Archive | October 2012

I Want the World to Know…

I am proud to say that I stuck with CarlyMarie’s Capture Your Grief project.  I have posted a photo every day for the month of October.  I’m slightly bummed that the project is coming to an end.  It’s been a good outlet for me.  Today’s prompt is ‘Your Grief – Tell the World’.  This is the picture I posted:

You’ll have to click on it to read.  The points I made are just a few of the things I would like to tell the world.  So, I decided to let today’s prompt inspire my blog post.

Most women do not experience pregnancy or infant loss.  While 1 in 4 is high … too high, I am still in the minority.  So many times, people say, “I can’t imagine”.  And this is what I’d like to say to them: “You’re right.  You can’t imagine.  And I wouldn’t want you to.  Until you are in this place, you can’t know what I am going through, so don’t try to pretend you know.”  I read somewhere that when you experience the loss of a child, you not only have to deal with your own grief, but you have to educate everyone else on how to deal with you.  It’s a lot of pressure.  This is one of the reasons I started my blog.  If I can help just one person learn how to better interact with a woman who has lost a child, I will have accomplished my goal.

One thing that has bothered me greatly is that I feel as though, around certain people, I cannot refer to my pregnancy.  This has been one of the most difficult things to deal with.  If I reference my pregnancy when not talking about my loss but of that time in my life, all goes quiet, everyone becomes awkward, and I feel like an idiot while putting my foot in my mouth.  Apparently, when your baby dies, you are not allowed to talk about your pregnancy, you can’t relate to others who are pregnant, you can’t reminisce about cravings and swollen feet.  So, I want the world to know that the fact that Maya died does not mean that I have to forever avoid talking about when I was pregnant with her.  If anything, I will talk about my pregnancy with her more because those are the only memories I have.  Please do not cringe when I reference my pregnancy.

Time has become very strange.  Sometimes it feels like time has passed so quickly.  Sometimes I wish I could go back in time and other times I wish I could fast forward through life.  Then, I remind myself that life is a gift and I need to cherish each day.  Today, October 30th – 4 months and 2 weeks since Maya was born and died, is very significant.  It’s made even more significant by the fact that we just had a big storm that resulted in down power lines and no school.  One year ago today there was a big storm.  It snowed.  There were down power lines.  We had no power.  We had nothing to do.  We made Maya.  I find it very strange, sad, meaningful, confusing, etc. that one year later the circumstances are so similar and I am so different.  I am such a different person now.  I want the world to know that.  I am forever changed.

In the weeks following our loss, the support came pouring in through our mailbox, facebook profiles, and cell phones.  For about a week, we received large stacks of sympathy cards every day.  With each day that followed, the stack got smaller, the facebook notifications lessened, and our cell phones matched the silence of our home with no baby.  I think this is what happens with any kind of loss.  Everyone provides their sympathy and condolences in the beginning and then, for the most part, go about their lives.  Don’t get me wrong, there have been several people who continue to provide us with support, ask us how we are doing, and remind us that they will never forget our baby girl.  I want the world to know that my world has come to a crashing halt – still after 4 months and 2 weeks.  While you carry on, Hackie and I are still devastated and still trying to pick up the pieces of our world that has come crumbling down.

Many people comment on my strength.  They marvel at how ‘well’ I am doing and how I appear to have fun and be happy every now and then.  Fine.  I’m doing ‘well’.  I am a strong person – I’ve always been that way.  I can have a good time and feel happy.  But, I am not, by any means, healed.  Most days, I am still sad.  Most days, you would never know.  I go to work, I teach, I interact with colleagues, I appear to be ‘fine’.  I am not.  Most of the time, I breathe a big sigh of relief when I get to the end of a day.  I can’t cry at work.  I can’t appear sad.  My students do not know my past and I don’t want them to.  So I keep it in.  I want the world to know that though I appear ‘fine’, ‘happy’, doing ‘well’, ‘strong’, I am still sad.  I am devastated.  I miss Maya every second of every day.

