Sunday, January 30, 2011

An Angel For An Angel

This weekend a dear friend to one of my aunt's passed away.  She and my aunt were friends for over 40 years.  She was a sweet, kind woman.  She was caring mother and had a strong spirit.  I have fond memories of her and her tender nature.  While I haven't seen her in years, I am certain she will be sorely missed by her friends and family.

As I reflect on her passing, I couldn't help but think, will she take care of Gabriella for me? 
An angel for an angel? I hope so.

It is so sad that bad things happen to good people. Here is a beautiful, righteous woman taken too soon. A devoted mom and wife, and a loyal friend.  She too has been taken too young and without justice.  I am learning death is non discriminating. It is blind to quality of the person and the nature of their spirit. Death is ruthless and without compassionate to the survivors of these souls. And as much as we cry and mourn their passing, I find comfort is my faith of Jesus' promise.  So while I cry and mourn, at the same time I have comfort in knowing my tears are selfish.  I cry for myself and for all of the things out of my control. 

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Gabriella's Mass

Thank you to those of you who were able to attend mass last Sunday morning, it meant so much.
Thank you to those of you who went and lit a candle for Gabriella and my family last Sunday.
Thank you to those of you who prayed for us last Sunday.
Thank you, thank you and thank you again for all your consistant love, care and support.
Thank you!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Happy Birthday

I know my baby died before she was even born, but today would have been her birthday. There is a melancholy tone about me today.  The only thing that truly made me smile was my son.

How do you celebrate a birthday that never happened? I woke up this morning thinking 'someone else is having my baby today,' meaning, someone else took my appointment for their c-section at the hospital today.  At about 11am I was thinking, I should be holding be daughter right about now.  Enjoying her, sharing my pride with my husband and wondering how will I ever manage a newborn and a 15 month old.  Instead, I had none of that.  I had a pleasant lunch with a dear friend. A friend who would have been Gabriella's godmother. Shopped for a gift for my husband's birthday and went home to act normal for my little boy.  Now that he is in bed and sleeping, I don't know what to do.  I want to cry, I want to scream, but, nothing is coming out. All I feel is the heaviness of my heart.

Today should have been day one of a beautiful life. 
I am speechless and a bit hopeless today.  I wish it could have been different, but it is not.
I couldn't even go to the cemetery today in fear all of the snow would make it impossible to find her barely marked gravesite.  Honestly, the very thought of her in the ground beneath all this snow is overwhelming.  All I can think is, my baby is freezing.  I know she is not, but, that is what I think.  She should be in my warm arms, not in a cold grave.

I wonder years from now, what date will I remember the most, the day we lost her or the day she should have been born.  I suppose only time will tell. But, for today I will think of this as her birthday.  Happy Birthday little baby, happy birthday precious angel.  If I could have wish on your day it would be that today had went as planned, that we would be laying in a hospital bed right now together, that you would have met your big brother, and you would have been here tomorrow for your father's birthday.  We miss you.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Baby Anna

Today I saw my cousin's daughter, Baby Anna.  Oh my, what a beautiful child.  She is just so adorable, with her big blue eyes.  The first time I saw her after Gabriella died was on Christmas, 2 days after the funeral.  Anna is only 4 months old, so at the time she was 3 months old.  I thought Anna and Gabriella would grow up together, just as Dominic and my other cousins son Ryan would. (Dominic and Ryan are only 4 months apart too.) There was a point on Christmas that I offered to hold Anna for my cousin.  I sat in my aunt's formal living room.  It was just me and her.  I held her and rocked her gently. I looked at her, and over and over again as she slept I reminded myself, 'this is Anna.'  I felt good holding her. No one came in to the living room during our time together.  It was so quiet and peaceful.  At the time I didn't think about what it would be like if I was doing the same thing with Gabriella. 

Today I again had the opportunity to hold Anna.  Oh how I loved it.  She is so precious.  Today I missed Gabriella.  Anna and Gabriella will not grow up together.  Anna will grow up to be a strong, beautiful woman and Gabriella will not.  God willing, my cousin will be blessed to watch her grow from a baby, into a little girl, to a young lady and into a woman.  She will be able to wipe her tears as she has her first heartbreak, share the joy of her being accepted into the school of her choice, and one day watch her walk down the aisle at her wedding.  She probably will even one day hold Anna's child with the pride of a grandmother.  I will not be afforded such opportunities.  I will never have any of those experiences.  She will always be a baby and I will never know what she would have looked like all grown up, or know what kind of a woman she would have been.  I am so sad for all the memories I am going to be cheated out of.  So today I am sad, my heart is heavy and my soul aches.  One day I know I will be able to hold my baby again.  One day... but, I have the pain of knowing it is not today.

