on.  Apart of me wants to be in that moment forever, while my baby was still apart of me, inside of me and with me.  I don't want to lose her even though I already have. 

Anger is a more identifiable emotion for me now.  I am a bit angry that I can't change it and this entire year has taught me it is real.  With every 'first' that has past, it has become more and more real... she is gone.  Our first family wedding back was hard for me, our Easter holiday away from the area, our first family vacation, Dominic's birthday, preparing the Christmas tree and making holiday cookies all together, all reinforces that fact that we are one short.  And in my mind, in my heart there should be a little girl crawling around, getting under foot and preparing for a first living birthday.

I wonder how the years to come will be and how it will change over time.  Will the joy of the holidays ever be there for us, for our family? I wonder when will that day come that I am not thinking of her all the time.  Will there ever be a day I don't remember her or think of her? And how will that effect me? Will my heart always feel the emptiness?

How I am different now compared to then, I don't know if I can surmise.  I can only say I don't think I will ever by the same, I don't know if I would want to be.  All I do know, is these days are hard and don't like them.

Anger and Renewal

I'm sorry if my grief makes you uncomfortable.  Imagine how I feel!
Please stop waiting for me to change or get better and consider this just may be who I am now.  You may not like it but that is okay.  As long as I can manage and live with myself  you are not of my consquence. Can you walk in my shoes and live my life?  I am not up for apologizing for being, I just am.  I am! Maybe not how you knew me or want to know me, but here I stand, slightly a mess, but still proud that I can still stand, unassisted and without fear.  I face each day with a hopfulness that today will be better.  Imagine my dismay when it is not.  And yet each day I wake and start over.  I have learned to relish in the small triumphs, let the rest fall where it may, and having faith God will take care of the rest.  And yet you can stand in judgement of my tears and evaluate my hurt and my pain because you don't like it. If I could I would trade it all to have my life back to what it was and have my child in my arms, but I can not.  Rather than worry about me, count your blessings and search your heart for the reason you think I need something more.  Do I, or do you need to feel better? Yes, I struggle I have terrible days and I weap for my loss, but still I live and I am  and will continue to be.  Maybe not what you want for me, but what I was meant to be and how God has make me.

Moving on

One of the things I've had to try to figure out since December 18, 2010, is how do you move on from your life being shattered into a million pieces.  9 months later the answer to that question is more elusive to me than that very first night.  That night, I only knew in my soul, my core that it would be okay and I/we would survive. 

Now how to survive is much more complicated than I could have ever imagined.  Even with faith and love in my heart my sorrow and pain are so predominant that even breathing hurts sometimes. Ever aspects of my life and all I know, have known and have learned and believed to be true has been challenged.  Everyday is a struggle to get by and survive.  I had always wondered why obituaries read, "Mrs. Jones was survived by..."  Now I know.  We, the living, are challenged to survive our lose, our grief and our sorrow.  Mourning is hard work and a task no one voluntarily takes on.  We do not choose the death of our loved ones, we simply are left to accept it.  And it is the accepting it that is hard.  But, even with it being hard, the accepting is not the challenge.  The challenge is living with the change.  The change of the knowledge we are mortal, we are susceptible and we have no control.  All the cliches are sweet: she is in a better place; she is not there, only her body; she's happy; she's the lucky one; and on and on, are the pathetic things we say to help ourselves feel better when trying to help someone else.  When the truth is there is nothing to be said and nothing will make it better.

I want people to know, when you are talking to a bereaved parent, shut up, listen, ask questions and then respond.  We do not want to hear your thoughts or opinions.  We only want to hear acceptance from you.  We want you to accept our lives have changed, that we are difference and that we may never be the same again, and that it is okay.  Don't try to fix us, "help" us or make it better.  It won't be ever for us and that doesn't make us broken or wrong.  It means we evolved and transformed into what  and who we don't know. All we know is we must now learn how to be comfortable in this new skin we are forced to live in.  We are still your children, nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts, uncles, sisters and brothers and friends.  We just have experienced a trauma we hope you will never know.  We may be the same at times, and may be different, at times you may not even recognize us by our actions.  But for me all I ask is you love me through the pain, the tears, the laughter and the time left to figure out who I am now and how do I go on.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Heavy Heart

My heart is getting heavier and heavier as the weeks are passing and bringing me closer to the anniversary of our loss.  I realized yesterday how I don't remember last November at all.  I don't remember the little things or even the larger events, like my birthday and Thanksgiving.  I have found it surprising that I don't remember.  I could understand not remembering the days prior and the weeks following.  But not to be able to remember November 2010 is odd to me.

I am so surprised at the melancholy mood and cloud around me.  I have not 'anticipated' the anniversary to be good or bad, but the stress I am feeling is heavy.  I suppose part of it is that I am one whole year without a part of my heart with me.  I still feel the ache as my heart beats.  The emptiness there is as real today as it was then.  As a matter of fact, maybe even more so, now it is real.

I still can't believe I am one of those people... a bereaved parent.  I honestly can't.  I know I am, I am walking through this life as one, but, I am comfortable in this place.  And there is nothing I can do about it.  That is one of the hardest parts of being us.  We didn't nothing to bring us to this place and yet we are left with the burden of living it.  I know in life others have it harder and even worse than we do.  I know that.  But, can't help but almost feel sorry for myself that this is the reality I live. 

My Thanksgiving while filled with reasons to give thanks, was difficult.  My family wasn't together and never will we sit at that table together.  It is hard to 'give thanks' on a specific day in this fashion, when to me it is just another day and I am not particularly feeling thankful, since my daughter is not there with us.   I can't help but thing she should be on the brink of her first birthday, sitting in her highchair and making us laugh with her coos and self discoveries.  Instead, we go on with out her as though she was never suppose to be there.  It is hard to find the balance between remembering and obsessing about all the withouts we have.

In any event, I write because I am not sure what else it is I can be doing.  I could hope and pray, and I have, and I will continue to, but it doesn't feel like it helps.  Christmas is going to be hard. And December 19th is around the corner and I have no idea of how we will mark the date.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I remember

Looking back at the pictures at the cemetery when her marker first came in, I remember how happy I was that it was here.  I felt like the waiting for the marker to get in took so long and remember thinking it is 'finally' here.  I remember the ground being bare and without grass. I remember sitting there in the dirt and running my fingers through the loose dirt, wondering how close yet how far she was from my reach. 

Now it is a much different scene.  The marker is showing some wear from being exposed to the weather. The grass is grown in and with it came the weeds that I desperately try to cut back and dig out.  And now her grave is starting to look like every other one to the naked eye.  To all eyes but mine.  To me, she is special, that marker is special and to me it is like it was yesterday, and I remember.

Blessings






A sweet and dear person took the time to share this song with me.  I am so grateful.  Thank you Julie!
(Grab a tissue)

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Calling

In my life, I have always felt I was being called to something more.  While I could feel that pull, I could never identify that 'more'. 

In April 2008, when I was wed, I began to realize that I was suited to be a wife.  In October 2009, I became a mother and I started to feel the my empty cup, I'll call 'more', starting to fill.  While motherhood in the early days was trying and exhausting, it was more than I could have hoped for.  My son has filled my life with love and happiness.  Nurturing him was and is a delight and my pleasure, even though the exhaustion.  Knowing that his tiny, precious life, was dependent on me was a huge responsibility.  The pressure is immense.  But, as he grew and hit milestones, I knew I was doing a good job.  When I feel defeated as a mother, I look at him and his gentle nature, his ability and his carefree attitude, and know I am doing something right.

Still a nagging feeling remained.  What should I do, how can I do it.  What will give my life more meaning, more depth.  After all, one day my son will be a man, and I will be an old lady.  What makes some older people happy and others not? Healthy or ill? I believe the answer to that question is purpose.  We need to have a purpose.  Without purpose our spirit is week and can wither.  Maintaining purpose in life to me is key.  But, I still haven't found that purpose, that 'more'. 

Strangely, I since the loss of Gabriella, after the initial shock and numbness that is, I am feeling more whole than ever before.  I feel I have something to offer. I feel my more is my ability to nurture, love and give back.  All the things I have loved doing my whole life are things that directly and indirectly fall into these categories.  Why hasn't it been obvious to me? Why couldn't I have seen it before? I am to nurture, love and give back.  I am being called to service and love.  It is so simple and yet it took a terrible loss and for me to see it.  It took that sacrifice of my daughter in my arms for me to see.  It is amazing to me that she is the teacher.  That I pray to her to intercede with God on my behalf.  That she is the stronger, wiser one of us. And that she is the one who is guiding me to fulfill my 'more' and be the person I was meant to be.  My children both actually are my teachers.  They give me more than I could have imagined one person could give to another, and they do it with unconditional love and without judgement.  I am so blessed to have them both.  I can never imagine my life without both of them, Dominic in my arms and Gabriella in my heart.  I will always carry both of them close to me.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Writing

I haven't written in so long.  I tend to forget that I haven't written here on this blog, because I write all the time in my head.  So many things have happened and have been going on in my life and in my head since I last posted that I can't hardly start to talk about it all.  I mention this because if entries start to come in and seem to be out of a chronological order, it is because it is.  Some posts to come are likely to be something I jotted down as these months have past.

