Monday, February 15, 2016

The Cemetery through the Eyes of a Toddler

When you imagine pictures being taken at a cemetery, what would you imagine? 

Tears...heads hung low...maybe something dark and creepy straight out of a scary movie?

Five years ago, if you would have asked me what came to my mind when I pictured a cemetery, those would have probably topped my list. Growing up, cemeteries weren't a place I visited. They were a scary, maybe even taboo place, that I wanted to stay far away from. Most likely this was because I never had a reason to visit them. 

Since losing Avery, I've found the cemetery where she is buried to be a rather beautiful location. There are majestic, old oak trees, sprawling green lawns and it is peacefully quiet. You feel like you've stepped out of our small city right into the country.  It is a place I use to go often. As time has pushed us forward, I spend less time there but when we do go, Harper has made the visits even more special. She enjoys going to visit her "Avey." She likes playing with the race cars left of her stone and running around the open area. She always hugs Avery's stone before we leave. It is the sweetest, most innocent thing to watch.  Harper's visits to the cemetery are far from what I would have imagined growing up. 

Harper doesn't grasp where we are, what she's doing there or even that, to most, the cemetery is a sad place. She just thinks she is seeing her sissy and getting to play. Her childhood impressions of cemeteries will be much different than mine. She won't be afraid to step foot in a cemetery. This, unfortunately, will be her norm. And while I am glad she likes visiting this place, I hate that this will be part of her relationship with her big sister. I would rather they be fighting as they grow up over silly things.  I would rather they be sharing clothes as they got older and fighting over wearing the same top. I would rather, Harper going to her big sister for advice. But this is what we get. At least for now, Harper doesn't grasp what we are all missing out on. At least for now, she can help make our trips to visit Avery a sweet time. 

She was so pleased with herself for bringing a flower for Avery. 

Goodbye hugs. 



Wednesday, September 16, 2015

I heart nurses

There has been a lot of talk and appreciation for nurses and medical personnel on social media this week after some completely asinine comments made by those women on the View. I won't go into my distaste for them or the show in general because honestly, they don't deserve any more attention. 

Today, my thoughts have frequently drifted to my experience with both having and losing Avery and the wonderful nurses and doctors that took care of both of us. And out of the dozens of people we encountered through our journey my labor and delivery nurse and of course my OBGYN stand out as some of the most caring, compassionate medical professionals I have ever personally encountered and I know they are not alone. Doctors often get so much credit for all they do and while I don't want to discount their amazing work, tonight I want to give insight into just how much this nurse means to me (sorry Dr. T, you know I love you)!

My nurse, we shall call her nurse P, held my hand through painful contractions when my epidural wasn't working. She stood by my side encouraging me, pushing me through the worse physical pain I had ever experienced. She wiped my sweat, dried my tears and most importantly kept Avery and I safe through a long labor. 

She monitored my vitals and Avery's vitals as labor was slow yet quick. She calmed my nerves when my amazing doctor decided enough was enough and we needed a c-section to keep us all safe. She took the contacts out of my eyes when I couldn't sit up before the surgery to do it myself. She helped clean me up when I couldn't even muster up enough energy to do so before I was wheeled into the OR. She was there in the operating room as I was being prepped. She led Eddy to my side when it was time to get started. She was the one to show Avery to me and was the first to help clean her up. She was a godsend. She was up all night with us through the delivery. She even checked in on us after we were moved from labor and delivery to the mom/baby side on her next shift, we weren't even her patients anymore. 

And six days later, as she was finishing an overnight shift upstairs, she came down to us when heard what had happened to Avery and that we were in the ER. She came to see us, to hug us, pray with us and to cry with us. She was the only medical professional that day to do so, even though Avery's own pediatrician was in the building and knew we were there. She was the only one to come. 

And since that horrid day, she's checked in with us, sent encouraging words, she supports my work to help others, she has worn a pink Avery bracelet and shown her love for Avery. The kindness, compassion and tender care Nurse P has shown us over the last 3 years has been an incredible gift.

She didn't have to go above and beyond. She could have treated us as just another patient, another mother and baby out of thousands she's encountered in her career but she didn't. She could have cared for us that one night and disappeared but she didn't. She didn't have to come sit with us during the worst hours of our life but she did. And for her kindness, we are forever grateful. 

Medical professionals, emergency workers, public safety officers all choose to do the work they do on a daily basis, constantly putting the needs of others a over their own. They choose to serve us in our happiest and darkest times. They deserve to be treated with the upmost respect all day, every day. They do not deserve to be treated as a joke. They don't make millions being cruel and insensitive on national TV. Those people are the real joke. 

To Nurse P and all nurses, I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. The world would be a better place if it were filled with selfless people like you!


That's Nurse P, she's been intentionally cropped out for her own privacy ;) right after Avery was born!


Friday, August 28, 2015

I want my bubble back

I've struggled a lot this week with simply just being overwhelmed with the awful things that happen in this world.  Sometimes being a member of this babyloss community can be so overwhelming. We know first hand how quickly life can turn upside down.  This knowledge and the loss of your naivety wears on your emotions. Being acutely aware of the reality of death has a way of doing that I guess. And this week was especially hard. The week started out fine but took a quite unexpected turn for me personally. 

