Tag Archive | comfort

Happy 2nd Birthday Maya

My Dear Sweet Maya,

Happy Happy Birthday my sweet girl!  I can’t believe you would have turned 2 years old today!  Sometimes it feels like just yesterday and other times it feels like an eternity.  I imagine you’d wake up super excited to celebrate and spend the day with Mommy, Daddy, and your baby brother.  At this point you would have understood how special your birthday is and we would have made sure to say Happy Birthday as many times as possible throughout the day.

I’ve been dreaming of what you’d be like now.  I imagine you’d have tons of energy and love to run and play.  We’d go to the playground every day so that you could run around and go on the swings.  I imagine you’d be quite the girly girl just like your Mama.  You’d love pink and dolls and getting your hair done.  Your hair!  I bet it would be down past your shoulders now and super curly – just like Mommy’s was when she was little.  I imagine you’d love to talk and tell stories and ask questions.  I imagine you’d love books and being read to every night.  I bet by now you’d take the book and “read” it yourself.  I imagine you’d love arts and crafts and would always want to do a new project or just sit and color.  You’d love listening to showtunes with Mommy and going bowling with Daddy.  You’d love life and be a happy little girl.

I imagine you’d be an amazing big sister to Oliver.  You’d want to help Mommy whenever you could.  You’d help me pick out his clothes and make him smile and laugh.  You’d talk to him whenever you had the opportunity.  You’d share your toys and books.  He would be smitten with you – watching you play and listening to you talk.  I know you are here with us.  I know you are proud of how your Mommy and Daddy are raising your little brother.  I know you are looking down on him and smiling.  He already knows who you are.  We tell Oliver about you all the time and he looks at your pictures on the wall.

Today we will go to the aquarium.  I imagine if you were here that’s how we would spend the day.  We decided to use your birthday as an opportunity to make memories for ourselves and for your younger siblings.  We think that’s what you’d want us to do.  We miss you so much Maya.  We want so badly to know what life would be like with you here with us.  We want to know how well you and Oliver would have gotten along.  We spend our days with Oliver wondering if you would have been just as easy and happy as he is… we think you would have.

Through the sadness, we are comforted with the knowledge that your little life continues to matter.  We are so much better parents because of you.  We soak up every ounce of joy that we have with each other and with your baby brother.  We appreciate the small, quiet moments.  I thank you every day for teaching me just how precious life is.  Your life continues to matter to those around us too.  We share your story and people remember you.  We talk about your life openly and people learn that time with our loved ones is a gift that can be taken at any moment so enjoy every second.  You are so loved.  Your life continues to matter and your legacy lives on in us and in your baby brother.

Mommy and Daddy love you so much Maya.  We miss you terribly.  We are comforted knowing that you are here with us and are proud of how far we have come in two years.  We are able to live joyfully and spread happiness through memories of you.  We have brought meaning to your life and will continue to share what you have taught us.

Happy Happy Birthday my sweet girl.  I miss you and love you always always always and forever.

Love,

Mommy

Feeling Blessed at Work

For a while now I have wondered if most people see the loss of Maya as old news.  I’ve wondered if people pass judgement on me that I should be “over it” by now.  I’ve wondered if people thought it strange that Hackie and I are having a celebration the weekend of her birthday.  As we approached her birthday this Sunday, I grew increasingly nervous that people would forget or would remember but be afraid to say or do anything to show their support for fear of bringing it up.  I was so wrong.

Today is my last day of work before the weekend.  I took tomorrow off so that I could prepare for Maya’s garden dedication on Saturday.  I came in like I would any other day, not thinking much of this weekend – just focused on getting to this afternoon when I can tackle my very long to-do list.  I went in to see my administrator to ask her a question – she was wearing pink.  I’m not sure I’ve ever seen her wear pink and I commented that I liked it!  I came upstairs…  another colleague was wearing pink, and then I saw another.  I began to wonder if this was pure coincidence.  I tried to convince myself that surely this was not for me.  Then I stood for my morning duty, which happens to be at the end of the hall.  I looked down – every teacher and staff member was wearing pink!  My heart started to pound, and I started to shake.  I built up the courage to ask the colleague I was standing next to: “Alright, is there a reason everyone is wearing pink?”  She confirmed what I already knew.  I fought hard to hold back the tears.

