Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Unplugging

From the title of this post one may assume the subject matter will be about how we need to utilize technology less, put down our phones, live life, etc, etc. and while I do agree with those statements, that's not what this is about. Well, actually it is but not in the sense most would think. This post is about my safety blanket, my peace of mind, my angel care monitor. 

If you aren't a new parent or you haven't lost a baby to SIDS you may be thinking, "angel care monitor, what is that?" So I will fill you in. 

The angel care monitor is a baby monitor. It connects my bedroom with Harper's. When she cries, I can hear her.  This lovely device also has video. So, not only can I hear her when she cries but I can see her too. I can watch her playing, sleeping or losing her mind if I take to long to go to her room. So why is this monitor so great? The big selling point for me wasn't these features. Let's be honest, there are a million other monitors with those features (and better cameras) but what this monitor has that others don't is a movement sensor. These is a sensor under Harper's mattress that senses her breathing. If it doesn't detect movement, it alarms me to check on her. And on the monitor in my room I can lay and watch the little pendulum swing with each breath. I can literally watch her breathing. 


This machine has given me restful sleep, something I didn't think would ever be possible after losing Avery. That is until recently. Lately, my sweet, little, innocent Harper has decided she will sleep great but keep me up. She now likes to do a sleep crawl around her bed at night. She loves to squash herself up in the corner in a tiny ball, knees tucked under her. Cute yes, problematic for me, yes. The problem with this is, her chest is raised off the bed and she's as far away from the sensor as she can get. Needless to say, Harper is giving us multiple false alarms every night lately. And by multiple, I mean like 6+. 

My once loved peace of mind monitor is now doing the opposite and keeping me up. One would think the easy solution would be to stop using the sensor. And yes, that would be the easy thing to do but my life is no longer easy and I can't. I have this completely irrational fear that the first time I try to let her sleep all night without it something will happen and she will stop breathing and I won't know. I won't know until it's too late and I will have to relive that horrible nightmare all over again. 

Irrational, yes. But can anyone tell me without a doubt that will not happen, no. And because of that I cannot simply unplug the damn thing like I would love to. I would love to be a normal mom. Once who doesn't have the crazy woman monitor in her baby's room. One that doesn't have to see the pendulum swinging every time she wakes up at night. One who just does a peek in to check on their baby. Not the one who absolutely cannot sleep without a machine telling her it's all ok. 

When you lose a child, rational thoughts seem to go out the window. Your paranoia increases a million times more than the normal parents. Nothing is as easy as just simply unplugging that sensor.  The sad thing is when it does sound, I'm numb to it. I'm not even afraid that something is wrong. So why can't I pull the plug?!?!?

I'm addicted to this piece of machine. I can't let it go. I can't sleep without it and if I try, I'm paranoid and I end up turning it back in and falling into the old routine. Just a few more weeks I keep telling myself. Once she hits one and the SIDS risk diminishes. Once she hits one.  Until then, I guess I'll just wait for the inevitable false alarm. Back to living on a few hours of sleep and lots of caffeine I guess. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Christmas is coming

I've been waiting for the day when I could send out cute photo Christmas cards. When we first got married, it was just us and let's be real, nobody wants a card with pictures of a newlywed twenty something couple on it. So we waited. Then Avery was coming and I looked forward to Christmas and getting her all dolled up for Christmas cards. Her first Christmas she would have been 6 months old. I had the cards all laid out in my head. Those cards never happened. Nothing I had planned happened. So I gave up on the perfect Christmas card idea. 

That was until Harper came. I've been looking forward to her first Christmas. She's almost 11 months and is so much fun. We spent a cool November morning at a Christmas tree farm taking pictures for our cards. I planned to bring the Avery best with us, but it was wet and a hike through long, wet grass to get to the photo spot. In fear of getting the best dirty, I left her in the car. It wasn't a big deal at the time. I planned to take some pictures at home for Christmas with Harper and the Avery bear. But once we received out pictures back of Harper my heart broke. 

I hate that I have 2 beautiful girls but only one gets to be smiling in our pictures. I took some of Harper and the Avery bear in front of our tree, but it's not the same. It's never going to be the same and it's never going to be what I want. Never. 

My next dilemma can when it came time to make those perfect little Christmas cards I've been picturing since we got married. I had the oictures, even if they weren't how I imagined, both girls had representation. I found a cute design, picked the pictures to be used but then stopped when it came time to sign them. Do I include Avery and risk people thinking I'm absolutely weird for including my dead daughter? Oh do I leave her off and add another huge crack to my already overly scarred heart? I chose the later. 

I picked up the cards this week and thy really do look great. It just still breaks my heart that she's not there, sitting next to Harper, smiling, posing and hamming it up like her little sister. I'm sure I'll go through this same heartache very year. Maybe one day it will get easier. But this year, it still sucks. 

In so many ways Harper has helped heal our hearts but there are equally so many times where having her here and getting to experience things as parents is an ever present reminder of our missing piece. 

To be honest, I thought I was ready for Christmas but really, I'm ready for it to be over. 

