Thursday, September 29, 2011

Happy New Year

Sundown last night marked the beginning of the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah.  It’s a happy holiday, one spent with loved ones and family.   We eat apples and honey to symbolize a sweet new year.  We have large meals and celebrate the start of a new year.  We rejoice.

This would have been Allie’s first Rosh Hashanah.  She would be too young for the apples, but maybe I would have let her taste the honey from my fingers.  I will never know.  I was so excited to tell my aunt and uncle and cousins last year that I was newly pregnant.  Now I face them, some for the first time since my baby shower, with no baby.  It’s so sad.  And I suppose it always will be.

We saw our grief counselor on Monday and it was a good session.  She is visibly pregnant now, but that did not bother me at all.  If anything, I was relieved to know she was still pregnant.  I will be more relieved when I hear that she had a healthy baby as unfortunately, pregnancies to me now do not mean healthy babies at the end.  We talked about my feelings of failure and how that has, in a way, consumed me these past few months.  I feel like my body failed me, even though I know that is not true. I feel like my body failed Gary, too, and I keep expecting him to be upset with me. But he is not angry at me as he knows I did not do anything wrong.  I think it’s time to stop beating myself up, and yet I am unsure how.  I so desperately want to get pregnant again, but I worry that if I keep mentally berating myself, it will be no good for the baby or me.  So it’s really time to try to be nicer to myself.  

Per the counselor, I now have notes up all over the house.  “I am pretty” is in the master bedroom, along with “I am a mother”.  “I am a good friend” is in the kitchen, next to “I am a loving wife”.  It’s kinda nice.   Gary has taken to leaving me little notes in my lunch box or my purse or my wallet reminding me how much he loves me.  Sooner or later, it has to get through, right?  I did not nothing wrong.  Allie’s death is not my fault. I can still love and be loved. I am a mom.
A reminder note from Gary
On Tuesday, I got home from work to the nicest card. We got so many cards after Allie died and each one meant so much to us. In fact, we saved them all in the Memory Box with Allie’s things. This card was no different.  It was from a friend in college who was in my sorority with me. We were not super close, but we certainly knew each other enough and were friendly.  She stumbled across my blog on Facebook and wanted to reach out to me.  It was so thoughtful and so beautiful and here we are, 5 months later, and people are still thinking of us and remembering our daughter. It warms me from the inside out.

On Saturday, Gary and I are leaving for Memphis.  He had to be there for work on Monday and Tuesday so we decided to fly down a few days early and make a weekend getaway out of it.  We already have tickets to Graceland and plan on visiting the Civil Rights Museum, too.  We want to go to one of the legendary recording studios as well. We want to eat ribs and BBQ and fried chicken.  We are going to cram as much into 48 hours as we can!  I am so looking forward to it! 
I love travelling with Gary and exploring different cities with him.  I love that we are taking advantage of the “free” time we have now and making as many plans as possible.   I love that I can hope that next year this time, we are not able to travel as we will have a baby either on the way or already here.     

I want to make sure to make this a happy new year, indeed.  So I am off from work today, at home, reflecting on this past year.  I will have extra apples and honey tonight as I did last night.  I want far less bitter and much more sweet.  I really do not think that is asking for too much!  In fact, I know it's not!!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Safe Travels

Yesterday I said farewell to my youngest brother and his wife. There is a 7 year gap between us and at times, it seems like an entire generation. Other times, they act way more mature than me. They have been married for just over 3 years now and have lived in Missouri (where they met) and Texas (where they went to live in a Zen Center for a year and then decided to stick around Austin as they liked it so much). We all knew that they had a lust for travel and for seeing the world and that it was just a matter of time before they took off. My sister in law is originally from Bulgaria and her parents still live there. Their plan is to live with her parents through the end of the year and then travel to see the world. Thailand is on their list for early next year, but that is just one of the many stops they plan to make. They may be gone a year or they may be gone three years. They may or may not be back in the US in 2012.

They left Texas in late July and drove North, stopping to see friends along the way. Then they were here in PA with us for the last month or so and it was so nice to have them here. We saw them and enjoyed them as much as possible.

Saying goodbye was harder than I thought. While they have always lived in other places, they were still always accessible. They hopped a plane back in April with open ended tickets to be here for us when Allie died. My brother drove us to the funeral home to talk about arrangements. He drove us back a few days later to pick up our daughter’s ashes. He researched grief counselors for us. He researched natural remedies to help us with grief. He held my hand as I cried.

