Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Day 31: Sunset

This project has really made me think about aspects of my grief that I may not have contemplated yet. I am very thankful for Carly to host this. While difficult, I am glad I participated.

To close I found a great quote:

“Dusk is just an illusion because the sun is either above the horizon or below it. And that means that day and night are linked in a way that few things are there cannot be one without the other yet they cannot exist at the same time. How would it feel I remember wondering to be always together yet forever apart?”
― Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook

Avery will always be with me yet we will always be apart this side of Heaven.

I love you sweet girl!

Halloween


So, it’s Halloween, a holiday that has never meant much to me.  I didn’t think this holiday would have much of an impact on me, but it has.  I am pretty much steering clear of Facebook today because the few times I went on, I was bombarded with pictures of other’s children all dressed up for the day.  Pictures that I thought I too would be posting.  Today is another day that is not turning out the way I saw it only short 5 months ago.  5 months ago, I envisioned being excited to get home from work and put Avery into a cute baby costume.  I still envision her in a cute little monkey outfit, with her cute chubby cheeks peeking out. She would have been the cutest monkey ever! Here in Florida, it is normally hot on Halloween.  I remember thinking that we probably would only visit our family on Halloween so that poor Avery in her costume wasn’t uncomfortable.  But this year, the weather is perfect!  It may have almost been a bit cool for her, but she would have been comfortable in her fuzzy little costume.  We would have been able to spend more time outside and with family.  But instead of this, here I sit, alone with no traditional Halloween plans.  Our plans for tonight consist of looking for silk flowers for her grave, trying to find a place to photograph the sunset for the last day of the capture your grief challenge, going to dinner and then turning out all of the lights, avoiding children at all costs and watching a movie.  I absolutely HATE that these are our plans now.  This is not how it was supposed to be.
Today has also made me realize that Christmas is going to be terrible.  I really think we are going to pack up and go out of town, avoid Christmas all together.  I am sure our families will miss us, but I just want to pretend Christmas isn’t happening.  I’ve decided today, I am cancelling Christmas.  I am also scared for the future.  How do I do this year after year?  She isn’t coming back and everything I face will be without her.  I just cannot fathom how I will get through this year after year. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Day 29: Songs


Today’s challenge was to post song’s that remind you of your child or have been a part of your journey.  There have been many amazing songs through this journey that I couldn’t pick just one. 

Day 27-28

I’m a little behind on the Capture the Grief Challenge, something I told myself I wouldn’t do but it happened.  Such is life.

Day 27 was supposed to be artwork.  This is a combination of a few “art” pieces.  The left is the prayer flag I sent for Carly’s Beachside October 15th ceremony and the middle is a luminary I made for Avery for a Beachside October 15th ceremony.   One of my favorite “art” pieces we have for Avery is her “A;” made by one of my amazing friends before Avery was born.  She designed the letter to match Avery’s bedroom theme perfectly.  It is one of my favorite pieces in her room and it means a lot that one of my friends spent so much time to make it so perfect for Avery.  The bottom right is a piece I just recently received by another great friend who often leaves presents for us at Avery’s graveside.  It is a pink butterfly with her name in the middle.  It is super cute and most importantly, it makes me feel good that people still think about Avery and bring her gifts.


Day 28 was supposed to be a memory of your grief journey so far.  I chose to highlight a memory that was a positive memory from this journey.  I’ve been on the journey for 20 weeks and mostly have negative memories.  I am really trying to focus more on the good than the bad so I picked probably one of the best nights I have had in the past 20 weeks.  This picture is from the beachside luminary October 15th event I attended hosted by Elizabeth Ministries of Melbourne.  While the event was emotionally draining, it was amazing to be surrounded by so many amazing families who are traveling this grief road with us.  Some were further in their journey while others were newer to it than me.  But it was so comforting to hear their stories, to see that many have found some peace and comfort and that they all are still standing.  It was an amazing evening and I am very thankful to have met these amazing people. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Tears at Disney and a Random Act of Kindness

This weekend we went with our brother and sister in law to Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival.  They go every year and have always asked us to go.  This year, we decided to join them.  We’ve avoided Disney with the family as we didn’t want to be surrounded by happy families but we thought Epcot, especially the Food and Wine Festival, would be much more adult.  Boy, were we wrong! Once again, we were blindsided with families enjoying their day with their beautiful children.  There we are wanting to escape, have some fun, try some good food and drink and we are reminded yet again of what we DON’T get.  Who goes to a Disney park and cries?  I do, I guess.  Almost immediately I regretted going but we were already there so I committed to getting though the day.  While it was hard seeing so many babies (especially those in HER stroller), we enjoyed ourselves overall.

There were a few moments that especially stuck out.  One was while waiting for my husband and brother in law to meet us.  I was just sitting, starting to allow the sadness to sink in, tears staring to form and out of crowds of people comes a beautiful butterfly.  It really appeared out of the thick of people, made its way over to me and danced around just long enough to bring a little smile to my face.  Instantly I thought of Avery and felt like she had a hand in this butterfly making its way to me.  The same thing happened again later in the day.  As I was sitting, allowing the emptiness to creep in, a bubble floated right in front of me.  A lone bubble, a child’s bubble.  It wasn’t long until I was surrounded by them.  And again, I smiled.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Here come the holidays


Ready or not, here they come!  The holidays are coming and the mere thought of them literally puts me into a panic.  Over the past few years my husband and I have often joked how holidays just don’t feel the way they should because it was just the 2 of us.  We both looked forward to being able to celebrate this year as a family of 3.  Now, realizing that we have to go through the holiday season this year without Avery is unbearable. 
Halloween isn’t one of my favorite holidays but I envisioned actually carving a pumpkin and picking out a cute costume for Avery.  I pictured going trick or treating with her cousins and stopping to show her off to our friends and family in town.  Since we cannot do this, this year we’ve decided to go to dinner and a movie on Halloween so we can completely avoid trick or treaters and hopefully everything that we will be missing.