Now, with it just 6 weeks until the one year 'angel'versary of the loss of my daughter, I think now I must make an effort to write again on a more regular basis.  I don't know what to expect as this weeks approach, I only know that the simple fact that a year has pasted is amazing to me.  My heart still broken, the questions I may have once had, have given way some type of acceptance and frustration is fading.  All still, my daughter is gone and I miss her everyday. 

Am left with the sense of gratefulness that I can't even begin to explain right now.  The other day at an All Souls Mass, where my daughter's beautiful name was read out loud, the pastor used the phrase a, "terrible blessing." At the time I could absorb his message, now I identify with it.  This all has been a terrible blessing that you all have shared with me.  I thank you for sharing and caring.  While, I know the 'terrible' is easy to see, it is the blessing part I am challenged with identifying.  While, I can see it a lot of the time, there are times it is much more difficult and hazy to make out the good from the bad.  But, isn't take always the way in life? Making out the good from the bad. 

I want to say that while this was never the life I would have chosen for myself this is the life I have and have been given, and I am grateful.  Grateful for the blessings I do have, and grateful for the opportunity to help others.

My life is never going to be the same, nor will I ever be the same person.  I am okay with that.  I just hope and pray that the life I come to is one where I can serve and love.  I will take the good with the bad, but mostly I hope to take and give the profound love both my children have taught me.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Judgement

Sometimes I wonder if I am wise to blog and publish my thoughts. I wonder if being so public exposes me to unsolicited judgements of my greif. But on the other hand, others seem to get something out of reading it. What to do?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Repairing My Soul

There are a thousand things that have happened and continue to happen on a daily basis that breaks down my soul.  I still feel so very often feel a thousand mini daggers in my heart and throughout my day that make me sad inside and break me down.  They are from the littlest things to the biggest.  No one hurts more than the other, it is just a constant and dull sadness and pain that constantly exists inside of me.  I know 9 months has past by my heart doesn't know the time has past only that a piece of it is missing.

And then, there moments like this morning.  A morning starting off like so many others.  I didn't get to sleep well, didn't start asleep well, and got up way to early to a little boy full of life ready explore the world around him.  These mornings, which tend to be most mornings are difficult and a challenge.  How do I wake up full of the life and energy I need for my son, when my heart is so broken, my spirit weary and my body empty of energy.  I like most just 'do it' because we have to, and it is our life.  This is my life, a constant struggle and challenge to keep my head above water, wondering if I will ever be the same again.  Last night, I think I may have come to the conclusion, that 'no' I will not ever be the same.

Getting to the business of my morning emails is part of the routine. Usually it is a barrage of advertisements, groupon offers and junk.  Delete, delete, delete... and then this morning, an unusual email is there.  I had to take a double take.  A late night email from a dear friend, Laurie.  I have written about Laurie, before, she is a high school acquaintance turned dear friend, with an amazing talent for photography.  I thought it must have been an old email.  She kindly had done me the favor of emailing a picture of Gabriella, since I am away in Florida and didn't bring one.  I thought maybe that was the email I was noticing, but no, it wasn't.  She, this brilliant, humble and sweet girl, had taken a picture of my dear baby, one from the hospital, that until now I could not see fit to even look at much myself, let alone share with others, and touched it up.  A miracle was transformed in front of my eyes.  My daughter, as she would have looked in the best of situations and without any alteration to her appearance.  My heart stopped for a moment and the tears welled up.  It is my baby. It is my girl.  It is how I want to see her, remember her and love her.  My restful, peaceful, sleeping, little angel.  There she is the missing piece of my heart, there in black and white. 

My soul is still so broken and while this morning didn't magically 'fix' it all.  It is indeed a step in the right type of direction in repairing my soul.  I thank Mrs. Laurie Arends with all my heart, even the missing piece, for the gift she has given me, the gifts she has given me and with all the love in my heart for her talent and generosity. And while there is a missing piece of my heart there is also, know a new part of my heart that belongs to her. Thank you my friend, a million thank yous aren't enough, just know my heart aches with thanks and gratitude. 


 My sweet baby girl, Gabriella Eve, December 19, 2011. Shortly after delivery.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Ticker

I noticed my ticker today and it is sadly moving along and getting closer to the end of the line which represents one year. I am not ready for it have been a year. It has been 9 months and 3 days since we said good-bye. So sad. My heart hurts.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Shower

I have come to realize my shower is my safe haven. The place I go to unwind, relax and escape the cruel realities of life. I realized this today when after an especially hard day I took a second shower to as a precursor to relaxing on the couch with my husband.

As I was in the shower, the issue that was plaguing me most of the day and that had boiled over by dinner, was stuck in my head. Over and over again I tried to make sense of it all and how it could possible resolve itself. I began to pray. I prayer for the grace and the peace of the Lord to entire my heart and take away the anger and resentment I had at the situation. I found my clarity. I was to nothing more than pray about this situation and accept what will be. And so my attention turned from rerunning the situation in my head to praying on the situation. And so I did I prayed and prayed. At until it hit me, this is where I prayer for my daughter, before we found out she was gone. I should there in that very spot and prayed for the same grace and guidance. It dawned on me that the last time I prayed in that spot in that way, my daughter was still inside my body warm although lifeless. I don't know if I will ever look at the shower the same again, at least that shower.

I know while it may seem my prayers were not answered that day in December. Some many say but she was taking from you. And true she was, but my prayer was for grace and guidance and that I got. The grace I was given that night has carried me over many months. I am grateful. Now I pray the same loving spirit of God comes to me again to help in this new and very different situation. I trust it will, even if I don't like the outcome again. I will still pray and hope for the best as that is my nature.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Strength

This poem was read at my bereavement group this month.  It touched me and I wanted to share it.
I don't know 'where' I am at in my grief, but I can identify with each stage in some way and I can say I have seen myself moving through and between the stages.  I don't know that I know much about anything anymore, but, I do want to believe I am strong, even though I don't feel it.

Strength

In the early days of my grief,
a tear would well up in my eyes,
a lump would form in my throat,
but you would not know-
I would hide it,
And I am strong.

In the middle days of my grief,
I would look ahead and see that wall
that I had attempted to go around
as an ever-present reminder of a wall yet unscaled.
Yet I did not attempt to scale it
for the strong will survive-
And I am strong.

In the later days of my grief,
 I learned to climb over that wall- step by step-
remembering, crying, grieving.
And the tears flowed steadily as
 I painstakingly went over.
The way was long, but I did make it,
For I am strong.

Near the resolution of my grief,
a tear will well up in my eyes,
a lump will form in my throat,
but I will let that tear fall- and you will see it.
Through it you will see that I still hurt and I care,
For I am strong.

By
Terry Jago


Saturday, August 6, 2011

Break Downs

Breakdowns happen! I know to some I seem to be okay and put together about this whole situation, well, I am not as strong as I seem.  I breakdown and it usually happens and hits me at the most unexpected of times; like today.

While at a local nursery/petting zoo, with my husband and son, I saw a little boy.   This little boy first caught my eye because of his red, red hair.  The kids were playing in the toddler bouncer and having a good time.  Then suddenly, I noticed the little boys t-shirt.  It read, "I'm going to be a big brother".  My heart sank.  My wonderful bright and sunny morning started to turn to gloom and anxiety.  I actually zoned out.  So much so, that my husband had to call my name to regain my attention.  I was a zombie.  I couldn't believe the things I was thinking.  I am not even sure if it is okay to express those thoughts here.  But, I am willing to throw caution to the wind and share my inner most thoughts at that moment.  I honestly, couldn't help but think, "I hope so. I hope you are the big brother you and your parents want you to be." I couldn't help but feel sorry for them and how naive they were.  "Don't they know?", I thought.  "Don't they know how terribly wrong things could go?"  "What if their baby dies? What will they do with that t-shirt?"  Rough, I know.  My thoughts were not conscious, censored or kind.  I was not the usual me.

