Tag Archive | different

Permission to be Happy

It’s been quite a while since I’ve come to this space.  I haven’t needed to, but I’ve wanted to.  I miss writing.  My goal is to write once a week… we’ll see how that goes.

Life has changed.  Life has really changed.  I have changed.  And here’s why…

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Introducing Oliver Raymond.  He was born on Monday, January 20th (Martin Luther King Day!) at 11:17am.  He weighed 8lbs, 2oz and was 22 and a half inches long.  He is perfect.

In the last 14 weeks, I have felt every emotion you could possibly name.  I think that having a baby is the biggest life-changing event anyone goes through, and it’s impossible to prepare for it mentally and emotionally.  No matter how many babies I have been around growing up, there was no possible way to prepare for having to care for a baby 24/7.  It’s hard.  And with Oliver’s arrival and the immediate adjustment, came a lot of different emotions.

However, this post isn’t about everything I have felt and the roller coaster I have been on over the last 3 months.  This post is about something that I said yesterday during my daily conversation with my mom…

“I am the happiest I have ever been.”

At first, I was a little shocked that came out of my mouth… how could that be?  How dare I?  Shouldn’t I never be as happy as I was before Maya died?  Shouldn’t there be a perpetual sadness that looms overhead?  In that moment, I gave myself permission.  Permission for the above statement to be true.  It is true.  And it’s OK.

In the days following Maya’s death, a dear friend sent me a message.  She had experienced a similar loss one year prior.  She told me that any feeling I had was normal as long as it did not pose a danger to myself or others.  This advice has stuck with me since then and I repeat this mantra to myself nearly every day.  Throughout the process of grieving the loss of Maya, which I continue to do, I would remember these words through bouts of anger, frustration, disbelief, and happiness.  Now, my grief looks different.  I am no longer defined by my loss as I was in the months immediately following it.  The grief, though still with me, has quieted down.  And with that comes feelings of guilt.  I have felt guilty for feeling happy and I have felt guilty for feeling tired and frustrated when up in the middle of the night.

Today, I am liberating myself and will no longer feel guilt.  I am giving myself permission to be happy.  And permission to not be happy all the time.  I am replaying my friend’s words in my head as they still hold true.  What I have realized is that attempting to rationalize my feelings, whether they be positive or negative, is a waste of time.

Oliver is amazing.  He brings me so much joy and hope for the future.  I cherish every day that I have with him and am grateful for what my life has become.

I need to believe that Maya is proud of me.  I need to believe that she is OK with the fact that I do not grieve full time as I once did.  I need to believe that she wants me to live on and be the best Mommy to Oliver that I can be.  I wish she were here… she’d be a wonderful big sister.

 

Hope.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve come to this space.  Why?  I haven’t felt the need, the desire, or the motivation to write.  I haven’t wanted to visit the dark place that I go to when I write about my journey through grief.  For quite some time, this blog was my outlet, my therapy, and my way to network and reach out to others also on this journey.  I don’t need the outlet right now.  I don’t need the therapy.  I am in a good place; so it hasn’t felt necessary to come here.

I decided to write today for several reasons.  I’ve had a post brewing in my head for some time and it’s time to get it out.  It’s time to admit that things have shifted and my emotions have changed.  Today is also the 16th.  October 16th was the first of many significant 16s in Maya’s life.  Two years ago today marked the “beginning” of my pregnancy with Maya.  Today also marks 16 months since we said hello and goodbye to our baby girl.  Whenever I see 16 now, I am happy.  16 makes me think of Maya.  So in sticking with my happiness theme, it is with great joy that I announce to the blogging world that Maya is going to be a big sister!

Yes.  We are expecting our rainbow baby.  I actually already think of Maya as a big sister.  I believe she is watching over Hackie and I and her baby brother/sister.  She is always with us.  We found out this wonderful news 13 days before Maya’s first birthday.  It couldn’t have been more perfect.  As her birthday approached, I really struggled with what comes after the first birthday milestone.  What comes after you’ve already experienced every holiday and milestone once without your baby.  Those two little lines answered that question for us.  Baby comes next, and we are so ready.

