Tag Archive | friendship

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.

Big Changes

I’m going to start by backing up quite a ways.  As I’ve discussed on here many times, Hackie and I have been trying to conceive our rainbow baby for quite some time now.  I have thyroid issues as well as irregular cycles, which complicate things.  Since we started trying for baby #2, my thyroid dose has been changed five or six times in both directions.  With each new cycle, I think I’ve got it under control and that this will be the month.  It has been beyond frustrating.  In January/February, I did what I always do – charted, counted days, wished every time the clock read 11:11 or 2:22 or 5:55.  On February 11th, I was home sick with pink eye and a horrid sore throat.  I took a pregnancy test and saw the faintest of faint lines.  This was a Monday.  Tuesday, the test wasn’t any darker.  I didn’t have a good feeling, but I was still hopeful.  I went for a blood test after school and my amazing OB sent me the results later that night… HCG = 10.  Pregnant, yes… but just barely.  That Friday, I started bleeding.  I had a miscarriage, or in medical terms, a chemical pregnancy.  Hackie and I were pretty bummed.  We’ve become pretty resilient though and were able to enjoy our weekend and I was able to enjoy my week off from school that followed.

I then had another change in thyroid dose and another full unsuccessful cycle.  I had had enough.  Something else had to be done.  I consulted with my OB and, with her support and encouragement, searched for an acupuncturist.  I found someone local who practices acupuncture and nutrition and who specializes in fertility and endocrine issues.  It almost seemed too good to be true.  After a quick email, he felt confident that he could help me and I set up my appointment.

In preparation for my appointment, I had to gather three years worth of medical records, which included everything from my labor and delivery.  That was hard to read through.  With everything nicely organized, I went to my first appointment.  He spent two hours with me discussing my medical history and diet.  He confirmed for me that the severe anxiety I had experienced in 2006 was probably the start of my thyroid problems, which I had always suspected.  He also explained that I probably have a lot of inflammation and that my immune system is working overtime.  This is very common with people who have Hashimoto’s which is the type of thyroid disorder I have.  The inflammation and antibodies in my system can lead to a host of various symptoms including irregular cycles, trouble losing weight, fatigue, pregnancy complications, miscarriage, and pre-term labor – all of which I have experienced.  The recommendation was to tackle this problem where is most likely begins – diet.  I was afraid of that…

After this initial appointment, I was feeling quite overwhelmed and bummed out.  It felt like one more thing I had to deal with – first the loss of our sweet Maya, then after a few months the devastation of not being pregnant with our rainbow, and now add to that all of these ailments and isms that I have to deal with.  It’s a lot all at once.  Still, I am determined.  There is one ultimate goal – experience a healthy pregnancy and bring a healthy baby into this world.

What came after my first appointment was a blood test – it’s called the MRT food sensitivity test and it tests about 150 different foods and chemicals and how the blood reacts.  I had to wait a week for the results.  In the meantime, I cut dairy and dramatically reduced the amount of refined sugar I was eating (I have a big sweet tooth).  I had already started to feel better and lose some weight.

My results weren’t as bad as I thought.  I’m most sensitive to spinach (haha) and moderately sensitive to about 20 other foods and chemicals which include cocoa, vanilla, cow’s milk, and cheese.  The cocoa was the biggest bummer as anyone who knows me will tell you that my favorite food is chocolate.  From these results, I was put on a very strict diet of the least sensitive foods.  I’m currently on day 3 of the first phase, which is 12 days.  There are about 20 foods I can eat and I am eating no processed foods.  I’m pretty amazed with how well I’m doing and how quickly I’ve been able to give up so many of the foods I like to eat.  It was a really good thing that I cut gluten about three months ago.  That way, I didn’t have to cut so much all at once.

We grow up in a society where eating is multipurpose.  Food is social, food is celebratory, food is reward.  Really, food should have one purpose – to sustain life.  I’m starting to learn this more and more.  I’m confident that I will be able to stick with this new way of eating and I’m blessed to have the support of my husband and so many other close friends and family.  I’m determined to feel better, have more energy, and again, reach that ultimate goal.  This will work.  This has to work.

Nine Months

Dear Maya,

Oh my has this month flown by!  Mommy has been very busy at work but there still hasn’t been a day when I don’t think of my sweet girl.  This weekend, the show that Mommy assistant directed is performing.  It’s so fun – lots of bright colors and fun music.  I’ve been thinking all weekend about whether or not I would have brought you to one of the performances.  I think I would have tried.  I think you would have been mesmerized by the whole thing – falling in love with musical theatre early just like your Mommy.