Thanksgiving is normally spent at my mom’s house out of town.  I looked forward to taking Avery on her first road trip, having her visit her grandmother and her cousins she wouldn’t have gotten to see very often.  I pictured relaxing with her outside by the water.  Now, I am completely avoiding Thanksgiving.  Not only is it another holiday without her but my sister also has 2 kids; one 18 months older than Avery and the other only 5 weeks older than her.  I just can’t handle being around them and seeing everyone fuss over them.  I love them but I just can’t handle that right now.  So we are taking an anti-Thanksgiving trip with our best friends.  We will be spending Thanksgiving in Vegas.  Nothing screams anti-Thanksgiving like gambling, buffets and shows.  I am looking forward to getting away on this trip.  We plan to also take a day trip to California.  I am going to try to take my own beach picture of Avery’s name in California and her name in Vegas. Something I plan to do on all of our trips now.  While I am excited to get away, I know I won’t be escaping the holiday all together.  I know it is still going to be hard.  Bottom line is, it is still going to be Thanksgiving without her. 

Day 26: Her age


Avery was only 6 days old when we lost her.  6 days will never be enough but I know I also wouldn’t be satisfied even if I had 6 million days with her. I mean, how could any parent be fully satisfied with any amount of days they had with their child?  I am however thankful that I was given 6 beautiful days with her.  I will forever cherish each second of these 6 days.  I remember so much about that short period of time.  I could tell you who visited us and on which day.  I could tell you what she wore, what time we went to bed and exactly what we did during the day each of those days.    My husband and I fell in love even more during those 6 days.  Those 6 days will forever be ingrained in my mind and will always be a cherished period of time.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Day 25: Babyshower


My friends and family threw me and Avery an amazing shower when I was 29 weeks pregnant.  We did the shower early because my sister, who lives 5 hours away, was 34 week pregnant and we wanted her to be able to attend.  Looking back, I am so glad we did the shower early on.  We received so many gifts that it took us the next two months to get everything organized and her nursery ready. 
The day of the shower was a great day.  They put so many cute touches together to make it a beautiful shower.  Her cake was amazing, the food was fantastic (which was wonderful to a big preggo lady like myself) and the games were fun.  More importantly, our friends and family were all together to celebrate Avery.  There were almost 30 people in attendance and I think it took almost 2 hours for me to open all of the gifts.  Avery is truly one blessed and loved little girl.  She was spoiled before we even made her grand entrance.    

Looking back, I still can’t believe how naïve I was to assume our story would end with happily ever after.  The shower was 3 months and 1 day before I buried my girl.  It still amazes me how quickly everything can go from perfect to a complete mess so quickly.  Avery barely was able to use any of the amazing gifts we received at her shower.  I hate that there are so many things she never even touched.  I cherish her gifts, especially those she actually used.  And I cherish the memories we made during that shower.  I am thankful for the family and friends we have that love Avery. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Day 24: Siblings

This is a picture of Avery with her 5 older boy cousins. Since she was our first and doesn't have any siblings I decided to post her pictures with them. Avery was the first girl born into my husband's father's side of the family in over 50 years. To say she was the princess is a complete understatement. Her closet is still busting at the seams with clothes.

She was loved and wanted by so many, including these boys (although at first they weren't sure how they would incorporate her into baseball, they later decided she would be the best girl baseball player ever). Growing up, I am sure she would have hated having these 5 tough guys looking out for her (and so would boys her age) but they would have been her protectors.

They love her. They all wore pink to her service and keep their Avery bracelets in a special place. Even the youngest who is only 3 perks up whenever he hears her name and asks about baby Avery. They all love her and remember her, I just wish I could have watched them all grow up together.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Day 23: Their Name/Photo

This is probably one of my favorite pictures of Avery.  It was taken on Sunday, June 10, 2012.  My husband was napping and then ran errands so Avery and I had the afternoon alone.  She was in such a good mood and was making the cutest faces.  I tried to catch her little smiles and silly faces with my camera but most of the time I missed the moment when she smiled.  But in this one, I caught her beautiful smile.

It’s so hard to see this picture and know that within 48 hours of this photo she as gone.  She was so perfect and amazing.  I am thankful that she and I were able to spend some mommy/daughter time that day. 

Day 22: Place of Care


This photo was taken just a few minutes after Avery was born.  My husband was my best caretaker when Avery was born.  He was by my side through my labor and c-section.  Once Avery was born, he didn’t leave her side while I was in post-op.  He made sure his little girl was taken care of and not alone.  He was there for me the 2 days we were in the hospital and when we were released to go home.  I don’t know what I would have done without him.  Recovering from a c-section is much harder than I anticipated.  It was hard to get out of bed, hard to get situated in a comfortable position to nurse; it was overall just hard to get around.  But he was there helping me each step of the way.  Not only was he there for me, he was there for Avery; making sure she was 100% happy.