I wanted to feel something other than what I felt in those moments.  I wanted to be happy for that family and for that little boy.  But, the truth of the matter is it stung.  It stung me in a way I haven't felt before.  I was a bit angry.  I was feeling bad for myself.  I just felt to my core, it just wasn't fair and I miss my daughter.  It threw me in an unsettled mood.  On my way home, I decided to stop by the cemetery.  Dominic was sleeping soundly in his car seat, so I left him in the car, and I walked up to my baby.  I haven't felt the same there since the time I went there to discover her things were stolen.  In my own type of rage, I decided to clean up her grave site and throw out everything old and faded looking.  As I ripped the stuff out of the ground, I just wanted to pound my fists to the ground and cry.  Not the type of cry where the tears roll gently down my face.  I wanted to cry, and cry hard.  I wanted to scream about how unfair it was.  I wanted to do all those things, but, there was a couple there nearby with their baby.  I composed myself and thought my rage out and calmly tended to my business.  I thought about her laying there in the ground and how just a couple of feet below me was her lifeless, breathless body.  I couldn't help but feel like this is all useless.  She is dead.  All the flowers and decorations in the world won't bring her back.  I can decorate garden all I want but, nothing will change.  I thought why do I come here and do this.  I started to understand those parents of the lonely graves, the ones who seem to be abandoned.  Maybe they, the parents, just didn't want to be themselves anymore.  Maybe they just don't want to be part of the group of bereaved parents.  Maybe going is being stuck in a moment.  But, unfortunately, when you lose a baby, all you have is a moment.  My memories of Gabriella are not plentiful.  I have to hold onto a feeling.  Without that feeling, it would be like she didn't exist.

Breaking down is not my favorite thing to do.  Not every breakdown is therapeutic, like today's.  Today's just sucked.  It hurt and it was unfortunate.  I never know where and when something is going to strike me and cause this feeling.  Preparing for it is impossible. When it does happen, it is all about survival.  I can't worry about dishes, laundry, dirty floors, dinner, bills or anything else.  I usually have to just do all I can to 'get through' it.  I take care of Dominic and then myself.  Life has to get simple in order to survive.  It has to be just me and Dominic, and everything and everyone else has to wait.  Some breakdowns are good, and a good cry helps sometimes, not today. I could have done without today.  The day was going great and as I think of it now, this event is overshadowing the fact that my family had a great morning together.  I understand that sometimes life give you lemons, and yes, we can make lemonade, but, sometimes, it just sucks.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Tough Day

Today was a weird, tough day. Maybe one day I'll write about it, but not today. Just pray for me. Thanks.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

I Walk A Little Slower

I didn't realize that losing Gabriella has effected my overall prospective on life and what I place importance on, as much as it did.  Going to spend the night in New York City really brought this change to my attention. I'm in no rush. I don't care to walk fast, think fast or even talk fast. While I respect that people hustle through most of their day, I have no desire to do that.  My attitude is, I get there when I get there.

While walking through Penn Station, the subway and the streets of New York, I could feel an almost outer body experience.  There was all these people around me, hurrying, and I felt like I was floating along a street level cloud.  No one seemed to see me, but I saw everyone.  I took the time to see them.  The busy New Yorkers, the commuters, the tourists, even the babies.  I found myself wanting to engage people in idle chit chat.  I wanted to yield to the rushed person in Zabar's and make their day a little lighter.  Maybe even make them smile.

I can't say I was always like this.  I can't say I was never a rushed person.  In fact, now that I think about it, I probably spent most of my life rushed and hustling.  It was the rare occasion that I would walk at my leisure, taking my time to soak in my surroundings.  We miss so much when we aren't looking.  Now, that has changed for me and not consciously, it just happened, I just didn't notice it until now.  I actually have to say I like this new change.  Those of you who know me, know I try to find the "good" in this bad situation. And believe me it is hard.  This recent, unexpected discovery is in deed, in my view, a positive change.  My conscience level of appreciation for the little things is so heightened, I almost feel like my entire day has hidden little treasures in store for me.  Everything is precious. 

I breathe and love deeper now too. Each breath is a gift. Each breath has meaning.  Each breath counts.  My love for my family and friends is just as important to me as breathing.  I love my husband.  I mean I truly love him.  He has gone from being my partner in life to being my soul's mate.  My connection with him is so amazing that when I talk about it, it sounds unreal.  My son, Dominic, has awakened a part of my heart I didn't know I had.  On a daily basis he makes my heart bigger and better.  Every little moment with him is enough joy for a lifetime.  It is addictive, I want more and more of his joy.  If I could bottle up that joy and sell it I'd be rich.

When I think  about how Gabriella has changed my life forever, I have to say it is not all bad.  I miss my baby, I miss and am sad for all the hopes and dreams that died with her.  But, I know her life meant something.  I know she didn't die in vain.  She has given me so many gifts.  And it is through embracing her gifts I can survive this loss.  Her gifts have changed me forever and for that reason I know she will always be with me.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Miscarrying: The First Time

I think one of the most difficult parts of any of my losses, the two miscarriages and losing Gabriella, was the shock.  I wasn't prepared for the fact that any of the pregnancies would lead to the end result being live child.  Growing up, I remember my desire to get married and have kids.  I don't remember anyone ever preparing me for the fact that things don't always turn out that way.  I am certain I don't remember it, because no one ever does.  No one ever looks into a child's hopeful eyes and says, 'one day you'll grow up, get married, and have a miscarriage or lose a baby.'  No one ever asks a glowing newlywed, 'how many times do you think you'll be pregnant and how many living children do you think you'll have?'  We simply don't talk about these things.  Not even the medical professionals.  No doctor ever told me that I had a 1 in 200 chance of having a stillborn.  I was not prepared.

When I had my first miscarriage, my husband and I were wildly in love and not even engaged yet.  The pregnancy was, for a lack of a better term, an 'oops.'  After 3 at home pregnancy tests and the shock of the fact that I was indeed pregnant wore off, I came to terms with this new little one growing in side of me.  And like every new, expecting mother, I began to plan and imagine life as a mother.  Little did I know that 11 weeks later, my pregnancy was going to be called a "missed abortion".  A term to this day I think is completely inappropriate and heartless. 

I clearly remember the night prior to going to the doctor's office to find out the news.  I was having cramps.  Up until that point, I still hadn't had an ultrasound.  I remember the cramps being uncomfortable and feeling that something was not 'right'.  I was in so much discomfort, I sent Thad, now my fiance, out for some Tylenol.  Not wanting to alert him to my condition, I down played my pain and tried to sleep.  The next morning I called the doctor's office.  To be honest, I don't even remember if I was bleeding at that point.  I got into the office as an emergency appointment and directly to the ultrasound room.  Boy I was naive.  I thought I was going be seeing my baby for the first time, and instead all I saw were the troubled faces of the two ultrasound techs in the room.  I was in the room alone, with no one to comfort me, and the techs would not tell me anything.  I was escorted to a regular examination room, where Thad and my mother joined me.  The doctor walked in and I was informed I was miscarrying.  The words ripped through me like a knife, a dull, serrated knife.  Thad was devastated.  His raw emotions were overwhelming.  He was just as torn as I was, just as hurt and just as heartbroken.  We were broken.  I remember my tears being so heavy, that I couldn't see out of my eyes.  Everything was blurry.  Just as blurry was my comprehension of the whole situation.

What was a miscarriage? Why do they happen? Why did it happen to me?  I was left with so many questions, and such a deep sadness. It hit me like a ton of bricks.  I never stopped to think, 'what if I have a miscarriage.' And aside from the doctor telling me on my first visit, 20-25% of all pregnancies end in first trimester miscarriage, I was completely oblivious to the idea that I could miscarry.  I simply was not prepared.  Losing the baby was hard, but not being prepared for this cold fact of life hit me hard. 

I was quickly whisked from one office to another.  And there through my blurry eyes and heavy head, a woman began to try to talk to me about scheduling a D&C.  I had barely absorbed the doctor's words and the heartbreaking news, and now this woman wanted to know if I can come in tomorrow for a D&C and how I was going to pay for it.  I was in between insurance and made too much money for state aid, so I was a cash patient, and this woman behind the desk wanted to know how I was going to pay for the procedure.  I was a wreck and couldn't even begin to think about these things.  Thad was just as bad as I was.  Luckily my mother was there and stepped in. I was scheduled for a D&C the next morning.