 It is my supreme hope that Allie’s little sister or brother will be on his or her way in the near future. And it breaks my heart that my brother and sister-in-law will not be here for his or her birth. We will have to Skype them when we find out we are pregnant and introduce them to their niece or nephew in the same way. I know they are not gone forever and that they will be back in time to see the baby or babies grow into toddlers or children or kids or young adults. But I hate that they were here for the sadness and might not be here for the joy. But that is the way life is, right? While I miss them and in a way, mourn their absence, they are off, exploring the world, backpacks and all. I am so very proud of them for following their dreams. I am excited to see the kind of people they become with so many countries to see and experiences to have. And I am excited at the prospect of the good to come that they can share with us when they finally come back home.

Safe travels, Jeff and Neda. We love you so!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Road Trip

This past weekend, I went to Northern Virginia to visit my college roommate for her birthday. We have this tradition that we never miss a birthday. And so far, we have not.  Probably since we were about 19 or so.

It’s about a 3 hour drive and I was really looking forward to the mini –getaway. I have been very stressed out lately and I needed some time away from my thoughts and my anxiety and my fears. I could feel the stress lifting and I drove further and further South.

Upon my arrival, we decided to go out for lunch. We went to a local place and had sandwiches and just started catching up. We stay in touch via email the most, but there are phone calls here and there as well. But we had not seen each other since I was home on leave after delivering Allie. And that was a tough visit.

This time around, a few months later, we were both in a better place. The pain was not as raw, the grief not as palpable. So we were able to talk and talk and talk – about my pregnancy and the 37 weeks and 1 day of such happiness that I had. About the love and support of our family and friends that is hard to compare to anything I have ever experienced. About how much Gary and I want to be parents to a living child and how odd it is that I now have to say “living” child.

It was on my trip last year that I proudly told her we were expecting. We were both aware of that fact.
We decided to do some retail therapy after lunch, so we went to a local mall. But first we needed wine. So we had a few glasses at a restaurant in the mall and talked some more. We mostly window shopped and except for the Captain America and Spiderman spatulas at Williams Sonoma that were a must by for my superhero husband. We had a blast walking around and looking at all the merchandise.

Tuckered out, we went back to her place. On the ride back, I started to feel cramps. I had felt some on the way down but had tried to ignore them. Turns out my monthly visitor hiked a ride with me. Every time she comes, it’s a brutal reminder that I am not pregnant anymore and not pregnant again. We are THIS close to the time when the doctor said we can try again. I sure hope my body is ready by then. And my heart.

We had a brief happy hour at her place (can you sense a theme here?) and then decided to try the new Skinny Girl Margaritas and Mexican take out for dinner. Both were delish!! There was no shortage of food this weekend!!

Confession time – we LOVE Teen Mom. I am not sure why. She turned me on to this show last year and I can’t get enough. As hard as it is for me to see others being parents when I so much want to be, that feeling does not include these girls. So we got all settled in and fired up the TV and watched the most recent episode. We dissected each teen and her behavior and thoroughly enjoyed the episode. Sorry to hear the finale is this week.

 The other thing we did? We laughed. So hard at times that we both had tears in our eyes. We laughed at things that were funny and we laughed at things that were not really that funny, but made us smile anyway. We have always been able to laugh together and the last time we saw each other, there was not much laughter. Well, this weekend there was. The sound of us laughing still rings in my ears.

If life had worked out the way we planned, this visit probably would have been my first overnight away from Allie. I would have been calling home every 5 minutes to make sure the baby and Gary were doing ok. I would have been anxious to leave. I would have been anxious to get back. But life does not always work out the way you think it will. What I have learned is that good friends, strong bonds, laughter, margaritas, shopping and teen moms will not take the pain away, but they sure are a good way to spend some time while on the mend. I highly recommend them all! I am not the kind of person that can heal all by myself…I need a village. And luckily I have one.

So who knows where I will be in my life for her birthday next year. One thing is for sure, though. I will be with her, helping her to celebrate.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Time of My Life

2 years ago yesterday, Gary proposed to me.   He asked me to be his wife at lunch on a Tuesday.  The ring was ready that morning and he could not wait to give it to me. In fact, he did not even make it into the restaurant. My soon-to-be-husband got down on one knee right there in the parking lot.  I cannot think of that day and not smile from ear to ear.

I would marry him again and again and again. 

Here is a snapshot of our wedding day that I just got from my videographer this week. 

There was no way to know then that the road to our happiness would be paved with such grief.  But there was no way to know then that we would be stronger than ever in such a short period of time.

I hope to keep laughing, keep dancing, keep "having the time of our lives" and keep making our baby girl proud of us.

Allie, this one's for you...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 Past and Present

Like so many millions today, I am reflecting on how proud I am to be an American.  Don't get me wrong, I get my $5 Old Navy shirt every year and wear it for July 4th...and then Labor Day...and often other times throughout the summer. I watch the Today show every morning and see the soldiers fighting for their lives so that we may have peace and freedom and lives to live. But on this day in particular, I pause to reflect even more.  I sit up and pay even more attention than usual.