I’ve said it before.  The best thing that you can do for anyone who has experienced the loss of an infant is say their baby’s name.  Let them know that you are thinking about them.  Let them know that you will always remember their baby.  I know that as time passes, I will find the light, I will feel hope once again, and my grief will fit into my life in a different way.  For now, I want the world to know that my grief is very present in my life.  On some days, it defines me.  I want the world to know that life for me is very hard and I am doing the best I can.

Fate.

It’s been too long since I last wrote.  I want to try and go back to writing at least every three days because it helps me so much to get my feelings and emotions out.  I’ve been feeling very sad today, so I’m hoping that writing will help me feel a bit better.  There’s been a lot going on and there is a lot floating around in my head that I want to write about – I’m hoping I can tie it all together.

I’ve never been quite sure of what I believe in from a religious perspective.  When asked, I would give very vague responses.  The first book I read when Maya died was When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold Kushner.  It provided me with so much clarity on grief, religion, and on spirituality.  This post is not about that – I’ll have to write that one later.

One thing that the book helped me to understand is fate.  I’ve always believed in fate.  I believe in certain things happening in a certain sequence to make other things happen.  I believe it was fate that I met my husband as there were many things that had to fall into place for us to meet.  I believe that it was fate that I ended up teaching science this year.

When Maya died, I struggled with my belief in fate.  Was it my fate to have a daughter who died?  Was it her fate to bounce around, kick, and squirm in my belly for 8 months only to live on earth for 9 brief hours?  It couldn’t be.  So I made the decision – fate is not responsible for everything.  The fact that Maya died was not fate.  It was a horrible, awful, tragic thing that happened.  Period.  Still, I wanted to continue believing in fate, as it helps me have hope for a brighter future.

A few weeks ago, I was perusing facebook early in the morning when I saw a post in my newsfeed from Forever my Sweet Pea.  For those of you who don’t know, Project Sweet Peas is a national non-profit organization offering support for parents of infants who are in the NICU and for bereaved parents.  Forever my Sweet Pea is their bereaved parent/family program and its page on facebook is run by someone who is local to me and who actually graduated from the same high school that I did.  Anyway… perusing facebook and the posting was an ‘advertisement’ for wooden keepsake boxes.  I read the posting and then looked at the picture and this is what I saw:

I had to do a double-take!  The box in the picture had Maya’s name and birthday on it!  I was first overjoyed to see her name!  That’s all any babyloss mom wants to see.  Then, I was confused.  Did they find my story?  Eventually, I found out that a girl who I went to high school with arranged to have this box made for me.  She knows the woman who runs the local chapter of Project Sweet Peas and the Forever my Sweet Pea page .

The fact that I happened to be on facebook that morning to see this post and got to see Maya’s name? Fate.

The fact that the girl I went to high school with happens to know the woman who runs Project Sweet Peas? Fate.

The fact that the woman who runs Project Sweet Peas heard my story twice from 2 different girls who I went to high school with?  Fate.

And… there’s more.

The box arrived and was filled with a whole bunch of wonderful stuff.  Some of it was personalized for Maya.  There was a book that I had wanted to get for myself, and an announcement pillow with the same theme as her nursery.  Fate.  I couldn’t believe it.  It was such a kind and unexpected gesture.

Now, the girl who arranged to have the box made was a girl I graduated from high school with.  We knew each other and were always friendly, but we were never super close.  We are friends on facebook.  This summer, she gave birth to twin girls.  She was deeply affected by Maya’s story.  I had no idea.  I messaged her back and forth on facebook to thank her and tell her how much the box means to me.  She shared with me how much Maya has affected her.  I have not seen this girl in person in over 4 years.

Amazingly, another friend from high school was getting married last Friday, just days after I received this box.  We were both attending the wedding. Fate.  I was so thrilled that I could thank her in person and give her a big hug.

The wedding was beautiful and it was so nice to see all my friends.  I spent over an hour chatting with this girl.  We talked about Maya.  She told me how connected she feels to me and my daughter.  My husband chatted with her husband who was also incredibly compassionate.  We vowed to stay in touch and get together.  I honestly felt like I was in kindergarten again making a new friend.  I was giddy with excitement.  She gets it.  She understands.  Though she has not experienced the loss of an infant, she is a mother.  Mothers get it.

