Archive | July 2012

Goodbye July

Time has become very significant.  It was exactly 7 months to the day between the time I found out that I was pregnant and the day I delivered.  7 months worth of dreams, hopes, and plans.  In the grand scheme of life, 7 months is a very short amount of time.  Looking back, I would say those 7 months flew by.  Now, they are 7 months I will cherish forever.

When Maya died I quickly thought of my summer.  With no plans, no baby, and no work to go back to, I feared time would stand still.  There have been many days when it has.  There have been days when time feels like it’s moving backwards.  There have been days when lunch arrives quickly and the afternoon moves at a snail’s pace.  Though many days have seemed long, summer as a whole is moving faster than I thought it would.

Today being the last day of July brings a lot of meaning.  My first full month without Maya has come and gone.  Her due date has past.  The month that I looked forward to and counted down to is gone.  I got through it, and I survived it.  July 1st was a really hard day.  Not only was it the first day of the month when I was supposed to have Maya, but it was also the day that I would have been 37 weeks pregnant – full term.  I remember wondering on that day how I would ever get through the month.

Getting through July gives me a new found hope for the future.  I no longer think that time will stand still.  I’m working hard to enjoy the rest of my summer and be grateful for all the time that I have.

I once heard that if you say, “Rabbit, Rabbit” on the first of the month, you will have good luck that month.  For as long as I can remember, I have done that.  July 1st was the first time in years that I did not say, “Rabbit, Rabbit”.  I had said it on June 1st which brought the worst luck imaginable, so why bother. I’ve decided that I will go back to my “Rabbit, Rabbit” regimine tomorrow, August 1st.  I’ve decided that just because I have suffered the worst luck EVER does not mean that good things won’t come my way again.

As I say goodbye to July and look forward to all that August will bring, I feel good and hopeful.  Though it’s hard to get farther away from my time with Maya, I’m looking forward to the rest of the summer and to the fall.  This next month brings two vacations and my 2 year anniversary with my husband.  August will also bring the start of a new school year, which signifies a new beginning in my career.  I have a lot of hope that when I get to the end of August, I will look back and conclude that it was a good month overall.

At first I didn’t want time to pass.  I wanted to go back in time when I had Maya with me and was so naive and innocent.  I’m now at a point in my journey where I can look back and acknowledge that a month has gone by quickly.  I can look forward and feel excitement for what the short and long term future will bring.

Climbing the Mountain

I haven’t had a good cry in a week.  In fact, in the grand scheme of things, it’s been a pretty good week.  I have seen several friends and family members, spent some quality time with my mom, and was relatively productive around the house.  I find myself stopping and thinking, “What is wrong with me?!”  I should be curled up unable to function.  I should be crying as I hand my husband baby gear to store in the attic.  I should be more sad.  Then I realize that there is no manual on how to grieve the loss of a child.  There are no rules.

As I’ve mentioned several times, I am most comfortable being happy.  When there is a hurdle to my happiness, I do everything in my power to get over it.  Losing Maya has been more than a hurdle.  It’s a giant mountain that will go on forever with endless peaks and valleys.  How have I managed to begin the climb?

I know the answer to that question.

My husband and I know a lot of people.  We both have huge families and lots of friends from our various walks of life.  Maya was a greatly anticipated baby who was so loved long before she arrived.  The outpouring of love and support we have received since Maya died is immeasurable.  We have received stacks of sympathy cards, endless messages, phone calls, and visitors.  I can only believe that Maya has touched so many who have now reached out to us.  I feel like this support has physically lifted me these past six weeks and carried me up the start of the mountain.  I am so grateful.

In addition, I read a book called When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold Kushner.  It was recommended to me by a nurse at the hospital and then my mom agreed that it would be a useful read.  After reading the book, I have a greater understanding of humanity and spirituality.  One of the many things that I learned is that when we are faced with a tragic situation, we must look inward at what we already have for the strength to live on.  The love that my husband and I have is something that no one can take away.  We are forever connected by the fact that our daughter died.  Instead of looking outward for explanations or reprieve, we have both fallen back on the love that we have for each other and the shared hopes and dreams for our future family.

