Friday, April 27, 2012

A Garden of One Hundred Trees

Gary and I received this gift last night.  It's from my side of the family - some of whom live locally, some who live in Atlanta, GA and some who live in England.  All who are close by in our hearts.

I do not think I need to say anything else about it.  Except that we are beyond touched. What a fantastic 1st birthday present for our little girl.  Thanks for keeping her memory alive.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Happy First Birthday

Dear Allie,

One year ago today, I held you in my arms.  I touched your face and kissed your cheeks and I was forced to say hello and goodbye all at once.  It's taken me a full year to fully grasp how hard and cruel and sad that was.  And it will take me the rest of my life to accept.  

This week has been a hard one for your dad and me.  Earlier in the week, we got a card from Babies R Us.  It was bright and colorful and it said, "Someone in your house is turning 1!"  It took my breath away. No one in our house was turning 1. 

I let myself feel your absence more this week than I usually do.  I shed more tears than I normally allow.  I spent much of this week planning your first birthday party which was today.  I wanted it to be perfect.  I wanted a house full of your aunts and uncles and grandparents and friends to be by our side to remember you.  And they were.

We filled the house with flowers (tulips that we bought as I love them so) and various arrangements from our families.  We even got a flower box for the deck that will now always remind me of you.  We had 10 pink balloons that hung freely around the house until we were ready to release them outside.  We had catered deli sandwiches and pink and white cupcakes and oh so much love.

Slowly our guests started to arrive.  How happy everyone was to be here, baby girl!  They all wanted to wish you a happy birthday.  Over and over, people said your name and I tell you, I could listen to it all day long. There were kids running around all over the place and laughter in each room.  It was sad as you were not here, but happy as everyone was here to support us.
 
Upstairs in your room, Daddy made a memorial to you.  He displayed pictures of your ultrasounds and the Certificate of Stillbirth that we got a few months ago.  He placed the blanket they wrapped you in one year ago today.  Evey item from your Memory Box was out for our loved ones to see...the hat and the outfits that you wore, the ring with your birthstone from the hospital, your ID tags that you never got to wear.  It was a beautiful tribute and people could take their time and go upstairs when they were ready and spend as little or as much time there as they wanted.  We are spoiled, Allie, as we live with your things, but many of them do not.  So it was really touching.

Halfway through the party, daddy called everyone into one room to thank them all for coming.  He thanked everyone for their love and support and explained how much it meant to us.  He started to cry so I tried to talk, but I was crying by then, too.  I thanked everyone for their love and let them know that we only survived this past year because they were by our side.  And I mentioned that people that were not here in our house, but the ones out there (probably reading this letter to you) that have helped in more ways than I even know.

Then we explained that we were going to take a balloon our back and release it into the sky and we invited everyone else to do so if they wanted.  So daddy and I got our balloon and went outside and it was raining by then.  We held our balloon tight and then released it together and watched it as the wind and air took it away.  We were crying a lot by then and your creek was just a few feet away.  With our faces lifted towards the sky, the rain drops felt like your tears.  One by one, family by family, child by child, people went outside and released their balloons. 

Here is a picture of your cousins, Sean and Ryan.  Their mom and dad told them to close their eyes and thinks good thoughts about you and then release their balloon.  Sean was a trooper but Ryan likes to be a little more difficult.  He said to his parents, "I don't even know what Allie looks like" and he did not know how to close his eyes and think of you.  But then your Aunt Caraline and Uncle Paul reminded Ryan that you are always in his heart and he just needs to go there to see you and think of you.  And just like that, he was ready to send his balloon into the damp sky.

Overall it was a lovely day.  Sad and somber, but hopeful and beautiful.  There were plenty of tears, but lots of laughter, too.  Your girl cousins are both walking now and we had to beg them to stop going up the steps!  We took your pack and play out of the basement so Ella could take a nap as she was getting very tired from being so cute.  It warmed me up from the inside to know that a sweet little girl was using one of your things.  They were meant to be used and not to sit in storage.  Oh, I see her and I think of the fun you girls would have had!!  She has her daddy wrapped around her teeny little fingers and I just know that you would be the same way with your daddy if you where here.

