Tag Archive | guilt

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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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

Sadness

I’ve been neglecting this blog.  I think about writing on a daily basis.  I read several baby loss blogs per day and nod along feeling better that I’m not the only one living through life after loss.  My hope is that I have loyal readers who nod along when they read my posts, which brings me to the guilty feeling I’ve had about not writing.  Almost daily, I plan to write.  I have several posts composed in my head, and then when it comes time to sit down and write, I don’t want to.  I think I’ve figured out why, which I’ll get to in a moment.

For over a month, I had a post in my head.  A post about “acceptance” (though I hate that word).  A post about turning a corner in my journey through grief.  A post about feeling better, more productive, and happy.  For now, that post will have to wait.  I’m no longer feeling that way.

I’m feeling so sad.  It has been nine months.  Summer changed to fall changed to winter and now spring (though it doesn’t feel that way).  Holidays have come and gone.  Days, weeks, and months pass by.  Nine months.  Nine months without Maya.  Nine months trying to make the best of a life I wasn’t supposed to have.  Nine months dreaming of what could have been – what should be.  What I’m struggling with most is how to balance my feelings.  I miss Maya terribly.  I long for the life I was supposed to have with her.  I also want so badly to be pregnant.  I never thought it would take this long, and it is beyond frustrating.

So here I am.  So stuck and so sad.  I find myself wanting a break from it all.  I think about the movie, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and I wish for just one day I could have a break from my memory.  This sounds awful, but this is a place for honest, raw feelings, and sometimes that’s how I feel.  I will never forget my precious Maya, but with the memory of her comes this heart-wrenching grief that is exhausting.  This is why I haven’t written.  I’m crying as I write this.  To write, I have to go to my darkest place.  I have to feel the sadness in every inch of my body and completely focus on it.  I haven’t had the strength to do that lately.

I want so badly to mother Maya here on Earth, and I can’t.  I want to have a living child that I can take care of.  The moment Maya was born, I felt the love that every mother describes – the love for a beautiful life that I helped create.  I still have that love for Maya but I’m limited in the ways in which I can show it.  I am so ready to mother a child here on Earth.  I read so many stories of women getting pregnant with their rainbows very soon after their loss.  I thought for sure that would be me.  I feel like life is laughing in my face making me feel like the biggest fool for thinking that I can plan out and then execute the life I want.  We have now been trying for 7 months with no luck.  Now, the reality I am facing is another holiday season with no baby.  A full calendar year with no baby.  It makes me so sad.

So where do I go from here?  Was I a fool for thinking I had turned a corner in my journey?  I don’t think so.  I have said from the beginning that grief is not linear.  I have been in this dark place before.  I turned a corner, felt more positive, and then turned another one.  This is how it will always be as I live through my grief and sadness for the rest of my life.  As I’ve said before, it’s my constant companion – growing louder and softer on a daily basis.

I was hesitant to write today.  I actually stayed at school to write this because I knew if I went home it wasn’t going to happen.  Though I had to dig deep, cry, and be brutally honest with my feelings, writing this has helped.  I need to remember that exposing my sadness for the world to see helps me acknowledge and release those feelings.

I will be OK.  I am OK.  This is my life now.  Some days and weeks will be more sad than others and I am learning how to live through them.

 

 

Baby-Loss Family

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I Used to Like Roller Coasters…

Yup!  I used to love the thrill of being whipped around, feeling weightless, strapped down, and completely out of control.  I used to love roller coasters – until I ended up on this one.  This one never ends.  For the last 7 months and 4 days, I have been on a roller coaster with no end in sight.  No place to catch my breath and stop screaming for just a short period of time.

I’m so tired.  The constant shift of emotions does not stop.  I have bad days and better days, good weeks and weeks that seem like they will never end.  I perform a 6 hour production every day at school.  My students have no idea what goes on inside my head – and most of my colleagues don’t either.  That’s how it should be.  At this point, I should be able to function effectively and do my job well – and I am.  But it’s so exhausting.

Back in December, Hackie and I took our dog, Halee to the vet for her annual check-up.  She received several routine vaccinations that she had gotten before.  Almost immediately, I knew something was wrong.  Halee became very lethargic and though she never lost consciousness, she was unresponsive (wouldn’t look up).  She was having an allergic reaction.  After some antihistamines and about 10 minutes, she was wagging her tail and on her way to acting like herself.  In those 10 minutes, I spiraled into panic and extreme upset.  Thank goodness my husband was there.  All I could think of was that I couldn’t handle another loss.  I needed my dog.  It was awful.