10 years ago, I was single.  I was in my first apartment.  I had just brought Zoe home to live with me.  I was working in Center City Philadelphia at a PBS affiliate.   I remember when the towers got hit and I remember when they fell.  I remember the police escort I had to the train station so that I could get home.  I remember panicking because my brother lived in Manhattan and I remember the relief I felt when I realized he was in New Mexico visiting an old friend.  I remember the tears and the sorrow and the knowledge that life as I knew it would never be the same.  

10 years later, I woke up next to my husband on September 11th.  In the house that we own.  Zoe was at the foot on the bed, as she always is.  I turned on the TV before I even got out of bed to watch the coverage on the news.  I saw the Presidents (past and present) pay their respects to the Fallen.  I got the familiar lump in my chest and felt the same sorrow as I had a decade ago.  

A few hours later, we left for Gary's third 5k.  He started running when Allie died as way to honor her - to do something for her and for him.  To make her proud. To have a goal and to meet it.  Today's run was a very special one.  It was a 9/11 Heroes Run and there were more than 50 races across the world.  They created a team at work and Gary invited his brother to run it with him as well.  And our dear friend who trains with Gary weekly.

Upon arriving at the race, you could feel the excitement in the air.  There was a sense of pride that was palpable.  We are still here, stronger than ever and we are not going to be defeated.  And if that is not a motto that defines Gary and me, than I do not know what is!!

Gary finished in record time and the whole team thrived.  I was so proud, standing at the finish line, taking pictures and cheering them all on.  

We are survivors...all of you out there reading this blog who have also lost their babies far too soon...we are strong and we will not be defeated.  Mark my words.  Whether you write (like me), run (like Gary) or do something completely different, you fight each and every day.  We, too, will never forget.  And we are still here and will keep remembering.  Each and every day of our lives.

Just about to cross the finish line

Best Team EVER!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

What I Learned This Summer

I am a satellite radio girl. Have been since it came out. I love the lack of commercials and the variety of music. I signed up for a lifetime membership years ago and it was some of the best money I ever spent. Since I have not gotten a bill in years, it seems free!

I do not have satellite radio at home, though. There is no need for it with our iPods and all the great music on the cable stations. The only time this is an issue is in the morning. I love to listen to music in the shower. So I listen on my little pink shower radio and wash my troubles away.

This morning, there was a segment called “What I Learned This Summer”. People called in to say a variety of things that they learned. One guy learned that he liked oysters (not sure this is news, but I digress). One caller said they learned that not having a house at the beach for the summer was a mistake. Another caller said they realized true love does exist. You get the point, right?

So here is what I learned:

I can hurt from the top of my head to the bottom of my toes. I can mourn like a pro. I can cry an endless amount of tears. I can be sad for hours and hours. I can miss someone I never even knew. I can want something so badly that it physically hurts. I can put on a brave face and be crumbling inside. I can go through the motions, even when all I want to do is sit in the dark and be alone.

Here is what else I learned:

I am loved more than I ever thought possible. By more people than I ever thought possible. My family would literally do anything to stop my pain. That includes the family I was lucky enough to get by marring my fantastic husband. My friends are officially my family. My girlfriends are now my sisters. I am not the only one who lost a child. We all lost her. And we all loved her.

Flash back to Labor Day Weekend last year. We just found out we were pregnant. We told both sides of the family. We were elated! 2 of my sister-in-laws were also pregnant at the time and they gladly welcomed me into their club. We took a picture of the pregnancy test and made a copy to show everyone. We started to talk about what I would look like pregnant. Would I be sick? Would it be a hard or easy pregnancy? Would we have a boy or a girl? My pop pop was a twin…could we be having 2 babies?? The excitement kept me up those first few nights.

Flash forward to Labor Day Weekend this year. I have two beautiful nieces whom I love (and blog about) so very much. But I am in a different club now. This club has mothers who have lost a child. Ones who had easy pregnancies and ones who had hard pregnancies. Ones who had boys and ones who had girls. Ones who had twins. Ones who are up nights missing their children.

I am so curious as to what Labor Day Weekend will be like next year. What I learned this summer is that I just have to wait and see. And never lose hope.

My Mom's Birthday - Labor Day Weekend 2011

Ella's 1st Winery Trip!

My brothers, Ella and Me

The Birthday Girl

Gary and Me

Adoption In My Heart

Today was the Adoptions From The Heart Annual Picnic . We love this event. It is close to our house, it is early enough in the summer that i...