I tell this story because if it weren’t for the countless friends and family who have supported Hackie and I through these last 4 months, I’m not sure I’d be surviving.  Sometimes I feel like I have been physically lifted and moved along as I navigate this journey through grief.  I believe that fate is responsible for all these wonderful people being so present in my life.  I am grateful for facebook, because without it, many of these people would not have even known I was pregnant.

Because of Maya, I am making new connections, and I am making new friends.  I am grateful for those who have come into my life.  I am grateful for those that share with me how Maya has affected them.  It makes her life matter, and that’s all I want.

 

 

Four Months

Dear Maya,

Today you would have been 4 months old.  How exciting.  I think you would have been really developing a little personality.  You would have a cute little laugh, favorite songs, and an adorable smile.  We probably would have moved you to your crib by now.  We prepared your crib just 9 days before you were born.  A perfect white crib with adorable Winnie the Pooh sheets to go with your Winnie the Pooh nursery.  I think you would have loved your bumble bee mobile that plays music.  That crib has gone untouched – it still sits longing for you, just like Mommy and Daddy.

This past month has gone by faster than others.  Well, the beginning of it did.  I find myself measuring time by the 16th.  The last week or so has gone by very slowly and I am struggling to get through each day.  I know that time is precious and that life is a gift that can be taken at any moment.  I’m trying so hard to find joy every day and appreciate the life I have been given.  Sometimes though, it’s so hard to live my life knowing that you don’t get to live yours.

I lit a candle for you last night, as did many others whose lives you’ve somehow touched.  I light my candle for you just about every night.  I hope you feel it’s warmth.  I hope you know how much Mommy and Daddy love you.

Fall has set in.  There have been several nice crisp fall days.  When I get home from work, I know I should take Halee for a walk, but sometimes it’s hard because I want to be pushing a stroller.  I want to push you on the swings down at the playground.  I want you to feel the cool air and play in the leaves.  If you were here, I’d still be on maternity leave.  We would have spent a lot of time down at the park today – it was a beautiful day.

This past Saturday we did a March for Babies for you.  I think you were with us and gave us a gorgeous day with just one wispy cloud in the sky.  That was your mark on the day.  That was your way of letting us know you were there.  We had a big team – 17 who walked for you.  We raised lots of money in your name to help bring more healthy babies into the world.  It was a fulfilling day and I hope you were proud of your Mommy and Daddy.

I miss you more and more every day my precious baby girl.  I yearn for you and wonder what life would be like with you here.  I know we would have gone shopping a lot – especially now as you would probably have started outgrowing your clothes.  There are lots of people that love you and miss you.  I hope you can feel that.

I hope you are happy.  I hope you know how much we love you.  I hope you know how many people have been affected by you.  You are so special.  You are so missed.  You are so loved.

I love you always and you will forever be in my heart.

Love to the moon and back,

Mommy

October 15th – Break the Silence

Today is pregnancy and infant loss remembrance day.  I’m going to start this post with a brief story from last week.

Friday was spirit day at school – wear pink in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  I wore pink.  I thought a lot about how public Breast Cancer Awareness Month is.  The NFL teams all wear pink.  Every craft store, clothing store, and housewares store sells pink merchandise with this theme.  It’s wonderful really.  I think that breast cancer awareness is very important and I don’t believe for one second that it should be any less public than it is.  What bugged me as I thought about this was how NOT public Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month is.

I was talking to my mom about it and expressing my feelings.  She was trying to help me understand why one cause is so public while the other is not.  She pointed out that breast cancer affects 1 in 10 women, to which I replied that 1 in 4 will experience pregnancy or infant loss.  It was at this point that we both realized that there is no good explanation for the vast difference in publicity of these two different causes.

I think that pregnancy and infant loss is still considered a taboo subject.  No one wants to raise awareness about dead babies.  No one wants to educate children on the fact that this happens and that it happens to many women.  No one wants to bring it up for fear of upsetting those affected.

Today, I am hoping to help break the silence.  Today, I have lit my candle as part of the International Wave of Light to remember Maya and all other babies gone too soon.  Today, I urge you to tell one person, who might not know, that October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.  Today, I hope to help spread awareness that in 2012 this still happens and that millions of women are faced with the gut-wrenching grief that comes with losing a child.