It feels like winter doesn’t want to end.  I think both of us would have been itching to be able to go outside and play at this point.  The sun is shining and the snow is melting (slowly), but there is still a chill in the air.  Mommy and Daddy have lots of things we are looking forward to doing this spring/summer that involve being outside and finding joy in the beautiful world around us.  We both wish you were here to enjoy it too.

We continue to find things we can do to honor you and keep your memory alive.  Two weeks ago, Daddy and a whole bunch of Mommy’s friends ran into the frigid ocean wearing pink!  It was a fundraiser for one of the many organizations that has honored your little life.  We had a really great time and it was so nice to spend a day focused on you and only you.  I hope you realize Maya just how many people love you!

Mommy still gravitates towards anything pink!  Everything pink reminds me of you and it’s starting to catch on with others.  Occasionally, I’ll receive a message from a friend of something pink that reminded them of you.  It definitely would have been your color!  Today, I purchased pink tourmaline earrings that I will wear daily.  This way, on the days I’m not wearing pink you are still with me (I still wear my necklace daily too).  I absolutely LOVE these earrings!  They are the prettiest shade of pink and I know you would have loved them too!

At this point, we’d have been marveling over how much you’ve grown.  You’d probably have some words that we understood and dozens others that we didn’t understand.  You’d have favorite foods and a solid routine.  You’d have been a great sleeper just like Mommy.  We’d have gone shopping for a beautiful spring wardrobe and Daddy would have to remind Mommy that you were going to outgrow your clothes quickly and that I shouldn’t go too crazy.  This would have been such a fun time of year with you!

I say it every month Maya and I mean it – we love you and miss you so much.  We love you and miss you more and more with each passing day.  We feel your presence and see the lives you have touched.  We live life differently finding ways to keep your memory alive.  We love finding new ways to include you in the things that we do.

I love you my angel – always and forever.

Love always,

Mommy

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!

 

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

People are Amazing

I have so much that I could write about!  It’s a nice change after two weeks of feeling uninspired/too tired to do anything but stare at the television.  This has been such a good week!  I try to identify the reasons why only to realize that there doesn’t have to be reasons for me to be happy.  I can just simply have a good week and enjoy it without over-analyzing the reasons why it’s good.

As I said, I have many things I want to write about.  Tonight, I’m writing a post that should have been written over a week ago…

Since Maya was born and died, many amazing things have happened to me.  I received a beautiful painting and a memory box filled with wonderful treasures.  I have met some amazing people both in the online world and in person.  I have grown closer to my husband in ways I didn’t think possible.  Still, as we approach the 6 month mark, I was starting to feel like Maya was being forgotten.  First, the pile of sympathy cards that arrived every day lessened and then vanished.  Then the calls and texts dwindled.  The facebook messages and comments are few and far between and usually only appear after I post something.  I started to realize that we were in a new stage now.  The fact that Maya died is no longer new news and the world has carried on.  I was comforted by the fact that I can share her here in this space and keep her memory alive in my own special ways.  However, it saddens me that no one else will get to know her the way that I do, and it scares me that she might be forgotten.

Last week, I was snapped out of this fear – very quickly.  It was Tuesday, and I had been having a very tough week/month.  No matter how hard I try to ignore it, the holiday season is staring me in the face, taunting me, and making me feel sick to my stomach.  I got home late from school and there was a package in the mailbox.  Before I go on, I must back up a little…

Six years ago, I had the privilege of traveling to Sydney, Australia for a semester to complete my student teaching practicum.  There were 11 of us in the program and we did a lot together.  The School of Education at BU was relatively small, so I knew the other 10 ladies in the program.  However, I wasn’t close friends with any of them.  While there, we all got along very well and shared many wonderful experiences together.  It’s an experience I hold very close to my heart and will forever cherish as one of the most amazing things I’ve ever done.

Though we all went our separate ways after returning from Sydney, I have always thought fondly of the girls who I shared the experience with.  It’s an experience that’s very unique and I shared it with some very special people, which brings me back to the package that I received on Tuesday…. One of the girls has been in touch on facebook and had asked for my address.  I didn’t think much of it.  The package was from her.  I opened it and there was first a stack of cards followed by an envelope.  I opened the cards one by one and read the kind words from each of the girls I had traveled to Sydney with… a stack of sympathy cards.  I cried as I was reminded that Maya continues to touch so many people.  Though they weren’t physically standing with me, I felt like I was in the center of a group hug.  I felt like they all had my back and were there for me at a time when I really needed it.

In the envelope was this:

It came from an artist in Sydney!  I couldn’t believe it!  The following message was included with the necklace:

This precious bottle is a gift from your friends in your study abroad program in Sydney, Australia with an enclosed message reading:

“Maya Francine, Forever in Our Hearts”

The flowers inside are real dried Australian ‘Broom Bloom’ flower blossoms resembling Baby’s Breath.  They are ever-lasting and symbolize the eternal memory of your precious daughter Maya Francine whose soul will live on forever in the hearts of her loved ones.  The gold Tibetan flower charm attached to the rim of the bottle is also a symbol of purity, rebirth and divinity, all sacred elements of her beautiful memory and pure soul.

