Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas...

Dear Aven,

I miss you. Even though our family and my heart have grown, it doesn't mean my heart aches for you any less. I smile, I am content but I also am still a mom missing her baby girl. Your stocking was monogramed and hung next to mine, dad's and your little brother's. Your ornaments were hung on the tree and your little presence was very alive in our home on Christmas.

I love you,

Mom

Friday, December 2, 2011

My heart has grown...

Dear Aven,

My heart has grown because of you. I love you and know that everything that we are going through now, is partially your doing and we love that. I am happy. I know that is your doing. Dad and I wish you could be here but we also know you watching over us is what led our path here today, to your baby brother.

Love always,

Mom

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Pretty things...

Dear Aven,

I found the dress your Aunt C bought for you. I was so nervous while I was pregnant with you that I decided dad and I would not buy things until we were 20 weeks pregnant but things didn't happen as we planned. I am so thankful Aunt C bought you the little pink ballerina dress. When I found it hidden in the back of a closet with my maternity clothes, it was the only item in the bag that made me smile. We do have something that was purchased just for you, well two somethings. A little pink ballerina dress and a stuffed yellow chicken. Love.

I love you and miss you,

Mom

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Aven in Washington, DC ♥


 ♥

 ♥


Aven and Aunt C ♥
at the Lincoln Memorial 


 
Pictures taken by Aven's Aunt C ♥

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Birthday Girl

Aven's 1st Birthday Cake 




Aven's 1st Birthday Card





Pretty Letters from a pretty lady





Fall Aster that blooms during Aven's birth month,
planted in Aven's Garden by Tio Roy





A new birthday flower for Aven's Garden



Saturday, October 29, 2011

Happy Birthday, Aven ♥

Dear Aven,

I can't believe a year has come. I have been anxious about this moment for a while now. I think I expected that I would somehow not survive this moment and that I would have been found crumbled on the floor but I am still here and I will survive. I am still not convinced that people can't die of a heartache but I know that I am meant to carry on with dad and your memory. You made me a mother and nothing will ever change that. Today, dad and I will celebrate along with your grandparents, how your little life changed us all. Even though we are sad sometimes, you gave us a new perspective on life and a new hope. As someone dear to us has said many times, we hurt and grieve so much because we loved so much.

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes...

I miss you.

I love you always.

Happy 1st Birthday, baby girl ♥

Always,

Mom

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sigh...

A year ago today, my water broke and I knew that my journey with Aven was about to end.

Sigh...

My heart hurts today. All I can do is ask God to walk this path with me this week. I hope that one day, my memory of this day won't always be so sad and that one day I will be able to just focus on the happy moments that I did get to have carrying Aven. One day...

Sigh...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A bee in the garden...

Aven's Garden has grown! Each time I look out the window, I can't help but smile.




 
A bee in the garden...






Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pretty words...

Just a little something to make me smile, from Grandma Yaya...





Wednesday, October 19, 2011

10 days and counting...

Dear Aven,

I thought that once October hit that I would be full of words. I thought I would have countless things to say and write about because the month of October is the month things changed for me and dad. But, I am at a loss for words. I miss you more than I have words to describe what I mean. Words are just that, words. I miss you. Dad misses you.

Love you always,

Mom

Sunday, October 16, 2011

From Holly ♥



October 15th ♥

Our first October 15th. The day was a very emotional day for me. I really don't have too many words to say about it other than I am thankful and blessed to have the support I have from D, my mother and my friends, new and old.   ♥ Aven  ♥




















Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Tomorrow

Tomorrow should be interesting. Tomorrow will be the anniversary of the last day everything made sense in my world. The last time I ate iced oatmeal cookies because that was one of my cravings with Aven. Tomorrow is the last day that I lived and enjoyed being naive. Come Friday, nothing made sense and still doesn't a year later. I know that even as my heart heals and even as we move along in life that my happy go lucky that won't happen to me, will never exist again. Sometimes bad things happen...sigh. No matter how many times I laugh, smile or how many rainbows cross my path a piece of my heart will always be somewhere else. With Aven.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I thought of you...

Dear Aven,

I saw a million butterflies today on the drive with dad...or maybe ten to twelve, I thought of you...like always.

I miss you.

Love,

Mom

Sunday, October 2, 2011

I am the face...

I am the face. I am a face. I am one of many faces. My face, after my loss.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

October is here!

Today marks the official beginning of National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month. In 1988 the late former President Ronald Reagan signed a Declaration designating October officially as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month in hopes of raising awareness of the millions of families that are faced each day with the loss of a child whether from miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDS and other infant related deaths caused by illness.

I didn't know this existed until it hit home. My home. I am amazed that when I tell someone new about my loss, that they can relate either from a loss themselves or by knowing someone that survived or is surviving a loss. Once you know, you know. Maybe it is your sister, your daughter, your coworker or your best friend or maybe it is you.