I found out that my closest colleague and friend, who knows that I wear pink every month on the 16th and that I’ve been wearing pink every day the month of June, had the idea, floated it out to the third floor teachers and received an overwhelming response.  Apparently, the idea trickled down as some of the office staff, administrators, and guidance counselors are also wearing pink today.  Every time I saw someone in pink, I smiled knowing that he or she was thinking of my precious baby girl when getting dressed.

I can’t quite put into words how I’m feeling.  Today, I felt an overwhelming level of joy and comfort.  Today, I felt more proud to be Maya’s mommy than I have in a long time.  I’ve worked very hard this year to keep quiet and function as normally as possible at work.  I have remembered Maya in my own silent ways while at school – wearing pink, a grasp of my necklace… but I have mainly kept to myself.  Today, my colleagues showed me that Maya’s story is not old news.  They remember her and continue to be supportive.  I am so blessed.

Eleven Months

Dearest Maya,

You would have turned 11 months old today!  Oh my goodness!  Where has the time gone?  I can’t believe the next letter I will write you will be on your birthday.  I imagine by now you surely would have been walking and saying some words.  You would have favorite foods, favorite books, and a solid routine.  The weather has finally gotten consistently nice and I know you would have loved being outdoors.  I would have taken you down to the playground to swing on the swings every day when we got home.  I think you would also have had a full head of hair by now!  I would put it in the most adorable pigtails every day.

It’s been rough for Mommy.  Mother’s Day has come and gone and you weren’t here to wake me up with the gorgeous smile I know you would have had.  You weren’t here to pose in the big family picture and play with all your big cousins who you would have known as aunties and uncles.  Your absence was felt greatly and it was a sad day for Mommy.  This time of year is also hard because Mommy’s birthday is coming up and again, you won’t be here to smile at me and celebrate with me.  I know you would have loved this time of year as much as I do.

I think you’ve been hanging around a lot.  I want to believe that, anyway.  Daddy shut the door to your nursery when he was working on the bathroom so sawdust wouldn’t get in there and when he came back from the store, it was opened.  Was that you?  When the channel changed from the dreadful news to Sesame Street – I think you had something to do with that too.  I also think you’ve developed a special little connection with Halee.  She’s been sleeping in your room a lot and waking me up at odd hours of the night for no reason.  This morning when she was intent on making sure I was up, I had a thought… is she trying to tell me you need me?  That sounds so silly, but I think that’s what she would have done.  I think Halee would have been my little baby monitor – sleeping by your crib and alerting me when you were in need.  Rather than think of it all as strange or spooky, I’m comforted by it.  I know you’re around.  I feel you on my shoulder and know that you are watching over me.

We’ve planted your garden!  We were going to plant one cherry blossom and some other perennials, but then Mama fell in love with a second kind of cherry blossom so you got two trees!  Only the best for my sweet girl!  We’ll dedicate this garden to you the day before your birthday.  There are many people who love you very much who are going to come and be a part of this special day.  I hope you will be watching and I hope you will bring us sunshine!  We’ll be sending you bunches of balloons with messages from all those who love you so so much!

I can’t believe just how fast these 11 months have gone by.  Sometimes, I am grateful that time is moving and I am living life and finding joy.  Other times, I feel sad – the more time that passes, the farther away our time together becomes.  I will always hold the memories close though.  My time with you still seems like just yesterday.  I hope it stays that way.

I miss you so much Maya.  I say it every month because I will never stop missing you.  I wish so badly I had you here, my sweet 11 month old, and that we were planning your birthday party.  Still, I am grateful.  You have given me so much – to be a better, nicer, and healthier person.  To cherish the time I have, find joy, and smile in hopes of brightening someone else’s day.

I love you my sweet angel.  Always and Forever.

Lots of love,

Mommy

This Time Last Year

I have been spending a lot of time thinking about this time last year.  I know exactly how pregnant I was and I remember specific details of what was going on at the time.  This period of reflection started for me in anticipation of Mother’s Day.  Over the course of the last few weeks, there has been a lot said in the baby loss community in regards to Mother’s Day – strategies for getting through it, words of encouragement that we are mothers even though our babies are not physically with us.  I ignored most of it.  Mother’s Day was planned for me.  Every year my mom’s family (aunts, cousins, etc) gather for Mother’s Day.  This year, it was decided to also do the unveiling of my grandfathers gravestone (a Jewish tradition) since the whole family would be together anyway.  I didn’t have a choice – I had to be there.  So I didn’t think much of Mother’s Day until a few days before.