It’s OK that I haven’t cried in a week.  It does not mean that I do not feel sad.  It does not mean that I do not miss Maya.  It does not mean that I love her any less than I did a month ago when I cried twice a day.  It simply means that I am allowing myself to be supported by friends and family.  I am finding the strength to live on through the love that I have for my husband.  I am making progress in my climb up the mountain.  I believe and find comfort in the fact that Maya would have wanted her Mommy and Daddy to be happy and to live on as we hold tight to her memory.  I believe she is smiling down on us every day.

The Nursery

My husband and I bought our house in May 2011.  We took a lot of pride in making the house feel like ours.  Every room is colorful and reflects our personalities.  We’ve done a lot of house projects (I help plan and conceptualize, he executes) and with each one, we have put a lot of effort into doing it right.  When we moved in, the nursery was the extra room that we didn’t really need where we dumped everything that we didn’t have a place for.  We were both so excited to begin that project shortly after finding out we were expecting.

My husband is most definitely a jack of all trades.  One of the many things he is so good at is painting.  Long before we got pregnant, he expressed that he wanted to paint a mural in our future nursery.  We went back and forth between Dr. Seuss and Winnie the Pooh.  Ultimately, we settled on Pooh.  I searched and searched until I found pictures of a mural online that I loved.  My husband was confident and excited to start the project.  Shortly after the new year, we started working in the room.  We cleaned it out, and he ripped up the carpet.  I figured out where all the furniture would go and the mural was designed around my plans.  With each new character, I was more and more in awe of what my husband was able to do.  I helped pick out the colors, but other than that, I got to sit back and witness this gorgeous room come to life.

I think it took my husband about 2 months to complete the room.  This included laying hardwood floors after the mural was complete and replacing all the outlets and outlet covers.  He truly is amazing.  He signed the mural, “daddy loves you!”  Slowly, we started getting the furniture.  First were some shelves and cube storage.  Then came a gorgeous dresser/changing table that I designed and my step-dad built.  The crib arrived 9 days before Maya was born.  We purchased a new light fixture that looked like a sun and a green rug.  All that was left was the glider (purchased just before going to the hospital).  The weekend before Maya was born we laid on the floor of the nursery and talked about what it would be like to bring our baby home to this beautiful room.  I was looking forward to sitting in that glider once we got it home and assembled and reading stories to our unborn child while daydreaming about what she would look like.

The day after I delivered and said goodbye to my little girl, my husband came to the house.  He had to pick up our car from the first hospital I was at and pick up some things for our stay.  He took the car seat out of the car, the pack and play out of our bedroom, and anything else baby related and put it all in the nursery and shut the door.  The beautiful nursery had now become a giant storage closet.

It took me 3 weeks to open that door.  I was home alone and I was looking for something.  I hesitated but felt I was ready.  The whole floor was covered.  The glider was still in the box, the pack and play was collapsed on the floor, the car seat, the high chair, and shelves filled with all of my beloved children’s books sat unused and no longer needed.  It was very hard and very emotional the first time I went in there.  Weeks went by and I went in again to put something away.  Again, it was hard.  I found something that triggered a flood of emotions.

Yesterday, my husband and I decided to do some rearranging.  Since Maya died, we’ve needed things to focus on and making our house more functional has been one of them.  We wanted to get rid of some bookshelves but needed a place for the books.  Since my step-dad is a woodworker, I decided we would ask him for another set of shelves to go with one he’s already made.  In the meantime, I told my husband we could put the books in the nursery.  So quickly, I am thinking of that room as a place for storage.  I felt guilty, but the practical side of me took over.  Right now, we don’t need that room.

As we moved the books in there, I wasn’t as emotional as I had been previously.  Perhaps I am becoming numb to the sadness that the room brings.  I feel angry that we can’t use the room, the changing table, and the crib.  It upsets me that all those things were purchased and made for Maya and she will never get to use or enjoy them.  She will never get to see the mural that her daddy painted for her.