I don't have the energy or courage to educate the way I feel I should. My grief is still my work. My focus. All I can do is let those around me know that I had a baby and she died. I will talk about her. I will remember her and I will always be proud to be her mother.

D and I will celebrate this month by attending a book signing of the book, Baby Dust, written by our friend Deanna Roy on October 15th. This day is the national wave of light day where candles will be lit at 7PM all over in honor of babies lost. We will be in the downtown area of our town with friends, supporters and fellow babyloss parents. This day also is the year anniversary of our attempt to save our daughter. Cerclage day as I remember it. The day the doctors were trying to save my Aven was the day many moms and dads before us were honoring their lost children. Ironic.

October is also my baby girl's birthday...
October is going to be a long month.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

11 months...

Dear Aven,

I woke up extremely sad and a little angry today. I have a feeling October will be a little tough in our home. I try my best to focus on the positives that are happening around us but my heart still isn't at peace with the fact that you are gone. I keep thinking that maybe I would be in a better place if we knew that you were gone because your heart had just stopped beating or because there were issues genetically that would have prevented you from having a full life but that isn't what happened. You were a perfectly healthy baby with a strong heart beat up until I went into delivery. Your death was preventable. One tiny extra ultrasound could have prevented all of this. I know I can what if all day long or if only and the outcome will still leave me here, without you.

I miss you.

Love,

Mom

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Infertility speak...

Aven was a long time in the making. She wasn't a surprise pregnancy. She wasn't a whim of a decision. She was planned for well in advance. We didn't have it so easy like most people. My grief isn't just in losing her but in the path that I had to take to get to her. It was a long one and not one that ended the way I wanted. I heard a quote not very long ago, actually it was a line from Grey's Anatomy. One of the characters made a comment "You promise a woman a baby and she will tear her body apart"... I used to keep track of our fertility journey and I found it sitting in my email "drafts". The last time I updated it was when we were released from our fertility doctor to our regular OB. It made me realize how far we have come and how far we have to go. I had to add the rest of our journey, not an easy thing to see especially knowing that when I first started keeping track of it, I was so hopeful and excited...

8/2008-Begin Trying to Conceive naturally
8/2009-First RE (Endocrinologist) visit
9/2009-HSG Test-Found blockage in left fallopian tube
10/12/2009-Surgery: Laparoscopy and Hysteroscopy-Left fallopian tube removed

11/2009-IUI with Clomid Cancelled, follicles in left ovary
12/14/2009 and 12/15/2009-IUI # 1 -Femara-18mm follicle- Negative Pregnancy Test
1/2010-IUI with Femara Cancelled, follicles in left ovary
2/4/2010 and 2/5/2010 2010-IUI # 2- Femara-19mm follicle- Negative Pregnancy Test

IVF # 1 and only
5/3/2010 BC Pill
5/4/10 Z Pack
5/19/10 15 mm cyst on Right ovary
6/1/10 cyst at 8mm start Lupron
6/10/10 Baseline u/s-Start Gonal-F 500 X 14 days
6/23/10 Ovidrel, 6 follicles
6/25/10 Egg Retrieval, 3 eggs retrieved-2 mature
6/26/10 Fertilization Report: 2 fertilized with ICSI-6 and 4 cell
6/28/10 Embryo Transfer
7/9/10 2 POSITIVE's on HPT the morning of Beta (5AM)
7/9/10 Beta # 1-HCG 105, P4-98, E2-1098
7/12/10 Beta # 2-HCG 433, P4-127, E2-1693
7/15/10 Beta # 3-HCG 1743, P4-98, E2-2132
7/22/10 Beta # 4-HCG-11,765 , P4-111.7
7/23/2010 6 Wk U/S 1 baby with heartbeat (Est.due date 3/18/2011)
8/6/2010 8 Wk U/S -released to OB
9/16/2010 Baby C is a She!

10/15/2010 Rescue Cerclage due to IC
10/26/2010 Water broke
10/28/2010 Induction
10/29/2010 Aven Lucia was born still

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Aven in France ♥

One of my close friends went bike riding in France at the beginning of the month. While he was there, he did something extremely awesome for me and D. It was a surprise for us and one that we truly appreciate and will never forget. He took several pictures while he was riding on Alp d’Huez. I am not familiar with the many tours that bikers race along but he said it was one of the famous Tour de France climbs. During the bike races people paint the names of their favorite riders to ‘cheer’ them on. The first picture is of Cadel Evans who later won the Tour de France race. While he was there, he added Aven and Baby C close to one of many “Cadel” sites. I think it is pretty awesome when other people remember Aven and I can't describe how special it is that as our friends and family move along in life, they carry Aven's memory with them.  ♥



 



 

Pictures taken by B. Akin ♥

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tough...