Recently, before we lost Gabriella, my husband and I were sitting in our den, playing with our son.  I was lost in the moment, when I looked up and saw my husband started to cry.  I couldn't imagine why he would be crying. His tears were gently rolling down his face, and he wasn't making a sound.  I of course asked, "why are you crying?"  He told me he was crying because Dominic was growing up so fast and that he wished he could stay small.  Only lord knows why I answered him the way I did.  I looked at him and wiped his tears away. I said to him, 'don't you say that. Don't ever wish that again. If he is growing up that means he is doing something right, that means we are doing something right.  Some people don't get to see their children grow up. We are lucky.'  How strange. How strange I would have said that to him.  This wasn't long ago, maybe little more than a month ago, maybe two.  We are now in the very situation I was referring to.  Our child would not grow up. We will not have the pleasure of watching her grow. I wonder if I will create my own memories of her as the years go on.  Imagine what she would have been like or what she would have liked.  What her favorite color would be, her favorite cartoon, her favorite drink.  Would she be funny or serious?  Would she prefer her hair long or short? Would she be a girly, girl or a tom boy? So many things I will never know about my own child. How will I know her when I meet her again?

Sometimes counting our blessings can be hard.  Sometimes things are so difficult in this world and day to day life can seem overwhelming.  But, we owe it to ourselves and to those who aren't as blessed as we are to count our blessings; every single one, even the smallest ones. Because it is in the smallest moments of our lives that we could just let them pass us by if we aren't paying attention.  Open your eyes, pay attention and start counting, don't let them pass you by, don't take them for granted. Embrace them, cherish them and enjoy them.

(written 1/20/11)

The Road Not Taken

I want to share a poem that I have long admired from my high school days.  The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost.  For many years I have been able to see myself in this poem.  I have made many decisions in my life that weren't as conventional as some of my peers.  One of the major decisions, was made at the ripe old age of 13.  I wanted to follow my best friend to a private all girls Catholic high school, the Academy of St. Joseph.  That is were it all began for me. That is were I was molding my life.  It wasn't all about academics either. I learned self esteem, confidence, social skills, and more. I made some amazing friends too.  These friends I am still friends with to this day. I share a sisterhood with these women that neither time nor distance can't lessen.  Some of these women have been with me through many of the joys of my life, like my wedding day and birth of my son. And many of these women are now an essential part of my support system in this time of need.  To those of you women reading, thank you. You must know I appreciate everything you have done for me and my family and my heart swells with overwhelming pride to be your friend.

Now, in this uncomfortable time in my life, I again find myself turning to this poem.  I am fully aware I made no decision conscious or unconscious, that would have resulted in the loss of Gabriella.  But, in this unpredictable life we are forced down a road that we never intended to travel.  These roads too can make all the difference.  It is what we make of it.  We all have choices. I can choose to let this one event define me for the rest of my life. Or, I can allow this event to become apart of me and use all the beautiful, positive things I can find and make my life better, and become a better person.  Trust me it is not easy to find 'beautiful, positive' things to take away from losing your daughter.  And while years from now I don't want to be known or remembered as the 'girl who's baby died,' it is who I am right now.  I accept this. I actually find comfort in that role for now.  So, if I cry a little harder and if I laugh a little louder, it is because I am acutely aware of how delicate life is. And if I seem sad it is because I am.

This poem has been a poem over the years I have reverted back to when I have made a decision that wasn't so mainstream so to speak.  I find comfort in the poem because it reminds me that sometime 'taking the road less traveled has made all the difference,' in my life. Once again, this time in an act of fate, I find myself on the road less traveled...
The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Just Keep Swimming... (1 month)

It's been a month today that my life changed forever.  I still can not believe it.  One month.