Last year, Mother’s Day was so different.  I was exactly 30 weeks pregnant and we hosted the family gathering at our house because many of the members of my family hadn’t seen the house and we wanted to show off the gorgeous mural Hackie had painted in the nursery.  All spring, we pushed to have things around the house done by Mother’s Day – and we did!  It was a beautiful day and I remember so vividly thinking about this year’s Mother’s Day and how wonderful it would be to get to have my own baby at the family gather and to get to pose in the traditional mom picture.

Of course, this year’s Mother’s Day was nothing like what I had pictured and as the day grew closer I began to feel very sad as I focused on what life was like one year ago.  I approached the day with this attitude: No matter what happens, the day will end and it will be one more thing that I lived through.  The day started at the cemetery and I really did not know what to expect.  To those who have never been to a Jewish unveiling, it’s basically funeral part 2.  My grandfather died 10 days after I found out I was pregnant with Maya.  He was 88 and a truly wonderful man.  The unveiling was hard – very hard.  I cried harder than I have cried in a very long time.  I tried so hard to focus on my grandfather but so many of the words read applied to my sweet Maya.  We left stones that spelled out her name on his grave and I spoke to him – asking him to protect my sweet baby and keep her safe.

After the cemetery, we all gathered at my mom’s house for food and togetherness.  I couldn’t eat any of the food, but I was able to enjoy my family’s company.  We took lots of family pictures that included Maya bear.  And I made it a point to be in the traditional mom picture.  All in all, it was a hard day, but it wasn’t a bad day.  I was recognized as a mother, which is all I can really ask for.  I received many messages, texts, and emails.  I got two beautiful cards, flowers, and new bracelets from my amazing husband.  And I received a beautiful gift and card from my mom.  I think I was long overdue for an intense day of grieving.  Though I was not prepared to cry as hard as I did, I needed it.  I needed to feel the sadness in order to feel close to my daughter.

Now that Mother’s Day has passed and I have had a few days to recover, I continue to reflect on this time last year.  It was such a busy time and it was filled with such excitement – my birthday, my baby shower, getting the crib, putting the finishing touches on the nursery, frequenting Babies R Us – I remember it all.  It brings about a new wave of sadness on this journey through grief.  All of these memories signify that Maya’s birthday is so close – 4 weeks and 3 days away.  I am proud to say that I am looking forward to her birthday.  We are planning on dedicating her garden and have invited our closest family and friends to celebrate her life with us.  I think it will be a beautiful day and will bring some peace and closure to the year.

What I’m not looking forward to is after her birthday.  When the year of firsts is over and we begin our second year without our precious daughter.  Will it be easier?  Harder?  What will we do?  Will others have expected us to “move on”?  Will we have our rainbow baby?  There are so many unknowns.  But that’s all this journey has been – unknowns.  I walk this path so blindly never knowing what to expect or where or when my grief and sadness will become louder.  After Maya’s birthday we will continue to march forward as best we can.  We will overcome obstacles, make huge leaps, and fall a few times too.  The one thing I can be sure of is that I will continue to have the support of my incredible husband.  “Together” has become the theme of our year and it is so comforting to know that he is always by my side.

Making a Change

I had my annual appointment with my fabulous OB/GYN yesterday.  I was very anxious and emotional.  I thought I would be in there pregnant before being due for my annual.  My doctor was amazing as usual and helped put my mind at ease.  She validated my feelings and concerns around my thyroid and together, we came up with a plan that I feel comfortable with.

One thing she asked me about was my diet.  I threw out the wide range of excuses that I use for not eating well – the main one being that the bad foods I eat make me happy.  (Awful, I know.)  She asked if I’ve ever thought about going gluten free.  Though I’ve thought about it and even tried some gluten free cereals and cookies, I never jumped fully on that bandwagon because many gluten free products contain soy, which is toxic to the thyroid.  She told me that she’s done a lot of research recently and that gluten has been closely linked to decreased thyroid function and fertility.  She suggested I try it, assuring me I would feel better.