I’m on my way to understanding that grief is a roller coaster and that it will never end.  I get that there will be ups and downs, long climbs and sudden drops.  I will forever live with the pain of losing my daughter.  When it gets unbearable is when the roller coaster jerks unexpectedly.  You know the sharp hairpin turns that you don’t see coming that leave you with awful whiplash?  That’s what the vet visit was – an awful unexpected jerk that was just plain horrible.

Traveling the road to another baby has been a roller coaster in and of itself.  Each month hopeful.  Each month convinced that this month will be it.  Each month new symptoms that surely mean it’s happened.  Each month extreme disappointment when I realize my hopes and dreams will have to continue to wait.  I’m so tired.  Again, the roller coaster of emotions – fear, eager anticipation, frustration, and then guilt.  Guilt that perhaps I am too focused on getting pregnant again and not properly grieving the loss of the baby I already had.

I have come to realize that the more time that passes, the more unpredictable my grief becomes.  My sadness can be triggered in the most unexpected moments.  It used to be that I would replay the events of my labor and delivery in the car on the way to and from work.  Now, it does not follow a pattern.  It usually plays through my head once a day – but I never know when that will be.  My sadness is now connected to a feeling of disappointment.  My life is not what I want it to be.  It’s not what it is supposed to be.  As more time passes and the length of time between Maya and baby #2 increases, I grow more and more disappointed that I don’t have what I want and that it’s not in my control.

In the past month, Hackie and I have done some traveling.  Just after Christmas, we went to Washington DC for 4 days.  Hackie had never been and I hadn’t been in a long time.  We had so much fun.  Our days were packed with activities and we ate some amazing food.  We talked about Maya and about our future – fantasizing about traveling with our children.  We returned feeling refreshed, recharged, and ready for the new year.  We were also in the “convinced I’m pregnant” stage.  When we returned and found out I was not, the high I had been feeling shifted to a low.  I went back to feeling tired and disappointed.

Last weekend, Hackie and I flew down to Florida.  My parents are there for a few weeks and we needed a dose of warm weather.  The weather was gorgeous.  We had a wonderful time sitting on the beach, swimming, going to the aquarium, and enjoying my parents’ company.  We wrote Maya’s name in the sand and fantasized about coming back next year with a little baby and taking pictures on that beach.  I came back with a nice sunburn, a fresh batch of vitamin D, and a lot of energy.  Being in Florida made me realize that I probably have a case of the winter blues.  This is probably why I’ve been so tired.

So, Florida was an up, Washington DC was an up, getting unexpected gifts from friends is an up, having a great day with Hackie is an up, getting a look from Halee where it’s clear she is saying “I love you” is an up.  I feel them all and I try so hard to soak up the moment and to milk every ounce of joy that I can out of the feeling.  The lows are less predictable and are often hard to get past.  Walking by the empty nursery, seeing an infant car seat base in the car parked next to me at work, watching the young couple play ‘pass the baby’ while they take turns bowling.  Most of the time, the low moments are caused when I’m reminded of what I do not have.

Currently, I grieve two losses.  I grieve the loss of my precious Maya, which is something I will do for the rest of my life.  I also grieve the loss of the life I had envisioned for myself.  A life where taking care of myself and Hackie comes second to taking care of our child.  A life filled with sleepless nights, dirty diapers, tons of laundry, and most importantly lots of love and laughter.  I will never get my Maya back.  I know that.  However, I will get that life I had envisioned.  Someday I will take care of my child here on Earth.  Someday the grief of losing my baby girl will sit elsewhere in my brain as my primary role shifts from mourning the loss of my angel to caring for new life here on Earth.  Someday the roller coaster will feel different.

I Survived the Weekend

I’ve always been a self-reflective person.  Much of my mind is occupied with replaying life’s events and evaluating.  Did I make the right decision?  Was I productive?  Did I waste time?  Was that worth the effort?  What could I have done differently?  How did it go?  I do this multiple times a day and often reflect on the same thing over and over again.  You can bet I’ve reflected on the days leading up to and the day of Maya’s birth and death thousands of times.  So, this being the end of Thanksgiving weekend, I find myself reflecting – How did it go?

Overall, the holiday and the weekend were fine.  On Thanksgiving day, I spent the morning watching the parade and helping my mom.  When the rest of my family arrived, I felt joy from interacting with my nephews.  It was nice to see everyone.  I sat down for the meal and felt the strength to make it through.  I really wanted to.  My family has a tradition of going around the table and saying what we are thankful for before we start eating.  I pondered this for about a month before Thanksgiving day.  Every time I thought about it, my eyes welled up.  I AM thankful for Maya, but I wish so badly I could be looking at her smiling and laughing as I said it.  We rounded the table and as my turn came up, I started shaking and my eyes welled up.  I wanted so badly to say what I had planned to say without losing it.  And I did.  I said that I was thankful for my family, Hackie, my mom, my dog, my new job, and my little angel that sits on my shoulder and gives me strength to carry on through life.  At that point, I knew I would make it through the rest of the day.