I can’t quite put into words what this gift did for me.  Of course, many more tears fell, but they were happy tears.  They were tears of joy as I was reminded that there are many kind and beautiful people in this world.  I reread each of the cards and told the story of my new necklace to those close to me.  This is one of the most thoughtful gifts I have ever received and I love that my experience in Sydney is now forever connected to my precious angel.  I have worn my necklace several times now and have received many complements.  I love it!

Throughout life, I have found myself as a member of many different groups of people.  I think most people could say this.  There are the childhood friends, the high school friends, the camp friends, the acquaintances, the dance class, the marching band, the colleagues, and for me, the Sydney friends.  I feel so blessed to be a part of this group and am so grateful for their generosity and kind spirits.  They helped turn a rather gloomy month brighter and gave me something that will not only help  me to remember Maya, but also all of them and the fantastic experience we shared together.

 

Happy Thanksgiving Maya

Dear Maya,

You get an extra letter this month!  Today would have been your first big holiday.  We’re here at Mima’s and you would have been here with us.  Everyone would have been so excited to see you laugh and smile.  Since you died, I have spent a lot of time thinking about all the things that you won’t get to do.  It’s painful.  As I dig today and reflect to identify what I’m thankful for this year, I find myself thinking about this time last year – the start of my pregnancy with you.  We did many wonderful things together throughout those 8 months.  So today, I’m going to share what I’m thankful for – our time together.

November 2011 – I found out you were growing in there.  We told our family and close friends.  We celebrated Thanksgiving and entered the holiday season so happy and so excited.  You were with me and gave me the strength I needed to say goodbye to your Great-Grandfather.  You gave our family hope for a bright future in a time of such sadness and loss.

December 2011 – We decorated the house and the Christmas tree.  We went shopping and bought gifts for Daddy and all our close family and friends.  We celebrated the holidays and talked about how excited we were to share this holiday season with you.

January 2012 – We were elbow deep in thesis writing!  I was rounding the corner and approaching the finish line of my graduate program.  You kept me company as I worked hard and produced a thesis that I was so proud of.

February 2012 – We finished up that thesis!  You were there with me when I presented my project and I was so proud!  I’ll never forget bringing the final product to the post office.  I felt so relieved and so excited to have accomplished a lifelong goal of getting my Master’s degree.  You were with me the whole time.  This month, my belly grew too and you were officially showing yourself.  We had our anatomical scan, and then another one because you weren’t very cooperative.  You were dancing away and it was so fun to watch you moving around in there!  We celebrated Valentine’s Day and then Daddy’s birthday.  We went bowling – I think you would have loved learning to bowl from your Daddy.

March 2012 – Always a tough month at school.  It was so busy and I was very stressed.  I’m sure you knew how I was feeling.  The show we were working on performed and was wonderful!  It was fun to have you with me while working on that show.  Daddy continued to work on your nursery and we started to feel you move around – that was so fun!  I was very tired, but excited for springtime.

April 2012 – Your first trip NYC!  Your Mima took us to NYC to see some shows, shop, and enjoy the city that I love so much.  We saw Newsies and you danced along with the music.  We saw Once, which was so good!  The last show we saw was War Horse.  It was a very sad story and I was very emotional when it ended.  I remember thinking that it was the last time I would take a trip like this with my mom, but then looked forward to the first time we got to take you.  We also walked around the botanical gardens and I took lots of pretty pictures of flowers.  It was a perfect trip and I am so grateful that I got to share it with you.

May 2012 – This was a busy month!  We hosted the family Mother’s Day gathering.  It was the first time in a while that our family got to see my big belly.  I was glowing that day.  Your nursery was done and we got to show off Daddy’s beautiful mural to your family.  It was so fun to celebrate Mother’s Day knowing that I would soon be joining the group of Mother’s.  The following weekend, you walked with me as I graduated from Lesley and received my Master’s Degree.  Whenever I look at the pictures of me in my cap and gown, I see you there with me and I am so proud that you got to share that moment with me.  At the end of the month, we celebrated Mommy’s birthday.  You really loved that ice cream cake.

June 2012 – This month started with my baby shower.  You received so many wonderful things and it was so nice to see everyone who was so eagerly anticipating your arrival.  It was a beautiful day and so much fun.  The following weekend, Daddy and I bought some more things for you.  Your crib arrived, your shelves were filled with books, and your changing table (made by your Grandpa) was in place and ready.  We went and bought a fuzzy green rug and laid on the floor dreaming of having you in that room and playing with you.  The day before you were born, we bought your glider – the last big piece of that beautiful nursery.