At the same time, I know that all of these things would have been used for Maya’s younger siblings.  We would have taught her to share.  While the nursery is now being used as storage, it will some day be the place where we bring home a baby.  Though that baby will not be Maya, her memory lives on in the space.  Since all of our baby gear was purchased for her, we will remember her whenever we use it.  I can be content with that.  I can now be in the nursery and feel hope rather than sadness.

The Olympics

I love the Olympics.  I think there is something very special about the world congregating around this one event.  It really is the only thing that the entire world participates in, and that’s pretty cool.  I was especially excited for this year’s summer games.  Way back in the first few months of my pregnancy, I was watching TV and there was a reference to the 2012 summer games.  I quickly looked up when the opening ceremonies would be and when I saw July 27th, I was psyched.  I thought, “How perfect, that’s five days after my due date.  I’ll have my newborn at home and always have something interesting to watch when I’m up in the middle of the night!”  Every time I thought about the Olympics, I thought about sitting up with my baby in my arms while I watched.  As I have learned, all does not go according to plan.

As the opening ceremonies approached, I was torn.  I thought about ignoring the Olympics all together because I associated them with taking care of a newborn.  However, I still felt the giddy excitement that I felt when I was 11 and pretended to be an Olympic athlete as I did gymnastics in the living room.  I decided to watch the opening ceremonies.  I decided to allow myself to watch and enjoy the Olympics for all they are worth.

As I watched all of the opening ceremonies last night, I thought about Maya.  I thought about what it would be like to be watching them with her in my arms.  I realized that I probably would have been so tired that I would have been falling in and out of sleep.  I felt sad at what I do not have.  My vision of how I would experience and remember this year’s summer games was so different.  However, I still enjoyed the opening ceremonies and I intend to enjoy following my favorite events.

There will be many things that now carry a different meaning because Maya died.  The holidays, the summers, the 16th of every month will all be unlike how I ever envisioned them.  However, I must live through them.  I can choose to hide from or ignore the joy that they can bring or I can choose to embrace it.  I choose to enjoy the Olympics this year.  It’s another baby step in my healing process and though I can’t enjoy these games with Maya in my arms, I know she is always with me helping me live on and find joy wherever I can.

Finding the Positive

I’ve always said that one of my secrets to leading a happy life and being a genuinely happy person is my ability to find the positive in any situation.  This is how I have coped with many tough things in both my personal and professional life.  However, I can’t use that tactic in this situation.  My newborn daughter died.  There is nothing positive about it.  No matter how deep I dig, I will not find the positive in this situation.  There is nothing good, nothing beneficial, nothing that was “for the best”.  IT SUCKS!

However, I have the desire to recognize something positive.  I yearn to be back in my happy place.  I want so badly to be my genuinely happy self again.  Instead of looking for the positive in the situation (did I mention that there is nothing positive and that this totally SUCKS?), I have found myself recognizing the positive outcomes of the situation.

First and foremost, this has changed me and as I have said previously, I believe it has changed me for the better.  I haven’t discovered all the ways it’s changed me just yet (it’s too soon), but I know I will be a better person because of Maya and because I am forced to travel this journey called healing.  Positive.

My relationship with my husband has taken on a whole new meaning and grown stronger.  He will get his own post soon about how incredible and amazing he is.  For now, let’s just say that going on this journey alongside him has made me see how truly blessed I am.  Positive.

Along the same lines, I have been given the gift of time.  When I was pregnant with Maya, I was telling a friend that I was nervous about the 4 weeks in between when school ended and my due date.  I was afraid I would go crazy with eagerness and anticipation.  She told me to savor the time with my husband because it’s the last we have before becoming parents and before our lives would change forever.  For at least another year, it will still be just my husband and me with the dog.  We have been forced to have this time together just the two of us, with no living children.  I have thought about this a lot.  I could resent the time and be angry at the circumstances.  Or, I could receive the cards I have been dealt and see the time as a gift.  My husband and I have decided to make the most of this extra time that we have where it will be just the two of us (and the dog).  Positive.