Tomorrow makes 2.5 years since we lost her. 2.5 long and painful years and tonight I just can't keep it together. Can someone please push fast forward and get me past this month?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Capture your grief 2012

I initially decided to participate again this year because I find this project to be healing and eye opening. I started off strong but found myself having a hard time towards the end. It was actually in the day of self care. I was mentally and physically exhausted from a busy month so I decided to take a break. Part of me feels like I failed, whereas the other part of me knows the project is for me so there is no failing. Here are the days I completed:

Day 1: Sunrise- Titusville, Fl

With every new sunrise, I'm reminded it is a new day, a new chance to make a difference in this dark world. This is my 3rd year participating in this project. This year, I am in a new place. A place where I've found healing (and am still finding healing daily) but one where I am beyond honored to be given opportunities to help support others who are on this healing journey. 

I find these lyrics fitting to where I am currently and the topic for today, "We were born to be the ones, To show the faithless what we've done
And there's a fire inside, It burns like the surface of the sun."

Today, at the beginning of my third year of this project, like they sun, in on fire to help others through their journey. 


Day 2: Heart ❤️ I hold both of my beautiful daughters in my heart.

Helen Keller said “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart."

One of the best things to ever happen in my life was and is the birth of my first daughter, Avery Diane. And while we only had 6 short days with her, she will always be with me. She will always be part of me because she will forever be in my heart. I can no longer see her or touch her but every day I feel her with me, with each beat of my heart, she is here. 

Day 3: Before

Before Avery was born, it was just the two of us. Young, carefree, innocent, naive. Having fun, taking trips and experiencing the world. Neither of us had experienced true tragedy first hand. Neither of us knew just how much our world was going to be rocked. This photo was almost a year to the day the before Avery was born. It was our last summer getaway with friends before we would be forever changed, forever different. I look back at this couple and it feels like ages ago. We aren't these two naive kids anymore. 

Day 4: Now

This is what I and my family look like now. To the outsider, we look like a happy family of three but that teddy bear is more than a prop, it represents our 4th family member, Avery. On the outside, the us now and the us then look similar. 

But Avery's brief life has irrevocably changed the person I am. I am more sensitive, I love more deeply and I realize how short and unpredictable life can be. I am forever grateful for those who are currently in my life and accept the new me, and realize I will never be the old me again. I am content in my now, I have an amazing husband, my beautiful rainbow and a great support system. I continue finding healing daily. But it's not all sunshine and butterflies. 

At times I can be completely overcome by fear and anxiety. A fear so strong it can be paralyzingly. One words cannot even begin to describe. I just keep waiting for tragedy to strike again. I feel very jaded at times and find it hard to be optimistic in this very cruel world. 

I hate that life is broken down into a before and after but this is my life. And the 'now' me is driven to help others who are on similar paths. This isn't the way I dreamed my life going but I vow to use my experience to help others. 

Day 5: Journal

In the beginning I wrote, pen to paper, daily. I wrote to Avery and poured my heart out. Over time my paper journal turned to blogging. My blog is a way to not only express myself but to give others a glimpse into this crazy world. The good, the bad and the so often, very ugly. I found so many blogs helpful when I was starting on this journey. Even if my words touch just one person, it is worth sharing my heart and pain, open and honestly with the world. 

You can ready my blog entry for the day here:  http://missingavery.blogspot.com/?m=1


Day 6: Books

There have been many helpful books in my journey. I've posted then each year of this project. This year I wanted to share a book that I look forward to reading to our rainbow. This line page gets me every time. "You get to meet a lot of people in Heaven....and my big sister was so excited to see me that she wouldn't stop hugging me!"



Day 7: Sacred Place

Picking out Avery's headstone was surreal yet something we put a lot of thought into. It was the last and only tangible thing we were able to do for her. As odd as it was seem to many, I find peace visiting her place at the cemetery. It's a very beautiful space and her area and headstone are unlike any others there, unique and beautiful just like her. 

Growing up, I was always creeped out by cemeteries as I never went to them. It's crazy to think how different  Harper's life experience with cemeteries will be as they are part of her everyday, normal life. 


Day 8: Resources

There are many resources that have helped me along my journey in these shoes. These organizations have helped me learn to deal with these new shoes I'm forced to wear daily.  I am forever grateful that there are so many out there to help families like mine. 

A Pair of Ugly Shoes
Author Unknown
 
I am wearing a pair of shoes.  
They are ugly shoes. 
Uncomfortable Shoes.
I hate my shoes.
Each day I wear them, and each day I wish I had another pair.
Some days my shoes hurt so bad that I do not think I can take another step.
Yet, I continue to wear them.
I get funny looks wearing these shoes.
They are looks of sympathy.
I can tell in others eyes that they are glad they are my shoes and not theirs.
They never talk about my shoes.
To learn how awful my shoes are might make them uncomfortable.
To truly understand these shoes you must walk in them.
But, once you put them on, you can never take them off.
I now realize that I am not the only one who wears these shoes.
There are many pairs in the world.
Some women are like me and ache daily as they try and walk in them.
Some have learned how to walk in them so they don’t hurt quite as much.
Some have worn the shoes so long that days will go by
before they think of how much they hurt.
No woman deserves to wear these shoes.
Yet, because of the shoes I am a stronger woman.
These shoes have given me the strength to face anything.
They have made me who I am.
I will forever walk in the shoes of a woman who has lost a child.



