Tag Archive | nursery

The Blank Wall

There are many ways the experience of losing Maya has impacted my parenting of Oliver in a positive way.  I am more appreciative of the time I have with him.  I believe my experience with Maya has made me more calm, patient, and level-headed if you can believe that.  Losing Maya has almost had the opposite effect than what you would expect.  Throughout my pregnancy, I was sure I would be an over-bearing, nervous, anxious mother – afraid of germs and always fearing the worst.  And though I still have my moments of irrational fears and playing out worst-case-scenarios in my head… I don’t think they are any greater in number than a mother who hasn’t lost a child.

So far, the decisions we’ve made in regards to Oliver and the transitions we’ve gone through have come very naturally.  We’ve moved forward when it felt right.  For example, Oliver loved being swaddled from day 1 and seemed to sleep best when he was swaddled.  Then, it seemed like he didn’t like it anymore.  We tried to go without the swaddle and it didn’t work – he didn’t sleep well.  Then, he started breaking out of the swaddle so we tried again and it worked and he has slept successfully without the swaddle for over a month now.  Of course with this and many other decisions/transitions, I do my research and talk to other parents.  In the end however, it happened when the timing felt right.

There was one transition that was not coming naturally and I was really struggling with… moving Oliver out of our bedroom.  I started to feel like the timing was right for a number of reasons.  I talked to other moms who reported that their child slept better when in his/her own room.  We experienced nights where Oliver woke up because of our movement or the dog’s nails on the hardwood floor.  In addition, it is only a matter of time before he will outgrow his little crib and I wanted to move him into his nursery in the little crib before transitioning him into his big crib.  And yet, as much as the logical side of my brain knew it was time and knew it was probably best for all of us, the emotional side of my brain couldn’t bring myself to do it.  To top off the dilemma… I couldn’t figure out why it was so difficult for me.  I thought it was my resistance to him growing and getting older.  I do feel sad that he is not a brand new baby anymore, but I’m so excited for what’s to come.

One day, as I continued to perseverate on the issue, I had an epiphany.  I went into my bedroom and looked at his little crib and I thought, “I don’t want to not see it there”.  I thought about why it was that I had this thought about the crib and not about Oliver.  I finally figured it out! … A week before Maya was born and died, we set up the little crib in our bedroom.  For a week, I pictured her in that crib.  I pictured getting up in the middle of the night, tiptoeing around our room, and watching her sleep.  After she died, Hackie came home while I was still in the hospital and gathered all of the baby stuff.  It all got put into the nursery and the door was shut.  When I came home, there was no crib.  In those early days and weeks, seeing that blank wall was so painful.  No crib, no baby, and a shattered future.

My subconscious fear that had finally come to the surface was that moving the crib out and seeing that blank wall would bring back those memories and those feelings of absolute devastation.  I processed this with Hackie, with my mom, and with some good friends.  I thought about it for several days and then I accepted that at no point was this going to be an easy transition.  Saturday morning, I made the decision that I was ready.  I moved the little crib into the nursery early in the day and hours before Oliver’s bedtime so I could get used to seeing the blank wall long before going to bed.  Oliver did just fine.  I was OK too.  Oliver has now spent 5 nights sleeping in his own room and everyone is sleeping better.  I knew that would be the case.

They say there are 5 stages of grief… which I have discussed many times is not linear and never-ending.  So to say there is a “final” stage is bogus.  For the purposes of this paragraph, however, I’ll buy in… The “final” stage of grief is acceptance.  I hated that because I always felt like acceptance meant being OK with something and I will never be OK with the fact that Maya died.  Then I read a different definition of acceptance, which was simply accepting and acknowledging your truth.  I read it as basically being the opposite of denial.  I have come to that place.  Maya died.  My first baby didn’t come home with us.  I am a bereaved mother.  This is my truth.  Though I am over the moon filled with joy that Oliver is here and healthy and perfect and that I get to spend a nice long maternity leave and summer with him, my truth is still there.  Sometimes, the fact that my first baby died and didn’t make it home is going to have a profound impact on my parenting and on Oliver.  Moving the crib was the first time I really felt it.

I know there will be much more that happens that brings me back to my darkest days.  Realizing that and accepting that as my truth is how I will make it through.  Once I realized why it was going to be so hard to move the little crib, I was able to make the transition.  I’d like to think that Maya has made me a better Mommy to Oliver.  I already know she has made me a better and more insightful person.