Today Dominic had his swim lesson, I had not been back to swim since this all happened. The swim school was closed for two weeks, and I could not bear to go the first week back. The thought of the employees and swim mom's questions of "did you have the baby?" while they looked at where my belly once was. The thought of it was too overwhelming to even think about.  And then the thought of their faces as I told them what happened was even worse.  To me, worse than speaking about it is seeing the look on other people's faces.  The look of desperation and pity.  They desperately search for the "right" thing to say, and even though no one ever says it, they pity me, and my situation.  I hate that, pity that is.  Why should I be pitied? Everyone has their own story and their own crosses to bare. Some will say I don't pity you, I just feel bad for you.  Well, I have looked up the definition of pity and it is: sympathetic sorrow for ones suffering, distressed or unhappy. So, yes you are pitying me. And to be completely honest, I don't blame you. I would pity you if you were in my situation.  I suppose I just don't want to impose my sorrows on anyone else.  Why should others have to suffer, isn't my suffering enough?

The other thing I don't like about these situations, situations where someone might pity me is the feeling of pity is usually accompanied with someone's wish they could take it back or make it better somehow.  Well, the other thing I have a hard time understanding, even though that is a well intended sentiment, is why. Why would you take it away from me, make it all better, or shield me from this pain? Trust me, in way I don't mean for it to come off as if I wanted my daughter to die.  What I am saying is, I am who I am.  I am who I am because of all of the experiences in my life, both good and bad.  And the one thing I do know is I like myself.  'Bad' stuff has happened to me before, nothing like this of course. And those of you who know me, know that there has been some 'bad' stuff.  But, I survived, I lived and I learned.  The lessons I have learned have made me into who I am today, and for that I hold no regrets. The cliche "that, that doesn't kill us, makes us stronger" comes to mind. And the Bible's promise that God "won't give you more than you can handle".  And as much as I hate to hear these things, isn't it the truth!

The truth is, as much as this hurts, as terrible as it is, it is MINE. She was mine and always will be.  Please don't take that away from me, please don't undo it.  I HATE that she is not alive. Absolutely hate it! But at least I had her for the 33 weeks that I did.  At least I have a daughter.  My heart will never be the same again. I assume over time it will mend and a scar will be left in the place of this now open wound. That scar will be my memory.  As in a song by  the Goo Goo Dolls, "scars are souvenirs you'll never lose". It is my pain and the scar on my heart that will make up the new me.  I can only hope that it is a new me I like as much as the old me.  I hope it is a more understanding and compassionate me.  And my prayer to God, as it always has been in the past when I have experienced tough times is, "I will gladly take this cross to bear, if me bearing it means I can help even just one person in the world get though a similar situation, my pain will be worth it". That is my hope and prayer.  I hope and pray Gabriella will not have lived and died in vain.  It is up to me, as her mother to make sure that doesn't happen.  She is gone, but I still have a responsibility as a mother to make her life have meaning.  I raise my son with the same hope, that I raise him well enough so that he will live a life with meaning. Isn't that every mother's goal?

So as I entered the swim facility, I have to say, isn't as bad as I had thought it would be. It was quiet there no one around, only the receptionist.  She didn't mention anything, and I thought 'she must know'.  She did.  As my mother took Dominic in the back to get him ready, the receptionist gently said, I am sorry for your loss.  She apparently found out from a 'swim' friend of mine.  I thought, what a load off.  The rest of the hour went as any other week.  When other employees started to arrive, I notice them quietly talking and maybe even  whispering.  I, of course, thought it was about me... maybe it was, maybe it wasn't. I couldn't be bothered. I just knew that my son had a life to return to.  I sat and watched the rest of his lesson.  He swam, and swam, and I watched, so happy no other mom's I knew were there.  I started to think, just keep swimming, just keep swimming.  The tune from 'Finding Nemo' popped into my head, "just keep swimming, just keep swimming, that what we do we swim, swim, swim...". I realized that is what I am doing, I just keep swimming.  It is baby steps everyday.

Today on the month, another month toward the rest of my life without her. I'm still counting and still haven't figured out why. One day I will figure it out, but not today.  Today I just will remember my little angel as a blessing in my life and I will drink a toast to her spirit.  Gabriella my love, rest well and rest in peace, Mommy loves you.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

For Better or For Worse

My husband and I met just about 5 years ago in Florida.  I have to be honest, I do not even remember our very first meeting, although he says he does.  It wasn't a noteworthy meeting.  A casual hello, nice to meet you, as I filled out an application for a job at a restaurant on the water in Port Orange, FL.  I was so involved in my own life and business of moving that I barely paid any attention to that moment.  Had I known that fast forward 5 years later he would be my husband, I would have paid better attention.  I would have wanted to remember that moment.  He will tell you that he 'knew' that he was going to marry me from when he first saw me.  I love when he tells this story, because it reminds me of a romantic movie or book. I had always thought that things like that only happened in the movies.  While early in the relationship I found it hard to understand his blissful romantic view of the world, I later came to appreciate it.  I had long lost that idealism to a more cynical attitude.  I thought he was crazy when he first told me of his revelation of our marriage.  But, later I found myself admiring and wishing I had the same idealistic nature about me.  Well, after 5 years together, we have found that life is not idealistic.