Day 9: In Memory

Today was a hard day to decide what to post. I feel like daily I'm doing something in Avery's memory. Whether it's random acts of kindness, volunteering to help other baby loss families or just taking in the beauty of a sunset, I feel like everything I do is in memory of Avery. 

But one of the more tangible things that has been done in her memory is the building of Avery's Place. This playground was built solely based on funds raised at the 1st Annual Avery Diane Hanson Memorial Golf Tournament. The outpouring of love and support from our friends, family and strangers who took part in this tournament inspired us to hold a golf tournament in her memory annually. In addition to building Avery's Place, we've raised money for Molly Bears and SIDS research and are working to bring more support to families in our area. 

Day 10:  Support

Friends and family were a great source of support for us after losing Avery. We have great people in our life who will be there at any time for us. Whether we need to talk, cry or simply escape reality, there are so many who are there for us. But my biggest support, the one who truly knows what's going on in my head is my husband. 

He's the one who kept me going when I couldn't reach out to anyone else. He's the one who spent countless nights with me through the endless tears. He's the one who knew the answer to the question, "How are you doing?" He's my rock. He's my greatest support. 


Day 11: Alter

I don't really like the word alter. To me it implies worship. And while I love and miss Avery with all of my heart, I don't worship her. But I do have multiple spaces in our house where I've dedicated space to her. This space in our room is the only space dedicated solely to her. Everything here has special meaning to us. 

Flowers from her service, multiple pictures of her name taken all over the country, trinkets with her name we've picked up over time, the drum sticks I had made for my husband on his 1st Father's Day (which was the day after we buried her). 

This is one of the first things we see in the morning and the last we see when going to sleep at night. This is just another way that Avery is part of our everyday life. 

Day 12: Music - See Me Smiling by Yellowcard

There are so many songs I turn to on my journey. Lately, I've been spending lots of time in the car. My phone seems to shuffle to this song more frequently than the others and every time, my mind goes to Avery. 

She's always on my mind and in my heart. The pain is always there yet through it all, I hold her close and I am able to smile, I am able to live and I am able to love those in my life. 

Day 13: Season

Summer will always be Avery's season. Even though she was technically born before the official start of summer, summer had already started here in Florida. It seemed as if the day we were in the hospital to deliver her was the first day that the afternoon Florida summer storms started that summer.   It was hot, humid and the storms raged that afternoon and every afternoon she was here. The beginning of the summer storms and the summer heat will always remind me of her. 



Day 14: Light/Dark

Early on it seemed as if I would never be able to break out of the dark. And on many days, I didn't want to. But even on the darkest of days, there was always a small glimmer of light and hope. A hope and faith that this goodbye was just temporary and one day, Avery and I will be together again. 

If I were to say that my faith has remained strong through all of this I would be lying. I've questioned God a million times. I've begged for answers. I've pleaded for her back. And while none of this had happened, I do know that He still loves me and Avery. It will never make sense to me in this world, and I will probably spend the rest of my life asking why. But I do have light and hope in knowing that is is not the end. 

"So when the walls come falling down on me
And when I'm lost in the current of a raging sea.  I have this blessed assurance holding me. All I know is I'm not home yet.  This is not where I belong. Take this world and give me Jesus.  This is not where I belong." Building 429



Day 15: Community

Today is the wave of light and once again I am beyond touched at everyone who has lit a candle in memory of Avery and all babies gone too soon. Being part of the baby loss community is not a club I wanted to join but I am so thankful this community of strong families exists to support one another. Thank you to everyone remembering our babies today and every day. 



Day 16: Retreat

This week has been amazing but I have been very busy. I was able to tell Avery's story and share the TEARS Foundation at an infant mortality press conference, spent time remembering Avery and her friends by releasing sky lanterns into Heaven and today I get to facilitate my first Babyloss support group. 

Today my heart is full and heavy. I'm honored to be doing so much in Avery's memory but it can be a lot to take in. 

Today I will be retreating from doing too much but as always, our babies are in my heart.  



Day 17: Explore

The journey I am on is life changing and lifelong. Once you begin on this journey, there is no end. In the beginning, the path was rough, full of quick sand, sharp rocks and huge boulders. Every step was unpredictable. Some days, moving forward was impossible and others I was pushed further back. But as I've continued down my path, I've met others who have helped teach me how to scale the cliffs, escape the quicksand and mend my bleeding heels. 

Over time my path has leveled out. There are less jagged steep cliffs and sudden drops. The ground is more firm and the rocks are less sharp. There are still days the path surprises me with a twist, turn or sharp edge but most days I am navigating this journey fairly well and continue to explore where this journey leads. 


Day 18: Gratitude

There are so many people in my life that I am thankful for. So many friends and family who support us daily.  But today, I want to recognize those who we take for granted until we need them. The nurses, doctors, police officers, fire fighters and paramedics who daily keep up safe yet many times are not recognized. 

