Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sponsor Me at March for Babies!

I am walking with my friend Kristy, and her little boy, Christopher James.  Here is his story:

Christopher was born February 8, 2010 at 27 weeks (13 weeks early)  at 2lbs 14oz. He was in the NICU  for 10 weeks. While there he had 1 spinal tap, 1 lumbar puncture, 5 blood transfusion, light therapy, and tube feedings. He was on and off a ventilator. He coded his 2nd day of life and CPR was performed to save his life. He had to learn to breath, eat and maintain normal body temperature while in the NICU. He came home April 20, 2010 at 7lbs. At 9 months of age he was diagnosed with Periventricular Leukomalasia (PVL) which is brain damage of the white matter of the brain. In most cases, PVL ends up as cerebral palsy. He is currently getting therapy 5 times a week and are praying he will sit, crawl and walk one day.                                            -Kristy

So far, I have raised $215.  I have a modest goal of $350, but, of course would love to raise more.  So please if you can donate, it would be appreciated.  It is easy online, just click the badged on this page to the right on 'Donate Now'.  If everyone reading this donates just $5 image how much that would add up to... it is less then your daily Starbuck's coffee.

Thank you everyone for your support!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

My Dearest Gabriella...

My Dearest Gabriella,

I think of you everyday.  Some days are tough and some are easier, but each day has some emptiness without you in my arms.

I saw a little baby girl the other day at the store. She was almost  3 months old, and of course I thought of you.  I wondered what you would look like at 3 months old and if you grow up while in the arms of the Lord.

Dominic misses you.  Of course he can't tell me that but, I can tell.  He has been out of sorts lately.  People tell me it is his age or because he is teething.  I think it is because he wants to play with his sister and there isn't anything I can do to fill that void for him.

Easter is approaching, and as it does, I am planning for summer.  I bought some beautiful butterflies for your garden yesterday.  I wish I could spoil you in person. 

My love, I will write to you again.   Maybe it will help with the pain and emptiness.

Watch over your brother and know you are loved.

Love Always,
Mommy

(This letter is an actual note I wrote to Gabriella on a card and plan on leaving at her garden later this weekend.)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Stressed

So, just when I thought I was doing so well, and holding it together, I am challenged.  This week has thrown me for a loop.  I am feeling so much anxiety. I wasn't this anxious when I lost Gabriella.  Wait, let me rephrase that. I had anxiety after losing Gabriella, now I am in a state of anxiousness.  It is like a switch was flipped and I can't find it to turn it off.

I'm sure it is a culmination of everything.  There are lots of in's and out's of my life not mentioned in this blog.  But, of course, one of the largest components, my father's health this week I am afraid has set me off. So, has it all come to a head? I am so shot and really need a vacation.  But, the vacation I need is one from my own mind.  I will not be able to have that type of vacation for some time.  It is impossible to stop thinking.  For now, my main goal is to stop feeling anxious.  The constant state of frenzy I feel within my body is unnerving and I want it to stop.  Every time, I think I am calming down, something else happens to stress me out.  These days it isn't taking much to trigger the stress switch. 

This is such a different blog... I am feel like I am rambling.  But, even still, my writting is reflecting the state of my thinking.  Which is how I typically write, what is in my heart and mind.  As I ramble on proverbial paper, so my mind rambles and races on.  I am so disconnected.  I want to focus and be clear.  I have been trying for days and it isn't happening.  I am hoping in the coming days I can.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

My Dad

Dear Family and Friends,

I thank you all so much for all your love, support and prayers.

I once again have to call upon you for your prayers.  My father is in the hospital with some heart issues.  I would appreciate it if you could please say a quick little prayer for him, as tomorrow he is to have a procedure. 

I am of course shaken by this state of affairs, as is the rest of my family.  We love him and need him in our daily lives... so, if you could tonight or tomorrow morning, please say a prayer for is well being it would be much appreciated!