To say this pregnancy has been an emotional roller coaster would be an understatement.  However, I knew that going in.  I actually think that I am handling things pretty well.  I acknowledge my fears and move through each day appreciative of the time I get to spend with this little life growing inside of me.  I am working hard to stay busy, while also celebrating and enjoying my pregnancy.  Time will pass and February will arrive as it always does.  There is no use in wishing the time away – we never know how much we are going to get.

As I said earlier, things have shifted and emotions have changed.  I feel as though, in my climb up the mountain, I reached a very tall peak – the first leg of the journey.  There is no top to my mountain.  I will never be done climbing, but I have made a lot of progress.  Now, I focus on feeling hope, joy, and excitement.  I owe it to this new baby to celebrate his/her life and separate those emotions from the sadness associated with losing Maya.

I still miss Maya.  I still grieve.  I miss her every day.  I think about what she would be like now – a little person filled with curiosities and ideas.  She’d be talking all the time and would be at such a fun age.  Now, I think of Maya and smile.  More often, thoughts of Maya make me happy rather than sad.  Though her life was so short, she has made a profound impact on this world.  Because of Maya, I have witnessed a greater level of kindness, generosity, and humanity than I ever thought possible.  She mattered.  I am sure of that now.

I am now on the next leg of this journey, and I am still figuring it out.  I must live alongside my grief while feeling joy for our new baby.  I must acknowledge and move past feelings of guilt rather than trying to justify or analyze them.  I must continue to live as a healthy and productive person celebrating this new life while honoring the life we lost.  I must trust my gut.  There is no manual on how to do this.  Sure, there are books about pregnancy after loss, but we are all so different.

About a month after Maya was born and died, I made a conscious decision to somehow find happiness again.  I wanted to live my life as fully as possible and allow Maya to live through me.  I wanted to find joy anywhere and everywhere I could.  16 months later, I can say that I have done that.  I am happy.  I am living on.  I am finding my way up the mountain and will keep climbing.

It’s Been a While…

Wow.  It’s been quite a while since I have sat down to write.  I’ve missed this space.  I’ve missed bringing my grief to the surface and writing about how much I miss Maya.  I have a lot I want to catch up on and I finally have some time this week.  My goal is to write a new post each day recapping the last 6 weeks or so.  I plan to write about Maya’s garden dedication and birthday, the Compassionate Friends Conference that Hackie and I attended, and the end of the school year.  First though, I feel it necessary to write about why I have been MIA from this blog.

Once upon a time, I worked as a camp counselor every summer.  Starting when I was 19, I worked at three different camps over the course of seven summers.  The most recent was a summer arts program that I worked at summers 07 through 10.  In 2011, I was all set to go back to my beloved summer arts program, but was not given the opportunity.  Last summer I had a baby.  As it became apparent that I was not getting pregnant in time to have another summer baby, I began to think about this summer.  This was back in February.  Actually, that’s not really how it went.  I was working on the show at my school and those around me started to bring up the summer.  The director I was working with happens to be married to the camp director and she basically told me that if I was going to go back, I had to make a decision.  In the end, the decision was made for me.  Between my mother and my husband, I was convinced that I would be crazy not to go back to the summer arts program I once held very near and dear to my heart.  They reminded me how quickly I become bored and that having something to do the month of July would be really good.

I met with the camp director and felt good about my decision to return.  There was a small part of me that wondered if it would be a good idea to return part time as I knew what long and exhausting days I was in for, but I ignored that instinct.  In March, I was asked if I wanted to direct Shrek with the middle school campers.  I was over the moon thrilled.  I saw Shrek on Broadway and fell in love with the show.  I was beyond excited for this opportunity and any hesitation I had about returning full time disappeared.

Time carried on and I made it through the end of the school year.  With so many hurricane/snow days, the end of the school year overlapped with the beginning of camp.  This was a big challenge.  School ended on a Tuesday.  The weekend prior to that I had to be at camp all weekend.  We had the weekend of Maya’s dedication and birthday, a full school week, a weekend working at camp, the last 2 days of school, and then right to camp.  I worked 11 days straight and I was so tired.  It was very hard to have no time off between school and camp.