Early into our life together we experienced our first misfortune, our first miscarriage. It hit us hard, especially my husband. Growing up I always dreamt about my grown up life. I expected to one day fall in love, get married and eventually have kids.  Never did I daydream about having a miscarriage.  That is not something we tell children; the hardships of life and the unexpected let downs.  So, when I had my miscarriage I was so dismayed.  You get pregnant you have a baby, right?.  What is this nonsense about miscarriages? I sorrowfully accepted the reality.  My husband on the other hand wasn't so accepting.  He was angry, very angry.  It took him sometime to come to terms with the situation.  But, even though our heartache, I could see our potential to be a great team.  We pulled together in a way I never expected. We became closer. 

We were challenged again with a second miscarriage.  We could not believe it happened to us again, more bad luck?   How much worse could it get we thought to ourselves? We obviously had no clue.  Our third pregnancy, brought to us one of the biggest joys in our lives, our son.  Finally, success, we are a family.  We knew right away we wanted more kids.  Very often, I have thought that our purpose together, our purpose in life was to have a family together.  It was one of the things we both felt strongly about and I believe brought us together. Being 35 at the birth of my son, we knew we would want to have them close together.  Six months later, we were pregnant again.

My pregnancy with Gabriella was a surprise.  We didn't expect to get pregnant so quickly.  It took me a while to absorb that I was pregnant again, three months ahead of our schedule.  Even as I type the words 'our schedule' I realize how silly it is and how it looks.  'Our schedule' as though we are in control of anything.  Control is really an illusion when it comes to matters of creation.  I had no control over my first two miscarriages, I had no control over the successful pregnancy and birth of my son, so to think I had any control over Gabriella's creation and life is absurd.  I had no control.  She was a plan from God. A plan I didn't understand, and still don't understand. As I accepted her conception in my life and thanked God for such a blessing.  I personally believe if we are to take the good from God, we must too accept the bad, I accept his will to take her from us too soon.  I don't understand it. I don't need to understand it, I just have to accept it and have faith that the 'plan' is a greater force than I am.

All the same, when we were faced with the truth, the truth about our baby girl, we were devastated.  My first thoughts were, we can get through this, and thank God we have my son.  I remember in the first few moment of holding my husband, while I sat in the hospital bed and the cold screen of the ultrasound machine next to us, thinking, 'We have Dominic. We have a beautiful, healthy son, some people don't even have that much.'  I don't know what gave me the clarity to see things in such a way so soon.  The only thing I can think of is the grace of God.

When you get married, or at least when I got married, you expect there to be hard times.  But, mainly I fantasized about the good times to come. My husband and I have been through ups and downs like any couple.  Together we have lost our jobs, moved across states, made bad business decisions, restarting educations, humbled ourselves to accept help from others, dealt with the skeletons in our closets. We faced the disappointments of the two miscarriages.  Never, not once in a million years, when we stood in front of our friends and family, that beautiful, sunny day, beach side in Daytona Beach, did we ever, ever imagine that when we said the words for better and for worse, that this might be our worse.  We believed the bad luck, in regards to our pregnancies were behind us.  We expected that one day, we would have to deal with the loss of  loved ones.  That is life, and remember after all, he is a funeral director.  We were not nieve to the realities of mortality. But, we could have never imagined that we would have to muster up the strength and love it takes to meet our daughter under these circumstances.

For better or for worse, real words that can be taken for granted.  We look forward to the good and ignore the fact the there will be hard times, unbearable times.  In a marriage, you want to shield each other from harm, shield your children from harm.  But, there are just somethings you can not prepare for, somethings you can not shield each other from.  Sometimes, you have to bear the burdens together, there is no hiding, there is no protecting.  You have to be strong for each other.  We have good moments, and we have bad moments.  Everyday is a rollercoaster for us now.  Sometimes, I am down when he is up and sometimes it is vice versa.  Sometimes, we are both down, those times are hard. Sometimes we can escape for a few moments and laugh together about something, those times are the nicest. 