Thank you so very much,
The Van Dina Family and Chapman Family
(especially Papa's Boy, Dominic)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

I want my daughter back

I want my daughter back.  Sometimes, I seem like I am doing well, and a lot of the times I am.  But, the hurt and sorrow in my heart is not gone.  It is still there and it will sneek up on me and the pain is strong and deep.  I am so sad that I am writing about my daughter rather then caring for her.

I want my daughter back.  I only held her for a very short time, probably less than an hour.  It was not enough time.  In truth, I could have held her for hours and it would not have been enough time.  It is times like now, when I am here alone in the dark, that I miss her the most.  I wish I were holding her. I wish I could feel her breathe, I wish I was exhausted from sleepless nights filled with her cries.  Instead, I am only left with the feeling and the thought, I want my daughter back. 

Our lives are not complete without her. She was suppose to complete our family.  We were waiting for her. I miss her, I miss the idea of her, I am sad and wish this didn't turn out the way that it did.

Finding my way...

When I was a little girl, I never imagined I would one day grow up to be mother to a child who would never breathe the same air I did.  I never thought my life would turn out like this.  I had always wanted to be a mother and have a family.  If you would ask me as a little girl, what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would say, "I want to be happy."  Having a family to me was everything to me. 

All the same, I went to school and then on to college because I was suppose to.  I never truly felt comfortable as I pursued my bachelor's degree in what my purpose was.  I didn't know how this degree was going to benefit me because I never had big 'career' ambitions.  But, because I was suppose to go to college and graduate, I did it.  Of course, there were bumps along the way.  I now believe those, bumps were because I was passionate about it.  I wasn't 'me' yet.  I wasn't the person you know today.  I wasn't strong enough or insightful enough to recognize I wasn't pursuing something I valued, but instead I was pursuing something someone else valued, and something valued in our society and culture. 

For the past decade or so, I have bounced around from job to job, changing industries and pursuing less mainstream means of income. All trying to find what it was I was 'suppose' to be doing.  I need to support myself. I didn't have a choice. The pressure to survive left me feeling like I was trapped in a world that made no sense to me. I was still doing what was expected of me and in doing so I was failing miserable.  Not to say I would have appeared to be unsuccessful from the outside.  I would never put on that front.  But, I was unsuccessful in fulfilling my own happiness. 

While trying to find my way in my professional life, I tried to find my way in personal life as well.  I dated, and looked for Mr. Right. All the while, Mr. Right, wasn't to come for many years later.  I didn't know while I grew emotionally, my mate was literally growing up.  It wasn't until I decided I had nothing to lose and moved to Florida in another attempt to 'find' myself,  and the thing that would make me happy. That was when I met my husband in the most unsuspecting and unlikely of places.  Even more surprising, is he wasn't at all what I thought he would be like.  He was young, goofy, inteligent and charming in the quirkiest of ways. 

To make an all ready long story shorter, we married and having a family was important to both of us.  We both always wanted to be parents and have children.  It was until my son was born that I realized how off base I had been all those years. I was in search of something, that for me, didn't exist the way I had been led to believe it would.  I thought I was suppose to have a career in business.  I was good at business but it wasn't me, it was just a way to earn money. For me, I was meant to be a wife and a mother.  And still, even after having had my son, I was ashamed to admit that.  I think it is so sad that we put so much pressure on kids to fit into molds we put on them.  Rather than letting them find the people they were meant to be.  We superimpose our values and dreams on our children almost out of the womb.  We impose our ideas of who we want them to be, before they ever have a chance to figure it out for themselves.  If a little boy is 'flirting' with a little girl, we say he will be a lady killer, or if a girl is bossy and self assured, she is likely to be a lawyer; sometimes if a child is quiet and reserved we wonder if they will have friends in school or if they will pursue a more subdued profession, if a small boy likes to throw stuff and throws it well, he must be a future pitcher.  If we really think about the pressure, unspoken and spoken,  and the expectations we put on the little ones, it is no wonder there are so many of us lost and unhappy as adults.  We have to first unprogram the years of expectations and impositions before we can even begin to scratch the surface of what it is that make us as adults happy and fulfilled.  For me the journey has take 36 years, two miscarriages and a stillborn to begin to scratch the surface. 

