Tag Archive | gratitude

Heading Back to Work Guilt-Free

It has been exactly 31 weeks since I gave birth to my amazing little man.  Hard to believe it’s been that long.  Almost every waking hour of each one of those weeks, I have spent with Oliver.  The main thing on my mind morning, noon, and night has been his needs.  I have been blessed – he’s an easy baby.  He’s a really easy baby and he’s so filled with joy that the payoff for all the hard work (because, I am the first to admit… being a Mommy is really hard work) is bigger than I could ever describe or imagine.

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Tomorrow, I officially return to work.  I have been so blessed to be able to take an extended maternity leave, and though I can’t honestly say I have loved EVERY minute… I have loved most.  Had you asked me two weeks ago how I was feeling about going back to work, I would have welled up.  The thought of not being with Oliver every day made me sad.  He is at an age where he is discovering new things at a rapid pace and I don’t want to miss anything.  He plays more independently and yet interacts with me all the time (and almost always with a big smile that just melts my heart).  It will be hard to not be with him every day, but I’m ready.  And that’s OK.

Perhaps I made this up in my head but I feel like there’s an expectation of Mom’s who have lost a baby to want to be with their living children all the time.  I lost one so I should spend every possible second with the one I have here on Earth… I think I put that expectation on myself in the beginning.  I fear being judged for needing time away, for needing time for myself, and for needing to work.  I then realized that suffering a loss does not make parenting and being a Mommy to a living child any less hard.  I still had to get up in the middle of the night, I still struggled to be successful with nursing, I still struggled to find time to take a shower, and I still felt the level of exhaustion only Mom’s can understand.  All while I continue to grieve my precious Maya.  I have a profound appreciation for my beautiful boy.  I say every day how truly blessed we are.  I can be happy and feel blessed while also feeling stressed and overwhelmed and tired.  And I will feel all of these things guilt-free because I am human.

I will also return to work guilt-free.  I am absolutely meant to be a Mom and I really do love being Maya and Oliver’s Mommy.  But I also love teaching.  Last week, I went into school to begin setting up my new classroom and it felt so good.  I started to feel pieces of my old self return.  I realized that though it’s been 7 months since I’ve taught, it will all come back to me.  Just as being a Mommy came (mostly) natural to me, so does being a teacher.  It’s what I’m meant to do, and I believe that being back in the classroom will make me a better Mommy.

So, on this last official day of my summer vacation/maternity leave, I am focusing on being grateful rather than sad.  I am grateful that I had 7 months where my only job was to take care of my sweet baby boy.  I am grateful that he is going to a wonderful daycare and will be well taken care of.  I am grateful that he will have the opportunity to make friends and socialize.  I am grateful that I have a job to go back to that I love.  I am grateful for wonderful colleagues and friends that I have missed seeing every day.  I am grateful for my amazing husband who has been so supportive and sensitive during this transition.  I am grateful for my precious Oliver who makes every day more exciting than the last and whose glorious smile makes every day bright.

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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 :)

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.

A Bittersweet Birthday

Tomorrow is my birthday.  I’m not dreading the day as much as I was a week ago.  It seems as though with every milestone, the anticipation is much worse than the day itself.  I wish Maya were here to celebrate with me.  My birthday has always been a big deal.  I start celebrating the first of May – the weather, the flowers, the summer just around the corner – it all makes me so happy.  Now, this time of year has taken on a whole new meaning.  This is the time of year when I was super pregnant and counting down the weeks until baby arrived.  Mother’s Day, my birthday, the end of the school year, the beginning of summer, and now Maya’s birthday too all fall during this time that I once loved so much.  It’s been really hard.  I want so badly to enjoy this time of year, to look forward to my birthday the way that I always have, but it’s just so bittersweet.

If you haven’t already figured it out, I’m a very reflective person.  That sounds like I can be seen in the dark… haha!  I reflect back a lot.  I reflect on everything – the day’s science lesson, the interactions with colleagues, students, Hackie, family, friends.  I’m always trying to think of what went well, what could have gone better, what I would do differently in any type of situation.  So, on this day, my last day of being 27, I am reflecting.

I’ve thought long and hard all day – would I characterize this year as a good year? A bad year?  Since my birthday is so close to Maya’s, I feel as though 27 will forever be remembered as the year I began the lifelong grieving of the loss of my daughter.  But that doesn’t have to be all that defines this year.  It’s also the year I started teaching science, went to Washington DC with Hackie, and developed some beautiful lifelong friendships.  Most importantly, 27 is the year I became a mother.

I feel like I will always think of my life in two chunks – before Maya, and after Maya.  27 was my first “after Maya” year.  I look at pictures of myself from life before Maya and I see someone so blissfully unaware, so innocent, and so naive.  I have changed.  In a way, 27 was the year of the new me – the new more compassionate, less uptight, more grateful me.  Shortly after Maya was born, I went out to dinner with my mom.  I was having a really hard time.  I told her that I felt like my very strong confident self had shattered into millions of tiny pieces and I didn’t even know where to begin to put them back together.  I learned early on that I have no control over that.  Slowly, the pieces have come back together on their own, and though there are several still missing and many in different places, I like who I have become.

