Saturday, July 30, 2011

Ella & Madelyn

Ella is my niece.  She has a smile that lights up a room.  She is so pretty and cute and adorable and she will be 4 months old in just a few weeks.

Ella was born 2 weeks before Allie died. She was the first grandchild on my side of the family and she was wanted very badly.  My brother and his wife waited a long time for her and are truly blessed now that she is here.

The weekend before Allie died, I went to my brother's house and Ella took a nap on my belly.  My very pregnant belly.  I knew these cousins were going to be so close and I was so excited for Allie to be born so the girls could grow up together and be the best of friends.

In the hospital, I did not want my brother or sister-in-law to come visit me because I wanted them to be home with their daughter.  I did not want anything bad to touch them during what was surely the most exciting time in their lives.  My brother did not listen and came anyway.  I have two brothers and neither listened to me that weekend and I am so very glad.

From the moment we got home from the hospital, Gary and I have made a point of visiting Ella often.   We need her to know that she is so loved by us.  We feel the same way about Maddy who was born last November, our niece on Gary's side.  These little ladies are so very special to us and we are so lucky to have them remind us that there is still good in the world.

Last night, Gary fed Ella dinner.  He has done it before,  but this was the first time I saw how proud he was.  The last two visits, Gary has felt more comfortable with Ella and embraced her even more.  When it was time for her to go to sleep, he was the one to put her down.  I watched in awe - we were playing family in a way and it stung.  We should be home with our baby and not here without her.   But life happens and we can't control any of it.  What we can do is love the ones that are here and look forward to a year or two from now when we will hopefully have a cousin for Ella to play with.

My brother asked me last night if is was hard for me to see his daughter or Maddy.  I sighed, as it is such a loaded question.  It's hard because my arms feel more empty than when I am at home, but it's easy as these babies make it so easy to love them.   

I wear Allison's name around my neck on a necklace I ordered myself for Mother's Day.  Ella grabbed onto it last night and Maddy has grabbed onto it in the past.  I know babies grab whatever they can, but I think my nieces are reaching out for their cousin.  To know me is to know that this is bizarre for me to say,  but I really do believe it.

So yes, it's hard.  What is not these days?  But girls, your Aunt Sam and Uncle Gary love you so much and are excited to watch you grow.  We love you more than you can know.
Maddy and Me
Ella and Me

Monday, July 25, 2011

GWA

GWA stands for Girls Weekend Away.  About a decade ago, a group of us made a pact that one weekend a year, we would all go away.  It did not matter where, but it mattered that we always made the time for each other.  It used to be 4 days at the Delaware beaches.  Then it became 3 days at the New Jersey shore.  The last few years, it’s been one night at the house of a friend who owns a pool and a bar.  It seems that swimming and cocktails are two "must have's" for GWA.  The hope is that we will get back to the beach someday, but for now, we are content with just finding a little bit of time each summer that we can call ours.

GWA 2011 came on the heels of our Chicago trip and so I was in a pretty good place before I even left the house.  And GWA did not disappoint.  We swam and laughed and ate delicious food – and way too much of it!  We laughed so hard that we had tears streaming down our faces.  My sides are still sore from the giggles.  We stayed up till 3 and 4 AM and told stories and shared memories and enjoyed being together.  We acted like little girls at a sleepover party and not the grown women we are in reality.  We had no responsibility but to enjoy ourselves and make the time count.
 
Talk turned to the future and what we wanted to do next.  We all had big parties for our 30th birthdays and we talked about a trip in a couple of years when we will be close to turning 40. We think an all-inclusive long weekend might be in order for that.  We encouraged everyone to start saving now!

I have known all along that the power of friendship is amazing.  I was reminded of that this weekend.    You see, this was supposed to be the first GWA that I was going to miss.  I was supposed to have a 2 month old baby at home and therefore, was not gonna be sitting at a bar, singing “We Didn’t Start the Fire” at the top of my lungs and try to get my friends to go back in the pool at 10pm.

But I was able to go.  And I had a great time.  Maybe next summer will be the one I miss.  Maybe I will never miss one.  Who knows?  What I do know is that when I am with my friends, close enough to me that they feel like my sisters, life goes on.  Laughter happens.  Smiles are frequent. 

Allie was there in spirit, as she is with me every place I go.  She will sadly never get her own GWA, but maybe she will have a sister that will.  Or maybe she will just have to be there in me, which lately does not seem like such a bad place to be.

To my GWA girls and my other amazing friends, thank you.  There would be no laughter without you.  

 

Friday, July 22, 2011

My Kind of Town

What a trip! Gary and I managed to get away for a few days and we sure made the most of it! From the moment we met up at the hotel, we had an unspoken pact – to enjoy this city and the time together. And that we did!

Our first activity was an Architectural Boat TourI had heard great things and am happy to report that they were all true! The tour was 90 minutes and very informative. We learned a lot and had a nice ride at the same time! (Also, they had free lemonade and cookies!). What’s not to love? The scenery was amazing and the skyscrapers were really something to see. Especially as they hovered over the water. It was a quite a sight, that is for sure!