I left my appointment feeling reassured and optimistic.  I had a lot to think about.  I told Hackie how the appointment went and we discussed our options.  I told him what my Dr. said about gluten and he jumped on board almost immediately.  I told him I wanted to do more research and really think about what it would mean for us to go gluten free.  We went out to dinner and both ate a lot of bread – perhaps we knew what was going to happen next.

This morning, I got up feeling a sense of enlightenment.  There are lots of things in this world that make me happy.  I do not need to overindulge in food to feel joy and happiness.  I need to eat, first and foremost, to live.  Maya taught me that tomorrow is not a guarantee and that life can change in an instant.  The only way for her to live on is through me, and I need to live the healthiest life I can for her.  I need to feel my best and be my best every day – that’s what she would have wanted.

I started researching and quickly found that nearly 100% of people with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis have at least gluten sensitivity, if not gluten intolerance.  My basic understanding is that the gluten increases the thyroid antibodies, which are what attack my thyroid gland and decrease its natural function.  My first reaction upon learning this was to be really pissed.  I’ve discussed my thyroid problems with several doctors and none of them ever recommended I go gluten free.  I feel like I fell victim to western medicine – the idea that a prescription drug will fix everything!  Then, I was pissed at myself for not doing this research sooner.  I am so grateful to my OB for opening my eyes to something so simple that has the potential to make a huge difference.

Hackie and I headed to Trader Joe’s and stocked up.  We both agreed that, to avoid feeling deprived and resentful, we needed lots of foods that we know we will like.  We realized that there is very little that we have to completely give up and that many of the foods that we like are naturally gluten free.  When we got home, we cleaned out the fridge and the pantry.  I threw the half a pan of amazing brownies that were left in the trash and we compiled two bags of food to give away.  Our fridge and pantry now look lighter and healthier.

We were told we would feel better in a week.  I’m looking forward to feeling the effects of going gluten free.  I know it will not be easy and I know there will be times when I am tempted by certain foods.  I am beyond grateful that my dear husband is doing this with me and is as excited (if not more) by the idea of living a healthier lifestyle.  There have been times before when I’ve dramatically changed my eating and it works really well and then I fall off course.  This is the first time Hackie and I are doing something together.  This is the first time we have literally cleaned out the foods that are off limits.  This is the first time it feels like a lifestyle change and not a diet.  This is the first time it will work and it will stick.

I’m doing this for myself, my husband, Maya, and my future children.  I fully believe it will make a difference and can’t wait to come back here and report on my progress!

Baby-Loss Family

I feel like I must begin this post by acknowledging and showing appreciation for the three Mamas who nominated me and my blog for a Liebster award.  I am honored and touched.  At this point in time, I am not in the right headspace to follow the directions – answering the questions and nominating others.  I hope you all understand and know just how much it means to me to be recognized.

This morning, as I went through my typical morning routine of checking blogs and facebook, I learned that United Through Pregnancy and Infant Loss, which is a community support group on facebook is hosting Baby-Loss Family day today.  I quickly joined the event and scrolled through the stories.  I shared my precious Maya as I will take any opportunity I can to share my baby with the world.  And then, I started to reflect.  After all, it is what I do best.

We are a family.  Ask any of us and we’d take a one-way ticket out of this club if we were given the opportunity.  However, let’s face it, once your in the baby-loss family, you’re in forever.  When Maya died, I felt so alone.  No one else spent 8 months carrying that baby girl, no one else felt her kick and wiggle, no one else tried so hard to get her here safely, and no one else has the permanent scar that reminds me of what happened.  I felt like a failure, I felt disappointed in myself, and I felt so alone.

Almost immediately after arriving home, I had an email from a friend who had endured a very similar loss a year prior.  In a way, she was my gateway into this family.  She pointed me in the direction of online resources, which led me to other resources.  Soon, I was spending upwards of 6 hours a day reading, searching, and hoping to find stories similar to my own.  I had a need to feel less alone.  I needed this new family.