I can know say with certainty, my family is my passion.  I am good at nurturing and get great enjoyment and satisfaction from caring for not only my family but others as well.  That is probably why I enjoy cooking so much.  Feed someone is an act of nurturing and nourishing them. Thinks are start to make more sense to me day by day.  I have been able to find this inner sense of peace and comfort in who I am, I can now begin to figure out what I am meant to do with it.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

3 Long Months

I try to write a bit on the monthly anniversary of this life changing event.  In some ways, 3 months feels like it has come and gone so quickly and in another, it feels like a lifetime.  As I reflect back on these 3 months, I can only feel blank.  Nothing. I don't know how to feel about the fact of the matter is 3 months ago, I lost my daughter. 

I can't say that I feel angry, but I'm certainly not happy about it.  But, because I am coming to terms with things I don't have the overwhelming sadness I once had.  I was thinking about the heaviness of the initial sadness the other day.  It is such an enormous weight.  It is so heavy, you move around in slow motion it seems.  But, after experiencing this type of loss, not many things seems to be as urgent as they once were.  The heaviness lifts.  I remember people telling that it would.  I wasn't sure if I believed them at the time, but, I did trust them.  I think mine started lifting move quickly than for others. While it hasn't completely gone away, I feel much lighter.

I am still trying to think of a word that describes what I feel, and I am still drawing a blank.  I almost want to say indifference, but, that isn't entirely accurate.  But, it is, what it is, and there is nothing I can do about it.  Recently, someone close to me didn't wanted me to know they were in the hospital.  I hear it was said, "she has enough going on... don't worry her." But, you see the problem with trying to "protect" me is, you can't. This is my life.  I am not going through a 'tough' time. This is my life, the good, the bad and the ugly.  And how do you protect someone from life?  If I were studying for a test, or at a work conference, or involved in some other temporary state of being or activity, then I would understand, maybe even agree.  But, no, this isn't the case.  Life doesn't let you choose your poison.  You just take it, and where you go from there is up to you.  My life will never be the same again. There will always be a 'before Gabriella' and 'after Gabriella' marker in my mind when I think back on my life.  I can't imagine how anyone could go through this and come out the same person.  I think it is impossible.

Since I am at loss for words as to my emotions, I will share what I have learned in the past 3 months.  I have learned: life doesn't always go as expected and the detour can be a doozy; there are very kind and loving people in the world; support can be found in many places and give in many different ways; every minute is precious; your life can dramatically change in the blink of an eye; I love my family more than I thought I did; I have very, very good friends; I truly love my husband and he is my soul mate; and maybe most importantly I am stronger than I think and I am a survivor!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Gabriella's Garden: Easter 2011


Easter 2011

I went to the cemetery today and finished decorating for Easter.  I am so happy with how it turned out.  I know it sounds funny that I am 'happy' with it.  I go to the cemetery about once a week.  I know a lot of people are 'not cemetery' people, and neither was I.  But, for some reason this is different for me. I don't go to the cemetery necessarily to cry, but if I do that is okay.  I go to check up on things.  While I am there, not only do I look to see Gabriella's garden is in good order, but, I check on the other babies too.  Especially the ones who's parents we know from the bereavement group. I was talking about this with a friend as I drove away from the cemetery.  I suppose the best way I can describe the pull to go to the cemetery, is nurturing.  For me, going and checking up on things, decorating and such, is a form of nurturing for me.  I am still her mother and I want to take care of her.  Death doesn't take the urge away from a mother's heart.  For now, this is all I can do for her and I am happy to do it.

NY Ink

Thad and I just got off the phone with one of the producer's of the new TLC show, NY Ink. They are going to be tattooing us together on the show, tell our story!!! Of course, we will be honoring both Gabriella and Dominic!!! This will be another step toward healing and acceptance. We are so excited and will keep you posted!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Quiet

I decided to ask a friend to take Dominic this weekend.  I really felt the need to decompress and connect with myself again.  I haven't been able to do that, certainly since we lost Gabriella, but really for quite some time.