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.

Eight Months

My Dearest Maya,

I can’t believe so much time has passed.  I think this is the first time since the day you were born that the 16th falls on a Saturday – so I counted the weeks: 35 weeks since you were born and left us far too soon.  I carried you for 34 weeks, 6 days.  You have now been gone longer than you were with us and that breaks my heart.  It reminds me that I will live the rest of my life without you here and that time must pass.  I want so badly to go back to that day 35 weeks ago – I would have held you longer, given you more kisses, and taken more pictures of your beautiful face.

It’s now the middle of winter, which is always a tough time of year.  I can’t help but wonder how having you here would have made it more fun.  Adorable sweaters, cute little hats and mittens, and a little red nose would make this time of year not so bad.  We had our first major blizzard last weekend.  I thought about what it would have been like to dress you up as a little snow bunny and take pictures of you out in the snow.  I thought about holding you up at the window watching Daddy shovel as you marveled at the pretty snowflakes falling.  I thought about us all being cozy and warm inside the house together grateful for some extra family days at home.

We’ve passed what would have been your first Valentine’s Day.  I would have dressed you in the most adorable pink outfit and put pink bows in your hair.  You would have made Mommy and Daddy some kind of Valentine craft while at day care and we would have loved all over you when we got home.  We also would have given you some kind of Valentine themed toy or book.  It would have been a special day.

I imagine at this point you’d be trying lots of different kinds of foods, crawling all over the place and possibly pulling yourself up.  You’d be discovering new things every day and babbling all the time.  I think you’d love your room.  Every time I walk by I think of you looking at the beautiful mural your Daddy painted you.  I wonder if you’d have had a favorite character that you enjoyed looking at.

I hope you know how much you are loved and missed.  We think of you all the time and every day we find more and more that reminds us of you.  I’ve noticed that most mornings the sky is pink when I leave for work.  I think that’s you saying good morning and I hope you hear me saying good morning back.  As we slowly move into spring and the flowers start to grow, I know I will feel you around us more and more.

I miss you Maya.  I love you so much and am forever blessed that you are and will always be part of my life.

Love and miss you always and forever!

Love,

Mommy

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.

Seven Months

Dear Sweet Maya,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I miss you my sweet girl.

I love you always and forever.

Love always,

Mommy

Can a Single Year Be the Best and the Worst?

I have pondered that question and my last blog post of this year for several weeks.  The answer is yes.

From January to June 16th, almost exactly the first half of the year, I was the happiest I have ever been.  I had an amazing family, a fabulous husband, a beautiful dog, a perfect house, and a baby on the way.  (And I still have almost all those things.)  I was so enjoying preparing my life for a new little baby.  I was so ready for the next chapter.  During this time, we completed some projects on the house, prepared the nursery, each celebrated our 27th birthdays, had a beautiful baby shower, and hosted a lovely Mother’s Day gathering for my family.  I also finished my Master’s degree, which was a huge accomplishment.  It was a happy time.

Though my personal life felt quite perfect, my professional life was anything but.  I was having a miserable school year.  I loved working with my students, but the paperwork and politics that went along with the job made it so frustrating.  I tried so hard to do my best work and to do right for my students.  In the end, I was no longer happy as a special education teacher and I knew I had to find a way out.

I’m declaring June 16, 2012 the best and worst day of my life.  I delivered my daughter – my first born.  I felt the love that every mother describes.  I felt pride and joy over the fact that I had a daughter who could become as girly and artsy as her Mama.  I was excited to go shopping.  On this same day, the worst thing that could ever happen to a person did.  My child died.  I lost my baby and all the dreams and plans that went with her.  I felt emotional pain like none I’ve ever felt before.  I lost a huge part of myself and my world was shattered.  I was forever changed.

Since Maya was born and died, the rest of the year has been a roller coaster.  I have a new perspective on life.  I have developed a true understanding of what’s important and just how precious life is.  When my world shattered, I searched and searched for a way to put the pieces back together, only to realize that it’s out of my control.  When I let go and let the pieces drop back into place, I gained some clarity on my climb up the mountain.