Now, 7 months, 1 week, and 4 days later, I am comforted by the knowledge that this baby-loss family exists.  I have reconnected with friends in real life who have gone through loss or who have been especially touched/affected by Maya’s story.  I have met new online friends from all over the world who read and comment on my blog, and connect with me on facebook.  I have several blogs that I follow that validate my feelings.  I often find myself nodding along as I read a post.  I feel so reassured that what I’m feeling is ‘normal’ and OK.

Thank you to United Through Pregnancy and Infant Loss for hosting this day.  I have been especially sad this weekend.  Why?  I’m not quite sure.  I’ve come to realize that there will be days when I am more sad than others.  I do not have to have a reason or a specific trigger for crying and feeling sad.  My baby died.  That’s enough of a reason.  Anyway, being reminded of this family that I am a part of has helped bring light to this otherwise dark day.  I am grateful that this family exists and that none of us have to feel alone.

To all baby-loss Mamas who I have crossed paths with in real life or in the online world, and to those who may read here that I do not know about – you are not alone.  We will continue to navigate this road together and I am here for you as you’ve been for me.  I believe our babies are now all angel friends – looking down and smiling because we have found each other through this common bond.

If you are reading here and we have not yet connected, I would love to know who you are.  Comment here, connect with me on facebook, send me an email.  We must stay united and continue to support each other.

Escape Tactics

I am the first to admit that grieving the loss of my baby girl and living with the pain of not having my baby here to mother is my new reality.  This is my life and I have to live it.  Like any tragedy, we as humans must find a way to survive.  There is no end to this grief.  It will be my constant companion, growing louder and softer throughout different stages of my life.  However, like anyone forced to survive, I have come up with strategies, methods, and mechanisms to help me live on each day and continue to find joy wherever I can.

One strategy is escapism – ways to escape reality for just a little while.  Almost immediately after Maya was born and died, we started planning trips.  It was a way to escape, and a way to survive.  First New Hampshire, then New York City, and then Disney.  Yup!  Hackie and I went to Disney World two months after Maya was born and died.  Were we crazy for going to the one place where there are the most babies and young children concentrated in one spot?  Some may think so.  However, we love Disney and being in Disney World is the ultimate escape from reality.  Everyone there faded into the background, and Hackie and I played.  We laughed, we had fun, we escaped.

Every day when I go to work I am escaping.  I love my new job.  I love my students.  I love the school that I work at.  My work is my reprieve.  It is the place where I can stay busy and focus on being the best teacher I can possibly be.  It is the place where I can interact with colleagues who know what happened to Maya, and treat me just the same as they always have.  It is the place where I can stand in front of students who don’t know my past and be whoever I want to be.  It is a place where I can escape.

When I was really little, I loved to read.  Then, in my middle school/high school years, I didn’t really like to read.  College was the worst.  When reading was no longer required, I found my love for it all over again.  It took me about a month after Maya was born and died to be able to focus and concentrate long enough to be able to read a book.  The first book I read had been recommended to me by a nurse at the hospital – When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold Kushner.  This book had a huge affect on my grieving process.  It helped me understand my own tragedy.  It helped me gain clarity on the difference between religion and spirituality.  It helped me understand humanity.  It helped me begin to heal.  And, surprisingly, it helped me escape.

After successfully reading that first book, I decided that I was now at a place where I could focus and concentrate long enough to really enjoy a good book.  A colleague had sent me a novel along with a sympathy card.  The story was wonderful and really allowed me to escape into another world.  I realized that I had found a new survival method – escapism through literature.

I have an advantage in that I like all different types of literature – fiction, memoirs, young-adult novels, etc.  Scholastic had a big warehouse sale back in December for teachers.  I went by myself and had the best time picking out new books for my classroom library.  I got an amazing deal and I mostly picked books that I want to read too.  I came home from that sale in the best mood – I had escaped to shop for books, and the thought of escaping while reading those books made me so happy.

I have set a goal to read 50 books in 2013 – that’s about one a week.  I’m thinking about adding a page here on my blog of books I have read so I can keep track.  Once I’ve started a book, I have no problem sitting down and reading (as long as it’s good).  There are times though when I procrastinate starting a new book.  My strategy for avoiding this problem this year is to always have the next book ready to go.  That way, I’m always looking forward to the next book on the pile.  Currently, I’m in the second book of a young-adult trilogy.  After I finish the trilogy, I plan to move to a book my mom got for me written by an advice columnist.