I dropped him off Friday night and stayed at her home until I was sure he was settled in bed.  I procrastinated in leaving her home, knowing my little boy would not be with me in the morning.  I don't know if I was more worried about him or me.  I have struggled with feeling guilty for leaving him.  After all it is for no 'good' reason. 

I got home and the house was quiet.  There is no monitor with the humming of the sound machine piping through.  No little coos being muttered.  Dominic is a noisy sleeper.  I straightened up a bit and in doing so, had to bring something into his room.  It was empty. It almost felt eerie.  There is an emptiness in the entire house without him here.  After having to go in his room for a second time, I decide to close the door behind me.  I just can't stand seeing the room empty.  His toys are in his play room and they seem lifeless without him.  It reminds me of the Toy Story movies.  Toys are nothing without a child's love.  It is strange to know they won't be played with all weekend. I just can't help but think, what if it was like this all the time.  I am horrified at the thought.  I am so lucky and blessed to have him in my life. He is my best friend, my little buddy.  If he wasn't here, I don't know if I could handle the quiet. I pray for his health and safety every night. It's been 2 hours since I left him and I miss him already.

A friend of mine told me that mommies were allowed to have mental health days off too.  I keep that in my head when the bouts of guilt come over me.  I need this time.  I need to sleep and unwind.  I have to remind myself I am allowed to be a little selfish so that I can be a better me, which in turn will make me a better mom.  But, even with this thought, I am almost uncomfortable with the silence. 

At mass on Ash Wednesday, one of my priests talked about the inner quiet we need to find in order to hear God.  I want to find the quiet, but all I am noticing right now is the physical quiet.  I suppose this takes some practice.  I am still learning.  I am hoping that if I can master this skill that God's plan for me will become more clear.

Friday, March 11, 2011

God Is With Me

In what should be the worst and lowest point of my life, I am feeling the most blessed and loved.  God has not punished my family, rather we have been blessed. I can hardly believe I am writing these words.

God has given my daughter's life meaning beyond that which is human.  Her spirit is enabling me to do things I never thought or knew I could.  I am finding out who I was made to be and to be comfortable in being that person.  It is simply amazing to me that out of such grief and tragedy, such an incredible and glorious good can result.  No one can tell me this anything short of God's light shining on me and my family.  It was not God's intention to punish us.  God loves each of us.  I believe he wants us to be all we can.  My beautiful daughter's short life had a purpose too.  She is reaching out to people through me. She will have a long legacy because of all she has inspires me to do.  Other people's life's will be changed and effected because of my actions.  I would not be doing the things I am doing and planning on doing without her having been in my life. I would not be who I am without her. It is no small coincidence. 

Life is good. No, I don't have Gabriella in my arms everyday.  But, I try to remember everyday that life is not only about mourning her. It is about finding the balance of missing her and making her life and mine meaningful.  And for that I can say, God is with me; and I am thankful.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Life Lessons

If I could have, I would have liked to teach you a few things I've learned about life.
If you were here with me right now, I would tell you:

1) Life doesn't always go the way you plan it or want it to: Trust me, if it were up to me we would be together. But, even when life doesn't go your way you need to make the best of it. You will be a much happier person if you accept and find the positives in things you can't change.  But, if you can change something that makes you unhappy you owe it to yourself to do it.

2) Be kind to people: People can suck. And occasionally you might be one of the sucky ones. But, by and large treat people the way you want to be treated.  Even if you don't think it is 'paying off' you will always be able to hold your head high and feel good about yourself. (And I like to thing karma will somehow repay you.)

3) Stand up for yourself: Don't allow yourself to be bullied or walked all over.  You don't have to be nasty to be assertive.  If you set the precedent it is okay for people to treat you poorly or take advantage of you, you are setting yourself up for a miserable life.

4) Boys are stupid, but you can love them anyhow: Boys and girls are very different creatures.  We think differently, we have different strengths and weaknesses, and a lot of time, boys are oblivious. But, remember there is a difference between a 'stupid' boy and a bad boy.  Stupid is okay, bad is not. Stupid means they can't multi-task, remember dates or think ahead. "Bad" are boys who are abusive to you, themselves or others, stay away from these boys. 