Our next activity was a show at The Second City.  Some of the funniest talents out there got their start on that very stage. John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Steve Carell, Tina Fey…to name a few. We somehow got 1st row seats and laughed the entire time. A must see if you ever visit Chicago!

The concierge at the hotel recommended a Mexican place for dinner which was right next door to the theater. We managed to sit outside (this was the last time that would happen before the blanket of heat was to roll in and smother us!) and have a delicious, fresh Mexican dinner. I will say the margarita I had with mine was quite refreshing as well!

From there, we went to Navy PierTalk about chaos! It was very cool to see all the people – locals and tourists, all out enjoying themselves. Gary saw some artists doing caricatures and decided it was just silly enough for us to do. We laughed the whole time as the crowds started to look at our drawing and when we were done, we both smiled from ear to ear. We cannot wait to get it framed.

The rest of the trip was just as busy and fun. We tool the “L” to Wrigley Field and saw a Cubs game. 
Gary wanted to see the ivy on the walls and that we did. We felt like a part of history, sitting in that stadium, and it felt really great. It also felt hotter than you can imagine and we got our beers and hot dogs and eventually left.

We went back into the hotel, swam in their pool (it was the fastest way to cool down!) and then went out for Chicago style deep dish pizza.  They are not messing around with their pies, let me tell you!  Heaven!!  An experience and taste we will not soon forget.

The next day was back to Navy Pier to ride the Ferris Wheel. Whee!!! It was super fun and there was a nice breeze all the way up at the top! From there, we went to Willis Tower (formerly known as Sears Tower) and went all the way to the tippy top.   It was quite a rush and a view that really left us speechless.

Back down to the bottom we went and off to the movies for we were too hot for any more outdoor attractions and being able to see a movie on a Monday in the late afternoon was just as much a treat as anything else.

The next morning, we packed up and headed back to the airport. We were gone just the right amount of time where we were happy to be away but also looking forward to being back.

We landed in Philly and were happy to be home. There was not an activity that we did or a view that we saw that did not make me long for my little girl. I like to think that we would have raised her to know that life goes on, you move forward and not back. And I want to live my life the way I would have wanted her to live hers. I miss her every day and I think I still cry for her about once a week, but I see there is a light at the end of this dark tunnel and I know she would want her Mom to do all she could to get to that light. Chicago was a damn good place to start!








Thursday, July 14, 2011

How’s the baby?

And so it began, just like I feared. The door opened wide, the hygienist (whom I really like so much) gives me a wide grin and says, “How’s the baby?” I look at her and ask if we can go back to where the chairs are and out of the waiting room. And then I started to cry.
 I told her that unfortunately, my baby had died. She hugged me so tight and she started crying and then apologizing for asking. I said please do not be! The last time you saw me, I was 6 months pregnant and she had no way of knowing that this would happen! No one did! So do not be mad for liking me so much and for being so happy for me that it was the first thing you wanted to know. Of course, I am not sure she understood any of what I was saying as I was mumbling into her shoulder as the tears flowed.

A dear friend reminded me yesterday that dentists are used to fragile folks – people that do not like going to see them but have to suck it up and deal with it anyway. So I bet they are used to tears. But not before the exam even begins!!

The dentist heard the crying and came rushing over and looked at me with an inquisitive look. I looked back and said, “My baby was stillborn. 37 weeks and 1 day. I delivered her via c section. It was a nightmare.” I waited a beat and then I said, “I am ok”. Cause I am. I explained how sorry I was to tell them this way, but I knew of no other way. I told them I had been dreading the appointment for months! I told them that Gary and I have been taking care of each other and that we can try again when the time is right and how I do not have any regrets. And we don’t.

So now I told someone. And I sucked at it. But I am ok with not knowing the best way to share such awful news.

With this appointment finally behind me, I feel like it’s time to move on to the next chapter. I go back in 6 months and who knows what shape I will be in then? Maybe I’ll have happy news to share again. You never know.

Now I can really look forward to Chicago. Tomorrow at this time I will be at the gate, waiting to board my plane. Gary is on a business trip and will meet me there. If that is not romantic, I do not know what is! We are making lemonade these days, and it tastes so sweet…

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Next Week

Next weekend, Gary and I are heading to Chicago.  I have never been and always wanted to go.  Gary was there once for work, but never saw more than the airport, the hotel and the meeting spaces he was in.  We are going to do as much as we can and enjoy it and each other as much as we can.  We were not supposed to have the time or funds to be able to go away now, but instead of sitting at home and wallowing, we are going to get on a plane and make new memories.  I was excited when we first talked about it, but now that it’s getting closer, I am really looking forward to it.  I think we both need this getaway. 