I will be forever grateful for all of those who were part of that awful day we lost Avery. I know they did everything they could. They showed us so much compassion and love during an awful time. Here is a blog post I wrote a while back about this: 


Take time today to appreciate someone who does something you take for granted!



Day 19:  Give

For Avery's 1st birthday we asked friends and family to do random acts of kindness in her name. Since then our Avery's Light RAOK have grown. A friend had special coins made up to pass out when doing a RAOK and since having 1000 made last year, we had to have another set of 1000 made. Her RAOK coins have traveled all over the US and to other countries too. 

It's always a pick me up to perform a random act when I'm having a bad day or a day where I'm just really missing her. And the stories we hear back about how an act done in her name touched someone warms my heart. She may be gone but she lives on in love through us. 

Day 20: Breathe

Some days, all you can do is simply breathe. And that is enough. And when life is crazy, take time to enjoy the beauty around you.  You never know what you will see. This heart was in the clouds over my house yesterday. 



Day 21:  Relationships

Today my rainbow, Harper, turns 9 months. She's my second daughter but the world sees her as my first. Because of what happened with Avery, I'm not a cool and calm second time mom like those damn diaper commercials make you believe. I'm an anxiety filled, fearful, worrisome, paranoid, wish I could put her in a bubble and live there forever, second time grieving mom. I struggle watching Harper grow because I know the reality that if Avery were here, chances are, Harper wouldn't be. Wrapping your head around that is almost impossible. 

But because of losing Avery, I love watching her grow. While I can't believe it's going so fast, I don't find myself sad she's growing fast but rather joyful that she is in deed growing, something I don't get with Avery. Every milestone, round of shots, tooth and sleepless night is something I never got to experience before. 

Grief plays a role in all relationships. I struggle and worry about how it will affect Harper. How do I raise her to love her sister without her feeling like she's living in her shadow? Living with one in your heart and one in your arms is challenging in so many ways. 




Sunday, October 5, 2014

Journal

As part of CarlyMarie's Capture Your Grief Project, I went back through my paper journal today (day 5 is journal). And it really brought me back to those very dark days following Avery's death. The pages are tear soaked and there is so little hope in my words. I had no hope, I could see no light, the world was simply a cruel place. 

In those early days I would have told you I would always be completely and utterly distraught. I would never find joy or happiness again. It's been 2 years and 4 months (tomorrow) since she was born and Sunday will make 2 years and 4 months since she left us. And in that time, I've evolved, I've changed. 

The babyloss journey is one where you are constantly changing and evolving as you continue on your journey. Sitting here, thinking about the changes I've gone through is crazy. And to be able to recognize that though this journey I will be forever changing in who I am and where I am on this journey and be content with that is well, big.  

Early on, I didn't want to hear that the good days would eventually outweigh the bad, but they do.

Early on, I didn't want to go a day without tears staining my pillow because somehow that would mean I missed her less, but that happened. 

Early on, I didn't want to hear that the world keeps turning, but it does. 

As time has passed, the gaping wound has scabbed. I've come to realize that it's ok that I have good days more often and that I don't cry myself to sleep every night. I needed that early on. But in time I also needed to realize those actions aren't my only connection or outward way I show that I love and miss Avery. This world is cruel but it doesn't stop for me. It keeps spinning. And I can either choose to let it spin without me or start spinning with it. 

Now, I've realized I can live here in the present with her in my heart. I can smile and laugh and still love her. I can have joy in my life without feeling guilty or that I am leaving her behind. 

I'm so thankful that as I travel down this path, I've found others to help me along my way. To help me continue to evolve in my grief and continue to keep Avery with me in my everyday life. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Your Story Matters

Your Story Matters

Avery's Story Matters

Every baby's story matters. No matter how brief, their story matters. 

They all deserve a voice and we as their parents should be able to say their names, share their stories and talk about them without fear or worry about what others are thinking. Here I am 2 years, 3 months and 10 days since losing my daughter and I still cringe when I have to meet a new person. Not because I have to speak the awful words, "my first daughter died," but because I have NO idea what response will come after I share Avery's story. Will the person brush her off and end the conversation as quickly as possible? Will they genuinely care about her story? Will they try to fill their level of discomfort with some 'profound' statement that causes more harm than healing? It's always a gamble, my heart always on the line. 

But it's a gamble I take and will continue to take because her story matters. And I want to use her story and share her story to break the silence; to help the subject of pregnancy and infant loss no longer be a taboo subject that people run away from. I want to educate people. I want them to know that I am one of many. I am 1:4 and they probably know many others like me. I want to help change the way society responds to that awful phrase "my daughter died." Instead of running away in fear of the conversation, I want people to feel comfortable to say "I am sorry, tell me more about her." And continue the conversation. 

Avery's story didn't turn out the way I planned. Not even close. There was no first day of kindergarten. No college. No successful career where she changes the world through some amazing career. But she is making a difference in this world. 

She changed me. She made me a mom. She has inspired me. She will keep me from staying silent. Together, she and I will help others feel comfortable sharing their own stories. Her story matters. My story matters. Our story matters. Your story matters. And I will continue sharing our story to help break the silence. 