5) Don't speed, you'll get there: People tease me because I am not one to speed.  I don't care because I get where I am going all the same.  Plan ahead, leave early and get there safely, that's the most important thing.

6) God is good: God can be a mystery. Sometimes you will feel like God doesn't care. He does! He will not always give you what you want or what you think you deserve, and sometimes he does.  As we tell our young ones, 'you get what you get and you don't get upset.' There is good in all that God gives us, even if we can't see it.  It is our job to find it.

7) Don't let fear rule your life: Fear can be a powerful thing.  It will control your life if you let it, don't. If there is something you want to do in life don't let fear stop you (of course except for drugs.)

8) Don't smoke cigarettes: Cigarettes are expensive and very unhealthy so why do it. It is simple and self explanatory so I'll stop here.

9) Crying is okay: It is alright to have emotions and show them.  Don't let anyone make you feel ashamed to cry.  But, be productive and don't let tears rule your life. 

10) Take pride in your appearance: Unfortunately we do live in a very visual world. Taking pride in your appearance will not only make you feel better about yourself, but others will know you respect yourself.

11) Count your blessings: Don't dwell on things you don't have or can't get. There are many kind people out there. You will find you have far more blessings than crosses to bear.  Try to see the glass half full.  Be optimistic and realistic.  Things are usually not as bad as we think they are and good things can over power the bad if you allow them.

12) Get enough sleep: Your body needs sleep.  It needs it to repair and recharge. Depriving yourself of the proper sleep will not have any benefit to you what so ever. Rest when you need it. Listen to your body.  Sleeping is not a hobby, it has its purpose to recharge and renew. You'll be a better you if you get enough sleep.

13) Study hard: When you are in school it feels like it is never going to end.  It does.  You don't realize how fast it goes by until you are older.  You also would realize how much better off you'll be if you take your studies seriously.  Always try your best, grades aren't necessarily a reflection of your effort so don't get too hung up on them. I know there will be a lot of times, especially in college, when you will want to put studying second to go out with your friends.  Trust me the bars are there week after week, and if you have a test or something, stay in and take care of business.

14) Be yourself: If people don't like you for who you are, they aren't the people for you. Self awareness is important though.  Always strive to be a better you.  Read a book, take a class, mediate.  Whatever it is, self improvement doesn't mean you don't like yourself, it means you love yourself.

15) Forgiveness is important: If you want to be close to God, you need to learn to forgive.  Forgiving can be a challenge. The ability to forgive is one of the greatest gifts God has given us.  Even if you need to remove certain people from your life because they are not healthy emotionally, still have forgiveness in your heart. It is the only way to find peace and it is the best way to emulate God and Jesus.

16) Pigs don't know pigs stink: Try to surround yourself with people who are high caliber. People you enjoy and are not selling themselves short.  Remember you are most like the 5 people you spend the most time with. So, if you don't think highly of someone, don't spend too much time with them or your likely to become like them. If you are around a bunch of pigs and become one, you'll never notice you smell, so be careful.

17) Meet people where they are at: Every one has different abilities and things to offer us.  Don't expect more from people then they are able to give (ie: socially and emotionally.) Not everyone is going to be able to give you the support you need in life the way you need it. If you have a friend or family member that is a good person but not able to give you what you need and want, except them for who they are and gift they do have to offer.

18) It's okay to say no: You are human and can't always do everything, everyone wants you too, when they want it. It is okay to say no.

19) Be selfish: You are the most important person in your life. Don't compromise yourself. Respect yourself and put yourself first. It is okay. I am not saying to be a brat. I am saying if you don't care of you first and don't make yourself a priority, you will not be good to, or for anyone. This includes your husband, children and even me.

20) Have a giving nature: The old saying, it's better to give than receive, is true. This kind of goes back to being kind to people. But, I guess the difference is I want you to think about what your gifts are and how you can enhance the lives of people around you with them. If you have a gift and you don't share it, it will have been a waste. When you give of yourself, you will get so much more in return, more than you can ever imagine.