So I will not try to characterize 27 as good or bad.  There were some amazingly wonderful things that happened and there was the worst thing in the world.  As I leave this year behind, I am satisfied.  I played the cards I was dealt, I grew as a person, I was kind, I said thank you, I did my best.

Maya should be here to celebrate with me tomorrow.  It sucks that she is not here to greet me in the morning with her beautiful smile and take me out to dinner.  She will be with me in spirit though – because she always is.  Hackie is working hard to make sure that I have a good day tomorrow, and I am now looking forward to it.  I am looking forward to 28.  I am confident many good things will happen and so so so so hopeful that the most wonderful thing will happen and we will take home our rainbow.  I so wish this is the last birthday I have to spend with no baby to spend my day with.

Will it be a bittersweet birthday?  Absolutely.  My birthday means that Maya’s is right around the corner and that’s just hard.  I will make the most of it, as I always do.  I will continue to grow and learn.  I will strive to be better and do better as I continue to live for my precious baby girl.

Here’s to 28 – Happy Birthday to Me.

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.

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

Doing Your Taxes After Your Baby Dies

I must apologize first for neglecting this blog.  Writing has been so therapeutic for me and I always have the desire to write.  The problem that I am having is that finding the time and level of focus required has become difficult.  I have several posts in my head – they are coming, I promise.

I feel that this post is important for several reasons.  First, I want to get my own thoughts and feelings out on the subject.  Also, I feel this can be one of the most educational posts I write, and I am hoping that at least one other family will benefit from my story.

For our taxes this year, Hackie and I decided to seek the help of a “professional”.  I will  not identify where we went, but it’s a very popular tax-filing business, so to speak.  We sat down with the gentleman and immediately felt uncomfortable.  We explained the changes that took place in 2012 and then dropped the bomb:

Us: “We had a baby.”

Tax Man: “Congratulations”

Us: “She died shortly after she was born.”

Begin even more awkward appointment.  We asked the question – “Can we claim her as a dependent?”  He turned to his trusty book clearly rattled by this unusual(?) set of circumstances.  He quickly told us that he thought we could and nodded in delight of his findings.  Hackie: “But we never got a social security number for her”.  The tax man’s face changed, he slammed his book closed, and stated, “Well that stops us right there.”  He advised us to move forward and try to get a SSN for her.  We could then file an amendment on our return.  I felt very uneasy about this whole thing and frustrated that we were told by more than one person that getting a SSN for Maya was unnecessary.

The appointment proceeded in all its uncomfortableness and we got to the end.  We were told that we owe, AND that if we could claim Maya, we would not owe.  Talk about a punch in the gut.  We were missing some things so we left unfinished and very frustrated/upset.  After a week of putting off the follow-up appointment, we decided to discontinue with awkward tax man and find a different means of filing our tax return.  We also continued to ponder this SSN business.  Something just didn’t seem right to me – get a SSN for a child who lived 9 hours just to be able to claim her on our tax return????

Hackie turned to his Aunt who is an accountant and with whom we are very close.  He explained the situation and she offered to do some research for us.  Within about 10 minutes she texted Hackie this, which she found on the IRS website:

Born and died in 2012.  If your child was born and died in 2012, and you do not have an SSN for the child, you may attach a copy of the child’s birth certificate, death certificate, or hospital records instead. The document must show the child was born alive. If you do this, enter “DIED” in column (2) of line 6c of your Form 1040 or Form 1040A.

Take that Mr. Tax Man!  My first thought after seeing this was an immense amount of relief.  Hackie and I were very stuck and torn about whether or not to get a SSN.  After relief, I felt somewhat stupid for not doing the research myself.  In the end, this news really lifted my spirits.  Sure, I am happy and relieved that being able to claim Maya will make it so we do not owe the government money.  However, this whole experience and outcome stands for so much more…

Often times I look at my life now and am bothered by how, on the surface, it looks so similar to my old life – my life before Maya.  On a daily basis, I wonder what I would be doing if she were here, how our weekends would be different, and how the daily mundane tasks like running a quick errand would not be the same.  When I reflect on the new normal versus the old normal, I sometimes feel like my precious baby girl faded from our lives.  We planned for her and counted on our lives changing for her, and then she was gone.  The tax ordeal and the thought of not being able to claim our daughter again made me feel like she’s just faded away, remembered by only a handful of people.  Getting the news that we could claim her without a SSN made Hackie and I both feel like she matters.  She matters not only to us and our family and friends, but to the government.

In all the baby loss things I have read and communities I belong to, I have yet to find anything related to taxes.  I’m hoping that someone benefits from reading about our experience.  In 2012, we had a baby.  Though that baby lived for 9 short hours, she was born alive and she lived.  She mattered.  She matters.