Monday, November 28, 2011

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving has never been my favorite holiday. My parents were divorced when I was young and so we were never all together as a family.  I always had a place to go where I was welcome and where I was loved, but I hear so many people talk about the day with so much excitement and anticipation and that's just not how it is for me.  Maybe it would have been this year, had my daughter lived to experience her first Thanksgiving, but we all know that she did not and that is why I am here.


Still, I enjoyed the time off from work and the break from the everyday things.  Gary and I finally hung Allie's star in our house and below it, hung a framed picture of her feet that we got printed up a few months ago.  We shared the picture with immediate family, but we had kept it framed and upstairs for just us to see.  I felt like it was time to bring the photo downstairs.  The star and the picture are on the wall next to the sliding glass door that leads to our deck.  Past the deck is Allie's Creek.  It seemed like the perfect place for both.  (Please excuse the amateur photography and the fact you can see me in the background!). 

We also got to spend time with Ella this weekend.  She is starting to find her voice and making all kinds of sounds.  She can hold herself up now and we think she might be crawling very soon.  She is a joy to be around and I am so very proud to be her aunt.  Gary loves her as much as I do...that much is clear! 

We spent the rest of the weekend with friends and family.  We spent time with ourselves outside as it was unseasonably warm. We did some work around the house and watched some TV and just relaxed.  We ate leftovers and vegged out.  It was not the Thanksgiving we had hoped for, but all things considered, it was not half bad!  And there is the hope that next year, it will be even better. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

7 Months

I can't believe it's been 7 months since I saw my precious baby.  When I was pregnant, 7 months was a good thing.  I picture last March and I immediately smile.  I was getting excited for my baby shower and checking my registry every day.  The nursery was painted and starting to resemble the little safe haven we had designed it to be.  We were taking Labor & Delivery Classes and getting more and more excited (as well as scared).  My feet were swelling and it was getting harder and harder to wear real shoes.  We were interviewing pediatricians and day care centers.  We were trying to prepare ourselves for sleepless nights and unlimited joy.  Spring was THIS close and with it, the arrival of our little girl and we were happy.

7 months ago today, we said hello and goodbye.  It's impossible to fathom or wrap your head around...even for me now.  All those hopes...all those dreams.  Her nursery is now a guest room. I emailed the day care that we would no longer need the enrollment forms. I assume the pediatrician thinks we just chose someone else.

I went from ordering Cd's for baby lullabies online to ordering books on grief.  Instead of looking at the baby registry, I look at blogs from other parents who have said goodbye to their babies way too soon.  I feel like I am in a fog some days...when all I hear in my head is, "My baby died.  My baby died.  My baby died."  I mean, what else is there to say after that? I throw out the "Parents" magazine that I so happily ordered and pitch the Babies R Us coupons right into the trash.

When the fog clears and I am able to breathe,  I see that the there is still good out there.  I see family and friends who would do anything to erase my pain.  I see my husband, who carries the same pain and agony in his eyes as I do in mine, reaching out to hold my hand or kiss me on the cheek.  I see new babies being born and I rejoice...as no one should ever feel this pain. 

I am not sure where we will be 7 months from now, but I sure hope in less pain.  I will always miss my daughter, so beautifully named and so very loved, but I dream of a day when I can really remember the pregnancy and the excitement and the anticipation and not the agony, sorrow and the tears.   

Thanksgiving.  It's nearly upon is.  So different than I thought it would be.  But what isn't?  So I will pick myself up, wipe away the tears and be thankful to be here, to be loved, and to have hope.  For hope is what we cling on to every single day.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A star, a tree and some mud

Last month, as Gary and I were in Las Vegas, renewing our wedding vows and vacationing, we hit the 6 month anniversary of when Allie came into this world.  I was very aware of the date, and yet there really was not much to "do".  We talked about her the same as any other day and we tried our best to make the day count, as much as we do any other day.

When we got back to our hotel that night, there was an email from my best friends' dad.  I have been friends with her family since I was 16 years old and in many ways, consider her family to be my family, too.  My friend was the matron of honor at my wedding and her dad danced with me to the Father/Daughter dance.  Her mom has been someone I have been able to confide in for years and years. They have embraced Gary and loved him since the first time I brought him over.

So back to the email. Turns out they were also aware of the 6 month anniversary of our baby girl.  Mind you, this was less than 2 weeks before their granddaughter was due into this world.  But their thoughts were with us and our baby.  They wanted to honor her and make sure that she would never be forgotten.  So they named a star after her.  A real live star!  So now when I go to sleep at night, I know that my baby's star is out there, shinning bright.  It's the sweetest gift in the world.  The certificates arrived over the weekend and I can't wait to hang them up for everyone to see.


Before we got home to see that our "star" had arrived, we had spent the day with Gary's family for our niece's 1st birthday party.  There was yummy food and cake and presents galore.  Although I fully expected to feel so lost that day as my daughter was never going to have a first birthday, I instead felt comforted to be around so much love and laughter.  Gary's aunt told us she got a tree planted in Israel in Allie's name and that is when the tears came.  His Aunt is Catholic and has taught for 40+ years at a Catholic school and she went out of her way to find something meaningful to do to honor our daughter.  Planting a tree-a concrete, practical act-has represented hope since ancient times.  It is an honor to have a tree planted in your name and once we have the official paperwork, I will gladly share it with you.