The experience left me feeling betrayed by my body, violated through medical intervention, and very sad.  Yet, life was to go on.  My world was rocked and yet it seemed as though it was no big deal to the world around me.  However, one of the most surprising parts of having a miscarriage were all the women who 'crawled out of the woodwork' to offer their support and share their experience.  Woman I had known for a significant amount of time to those I knew less than a year, came to me to let me know how sorry they were and let me know they have been there.  I couldn't help but think this is a silent epidemic.  It is happening everywhere and everyday and no one is talking about it, not openly at least.  I felt betrayed again.  Why didn't anyone warn me, I thought.  I think that was a pivotal point in how I unknowingly started to be prepared for losing my beautiful Baby G.  Not so much, preparing to cushion the blow, but I opened my mind to the idea of talking openly about my experiences.  I decided back then I was going to talk openly about my miscarriage, whether it made other people uncomfortable or not.  I was going to talk about it as I saw fit, in a hope that talking about it would bring some light to this sorrow so many women endure silently, sometimes never even sharing with their best friend... that they have had a miscarriage.  I have always worn my heart on my sleeve, those who know me know that to be true.  I decided to continue to do so, never knowing that one day almost 5 years later my candor would lead me to write about the most tramatic events of my life and how they have brought me to where I am today... this is my story.

Monday, July 18, 2011

"My best Customer"

I spent this weekend in Jersey with my son.  I visited my aunt, her son and another aunt came from Connecticut too.  Well, I enjoyed my time so much. I enjoyed Dominic so much.  My favorite part of the trip were the few hours we spent at Pt. Pleasant. 

My son is a happy kid.  He loves "rides".  He sees them and start, "rides... rides." I didn't know going around in a circle could be so much fun.  I loved it.  He enjoyed his ice cream too.  I can resist to get him a soft serve in a cone.  I think I like watching him eat it more than he actually likes to eat it.  He warms my heart, and I am so aware of my appreciation for him. 

Another great thing was my aunt calling Dominic her, "favorite customer."  He loves to eat and eat he does, especially this particular weekend.  Every time she offered him food, he was a taker.  She affectionately called him 'my best customer'... I loved it... too funny!!!! What a kid.

Plan "B"

So very often I am asked the question, "How are you doing?"  My answer usually surprises the person asking.  My reply lately has been, "I am good. I am in a good place."  In the beginning of my journey, I wouldn't have answered that way.  I would often respond, 'I'm okay; hanging in there; we are functional' and things like that.  And I was just that, okay and functional.  But, not now.  Now I can answer that I am good and in a good place.  Thank God.

Recently I was asked a more provoking question.  'How is it that you are in a 'good place'?'  Wow, I thought what a great question.  What a deep thing to ask.  I am so happy to have been asked that question.  How is it that I can be 'good'? I think this is the interesting part of my 'story'.  I am sure many people are interested in hearing about my daughter, her life and the circumstances around her death.  But, truly, the bigger mystery is how to become okay or even good with burying your child?

This journey did not begin for me December 19, 2010.  It began well over a year before that, maybe even longer.  But how, or what would move someone to ask me this question.  It was in talking to my cousin and my aunt that the conversation about how I was, took a turn in down this avenue.  And I truly believe the simple answer to that question is that I started in a different place than most people.

I honestly have to say, I got to this place because I started in a good place to begin with.  At the time we lost Gabriella, we had already been attending Sunday mass regularly.  I was teaching religion to 4th graders in my parish.  An activity I got involved in because I wanted to teach my son, that giving of your time is as important as giving of your money.  Children learn through example and mimic what you do, so I figured if my son grew up seeing me participating in such activities, he would grow up wanting to do the same.

I also had previously gone to therapy to deal with issues of loss and grieving after our second miscarriage.  Shortly after our second miscarriage, I went to a dark place.  I was not happy and had no joy.  This was prior to having my son, so I didn't have a lot of distractions from my sadness and pain.  I luckily had enough sense to seek out help before I was in too deep and couldn't voluntarily get the help I needed.  I started working with a therapist and shortly after went on Prozac.  My therapy proved to be helpful and vital to my personal growth.  I learned that my overwhelming sadness and grief was not for the loss of my pregnancy.  The loss of the pregnancy triggered a deep sadness in me.  The lose of my grandfather almost 30 years ago.  I worked with that therapist for little over 6 months.  After the first, 4 months I was no longer on the Prozac. I came out of the experience a much more grounded and happier person.  Would I be the same person you see today without having had that experience, I don't think so.

I hate to say that this was my destiny.  I wouldn't want to think I was destined to have carried a baby for 33 weeks only to loss her to unknown causes.  But, looking back there were many things that happened and were said, things I felt deep in my soul, that may have been preparing be for the worst thing that ever happened to me in my life.  Before losing my daughter, I could not say I had a worse day of my life.  I didn't feel like there was anything so tragic that happened to me.  But, I can say now, that day and the days, weeks and months to follow were the worst and toughest times in my life.

I think I need to start to explore these things.  I think I need to recall them and start to share my story from a  new point of view and prospective.  The raw emotions have come and gone.  The moments of these raw and heart wrenching emotions are not completely gone, but they are farther and fewer between.

Within minutes of walking in to my aunt's home, I saw a decorative tile she had simply laying on the windowsill of her kitchen.  The tile was very unpresuming, and wasn't even displayed.  But what it said and what it means to me is tremendous, and might as well be brightly lit in neon in her window.  It read, "Life is all about how you handle Plan B."  I couldn't help but think to myself, "isn't it true? You will see what you are really made of, when you have to live plan B."


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Little Moments

I have come to really appreciate the little moments in life.  I would like to say that I have always done this, but, to be honest, I am not sure if that is true.  Now, I am acutely aware of the little moments as they are happening and appreciate them as much as some of big times of my life, like my wedding day.  I suppose the big things in life the milestone and mile markers, are the anchors in ones life and the little moments are the string of events that get you from one milestone to the next.  In life, there are many more little moments than mile stones.  What a pity it would be to waste any of them.

With that being said, recently, I have been blessed enough to have some thing big happening to me and my family.  You may remember some time ago, I wrote about my family portrait never being complete.  At that same time an old classmate was just starting to read my blog.  Call it fate, serendipity, or what have you, it connected me and this classmate.  As it turns out, she is a photographer, and a talented one at that.  She so generously offered to help make my wish of a complete family portrait come true.  Her name is Laurie Arends.  Laurie is not an ordinary photographer, she is an artist.  She specializes in conceptual fine art photography.  This type of photographer is one that tell a story, and is not merely a reflection of faces and objects.  She and I are working together to create, what is becoming a series of family portraits and that will include my dear Gabriella in the most subtle of an meaningful ways, capturing us in the little moments of life.

I will be posting these photographs as they become available. Starting with the one below, titled sharing with sister.  Thank you Laurie!





"Sharing with sister"

More of Laurie's work can be found at her website:  

Saturday, July 9, 2011

A Turning Point??

Summer 2011
Life has been looking up.  I have been feeling good.  I am no doubt, in no way, "over" the death of my daughter; nor do I think I ever will be.  You don't get "over" something like that. But, in the past month I have been feeling better and more like myself. 

Summer has been a breathe of fresh air for me and my family.  Thad is done with school, and life is starting to take on a new meaning and routine.  The three of us are a family and we are enjoying our time together.  Keeping busy with lots summer fun, like the beach, splash park, swimming, playing in the yard, gardening, BBQ's and such have made this summer one to remember.  We have plans for more to come too.  A trip to Sesame Place and maybe Florida; a weekend in New Jersey, day trips and more.  I am so happy. 

My son is growing and developing so much, so quickly! He is starting to talk and put words together.  He is getting smarter by the day and I just adore him! My love, my husband and I are reconnecting after 2+ long years of full time school and work, which left little time together, not to mention the business of having babies, in the middle of it all. I am starting to 'take care' of myself too.  Something I have, in my opinion, neglected.  I am even managing to get motivated to get back to work!

I am feeling good.  I am feeling happy and I am feeling hopeful-  All good times, all good signs! I can't say for certain what the turning point was, or what to motivating factor was.  Maybe it was just time, or maybe something struck me subconsciously, but, in any event, I am grateful. 

I would like to leave a quote I found striking with you on a closing note.  I don't think this was a pivotal point for me, but I can say I left a lasting impression on me.  Marie Osmond, was interviewed on Oprah this past year.  She was speaking about the untimely death of her son by his own hand.  One think she said, among many that struck me was, "if you live in what if's, you stop living."  Wow, what a powerful statement, and so true- food for thought.  I chose to live!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Finally!!! Birth Certificates for our babies!

NY Legislature Approves Bill Allowing Birth Certificates For Stillborn Children

This is a victory for bereaved parents in New York State!!
I can't even begin to tell you how happy I am. I am overwhelmed with emotion. My daughter did exist, she does count, and she did touch lives.  My husband, son and I will pursue a birth certificate for our dear Gabriella!

Monday, June 20, 2011

6 months and counting...