Today was not an easy day. Spending time with the closest person I know, easy. Spending time with the closest person I know and her newborn baby, not so easy. I miss my friend. I miss being able to talk to her, to joke around with her and to cry with her. I don't work well with change in general and when you add all of this to it well... It makes it tough. I miss my friend but everytime I see her my poor D has to fix his sad wife that comes home crying. I always leave with the reminder of how things were supposed to be. No matter how hard I focus on the reality of it all, I will always still miss Aven. Will it get easier? I am not sure. Will I be able to be around the closest group of women that have known my fertility struggles for the past several years, I am not sure anymore...

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Fifty nine...

59 days until Aven's birthday! I have had several people ask me what my plan is for the day. They wonder if I am going to light a candle or take the day for just me and D or just sit and cry. I will do all of the above. I am going to celebrate Aven's little life no matter how short it was. My plan changes daily but one thing that WILL happen is the tears. No matter what plan me and D make that day, tears WILL be involved. How could they not? 

As of today, I want to have a dinner at one of my favorite restaurants with the people that get it. I want a cake with Aven's name and I want to make a toast in her honor. I want to remember the day she was born every year and just because she isn't living doesn't mean she didn't exist.

I am trying to prepare myself to have hurt feelings because I know there are some that don't understand why I still cry, still grieve, still talk about her. For those, well they won't be invited and I am sorry that my grieving is impacting their life so much so that they have to say it and... Even to those that don't.

I had Aven. She is my daughter. She will always be my daughter... And I will always love her, celebrate her, remember her and talk about her. If that bothers you, I can't help you... I won't alter my grief for you just to make you comfortable.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

10 months

Dear Aven,

I have spent the last three days in tears. I can't really say why the extra tears lately. Yesterday, the hospital nurses sent another letter. I started crying before I even opened the envelope. It was a sweet note for us to remind us they haven't forgotten about you or us. I was touched they remembered your name but sad, sad that after 10 months my heart hurts just as much as it did the day you were born. I try my best to focus on the positive but that only lasts for a little while before a memory pops into my head.

Today I had a visit with my eye doctor. The last time I saw him was July 1, 2010. I knew he was going to ask how my pregnancy test turned out since that is where I was when I saw him last, waiting for July 9th to hurry up so I could see if we were going to have a baby. I had to tell him yes, we had a baby only she died. I am pretty sure NOW everyone knows and now I don't have to dread someone asking me about how that whole pregnancy thing turned out.

Maybe that is why there are so many more tears... Or maybe it is that your birthday is soon. Seeing Halloween ads makes me want to hide but the triggers are everywhere...I can't avoid them even if I tried.

I miss you still...

Love,

Mom

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Crazy...

If there ever comes a day when we can't be together, keep me in your heart. I'll stay there forever.   ~ Winnie the Pooh

Dear Aven,

I am in line at Starbuck's, and I miss you. It is crazy how random places make me think about you. I miss you more than I will ever be able to explain. It is crazy that I am existing still, without you. It is crazy that I still wake up some days and hope it was all just a terrible dream...and it is crazy when I realize it was all real and this is my new reality. Crazy...

Love you,

Mom

Thursday, August 18, 2011

34...

Dear Aven,

My 33rd birthday was unlike my 34th. On the day I turned 33 I was happily pregnant with so many hopes and dreams for you. I can still remember what I wore, what I ordered for dinner and how thrilled I was because it was still sinking in that we were going to be parents. 33 was the year with my greatest joy but it will also always be the year with my greatest loss. Though I miss you every single day, I am hoping I am able to find a little joy, happiness and peace. Here's to 34...

Love you,

Mom

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Almost time...

Dear Aven,

I saw the sun rise today while the full moon lingered around on the other side of the sky. I thought of you. I saw a rainbow today before the rain began after a very long draught. I thought of you. I felt the breeze on my face and the temperature fall. I thought of you. I saw that there were 76 days left until your birthday and...I thought of you. I miss you.

Love,

Mom

Sunday, August 7, 2011

No relief...

Dear Aven,

I miss you so much that my heart aches. How I manage to wake and go about my day without you here, I am not certain how I have managed to do so for this long. I think about you all of the time. I know it will always feel like this. My heart will ache for you until we meet again. I think some days my heart hurts more than others. I should expect the closer we get to your birthday the more vivid the memories roll in of what I was doing this time last year. I find myself angry and more so than usual. I am angry at myself. I am angry at life. I am angry at God. I am angry at my doctor. I am angry that my life is forever changed to grieve.  I am angry at my situation. I am just so angry... I miss you.

Love you,

Mom

Friday, July 29, 2011

9 Months


Dear Aven,

Time keeps passing by yet my heart still remains shattered. I don't feel as healed as I would have hoped to be. Stained glass. My heart is being kept together by my memories of you, the love that your dad has for us and by the little hope towards the future that I manage to find each day. Some days my hope is strong, and some days like today it is only as far as my finger tips will allow me to reach. I miss you.