Even after we lost Avery, he has been my caretaker.  He continuously puts my needs above his even though he is in pain too.  I would be lost without him and I am thankful God blessed me with such a wonderful husband.

I think I've reached my breaking point...


Tonight insomnia has become my enemy again.  I can’t sleep so my mind runs wild.  As I lay in bed trying to sleep, my mind drifts to the past.  Monday nights/early morning Tuesday is always very hard for me.  Tonight is no different.
19 weeks ago at this time, I was up for a late night feeding with Avery.  What I didn’t know at that time was this midnight feeding would be the second to last that I would ever share with her.  This time 19 weeks ago I was slightly anxious that my husband was going back to work in the morning and it would just be Avery and I.  I was nervous about being all alone with her for the first time because I was still I a bit of pain for my c-section but I was excited to spend the full day with my girl.  Unfortunately, I never got to see that part of my future.  When my husband’s alarm went off for work that morning 19 weeks ago, just an hour after I dozed off after checking on her in her basinet beside me, our world shattered into a million tiny pieces.  As I lay in bed tonight, trying to sleep, my heart throbs with a pain so deep it physically hurts.  She isn’t here and like every Monday night for the past 19 weeks, I relive those beautiful last moments I had with Avery when the world was still perfect.  I can’t believe how quickly your life can go from absolutely wonderful to a nightmare that you just wish you would wake up from. 
Monday nights also bring me back to 20 weeks ago, when I was anxious and barely able to sleep because the next day, I was headed to the hospital to be induced.  Just 20 weeks ago, my life was bright and so full of hope.  That night, I couldn’t sleep, so around 3 in the morning, I woke up, ate some cereal and just sat alone in the living room, relaxing in the peace of the middle of the night and enjoying her dancing around inside me.   It was such a calm morning.  We were all so excited that Avery would be making us a family.  Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined I would be sitting here like this tonight. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Day 21: Special Place


Yesterday’s challenge was to post a photo of a special place.  We have Avery’s picture in pretty much every room of our house. After she passed I went on this hunt for photos of her.  I was so afraid that I would barely have any photos.  I am glad to say that after compiling pictures that everyone took over her 6 days, I have over 150 photos.  So I have taken many and placed them throughout our house.  I love that her pretty pictures surround us.
The picture on the left is in her room.  It is one of my favorites.  This picture also has some decorations that we had in her nursery, a picture of my husband and her, a cross from her services, a balloon that my best friend left for her at the cemetery and a few other little items.  The picture on the top right is a family photo frame that hangs in our dining room.  And the picture on the bottom right is of shelves in our main hallway.  The upper shelf has a picture of her with a cross faith candle.  The lower shelf has her candle, her picture and a picture of my cousins and I with my grandmother, Diane,  this was taken the Thanksgiving before she passed away.    This is my grandmother who Avery received her middle name from. 

I could go on about each of these, but I am emotionally exhausted and have been for the past few days.  I'm just so tired of everything, I don't even have the energy to put it all down on paper. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Day 20: Charity/Organization

This is a photo of my Avery sunset picture that I had blown up on a canvas from Carly at Carlymarieprojectheal.com. Carly does amazing things for the baby loss community including this Capture Your Grief Challenge. Visit her site if you haven't before and see the wonderful things she does.

Next to the sunset is my Avery bear from Molly Bears. The bear weighs 7lbs 15.5 oz. Being able to cuddle this bear that weighs the same as my Avery is comforting. My husband and I love having it near and holding it in our arms brings us right back to how she felt in our arms. I recommend checking them out and if you can donating to their great cause!

Both if these groups are amazing and I am thankful for their contributions to our community.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Day 19: Projects

Today’s challenge was to post a project you have worked on.  I haven’t been part of any outside projects yet only projects for myself.  These projects have helped me while grieving. 
The top left shows all of the scrapbooking supplies I have bought.  I haven’t stated the scrapbook yet but I fully intend to work on this.  After losing Avery I realized that her baby book that I received at my baby shower was going to be left 99% incomplete, I decided I didn’t even want to start it.  So, instead I am going to make my own baby book scrapbook.  I can make it her book that looks complete instead of the blank pages haunting me every time I open it.

The top right is my blog.  I started this as an outlet for my feelings.  I never intended to actually share it with anyone.  But after reading the blogs of so many BLMs, I decided I would share it during this project.  I can’t believe anyone reads my ramblings but maybe something that comes across on this blog will help another mom not feel so alone.

The bottom left is my journal.  This is where I write to Avery.  I started the journal 2 weeks after losing her as a place to tell her how I feel, how much I miss her and how much I love her.  In the beginning, I wrote to her every day, I felt like my time with her was so short that I need to tell her over and over how sad I was without her.  It was really good for me to get it out.  Now, I don’t write to her as often but it is my special place; a place where I connect to only her. 
The bottom right is the prayer flag I made for Carly’s Luminous Light Ceremony.  This was the first “crafty” thing I did after losing Avery.  It was really nice to put so much thought into something that represented her.  I was so pleased and in love with it, I want to make another for her room. 

