Tag Archive | mothers

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.

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.

What’s In a Name

I decided to link up with the journey over at Still Standing today.  I haven’t really written about Maya’s name so I thought this was a good opportunity to share.

Hackie and I started talking about our future children’s names within the first year we dated.  We were 19 and clearly both looking forward to having children.  Over the years it would come up every once and a while.  Once we decided to start trying we decided on a boy name right away, which is still our boy name.

When I got pregnant we felt a sense of urgency at finalizing our name choices.  We still both loved our boy choice but could not come to a consensus on a girl name.  Since we wanted the gender to be a surprise, we had time to figure it out.  Still, I was very anxious and pushed to finalize our choice.

We constantly went back and forth suggesting and vetoing each other’s name choices.  Since I teach, there are many names that get thrown out right away because of name association.  Also, with our names being so unique, there was a certain level of pressure to choose names that weren’t the most common.

After much debate and many lists, Maya was the only name we both liked and we kept coming back to it.  It went well with our boy name – both very classic, not too common, but not too out there.  We had known all along that her middle name would be after my mother (Francine) and we both loved the sound of Maya Francine.

We’ve found sources that claim Maya was the name of the mother of the Buddha, and that it means princess. According to Baby Center, Maya means “divine creative force in everything”.  I think this is the most fitting.  Everything I do now seems driven by my darling Maya.  Life now has a greater purpose because of her.

Maya’s middle name was easy.  My mom and I are very close and I owe so much of who I am today to her.  As I thought about becoming a mother, I was comforted with the knowledge that I was raised by the best there is.  I was so excited to be able to honor her with Maya’s middle name.  It kills me that Maya does not get to grow up knowing that her middle name is the same at her Mima’s first name.  I know it would have made their connection that much more special.

Maya Francine Warrensford – a classic and beautiful name for a little girl who will always be my baby.  I say it daily.  I try to work her name into conversations and refer to her as often as I can.  I will not get to call to her that dinner is ready or that it is time to leave for dance class.  I will not get to write her beautiful name on Kindergarten registration.  So, I will say it as often as I can.  The best thing anyone can do for bereaved parents is say their baby’s name.  We love to hear it.

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.

Happy Birthday Mama!

I have been neglecting my blog, and I really don’t want to.  It’s been two weeks since I last wrote and I’ve thought about writing every day.  I’ve been somewhat uninspired and I’ve also been lacking energy to do much of anything.  Now of course I have about five posts running through my head.  However, today’s post comes on a special day and is for one very special person.  It’s my Mama’s birthday!

My mom is a pretty incredible person.  She is genuinely happy – no matter what.  My happiness at the core come from her.  She raised me to find the joy in a situation no matter how difficult it was.  She taught me how to see things from multiple perspectives, how to give people the benefit of the doubt, and how to remain optimistic in the darkest of times.  My mom puts everyone before herself and values family more than anyone I know.  She is the epitome of gratitude.

When I was in college, I had a rough time.  I often felt like I didn’t fit in, and the typical college lifestyle didn’t appeal to me.  When I started dating Hackie in the middle of my freshman year, I fit in even less because I was in a committed relationship.  Still, I stayed focused and overall pretty happy.  The reason I was there was to become a teacher and I knew I was getting a great education.  It all caught up with me Junior year though when I started experiencing severe panic attacks.  My genuinely happy self hid and I was so frustrated.  I felt like I couldn’t get a handle on my own thoughts and emotions.  I felt completely out of control.  Naturally, it was my mom to the rescue.  She reminded me of all the crazy phases I went through as a young girl and how they were all just that – phases.  She reminded me that this was another phase and that it too would pass.  She reminded me that I did not live in this dark place, but that I was just visiting and, no matter how long it took, I would come out the other end.  When I reflect back on that phase of my life, I think of how calm my mom was.  Her calmness at a time when I was feeling such high levels of anxiety was exactly what I needed to get through and eventually past this phase of my life.

When Maya died, my mom was right there – shocked and devastated just like the rest of us.  However, she was devastated first and foremost for me.  It was probably two weeks before she grieved for her own loss of her granddaughter.  She helped take care of me as I recovered from my c-section and brainstormed things we could do to help pass the time.  She simply made herself available.  We spent a lot of time together and she was, and still is, so strong.  She listened as I talked for hours.  She never judged.  She gave me exactly what I needed without me having to ask.  I would not have survived these past (almost) 6 months without her.

I have said before that my mom’s strength is contagious.  Again, in true Mama fashion, she has helped me remain optimistic in the darkest time of my life.  While some might argue that any mother would be supportive and amazing in a time like this, my mom does it with absolute perfection.  She is and has always been my backbone, and I am eternally grateful.

My mom is so inspiring.  Little girls often say “I want to be just like my mommy when I grow up”.  I still feel that way.

Happy Birthday Mama!  I love you!

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.

 

 

Four Months

Dear Maya,

Today you would have been 4 months old.  How exciting.  I think you would have been really developing a little personality.  You would have a cute little laugh, favorite songs, and an adorable smile.  We probably would have moved you to your crib by now.  We prepared your crib just 9 days before you were born.  A perfect white crib with adorable Winnie the Pooh sheets to go with your Winnie the Pooh nursery.  I think you would have loved your bumble bee mobile that plays music.  That crib has gone untouched – it still sits longing for you, just like Mommy and Daddy.

This past month has gone by faster than others.  Well, the beginning of it did.  I find myself measuring time by the 16th.  The last week or so has gone by very slowly and I am struggling to get through each day.  I know that time is precious and that life is a gift that can be taken at any moment.  I’m trying so hard to find joy every day and appreciate the life I have been given.  Sometimes though, it’s so hard to live my life knowing that you don’t get to live yours.

I lit a candle for you last night, as did many others whose lives you’ve somehow touched.  I light my candle for you just about every night.  I hope you feel it’s warmth.  I hope you know how much Mommy and Daddy love you.

Fall has set in.  There have been several nice crisp fall days.  When I get home from work, I know I should take Halee for a walk, but sometimes it’s hard because I want to be pushing a stroller.  I want to push you on the swings down at the playground.  I want you to feel the cool air and play in the leaves.  If you were here, I’d still be on maternity leave.  We would have spent a lot of time down at the park today – it was a beautiful day.

This past Saturday we did a March for Babies for you.  I think you were with us and gave us a gorgeous day with just one wispy cloud in the sky.  That was your mark on the day.  That was your way of letting us know you were there.  We had a big team – 17 who walked for you.  We raised lots of money in your name to help bring more healthy babies into the world.  It was a fulfilling day and I hope you were proud of your Mommy and Daddy.

I miss you more and more every day my precious baby girl.  I yearn for you and wonder what life would be like with you here.  I know we would have gone shopping a lot – especially now as you would probably have started outgrowing your clothes.  There are lots of people that love you and miss you.  I hope you can feel that.

I hope you are happy.  I hope you know how much we love you.  I hope you know how many people have been affected by you.  You are so special.  You are so missed.  You are so loved.

I love you always and you will forever be in my heart.

Love to the moon and back,

Mommy

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