Sometimes I think of my grief as a person – my constant companion.  Sometimes she’s loud and sometimes she’s quiet.  Sometimes, she jumps out and surprises me out of nowhere.  Sometimes, the times when I’m missing Maya the most, she’s comforting.  And sometimes, I need to hide from her.  Sometimes, I just need a break.  Whether it be on a trip, at work, or lost in a good book, occasionally escaping my grief is a necessary means of survival.

 

Can a Single Year Be the Best and the Worst?

I have pondered that question and my last blog post of this year for several weeks.  The answer is yes.

From January to June 16th, almost exactly the first half of the year, I was the happiest I have ever been.  I had an amazing family, a fabulous husband, a beautiful dog, a perfect house, and a baby on the way.  (And I still have almost all those things.)  I was so enjoying preparing my life for a new little baby.  I was so ready for the next chapter.  During this time, we completed some projects on the house, prepared the nursery, each celebrated our 27th birthdays, had a beautiful baby shower, and hosted a lovely Mother’s Day gathering for my family.  I also finished my Master’s degree, which was a huge accomplishment.  It was a happy time.

Though my personal life felt quite perfect, my professional life was anything but.  I was having a miserable school year.  I loved working with my students, but the paperwork and politics that went along with the job made it so frustrating.  I tried so hard to do my best work and to do right for my students.  In the end, I was no longer happy as a special education teacher and I knew I had to find a way out.

I’m declaring June 16, 2012 the best and worst day of my life.  I delivered my daughter – my first born.  I felt the love that every mother describes.  I felt pride and joy over the fact that I had a daughter who could become as girly and artsy as her Mama.  I was excited to go shopping.  On this same day, the worst thing that could ever happen to a person did.  My child died.  I lost my baby and all the dreams and plans that went with her.  I felt emotional pain like none I’ve ever felt before.  I lost a huge part of myself and my world was shattered.  I was forever changed.

Since Maya was born and died, the rest of the year has been a roller coaster.  I have a new perspective on life.  I have developed a true understanding of what’s important and just how precious life is.  When my world shattered, I searched and searched for a way to put the pieces back together, only to realize that it’s out of my control.  When I let go and let the pieces drop back into place, I gained some clarity on my climb up the mountain.

I have reconnected with some old friends and grown more close to others.  I have been the recipient of some of the most beautiful acts of kindness and my faith in humanity has been restored.  I have made new friends, especially in the online world.  There are now people all over the world who know Maya’s story.  I no longer feel like I am on this journey alone.

I have grown closer to my husband than I ever felt possible.  We have both changed, and he has remained strong in these dark times.  I am so blessed to have such an amazing man by my side.

In addition to navigating this road and climbing this mountain called grief, other things have happened this year, and as I reflect, most of them have been good.  I finally got out of being a SPED teacher.  I am in a teaching position that I love and I feel so comfortable in my new role.  My job is my saving grace right now.  I went on some wonderful trips both before and after Maya was born and died.  While some of these trips were for the purpose of healing, they were enjoyable and memorable in their own right.

So yes.  2012 is the year that I lost my baby and felt more sadness and grief than I ever thought possible.  It was and hopefully will remain the worst experience of my life.  However, 2012 is also the year when some of the best things happened to me including the birth of my daughter, the completion of my Masters, a new job, new friends, and a new me.  I am slowly getting to know this new me and I like her.  Would I trade her in for my daughter?  Of course.  But that is not an option.

So, as we move into 2013, I am content with 2012.  I am sad to leave behind the year that brought little miss Maya into our lives.  However, I am entering 2013 with hope, comfort, and gratitude for the life that I have.  I look forward to getting to know the new me.  I look forward to letting go of the control and letting my path lay itself.  I’m not sure what lies ahead, but I am ready and excited!

I wish all of you a Happy New Year!  May 2013 bring you all that you hope for and more!

 

Surviving the Holdiays 2012

**Before I begin this post, I just want to mention that I have updated Maya’s name gallery.  It gives me such joy to see Maya’s name written in creative ways and I am so grateful to those who have taken the time to do it and to share it with me.  Please check out the page!

