Tag Archive | pregnancy

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.

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

Surviving the Holdiays 2012

**Before I begin this post, I just want to mention that I have updated Maya’s name gallery.  It gives me such joy to see Maya’s name written in creative ways and I am so grateful to those who have taken the time to do it and to share it with me.  Please check out the page!

And now for today’s post…

I knew the holidays would be tough this year.  Last year, I was 10 weeks pregnant on Christmas day.  Hackie and I knew very well that it would be the last Christmas where we indulged each other because this year all our efforts would be put into making the holiday magical for our new baby.  My family celebrates Hanukkah.  When I took the big family Hanukkah picture last year, I mentioned that this year there would be a new little one in the picture and I told my mom that she would get the honor of holding her new grandbaby.  A year ago, we made big plans and had great anticipation for what this year’s holidays would be like.  Today, Christmas Eve, I am not only missing Maya terribly, I am devastated to not be able to see any of those plans come to fruition.  All of those plans, all of that eager excitement and anticipation died with her.

Up until recently, I was comforted with the knowledge that surely we would be pregnant by now.  Surely, the weight of our first holiday season without Maya would be lessened by the hope of a new baby.  I guess I was being slightly naive.  I am not pregnant yet and I am tormented by the idea that if it takes much longer, we may be enduring a second holiday season with grief alone and no living child to share the magic with.

I’ve been having good weeks and bad weeks.  This past week was really tough.  In the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy, I felt quite numb.  When I turned the corner to go down the road to school on Monday, it hit me hard.  Still, the shock of this tragedy came in fits and spurts.  I feel like my body was protecting my brain from feeling the horror all at once.  By Friday, I was relieved to have arrived at the end of the week.  Still, on the day before vacation – a day that since I started school as a child was always so joyous and exciting, I was feeling so sad.  I was not excited for vacation.  I would rather be at work today, skipping vacation and the holidays all together.  It all came out at the holiday concert.  Our chorus teacher announced that they were all going to sing “Lean On Me” dedicated to the families in Newtown.  I made it through about two thirds of the song before I lost it and had to leave.  There were only a few who saw me and, with the help of a caring guidance counselor, I was able to pull myself together and get through the rest of the day.

Yesterday was my family’s big Hanukkah party.  This is the first time we all were together since I had Maya.  The last time we were all together was Mother’s day, when I was 30 weeks pregnant.  While I was looking forward to seeing my family, I didn’t want to go.  It’s the times when the whole family is together that it is ever so clear that someone is missing.  As soon as Hackie and I pulled out of the driveway to head to my mom’s, I started to cry.  When we got to my mom’s and were setting up the room so that all 20 of us could fit in the family picture, I started to cry.  I remembered my Aunt’s tradition – every year since 2004, we have written down what we are thankful for and what we wish for in the coming year.  We put our papers in a little pouch and they are saved year after year.  I’ve always enjoyed looking back and smiling with the satisfaction that my wish came true.  In 2008, I drew a diamond ring hoping Hackie would propose in the coming year, which he did.  I can only imagine what I wrote down last year and the thought of looking at it was too much to bear.  Every time I thought about it, I started to cry.  As my family started to arrive and each of my aunts, uncles, and cousins hugged me just a little longer than usual, I started to cry.  I wondered if I would be able to stop being so weepy.  Eventually, the crying subsided and I was able to really enjoy myself.  I wrote down what I was thankful for and what I was wishing for and stuck it in the pouch with the others.  I decided not to read last year’s paper.  As I always do, I took charge of the family picture.  I placed my Maya Bear (which I’ll have to post about another time) on my mom’s lap – where Maya should have been.  It was a very hard day.  Surrounded by loved ones and comforted with the hope that next year’s party will be different, I survived.

Today, Hackie and I will head to his parent’s to be together.  Growing up, Christmas was always different for me.  Some years, my mom did her best to fulfill my need to be like all the other kids in my class and got us a Christmas tree.  Some years, I traveled to my Dad’s and celebrated the holiday with him and my family out there.  Some years, I hung out with my mom and didn’t do much of anything.  In the last 4 years, Hackie and I have made our own traditions.  I always say that Christmas is his holiday and so I let him pretty much call the shots.  We spoil each other and the dog.  We’ve always gotten a tree and played Christmas music while decorating.  Last year, which was our first Christmas in our new house, Hackie decorated the front of our house and it was so beautiful.  I’ve really enjoyed celebrating this holiday with him and coming up with new traditions for our little family.

This year, we weren’t sure what to do.  I wanted to be supportive of my husband and his favorite holiday so I defaulted to him.  I told him that if he wanted to get a tree and decorate, we would.  If he wanted to do presents, we would.  If he wanted to do nothing, I’d be OK with that too.  It took a while to figure it out, but it eventually became clear.  We purchased a hot pink tree that’s small and put it in front of our Maya wall.  We’ve gotten a few ornaments as gifts and will purchase one new one a year in honor of our angel.  We did not decorate or get a large tree.  We are taking a trip later this week and decided that would be our gift to each other.  We decided not to purchase gifts for others and asked that none be given to us.  Instead, we decided that we would collect donations for Cradle to Crayons, which is an organization we are volunteering at in January.  We will also be purchasing some items that would have been appropriate for a six month old little girl and will donate them in memory of Maya.

We decided to spend Christmas day as just us and Halee.  We need to be home and it’s too hard to host our parents, which was the original plan.  I’m not quite sure yet how we are going to spend the day.  I think we are going to wait and see how we feel and let the day unfold.  We are thinking about releasing some balloons for are angel and we may go bowling in the evening, which is one of our favorite things to do together.  We will survive the day together.

Yes.  It totally 100% sucks that Hackie and I look at this year’s holidays as something to get through rather than enjoy.  However, I have come to realize that traditions can be paused and getting down on myself for not enjoying the holidays this year is not going to do anyone any good.  Next year, the holidays will be different.  I’m not sure how they will look and I’m not making any plans, but I know they will be different as another year will have gone by.

As hard as this has been, I continue to be comforted by the love and support I have received, especially from my husband.  He is my backbone and I am blessed to have him by my side so I do not have to navigate this road alone.

If you are grieving this holiday season, I wish you peace and comfort.

 

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.

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

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.