Yesterday marked the 6 month, anniversary if you will, of my daughter's death.  That is if the 19th was the actual day of her death.  Actually, we know for certain it was not the 19th, that was just the date in which they delivered her from my womb.  She actually passed sometime on December 18th.  But, regardless of semantics, it has been 6 months.

I spent a lot of time thinking yesterday about the length of time 6 months is.  I thought about how in some instances, people can meet, fall in love and plan a lifetime together.  In 6 months, a woman can conceive, learn she is pregnant and give birth to a baby, who, while born premature, can live and grow into a perfectly healthy person.  In 6 months, someone else may find out they are sick with a terminal illness and have to come to terms with their mortality. They will have to grieve the lose of their own life, make preparations for their own death, console those around them, and ultimately die; all in 6 months.  Six months, it isn't a long time in the grand scheme of things, but for some, 6 months is long enough to change their lives, their world forever.

In my case 6 months has been almost like time standing still.  Oh, the time has passed.  I look at the pictures of my son at Christmas time and look at him now, and boy has he grown.  How it happened I don't know.  Before my eyes I suppose, although I don't recall it.  My husband completed his degree in these past 6 months.  Close friends have had their prayers answered and have been blessed with joyful news they are expecting.  I have been to weddings, christenings, communions, graduations and all sorts of noteworthy milestone events in the past 6 months.  But, still it is hard for me to recognize that 6 months has past.  In many ways I am in the same place I was on December 18, 2010... in disbelief.

I guess, if I had to explain the most unexpected thing about this situation, for me, is the static.  You know the sound of white noise that can hum constantly but still not affect you doing whatever it is you're doing.  That is what losing my daughter has been like for me.  It is always there.  You may not hear it, or notice it, but I do, constantly. I am always aware, I am different.  I am always aware she is not here and my family is one short.  It never changes.  It is always there, buzzing in the back of my mind in every minute of everyday and with me no matter the activity I am involved in. 

I know people have told me time helps.  I don't believe that to be true.  How can time help? It is not going to bring my daughter back to me.  Whether it be 6 months, 6 years or 60 years, I will always be a bereaved parent.  I am not going to forget her, miss her less or be okay with what happened.  Those of you who know me, know I am not in a 'bad' place, on the contrary, I am actually in a good place with her passing.  I am! I don't think time is going to put me in a better place.  I am comfortable with my relationship with God and my religion. I am confident in my ability to be self aware.  So, I don't think this is an issue of which I need to evolve in any way.  I think it is the simple reality of it is never going to change.  Could you imagine? Think of the most difficult, challenging times of your life.  I have had them.  You are in crisis, you are confused, you are hurt, you are overwhelmed, whatever it is.  But think about the cycle you have gone through to get past that crisis, challenge, whatever.  You have intense moments and days maybe even weeks.  But eventually, you work through it.  You resolve it. You finish the project. You change the relationship. You find a new job.  You settle in to your home.  Whatever it is you get pass it, and in years from now it is a memory of something tough you got through.  People who lose children never get to that other side.  There is no resolution.  Because it is not natural to bury your child.  So we can't feel good or okay with it.  We can move on, we can cope, we can function, but that static is always there.

In closing this blog entry, I want to take a moment to thank everyone who has prayed for us, wrote to us, called us, lit a candle for us, and most of all loved us.  Thank you so much for being there, your kind words and gestures, even the ones done in silence are felt deep in our hearts.  Thank you for supporting me by reading this blog, and sharing it with your families and friends. And to my dear Gabriella, I love you, I miss you and I will never forget you.  To my beautiful son Dominic, thank you for being a constant reminder why life here on earth is wonderful.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Emotional Reading

I have been reading a lot lately... well a lot for me. And I don't know if it is helping or hurting.  On one hand I am happy to see that there are others I can relate with.  On the other, the pain of irritating the wound is great.  I have never cried while reading a book before, until last night. 

I am delicate and fragile lately.  I am feeling lonely, sad and isolated.  I am feeling the burn of the pain each and every day the past weeks.  And yet still, the vail of disbelief has not entirely lifted.  I still can not believe this happened, and happened to me.  Despite the physical scar, the many trips to the cemetery, and the hours spent there, it seems unreal and dream like.  To look at her picture, is to look at a dream that once was.  And as much as she feels like a part of me, I feel a distance and an absence.  Is she mine? Did she exist? I know in my mind that she was and she did.  But, the reality is my life is not rule entirely by logic.  The emotional and abstract part of my being, the same side that make me care deeply for those I love, simply can not believe, or perhaps except, this has happened.  My daughter is gone before I even had her.  Had I known, I would have consciencely cherished those 33 weeks that we did have. 

Now, a new challenge, moving on.  Not with 'life', but our family.  Where do we go from here? The decision to have or not have more children is a tough one.  I feel like I am on a teeter-totter, going back and forth on how to proceed. And that is just how I feel.  There is another component to the equation, Thad.  I image in the come months, this will be the new challenge we will face. And I will have to figure out, do I try again?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

A Prayer for the Unborn

There are a couple of women in my life who have been trying to have a baby and have had a hard road.  Both are in a waiting for their little ones patiently.  And currently are close to having their dreams of a family come true.  Please help me pray for them!

"Lord, please be with these women as they work to nourish their bodies and their unborn children.  Allow the spirit reside in their womb to grow into a healthy baby.  Allow these children to get to know their parents on this earth, and give their parents the strength and patience they need while they wait for their prayers to be answered.  I pray for this in the name of your son Jesus Christ. Amen"

Please feel free to post your individual prayers for these women who will remain anonymous for now, so that they can see the love you have for them, their unborn children and the power of prayer.  Thank you!

Friday, June 3, 2011

An Empty Womb

Going to the Maternal Fetal Medicine doctor, for a preconception consultation, was not something I was looking forward to in general. And I have heard people say that anticipation of things sometimes is worse than the actual event.  I wish I could say that was true for me. 

As if going to the doctor to review autopsy results, blood work, cultures and to map out a plan for a future pregnancy wasn't emotionally trying enough, I had the pleasure of sitting in a waiting room of blossoming pregnant women for over 2 hours.  Typically seeing a pregnant woman is not an emotionally overwhelming thing for me.  But, in this case, it was much different.  I was back in the place where I last saw my daughter alive.  Needless to say, the experience was emotional. 

I did my best sitting in the waiting room to keep to myself and not engage anyone in conversation.  Frankly, I didn't want to hear about their babies and I didn't want to share with them why I was there.  It is obvious I am not pregnant, so I am sure the subject would come up.  I sat there with my husband, and for the first time ever I was so happy he had solitaire downloaded to his cell phone.  I kept my head down and played the game, and as redundant as it was, I was happy to have the distraction. 

Finally, after over an hour of waiting, I was called in the back.  The person who called me back I knew too well, although she didn't remember me. She was the ultrasound tech who preformed my previous ultrasounds, and opened the window into my womb so that we could see our little girl.  As we walked to the back and in to the room, I wanted to know where the doctor was and why I was to have an ultrasound.  I had not anticipated having one, and I wasn't sure why it was necessary.  She explained it is their protocol. They want to make sure everything inside was in shape and ready to carry another baby.

I didn't put much thought into it, and proceeded with the procedure.  My pants were lowered far below my belly around my hips and she applied the ultrasound gel.  It was a familiar process, although I had never done this without being pregnant.  It wasn't until she put the wand on my abdomen that I realized this was going to be very different.  As the window into my womb opened, the sight was not one I was familiar with.  It was empty. There was no baby and for me, there was no reason to smile.  Instead the tears started to fall quietly down the sides of my face as the reality that my dear, sweet baby wasn't there and I wasn't to see her.  It was a different sight, one I didn't recognize; an empty womb. I tried to remain strong but,  I hated being there. I hated feeling this way. But most of all, I hated that my baby was gone.

The rest of the visit, and the consultation with the doctor only got worse.  In order to get through it, I put myself in a different place, and had to turn off my heart and emotions.  I had to do something I hadn't done in months, I told the story of what happened, start to finish.  I was not prepared to do that.  I expected to have her talk to me. I expected her to review and interpret the results of the blood work and the medical records from my days in the hospital.  Once again, the reality settled in a little deep into my soul, this is happening and it did happen to me.  I couldn't help but be apologetic for my lack of emotion.  I tried to stick to the facts.  Doctors like facts.  Emotions were not going to get me to the answers I have been seeking.  So I had to turn them off in order to get through it.  Sometime half way into 'the story', I realized my husband was beside me.  I had blocked everything out and had some type of tunnel vision, that the fact he was physically less than a foot to my left completely escaped me.  I thought with a quick realization, he may be in pain too.  He was too reliving this nightmare.  And I felt bad for him.  I felt bad he had to hear it again.  But, I didn't have a choice, the doctor needed the details, and we were hoping for answers.  So I quickly regained my focus and  entered my tunnel and continued delivering the facts. 