I have fallen in love with my husband all over again. Strange to think, that at a time like this, I am falling in love.  When this happened to us, the layer of the everyday stresses and minutia were stripped away.  We were raw, raw emotions is all you have when you suffer such a great loss.  In that rawness, I saw and see our truest selfs.  I see the amazing qualities he posesses, the ones I orginially fell in love with, the ones that made me say "yes" when he asked me to marry him.  He always tells me I am his soul mate.  I didn't think I believed in soulmates, so I wouldn't really say much to this declaritive.  I now know, soul mates do exist, and I married mine.  My precious little daughter, my Gabriella, gave me the greatest gift.  If it weren't for her, would I have ever been able to see this truth?  I feel so inferior to this little person, she gives and gives, even in death she gives.  I admire her.  I wonder if I have been able in my 36 years on this earth, if I have had the same impact as she has with nothing but 33 weeks.  I have said it before, but, it is worth repeating, what a beautiful life.

Gabriella, I love you, I will always love you and I thank you for all you have given me.  You are a precious gift from God.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

4 Weeks Later...

It is 4 weeks later and I don't know if I feel any closer to some sense of peace.  I try daily to do something, anything that feels some what 'normal'.  I feel anything but normal.  What is normal anyhow? I'm learning normal is only a state of mind.  I suppose, normal is life as you know 'it', whatever 'it' is.  And once you change that 'it' you no longer feel normal to yourself.  I am learning to live with my new reality of normal.  My new reality is I am the mother of one son here on earth, and a daughter who lives on in another realm. 

Things will never, for me, be as I once knew them.  I will always hold the memories of my pregnancy, the memories of the devastating news, and the memories of saying good bye.  Even if I try to forget or pretend it didn't happen, I have all the physical reminders of my pain.  There is the new scar on my abdomen, the stacks of sympathy cards, the cross on my nightstand that was placed on her casket, the stacks of books given to me about losing a baby, and so much more.  There is no escaping the truth, even when I try.

I find my self counting down (or up) the days from when it happened.  I don't know what I am counting.  As though I am going to reach some magic number and things will just be okay.  I find myself wondering what I would be doing 'right now' if Gabriella was still alive, if I were still pregnant.  Would I be preparing her room? Would I be washing her clothes? Or would I just feel more motivated to do anything? Would I be myself as I once knew myself?  Then other times, I wonder what if she was born, born early. Where would I be? In the hospital daily with my daughter? Would she be sick or fighting for her life? Or would she be home with me and I would be reliving the sleep deprivation I experienced in the early month of my son's life?  But, wondering doesn't change a thing. Wondering just makes it harder. But, it is hard to control my mind.

I look at this blog as an opportunity to learn something, to express myself, to open up a window into my life and come to a place of understanding that I can live with.  As I write each one, they come from my heart.  They aren't well thought out, nor do I pain over every word or how it sounds or reads.  I realize today that some days I am incline to write about what it was like for me, through my eyes, and other days, like today, where I am just looking to find out where I am going with this all. I think that writing about it will help me find the way.  Today I am wondering if there is a 'way', or if I am just to burn up the time as I search from my new normal.

All I know for sure, is while I count the days looking for an end date, the end is not in sight. I have only just begun this journey and this new life. I have been detoured from how I thought I would live and 'know' life. So, now, I begin again, all over again. I feel like I have been reincarnated into this new life, new reality, and now I must relearn everything all over again.  Ironically, my husband and I have a motto among ourselves, "ancaro imparo." It is Italian for I'm still learning.  And it's it true? I am always going to be learning.  Life isn't something that doesn't have any definitives.  Nothing is guaranteed! We aren't able to count anything.  The unexpected is going to come our way. Even if the unexpected is something as severe as having a stillborn.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Named After an Angel

Shortly after finding out the news that our baby's heart had stopped beating, my husband turned to me and asked me, "what do you want to name her?" Without even waiting for a reply he said, "Gabriella Eve?" He had known that was my favorite of the names we had been considering. I looked up at him and immediately said yes. 

The business of naming the baby was all in my hands this time, since he had picked the name for our son.  We knew we wanted to name her with a name that started with a G.  My mother's first name starts with a G and her nickname in the family has been 'Big G'. She is the oldest sister of 9 siblings so the nickname was fitting.  There had never been a 'Little G'.  Her first granddaughter was to be our 'Little G'.  Actually, there weren't many names that I liked that started with the letter G. So with slim pickings, I quickly became fond of Gabriella.  Not only was it a beautiful name, it was Italian and is derived from the male name Gabriel. Now at the time, I didn't consider the implications of naming my daughter Gabriella, but later it was almost like it was meant to be.

