Friday, September 27, 2013

Pregnancy After Infant Loss

I'm struggling to be truly happy and really enjoy being pregnant again. I though once I got past the first trimester I could breathe a little easier. And then the first trimester went by and my anxiety didn't change much. Then I thought once I can feel her kick I will be relieved. Those kicks started at about 18 weeks and are continuously getting stronger yet I lose plenty of sleep worrying. Part of me is just waiting for the worse thing to happen, part of me is just waiting for this baby to be taken from me too. 

January is fast approaching and yet I am really struggling to be truly over the moon excited. Please don't take that wrong. I love this baby, I've prayed endlessly for this baby and I die for this baby but pregnancy after loss is not all sunshine and puppies like it was my first go round. With Avery I was carefree. I expected to be raising a child at the end of my 40weeks and beyond. Now I know there is no guarantee and that scares me.  Human nature wants us to be in control and know that no matter what I do, it's out of my hands. That's hard to accept. That's hard to be ok with. 

People say that the first six days will be the hardest for me and while that is true, SIDS can strike at anytime in the first year. Avery fell outside the norm of the greatest chances of it happening. So even when we pass the six day mark, I know it can still happen at any point. 

I'm trying to enjoy this pregnancy. I'm trying to take a step back and breathe. I'm trying to soak in every kick, every jab, every flip. I'm trying to get excited over decorating and shopping. I'm trying to picture what life will be like this time next year with a 9 month old. But most days the fear wins. Most days I'm just waiting for the other shoe to drop. I'm just waiting for the bad to happen. And I hate that. I want my ignorant, blissful self back. The one who wasn't acutely aware of the most common genetic disorders, the one who didn't know how often babies are born still, the one who thought taking all the recommended SIDS precautions would keep her safe.  I wish I didn't know these things and at the same time now that I do, I wish more people truly comprehended how often these tragedies happen. 

My goal as this pregnancy progresses and I get closer and closer to my due date is to really take it all in and enjoy the time I do have. I don't want to let the fear keep me from seeing the miracle that is happening. I don't want to let it run my life or take away from this little one growing inside of me. I should know all too well time is short. I don't know how long I have to hold this baby. I need to enjoy what I do have. 

Pregnancy after loss is hard, no it's extremely hard. I'm not sure others who haven't been there really get that.  Honestly, unless you've personally been there, you can't. Lightning can and does strike twice. We have no guarantees. If you know someone who is pregnant after a loss, please know, this pregnancy will be like no other you or they have experienced. Excitement is frequently overshadowed by worry.  As much as we all hope and pray the cards are different this time around, it cannot be guaranteed. 

Pregnancy after loss is different in every possible way. Please try to understand this, please think about the words you speak, think about what the parents want, think about the fear we live in daily, the scenarios that play on repeat in our heads. We may want more time as just us alone. We may not want grand showers. We may want to shelter this baby from everything. We may not even really know what we want until the day comes. Whatever is it we want, let us be. Don't judge. Don't expect it to be like what everyone else thinks is right. Nothing about our situation is normal and there is no right and wrong way to have a second baby while your other watches from Heaven. 

This miracle isn't the turning point in our story where everything becomes magically all better. And we go on to being our old selves. This pregnancy is part of our loss journey. It ties Avery and this baby together as siblings forever and adds a new dynamic to our grief, making our road a little more bumpy but while also bringing a little light to help us navigate our way. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

The 2nd Annual Avery Diane Hanson Memorial Golf Tournament

The Second Annual Avery Diane Hanson Memorial Golf Tournament went amazing. We raised just over $9,000 for Avery's Light and Molly Bears. It was once again such a very humbling experience. The outpouring of love, even 15 months later, is much more than expected. It warms my heart and brings tears to my eyes that it's all because of my Avery. 

We've spent countless hours over the last three months planning the tournament. It's such a bittersweet experience. On one hand I am full of pride, how many people can say their 6 day old daughter has impacted so many? But on the other hand, I dreaded planning it, who really wants to plan events in memory of their infant daughter?  All in all however I've come away from the experience moved. We will help full the arms of over 100 families with bears from Molly Bears and still have funds to help those in our community. 

Over 25 volunteers and 100 golfers made the day as successful as it was. We had the support of over 50 local businesses. Everyone who was part of this event committed to helping the community of bereaved parents, everyone of those people helping break the silence. 

I will forever be grateful for each and every person who took time out of their busy schedules to think about Avery and all of the other babies gone much too soon. I truly cannot put into words how touched I am by the success of the event. We will continue to make this an annual event and continue to speak out for Avery and her friends in Heaven. 