The program is five weeks long.  I struggled.  The days were longer than my school days and the driving distance was more than double.  I was tired and I was having a tough time connecting with the staff.  I was frustrated with myself because there was a point in time when I loved the program so much I would cry right along with the campers when it was over.  This year was so different.  I was different.  I remembered that it took me about 6 weeks to adjust to being at school again after Maya died.  This was a similar set of circumstances.  It was not a new environment, but I had to adjust to being there as the new me.  I, again, had to figure out a way to function and teach and direct alongside my grief.  Some of the staff knew what had happened to me last summer and some were brand new and didn’t know me at all.  As usual, there were circumstances where it was the elephant in the room.

Week 3 has always been the toughest week at camp, and I think that is the case for everyone.  The fatigue starts to catch up with you and the end does not feel near.  Week 3 was very tough for me.  It was right after the weekend of the conference, which I will write about later this week.  I was in tears just about every morning because I did not want to go.  I couldn’t help but think over and over, “I should be at home with my one year old.  I should not be working.”  It was another test of my emotional stamina and I simply had to wait for the sadness to pass.

This past week was the last week of camp – show week.  There is a different show every night.  Shrek went up Tuesday and was truly incredible.  I worked with an amazing cast of 30 fantastic and talented kids.  I was so filled with pride that everything else leading up to that night went away.  I was so grateful that I had the opportunity and was proud of myself that I accomplished what I set out to do.

Now that camp is over and I can officially say I am on summer vacation, I can reflect on how much I grew these last five weeks.  To go back after two summers off and after losing Maya was quite an undertaking (I realize now).  In the beginning, I expected it to be the same, and I expected to get the same level of fulfillment that I once did.  While camp did not meet my expectations and I had some rough and emotional moments, I made it out the other end.  There is no greater feeling than making it through a tough time and coming out the other side.  This was another steep climb up the mountain that is my journey through grief.  Though I stumbled a few times, I made it up.

There are 4 weeks left to summer vacation.   I have some exciting trips planned and some much-needed downtime at home.  I worked so hard these last five weeks.  I am grateful that I had the opportunity to go back and I am grateful the program lasts only the month of July :)

Ten Months

My dearest Maya,

I have pondered long and hard on what to write to you today.  Tragedy struck our beloved city of Boston yesterday and I am struggling with what to say to you.  I have been working very hard these last 23 hours since I found out to focus on the thousands upon thousands of people who did good in the wake of tragedy – the people who committed selfless good deeds as they rushed to help.  I have found myself wondering – is it better that Maya is not growing up in this world?  This world that, in our country alone, has seen three heinous acts in the 10 months since your birth and death (Aurora, Newtown, Boston).  My answer to that question is absolutely not.  You should be here.  It is not better.  It is devastating that these kinds of things happen, but what happens after is a true testament to the human spirit.  Love, support, and uniting together in the wake of tragedy is what defines us as people.  I wish you could know that.  I wish you could grow up to feel the pride for Boston that I feel.  Boston is our city.  Boston is where Mommy went to school, where Mommy and Daddy spent so much time together, and it’s where we took you to the circus just about a year ago.  It’s also where Mommy and Daddy held you for the first and last time.  You would have loved Boston and OUR city will prevail and come out of this stronger and more united than ever before.

I’ve also spent a lot of time wondering what we would have done today if you were here.  Spring has FINALLY showed up!  We’ve been taking Halee on walks through the woods and I keep picturing your Daddy wearing the baby carrier with you in it.  It’s school vacation week and Daddy and I are both off.  We would have planned our week around you and have probably experienced many firsts together.  First trip to the zoo where we would have met your Mima, first ride on the swings, first picnic… who knows?  We would have taken full advantage of being together as a family and enjoying the nice weather.

I imagine by now you would have been close to walking.  Sure, you would have been just 10 months, but like I said before you would have been very advanced :)  We’d all be marveling at how much you’ve grown and what a wonderful personality you’re developing.  We’d all be wondering where the time has gone.  10 months is such a fun baby age – they all are.  I wish we could have experienced them with you.