When I was done, she asked if I was okay.  What was I left to say but, yes.  I told her I would break down later.  And that is when I realized I am not okay.  Nothing about this is okay.  I am not okay with living this life.  But, I am left with no choice, this is what I have been given.  Rather than getting easier as so many people have promised, it is getting harder.  It is not fading, and the truth is becoming more, and more real.  Going to discuss how it happened and how my future pregnancy will be different and what I will need to do prior to getting pregnant and during the pregnancy, only make the wound in my heart bleed.  Having a baby is suppose to be a joyful and wonderful experience.  For me, I never saw it a a calculated and artificial process.  It should be natural and beautiful; a true expression of love and faith.  Now I feel I am being put under a microscope and much like the slide being viewed, I am being compressed, and the weigh baring down.  Weight of the the decisions to come is heavy burden.

I want to just say screw it. I am not going for more tests. I am not going to more doctors. I am not going to wait to get pregnant and move forward naturally as the brave women centuries ago did.  But, I instead feel a responsibility to do everything in my power to avoid a repeat, even though my heart tells me that it won't happen.  The see-saw between heart and mind, is something I struggle with.  I am not sure how I will proceed although I believe the sensible side of me will prevail.  In the meantime, I will just try to do the one thing I have been striving to do from the beginning... just be.

The Furniture

I grew up with a set of furniture.  This furniture I vividly remember as a little girl and into my adolescent and adulthood. Over the years, I grew attached to this set of furniture.  It is a white wash, with a polish finished, with etching around the doors and simple daisy like flowers accenting the edges.  At one point pink paint was applied to the etching and making the furniture even more feminine.  A few years back my mother had made mention of selling the set or getting rid of it.  I asked her not to; I wanted to keep it in the event one day I had a little girl.  I wanted her to have this furniture.Well, as we well know, I had my little girl.  Unfortunately the furniture remains in the basement as storage for random sheets, and winter apparel. 

I haven't really thought about the furniture until today.  Lately, Dominic and Thad like to play downstairs in that room and watch movies.  Thad set up a DVD player down there, so even though there is no cable down there, he can relax in the notoriously comfortable, fluffy bed.  This morning, I brought Dominic down there for a change of pace.  He loved it.  He played, helped me with laundry and eventually I popped in the movie Monsters Inc., his favorite. We both crawled into the comfy bed and laid back and watched.  He ate his freeze dried apples and giggled at his favorite parts of the movie.  It amazes me how a 19 month old, can know how to giggle, and determine when a movie is funny, unprovoked.  After making a mess with the apple chips, he settled in even more and cozied up next to me.  He molded himself into me and the pillows I set up to support us.  Oh what a feeling! Amazing! I have waited for this moment for so long, my whole life really.  To snuggle with a small child, but, not any small child, MY child!  It was the best feeling in the whole world.  It was a notable moment. At times like this in my life, I take moment to take a mental and emotional snapshot, breathe in the moment and the feelings. I burn it into my brain and soul. With an exhale, my body and mind relaxed in the moment, sinking deeper into the pillows.  While I was making my mental note in my mind to never forget this moment, I noticed the furniture.

I was not bothered by the furniture after losing Gabriella.  I was not sad to see it, or that I had held on to it all these years.  I was only sad that my little girl would not be able to enjoy it.  That her childhood memories would not bring her back to her room, where that furniture would be the anchor.  Remembering the stuffed animals and collectibles she would place on it, and how over the years the stuffed animals would give way to teenage mementos and pictures.  I realized my daughter would not have such memories.  But, even more significant, I realized I wouldn't have those memories either.  If the furniture were to have feelings, I would imagine it would feel sad and lonely not to be able to fulfill its destiny.  For a brief moment, I thought, maybe I will have another daughter and she will enjoy the furniture.  But, to be honest, I don't think that will be the case.  I don't think I will ever have another daughter.  I have a daughter, one who will never leave my side. 

So, I thought, what is to become of this furniture? Maybe Dominic could use it.  Then quickly I realized the pink and flowers.  I pressed the thought and considered painting it blue.  But, no, it isn't right.  That is not what this furniture was meant for.  Maybe my sister will have a daughter and she can use it. I don't know.  I just know in one of my greatest moments of joy, the sharpness of my loss is there. It seems to loom at every turn.  I now realize I will never forget that moment.  I will always remember my little boy snuggling, pressed against me and the peace I felt.  I will also remember my daughter in that moment.  While furniture was a physical reminder of what I lost, on the other side of the coin my daughter was there.  She presents herself in the most subtle of ways.  But, she is there.  While in the moment I recognized the sadness, I now realize as I sit here and write, that she was there, with us in the moment, enjoying it.  The furniture, which has been down in that room all this time, never spoke to me before.  Why today, why now? Because this was the time I needed to see it and remember Gabriella.  This was my moment to enjoy my children.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Heaven is for Real

If you are so inclined, I would recommend you pick up the book and read it this summer. 
 
Heaven Is for Real is the true story of the four-year old son of a small town Nebraska pastor who during emergency surgery slips from consciousness and enters heaven. He survives and begins talking about being able to look down and see the doctor operating and his dad praying in the waiting room. The family didn't know what to believe but soon the evidence was clear.
Colton said he met his miscarried sister, whom no one had told him about, and his great grandfather who died 30 years before Colton was born, then shared impossible-to-know details about each. He describes the horse that only Jesus could ride, about how "reaaally big" God and his chair are, and how the Holy Spirit "shoots down power" from heaven to help us.

Told by the father, but often in Colton's own words, the disarmingly simple message is heaven is a real place, Jesus really loves children, and be ready, there is a coming last battle.

Reading is really not my thing.  I wish I could say, I love to read, but, I don't.  I am not one to cozy up with a 'good book'.  However, the books I have read and enjoyed in the past, have been non-fiction.  I rather read about something real and something I can learn from.  If I am looking to be entertained with fiction, I'll watch a movie.  Not to put down literature, I believe the ability to write a book is amazing... Even more amazing to me, are the people who 'love' to read them.  I honestly wish I had that gift and desire.

Nonetheless, from time to time, I am presented with a book that does peek my interest.  This time it was a book named, Heaven is for Real, by Todd Burpo.  Thad's cousin, Elizabeth, gave it to me during our visit to West Virginia.  First, I have to say Elizabeth is so special to me.  From our first phone call 5 years ago, I liked her, we bonded.  In the years that have passed, I have come to love her, respect her, and care for her deeply.  So when she suggested this book, I listened.  Bare in mind, many books have been pushed in my direction since I lost my daughter.  I have not read any of them.  This time it was different.  Elizabeth suggested it. Elizabeth and I, have not only a friendship and sisterhood, we share a common faith in Jesus. One we share with each other openly.  She is one of the few people I sit with and have a heart to heart about religion.  The topic of religion has become such a taboo topic.  It is refreshing to be open with someone with my thoughts and feelings on the topic.  It is provoking and it is fulfilling.  So right off the bat, Heaven is for Real, sounded like something I would be interested in.  Elizabeth liked the book why wouldn't I? Beside it is a true story!  Two step in the right direction in my opinion. 

I read this book in 3 sittings.  3! Unheard of in my world.  I have to say, I liked the book.  I could relate to it.  I could see myself in this book, especially the epilogue.  I thought, "I am not alone."  Other people can see the good in the bad.  Thank God! I needed this message.  God put this book in my hands.  I needed to know my daughter is alright.  I needed to feel a kinship to someone who is not downtrodden from tragic circumstances, even if it is someone I don't know.  I am grateful and happy to have had to opportunity to read this book.  And while I read most of it during the 4 hours I spent at the cardiologists office the other day, I am also thankful for that absurdly long waiting time between procedures. Mostly I am thankful for Elizabeth's openness and honestly and for her recommendation! Thank you!

If you are so inclined, I would recommend you pick up the book and read it this summer. 

http://heavenisforreal.net

Saturday, May 21, 2011

HELP SAVE A CHILD

Friends, when I started this blog it was to help heal myself.  Over the past 5 months, it has become clear to me, that this tool, this blog, can be a medium to which, I can help other children and parents, in their healing and in their needs.  The following story is call for help from good people to whom I have known for many years and who are in need of hope.  Hope in this case, comes in the form of medical research.  Please take the time to read their story and help in anyway you can.  I couldn't save my save my child, but, maybe I can help save this one.