21) Try not to lie: Lying is ugly and usually nothing good comes from it.  Remember you don't need to have a good memory if you tell the truth.

22) You don't owe an explanation: Don't feel like you need to explain yourself all the time. Be confident in your decisions and don't feel like you have to explain your choices to others.

23) Take the time to remember: Time and life goes by so fast. Take the time to stop in the moment and really absorb it so that you never forget it. Take pictures, write a journal, whatever works for you. Appreciate the 'moments' in your life. It will be easier to see your blessings if you do.

24) Therapy is OK: Don't feel like you can't see a therapist if you think you might need to, and chances are at some point in your life you will need to.  Therapists are like doctors for our emotions.  The best part is you come out a stronger person for having gone.

25) Don't be afraid to fail: Failure is the only way to find your way to success. If you fall a million times, it is okay as long as you get up a million and one times.

26) Know you are loved: I never got a chance to tell you this.  I told your brother this when he was in the womb.  Their will be times in your life (had you lived one) that you are going to feel alone and unloved.  Please know you are and will always be loved. Hold that knowledge in your soul and let it sustain you in the hard times. 

I honestly don't know if I have covered everything I would have wanted to tell you.  Somethings you would have learned along the way I'm sure. I had hoped we would be able to talk about these things as you grew up.  I didn't include things, like the birds and the bees, I suppose they aren't important in this situation.  But, as your mommy, I would want you to be a good person, and I would want to tell you things I've learned.  They are life lessons.  A life, sadly, you won't be experiencing. But, I am sure, I am confident, that you are in a far better place and these 'lessons' are something you already know. In fact, you are teaching me. And I am sure you will continue to teach me.  And sweetheart, mommy's heart is open and I am listening and learning, everyday, because of you. I love you!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Family Day

So, I often think people must think I am a mess.  I very often get the question, "how are you doing?" always asked in a somber tone. Would you think of me as a horrible person if my response was "great!"? Believe it or not, some days I do feel great.  I feel purposeful and productive a lot of days. And more than ever, these days, I look forward to my family days.

Family time for us is simple these days.  We, my husband and I, try to focus on making the day fun for our son.  We will typically wake up together as a family, of course Dominic being our alarm clock.  And like most parents, we quickly figure out who is going to make the coffee.  We love the mornings when Dominic comes into our bed with his milk cup and watches Sesame Street.  Usually, he sits and watchs as we try to get a few more much needed minutes of rest before we really begin the day.  Then off to the business of breakfast, general household chores and playing, until nap time.  While he naps, Thad and I will usually try to get ready for the day, plan our outing and relax and enjoy some quiet time together.  When Dominic gets up we are super charged that we are going to have some fun with him. 

Now here is the twist.  Family days for us aren't always playdates and bouncy places.  There are days like today.  Today we went to lunch and then to the cemetery.  As we got out of the car and walk to the restuarant, I have a moment of realization... this is my life.  We are going to spend family day at a cemetery.  We walked in the brisk air. Thad carrying Dominic and I walking beside them with my arm around Thad and latched on Dominic's leg.  Ahh, my boys. And I think about how different today would be if Gabriella had made it.  Would I be carrying an infant carrier?  Would we even be out? It is how life is without your child? I am so proud of my family.  All of us, even though we weren't together.  We joyfully went into lunch and had a great meal and really enjoyed each other's company.

Next we were off to the cemetery.  This would be Thad's first time back since the funeral.  Dominic has been there several times with me, but, never got out of the car.  Today it was all of us. Again, the first time we all were there together since her funeral, December 23, 2010.  I was excited and nervous all at the same time.  I didn't know how Thad would react and how Dominic would behave.  But at the same time, I was excited. I have bought a bunch of stuff to decorate for Easter.  I decided to skip over St. Patrick's day, considering it is next week; and I figured Lent starts tomorrow.