Mommy is preparing to make some big changes, which I’ll write more on later.  In a nutshell, the goal is to live a healthier life.  You have taught me just how precious life is and how quickly it can change.  I have to be my best self for you, for your Daddy, and for myself.  I’m willing to do whatever it takes to feel the best that I can and squeeze every ounce of joy out of every day.

We miss you so much, Maya.  I can’t believe 10 months has come and gone.  I want time to stop.  I want to move backwards to the time when I held you in my arms.  I would have held you longer, given you more kisses, taken more pictures, and savored that moment.  I know that I need to move forward in time and continue through life.  I know that’s what you want for Mommy and Daddy.  I just wish you were here.

I love you my sweet angel.  I miss you more today than I did yesterday and I will miss you more tomorrow.

LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE Always and Forever,

Mommy

Seven Months

Dear Sweet Maya,

It has been too long since I’ve written here.  Though it seems fitting that my first post of 2013 is my seven month letter to you.  Exactly seven months after I found out I was pregnant, I gave birth to you.  Today is very symbolic.  After today, you will have been gone longer than we knew you were there.  It makes me sad.  These last seven months have gone by faster than the seven months I knew I was carrying you.  This makes me sad too.  I find myself wanting to go backwards.  The more time that passes, the farther I feel from you.  I have to work so hard to keep your memory alive, and to remind others that you were and still are very much a part of our lives.

I miss you sweet girl.  Every day, I feel like I can’t possibly miss you any more and then the next day my longing for you becomes stronger.  The longer we go without you, the more I miss you.  I wish you were here.  I wish my life were different.  I want so badly to care for you.  I want to change your diaper, give you a bath, dress you in adorable clothes, read to you, and sing you to sleep.  I want to kiss your chubby feet and laugh alongside you as you discover new things.  I want the life I was supposed to have.

Winter has set in and we’ve had a few good snows.  I fantasize about taking you down to the park to go sledding.  Daddy and I would have taken turns holding you on our laps as we rode down the hill.  I would have loved taking picture of you all bundled up – your little nose all red.  I think you would have really loved being outside.

I’m sure you would have been crawling by now.  We would have baby-proofed the house and Halee would have followed you around as you crawled from room to room.  I think she misses you too.  She lays on the floor of your nursery almost every day and I see a longing in her eyes.  She knows that Mommy and Daddy miss you.  She feels our pain.  You would have loved your furry sister and she would have been so protective of you.

By now you’d be developing a little personality.  You’d have likes and dislikes – oh, how I wish I knew what those were.  I think you would have laughed a lot, but I also think you would have been a little curious trouble maker.  Just like Mommy and Daddy – I think you would have loved to try new things and take risks.  It would have been so fun to watch you grow, develop, and learn.

We are almost halfway through the winter – two and a half seasons without you here.  It’s not getting any easier.  In fact, as time marches on we discover more of what you are missing – more of what we are missing without you here.  There are more events you should be at, more plans that should be different, more reminders of what life should be.

Maya, I hope you know just how much I love you.  You have made Mommy and Daddy’s love for each other stronger.  You have helped me to see just how precious life is.  You have made me look at life through a different lens and understand what is truly important.

I miss you my sweet girl.

I love you always and forever.

Love always,

Mommy

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.

 

 

Post Pregnancy with No Baby

This post is going to begin with a somewhat whiny tone – it will get better, I promise.

One of the greatest difficulties of losing Maya is that I have to deal with the aftermath of being pregnant, with no baby to show for it.  It sucks.  Yes, I say that often, but sometimes it’s the only way to express how I feel.  It’s hard enough to have a finished nursery, drawers filled with onesies and socks, stacks of bibs, shelves of books, and a glider that’s still in the box.  Add to that the physical reminders that I was recently pregnant, and we have ourselves a great big suck fest.

The first thing I had to deal with was recovering from my c-section and having my milk come in all at the same time.  The first few weeks after my loss, I was in a real fog, so I don’t remember much.  I cried a lot, I slept a lot, I tried to convince myself that this didn’t really happen to me.  All things considered, I recovered fairly quickly.