My OB has been amazing.  She spent an hour with us two weeks after I delivered to go through my labor.  She was compassionate, reassuring, and sensitive.  She has returned my phone calls promptly and done everything we have requested.  She sent a card and wrote that she will be there for us however she can be and hopes we can find closure together.  I have always had a negative attitude about the medical field after having some bad experiences years ago.  She has changed how I feel.  It’s comforting to know that I have a doctor who will treat me as a person and not just as a patient.  Positive.

My friendship with my best friend (who is more like a sister) has grown stronger.  She has been there for me for every leg of this journey.  We have been friends for more than 10 years and have had our share of ups and downs, but have always promised each other that we are there for one another no matter what.  She has been there for me full force.  I am forever grateful and indebted to my friend for sitting with me, listening, and understanding as much as she can.  In addition, since I have spent more time with her, I have spent more time with her kids (my niece and nephew) and am starting to feel closer to them as well.  Positive.

My mother is a saint.  I already knew that.  Her strength through this all has been contagious and she has helped me find the strength to live on.  I have spent a lot of extra time with her this summer and I know that ten years from now when I look back on this summer, I will have fond memories of the time spent with my mom.  Positive.

I have learned that I can’t find the positive in every situation.  There are some that have not one ounce of positive.  However, I can identify positive outcomes.  I believe there are more to come and I am paying very close attention so I can soak them up for all they are worth.  Being happy is where I am most comfortable and I am slowly getting back there.

Joy

This past weekend, my husband, parents and I traveled to the White Mountains to a beautiful Inn in Jackson, NH.  Shortly after Maya died, we started making plans for the summer.  It felt very wrong while also feeling very necessary.  I was in survival mode and was faced with a very long summer with NOTHING to do.  I needed things to look forward to.  This was the first of three trips I will take this summer and overall it was wonderful.

Jackson is a beautiful little town.  My husband went fishing with my step-dad so I spent a lot of time with my mom.  Within walking distance to our inn was the Jackson Falls – a gorgeous waterfall.  We went there more than once and sat on the rocks.  The weather was perfect.  I thought so much about Maya.  I saw her beauty in everything around me.  I felt her with me helping me feel the joy that the environment can bring.

We sat on a bench at the base of the of the falls.  We were surrounded by trees and water.  It was beautiful.  Just like Maya.  Again, I felt her with me.  Within the last couple of weeks, I have been able to feel moments of joy.  At first, I feel guilty.  I tell myself that I’m supposed to be sad.  I quickly realize though that I am doing exactly what I set out to do – live on.  My life is greatly defined by the many moments of joy that I feel.  After this trip, I have realized that Maya is helping me feel moments of joy when I wouldn’t have normally felt them before.  Before Maya, I may have seen a waterfall, admired its beauty, taken a few pictures, and moved on to the next event of the day.  Now, I want to slow down, sit by the waterfall for three hours, breathe it in, think about Maya, and feel the joy that it brings me.

I have always known that Maya will change me, but I wasn’t sure how.  I’m starting to learn that she has changed me for the better and I am forever grateful.  By allowing myself to feel the moments of joy in Jackson, Maya continues to live on through me.

Due Date

For the past couple of weeks I have thought about this day.  My due date.  I have walked by the big calendar in the hall with “DUE DATE!!” written across this day.  I have noticed it on every July calendar that I see.  I told myself that it was no big deal.  I told myself that most babies don’t come on their due date anyway.  I told myself that June 16th was now the significant day and that July 22nd was insignificant.  I was wrong.  Today is a very significant day and it’s been very hard.

I probably said “July 22nd” over 100 times in answer to the question, “When are you due?”.  I said it with a big smile on my face.  It was my due date from the day I got pregnant.  It was what I used to tell my parents the big news (I toasted “to July 22nd” at dinner a week after I found out I was pregnant).  It was the day I counted down to for so long.  It was a special day.