I really hope in the near future I can become part of a project that isn’t just for “me.”  I would love to be part of something bigger to help other families in similar circumstances.  I don’t think I am quite ready to be a help to others yet as I still feel like I need help myself but I really feel the pull to help others in the future. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Day 18: Family Portrait


I still can’t bear the thought of taking a real family photo without Avery.  Our one and only family photo was while in the operating room during my c-section.  This is something that bothers me so much!  I wish we had more pictures of the 3 of us together.  In my mind, we would be taking so many family photos especially with the holidays approaching.  My husband’s family likes to do a big family photo every few years are we are about due to take another one.  I was actually excited for it this year because finally it wouldn’t just be my husband and I; it would be the three of us.  So, to sit down and take a photo of our family just breaks my heart even more.  Sure, I have a few of my husband and I from a recent trip but they weren’t being taken as family pictures, in all honesty, they were forced.  I know we will all incorporate Avery into our next family photo, I am really just dreading having to do that-she should be in it.  I’ve debated using her Molly Bear, her picture, etc. none of those sound like it will do her justice.    
So, this is a picture my husband and I took in Chicago.  It’s a picture of how Avery was still “with” us on the trip in spirit and in our hearts.  This is going to be our “thing” to include her from this point forward whenever we go anywhere.  It’s my husband and I saying I love you with his tattoo and my Avery bracelet. 
We love you baby girl!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

No escape


Since when is every TV show, news story or commercial about babies and/or families?  I mean seriously, can I get a freaking break?!? 
I really like to try to escape from my own head, from this hell that is now my reality.  Through the summer, my husband and I probably watched a million stupid movies nobody has ever heard of.  We’ve pretty much rented every movie at Red Box that doesn’t look like it would trigger anything.

Lately, I’ve been feeling a little stronger so we have attempted some TV shows, this has mostly been an epic fail.  We’ve never watched Modern Family but gave it a try-ended up crying because we will never get to drop Avery off at college.  Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, shows I’ve watched for a while, I’ve now deleted from my DVR-too much death.  This week, my husband and I started Mike & Molly, normally a safe bet, it was turned off within 5 minutes as they talked about how they’d simply get pregnant and 9 months later have a baby. “Hopefully,” I thought.  Maybe they should add they have only a 75% chance everything will be OK.  Next we changed to How I Met Your Mother, yep they have a baby now-another fail.  The League, a sports comedy, surely this would be a winner.  Nope, they give up the naming rights of their baby for a better draft pick, while giving birth.  Are you kidding me, let’s completely mock the process of bringing a live into this world. 

Day 17: Birthday/Anniversary


This is a collage of the best day of my life, June 6, 2012, Avery's birthday.  Never in a million years did I imagine on that day that just 4 months later I would be participating in the Capture your Grief Challenge.  In my heart, I feel like shouldn’t be part of this; I should be posting tons of pictures of my little 4 month old girl not documenting my grief.  I don't want to be imagining how we will celebrate her first birthday or her first anything without her.  I just want to go back and re-live each of the 6 amazing days I had with her. 
Today is a horrible day.  I can’t get it together today, I can’t stop crying, I can’t stop wanting to scream and punch something.  But I also have no energy to deal with any of it.  Today, I can’t face my feelings.  Today, I just want to be home and in bed and that’s exactly what I am going to do. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Days 15 & 16

Avery's Candle at Our House
 Yesterday was quite the day which is why I am behind in posting for the Capture your Grief Challenge.  Yesterday’s challenge was to post your “wave of light.”  According to the October 15th website, www.october15.com, everyone worldwide is encouraged to light a candle at 7pm in their time zone to remember all of the babies gone too soon.  The goal is to keep the “wave of light” going for 24 hours.  To participate in this event, my husband, myself and two friends, who have also experienced a loss, traveled to Indialantic, FL to attend a beachside luminary ceremony. 

We arrived to the event hosted by Elizabeth Ministry ofMelbourne and were warmly welcomed.  We were given luminaries to decorate for our babies.  Then we all met on the beach and lit our luminaries in the shape of a cross as the sun was setting.  After dark, we all gathered, a poem was read and we shared stories of loss.  It was an incredible experience.  Families from all stages of loss were there uniting as one for our babies. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Day 14: Community

Today’s photo challenge was to post a photo of a community event you have attended.  Tomorrow will be my first October 15th since we lost Avery and I plan on attending a luminary and lantern ceremony at the beach.  I have not attended any official “baby loss” events to date.  However, a month after Avery passed, our friends put together a golf tournament in her honor.  Being that our loss was still so new and we didn’t have (and still don’t have) the findings from her autopsy, we decided to raise money to build a playground at our church.  The playground will be dedicated to Avery and be called “Avery’s Place.”
The tournament, which was put together in less than 3 weeks, was amazing.  The community outpouring was overwhelming.  We had 80 golfers at the event and many more attend just to be there.  Food was donated by our local bar-b-que restaurant as well as so many prizes for a raffle.  The day was incredible.  There were so many there to not only support us, but to remember Avery.  In total we raised over $8,000 for Avery’s Place and hope to have the playground complete by the end of the year.