And now for today’s post…

I knew the holidays would be tough this year.  Last year, I was 10 weeks pregnant on Christmas day.  Hackie and I knew very well that it would be the last Christmas where we indulged each other because this year all our efforts would be put into making the holiday magical for our new baby.  My family celebrates Hanukkah.  When I took the big family Hanukkah picture last year, I mentioned that this year there would be a new little one in the picture and I told my mom that she would get the honor of holding her new grandbaby.  A year ago, we made big plans and had great anticipation for what this year’s holidays would be like.  Today, Christmas Eve, I am not only missing Maya terribly, I am devastated to not be able to see any of those plans come to fruition.  All of those plans, all of that eager excitement and anticipation died with her.

Up until recently, I was comforted with the knowledge that surely we would be pregnant by now.  Surely, the weight of our first holiday season without Maya would be lessened by the hope of a new baby.  I guess I was being slightly naive.  I am not pregnant yet and I am tormented by the idea that if it takes much longer, we may be enduring a second holiday season with grief alone and no living child to share the magic with.

I’ve been having good weeks and bad weeks.  This past week was really tough.  In the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy, I felt quite numb.  When I turned the corner to go down the road to school on Monday, it hit me hard.  Still, the shock of this tragedy came in fits and spurts.  I feel like my body was protecting my brain from feeling the horror all at once.  By Friday, I was relieved to have arrived at the end of the week.  Still, on the day before vacation – a day that since I started school as a child was always so joyous and exciting, I was feeling so sad.  I was not excited for vacation.  I would rather be at work today, skipping vacation and the holidays all together.  It all came out at the holiday concert.  Our chorus teacher announced that they were all going to sing “Lean On Me” dedicated to the families in Newtown.  I made it through about two thirds of the song before I lost it and had to leave.  There were only a few who saw me and, with the help of a caring guidance counselor, I was able to pull myself together and get through the rest of the day.

Yesterday was my family’s big Hanukkah party.  This is the first time we all were together since I had Maya.  The last time we were all together was Mother’s day, when I was 30 weeks pregnant.  While I was looking forward to seeing my family, I didn’t want to go.  It’s the times when the whole family is together that it is ever so clear that someone is missing.  As soon as Hackie and I pulled out of the driveway to head to my mom’s, I started to cry.  When we got to my mom’s and were setting up the room so that all 20 of us could fit in the family picture, I started to cry.  I remembered my Aunt’s tradition – every year since 2004, we have written down what we are thankful for and what we wish for in the coming year.  We put our papers in a little pouch and they are saved year after year.  I’ve always enjoyed looking back and smiling with the satisfaction that my wish came true.  In 2008, I drew a diamond ring hoping Hackie would propose in the coming year, which he did.  I can only imagine what I wrote down last year and the thought of looking at it was too much to bear.  Every time I thought about it, I started to cry.  As my family started to arrive and each of my aunts, uncles, and cousins hugged me just a little longer than usual, I started to cry.  I wondered if I would be able to stop being so weepy.  Eventually, the crying subsided and I was able to really enjoy myself.  I wrote down what I was thankful for and what I was wishing for and stuck it in the pouch with the others.  I decided not to read last year’s paper.  As I always do, I took charge of the family picture.  I placed my Maya Bear (which I’ll have to post about another time) on my mom’s lap – where Maya should have been.  It was a very hard day.  Surrounded by loved ones and comforted with the hope that next year’s party will be different, I survived.

Today, Hackie and I will head to his parent’s to be together.  Growing up, Christmas was always different for me.  Some years, my mom did her best to fulfill my need to be like all the other kids in my class and got us a Christmas tree.  Some years, I traveled to my Dad’s and celebrated the holiday with him and my family out there.  Some years, I hung out with my mom and didn’t do much of anything.  In the last 4 years, Hackie and I have made our own traditions.  I always say that Christmas is his holiday and so I let him pretty much call the shots.  We spoil each other and the dog.  We’ve always gotten a tree and played Christmas music while decorating.  Last year, which was our first Christmas in our new house, Hackie decorated the front of our house and it was so beautiful.  I’ve really enjoyed celebrating this holiday with him and coming up with new traditions for our little family.