Before we go, I need to see the dentist.  This is the one appointment I have been dreading since April.  The last time I went to see him, I was pregnant and glowing (or sweating – I did a lot of both when I was expecting!).  I have been going to the same dentist for at least a decade and every 6 months, it feels like I have a lot to say when he is cleaning my gums.  I promised the office staff and the dentist that I would bring Allie in once she was here and show her around.  I have wanted to stop by or call to let them know that there would be no such visit, but how do you do that?  Gary offered to stop in for me as well, but he is not even a patient there!  As my brother- in- law would say, “Awkward, Party of 1?  Your table is now ready.” 

So every night when I brush and every month when I floss (try as I might I just can’t remember to do it that often!!), I have this upcoming appointment in the back of my mind.  Gary has been able to take the bullet for me time and again (work, friends, family) but this is one I have to do alone.  I know I can, I am just scared.  They will be so sad for me, I just know it.  Damn, I wish my appointment was not at 8am and that there was a bar in the waiting room!  

Thursday is the dentist.  My reward is a trip to the hair salon after work that same day.  And then off to the airport on Friday afternoon for our getaway.  I will try to focus on my highlights and blow out and then our trip instead of my cleaning.  Look on the bright side and towards fun things, not on the dark side and towards sorrow.


My emotions are a little bit more in check these days.   I can be happy, but not without being sad.  This morning I woke up and realized I had my first dream about Allie.  She was a little girl that I was allowed to see, but not allowed to hold.  It wrecked me.  I shared it with Gary, we hugged and cried, and then we came downstairs to start our day.   My highs are nice but my lows are still painful.  I feel a little less broken, which is a treat.  I think I bounce back more quickly.  I see positive sides of situations more so than I did even last week.  I am looking forward and I am hopeful.  

It needs to be said that I am so in love with my husband and grateful for every single second that he loves me.   He reminds me that Allie is in our heart always and that if we go out, she is always with us.  He reminds me that we did nothing wrong and her death was really just a terrible accident.  He reminds me that we will be parents in some way to a living child before this life is done.  He reminds me that he loves me.  He is for sure the best thing in the world.

My goal is to make it through this week and look forward to going to the city that Ferris Bueller made famous.  I want to laugh and have fun and enjoy being alive.  I want to have a terrific time and something tells me, I just might!  With my new hair cut and freshly cleaned teeth, how can I not?  :)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Life Goes On

Last Tuesday, our OB called us and left a voice mail that the chromosomal tests that we had been waiting for would never be coming back.  Somehow there was something added to the tissue sample that made it impossible to perform the test.  She apologized profusely and repeated, as she had in the past, that she really did not think there were any chromosomal abnormalities, but there is just no way to know for sure.  She was going to report this grievance to the head of Labor and Delivery at the hospital and told us that we could report it as well, if that is what we wanted to do.

9 weeks of waiting and this is what we got?  A big, fat NOTHING!!  

After the tears stopped, Gary and I talked about what to do.   Going after who made this mistake is not going to change what happened or bring Allie back.  But we need to make sure that mistakes like this do not happen again.  If this error was something that caused Allie to pass, then we would have driven to the hospital that night and demanded answers.  But that is not the case and thus, we are at a loss.  There is no way I can call anyone without raising my blood pressure to crazy high levels, so Gary is going to follow through with the hospital this week.  We might write a letter, too.    We want to make sure our voice is heard and that the lab and the people responsible for ruining our test are held accountable.

Lately I feel so out of sorts.   It's been just over 10 weeks since our saga began - not even a trimester, in baby terms.   We have now seen most of our family and friends and we have told our story to most of the people that we know.  We have seen and held and played with babies  and children of all ages and talked about how that made us feel.  Surprisingly good for the most part!! We have now almost made it through another holiday weekend without our baby in our arms.  We are loving each other as much as we possibly can.  

I am still so sad so often, but I seem to recover more quickly of late.  I can be sad in the morning and then ok by lunch and vice versa.  I am trying to physically take care of myself better with power walks and bike rides and a healthier diet so that my body is in better shape and hopefully ready to carry a baby again.

I still do not understand how this could have happened to us.  I still think I will wake up and our baby will be here with us.  I look forward to having a living child and making sure he or she knows all about his or her big sister who (to me) was so brave and strong.  I feel better when I look forward and not back.  Sometimes it is just so hard to look forward, though.

Two years ago, we went to a July 4th party at my best friend's house.  I had just moved into Gary's apartment and was hoping to get engaged soon and hopefully buy a house with him.  Last year we went to the same party with our wedding album in hand and proudly showed it off to everyone.  This year, we went with heavy hearts and new tattoo's to commemorate our first born.  I am very curious to see how it will be when we go next year...and I can't help but smile when I think that you just never know...

And now as I get ready to hit "publish post", I realize that I am not so sad right now.  The fog has lifted.  Life goes on.

A Letter to My First Daughter

My Dearest Allie, It’s been a while since I have written to you. I find it easier to write about you than it is to write to you. ...