I gained too much weight during my pregnancy, and I was already overweight to begin with.  I lost about half of it fairly quickly and then my weight-loss flat out stopped.  I wasn’t breastfeeding, so I didn’t have that to help.  I refused to continue wearing maternity clothes and quickly packed those away in the attic.  So, I’m fat, my clothes don’t fit, and my feet got bigger too so most of my shoes don’t fit either.  Because of all this, I have felt like a slug.  As I’ve mentioned, functioning is exhausting so I’ve had little motivation to exercise when I get home.

Loss is so multidimensional.  Not only do I grieve the loss of Maya, I grieve the loss of the hopes and dreams I had for her and for us as a family.  Not only do I have to recover from giving birth, I have to see the scar and the stretchmarks every day when I look in the mirror.  Not only do I have to get up and face each day without my daughter, I have to go work when I was supposed to be on maternity leave.  Every thought that I have comes back to Maya and to what happened and to what should be.  This loss has found its way into every part of my life.  I cannot escape it.

With my new found clarity, I am learning how to embrace my loss.  I know that sounds a little strange, but I feel like I am starting to accept it as part of my life and I’m slowly figuring out what to do with it.  I’m learning who the new me is and I like her.  I’m learning how I can mother Maya and honor her life.  This week, I finally found the motivation to keep track of and limit the food I put in my mouth.  I have also walked Halee a mile and a half every day this week.  I feel so different.  My head is less foggy, I have more energy, and I am in an overall better mood.

Hackie and I have a lot to look forward to and plans for the next 4 weekends, which include a birthday party, 2 walks (Walk to Remember and March for Babies), and a wedding.  All of these plans are helping time pass and helping me to live on.  There are a lot of celebrations coming up and I think I will be able to find the joy in each of these occasions.  I’m starting to find glimpses of the happiness at my core – and that feels good.

BOOM! I am an Adult Now!

I often feel like I just graduated from high school.  It’s been 9 years, but still – seems like just yesterday.  My closest friends are mostly still the ones I had in high school or even in junior high.  College went by quickly and I eased so easily into adult life that it didn’t feel like adult life.  My husband (who was my boyfriend at the time) and I moved in together, got a dog, got jobs, and played house.  At least, that’s what it felt like.  Even though my first year teaching was all sorts of awful, in the grand scheme of things, life was easy.  Looking back, I was a very mature teenager with many leadership qualities.  I don’t consider myself all that different now.  Perhaps that’s why I felt that I never really had to ‘grow up’.  I never had a moment where I acknowledged the transition from being a child/teenager to an adult… that is, until recently.

The fact that I am an adult and have to deal with adult things has hit me square in the face – very hard.  In a nine hour span of time I went from being a naive mother-to-be still gripping to pieces of my childhood self, to a mother holding her dying baby deciding if I wanted an autopsy performed.  My husband and I were thrust so fast and furious from our naive selves to full on, 100% adults with no warning or preparation.

This afternoon, I got a bill from Children’s Hospital for Maya’s care.  I assumed it would be coming.  Most was covered by insurance, but we need to pay the $200 co-pay.  While I can acknowledge that the care she received comes at a price and that the team of doctors and nurses who never left her side need to make a living, I also can’t help but feel totally gypped.  $200 for what?  A whole lot of heartache?  UGH!  This sucks!  Sure, I’ve been paying bills for years, which I know is a very adult thing to do.  This bill, however, plays a big role in shutting the door to my childhood self and making me an official adult.

On top of the bill, we received another thing in the mail that serves as yet another reminder of just how adult I have to be.  Maya’s urn arrived today.  I put off ordering it forever.  I came up with excuses as to why we should wait.  It’s so final.  Then, I started to feel guilty that her ashes were still at the funeral home so I ordered it last week.  When it arrived this afternoon, I thought, “I’m 27 and I’m unpacking my daughter’s urn – what the hell?”  I feel like I’m too young to have to be dealing with all of these ‘adult’ things.