We did it. We all went... We decorated, we cried and we chased Dominic all over the place.  And then it hit me again, this is my life.  My son is going to grow up visiting a cemetery.  He will run around and I will have to chase him, teaching him how he is expected to behave.  I arranged her decorations and Thad played with Dominic.  I have been here so many times now that I don't always cry, it is some sort of a comfort.  But, to be honest, a few tears usually do fall.  I think this was an especially hard day for Thad.  I completely understand, it is hard.  Dominic didn't know where he was, to him, it was open area to run around.  One day, he will know and I hope he will grow to appreciate the value of his sister's life and what she means to me, her father and our family.

Some days, these are our family days.  But we are, a family... all four of us.  We may not be together physically, but we are connected in spirit. We are a normal family.  There is that word again, 'normal.'  What is normal anyhow? This is our new normal.  And even as messed up as this normal sounds, it is something we are learning to get comfortable with.  There are four of us, and one day we hope five or six of us.  Family time for us will never be like the typical nuclear family.  We are different and we expect it.


Playing in the field cross from Gabriella's garden


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Gabriella's Marker

I went to the cemetery this past weekend.  I was in a frantic state as I pulled up to Holy Innocents area of the cemetery.  The flowers that have been a landmark of sorts for me to easily scan the landscape and find my daughter, were not there. As I looked for the flowers, I noticed them at the curb.  I was panicked.  Where is she I thought? In retrospect, what a silly thought, of course she was there. The week prior I had brought a pinwheel and pink flowers, I didn't see those either.  I anxiously got out of the car and quickly walked to the area.  And then, it became clear... her 'marker' had been put in place of the old flowers.  I was so happy and relieved. 

Here it is... here she is at her final resting place.  I found and replaced the pinwheel and flowers. I placed a small angel there too.  I have plans to decorate the site and make a home of sorts for her there. 

There is a silent joy and reverence I have seeing the marker in place.  It is another bridge crossed.  I am proud of her. I love her. I miss her.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Dominic Deserves His Sister

Sometimes, I ache at the thought of my children not growing up together.  Having a child, as you parents know, is like no other love in the world.  Dominic is my best friend, my buddy. I love him so, so much. I enjoy so much to watch him play.  When I see him interact with other children, I can't help but think, he needs siblings.  I feel I am sort of betraying Gabriella by thinking this. He has a sister, one he will never know. I feel like I have failed him. He deserves to know his sister.

I am so afraid we won't be able to have more children.  There are so many new fears and worries.  I really want him to have the experience and joy of having a living brother or sister. I can only say that after losing Gabriella, I no longer feel anything is beyond comprehension.  Some may say I am being silly or overreacting, but she wasn't supposed to die, so why would it be so hard to imagine that I may not be blessed with more children? Or even worse, God forbid, what if something happens to Dominic? Yes, that is a real fear to me.  There are nights I check on him several times for no good reason. If he takes a nap and sleeps longer than normal, I am at the monitor looking for movement.  I suppose those are my two biggest fears/concerns in my new reality; not having more children and losing Dominic. 

I am also so sad that I will never have a picture of my entire family together.  Could you imagine not having a picture of your entire family?  From now until forever, whenever we take a 'family' picture, there will be an emptiness about it.  How can we take a family picture without our daughter? How will I ever be able to feel good about pictures of our family knowing that she is missing? It is a hole in my heart. My whole life there will be something missing.

Staying Positive

It isn't always easy to stay positive.  Many people have commented to me about my attitude and my 'out look'. But, I suppose I try not to concentrate on the negative.  I look at the glass as half full, or at least I try.  I could get caught up in the 'tragedy' of it all, but, make an effort not to.  I try to remember and concentrate on the extraordinary kindness and acts of love bestowed upon me and my family.  I continually remind myself of my blessings. I have so much to be thankful for.

I recently heard someone say, "what you feed will grow and what you don't will starve".  Isn't this true?  I never thought of it that way before.  I realize that is what I have been doing and what I intend to do. 
Think about it, in your own life.  If you are feeding into negative people and situations, you are feeding negative energy, resulting in the over abundance of negativity.  If you are starving the positive influences in your life, you are in fact squelching any chance of them blossoming in your garden of life.  You are losing out on their beauty and sweet fragrance.  It is a choice.  We all choose.  What do you choose?