We live in a small town where to do anything “fun” you normally have to drive to a bigger community.  We use to joke about living were we live and how boring it is.  But after experiencing what we have over the last 4 months, I love this community.  There have been so many people here to support us; I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.  We plan to hold a golf tournament every year now in October.  I hope to bring more awareness to October being Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.
Tomorrow, I will attend my first official “baby loss” event.  My husband and I are attending with friends who too are a part of this baby loss community.  A community unlike our town, that I still wish I wasn’t a part of but one that I have also found support and love in. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Day 13: Signs


Today’s photo challenge was to post a sign.  Since Avery left us, I have had a few signs from her.  One of the most clear was this double rainbow.  I previously wrote about it here.  It was an amazing day.

I also have had a few other signs.  I always seem to see rainbows on hard days and normally either on my way to the cemetery or on my way home. 

One day a few weeks ago, I was in the middle of a good cry on my way home from work and I saw this heart in the clouds.

And last night, after visiting the cemetery and having a bad day overall, we saw this.  This one is probably the silliest.  We were grabbing some fast food when I looked up and saw that only the “A” of the sign was lit up.  When I pointed it out to my husband, he laughed and said, see Baby Girl is trying to tell you not to be sad today.

As big or small as some of these signs may be, I am thankful for them.  I love when things happen to make me realize that even though she isn’t here with me in the way I imagined, she is still here.  She will always be with us. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

10,000 Reasons


Since we lost Avery, certain songs just resonate with me. This is one of my more recent favorites. The title is, “10,000 Reasons” and it’s by Matt Redman. Every time I hear it, I am in tears by the end.
I think it hits me so hard because there are many days when all I do is question God. It doesn’t make sense to me that he would allow this pain to happen to so many families and it probably never will. Why allow conception in the first place if this is the outcome? But, I know that even though I don’t understand and I may not agree with this, God is in control and He is good (even when it’s hard to believe).

Without Him, I know I wouldn’t be in the place I am today and for that I am thankful. Without my faith in Him, I also wouldn’t have the hope that I have. The Hope that brings me peace, that one day, I will be with Avery again and this time, it will be forever-10,000 years and then forever more. Through this hard time, I still try to sing God’s praises as this song says, even on days like today when I just want to hide in bed all day.

4 Months of Missing her


Today makes 4 months since our precious little girl went to Heaven; 4 of the longest yet fastest months of my life.  I can still replay that morning when we woke up to her not breathing in vivid detail in my mind.  The horrors of that morning are burned deep into my memory.  Over the past 4 months, I’ve learned not to dwell on them as often, I try to push them into the far reaches of my mind.  But it hurts me so much that I can remember the details of that morning better than I can remember the details of those 6 days with us.  I hate that.  I want to remember every second of those 6 days but I feel like so many of those details are lost.  Today, I am trying to focus on her and what I miss instead of the hell we went through 4 months ago today.
I miss…

Day 12: Scent


Today’s challenge was a picture of a scent that reminded you of your child.  I thought of this one for a while as there are many scents that bring me back to my pregnancy and to her.  When I was pregnant and had morning sickness the first few months, the girls in the office connected to ours made bacon every morning.  The smell was awful to my sensitive stomach. 
The smell of diaper cream/baby powder brings me back to having her in my arms.  She smelled so fresh and sweet.  Since losing her, I have found that the sunscreen my husband uses smells A LOT like her baby care items.  Every time he uses it, I am brought back to her.  It’s a great smell.  I’ve truthfully smelled the diaper cream and sunscreen on more than one occasion to bring me back to those moments with her.

But, I think the smell that really brings me back to it all is her room.  The room created a scent of its own when we started transforming it into her room a few months before she was born.  I think it is a combination of all of the new furniture, mixed with the smell of her clothes and blankets washed in baby detergent and the smell of baby care items.  These scents have all combined together to make her room have a scent like no other in our home.  Before she was born, the scent was there.  It brings back memories of the hours I spent in there preparing it and making it perfect for her.  When she was here, we spent time just rocking in her rocking chair and scent was there.  After she left us, the door mainly is closed but when I go in her room, the scent is still there and it brings me back to all of the memories of pregnancy and of her.  When I want to feel close to her, I go and sit in her room with the door closed and just take in the scent of my memories of her.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Day 11: Supportive Family/Friends


Today’s challenge was a picture of your supportive family and friends.  My husband and I are truly blessed with the outpouring of support we had after Avery left us.  Her service had over 500 people there to remember our daughter and to show their love and support for us.  I am forever grateful to all of these people who have been there for us.  For weeks, cards flooded our mailbox.  Our family has been buy our side as well as our friends.  However, when it comes down to MY biggest support, I have to say, if it was not for my husband, I don’t know if I would be even remotely close to the place I am currently at.
Even before Avery was born, during labor, he was my rock.  When the pain was intense and I just wanted to give up, he was there holding my hand, looking me in the eyes, encouraging me.  When it was decided I needed a c-section, he was there holding my hand as I was getting more nervous and anxious.  He held my hand during the surgery and when Avery came out, he was there by her side when I couldn’t be.  Instantly, he was the protective father and husband.  He was with Avery, while they stitched me up, keeping her company and safe. 