Love,

Mom
 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

You are my sunshine...

You are my sunshine
My only sunshine
You make me happy
When skies are grey
You'll never know dear
How much I love you
Please don't take my sunshine away

The other night dear
As I lay sleeping
I dreamed I held you
In my arms
When I awoke dear
I was mistaken
and I hung my head and cried...

written by Doris Day


When I was a child, my mother used to sing this song to me only she never sung past the first verse. I will always think of my mother when I hear this song or read the lyrics. I hoped I would one day get to pass on to Aven the songs and stories my mother passed on to me. I hoped a lot of things that I never got to fulfill.

Last weekend, I sat with a group of mothers that also had a pregnancy loss. We met with the sole purpose of starting and completing  baby books. It was one of the most exhausting tasks. I didn't get very far with Aven's book. I managed to put all of her sonograms into her baby book. I am not sure when I will have the energy or desire to pick the book back up to continue with the rest of the things I have of her but at least I started. Now, the book sits next to me as I write. I have looked at the pictures a least 3 times since I began. I am still amazed that I was pregnant with her and amazed that I lost her. It is odd. Things like that don't happen to me and yet it did. Sometimes life is puzzling...


Sunday, July 17, 2011

That's the glory of love...


You've got to give a little, take a little
And let your poor heart break a little
That's the story of,
That's the glory of love

You've got to laugh a little, cry a little
Until the clouds roll by a little...

As long as there's the two of us
We've got the world and all its charms
And when the world is through with us
We've got each other's arms



Written by Billy Hill

Friday, July 15, 2011

Pretty Randomness...

Dear Aven,

I love it when mommy's friends leave pretty things for your garden. It makes me smile to know that I am not the only one that thinks of you. I used to worry about dad because I wear my emotions right out there for everyone to see but dad is a pretty quiet man that keeps things to himself. He isn't vocal about what he feels when it comes to you. I talk about you often and whenever I am with dad I never hesitate to tell him what I am thinking especially when it comes to you. I am convinced he is the only one that will ever really understand my words. He always listens and smiles and comments on whatever it is I have said. He and I still think about you every single day but we show it differently.

I realized this the other night when I saw him standing out on the back patio staring at your garden. He waters the flowers often and makes sure everything is always pretty. He pulls the weeds and trims the vines. I know he does that all for you and that is his time and his way of showing you that he loves you and still thinks about you. I could sit and stare at him watch the garden for hours if you let me.

Today I saw the little bunny hopping around or I should say hauling tail because I scared him. I am pretty sure he lives back there now under the passion vine. I think I am getting spoiled because every time I walk out on the back patio I expect to see the hummingbird or the two morning doves or the bunny. Most of the time I am lucky that at least one of them is out there. It always lifts my spirit when I am down but it also makes me want to laugh because I immediately think of Snow white. I have this image of this woman walking around with bunnies and birds and butterflies following her as she sings her way through life. If only life was as easy as a Disney movie.

I miss you terribly today... ♥

Love,

Mom


 











Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Aven at the Nueschwanstein Castle ♥




On the Marienbrucke Bridge,
Nueschwanstein Castle near Fussen, Germany
July 6, 2011

Picture taken by Jeannie  

My worlds collide

I am sitting in a tire shop waiting for what seems like an eternity on my car, and I am reading a book when I look down and realize that my worlds have just collided and I love it! I took a picture of what made me realize this and I sent it to D so that he could see what I saw. I realize this sounds strange but the image just made me smile and get teary and feel hopeful all at the same time. I am not a fan of silly baby themed things and would have never given Aven a Winnie the Pooh themed nursery but the bear is wise and the words associated with him stole my heart at a time when my loss of Aven was so fresh.


I will forever associate that silly little bear with my baby girl. I think I am not the only one because the book mark I am using in the picture was given to me by my mother. She knows I read often and when she gave it to me I thought well I guess everyone thinks I like Winnie the Pooh but really... It just reminds me of Aven. So I guess yes, I really do like Winnie the Pooh. Love. 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Thank you, Aven

Dear Aven,

A year ago today I found out I was pregnant with you. I am happy that a year ago today my outlook on life changed. Little did I know how much things would change. I am honored that I had you in my life for as long as I did. Thank you for making me a mother. Miss you always...

Mom

Aven in Italy


On the Rialto Bridge, Venice, Italy, July 3, 2011





In Piazza San Marco, Venice, Italy, July 3, 2011



Pictures taken with love by J.Tomasek

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Aven in Chicago



For every day that there is sunshine, there will be days of rain,
it's how we dance within them both that shows our love and pain.