Photo credit: Cathy Hartman, co-leader of the Tears Foundation of Florida, great supporter, friend, and baby loss advocate. Thanks Cathy for the inspiration. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Peer Companion Training

This past weekend I had the honor of attending a Peer Companion workshop hosted by the Florida Chapter of the Tears Foundation. If you've never heard of Tears check them out, http://www.thetearsfoundation.org/page.php?id=69. I was able to spend the day with 10 amazingly strong and beautiful women who, like me, are the unfortunate 1:4 women who have experienced infant and pregnancy loss. In our small group there were moms of multiple miscarriages, moms whose babies were born still, moms who lost due to incompetent cervix, trisonomy, strep B and vein of gallen. All of our stories different yet each of us still aching for our little ones who don't get to be with us. All of us wanting to help break the silence and be support to those who every day are added to our 1:4 club. 

Some of us were young, some were older. Some with other children, some who never got to keep theirs. Some many years from their loss and others more recent. Some pregnant, some hoping to be. Some who had met before and others total strangers. Eleven women different in so many ways but bonded by one commonality; our beautiful babies. 

We shared our babies, our pain and our hopes. There were tears yet there was lots of laughter. There were new friendships made; bonds that will last over many years as we all work towards our shared goals. We were all there to be trained to help others who are just starting their grief journey. Each of us wanting to be able to be the safe shoulder to cry on when the world is full of darkness and all hope is lost. To be that rock for others when their world is crashing down. And to be the calm voice when they feel like they are going crazy. 

Being with these women was incredibly rewarding. You feel an instant connection. We could have spent days together and still had so much more to talk about. I truly didn't want the day to end. I found myself in a conversation with two other moms and I heard myself saying how exciting it is to talk to someone who truly gets "it." And I realized how odd that sounded. Excited and baby loss don't belong in the same category, yet it's so very true. When you find someone who gets "it" and you on that deep, I've been there and know how you feel level, it is exciting. 

I left this weekend feeling refreshed and inspired. Since Avery I've wanted to do good. I want to bring some positive out of an absolutely awful situation. Becoming a peer companion is just one of the first steps towards that. I am so thankful for this workshop, these relationships I've built and for the Tears Foundation for making it possible. I see many more things coming in the future for me to reach out to the community, support other families of loss and do to is to hp break the silence. 

"Out of the ashes of our hopelessness comes the fire of our hope." - Anne Wilson Schaef

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Intuition

I don't know if I've really shared this with many but I need to get it out. 

The night of June 11th, the night before Avery passed, I had this overwhelming fear that something bad was going to happen. It was time to get ready for bed and she was falling asleep in her bassinet and I just sat there crying uncontrollably. I told my husband how I was so afraid something bad was going to happen to her. I just remember feeling so strongly that something bad was going to happen. I was so worried and full of anxiety. 

He calmed me down. We talked about how it was normal to be nervous. We talked about how we were doing everything we could to help keep her safe and to help her thrive. I chalked up my anxiety to just that; first mom worry. Adding to the anxiety, I told myself I was extra worried because he was going back to work the next morning. I was nervous about my first day alone, worried because she was actually really fussy earlier in the night which we hadn't experienced with her before that point. I wrote off the fussiness as gas because she had finally nursed so good that night that I didn't want to interrupt her to burp. 

That night, I couldn't sleep much. I was up constantly checking on her. At 5 I was absolutely exhausted and finally slept fell asleep for more than 15 minutes. I woke up just an hour later to Eddys alarm clock going off for work and my world falling apart. My fears were realized at that moment. 

Needless to say, this has been something I've struggled with. I feel so guilty for ignoring my instincts. Did I subconsciously know that something wasn't right?  They say always trust your instincts. But when you are a new mom, your nerves are always on edge. There is no user manual with exact, step by step instructions. You can read every book written and still worry insistently. How can you really separate the two? Internally I battle this. If I would have listened to my gut, would Avery still be here? But what would I have been able to do differently? She wasn't sick, she wasn't injured, she was perfect. If I would have called our pediatrician, they would have thought I was crazy.  I know this logically but emotionally it's so hard to separate when that feeling was so strong and my fears actually came to fruition. 

Clearly, now when I feel worried about something, it's hard for me to shake. There is ALWAYS that thought on the forefront of my mind that maybe I'm not just being uber paranoid, maybe it's not just worry, maybe there is ACTUALLY something to worry about. Maybe whatever it is I'm freaking out about is legitimate and I need to do something about it. It's a losing battle because I AM uber paranoid now, everything scares the hell out of me and I am terrified Harper will leave us too. How am I to really know what's paranoia and what's instinct?

This week I've had that awful anxious feeling again. I have that feeling that something is going to happen to Harper. And to be honest, I feel like I am going to explode. I am on edge. I cannot relax unless she is right there in front of me. And it is making it so difficult to let her out of my sight. I don't want to leave her and I cannot stop worrying the whole time I am away from her. It's stomach churning, heart beating out of your chest, years ready to fall in an instant, ready to jump out of your skin, hard core anxiety. 

It's so hard to manage. I have a job, I have other responsibilities and I am sure all this anxiety is just because our routine is different this week (and last) because her normal sitter (my aunt) is out of town. But she is my absolute top priority and I can't help but worry that it's my intuition kicking in again. 