Although the void she left will never be filled, I am so thankful to be doing good in her name and to continue to have others do the same. 

Much love to everyone who keeps the light Avery brought into this world shining for all to see. 

"Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into flame by another human being. Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this light."

~Albert Schweitzer

Avery sending us her love during the tournament. This A appeared in the sky that day and could be seen all over the golf course. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

15 Months

15 Months ago we were spending the evening with family and Avery. Things were going so well at home and we were really getting into a routine of having an infant at home. 15 months ago, life was perfect.  I went to bed that night expecting to spend my first day the next day home alone with Avery. I was nervous but ready to really be a Mom. 

But I never got that far. I never got to spend the day alone with her. And 15 months later, it still kills me that one day everything can be perfect and within a few hours everything can just fall apart. Dreams can be lost, hearts broken and futures lost. 

15 months later and I sit here putting the finishing touches on our 2nd Annual Avery Diane Hanson Memorial Golf Tournament to benefit Avery's Light ( and Molly Bears (  And while keeping Avery's memory alive and helping others who are walking this same path is very rewarding, it doesn't compare to holding her in my arms. I will now always work to help others but it will never be enough to fill the void. 

I never expected to be doing this 15 months ago. I never expected to be planning a second memorial fundraising event. I didn't expect to have empty arms. 

Time continues to pass and while I am better at functioning like a 'normal' person, the pain is still very real and cuts deep. Time does not heal wounds, it just helps you get better at managing the bleeding. 

I miss her today and every day just as I did 15 months ago and just as I will 15 years from now. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

That sums up my day. 

My job comes with a lot of stress. It isn't easy but most days, I love what I do and most days I feel that I am good at what I do. I work with an amazing group of people who let me talk about Avery, who sent flowers and cards when she passed, who came to her service to support me, who have gone above and beyond to support me as I came back to work two months after burying my daughter. I thank God for allowing me to work with amazing people. 

But my job has its negative side. I occasionally have to discipline employees and on rare occasions terminate employment. It's never easy for me but its part of the job. There are rules to follow and when broken there are consequences to be had. Regardless, terminating someone is never easy or something I take lightly. 

That however is only one small part of my job. Most days the stress rolls off my shoulders and I feel like I am there to help our employees. I try my best to have open lines of communication, to be compassionate and to really care. 

After losing Avery, I will admit, hearing people's problems irritated me. Honestly, nothing at work is that bad in comparison to losing your child. But I've also worked really hard to know that to these people, whatever their problem of the week is, it's significant to them and because of that its my job to listen and help them. I've worked hard not to be cold or calloused. And I take my time in decision making to make sure my emotions don't make me biased. And I truly feel I've done well at this. 

This background all leads up to my terrible, no good, very bad day. Last week we terminated an employee for a policy violation. Of course the employee was upset and I explained the situation, the violation and the consequence to her. I was very matter of fact regarding the situation. The employee then called back with questions. I called her this morning to answer her questions and was forced to take a firm tone with her after she continued to argue with me over policy. This is where the day went down hill at lightning speed...

She then says to me that since Icame back to work (implying since Avery died) I've been mean, cold hearted and have no heart or compassion. She also stated I'm not a good person and doesn't understand how I could be that way considering (again alluding to Avery).  

Let me just tell you, and I apologize for the language, but I lost my shit. How dare anyone judge my character or use my daughters death to tell me I am not a good person. How dare anyone throw Avery in my face. How dare she tell me I have no heart. 

This has probably been the most upsetting, most blatant slap in the face I've experienced in the last almost 15 months. I couldn't control my emotions, I called my husband hysterical. I was so hurt, so shocked, so betrayed by these words. I sobbed  alone in my office for the better part of an hour trying to get my, cold, heartless, mean self composed. 

One person single handedly ruined my day. 

I'm still very hurt by these words. Yes, I understand she is upset because she's without a job but rules have consequences and it does not give anyone the right to be so nasty. 

These words really had me rethinking my career path today.  Maybe I'm not cut out for this job anymore. This isn't the first time someone has said something mean to me. I've been called all kind of names in these situations in the past.  But this is the first time I really felt like my whole being was being judged. I couldn't shake it for the longest time. Maybe I just can't do this line of work anymore. Maybe I need a job that's all flowers and rainbows. But does that even exist?

I'm trying to let this go but I'm struggling. People just never cease to amaze me. I just need to focus on the amazing majority of people in my work life and personal life who support me through my struggles and my grief. 

I just needed to get that out.