I have reconnected with some old friends and grown more close to others.  I have been the recipient of some of the most beautiful acts of kindness and my faith in humanity has been restored.  I have made new friends, especially in the online world.  There are now people all over the world who know Maya’s story.  I no longer feel like I am on this journey alone.

I have grown closer to my husband than I ever felt possible.  We have both changed, and he has remained strong in these dark times.  I am so blessed to have such an amazing man by my side.

In addition to navigating this road and climbing this mountain called grief, other things have happened this year, and as I reflect, most of them have been good.  I finally got out of being a SPED teacher.  I am in a teaching position that I love and I feel so comfortable in my new role.  My job is my saving grace right now.  I went on some wonderful trips both before and after Maya was born and died.  While some of these trips were for the purpose of healing, they were enjoyable and memorable in their own right.

So yes.  2012 is the year that I lost my baby and felt more sadness and grief than I ever thought possible.  It was and hopefully will remain the worst experience of my life.  However, 2012 is also the year when some of the best things happened to me including the birth of my daughter, the completion of my Masters, a new job, new friends, and a new me.  I am slowly getting to know this new me and I like her.  Would I trade her in for my daughter?  Of course.  But that is not an option.

So, as we move into 2013, I am content with 2012.  I am sad to leave behind the year that brought little miss Maya into our lives.  However, I am entering 2013 with hope, comfort, and gratitude for the life that I have.  I look forward to getting to know the new me.  I look forward to letting go of the control and letting my path lay itself.  I’m not sure what lies ahead, but I am ready and excited!

I wish all of you a Happy New Year!  May 2013 bring you all that you hope for and more!

 

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

Post Pregnancy with No Baby

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Healing Power of a Dog

How can you not smile when you see this face?

This is my lovable labradoodle Halee.  She is almost 5 and we’ve had her since she was a puppy.  Halee is a special dog.  Sometimes, I think that she thinks she’s a person.  She gets mad when she isn’t involved in a conversation, she tilts her head to one side when we say most anything as if she’s listening very intently, and she loves pillows (just like her daddy).  Halee is the third member of our family, and she has made quite the impact and difference in our lives.

Halee is the reason that I am still teaching.  My first year was very bad.  Very very bad.  I cried at least once a week and felt so terrible that 14 years of yearning to be a teacher and working towards that goal had landed me in a position where I taught in a room referred to as ‘the dumping ground’.  As I said, very bad.  I brought Halee home just after Thanksgiving that year.  This was the very first picture I took of my new puppy once I got her home:

I would come home stressed, exhausted, and emotionally overwhelmed.  She would greet me, wag her tail, and remind me that there was so much more to life than my horrible job.  Dogs are amazing.

Halee is Maya’s big sister, and she was very aware of that.  Soon after I found out I was pregnant, Halee seemed to understand that something was changing.  As we began to work on the nursery, she would go in there and walk around.  Just a week before we had Maya, we were sitting on the floor and Halee curled up on the rug – it was almost as if she was telling us that she was going to be a very protective big sister.

Halee would lay on my belly at night and snuggle up close.  Whenever we referred to ‘Baby Boo’, she would wag her tail.

On the day we returned home from the hospital, Halee cried with us.  It was one of the most amazing things.  She sat on the couch and wailed as Hackie and I cried too.  Halee knew that a member of her family was gone.  She knew how sad we were.  She was affected by this loss as well.

In the weeks following Maya’s birth and death, Halee became very protective.  She was not thrilled with the number of people coming and going.  She barked at anyone walking by and seemed to be on high alert.  She would not leave my side.  Any time that I cry, Halee comes to my side and snuggles up with me.  She puts her head in my lap and looks at me.  Her beautiful eyes say it all.  They tell me how much she cares and that she is here for me.

Halee frequently hangs out at the nursery door.  I can tell that she is sad too.  She would have loved having another playmate in the house.  She would have been so protective of Maya.  I pictured her sleeping under her crib and sitting at my feet when I held her.  Maya would have loved Halee too.  They would have had a special bond.

I’m not sure what I would have done this summer if I didn’t have Halee to keep me company.  I talk to her, I laugh with her, I take her for walks, and we play together.  Though she cannot talk, I know that she knows what I need and she has provided that for me.  When I sit and pet her, I feel a calm wave come over me.  Dogs are incredible.  They are intuitive and have an amazing healing power.  I love you Halee!