Do I really sense something is wrong? 

Am I just overly cautious now? 

How do you know? 

How will I ever win this battle?

I don't just don't know...



Sunday, July 13, 2014

Fears with Parenting After Loss

I understand being a parent is full of fears, but when you've gone through the worse, your world is opened up to the awful realities of all that can and so often does go wrong. My pregnancy after loss, PAL as it's referred to in the loss community, was full of so much more anxiety than I would have thought possible. And having her here finally is an ever changing cycle of fear, anxiety and worry.  Just when I think I've got a handle on my fears with Harper, she changes and we enter into a new phase of her life and in turn more fears.

With my pregnancy, I was so afraid I would miscarry. Every twinge sent me into a panic. Every time I went to the bathroom I was afraid to look, afraid it would all end. I had no spotting with Avery so when it happened with Harper, I just knew I would lose her too. 40 weeks seemed way too much to bear and I knew something that so many don't...there is no magical "safe zone." But slowly, so incredibly slow, the weeks kept passing and thankfully, Harper kept growing. 

As the weeks passed, my miscarriage fears turned into fears that she wouldn't develop as she was supposed to. I was terrified we would be told there was something wrong, something that would take her from us; trisomy 13, anencephaly, triploidy, failure for organs to develop, this list goes on and on. I was anxious as we went in for our 20 week anatomy scan. The thought of the doctor using the god awful phrase "incompatible with life" scared the hell out of me. I actually think I was holding my breath unintentionally through the ultrasound, I got dizzy and lightheaded.  I almost passed out right there on the ultrasound table. But thank God, we were fortunate, her scans looked healthy. Phew... 

The sigh of relief from her scab was short loved however. And my fears then went to stillbirth. I know far too many beautiful mommas who were forced to go through hours of labor only for their sweet baby to enter this world as silently as they left it. Beautiful, perfect babies gone. No warnings, no time to prepare. Futures cut short, worlds turned upside down. 

As soon as she started moving, I did kick counts...constantly. If I didn't feel her moving for even the shortest period of time, I was panicking. I was gobbling down candy to try to wake her up and running for my Doppler to listen for her sweet heart beat. Every day, I lived in fear that she would leave us. And I lived in that fear for the last half of my pregnancy. 

Then the real test of my nerves came, she was here and healthy but I was absolutely, positively, scared to death that something would still happen. After all, we left the hospital once with a healthy baby only to have our world completely turned upside down within days of the doctor saying she was perfect. I was so afraid I would wake up to that same horror again. I would lay awake and watch her sleep, sleep with my hand on her chest, I refuse to sleep unless she has a breathing monitor on and on more than one occasion, as she was sleeping in my arms, I truly thought she stopped breathing. It was absolutely awful. 

As she gets older, her risk of SIDS decreases. Part of me feels I can breathe a little easier and the other part of me thinks statistics are crap. I've already won the unlucky lottery. Avery's risk was almost non existent. She was so young for this to happen, we took all recommended precautions and yet, she's not here. So eve though SIDS risks decrease greatly after 6 months, I still worry. A lot. And now, she's decided to start rolling over in her sleep. She's started wanting to sleep on her stomach. And again, I'm scared. 

I keep wanting to hit the one year mark so quickly. But I realize that I'm always going to have a new worry or fear. As she grows, she will always be at risk for something. There are so many awful things in this world. I'm always going to fear. And being a baby loss mom, my fears are amplified. I know what it's like to hear those awful words, to plan a funeral and to have to live every day missing a huge piece of your heart. 

There is no easy way through these fears. You must face them, live with them and try as much as possible to get passed them. Prayer, education and support from other loss parents and from friends and family is what's helping me get through. I'm realizing that I just have to enjoy and take each day we have with Harper as it comes. 

Friday, July 4, 2014

'The Bag'

I wrote a few months ago how after almost 2 years the police department called for me to come pick up the personal belongings they had left from Avery. Thanks to some great friends, we didn't have to go in ourselves. And all that there was left was a small gift bag-contents unknown to us.  Since the day we picked it up, it had sat at the top of Harper's closet (our house is small and her closet had the most room). 

Today, I decided I would start packing up some items Harper isn't using anymore to take to a consignment shop. In the top of her closet, right next to 'the bag,' were some extra baby towels and washcloths we had never opened. I knew I should have waited for Eddy or even gotten a stool but I was being lazy so I jumped and hit he washcloths so they would fall to the ground. Down they fell. What I didn't expect, and really I'm like 0% athletic so I really should have kno it would go right, was that I also hit 'the bag' and it came flying down as well. 

I froze, afraid to look. Afraid the mysterious contents would have spilled out. Luckily, they hadn't. The bag landed perfectly upright but with the top open. Unluckily leaving the contents on display for me. Now I don't know if I was just shocked or I am just a glutton for punishment but I immediately reached into 'the bag.' I could tell just by looking into the top of 'the bag' what it was. It was a baby hospital blanket. 

My heart leapt. I thought I left the blanket and hat that we had for her when she was born at the hospital. I'm not the type to remember those type of things when I'm ready to take my baby and get home. Even though I said I wouldn't, I forgot Harper's too. The excitement was short lived. 