~Joey Tolbert

Thursday, June 30, 2011

8 Months...

I just realized yesterday was 8 months since Aven left us. I am happy that I remembered but at the same time okay with the fact that I remembered a day later. Usually I know the day is coming several days in advance. But yesterday I was running around planning for the future...

I saw a hummingbird in Aven's garden today first thing in the morning. I also saw a bunny... Even though the bunny probably chewed and ate flowers I will miss, it made me smile to know they were both there. All because of Aven...or maybe she put them there just for me. Love. Faith. Hope.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Unlikely Visitor

I saw a hummingbird today in the most unlikely spot. At a restaurant right off of a main highway. The scene was very loud, not at all plush and the least place I would expect to see a hummingbird. Maybe I am crazy for thinking they only fly around quiet flowery gardens where no one can see them. I always think it is a special thing when I get to see one, or when one flies so close to me that I can hear its wings. So the fact that I saw one in the most random place today really made the hairs on my neck stand up. It also gave me a sense of peace or calmness. Maybe it was God, maybe it was Aven. Either way, I appreciated it and I will always remember it on a day when I really needed to feel peace.



Just another visitor...

Friday, June 24, 2011

Fallen.

Dear Aven,

I sure do miss you. I received a card from the nurses at the hospital where I had you letting me know that they are still thinking about us and that if we need them, to just pick up the phone and call. The little card they sent had a picture of a fallen leaf with a rain drop on it and a little poem. Sometimes I feel that you are missing out on so many things going on in our lives but at the same time, maybe we wouldn't be doing them if we had been lucky enough to still have you. Either way I think about it, I miss you and I will miss you every single day.  Love you,  Mom


Fallen.

Drifting aimlessly

on a sea of grief and pain,

the leaf cradles a teardrop.

Offers refuge.

Embodies hope.

Just as winter awakens to spring,

our deepest sorrow harbors the

seed of hope renewed.

Hope renewed.


by Susan Ring

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

One day...

Missing someone gets easier every day because even though it's one day further from the last time you saw each other, it's one day closer to the next time you will.

~Author Unknown

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Fathers Day...

Dear Aven,

Today is my first Fathers Days, and it is a very bitter sweet occasion. On one hand, I am very proud to be your father, and on the other hand, I am very sad to have to spend it without you. Just know that you have made an impact on my life that will span for eternity. You have made me a better and a stronger person, and I am forever grateful to you for that. It has been almost exactly a year since you planted yourself inside your mommy's belly. I will never forgot the moment when we found out you were there, it was the greatest moment of my life. And now, not a moment goes by that you are not somehow in my thoughts. So I just want to say Thank You, for everything you have given me. And of course, I Love You.

Aven's Daddy

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Daddy's Hands

A butterfly came floating by and I thought I knew her face.
She landed on my shoulder and spread her wings of lace.
I looked and saw her smiling as she winked and flew away,
I'm sure I heard her whisper, "We will meet again one day."

 
~ Author Unknown


 

Daddy's Hands

The same day a baby shower invitation arrived in the mail, is the same day I received the little lilac bonnet that was knitted especially for Aven. Happy. Sad. It is amazing how time doesn't stop and how I wish it sometimes would. My heart is often conflicted because I am happy that people around me continue to move forward but at the same time it is a reminder to me and D that we too have to move forward, only with someone obviously missing from our lives.  We both know that people wonder when we are going to "get over it." I am sorry to tell them that this isn't something we will ever "get over." Every day we focus on moving forward, making sure we remember and honor our daughter but also trying to make room for whatever the future holds for us. I am not sure when we will find an equal balance and I am not sure when our picture of grief will shrink into a manageable pretty little size that it won't be so overwhelming at times. I am not even sure that is possible. What I am certain about is that I have hope. The hope that we can experience other people's joy again. The hope that our happiness will return. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Lola's Allergy Doctor

Lola had an allergy visit this afternoon with her skin doctor. We don't usually see Lola's allergy doctor regularly. She takes allergy injections weekly that D gives her on his own. Whenever we need a refill of the serum and steroid medication for Lola, then we need to go in to visit the doctor herself which is maybe twice a year. The last time I went in to see her was in September when I was noticeably pregnant...so today 8 months later we roll on in. The moment she walked in the exam room she said didn't you two just have a baby?

D stood there not knowing what to say. Bless him. He hasn't had to answer this question on a regular basis since everyone at his job or that comes and goes in his regular day already knows that we lost Aven in October but me on the other hand, I face this question on a pretty regular basis. I said yes, we did have a baby but she didn't live. The doctor immediately apologized and said she shouldn't have asked and I immediately said it was okay almost as if I was comforting her. It is not an answer that you hear regularly so I can see how she was caught off guard. I felt bad for her. I feel bad for most people when they ask me that question because I know I am not going to lie to them. I know D hasn't been faced with the question much but I could tell from his pause that he wasn't going to lie to her either.