On this day of giving thanks, I am so thankful for the time we had together and all that we got to do together.  You were a huge part of our lives long before you physically arrived in this world.  I am thankful for every kick and punch you gave me to remind me that you were with me.  I am thankful for the strength you provided me to get through a tough school year.  I am thankful for the experience I had with the doctors throughout my pregnancy and delivery.  I am thankful we had the time that we did.

It takes a little more effort and energy to be thankful now that you aren’t here.  However, I am able to be thankful for some things.  I am thankful for your Daddy.  Without him, I’d be so lost.  I am thankful for your Mima, who has been so strong and who’s strength is contagious.  I am thankful for your big sister Halee.  She has been an absolute joy and sometimes lays in my arms like a baby and looks at me reminding me that everything will be OK.  I am thankful for friends and family who have been supportive and continue to remind us that they will never forget you.  I am thankful for my new job, which provides me with joy and something to look forward to every day.

Finally, I am thankful for you, my precious Maya.  You have taught me that life is a gift.  You have taught me what’s important in life.  You have taught me to find some kind of joy in every day.  You have taught me to love life and be grateful for all that I have.

Thank you Maya.  I love you always and forever.

Love and gratitude,

Mommy

Making Connections

I wanted to write this days ago, but life has gotten in the way.  This past Saturday, Hackie and I had the opportunity to go to an event at Children’s Hospital for bereaved parents.  We were nervous as we didn’t know what to expect.  The day was beautiful and we both left feeling so fulfilled.

The day started with a panel of bereaved parents who each shared their story.  They did not all lose babies.  Some lost older children who had been sick or been in an accident.  They each talked about how they cope and there were many things said that Hackie and I both felt we could relate to.  Following the panel, we were put into small groups for table discussions facilitated by the social workers from the hospital.  In our group were two other young couples.  Both had lost infants and one of the couples lost their son just three days before we had Maya.  The six of us clicked almost instantly.  We related on so many levels and I loved hearing about their babies and their journeys through grief.

I want to list some of the common themes of the day in hopes of educating my readers on this world of baby loss.

-There is no right or wrong way to grieve.  Though we would all love to have a manual, there is no guide to navigating this long road.  Those who haven’t experienced loss often have unrealistic expectations as to where we should be in our journey towards healing.  Please don’t judge us.  We have to take what we need and do what we feel is right in order to face life without our babies.

-We LOVE to talk about our babies.  We like to tell our stories.  We like to hear others’ stories.  Please don’t think that asking about our babies will make us sad.  When you ask me about Maya, you are acknowledging her life.  You are acknowledging that I am a mother and that you remember her.  Even if you want to know what happened, it does not make me sad.  I like to talk about my daughter.

-It is beneficial to talk about our journey through grief.  When we ignore it, it gets louder and takes over until we acknowledge that it’s there.  Most of the time, we deal with our grief in the privacy of our own home or car.  We don’t bring it up because we don’t want to make those around us feel uncomfortable.  However, asking sincerely how we are doing and just generally staying in touch goes a long way.

-All of the couples in our small group lost our first, and don’t have other living children yet.  We all agreed that parenting our angel babies is very difficult, but very much desired.  We all believe we are mothers and fathers; however, what that looks like is much different than the traditional understanding of the role of a parent.  We want our babies’ lives to matter.  We want them to be remembered and will do everything in our power to ensure they are not forgotten.  We just ask that we not be judged by those who have not walked this path.

After the morning small group discussions, we broke for lunch.  We had lunch with the same two couples and continued the discussion.  We felt such a connection and it was so comforting.  We had another chunk of time in the afternoon to continue the small group discussions.  I think we could have sat there for hours.  After that, we made a stepping stone for Maya and participated in a remembrance ceremony where we lit a candle for our precious angel.

Often times, this climb feels very lonely.  The world carries on as we struggle to get out of bed and make it through the day.  I left Saturday feeling less alone.  I left with two phone numbers of women who are walking a similar path, and who I feel I can turn to when the road gets real bumpy.

One thing I have struggled with is whether or not it was necessary to transport Maya to Children’s when she had such a slim chance at that point.  The neonatologist said that Children’s could say they did all they could whereas Emerson (without a NICU) couldn’t.  Still, I wondered if it was really necessary to put her and then myself through the trauma that went with being moved.  Now, I understand the purpose.

I continue to believe in fate.  It was fate that she was transferred to Children’s.  Had she not been transferred, we would not have been connected to this hospital.  We would not have been invited to this event, and we would not have met these wonderful and supportive people.  It was truly a blessing to make these connections and I am so grateful.

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.

 

 

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