As I unfolded the neatly folded blanket, it felt odd. It was stiff, not soft like one we would have wrapped her and held her in for hours when she was born. And then I saw them, the stains, and I realized this wasn't a blanket from when she was born. It was the blanket they wrapped her in that awful day in the emergency room. There are small stains of blood that I imagine were when they were trying to start IVs and other lines. 

With this blanket in my hands, I can almost see the scene playing out. I've read the hospital reports, I know what they tried as the desperately tried to save her. And just like that, I'm a fly on the wall in that ER room. I can see it all happening. I'm reliving the nightmare all over again. 

Seriously!?!?

W.
T.
F.

Why, why would they give this back to me? 

I panicked. I immediately folded it up and placed it back in 'the bag' and put it right back at the top of the closet. I forced my memory to stop replaying the scenes from that day. 

This blanket, really? What am I supposed to do with it? I can't throw it away, it's literally the last thing she touched, it's the last thing we saw her wrapped in. But seriously, it's not like that's really a memory I want to pull out of her memory box years down the road. It's not something I want to show Harper and she learns about her big sister. 

This was seriously NOT how I saw my morning going. Not that I should be surprised. Just another day in the life of a grieving SIDS mom.  Just when you think nothing else can get to you...BOOM! 

It's only 9:30 and I am completely ready for this day to end. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

2nd Birthday

Avery's 2nd birthday and anniversary came and went. This year I honestly was in a fog during that time. I wanted to show her how much we love and miss her. It at the same time, missing her is still exhausting and I really wanted to just get it over with. I know that sounds horrible. But I think I just wanted to prevent that this wasn't happening...again. Again we were buying pink decorations, balloons and having a cake made for our daughter who isn't even here. It's so unfair. All I want is to be stressed out over wrangling her, invites, family, friends, good, presents-all the craziness that planning a birthday party entails. But instead, I plan a memorial birthday, slightly worried that people will think we are crazy and that nobody will celebrate with us. 

But once again we were beyond blessed with all of the friends and family that came to celebrate her birthday with us. We sent balloons to her in Heaven and had a beautiful cake for her. This year everyone chipped in to have her name included on the new Angel of Hope monument being placed an hour north of us. Her grave was beautifully decorated by my best friends yet again this year. It really was a beautiful day.

For her birthday week we encouraged many to perform RAOK in her memory from the 6th - 12th. Once again I was blown away from how far Avery reached people. From the west to east coast of the US, Canada and in between, we heard from those, who even though they had never met Avery, were touched by her story. Finding positive focus during such a hard week really helped me through. 

The 12th was once again the worse day, well actually it really was the 11th. There is something about knowing that on that day just two years before, she was still with us, still in our arms. It's still so hard to wrap my head around how fast things can flip upside down. Nothing is guaranteed. Life is not predictable. And that day is the ever constant reminder of the fragility of life.

Now we enter another year without her. More holidays, more family events, more emptiness. This year I will strive to bring more good into this world, to keep her legacy going and to be the best mom to my two beautiful girls. 

Friday, May 30, 2014

Bleeding Heart

And just like that, we are a week away from Avery's birthday. Her 2nd birthday. Her second birthday spent in Heaven. How is it that's it's been 2 years already? It just doesn't seen possible. 

And with June only a day away now, I'm back in 2012.  Remembering and reliving the last week of my pregnancy. The sweet time I had with Avery in my arms and that awful morning. I'm still in shock that at this time just 2 years ago life seemed so perfect. Little did I know how upside my world would turn in less than 2 weeks. 

These days leading up to her birthday and angelversary are hell. The thin, fragile stitches I've been able to slowly sew over the gaping hole in my heart to keep from completely bleeding out are unraveling. My wounds are splitting open all over again. The pain feels so fresh, so raw like its 2012 all over again. 

I want nothing more than to crawl in bed, cover the windows and spend the next two weeks hiding from the real world and just let the pain have it's way. As crazy as that may sound, it would be so much easier just to wallow in my pain than try to hide it. It's absolutely exhausting to function when your heart is being broken all over again; to put on a smile, to go through the motions of life when all you want to do is hit rewind and go back. 

I know I cannot go back, I can only go forward. I have to let my heart bleed but I also have to keep working to mend the wound so I don't bleed out. Somehow, even through a bleeding heart, I am surviving. Even if these next 2 weeks feel like they will tear me apart, I've learned over the past 2 years, they won't. 

Every day, I miss her. Every day, it hurts. Every day, my heart bleeds. Yet every day, I'm surviving. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Connecting and Healing through Blogging

As June approaches my mind has a way of more frequently wandering back; back to the days we had Avery, the day we lost her and those long days, weeks and months that followed where life was so dark. This morning as I sit feeding Harper before the sub rises, I am brought back to those dark, sleepless nights. 

It was maybe a few weeks after and sleeping at night was awful. Every time we laid down, I was reminded of our last night with her. Going to bed, laying there in the quiet was too much. No matter how hard I would try, the sobs would come. Eventually I would try to control myself long enough so that my husband could fall asleep but once he did, they were back. I would lay and cry for hours on end.