Today and every day, we remember you Maya. We love you always and you will forever be in our hearts.

 

“If you know someone who has lost a child or lost anybody who’s important to them, and you’re afraid to mention them because you think you might make them sad by reminding them that they died, they didn’t forget they died. You’re not reminding them. What you’re reminding them of is that you remember that they lived, and that’s a great, great gift.” – Elizabeth Edwards

An Emotional Weekend

I’m struggling today.  It’s been a very emotional weekend, and I’m lacking motivation.  I’m even having to force myself to write.  I feel like often now life is very rushed and very routine.  The work week follows a steady beat and the weekends are often filled with plans that involve coming and going and running out of time to do everything that needs to get done.  Then, a day like today finds its way in.  I had the day off, Hackie had to work.  I had no plans – just the typical household weekend stuff like laundry and grocery shopping.  I didn’t want to do anything.  I considered staying in bed and feeling sad, acknowledging that my loss and my grief are still very new.  I didn’t want to do that either.  So I forced myself to function today.  It took quite a bit of effort, but I made it through most of the day.

Now that I’ve spilled my feelings for the day, I will get on to what I really wanted to write about this evening – the weekend.

As I said, it was pretty emotional.  Saturday was my nephew’s first birthday party.  This is my best friend’s son.  During my pregnancy, I thought about his first birthday party.  I thought that it would most likely be Maya’s first party.  I thought about getting to show her off to my friend’s family.  I thought about finally not being the only one in her circle of friend’s without a child.  I was so excited.  After Maya died, she told me that she would understand if I couldn’t muster up the strength to be there.  I never thought twice about it.  I wanted to be there for her and for my nephew.  I wanted to celebrate with everyone and see her family, who is like my second family.  I prepared myself and acknowledged that the fact that I had specifically looked forward to bringing Maya might make this extra difficult.  What I did not prepare myself for was the fact that we were going to a first birthday party, and that Maya doesn’t get to have a first birthday party.  It was a gorgeous day and a wonderful party.  It was so nice to see my friend’s family.  It was nearing the end and Hackie and I were talking about getting ready to go.  I lost it.  I’m not even sure what thought it was that triggered my tears, but I lost it.  I tried to pull myself together, but it was so hard.  Maya should have been there.  I should have finally been able to relate to all the young mommies there.  I try so hard to be strong, but sometimes the raw grief creeps in in a way that can’t be avoided.  I felt so bad that I lost it on my nephew’s special day.  Everyone was very understanding and gave me such supportive hugs as I said goodbye through a mess of tears.  I am so blessed to have such amazing people in my life.

When I posted about the March for Babies, a wonderful reader left a comment informing me about Walk to Remember.  I looked it up, managed to register at the last minute, and Hackie and I went yesterday.  It was beautiful.  There was a ceremony held before the walk where some poems were read, songs were sung, and all the babies’ names were read.  It was so emotional.  It was nice to be able to cry and to know that I was surrounded by people who knew why and who understood my pain.  I read a lot of messages in the program that referred to rainbow babies and there were a lot of families there with young children.  It gave me hope.  I told Hackie that I hope to do the Walk to Remember every year and look forward to bringing our future rainbow babies there with us.

While it was definitely an emotional weekend, it was a very good weekend.  The fact that we lost Maya was very present and I felt the raw emotions that come with losing her.  Sometimes, it’s good for me to feel the pain – it helps me acknowledge her life and remember how much she has affected me.

Here are some pictures from the walk:

The front of the program.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maya’s name in the program and our message to her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maya’s name on the back of the t-shirt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The perfect fall day for a beautiful walk in memory of our angel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll end this post with a poem that was included with the registration materials.  It resonates so much with me and makes my heart smile.  I love you Maya.  I walked for you yesterday and I will walk for you this coming Saturday.  I will walk for you for the rest of my days and never forget all that you’ve taught me.

A Walk To Remember

I walk to remember
the steps you’ll never take.
I carry you with me
as I firmly plant my feet.

Our trek started long ago,
before my belly swelled.
You were a love that grew–
like butterfly wings that beat.
Your gentle flutters then became
kicks upon which I would dwell.
And I would talk to you, sweet babe,
about the world you soon would meet.