One of us was going to have to tell her about Aven and since I have had so much practice at it, it was me. I really did push a fully formed tiny baby girl out of my body, whose lungs were just not ready to breathe and function on their own. This really did happen to us. To me. To D. To Aven.

On our car ride home D mentioned to me that I handled that situation well. I guess he is right. I could have lost my crap when the doctor asked us about our baby or I could have told it like it was. I told it like it was.

Just another day in the lives of parents missing a piece of their heart.

Daring.

Last night, I finally had a chance to watch ABC Family's show The Secret Life of the American Teenager. This isn't a show I normally watch and honestly the episode I saw last night was the very first one I had seen. The only reason I watched it is because a fellow baby loss mother told me about how the episode dared to show a pregnant teenager suffer the birth of a stillborn baby girl. I wanted to see what the writers perception of the whole issue was and let's face it, when the topic is so taboo and hardly talked about and a show dares to put it out there on a family show, my interests were peaked. I cried through pretty much the entire episode even though most of the show wasn't about the birth. I cried because it reminded me of what I had been through. I cried because I was proud that ABC put something like that on national television. I cried because I just needed a good cry. I cried because I missed Aven.

There was a scene where the grandfather had to explain to the mother's friends that arrived at the hospital to congratulate her that things didn't end so happily. He told the friends that the couple would never be the same again. They would be changed forever. Nail on the head. The episode that follows I haven't watched yet but from what I have read it shows a glimpse at how the mother deals with things once she has left the hospital. I find it interesting that one little episode about stillbirth made the ratings of the show go up. I have seen it posted on several baby loss threads and miscarriage forums and am sure the hits on that one particular episode will continue to rise, at least as far as the baby loss community goes.

So, kudos to ABC Family for daring to put that out there. After all, the mother that gave birth to a stillborn is the lady that sits next to you in the cube at work, the kindergarten school teacher at your child's school, your best friend, your great aunt, your cousin, the woman behind you at the grocery store, the pregnant teenager in your English class. The woman that gave birth to a stillborn baby is everywhere.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

On my mind...

If I had a single flower for every time I think about you, I could walk forever in my garden. 

~Claudia Ghandi

Night Vision

In one of the stars, I shall be living. In one of them, I shall be laughing.
And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing when you look at the sky at night.

~ The Little Prince ~
Antoine de Saint-Exupery



Purple Skies


Just as pretty at night!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

An Article

There was an article posted on the Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope site that caught my attention. It was beautifully written and every single word in the article spoke a truth to me, at least the parts that have played out in my life and grief journey thus far. It is a glimpse of one woman's journey through her own grief and loss, 20 years later. Talking to people and reading other women's stories about their own loss, gives me hope that one day this road won't be so difficult. One day...

   
With a stillborn baby, there is no past to be mourned  Written by Catherine Dunne© 2011.

IT IS TEN to six on the morning of the February 28th, 1991. My labour ends and my small son slips quietly – too quietly – into the world. I learn that the Gulf War is now over. It feels that another battle has ended, too.

The midwife, CaitrĂ­ona, wraps Eoin in hospital-issue green blankets and hands him to me. “He’s beautiful,” she says. I reach for him, hold him close, surprised at how warm he is. But of course, he’s only minutes old. The cold will come later.
I stroke his face. “Poor little scrap,” I say.

* * * * * *
All that night, we’d held a vigil. My doctor, Patricia; CaitrĂ­ona; other midwives whose names I no longer remember, and my husband. By turns, each of us wept, laughed, told jokes and stories, moving in and out of sorrow. It was one of those times when significance seems to lurk in everyday objects, common as a teacup.

An abruption, Patricia told me. I’d never even heard of it. The placenta falls away from the wall of the uterus. Abrupt: just like the word. The baby, a tiny spaceman, falls out of his self-contained world, spinning away into a different sort of gravity.

He didn’t suffer, she promised. It was just like going to sleep.

Why me, why us? I wonder, silently.
Why not, comes the answer.

* * * * * *
Two days later, we are shopping. Eamonn has just bought a gift for his baby brother. He has replicated for Eoin what is most precious in his own small life: his blue blanket. We buy it, wrap it up, head for home. I wonder at this eight-year-old’s courage.

“I want to hold his hand,” he’d said, once we’d told him what had happened. He looked sturdy, determined. The nurses watched as he unwrapped the green waffle-blanket, took the cold fingers in his.

They turned away quietly, coming back later with lemonade, biscuits, a plate of battered fairy-cakes, covered with blue icing and Smarties.

* * * * * *
People told me it would take time. And it did, but not in the way they meant. Days lost their definition, blurring sleepily into nights. Weeks tumbled one into the other, baggy and shapeless. I washed, dressed, cooked, cleaned, drove, ironed, supervised homework, cried.