A week after Isaiah was born, the call came that would change everything. Isaiah had tested positive for cystic fibrosis on the state screening. Additional testing confirmed that he did indeed have cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that strikes the lives of approximately 70,000 babies a year, worldwide. That call changed how Isaiah lives. He uses a nebulizer every day with a special medicine that thins the thick mucous his body produces. He gets a medication put up his nose to help kill bacteria that he might inhale. He wears a compression vest that fills with air and shakes his tiny body to dislodge the thick mucous from his chest. The biggest difference is that he lives his life in near seclusion. He doesnt go to Mommy and Me, he doesnt go to the mall, he doesnt have play dates, during flu season even the grown ups allowed to enter the house must have had a flu vaccine in order to be around him. One infection could be the beginning ot the end. You can help us to help Isaiah, you see the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation has medication in trials that could change his world b
ut there is no government funding for this, there are only private donations given by people like you and me. We are his future so on June 5th, we will walk for Great Strides, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundations largest annual fundraiser. Your support means the world to us.
 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Failure & Success

It's not how many time you fall that counts; it's how many times you get back up!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Dominic

It is without fail that this (the picture to the left) is how Dominic greets his sister.  He walks right up to her particular site and stands directly on top of her marker.  Big deal, right? Well interestingly enough, he only does this to her marker.  Another interesting point is he seems to know exactly which one is her's.  Without fail every time, this is his way of saying 'hello'.

Dominic is such a lively child.  He is quite a character too.  His nature is sweet and kind.  He is determined and stubborn. He is smart and thoughtful.  One of the things I love best about him, is that he is a happy child.  He his never one to sit in a corner upset, or hide behind my leg in a sheepish manner.  He loves to play with other children regardless of size and age.  I often call him a Chihuahua among Pitbulls, as his tends to be the smallest one of the bunch in most cases.  He is the little dog that has no idea he is a little dog.  He just knows he wants to be in the mix.  He is a social child, and will befriend another child or adult in minutes if a good time is to be the result.  He is the child you usually don't mind having around.

Now, with all that said, there is a bossy and obnoxious side to this half pint as well.  I mentioned determination... well that is most definitely true and at time overwhelming.  I have said he has hit his 'terrible two's' early.  He knows what he wants and when he wants it.  Don't try to give him milk if he want water, and don't try to trick him that the cookies aren't in the cabinet.  He will call your bluff every time.  'Fits' have become a common scene in our house these days.  A battle of wills, his verse mine.  There are time when I wonder who will win.  Of course it is my goal to win and not be pushed around by this 27lb, 33 inch toddler.  He however is so determined and sure of himself and his wants that there are days I wonder how I will make it through one more melt down. 

Dominic love to be outside.  I often call him 'Grizzley Adam's'.  He couldn't care if it was cold or raining.  He wants out.  Fun enough, he doesn't like the grass to touch his skin.  Heaven forbid, he falls on the lawn, how will he ever get up if I am not there.  He does not want to touch the grass with his bare hands to lift himself up.  Once he fell, with no shoes on either.  He laid there crying on his belly with is hands and feet lifted from the ground, it reminded me of a seal and some type of yoga move.  It was hilarious.  I often say if I want to punish him I should take his shoes off and put him in the middle of the lawn... he'd be miserable and lost.

He is a helper.  Whether it be, cooking, cleaning, gardening or laundry, he wants to do whatever it is you are doing.  He is a quick study.  It is not uncommon for him to take over the swiffer and 'clean' for you.  Or for him to want to pick him up so he can stir the sauce.  What a sweetheart.  But most of all, he like to help you eat! He will share his snacks with you, most of the time feeding them to you.  And don't think your deserve to eat it or not is a consideration to him.  If he gets it in his head that he is sharing his snack, he is putting in your mouth and making sure you eat it.  I've eaten far more goldfish in the past 6 months than I have in my life, and most without a choice.  But, he loves food in general, mostly fruits and vegetables.  He loves fish and pork too; chicken and beef not so much.  But, pasta, that is a food he loves, very often saying and making yum and yummy sounds while he eats it.  Strawberries are another superstar in our house.  Oh boy can he throw down those strawberries. 

Dominic is starting to talk.  And his favorite word bubbles! He loves bubbles, balls too.  He often gets a ball and then running around the house with it proclaiming "ball!".  He is usually quite proud of himself when he does.  He can recognize and say the letter 'D'.  Amazing! One day while watching Sesame Street, the letter of the day was D.  I'm in the other room and hear the TV ask what is the letter of the day.  After putting the letter on the screen, I hear him say 'D', and a split second after the voice on TV says 'D'.  I couldn't believe it.  Later that day I tested it out myself.  I made a 'D' on a piece of paper and held it up.  I asked 'what letter is this"... "D" comes out of his mouth.  I was amazed.

There is so much more, that I could write for days.  But, overall, this little guys is a true blessing to me and our family.  He brings us so much love and pure joy.  Life without his could never be the same.  I love him so much I can't stand it.  If I hugged him as much and as hard as I wanted to I would hurt him.  Even when he is driving me crazy, I try to stop and appreciate the moments, because I know they will go by too fast and one day I will long for them back.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

4:30 AM

It's 4:30am and while I should be sleeping all I can think about is writing.  Yesterday was a tough day.  I was totally and utterly emerged in the land of the living.  My little son, at 18 months old, decide it was about time to start climbing out of his bed.  Down can the crib and up went the toddler bed.  I know most people would have resisted to make this change so quickly and at such a young age, but, I have faith in my little guys ability and determination.  He can do this and so can I.  Needless to say the night before this was a night filled with unwanted waking hours and a lot of crying.  I should be asleep, but, I am not.

I can help but wonder as I lay awake in my bed where this journey is going to bring me.  What will I do with my blog and how my family will be different going forward.  I am thinking about forgiveness, kindness and change.  I wonder if I will come out of this a better person than I went into it.  I think I already have, but, still I wonder.  I wonder want I will name my next child, if it will be a boy or a girl.  I do want more children, when is a matter of question, but, it is in our future.  I am thinking of my husband and is great accomplishments.  He is about to graduation mortuary school in 4 days.  It amazes me that in the face of this tragic loss, he could still maintain the ability to stay focused and graduate on time.  His determination and work ethic astound me.  I think of Dominic, and how I don't blog about him enough.  He is going through such an amazing time in his life right now.  Everyday he is doing something new, saying something new and molding into the person he one day will be.  How can I let that slip by with out a word.

I started a blog for him called 'Why I love my Kid'.  The truth of the matter is I don't need a separate blog for him.  I am 'The Funeral Director's Wife' and part of my life is Dominic.  He should be just as much a part of this blog as his sister is.  He is apart of my journey through life and he too has been effected by death.  Why should I neglect to include him in my writing here?  I was recently asked to write about him for a portrait a kind friend is doing for my family.  She obviously knows plenty about Gabriella and our emotions and life in regards to her from the blog.  But, still, I assume need more about Dominic.  I've been sitting on the task for about a week now, as though I am shy to write.  Indeed I am not shy, just blocked.  I write so much about feelings and effects of death that I am maybe unsure of how to write about the living.  I am not comfortable with this thought, which might quite possibly be a fact, that I am going to push through that obstacle and write a blog entirely about my son, here on this blog.  He deserved just as much of my words as his sister.

I know I have said it before, but, I can not believe it happened to me.  I can't believe I have buried a child.  But, I have a life to live and people in it who need me and to whom I need in return.  I push myself for that very reason.  I need to be the best I can be for them and for me.  Don't get me wrong, I am devastated by the loss of my little girl.  This is not what I planned or wanted.  But, I am not about to let it define me.  It will forever be apart of me that is for sure.  When I eventually do evolve into that person I am search for know, I will then fully and completely have my daughter ingrained in my soul, because if it were not for her, this unknown journey would not have began. 

Friday, May 13, 2011

Hard to believe

It is hard to believe that I was ever pregnant.  I look at picture from several different events while my tummy was in it's bloom and there it is- evidence that I was.  I look at these pictures and try to remember what it was like to have my daughter alive within me.  It is so difficult to even remember what is like to feel her inside of me.  All her little kicks and squirms that she did on a daily basis seem to be a distance memory at best.  Amazing to me that such an active little baby would be a stillborn.  I think it is a bit of an oxymoron.  I often wonder if her high activity level was her demise.  I don't know how I would feel about her death if she was indeed, a victim to a cord accident.  So since they aren't able to tell me for sure why we lost her, I don't have to deal with it.  Sometime, I wonder if I should obtain my medical records and see if there is anything I can piece together to make sense of it all.  But, apart of me, thinks maybe some things are best unknown.  It's been over 2 month now, and I can't believe this is my life.  I am still in shock a bit.  While on one hand I feel like I have so much of it together, on the other hand I feel like I am living a fragmented life.  There are still so many things to put in their place and so many feeling to come to terms with.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Reflections on Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all the women I love and admirer.