As we sat in the hospital room waiting for my family to arrive, many things went through our minds.  But, almost immediately we asked a nurse to see the hospital chaplain.  My husband and I are both Catholic and we have been going to church and participating in our church community regularly for about a year.  Seeing the chaplain seemed natural and logical to us.  We didn't have questions about how could God do this to us, but, we needed the comfort of prayer.  Unfortunately, when the chaplain arrived I did not find much comfort.  My first problem was understanding him. He had a heavy foreign accent, and I found it difficult to understand what he was saying.  He gave us his condolences and did a prayer.  We asked him how it would work for her funeral.  Since there was no time or opportunity to baptize her, would she be able to receive a funeral mass? The short, dark man with glasses replied no. NO? That word I understood. How could this be? No? Why would she be made to suffer when she was so innocent.  Innocent in its purest form. Innocent of any wrong doing, innocent of even original sin. Even in my haze of despair I understood that "NO".  Knowing at that time there was nothing I could do about it, we asked the Chaplain to give me a blessing for a successful surgery and for my daughter's soul.  He did, he expressed his sorrow for our loss and he left the room.  My husband and I were very distraught.  I decided we would contact our Pastor later that morning and see if something could be worked out.

Later that morning, after the c-section and after my good-byes with my daughter, I was moved from the recovery room to a labor & delivery room for further recovery and observation by the L&D nurses.  I was alone.  I laid there alone and tried to rest.  I closed my eyes and soon realized resting was not something I would be able to do.  It was sometime between 7 and 8 am, and I started to think about our time with the Chaplain and the distributing news about Gabriella's funeral.  I had my husband leave me with my cell phone and I started dialing. Our church's phone number was saved in my phone, as I mentioned we have been active in the parish and it was a number I used frequently. I dialed the rectory, hoping there was someone there, or some sort of emergency contact number, there wasn't.  I started to work my way through the menu options of the phone system trying to get my pastor's personal voice mail box, rather than leaving a message on a general mailbox.  This was far too personal and sensitive an issue for that.  While I tried to get Father Tom's voice mail, I got disconnected. I called back.  Again I hit the wrong number and got disconnected.  On my 3rd consecutive phone call, I decided I would just leave a message on the general voice mailbox since that is the only mailbox I was successful in finding.  I dialed and the phone rang.  But, this time a man answered the phone! I was so happy, it was like a small miracle to me.  I said I was trying to leave Fr. Tom a message and asked the if he would able to help me.  He replied this is Fr. Tom.  I was so relieved.  I explained to him what had happened and asked if it would be possible for him to come to the hospital to talk to us.  He said he could and he would.

It was a Sunday morning.  Our church celebrates several masses on Sunday's so we weren't to see Fr. Tom until later in the afternoon.  My husband returned back to the hospital just about noon.  Fr. Tom arrived sometime after that.  I honestly don't remember his first words to me as he entered the room.  I just remember being so happy to see him.  But, first two questions I do remember him asking me as he sat down in the chair set up to the right of me was: 'How are you doing physically?' and 'What is her name?'.  At first this seemingly innocent question would later bring me great comfort. I proudly answered him, "Gabriella Eve."  He sat a little further back in his chair and looked slightly upward, as if he was reflecting on my answer.  Then he looked back at me, my husband sitting on the opposite of me, and asked, "why did you name her that?" In my haze I frantically tried to remember why I liked that name so much. Why did it speak to me so?  I recalled what the name meant about God, but what I really remembered was that Gabriella was the feminine form of Gabriel. Gabriel in the bible is the angel who brings the news to Mary that she was pregnant and would be the mother to the Christ child.  I replied to him, 'Gabriella after the angel Gabriel and Eve because she is the first granddaughter in my family.'  He smiled gently and continued to talk to us.  We spoke about her purpose, how she is a child of God and has never left God's hands, and about the most pressing issue we had, her funeral.  We found out that she was entitled to a funeral mass and we were so relieved. 

At her funeral mass, during the homily, Fr. Tom once again talked about Gabriella's name.  It had never even dawned on me that we were in the season of Advent.  Advent is the season Catholics prepare for the celebration of the birth of Christ.  He spoke about our exchange in the hospital about naming her and he pointed out how appropriate of a name she had been given during this season.  It was at that moment I thought, 'wow, she came into my life at the same time Mary would have been given the news of her pregnancy.  And she lived in my womb just shy of the birth of Christ.  She was like the angel Gabriel. 