As I live through it, I ache for what I do not have.  If Maya were here, today would have been insignificant.  She came early.  If she were still here, I would be well-adjusted to my life as a new mom by now.  If she were here, I would have looked back on these last five weeks thinking, “I couldn’t imagine life without her here”.  She is not here.  I know life without her and I hate it.  It sucks.  Today being her due date is just another reminder that she is not here.

I have learned yet another lesson in the art of grieving.  I can’t control it.  It’s very unpredictable.  I tried so hard to prepare myself for this day.  I made the decision that it wasn’t going to be a bad day, that I would get through it just fine, that it was insignificant.  Apparently, I can’t make decisions like that.  I have to let go and let this process run its course.  I have to trust that adjacent to the bad days will be better days.  I have to live on knowing that the bad day will end.

There will be many significant days.  I know that now.  I have learned that I have to allow them to be significant.  I have to allow myself to go to the bad place and express my sadness, anger, and frustration.  I have to go through the process.  When I’m the most sad, I start thinking about Maya.  I think about what she will miss, but I also think about the time I had with her.  Today, I decided to finally cut some of the pink lilies that are next to our driveway.  I had been admiring them for a week.  I don’t remember them there last year.  My husband and I went out and cut some and put them in a vase.  I have believed from the beginning that Maya would have loved pink and been a super girly girl.  When I see these flowers, I think of her.  I see her beauty in them and they make me smile… even on a bad day.

Taking risks and being grateful

I was supposed to spend this summer taking care of my baby and learning how to be a mother.  Instead, I am faced with a summer with no plans, long days, and an empty, quiet house.  There have been days where I haven’t wanted to leave the house, see anyone, or talk to anyone.  There have been other days where I am more inclined to do something or to see one of my friends.  The difficult thing is that I am taking a risk with anything I do outside of the house.  I don’t know what will set me off or make me sad.

Eight days after I had Maya, I decided that I wanted to go to the zoo.  Part of the reason was that I knew my husband needed to get out of the house and I wanted to be outside.  I contacted my best friend because I wanted to see her kids and our husbands are close friends too.  My husband thought I was crazy for wanting to go to a place filled with children and babies and strollers.  My theory was that I live in this world which includes children and babies and strollers and unless I was going to go into hiding, I had to be OK with being around that.  It was a risk and looking back (it’s quite foggy), I think I’m glad I did it.

I also take a risk when I’m seeing someone I haven’t seen since Maya died.  I don’t know what to expect from them and they don’t know what to expect from me.  I am different now and that’s scary for all parties involved.  I have started to figure out who I am most comfortable with.  Last week, I sat with my best friend and just talked (she has two children).  We’ve been friends for more than 12 years and she’s more like a sister to me than a friend.  She is Maya’s aunt.  Anyway, the afternoon that I sat with her was so therapeutic.  I was able to talk openly about Maya and the healing process.  I was able to express my excitement of a brighter future without feeling judged.  This morning, I visited another friend who is also a mother of two.  Again, I talked about my experience openly and didn’t feel judged.  And again, it was so helpful.  As I reflected on this experience, I realized that I am being selective about who I surround myself with and who I choose to see.  I decided that it was OK to be selective.  I shared this realization with my mom and she summed it up very well: “You need to be around mothers.”  She is so right.  I may not have Maya in my arms, but I am a mother.  It’s comforting to be with other mothers.

There have also been things I have chosen not to do and people I have chosen not to see just yet.  Different situations and people are unpredictable and I am not always willing to take the risk.  I am not a selfish person by nature, but I’ve had to be selfish this past month.  I’ve had to give myself permission to take care of myself and not be concerned with how my actions and decisions affect others.