Today, surprisingly, was a good day; bitter-sweet, but good.  I was able to enjoy myself, reflect and feel the flow of love going in and out of my heart.  I spent a good amount of time at the cemetery today. And during my earlier visit I journaled.  I could have sat there all day.  The sense of clarity I felt today was comforting and I realized today, that I am a good mother to both my children.  The following were my thoughts as they flowed from my heart to my pen.

I am a mother.  On this day, one that may have been filled with tears and sorrow, I am feeling exceptionally good.  I am a mother.  I have a wonderfully beautiful son here on earth with me and a precious, perfect daughter, filled with love, watching over me and waiting for me in heaven.  I love them both and enjoy them both in different ways.  And I know in my heart I am the best mother I can be to each of them.  Being a mother to a stillborn, is being a mother nonetheless.  People may not realize it, but along with the sorrow and grief is an enormous amount of love that is without end and began at conception.  Each day I live my life for my children; to make them proud.  I have to do it for each of them different ways but it is done.

The word mother, I realize, is a verb, as well as a noun.  It is an action, it is emotional, it is spiritual.  I know many mothers.  Some have never even "given birth" or adopted a child.  They are the women who love and nurture those around them, be them children or a needing adult. 

Sitting at the cemetery, I am watching mother's come up one by one with their flowers and their tears.  No one ever expects to be here. But, here we are sitting on our little ones graves.  As close as we can get to them physically.  Crying, talking and praying; wishing there was another way.  I look at their faces, many hidden behind dark sunglasses, and it is all the same, a glimmer of disbelief that this is our life, and yes indeed it happened to us, our babies died.  After they leave, I try to wander past their little one's grave so that I can make a mental note of his or her name, so that I can keep them in my prayers and look after their 'garden's' when their parents are away, which is what I hope others do for me.

It is a glorious day, perfectly warmed and breezy.  God himself must have hand picked the weather.  What a great day to sit her in the grass, write and mediate.  I could stay here for hours.  With the warmth of the sun on my back and the gentle cool breeze across my face.  But, hours I don't have.  I have an eternity to come and go from this place.  And another day perhaps will allow for the hours I seek. But for today, I have to live among the living and enjoy the joyous blessing that is my son.  I hope and pray my other friends with babies in heaven will one day know the joy, light and life a living child brings to your life.  I am blessed and grateful.

Friday, April 29, 2011

My Mom is a Survivor

My Mom is a Survivor
by: Kaye Des'Ormeaux
My mom is a survivor, Or so I have heard it said.
But I can hear her crying When all others are in bed.
I watch her lay awake at night And go to hold her hand.
She doesn’t know I’m with her To help her understand.
But like the sands upon the beach That never wash away...
I watch over my surviving mom, Who thinks of me each day.
She wears a smile for others... A smile of disguise.
But through heaven’s open door I see tears flowing from her eyes
My mom tries to cope with my death To keep my memory alive.
But to anyone who knows her Knows it’s her way to survive.
As I watch over my surviving mom Through heaven’s open door...
I try to tell her Angels protect me forevermore.
I know that doesn’t help her... Or ease the burden she bears.
So if you get a chance, talk to her... And show her that you care.
For no matter what she says... No matter what she feels.
My surviving mom has a broken heart That time won’t ever heal.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A New Poem

In the silence Mom & Dad you hear me,
In the silence I am here.
In the silence you can feel me,
In the silence it is clear.
That my spirit hasn't left you,
I am just a thought away.
You can see me in the shadows,
Anytime you look my way.
Look for me in the sunshine,
And in the stars at night,
In the wind, trees, and flowers,
Everything that is in sight.
Talk to me, say my name,
Know that I am still here.
In my death I have a new life,
And one day it will be clear.
So talk to me and look for me,
In everything you do,
For I really haven't gone so far away,
I am really right next to you.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Sleepless

I can't sleep.  I really wish I could.  I feel like the flood gates have opened and I can't stop thinking about her.  I am very tender emotional right now and am not sure why.  I don't know how to deal with this see-saw I am on.

Last night I had a great night with my husband, a date night.  We had a fantastic time and really connected.  Prior to going out, I had a massage and a chiropractic adjustment.  I was sure I would sleep well.  And even thought my physical body is feeling less tension and holding less stress, my mind is tight and full with the pain my physical body was carrying.  I thought if I relax my physical body, my mind would follow suit, it hasn't.  I feel almost worse than I did before.  I am feeling confused.  It is like an oxymoron.  My body is so much more relaxed than it has been in weeks and yet I can't enjoy it. 

So, here I am. Sitting up at 4:23am, sleepless, when all I really want to do is rest.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Good Days/Bad Days

While, as life moves on, so do I.  I don't have the luxury of being stuck in the moment.  Unfortunately sometimes I think I am fooling myself.  There are days that I feel like I am doing great and am on top of the world.  Sometimes, I even feel enlightened as though I have learned something about life so few get a chance to learn.  Those are the good days.  Then, there are the bad days.

It is amazing to me how much the pendulum swings.  I sometimes feel like I am two different people wrapped in one.  On the bad days, there is sadness, anxiety and emptiness.  Sometimes, I feel like I am right back at the beginning, alone in a hospital room with the reality that my baby is dead.  When I went to the hospital that night, it was late and very dark out.  But, the hospital room seems so bright. It was eerily illuminated.  It was almost as if the entire world was pitch black except that one room.  As though, if you were looking down from space, you would see nothing but the shadowy outline of the earth and one bright light coming from that hospital room.  In all my emotional darkness, it is funny that I remember the brightness of the light.  Now that I think about it, it was obviously artificial.  That night, I couldn't help but feel a lack of comfort from the light. It was almost yellow, and lacked the warmth of natural light; Not the physical warmth but the emotional warmth.  The fake light only added to the feeling that this wasn't real and made it seem all the more removed and impossible to be true.

I excepted to be sad and weepiness the first few weeks and months.  But, as my overall mood has lightened, I am finding it harder to deal with the unexpected sadness that hits when I am least expecting it.  The past few days have been full of the unexpected.  Sunday April 3rd was suppose to be her Christening date.  While I had planned to mark the day in some way. However, I actually had come upon that weekend with no conscience thought of the Christening.  It wasn't until I was sitting in church that very morning and they read the name of the baby's that were christened the week prior that it hit me.  "I shouldn't be here," I thought. "I should be at home dressing my daughter in her gown and preparing for the day ahead."  Instead I was sitting there empty handed and crying on my friend's shoulder.    I don't know how I could have forgotten this day.  I quickly recovered and forgive myself for it slipping my mind and tried to make the best of the day.  A trip to the cemetery and a big family Sunday dinner was going to be enough for me to feel good about the slip, but, the sadness of the day stood with me all day.

Then there was having to go to the high risk doctor's office with copies of my blood work and her autopsy results for them to review prior to my upcoming appointment.  The office happens to be in the hospital where we learned we lost Gabriella. The last time I was in that office, I was happily pregnant and expecting in 8 weeks.  Walked into a waiting room of blooming mother's to be, and there I was.  When I spoke to the receptionist, I found myself trying to whisper that I have my records and her autopsy report as not to scared the other women in the room. How would I have felt if I was sitting there with my baby safely inside, and I heard a woman come in with her baby's autopsy results.  I started to tear up and as I walked out and down the hall to the exit the building, I realized, I was here 3 months ago, for the worst days in my life. That was the last time had my baby with me.  Being within those walls, brought a flood of emotions.  A seemingly innocent day can turn ugly quickly some days.

I am angry.  I having been yet, but, I am angry I have to be in this position.  I am sorry for myself, that I have to go through this.  And even still I would not trade place with anyone.  I would not burden anyone else to carry this cross.  I wish there was a magic potion to take it all away and erase my memory.  To have blissfully ignorance of not to know what can go wrong.  This is a roller coaster ride that will never end.  I wish I could get off it.  And even as I make my wish, I feel a guilt about it.  If my wishes were reality, my daughter then would not have existed and I would not have loved her and that is something I could live with.

I am making friends that are like me, friends who understand.  Not to minimize my fantastic friends and family (I know they understand). I need to bond with other women who know my pain first hand.  And I think I am find some of those women.  I wish we could build our friendship on a different foundation.  I hope we can find a support in each other that will make these difficult days more bearable; this is my prayer for now- bearable days.