She graced my life for those 33 weeks as a pleasant surprise and we looked forward to her arrival with great eagerness.  Her purpose was love. She gave us all that she had.  Even in her death, she was all about love.  Even in my deepest sorrow, most mournful moments in those first few days, I could see the love in the faces of my friends and family.  Their love for me and the love they had for my unborn child.  I can't help but think to myself, what a wonderful, beautiful life to have, one about nothing else but love.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Day 22

There are still so many things I need to share. It is hard to figure out where to go next.
Some days the words flow as though it is time to get them out; other times not so much. Maybe some words are ready to come out, and maybe other words I am not ready to reveal.

This morning I woke up with swollen eyes, as though I had been crying all night, I hadn't. I thought maybe the tears I am not able to give my daughter during the day are coming out as I sleep.  Maybe as I sleep my soul cries. I make up explanations for some things, it makes me feel better, considering there is so many things for which I have no explanation.

One thing I do understand is my physical limits.  I am so frustrated in my inability, physically, not to be able to get back to my 'normal' routine. However, being this was my 2nd c-section in less than 14 months, I am not taking any chances. My mother has stayed in town to help me. Originally she was suppose to stay for the holidays and then to help me get ready for the baby "G". She was suppose to be born on January 28th.  We would refer to Gabriella as baby "G", because while I was pregnant we hadn't settled on her name but, knew it would start with a "G".  We were to move the rooms around, paint, set up the crib, wash the clothes, prepare the changing table, buy the mobile and all those other things you do when you are expecting a new baby in the house. Now instead we are breaking things down and preparing to return to the stores the items we did buy: her bedding, her 'take home' outfit, headbands, diapers and such.  I feel like instead of preparing for a joyful event, I am removing the evidence of her existence. I am tearing down the pieces of a life that would never be apart of this world. I wonder if it is too soon, or not soon enough to begin to take away the preparations we made for our daughter to join our family.  I try to think logically, "it has to be done at some point". But, I worry about the emotional effects of removing the 'stuff' too soon, but then again what about the emotional effects of keeping it too long? Welcome to my world.  These are the things that plague my mind these days.  All the same, there are bags of returns waiting at the front door.  My hope and wish is they find their way into happier homes.

This brings me to a couple other things I have to figure out.  How will I answer the next person who asks me how many children do you have? What do I say when I run into someone who asks 'so you had your baby?'
I am not posing these questions to solicit advice or get answers from anyone. It is something I will need to figure out on my own as time goes by.  As the days are turning into weeks and will eventually turn into months, I am face with new challenges every day.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Day 21

At this time 3 weeks ago, I was in the recovery room at the hospital.  Having just had a c-section to 'deliver' my daughter into this world she will never know and that will never know her.  Having had a previous c-section with my son, a c-section was the only way to safely deliver her. As though the news that my daughter was lost wasn't enough, I had the insult to injury with the reality of abdominal surgery to deal with.

When they first told me I was going to need to deliver via c-section I was terrified.  I truly thought I would die on the table.  I was so afraid I was going to leave my son without a mother and my husband without a wife. I thought the reality was real.  My daughter wasn't suppose to die so why would I be impermeable to the same fate?  But, I found courage through my husband. 

Being in the funeral industry, he knew he wanted to meet our daughter at the time of her birth, breathing or not.  He knew how important meeting her and holding her would be to the mourning and healing process.  At first, I wanted to be knocked out for the procedure. I didn't want to remember any of it or even see her.  The thought of seeing her was too much.  I thought seeing and holding her would make it 'too real'.  In retrospect, how much more real could it get, whether I held her or not? She was gone, and I can't do anything about it.  I love my husband, and even in my own grief I could still recognize I was not alone. He was just as devastated as I was.  He deserved to see his daughter, and if I chose to be 'knocked out' for the c-section, he would not be allowed in the operating room.  The purpose of a partner in the operation room is for moral support to the mother.  If the mother is not conscience, there is no need for 'moral' support. He wanted to be in that room.  So, I did what I needed to as a wife, I put together the courage to have the c-section the 'normal' way, a spinal, conscience and with my husband there.