What sucks the most is that I will never have another ‘naive’ pregnancy.  I will never be able to carry a baby with the confidence I had when I carried Maya.  I will never be able to celebrate the ‘milestones’ of pregnancy like other naive mothers do.  Hitting 12 weeks and then 24 won’t mean as much.  I know it’s not a sure thing no matter where I’m at in the pregnancy.  It upsets me so much that the naivety of childhood has forever been washed away from my soul.  I know how dark life can get.  I resisted for so long.  I didn’t want to grow up.  My carefree attitude towards life was just fine with me.  Now, I am forced to find my adult self.  Who am I?  What kind of adult will I be?  I thought the transition towards true adulthood would be so joyous and smooth, happening as I learned how to be a mother.  Though the path was much shorter and more abrupt, I still believe that my adult life will be good.  I am different.  My life story as I saw it has been revised.  I will forever be a mother to an angel.  And because of my precious angel, I have been changed for the better.  Because of my Maya, I will be a better adult with a greater purpose in this world that I look forward to figuring out.

It well may be
That we will never meet again
In this lifetime
So let me say before we part
So much of me
Is made from what I learned from you
You’ll be with me
Like a handprint on my heart
And now whatever way our stories end
I know you have re-written mine
By being my friend…

Who can say if I’ve been
Changed for the better?
I do believe I have been
Changed for the better

And because I knew you…

I have been changed for good…

~Wicked

It Happened…

I knew it would.  It was inevitable.  I just didn’t know where or when.  And I didn’t know how I would handle it.

Ever since I got my necklace and made the decision to wear it every day, I knew I was taking a risk.  People were going to notice and people might ask me about it.  I decided I was OK with that but was nervous about the unpredictability of when and where this might happen.  The first time was at Panera a few weeks ago – the cashier commented, “and who’s feet are those your necklace?”  Reply: “My daughter’s”.  I started to shake, but the conversation ended there – phew!  I was with another babyloss mom at the time and she explained to me that I would start to develop scripts on how to interact with strangers when the topic comes up.  So I started to develop a script in my head for the next time this would happen.  What if they ask how old my baby is?  I will reply, “she would have been ____, but she died shortly after she was born.”

It was noticed in Disney by an employee at the entrance – just a complement, nothing more – phew!  I began to wonder why I was so relieved when someone didn’t ask about my necklace.  I love talking about Maya so wouldn’t I welcome questions about my necklace?  The truth of the matter is that I don’t want to ruin someone’s day, I don’t want to be the target of pity, and I don’t want to risk someone stumbling over their words and saying the wrong thing.

And then today the inevitable happened – the conversation went further.  I ran into the bank to make a quick deposit.  I left Hackie in the car.  The bank was quiet and empty.  I walked up to the teller and the first thing she said was, “I love your necklace! Are those your baby’s feet?”  I thought a simple “yes” might suffice but it kept going.  She asked the question I was dreading.  “And how old is your baby?”  Without thinking about my rehearsed script I told this woman the truth.  “She actually passed away shortly after she was born.  She lived for about 9 hours.”  I braced myself for what was next and I started to shake.  Did everyone else in the bank just hear me?  Did I just ruin this woman’s day?  Did I make her feel like crap for asking?  What was she going to say next?  Would it devastate me?  I told myself over and over again to keep it together.  She simply said how sorry she was, and how she couldn’t conceive of such a thing.  She then said, “I hope I didn’t hurt you by asking.”  I looked at her, smiled, and said, “not at all” as I clutched my necklace tight.  She then went on to ask if it was expected or unexpected – a question I haven’t had yet but decided I was OK with – she was curious.

This was a much anticipated experience.  A complete stranger asked about my necklace and the conversation got to the point where I had to tell the truth.  I was shocked at how I handled it.  When I got back to the car and shared the experience with Hackie, he told me that I handled it perfectly.  I smiled – yes, perfectly.  I shared my precious Maya with someone else.  Perhaps that woman will now hug her children and/or grandchildren a bit tighter tonight.  Perhaps she will find more joy and have more gratitude for life’s gifts.

I now know that should a stranger ask about my necklace, I do not have to worry about where the conversation might go.  If I must share what really happened to Maya, I will because she is my daughter and I am proud to talk about her and share her life with someone else.  I know that not everyone will be as careful as this bank teller, who avoided saying the wrong things.  However, if someone is interested enough to ask how old my baby is, I will tell them the truth, brace myself for their reaction, and smile knowing that my little Maya has touched yet another person.