When we finally got to come home 2 days later, he was there for me.  When I couldn’t get out of bed easily or out of the chair, he was there to help me.  He would help make sure I was comfortable, change diapers, and help me prep to nurse.  He was there.  We were able to spend all 6 days of her short life together, the three of us.  We fell in love more over those 6 days than I ever thought possible. 
And when the unimaginable happened, we held each other, cried together and fell apart together.  When the time came to plan her funeral, he took charge when I couldn’t think.  He talked to people for me when I couldn’t.  When the services were over and the family went away, he was still there.  There each day with me for 2 weeks after we lost her.  And when he ran out of vacation time and so did I from work, he sucked up his emotions and went back to work so we would be OK financially.  Yet, was there when I would call him crying, came home from work when I couldn’t handle being alone.  And he is still there. On mornings when I feel like I cannot go to work, he tells me to do what I need to do.  He doesn’t force me to “get over it.” He doesn’t make me feel crazy or guilty for being so distraught.  Instead, at night, almost every night, when I cry myself to sleep, he holds me.  He is the only one who knows the horror we faced that morning and every day since.  He is the only one who can truly get how it feels to be in our empty house.  He is the only one who gets how our lives will never again be how we imagined they would be.  He is the only one who gets what it’s like to miss our beautiful daughter the way I do.

In a time when many couples grow apart and place blame, my husband is my rock, he helps me get through yet another day of facing this horrible reality.  I am so blessed and thankful that I have him with me through this.   She had him wrapped around her finger in just 6 days and he is the most wonderful father and husband I can think of.  Avery was truly her daddy’s girl.  I love this picture of the two of them.  It was taken early in the morning on June 7th when Avery was a day old.  You can see the love in his eyes through the tiredness. 

Venting: Getting my anger and bitterness out


WARNING: If anyone actually reads this, please know I am venting and some of this may come off as judgmental.
There is so much floating around in my head this week, I don’t even know how to process.  I’m angry, anxious, bitter, empty, heartbroken, sad and so overwhelmed.  Since our trip last week I feel like I am going backwards.  I was doing relatively well the past 2 weeks (relatively as in as good as I can be doing without my daughter at home with me).  I was making it through the day, making it through work, getting things accomplished.  My breakdowns were manageable and mostly occurred in the morning or at night in the privacy of my home.  But since we went to Chicago last week I’ve been a mess all over again.  Greif is definitely cyclical.

Last week we went to Chicago with some friends.  Don’t get me wrong, the trip was enjoyable but something about changing my routine and being outside of my normal comfort zone has sent me down the ugly grief tunnel again.  I know even when I have my “good” weeks, I am still grieving but I feel like I am grieving in a healthier way, a way where I can function.  Since getting back, I feel like I back in the dark grief zone, the zone where dealing with everyday life is hard, it’s so hard to function.  It seems like everywhere I turn this week I am being slapped in the face by something that sets me back even further, mostly things that just reiterate how unfair this life is, making me angrier.  It feels like the angrier I get the more empty and heartbroken I feel.  The reality of life without my daughter sinks in a little bit more, twisting the knife in my heart yet again. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Day 10: Symbol


This picture captures 2 symbols that remind me of Avery (although there are many more).  The first, being her pink “A.”  A week after we lost Avery, my husband decided to get a tattoo. When went to get the tattoo we picked out a pretty, hot pink script font for the tattoo and he had her name written on his wrist.  It is beautiful.  I want to get one too but still have to decide on it.  Anyway, we love the “A” design of the tattoo so we asked one of my aunts who works at a graphic company to make up big pink “A” stickers.  We have given these stickers to our friends and families for their cars.  We love them and like our pink bracelets, it makes me smile to see these around town.

The second symbol is a butterfly.  As cliché as it may sound, I feel like I see butterflies everywhere since we lost Avery.  It makes me smile to think that maybe she is sending them down to dance around me to make me smile.  It works! 

This picture is actually of the prayer flag I made for Carly Marie’s Luminous Light Ceremony that she is holding this weekend.  You can read more about it here.
I have lots floating around in my head and have been having a rough week but don’t have time to write more which I hate.  Hopefully soon I can get it out of my head and on paper so that I can process it better, I’m really overwhelmed with so many thoughts and feelings right now. I need a good mental/emotional release!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Day 9: Special Place


Today's challenge was to post a picture of a special place.  Before Avery passed, I was truly creeped out by cemeteries.  Now that I laid my child, my beautiful daughter to rest in one, I find peace at the cemetery.  The cemetery where Avery is buried is beautiful.  I just look around and find beauty everywhere.  It’s amazing to see beauty in a place where all I felt before was sadness. 
There are oak trees spread throughout the property, providing shade and beautiful shadows over the gravestones.  The trees old and strong, surviving so much throughout the years yet their moss hangs from the branches slowly falling in the wind.  The trees remind me of this world I have been recently introduced to; the world of babyloss and bereaved parents.  We try to stand tall and strong to make it through another day without them.  We are surviving what is being thrown at us yet; our tears are there in our eyes just waiting for something to cause them to call.  Just like the moss falls in a gentle breeze, our tears fall easily at the slightest trigger. 

Being at this place surrounded by natural beauty provides me peace.  I often feel Avery close when I am there.  Her pinwheels spinning when I can’t even feel any wind, the sound of birds singing and the butterflies that dance between the fresh flowers of the graves are all so beautiful and calming.  I visit Avery often.  I know Avery isn’t there but being at the place where we laid her perfect little body to rest brings me comfort.  This is my special place.  We intend to purchase a bench to match her stone to complete her area there.  I cannot wait for this to happen.  I can see many days of me spending even more time just sitting and being still in this beautiful place. 