The one thing I didn’t do was look at the open suitcase on my bedroom floor. At all those hopeful packets that I hadn’t had the chance to take to the hospital with me, so that I might have been able to leave them behind.

Vests, Babygros, nappies.

* * * * * *
During these early days, I want to know why formerly kind people cross the street when they see me; why conversation is bright and brittle as glass; why people step around this death as though its shards might make them bleed. I want to know how to answer those who tell me I have “an angel in heaven” or that I will “have another one” – as though babies, people, are replaceable.

And as I make my way through those first weeks, I long for an outward sign: something to show the world that I am a bereaved mother. I remember the diamonds of dark material, sewn onto my father’s sleeve when my grandmother died. I remember how people nodded to him, shook hands, touched his elbow. Strangers and neighbours alike offered comfort in that small acknowledgement of his loss.
I miss that – or something like it.

* * * * * *
There is a phrase in Urdu which I love: ghum-khaur. It means “grief-eaters” and describes the community that gathers together to absorb the mourner’s sorrow. There are no words in that language for a solitary grieving; no concept of the privacy of loss.

My first grief-eater was a man called John O’Donoghue. He is a thanatologist, which means he studies death and dying. He spoke at a conference seven weeks after Eoin’s birth and he was challenging, blunt, forceful. He railed against the displacement of grief.

Listening to him, I felt the first inkling that recovery was possible. Not just acceptance, not just the ability to “get on” with things, but the possibility of a full-blooded, whole-hearted reinvestment in life and living.

* * * * * *
Later, I learn what it means to be family, what it means to have friends. I learn about what to ask from each during my long, slow return. I learn, too, there is no tidy timetable to grieving, no milestones that can be marked off neatly with a tick: been there, done that. It is a process, one that ebbs and flows, that cuts the ground from underneath your feet one day, supports and soothes you the next.

* * * * * *
There are some accepted standards to grief and grieving. Kind people wanted me to know that the first six months are the worst, that it gets easier. After the first year, you will turn the corner. You will begin to feel better.

Well, yes and no. If some automatic, linear progression towards recovery existed, then what would explain the presence of all the elderly men and women in the front row of the conference?


They had no tools, they said, no knowledge, no understanding, no support. And so they had been consumed by their own private sadness for decades. There were no grief-eaters for them. There was no acknowledgement that theirs was a sorrow that demanded to be recognised, shared, softened by talk and tenderness. Recovery remained beyond them, always out of their reach.

It struck me then how central ritual is to recovery. Without it, we have no starting point, no point of departure, of separation, between the past and the future. We hover in the shadows, unable to move back, unwilling to move forward.

* * * * * *
We seem to be programmed to grieve. It is our response to the strength of the ties that bind us. It’s a messy, complicated, emotional process, that of absorbing loss and facing life again. With a stillborn baby, there is no past to be mourned – which is another loss in itself – but there are the endless, unfulfilled possibilities of the future that we need, somehow, to make our peace with.

And there is a harder truth to be faced here. Although fathers and mothers grieve the loss of a baby together, in reality they often grieve separately.

Some say that there is a fundamental difference in relationships that needs to be untangled. That for mothers, the baby’s reality has been an immense presence, even if unfelt by others, all through the advancing pregnancy. For fathers, the reality often begins at the moment of birth. There is a disconnect, a skewing of perceptions, a different focus to loss.
For both, it is devastating, but for each, it is different.

* * * * * *
The comfort of ritual; the company of grief-eaters; learning to live from one moment to the next; valuing the power of spoken and written words – all of this got me through. It’s hard to chart recovery, in the same way that it is impossible to grieve in stages.

But a guesstimate of four years is as good as any. At that point, grief ceased to ambush me. It moved to a different register and acquired a new tone. A strong sense of having been “spared” eventually began to grow. It was accompanied at the same time by a dark surge of guilt: how come I was the one to survive, and not my son? But little by little, over the next few years, this sense of having been given another chance became stronger and stronger.

Life began to feel, truly, like a gift.

* * * * * *
I began to write like a demon. Blankness receded. I could focus again, sleep again, celebrate the birth of other people’s babies again. The world no longer showed itself to me in black and white. It was now peopled with more subtle colours, more shade than shadow. The shoots of recovery that I had once sensed were becoming hardy plants; still susceptible to frost, but nonetheless, strongly rooted in the future.

And writing made me.

* * * * * *
Eoin is still part of my daily life. No longer the blinding light in the middle of my forehead that obscures everything else, he nevertheless abides with me. A gentle presence, an exacting taskmaster. He has taught me that grief is, above all, a sense of separation so acute that even now, 20 years later, I can access it with no difficulty at all, and not a little emotion.

* * * * * *
Would I wish it different? Of course I would. He would be approaching his twentieth birthday now, and I often imagine him at my table. He has his own decoration on my Christmas tree, his own place wherever I am.