Up next...Mud.  Wet dirt.  That is how we spent our Sunday.  The "Tough Mudder" is a 12 mile coure with 30 some obstacles that is all done in the mud.  Men and women train for months and months to be able to compete.  On Sunday, Gary, my brother Dan, and a close family friend all competed.  They were filthy by the end, but accomplished so much.  They worked as a team and came out winners.  They swam in tubs of ice water and ran the "mud mile".  They climbed walls and dodged electric shock.  They jumped through fire.  This competition is no joke!  Here is a pic of Gary and my brother about half way through.  It's followed by the boys about to cross the finish line.  You will see Gary's hands are in the air making an "A" for Allison for she is is driving force through all his challenges. I am so very proud of them all.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Out of Sorts

I am pleased to report that the manic craziness of my last post has subsided.  It pretty much had by the time I blogged that day.  I was able to go to that hospital that evening and hold my friend's little infant girl and instead of crying or feeling sad for myself, I felt happy and joy and elation over this new healthy baby.  What a relief!  We took turns holding her and taking pictures and any tears were that of joy.  We even stopped on our way to the hospital and bought a present. Two presents, actually!  My new mantra is no presents until the babies are here.  And then once they born, I figured I would make Gary shop.  I mean, how can I look for little girl presents?  Turns out, I can.  Who knew?  (Note the proud Daddy in the background here!). 

The next day, we met my sister-in-law and niece for ice cream.  My brother was away for the weekend and Gary and I had not seen Ella in a few weeks since we have been traveling so much so we decided to meet up.  We had a great time and I love this pic that Gary took of us.  I think there is a definite family resemblance! 

On Sunday, Gary ran his first 10k.  I was so very proud of him.  My mom and I went and walked some of the course which was more fun than you would think!  It was on the Benjamin Franklin Bridge which connects Philadelphia to New Jersey and there were over 4,000 participants. I love that each step Gary runs is for our little girl.  He trains for her, he runs for her, he thrives for her.  It makes me melt.

He runs...I write.  It works for us.

So what now?  We are now THIS close to the holiday season.  The temperature has dropped and there is holiday music on in the stores.  There is no turning back now.  I am sad a lot lately.  Sad that Allie will not be here for Thanksgiving.  Sad that she won't be here when I light the Hanukkah candles.  Sad that we do not need to run out and get her a snow suit or start baby proofing the house. 

Gary has become a "glass is half full" guy.  He focuses on what we do have and what we will have. My glass is pretty empty these days.  I have no baby, I am not pregnant...ugh.  I want to live in the moment, but I am finding it so damn hard.  I smile on some days.  I laugh when I can.  I go to work.  I take pleasure in what I can.  But this void that I feel is so, well, empty.  And it sucks.  I guess it's all part of the grief process.  

This is so not what I thought this season was going to be like this year.  Not at all.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Rock Bottom

This morning, I hit rock bottom.  I thought I had been here before, but it turns out I was wrong.  If I had a problem with drugs or alcohol, I could call a sponsor or go to a meeting.  Instead, I have to dump this all on my husband and hope that he is strong enough to support me, while still managing to keep his head above water, too. 

I have a cold so my defenses are down.  With each sniffle, I remind myself that I am not 100% and I need to remember that.

Today I got my monthly visitor.  I was naive enough to think that we would get pregnant as easily this time as we did the last.  I thought this time was it for us.  I had gone through several pregnancy tests this week.  I was so very hopeful. 

Two days ago, my best friend had a healthy baby girl.  One that will never get to play with my baby girl.  We are going to meet her tonight and even though I am so very raw today, I can't wait to hold her.

Tomorrow is a baby shower for a dear friend and I can't go.  While she understands, I am not sure I do. 

I came to work this morning because I was crying so hard at home and I was worried that if I stayed home, the tears would never stop.

I miss my daughter.  More and more every day.  I am so worried that she will be forgotten. 

I heard of a study at Drexel University that is conducting research on how women have healed and moved on from the grief of thier loss of a miscarriage or stillborn.  I immediately contacted the organzier as I was hoping that my journey might help someone else.  Now I am worried that they will turn me away as I am obviously not healed.

Earlier today, towel turban on my head and tears streaming down my face, I felt the worst I have felt since we were in the hospital 6 months ago.  I felt lost, empty and without hope.  I do not wish this pain on anyone.

My friends and family all ask what they can do and I smile and say, "Nothing, but thanks." Cause that is the truth.  There is nothing anyone can do.  I love them for asking anyway.

I am trying to look to the future, to see the bright side, but sometimes it's just too hard.  So instead, I literally put one foot in front of the other, got in the car, got to work, got to my desk and started my day.  What else was there to do? 

I feel a little bit better now.  Bye bye rock bottom.  I do not want to see you again, you hear me?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween

And so, it's over.  Halloween, that is.  Sigh.  One of the first things I thought of when I found out I was pregnant with Allie was what she would be for Halloween.  Would she be a princess or Wonder Woman (as in, would I get to choose her costume or would her dad?).  Would we go trick or treat with my brother and sister-in-law or with his brother and sister-in-law?  Maybe we would do both!  Would there be a parade at her daycare?  Would we get together with any of our friends so all the little ones could dress up as we stood around thinking how adorable they all were?

But that was just not the way Halloween was for me this year.  There were no costumes, no trick or treating, no candy, no parades.  It seems to sum up how I feel this week - I was expecting the most and I got the least.  I refuse to change my expectations, though.  It's just not who I am.

Gary pointed out to me the other day that since Allie has died, we have new anniversaries...1 month since she died...6 months since she died...the first summer without her...now the first Fall without her.  I long for the time when we only celebrated happy things. I long for the time when I did not know this pain.  But I accept this pain as it reminds me of the 37 weeks I had with our daughter growing inside of my, just under my heart.  In so many ways, she is still there.  Maybe in more ways that I even know.

Happy Halloween, sweetheart.  We love you.

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. ...