I think another thing that helped was that I was slightly distracted.  I had myself fully convinced that I was pregnant.  Yesterday, it was confirmed that I am indeed not pregnant.  I was pretty devastated.  I cried a lot and threw a nice pity party on myself.  Then I felt guilty that I spent Thanksgiving thinking about being pregnant with my next baby rather than properly grieving the baby I already had who was missing from the table.  It’s very frustrating to have such conflicting emotions, but I realize that grief is complicated and unpredictable.

As I reflect on the weekend, I’ve decided that the anticipation of Thanksgiving was far worse than Thanksgiving itself.  There is so much pressure that comes with holidays – whether you are hosting or not.  Pressure to be happy, pressure to socialize, pressure to ‘celebrate’, which feels impossible at this point.  It was an emotional weekend, but it wasn’t so hard to get through.  I only removed myself from a social situation once and that was mainly because it was getting late and I was tired and needed to wind down.  While it will not go down as the best Thanksgiving ever, it was a milestone in this journey called grief and I am proud of the way I lived through it.

Today, I woke up feeling motivated.  Honestly, I’m pissed that I am not pregnant.  I thought I would be able to get pregnant right when I wanted to and it frustrates me that it still hasn’t happened.  However, there is nothing I can do about that right now.  It’s something we have little control over.  So, I have to keep on living.  I have written down a list of short and long term goals for this month.  I have some strategies for dealing with Christmas and the holiday season.  I’m finding that I’m not as bothered by the music and decorations as I thought I’d be.  I have a feeling of general numbness when it comes to the holidays and that’s OK.

So, on this night, as I reflect, I am feeling content and pleased with myself.  I made it through the weekend just fine, and I feel excited and motivated for the month ahead.  I’m chugging along as I continue to climb.  I know I will still have my setbacks, but after this weekend, I feel I’ve made some progress.

March for Babies

I’ve felt a lot of things these past 3 months and 4 days.  Sadness, anger, confusion, gratitude…. it’s exhausting because my emotions and feelings can change in an instant.  I also feel regret and guilt – two things that everyone says I shouldn’t feel.  I can’t help it.  I regret that I did not hold Maya longer.  I regret that I gave her back and said goodbye as quickly as I did.  I feel so guilty that I didn’t look at every inch of her body and that I didn’t hug her close to my chest.  One of the biggest reasons that I feel regret and guilt is the fact that we did not have a service for Maya.  No funeral, no gathering, no words spoken.  Sometimes I feel like she simply faded from our lives.  With no service and an inconclusive autopsy report, there has been no sense of closure.  I have come to realize that there probably never will be.  For the rest of my life, I will ask the ‘what if’ questions and play the ‘if only’ game in my head.  I don’t know that I’ll ever reach a point of acceptance.

This past month, I have felt especially terrible that we didn’t have a service for our precious baby.  I have felt a strong desire to dosomething to honor her little life.  Knowing that October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month and that October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, I started looking for something that Hackie and I could do in memory of Maya – to celebrate her life and keep her memory alive.  I quickly found that there would be a March for Babies walk in a town just west of us on Saturday, October 13th!

I am very excited to be doing this walk.  I’m hoping that our friends and family will join us, though I know this is somewhat last minute.  Hackie and I are going to design t-shirts and work as hard as we can to raise money in memory of our precious Maya.  I’m hoping that this walk will become a yearly tradition for our family – a way to remember Maya and to help bring more healthy babies into this world.

After making the decision to do this walk and beginning the fundraising process, I have felt a sense of relief come over me.  The feelings of guilt and regret have lessened slightly and I am proud that I have found a way to honor my daughter.  I now understand why so many women who have lost a baby start non-profit organizations, offer their talent to creating memorial jewelery, photographs, etc., or publish resource material.  It goes back to a previous post where I mentioned needing to find a purpose.  We want so badly for our babies’ lives to matter.  This walk will not be the only thing I do to honor Maya’s life and keep her memory alive.  I’m not sure yet what the future holds, but I trust that, just like the idea to do this walk came to me, something else will inspire me and I will find other ways to honor my baby girl.

If you would like to join our team or donate, please visit our march for babies team page.

We are forever grateful for your love and support.