But it is a place that is appropriate to the rest of my life.

* * * * * *
John O’Donoghue likened the early days of grief to a huge photograph in the house, a picture of the dead baby that dominates the mantelpiece, the room, the lives of all who live there. Gradually, the image needs to become smaller; still there, but no longer overwhelming.

It has taken time – time that was no longer stolen, but used in order to gain a foothold in the underworld of grieving.

Now, Eoin is of passport size, so that I can take him with me wherever I go. My travelling companion, my son, my teacher.

I can’t help wondering what he would look like. When I do, I just look at his brother. And I smile.

Written by Catherine Dunne© 2011.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Strength

Dear God,

I pray for strength. Strength to get through anything that I am faced with in the coming days and weeks ahead. When I feel that I can't take anymore of the complications of this silly thing we call life, please be at my side to remind me that what I am faced with is only temporary.

Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.

 -Gandhi

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A moment of happiness...

When I was pregnant, D took a picture of my belly every single week. I have pictures from the moment I knew I was pregnant at four weeks and yes, when you get pregnant by route of IVF then you definitely know from the absolute very beginning. After I lost Aven, I put all of the pictures where my belly was visible away. It was too difficult a reminder of everything I had been through and what the outcome had been. I am always well aware that I lost my baby, a mother never forgets that but seeing the pictures where I am absolutely happy just makes me realize how different I am now. It makes me realize how much everything has changed. It makes me realize that I probably won't ever be that happy again. It makes me miss my daughter.

I know that life moves on and I know that I am able to smile and laugh again but my level of joy won't ever be what it was. Once your security is pulled out from under you and your spirit is crushed, I am not sure it is possible to trust that happiness like that will exist again and if it does, it is easy to believe it will just be yanked away all over again.

The first time I saw the picture below was today. It was one of my goals to at least look at the pictures of my friend's wedding, knowing it was the last time D and I were happy. You can see it on our faces. Our only problem at that moment in time was finding a pediatrician. It is crazy how life can change in an instant. It made me happy to see the picture. It made me miss Aven so much that I had trouble catching my breath. I love that there is a picture out there where D and I are smiling and I am pregnant with Aven. A last moment of happiness as a family of three...



Picture taken September 2010

Aven in Arizona ♥

Faith isn't faith until it's all you're holding on to...

 

 ♥ Aven and Jesse James at the Grand Canyon ♥

Picture taken with love by Cyndi Longoria


Saturday, June 4, 2011

Hummingbirds!

About an hour ago, I was in Aven's Garden waiting on Lola as she wandered about the back yard. I sat on the little bench that we have in the middle of her garden when two hummingbirds flew by me. They were fighting or chasing each other around the garden. One of them even stopped and perched on the Oak tree for a second before fluttering off. They flew so close to my head that I could hear the hum of their wings. I let out a laugh because I was amazed that such beautiful little creatures allowed me to watch them flutter about. They weren't afraid of me. They just went about their business as usual as if they didn't realize I was there or as if they wanted me to know their presence. They must have stayed around for about 5 minutes. The hummingbirds even flew close enough to Lola that she had to move out of the way, like they were darting at her. After they fluttered off, Lola let out a few barks as if she was getting after them for darting at her the way they did. I am still in awe. Two little hummingbirds have made my entire day...



“I held you every second of your life.”  ♥

Stephanie Paige Cole

Bereaved Mother


“Do not judge the bereaved mother.
She comes in many forms.
She is breathing, but she is dying.
She may look young, but inside she has become ancient.
She smiles, but her heart sobs.
She walks, she talks, she cooks, she cleans, she works, she IS,
but she IS NOT, all at once.
She is here, but part of her is elsewhere for eternity.”

Author unknown




Wednesday, June 1, 2011

4 O'clock

Dear Aven,

I thought of you today at exactly 4 O'clock. I was walking around at work when I looked up at the clock and saw the time. I wondered for a second what things would have been like had you lived. I didn't let myself dwell on it because if I needed a moment to myself to get it together, well ...I knew I wasn't going to have that luxury given my work schedule. I miss you terribly when I realize another month has passed, or when I look at the scars on my arms from my hospital stay... and sometimes times just because it is 4 O'clock.

Love,

Mom

A vision of sorrow...

There is, I am convinced, no picture that conveys in all its dreadfulness, a vision of sorrow, despairing, remediless, supreme. If I could paint such a picture, the canvas would show only a woman looking down at her empty arms.

Charlotte Bronte

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Breathe.


 Breathe.
Listen for my footfall in your heart.
I am not gone but merely walk within you.


 ~Nicholas Evans~

Saturday, May 28, 2011

And time passes...


♥ “Each new life,no matter how brief, forever changes the world.” ♥











♥ “Each new life,no matter how brief, forever changes the world.” ♥