While preparing for a conference call with a manager at my new job, her phone rang. I saw the name on the phone and my heart dropped. It was one of the manager' employees calling; an employee whose teenage child was battling cancer. As soon as she picked up the phone and I could hear the cracking of the mothers voice on the other line, I knew it was the call the manager, and all of the wonderful people we work with, had been dreading. Her son wasn't going to make it very long, it was the end. I sat there stunned, tears streaming down my cheeks as I watched this manager crumble yet manage to keep it together just enough to try to be strong for that poor mother. The call ended and we both crumbled together. That sweet mom lost her child a few hours later. 

I don't know the mom, I don't know the child and up until 5 minutes before that call came through, I didn't even know this manager. But in that moment, my heart absolutely broke for all of them. I know what it's like to be that mom. Having to make those awful calls. Having to put on a brave face knowing that life as you know if will never be the same. Knowing your hopes, dreams and the future you saw for your child would never come to be. And not knowing how you could possibly take that next breath. 

A child is not supposed to die before their parents. It's not the natural order of things yet every single day, I'm reminded that it happens and often. Whether it's the sweet baby still tiny and growing in the womb, the tiny premie born too soon, the baby with the rare heart defect or like Avery, the baby gone for no reason at all; it happens every. single. day.  And as Harper continues to grow, the fears of losing her grow too. Accidents, cancer, school shootings, workplace shootings, domestic violence. It surrounds us daily. No matter what any of us do, we aren't safe and nobody is immune. Seriously, how do any of us ever leave the house? 

And I've got to be quite honest, some days I just don't know how many more tragic stories of childless or tragic loss my weak heart can bear. Friends, coworkers, strangers - I hear their stories of loss oh so often. And every time my heart breaks. Some days, I'm ready to throw in the towel and retreat into a makeshift bubble where I'm not surrounded by it all anymore. But just when I feel I've had all I can take, someone reaches out who needs to know they are not alone. That they aren't the only person in this miserable world who has buried their baby and feels like the rest of the planet has moved on without them. And just when I feel like giving up, I'm pulled right back in. As hard as it is, as heartbreaking and horrible as it is knowing these tragedies occur daily, it's even more heartbreaking knowing how isolating it can be walking this path. I don't know how doctors, nurses, law enforcement, fire fighters, medics, etc do it constantly. But I'm ever so thankful that they do. 



I think I will forever question God as to why parents have to bury their babies. Why is there so much pain and suffering of innocent children? Why let this happen?

Why? 
Why?
Why?

It just doesn't make sense and it honestly never will. 

This world is a scary place.  None of us know what our next hour or even minute brings so let go of the small stuff, say you're sorry and appreciate those you have in your life. 



Friday, June 12, 2015

3 years

The clock just hit midnight and just like that, it's June 12th...again, I've been laying in bed for over an hour trying to will myself to sleep and stop my mind from wandering to no avail.  My thoughts tonight are on three years ago. And all night long I've been watching he clock and counting down the time. This time 3 years ago, we had just about 6 hours left with Avery and yet we had no idea. Our world was still perfect. We expected to watch her grow up not wake up to a nightmare that will forever haunt me. 

I can't help but relive that night. Yet it's killing me that the memories are getting fuzzy. I remember the timeline. In bed around 10, up at midnight to feed, up again at 3 back down around 5 ish and then the alarm at 6. The alarm that awoke me to my nightmare. But it's the images of her, it's the feeling of her in my arms, her smell, her cry those feel like they are fading. And I absolutely hate that. 

I wish I could go back and just hit pause and just live in those moments forever. I wish that night I had as hard of a time falling asleep as I am tonight. Maybe, maybe if I hadn't fallen asleep, I would have noticed her sooner and she would still be here. I hate these thoughts. I hate today. I hate living without her. I hate knowing that I will hate this day for the rest of my life. Yet I know I must, and I will and the world will keep spinning and life will keep moving forward. I just want to go back even if just for a day to old her and soak her in one last time. 

If only...


Sunday, May 31, 2015

5 not 6

I went to a baby shower for a dear friend when I was just 13 weeks pregnant with Avery. She was 29/30ish weeks pregnant and expecting her second. At the shower there were 5 of us all pregnant. One who went into labor that day and the rest of us spread over the next 7 or so months. We took a photo of all 5 of us, varying bump sizes. Over the next few months each of us welcomed sweet babies into this world. 

I looked forward to Avery being just 2.5 months younger than one of my best friends kids. I saw family vacations, lots of fun playtime as we got together and watching our kiddos grow up together. We all know that didn't turn out the way I imagined. 

Most days, I've tucked Avery into her special place in my heart. Most days, I have no idea what it would be like to have an almost 3 year old. She's still that tiny baby in my head. And unfortunately, that's how she's always going to be to me. But this past weekend I got a glimpse into what it would be like to have a 3 year old. My friend and her family came to visit. My friend and her son, the one Avery should be playing with. There he was in all his 3 year old glory. Running, talking, playing, potty trained, independent yet still in need of good snuggles. 