One night I remember grabbing my tablet and just searching for anything related to baby loss online. I wanted and needed to connect with people who had been in my shoes. I wanted to see people surviving this. And I wanted to know I wasn't alone. Eventually, I came across the Faces of Loss page and found hundreds of blogs. Stories of women who had been exactly where I was, their pain and heartache spilled out across the pages of their blogs. Their innermost thoughts coming across my screen. So many of their words, I could have written myself. The guilt, the anger, the overwhelming emptiness-they had felt it too. 

I somehow felt less alone. I spent the entire night reading blogs from beginning to end. From that night forward for weeks, I passed my nights by staying up reading story after story of babies gone too soon. These women who I had never met were helping me get through night after night without Avery.  I would pass my darkest hours lost in their words. 

I don't know why today I was reminded of this. Those nights were long but through these stories a little light began to peek through the dark. Friendships were made that are irreplaceable. And because of these women, most of whom I've never met, I slowly began to find my way again. Taking life one day at a time. I am so thankful we live in a age of technology, where we can express ourselves, share our stories and connect with total strangers. Without it, I don't know where I would be. 

Thank you blogged mamas for helping me get through day by day!

Monday, May 12, 2014

23 Months

23 months since the worse day of my life.

23 months since I held her last.

23 months since she took her last breath, laying there in her bassinet right beside me.

23 months since I rocked her to sleep.

23 months since I awoke to a nightmare.

23 months of learning to breathe without her.

23 months of living with this gaping hole in my heart.

23 months of waking up without her and going to bed without her.

23 months living the life I did not plan.

I cannot believe in one short month, she should be 2. There is not a day that has passed in the last 23 months where I did not miss her with every ounce of my heart.  There is not a day that goes by when I don't think about how much different I thought my life would be today. There is not a day that goes by that my heart doesn't ache for her. 23 months without her, it just doesn't seem possible.

This next month is going to be full of so many emotions. Milestones always are. Part of me wants to hurry up and get past it and the other part of me feels extremely guilty for feeling that way. As if I'm rushing to get past her. Part of me wants to run away and be far away from normal life those days. And then the other part of me feels guilty if we don't celebrate her birthday with friends and family.  All of me however, just wants to make her happy, to make sure she feels loved and to make sure she knows we remember her always.

You would think after 2 years, I would be less confused over how to feel and what to do for these milestones but truthfully, that will never happen. This journey never will  be easy and it will always be confusing because of the love we have for her. One year celebrating may bring us joy and another it may bring us more pain. I will have to take each milestone as it comes. I need to remind myself to go easy on my heart. There is no right or wrong, only what feels the best at that time.

I wish I weren't on this path. I wish, the decision for this milestone was what theme she wanted for her party not how to remember her brief life.  The journey is never ending because my love for her is never ending. And I have to remind myself of that daily.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter a reminder that Heaven is for Real

I've always been a procrastinator.  I thought maybe having Harper here would change that a bit--WRONG! I ordered her Easter basket from Etsy over 6 weeks ago but didn't give much thought as to what I would put in the basket. So I decided yesterday, I should probably go get a few things to put in it. But seriously, she's 3 months old, what do you give a baby? Especially one who has so much already!9 As I was browsing Target's baby section, a book in the next section over caught my eye. There, sitting at then end of an aisle, was a big yellow book, just calling my name. Heaven is for Real for Kids was place just right and instantly I knew it was the perfect gift. 

This may seem like an odd book for a baby and she certainly won't understand for a few years but I was so excited for the placement of this book. I wouldn't have sought it out as an Easter present but it was perfect. A book reminding us of all that we have waiting for us because of what Jesus did for us. How fitting for Easter. Thankfully, I had enough sense not to read it until I got home. And oh what I book. 

It's written perfectly for kids to understand that Jesus loves them and what Heaven is like. (SPOILER ALERT). The part that got me the most was when he talks about how he gets to meet his big sister for the first time and how she wouldn't stop hugging him. (Oh, be still my heart). The thought of Avery knowing Harper already is overwhelmingly beautiful. Even though she hasn't met her little sister yet, she knows her and loves her. And one day, one day I pray is many, many, many years away, she will know her when they finally meet. But not only that, it reminds me that she will know us too. 

I always worry that in her six days, she was too small to know us and understand who we are to her. I've always worried she didn't know our love enough. But this book, like the adult version, reminds me that I don't have to worry about that. She will know us and she knows she is loved. 

Some believe that it gets easier as time passes but that isn't true. It just gets different. Last year, I was feeling very empty Easter morning. No baby to make a basket for, no cute dresses to choose from. This Easter, I have all of that with Harper but Avery is still missing and that will never change. Harper is both a distraction and a reminder of all we have and all that is missing. Every holiday we celebrate with Harper helps us to feel like real parents  and we get to start traditions yet every holiday we celebrate reminds us of all the time, milestones, holidays and pictures we are missing out on with Avery. 

Today I am thankful the He is Risen. Today I am reminded that because of Him, one day we will all be together again. And like we are reminded in the book, Heaven is for Real and it's pretty awesome. 

Happy Easter from Harper.