Day 8: Jewelery


Yesterday’s photo challenge was to post a picture of any jewelery that you have to memorialize your child.  I have 3 pieces that are close to my heart, I have at least 2 of the 3 pieces on each day.  The item on the left is a necklace I wanted before Avery was even born.  I wanted a necklace to show the world I was a Mom.  I didn’t get a chance to order the necklace in the 6 short days Avery was with us.  After she passed, I wanted the necklace more than ever.  I needed something to show the world that even thought I will never been seen in public with my daughter again, that I am a mom.  It’s her initial, A, her birth date and her birthstone.  The one on the right is one I was able to purchase after an anonymous friend purchased a gift certificate for me to purchase something in Avery’s memory.  I love this necklace.  This necklace is almost opposite from the other.  Not only does it tell the world I am a mom, but it also tells the world I am a mommy to an angel.  It also has a verse that resonated with us after we lost Avery.  Lastly, the pink bracelet is one my husband designed and ordered for our family and friends.  It is pink, Avery’s color, has her full name and our verse.  This bracelet doesn’t leave my arm.  I love seeing our friends and family wearing their bracelets.  It always warms my heart.  Even better is when I see someone post a picture on Facebook and I can see their bracelet shining through. 

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 - Blessed be God, even the Father our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulation, theat e may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

Below are some pictures I took of Avery’s bracelet while on our weekend trip to Chicago. 
My husband's tattoo and my bracelet over Lake Michigan.

At the Navy pier with the Chicago skyline.
 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Day 6 & 7: What NOT to Say and What TO Say


Because I will be out of town this weekend, I am posting Days 6 & 7 together.  For Day 6, the challenge is to post what not to say. 
This is something a close friend said to me 2 days after I lost my daughter.  She literally said, “I’m glad it wasn’t you.”  I was still in shock over losing Avery that I didn’t even have time to process what was said until after Avery’s service when we were left alone.  I couldn’t believe these words would come out of anybody’s mouth.  I was and still am very hurt by this.  Any parent would rather it be them than their child they are burying.  I would have given my life in an instant so that my husband and daughter could build memories together.  Almost 4 months later, I am still hurt by this.  I am trying to figure out a way to move past this comment and restore our friendship but haven’t been able to find a way to do that yet.  Maybe over time, we will be able to rebuild what we once had. 
The background of this photo is of Cherry Blossom's in Washington, DC.  It means a lot to me for many reasons.  It was a trip I took with my girlfirends, something I hold special to me and something that breaks my heart as Avery won't get to take trips like these.  The Cherry Blossom also symbollizes many things in other cultures, the beauty of life, passion, love and strength.  All symbolizing my daughter and what she has done in my life.  I also love how it's two different branches-one pink and one white.  One fully bloomed and pink and the other still trying to blossom.  Sadly, this reminds me of my life and my daughter's fully intertwined. 
 
For Day 7, the challenge was to post what to say.  I have to say, no words can truly make losing a child any better.  What has helped me the most isn’t what people have said but their simple act of listening.  I am thankful for my many friends who let me talk about my daughter without making me feel guilty, who let me vent when I am having a tough time and let me cry when I need to.  These friends don’t try to make me feel better with their words, they simply let me talk and listen.  If you know anyone who has lost a child, my greatest advice is to listen.  This photo also from my trip to DC is just peaceful to me, much life the feeling I get after ebing able to talk with my friends who are just there to listen. 

Day 5: Memorial


Today’s photo challenge was to post a picture of your child’s memorial.  This picture is of Avery’s headstone.  The headstone is something we put a lot of thought into as it really is the last item we get to purchase for her.  We wanted something unique and beautiful, just like her.  This picture was taken the day we revealed to our family that lives near us.  It was such a bittersweet moment. 
Avery’s gravesite is absolutely beautiful.  She is right behind “Baby Land;” still close to the other little ones gone too soon.  She is under an old oak tree so her area is always shady but her place stands out.  Her dark stone with pink details is one of a kind, just like her.  It really is a beautiful peaceful spot.  Whenever I need to just be, I go visit her.  And it warms my heart to know that others go there to visit as well.  At least once a week, when we arrive there is something new there for her.  Flowers, pinwheels, teddy bears, etc., I am never quite sure who leaves them but just knowing that she is loved and visited by so many brings tears to my eyes every time. 
While I know that Avery is where me everywhere I go, I still hate leaving town for multiple days.  I hate that I cannot just go to her place whenever I want when I am out of town.  I am very apprehensive as today I am packing for a weekend trip to Chicago.  I know that I don’t have to go to the cemetery to be with her but I always feel guilty if I’m not there as often.  However, I know she won’t be alone.  I know family and friends in town will stop by to say hi to her. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Day 4: Most Treasured Item(s)


Today’s photo challenge was to post your most treasured item.  I thought about this all day as there are so many items from Avery’s brief life that I treasure.  Since she was only here for 6 days, I have every outfit she wore, every blanket I swaddled her in all tucked safely away in a bin, unwashed.  These are items I will never part with.  This picture symbolizes the things that mean the most to me. 
Her pictures are something I truly cherish.  When she passed, I was so upset that I hadn’t had any professional pictures taken, that we only had 1 family photograph and I only have a small handful of her and I together.  I regret not being more of a picture taker, this is something I have always said I needed to do more of and now it has come back to bite me.  But, after pulling together all of the pictures our family took in those 6 short days, I have a 160 slot album almost full.  Recently, my husband and I printed some of our favorites and now have her spread throughout our home.  These pictures are some of my favorites.  The one on the left my husband took while she napped in our arms.  He posted it on his Facebook with the caption, “Our new version of a lazy Saturday.”  Oh how I wish that were still true.  The middle picture was taken at the hospital the day after she was born; I love that you can really see her dark locks in it.  And the picture on the right is my favorite.  I took it on Sunday while my husband napped; she was 4 days old and cracked her first smile. 