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

The Happiest Place on Earth

Less than 24 hours after Maya died, Hackie and I had the idea to go to Disney World.  We were trying to figure out how to get through the next few months.  We were all set to devote ourselves and our lives to taking care of our daughter and now we didn’t have to do that anymore.  What were we supposed to do with ourselves?  He was all for it immediately.  I hesitated to book the trip feeling like it was wrong and a little crazy.  We just lost our daughter and now we’re going to go to the one place in this world that is completely filled with babies and young children?  I also felt like I wasn’t supposed to have fun and be happy.  I was supposed to spend the summer sad and grieving.  Still, I was desperate for something to look forward to.  We booked the trip so that the last night there would be our anniversary.

Disney holds a lot of great memories for Hackie and I.  We went there on our honeymoon for 10 days and had an amazing time.  It was a time when life was simpler and Hackie and I were naive and innocent.  This time around, the trip served a different purpose.  It gave us something to look forward to during this very long summer, and it was a very good distraction from our sucky reality.

In addition to reliving many of the memories of our honeymoon and feeling like Disney experts, we talked a lot about Maya.  We noticed little girls who looked like her and discussed who her favorite Disney princess would have been.  We discussed whether or not she would be as fearless as her mommy and daddy and go on all the scary rides.  We knew she would have loved Disney World as much as we do.

We also talked a lot about what the future holds for us.  We made the decision to go to Disney every other year and declared that in 2 years we would be going with Maya’s little brother or sister.  We noticed large families with school-aged children and pictured what that would be like for us.  How would we handle our rowdy kids in a restaurant?  How old would our kids be when we declared they needed to walk rather than be pushed in a stroller?  Which park would be their favorite and would everyone be able to agree on what to do next?  How many pictures would we take?

I’m not going to lie.  The trip to Disney was hard.  Every baby that I saw was a reminder of what I do not have.  I thought a lot about the fact that I shouldn’t have been able to go to Disney this summer.  I should have been home with a newborn.  Still, I’m glad we went.  Hackie and I spent some much needed time together and he was so comforting every time I felt a little down.  Our love continues to grow stronger.  We were able to get away from real life for a little while and the time passed quickly.

When we walked out of Hollywood Studios to head back to the hotel to get on the bus and go to the airport, I cried.  I did not want to leave.  What was I going back to?  Real life – which is currently defined by the fact that we lost our precious baby girl.  Real life kinda sucks and we have very little to look forward to.

When you are preparing for your first baby, that is the ultimate thing to look forward to because life changes forever.  When Maya died, we grabbed at anything we could to look forward to – hence the trip to Disney.  Now, I’m not sure what’s next.  I know I want to live in the moment each day and Hackie and I have some short term and long term goals of things we want to accomplish together.  However, we don’t have that big thing to look forward to anymore.  At least, not right now.

I will say that Disney earned its tagline of being the happiest place on earth.  We had a really good time and look forward to going again.  Next time we go, it has to be with Maya’s little brother or sister – it just has to.

Joy

This past weekend, my husband, parents and I traveled to the White Mountains to a beautiful Inn in Jackson, NH.  Shortly after Maya died, we started making plans for the summer.  It felt very wrong while also feeling very necessary.  I was in survival mode and was faced with a very long summer with NOTHING to do.  I needed things to look forward to.  This was the first of three trips I will take this summer and overall it was wonderful.

Jackson is a beautiful little town.  My husband went fishing with my step-dad so I spent a lot of time with my mom.  Within walking distance to our inn was the Jackson Falls – a gorgeous waterfall.  We went there more than once and sat on the rocks.  The weather was perfect.  I thought so much about Maya.  I saw her beauty in everything around me.  I felt her with me helping me feel the joy that the environment can bring.

We sat on a bench at the base of the of the falls.  We were surrounded by trees and water.  It was beautiful.  Just like Maya.  Again, I felt her with me.  Within the last couple of weeks, I have been able to feel moments of joy.  At first, I feel guilty.  I tell myself that I’m supposed to be sad.  I quickly realize though that I am doing exactly what I set out to do – live on.  My life is greatly defined by the many moments of joy that I feel.  After this trip, I have realized that Maya is helping me feel moments of joy when I wouldn’t have normally felt them before.  Before Maya, I may have seen a waterfall, admired its beauty, taken a few pictures, and moved on to the next event of the day.  Now, I want to slow down, sit by the waterfall for three hours, breathe it in, think about Maya, and feel the joy that it brings me.

I have always known that Maya will change me, but I wasn’t sure how.  I’m starting to learn that she has changed me for the better and I am forever grateful.  By allowing myself to feel the moments of joy in Jackson, Maya continues to live on through me.