After speaking to a friend, the point of choosing became all the more clear to me.  I realized there are two sides to everything, and perception is everything. How we see things will make or break us.  I don't want to break, so I put my energy into finding the good and positive, kind things about every situation. Even if it is to just say, "I know better for next time." I find most people are far too hard on themselves.  I find too many people get so caught up in what they didn't do, or do right, that they miss the lesson they learned.  They don't give them self credit for the valuable growth they experienced through their hardship.  Live and learn, right? So many live, but fail to learn. 

I am not a perfect person.  I am far from it. I really just felt like this is something I wanted to share.  My wish for those I love is that they open their hearts, minds and spirits to all the good in the universe and let it feed their soul, and then pay it forward.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Thought for the Day

Philippians 4:6-7

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs and don’t forget to thank him for his answers. If you do this you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Jesus.”

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Dedicated to Tyler James

I am dedicating this blog to the precious baby angel, Tyler James. Tyler was born sleeping on January 8, 2005. Survived by a loving mother, father and two older brothers. Rest peacefully sweet baby and continue to help the other babies find there way in heaven.

I have often reflected back to 6 years ago, when I was there for a dear friend of mine when she buried her son, Tyler James.  Her circumstance as to how she lost him was somewhat different from mine.  On second thought, it was not all that different at all.  She too never had the privilege to hear her baby cry or hold a warm body.  The one notable difference is that she knew how and why she lost him. But, as we have discussed, knowing 'how' or 'why' doesn't take away any of the pain.

I was a Mary Kay consultant, I remember being at a Mary Kay event, and hearing the news that she had lost her baby. Another rep and I who were close in our MK circle, could only wonder what had gone wrong and how horrible and heartbroken she must feel.  My imagination wasn't able to even begin to bring me to feel the depth of pain and sorrow, I now know, what she was feeling. 

I went to her son's memorial service and accompanied them, with their friends and family, to the cemetery to lay her precious son to rest.  At the time, I could not believe what was happening.  I didn't have children back then, and the idea of losing a child was something I couldn't relate to. It was incomprehensible to me.  Sad to say, even with the most sincerest of intentions, I could not empathize with my friend.  I just knew that it must 'suck' and I felt bad.  All I could do was sit there, and hold her hand, so that is what I did. I sat there and held her hand as we cried in front of his casket. 

For all the years, between then and now, I have said, going to an infant's funeral is the worse thing to experience in the world.  There is nothing you can do to prepare yourself to see that teeny tiny casket, or the infant, looking as peaceful as a sleeping newborn, lying in it.  I recall remembering this clearly, the first time my husband told me the funeral home had an infant.  I shared with him my experience, and my heartfelt sympathy for the family.  My sympathy came from what my dear friend went through, and at the time being pregnant with my son, how heartbroken I would be if I lost him.  Of course, at the time, there was no way I could have known that one day we would share the same fate. 

One of the first people I reached out to when I lost Gabriella was Tina, my friend.  In a Facebook email, that I sent through my blackberry from the hospital, I told her of my unfortunate news and asked her to help me.  I didn't know what to do, or even how to begin to cope.  Sure thing quick as a whip, she called me and the very same day she was there.  I cry, even now, thinking of her coming up to the hospital to see me.  Here we were, two bereaved mothers...two bereaved mothers, unbelievable.  And as I sat and held her hand all those years ago, she sat and now held mine.  She has been a tremendous part of my journey. She has helped me to take steps toward healing and accepting. When I am at my lowest points, she reassures me and provides me with the comfort I need.  She lets me know, while I will never be the same again, I will in fact be alright. She reminds me when I forget that Gabriella is not alone, and that Tyler is with her.

For all that she has done for me, directly and indirectly, I thank her.  Thank you for caring, understanding, reacting, and continuing to provide me with support.  Thank you for teaching how to be an angel mommy. I hope and pray that we will continue to support each other, visit our babies together, and help others together. Now and always you will be apart of my heart and Tyler will be apart of my prayers. Thank you.