We greeted our daughter at 3:53am in the operating room of Good Samaritan Hospital. The kind nurses cleaned her up and wrapped her up in the standard hospital baby blankets and presented her to us.  There it was, it was real.  There was no first cry, there was no movement, she was just there, perfect in every way.  She weighed 4lbs 2oz and was 17 inches long.  I couldn't help but think to myself, she would have made it.  If she had been delivered two days earlier, when I was in the hospital for dehydration, she would have made it.  I thought, 'smaller babies than her make it everyday.'  What could have gone wrong? She slipped away so quietly, without notice or warning. How could this be? But at that point the how's and why's were not important, we had the business of dealing with the reality at hand.

I was able to see her for a few minutes, they held her close to my face and I kissed her.  Then I nuzzled my head into her and the tears fell from my eyes.  The roles were reversed. I was looking to her for comfort, instead of being able to provide the comfort to my newborn the way I had imagined it would be.  I would never have the opportunity to let her perch on my chest and listen to my heartbeat, something I treasured doing with my son. 

From the operating room they brought her out to my family, something we discussed in advance, my husband was already with them. My mother, father and sister had arrived to the hospital shortly after we called them to let them know we had "lost the baby".  We offered them each the opportunity to hold her after delivery.  My mother and sister wanted to but, my father could not even bare the thought.  So, my mother and sister met and sat with Gabriella having their time with her.  I was still in the operating room, getting put back together, so I don't know what was said or the tears that may have fallen, I just know that my sister told me it gave her peace.

Later in the recovery room, I once again had time with my daughter.  They brought her in and said take your time.  But, my husband and I knew that time was not a friend to the dead.  We wanted to preserve her in her perfect condition.  So, we tried to take our time, we held her, we talked to her and we cried.  Surprisingly, we didn't cry an agonizing mournful cry, but we cried gently in sorrow.  Sorry for all the opportunities we would not have with her and all the experiences we all as a family would be missing out on.  I cried for my daughter.  She would never open her eyes and see me and I would never know the comfort of looking into her eyes. We cried for a lifetime of memories that would never happen.

After what seemed like a long time, but now feels like was just a mere few minutes, we knew we had to let her go.  It was hard to hand her over to the nurse because we knew what that meant, we knew where she was going and having the knowledge that your child is headed to the morgue is a disgusting feeling, one I hope anyone reading never has to experience.  It was a terrible moment.  I don't even remember handing her over or seeing the nurse leave the room with her.  Maybe I blocked it out, or maybe I simply closed my eyes, in any case, God is kind in many ways. Of all the things I do remember, I am so thankful I don't remember that.

I just laid there helpless to reality. I laid back and tried to clear my mind from all thoughts.  I still have not been able to accomplish this seemingly simple task.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

I Can't Believe It Happened to Me

I can't believe it happened to me.  I lost my baby girl at 33 weeks.  Her name is Gabriella Eve.  I love her with all my might and everyday without her is like an eternity.  I look in the mirror and see a flat stomach. No more bump, or round belly to show for my months of care and nurturing. 

It happened 3 weeks ago.  I didn't feel her moving and suspected something wasn't right.  Never in my wildest imagination did I think she would have slip away from us.  My 'worst case scenerio' was she would be born premature.  But, premature babies are born everyday and survive.  She would be born at 33 weeks; she would be fine, right? But, I was wrong! I was very wrong.  On December 19, 2010 my life changed forever. 

I am now part of a group that I never subscribed membership to.  I am now a parent who has buried their child.  I don't want to be part of this group, I don't want to be one of those parents... but, I am.  I will have to live the rest of my life knowing the pain and torment to have to say good bye before I even got a chance to say hello.  The tears are running dry and I have to figure out what is next for me and my family.  Life has seemed to slow into this holding pattern, where everyday is like the day before.  Unable to care for my son, unable to get back to my 'normal' routine, I am left to heal physically and emotionally with very little distraction from the fact that my daughter is gone and I can't do anything to change it.

My heart is numb although I know it is hurting everyday.  My soul feels empty although I know I have blessings all around me.  I thank God for so many things, my husband, my son, my family and friends; I even thank him for know me better than I know myself.  I am not angry, I am just lost for a way to put this in its place.  To make the lemonade out of the lemons I have been given. To pick myself up, dust myself off and continue to move forward with this new life I have been given, but at the same time remember and honor my daughter.  I don't want to forget, I wish I could cry everyday endlessly and give her the mourning she deserves, but that is not me. I am not able to.  Right now I just have to get past this numbness and maybe then things will be more clear.