The sun always hone upon us then–
when you were in my womb.
And I was eager to show you the world
that would have been your home.

How you’d have loved the sun shining–
blue skies without a cloud.
The autumn leaves turning–
the snow falling all around.
The flowers in the summer–
would have filled your eyes with smiles.
And the rain that might have fallen
would have caused you great surprise.

You would have traveled far with me–
holding me by the hand.
And I’d have shown you all I could–
more than I can imagine.

You hold my HEART tightly now,
as though we’re holding hands.
How far we’ve traveled, little one–
and my life with you has been sweet.
For I carry you in my heart
as I firmly plant my feet.

Kathie Mayo

Before and After

I’m proud to say that I have kept up with CarlyMarie’s Capture Your Grief Project.  It’s been somewhat liberating – a good pictorial release of my feelings and emotions.  I’m looking forward to seeing the finished album of pictures at the end of the month.  It’s also been a great way to connect with other babyloss moms.  Seeing other’s pictures helps me to feel less alone in this journey.

Day two’s theme was a before loss self-portrait.  I chose this picture:

It was the morning of my baby shower.  I was 33 weeks pregnant.  It was 13 days before Maya was born and died.

Day three’s theme was an after loss self- portrait.  I didn’t have very many to choose from as I haven’t felt very photogenic.  This is what I came up with:

This was the emergency trip to NYC that my mom took me on out of desperation to have something to look forward to and something to do this past summer.  This was about 6 weeks after my loss.

When I look at these two pictures, taken approximately 8 weeks from each other, I feel like I aged 10 years.  In the first photo, I see someone so young, so naive, so happy, so blissfully unaware, so full of hope, anticipation, and excitement.  I see someone who I will never be again.  In the second photo, I see someone who is so broken and struggling to smile.  I see someone with confusion and loss in her eyes.  I see someone whose dreams have been dashed.

Now, this moment, 3 months, 2 weeks, and 4 days after my loss, I don’t recognize either of these women.  I feel much older and wiser than the girl in the first photo-schooled in one of the worst possible things that can happen in a person’s life.  I now know the kind of grief that tears at your soul and finds its way into every aspect of life.  The naivete in that girl’s eyes is gone forever.

The girl in the second picture was in a fog, a cloudy mess of confusion, disbelief, and heart-wrenching sadness.  Now, that fog has lifted slightly.  I have gained some clarity and redefined life, love, and loss.  That girl felt like she had nothing to look forward to, and I no longer feel that way.  I’m beginning to understand how to live life again and how to share Maya with anyone and everyone who will listen/read.  I am able to smile with slightly less effort than what it took in that picture.

This is a journey.  And though, in the grand scheme of life, 3 months, 2 weeks, and 4 days is very little time, I have come very far on this climb up the mountain.  I know Maya would be proud of her strong Mommy.

October

I have a really good feeling about this month.  October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month and I am feeling very motivated to do as much as I can to honor Maya.  Starting with… CarlyMarie’s {Capture Your Grief} project.  I wasn’t sure if I was going to participate.  When I first read about it, I wanted to.  Then I read the details and I didn’t think I would be able to keep up.  Then, this morning, I changed my mind again.  Day 1’s theme was sunrise.  On my way to work, I took this picture:

It’s very hard to take a picture of the sunrise where I live.  There are lots of trees in the way so this was the best I could do.  I actually really like the picture because of the way the clouds look.  I like to think of Maya dancing among the clouds.

October is going to be good.  It has to be good.  I have a lot to focus on and a lot to look forward to.  I have learned how to move through my grief rather than avoid it.  Living through the pain, feeling it with every ounce of my soul makes each day somewhat easier to bear.  I no longer live each day in fear of when the sadness will strike because I know I can get through it.  They say the last stage of grief is acceptance.  As I have said before, grief is not linear and I am not where near the last ‘stage’.  I’m not sure I’ll ever reach a point of acceptance – I don’t like that word in this situation.  What I have figured out how to do is embrace my loss as part of my life.  By embracing my loss, I am acknowledging Maya’s life and the effect it has had on me and on others.

October 1st – Rabbit Rabbit – It has to be good :)