In the middle, is her Molly Bear.  This is a new addition to our family as it just arrived yesterday.  For those of you who aren’t family, Molly Bears is a non-profit organization who creates weighted teddy bears for baby loss parents.  Hers weighs exactly 7 pounds 15.5 ounces.  I had forgotten how it felt to hold that weight in my arms.  Holding this bear is so comforting.  I am sure this bear will have a spot in our bed for many years to come.  I absolutely love it and plan to contribute as much as possible to this amazing organization.
Lastly, at the bottom left and bottom right are the last 2 items that she wore.  Her froggy pajamas and her flower blanket.  This is what we put her to bed in the last time we tucked her in-these were the last items that touched her.  That awful day when we left the hospital; this was all we took home.  These items are possibly most near and dear to me.  Every night since she left us, they have been in my arms when I go to sleep and are still in my arms when I wake up in the morning.  They’ve been to Missouri with me on a trip and will be heading to Chicago with me tomorrow.  I have a feeling these 2 pieces will make many trips with me.  They bring a comfort to me, like she is there with me when I go to sleep each night. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Day 3: Self Portrait after the Loss


Today’s photo challenge was to post a self-portrait of after your loss.  Since losing Avery, I haven’t allowed any photos to be taken of me.  To be honest, I don’t think anyone has attempted.  I haven’t exactly been doing things that warrant a photo to remember the day.  So, I took a photo of myself and added a dark shadow.  I know from the outsider looking at me, for the most part I look like I use to.  I am functioning; I wake up, get ready for the day and go through the motions.  You may even catch a smile on my face.  But my outward appearance does not truly reflect how I really feel.  My outward appearance is just me putting on a front to get through another day without her.
Truth is, every day I feel like I am in a fog.  I feel surrounded by a dark, heavy fog that no matter how much I try to let my fake smile shine through the fog doesn’t fully lift.  It is heaviest in the morning, as the day progresses I can see through it a little better but it’s still there and then as night falls, it comes back just as dark and dense as it was in the morning.  For the past 16 weeks since Avery left this is how I have felt.  I am sure that in time, the fog will lift and I will be able to face each day with a more clear view and a clear understating of who I am not but for now, I’m the girl with the fake smile trying to burn through the fog. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Day 2: Self Portrait before the Loss


 
Today’s photo challenge was to post a self-portrait of yourself before the loss.  I couldn’t find just 1 photo that I felt conveyed the true happiness, joy and excitement we felt before Avery left us so I put together 3 of my favorites.
The left photo was taken by my husband (at my dismay) after they started my induction.  We had to walk the halls for 30 minute intervals and then we were to go back in to be checked.  We did this for 4 hours.  It was long and boring but we were so excited that our baby girl would be making her grand entrance.  This photo was taken on June 5, 2012.  Avery was born via c-section at 2:27 am on the 6th.  Which leads to the next photo (top right).  This was taken by our wonderful anesthesiologist minutes after Avery was born.  This is our first and only family photograph.  I was tired but overcome by emotion and excitement that the pregnancy was over and our family was finally the 3 of us.  I love that you can see my husband smiling even though he has the mask on.  We both were ready for our future as parents.  The last photo (bottom right) was the last photo of Avery and I taken just after we arrived home from the hospital on June 8th.  I was so content and happy to be home with my beautiful daughter.   I was ready for life as a mother.  Little did any of us know that just 4 days after we brought her home, we would be rushing back to the hospital via ambulance praying that everything would be OK.  Just 4 days later, our world came crashing down taking with it the people in these photos.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Day 1: Sunrise

I’ve decided to participate in the event, Capture your Grief, hosted by the wonderful Carly at Carly Marie Project Heal.  The project is intended to help those who are going through the grief of losing a child express themselves through photographs during the month of October.  Until recently, I had no idea that October was Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Month.  I hope this project inspires the creative side in me and allows me to honor my daughter through photography.  A project I can reflect on for many years to come.
Today’s photo was of the sunrise.  I woke up and stepped outside a little disappointed with what I could see from my backyard.  No sun, just a slight glow off in the distance.  Feeling that maybe this wasn’t going to be a project for me, I snapped a few photos and went inside to take a shower and get ready for work.  After showering, I felt the need to go outside again, I wanted to get a picture that I felt more represented Avery and how I was feeling.  So, I headed into my backyard in my robe and was much happier with the photo.  The sun was just peeking through the trees and was shining so bright.  It reminded me of my daughter and the warmth she brought to our lives. She brought life, love and a new future to our family.   Today’s sunrise gave me hope.  Hope that even though today is another day without her, I am still here and she will always be with me in my heart and in my mind.  Every morning, is a new day and a new day for me to remember and honor her.    
Thanks Carly for inspiring me to find beauty in this dark, ugly place.