One thing I have done and will continue to do is express my gratitude.  The outpouring of love and support that I have received is immeasurable.  I truly believe that it’s the support of those directly around me, those I have not seen or talked to for years that I’m friends with on facebook, and those who don’t really know me but have heard (or read) my story that is lifting me up and moving me along on this journey towards healing.  Thank you to those who have left comments here, messaged me on facebook, sent me a card, sent me a text, or called.  Though I may not respond to them all, I read them all over and over again.  To know that so many have been touched by Maya’s story and are thinking about me gives me the strength I need to live on.

I will never move on

You will find that I use the term “live on” frequently in my writing.  I have thought long and hard about how to go forward.  One of my secrets to being a genuinely happy person has always been to let things go that are out of my control – to move on.  Since losing Maya, I have learned that that’s not always possible.

I will never move on from this experience.  Moving on means I will get past it.  Moving on goes with letting things go.  I don’t want to get past this and I can’t let this go.  I will never let this go.  This will never get better.  I will never look back and say, “it happened for a reason” or “it’s better this way”.  My usual tactics for getting through something bad do not work in this situation.  This is a new kind of hurdle.  This is a new kind of bad.

After much thought and consideration of what the alternative is to moving on, I realized that I can continue to live on.  I can live on without letting it go, getting over it, or moving on.  Having Maya and losing Maya has now become a part of who I am.  It’s now become a part of my life’s story.  For the rest of my life, I will be the mother of an angel baby.  I will always have one more child that people do not meet when they encounter our family.  Why on earth would I ever let that go or move on from that?

I can look towards a brighter future and know that Maya lives through me.  I can live a more fulfilling life because of this experience.  I can appreciate the simpler things and move on from the trivial ‘bad things’ that happen more quickly.  I can invest more of myself in everything that I do and every relationship that I have.  I can be a better person.

Knowing that I will always have her memory gives me the strength to live on.  With Maya smiling down on me, I can and will live on.

 

The Journey

Welcome to my blog.  If you would like to know about me or why this blog is called Happiness at the Core, click here. If you would like to read the story of my angel baby, Maya, click here.  I have found great comfort in reading about the journey other baby lost moms have been on.  It gives me hope when I read about those who have been on this journey for several years and are now living on with their rainbow baby or babies.  I hope that someone will find comfort reading my story and following my journey towards healing.

It has been exactly one month since I said hello and goodbye to my precious baby girl.  The days go by very slowly; however, I can’t believe it’s been a month already.  Since it’s summer and I am a teacher, I have no work to go back to and nothing to do for several weeks.  I was supposed to spend the summer taking care of my baby and learning how to be a mother.  Instead, I spend the days trying to understand where to go from here.  This has changed me and completely derailed my life’s plan.

I have always prided myself on being a genuinely happy person.  In the last month, glimmers of my old happy self have poked through.  I believe I will get back there again.  I will always be a happy person.  I am determined to stay a happy person and I know Maya needs me to be that way.  This is my journey towards healing and finding my happy self again.

Below is my one month letter to Maya.  From this point forward, she will get her own post, but because I’m starting the blog today, I’m doubling up.

Happy One Month Maya!

Dearest Maya,

You would have turned one month old today!  Even though you’re still supposed to be in my belly.  I still wonder why you wanted to come out early.  Was it because you wanted to be a Gemini like your mommy?  Was it because you wanted to make sure your birthday was before the school year ended so you could have all your friends at your parties?  Was it because you were just too excited to meet your massive family?  We’ll never know…

I miss you so much.  Life is much less exciting with you gone.  Daddy and I are trying to live on.  We talk about you often and all of the things we would have done with you.  I look at your pictures every night before I go to bed and I sleep holding your blanket close to my heart.  I got my necklace with your precious footprints on it recently and I feel so close to you when I wear it.

I know you are helping Mommy and Daddy heal.  I have seen many butterflies and dragonflies lately and I believe that is your way of telling me that you are with us every day.  Your little life has touched so many.  You have changed my life for the better.  I am taking my time and living in the moment.  I have learned just how precious time is and how important it is to be present in every experience I have.  You have taught me to take nothing for granted and to be grateful for all that I have.

I love you Maya.  You are Mommy’s precious angel.

Love always,

Mommy