This year, we weren’t sure what to do.  I wanted to be supportive of my husband and his favorite holiday so I defaulted to him.  I told him that if he wanted to get a tree and decorate, we would.  If he wanted to do presents, we would.  If he wanted to do nothing, I’d be OK with that too.  It took a while to figure it out, but it eventually became clear.  We purchased a hot pink tree that’s small and put it in front of our Maya wall.  We’ve gotten a few ornaments as gifts and will purchase one new one a year in honor of our angel.  We did not decorate or get a large tree.  We are taking a trip later this week and decided that would be our gift to each other.  We decided not to purchase gifts for others and asked that none be given to us.  Instead, we decided that we would collect donations for Cradle to Crayons, which is an organization we are volunteering at in January.  We will also be purchasing some items that would have been appropriate for a six month old little girl and will donate them in memory of Maya.

We decided to spend Christmas day as just us and Halee.  We need to be home and it’s too hard to host our parents, which was the original plan.  I’m not quite sure yet how we are going to spend the day.  I think we are going to wait and see how we feel and let the day unfold.  We are thinking about releasing some balloons for are angel and we may go bowling in the evening, which is one of our favorite things to do together.  We will survive the day together.

Yes.  It totally 100% sucks that Hackie and I look at this year’s holidays as something to get through rather than enjoy.  However, I have come to realize that traditions can be paused and getting down on myself for not enjoying the holidays this year is not going to do anyone any good.  Next year, the holidays will be different.  I’m not sure how they will look and I’m not making any plans, but I know they will be different as another year will have gone by.

As hard as this has been, I continue to be comforted by the love and support I have received, especially from my husband.  He is my backbone and I am blessed to have him by my side so I do not have to navigate this road alone.

If you are grieving this holiday season, I wish you peace and comfort.

 

Six Months

Dear Maya,

Hi sweet girl!  I’ve felt you hanging around lately.  I was feeling quite sad as the holidays approached and then something shifted.  I was reminded that you have not been forgotten.  I’m continuing to find out just how many people have been effected by you and your precious little life.  More people all over the world are learning your name.  I have felt a virtual group hug by many near and far.  All the while, you whisper in my ear and tell me it’s going to be alright.

I believe you are safe.  I believe you are happy.  I believe you are proud of your mommy and daddy.  Still, I wish you were here with us.  We would have the Christmas tree up.  We would have lit the Hanukkah candles.  I think you would have loved looking at the lights and would have been mesmerized by the flickering candle flames.  We would have spoiled you so much – giving you new toys and books that you would surely have grown to love.  We would have dressed you up in the cutest holiday outfits!

I think you would have been sitting up by now and very into playing and discovering new tricks.  Your hair would have grown so quickly that I’d have had it in little pigtails with bows!  You would have been the center of attention at next week’s big family Hanukkah party!  You would have been showered with gifts and we would have all worked so hard to get you to laugh for the family picture.  Though, I think you would have hammed it up in front of the camera – super photogenic just like your mommy and daddy.  I know you are here with me and helping me move forward.  I’m not as sad as I use to be when I think about what life would be like with you here.  It’s my way of remembering you and thinking about you as much as I possibly can.

I know that you are helping Mommy and Daddy get through the holiday season.  We weren’t sure at first what to do, how to celebrate, if we even should celebrate…  One day, it became clear.  I think you are often bringing us clarity and lighting our path through our new normal.  We decided not to get a big tree.  Instead, we got you a tree!  A bright pink tree that sits in front of your Maya wall:

Do you love it!?  We have two ornaments on there.  The top one was given to us by your Auntie and Uncle and the bottom one we purchased for you!

We will get you at least one new ornament every year and eventually your little siblings will each pick one out or make one.  Your tree will be filled with love year after year!

I miss you so much Maya.  I am wearing pink today.  I’ve decided that from now on, I will wear pink on the 16th of every month.  The 16th is your very special day and for the rest of my life I will honor you on this day by wearing what I believe would have been your favorite color.  I have also been wearing pink to the holiday parties I’ve gone to, and bringing pink desserts as a way to include you!  It makes me feel really good that I’ve been figuring out ways to honor your life, share you with others, and have you with me no matter where I go or what I’m doing.

Continue to sit on my shoulder sweet girl.  I feel you there and I’m so grateful that you have touched so many others’ lives.  In these past six months you have done more for me than I could ever express.  You are simply amazing.

I love you my sweet angel, always and forever.

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE,

Mommy