Somehow it didn't really sink in how much Avery was missing until we tried (unsuccessfully) to get all 5 of them to sit, stand and face the camera. Little E, who should be Avery's playmate, refused to sit with the rest of the group, resulting in a big gap. A big gap where Avery should be. There should have been 6 of them in that picture. Avery should have been playing with the kids, should be in that picture and should be keeping me on my toes. 

1:4 will lose their baby. I had no idea when taking that picture at that baby shower that was the statistic. I was 13 weeks, we were in the safe zone. But we weren't. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Unfamiliar Territory

I've hit an odd place in my journey. 

Early on the tears flowed like waterfalls. Everything was dark, pitch black. There was no hope, there was no happiness, just a black hole of never ending pain.  And I truly couldn't imagine a life that was any different. I mean, how could I? 

My. 
Daughter. 
Died.  

It seemed like it would be a life sentence of misery. Even when on the outside, I put on my fake smile, I was dying on inside. 

As time moved me forward, the darkness slowly started to lighten and I was somehow being pulled out of the black hole. Smiles that were genuine began again. Laughter came but just as often as their were periods of happiness, there were equally periods of deep sadness. Some days I truly felt crazy. Who goes from having a great day to a heap of a person sobbing on the floor? I did. And sometimes multiple times a day. The grey period was interesting; learning to navigate my emotions, learning to live without a piece of my heart, learning how to move forward without moving on. 

And then it happened, the rainbow after the storm. And I have to admit, I am very hesitant to write this so let me be clear, a rainbow does NOT replace the child lost, does not mean the parents have moved on or that they will no longer be sad and long for their baby gone too soon. Having Harper brought so much hope and love back into my broken heart.  Her first year of life was trying to say the least. And I had about a million panic attacks thinking I would
lose her too. She keeps us busy, she makes us smile, she makes us cry, she makes our hearts fill with so much love. She makes me wonder a thousand times a day what Avery would have been like. And she never stops surprising us with her sweet love for her sister. 

She has brought light back into our dark lives. She has taught me that it's truly ok to be happy, to love, to smile, to laugh. She has been such a blessing and has helped me so much on my healing journey. I think she's part of the reason I feel like I am in such a odd place right now. Maybe odd isn't the right word, maybe it's just unfamiliar. 

I'm in a new place where I no longer feel the need to wear Avery on my sleeve. Early on, I needed to tell every person who would listen about Avery. I needed to scream her name from rooftops, I needed to do as much as possible to outwardly remember, recognize and honor her. But I'm not there anymore. For a while I felt guilty for feeling that way. Like I was ready to pack her up and move on. But I've come to realize that's not what I am doing. I've come to a place where I don't have to do the outward things to feel like her mom. I don't have to scream her name for a to hear to show the world my love for her. I don't have to prove to anyone she existed. I know she existed. I know how amazing she is and I know how much I love her, how much I think about her and how much I miss her every day. 

This place is unfamiliar. I don't know what it means. And that scares the hell out of me. I don't know how to manage this new place. But as I've been doing for almost 3 years now, I plan to just take it one day at a time and see where I end up. 


Thursday, January 29, 2015

Experiences

This time of year I am hesitant to take a look at my daily time hop app. Some days they are all Harper but others there are bittersweet, heart wrenching reminders of Avery. From now till June, she was very present in my growing belly and in our arms for those 6, all to quick, days. Monday, this was my bittersweet reminder of what I am missing. I wanted badly to take amazing trips with Avery and share the world with her but that was taken from me. And as I started to let my mind wander to all that Avery (and I) were missing out on, I thought back to all that she did get to experience. 

Before I knew I was pregnant, I spent a long weekend in NYC visiting my former college roommate and one of my absolute best friends, Sarah. And while I didn't know it until a few days after I arrived home, Avery was with me for that trip.  She was around 4 weeks at the time and got to experience all of NYC as a little gummy bear.

Avery got to experience Times Square, a Broadway show, the Statue of Liberty, Rockefeller Center, Central Park, Macy's, lots of amazing food and lots of great shopping. She flew on a plane. She rode in a NYC taxi and the subway. And that is not all she was able to do while she was with us. 

Avery went on boat rides, saw beautiful sunsets, went to the beach, the spa, the movies. She visited the Keys twice. She went shopping, had amazing fondue, heard Christmas music and experienced a Thanksgiving dinner. She went to work with me and cuddled up with her Daddy and I on the couch. 

She spent 9 months and 6 days knowing nothing but love. True, unconditional, never ending love. I didn't get to show her the beautiful sights of the world, but she has now seen more than I ever will in this life. And through her brief life she has shown and taught me so much more about life than I ever thought possible.

Life isn't how I planned but now it's all about perspective

and how I choose to live the life I have been given. And I will continue to do so in a way to make both of my daughters proud.