So here we are on your one year angelversary.  We are working  hard to make you proud of us and I think you would have really liked your party.  Baby, we are so proud to be your parents and so sad that we did not have more time with you.  Please know that you are in our hearts and souls and we love you yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Happy 1st birthday, Allie Cat.

Love,
Mommy 


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Promise Me...

I am so weepy these days.  Several times a day, my eyes well up and the tears come.  I have to imagine it's because we are so close to Allie's first birthday.  Or maybe it's because of the medication I am on that is hopefully going to help us get pregnant. Or maybe it is because I am reliving this week last year and am in awe of where I am a year later.

This day last year was our last ultrasound.  Heartbeat was good - everything was fine.  The nurse whispered that she was sorry it was taking longer than ususal - the woman in the room next to us had suffered a "fetal demise".  We were horrified.  At first, we did not even know what she meant.  No way did we know that was going to be us in a little over 48 hours.

Today, I ordered the sandwiches for her party.  My dear friend is an expert baker and she is making cupcakes.  I will stop on my way home tonight and get soda and juice for the kids.  I want to get some fresh flowers so the house feels happy.  On Saturday, I will get the balloons that we will release into the sky.

On Sunday, we will have our "nearest and dearest" over to celebrate and honor our daughter.  How do you honor someone who is not here?  Someone who you never got the chance to meet?  I guess by loving and appreciating your own life and the lives of the parents of that child.  By remembering how special those weeks were when we talked about if she would look more like her mommy or her daddy.  When we mused over if she would be funny and sassy like her mom (if I can be so bold to say) or smart and thoughtful and into comics like her dad.

Several people have mentioned to me that it will be nice once the 22nd has come and gone for then we will be out of "firsts".  I tend to agree.  Mother's Day might be hard, but hell - if I survived it last year, I sure as heck can survive this year!

I promised to make a scrapbook for Allie's first birthday.  I slowly realized that it's become more of a chore than something I have a desire to do so I am going to put that on hold for now.  I want to do it and I will do it - but when the time is right and not when I feel like I "have" to do it.

I met with our Wellness Coach at work today (someone who comes in and meets with the employees to check on their overall health and well being) and as soon as I walked into her office, I could feel those familiar tears coming back.  She was kind and compassionate and asked me what I was doing to de-stress.  Exercise, I said.  Nope, she said.  That is great, but it's not relaxing.  Hmmm...interesting.  She insisted that Gary and I pack a lunch and head to a local park and have a picnic lunch.  I like that idea.  Easier and more flexible with my schedule would be a nice mani/pedi.  Ahhh...that sounds nice.  And it was doctor recommended!  But I am not dismissing the idea of the picnic...

One of my oldest friends gave me a plaque with this quote on it for my birthday this year:

“Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”  ― A.A. Milne

I can't read it enough.  Thank you.  I think perhaps I am...perhaps we all are.  All that loved our little girl and miss her every single day.
 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday the 13th

Growing up, I was told that Friday the 13th was good luck for Jewish people.  Not sure if that was something my mom made up or something the "chosen" people told each other since we could use any optimism that we could get.  For years, I would see the 13th fall on a Friday and think, "Ha!  Unlucky for you, suckers!  But very lucky for me!"

Today, I realized there was no reason to be so smug.  The 13th is just a date like any other.   It's not lucky nor unlucky.  You see, today I found out that once again, I am not pregnant.  Which means I won't be pregnant on Allie's first birthday.  Which means I won't have a baby this calendar year.  Which means I am further and further away from my dream.

I never thought THIS part of our journey was going to be so hard.  I was prepared for the 9 months of fear and worry after we conceived, but I never thought that getting pregnant was going to be a challenge for us.  As much as I know it's not true, I feel like a failure as a woman, a wife, and even a mother.

I saw more signs this month than I ever saw before.  A butterfly in the driveway.  A rainbow after a storm.  I was pretty sure that this was our month. But I suppose I feel that way every month.

I am getting good and picking myself up and putting the pieces back together and with the love and support of so many, there is not much work for me to do at all but let them take care of me.  And yet I still feel sad.

So I will end this short little sad post today by saying that I sure hope that this Friday the 13th was lucky for someone out there.  Somehow that might make me feel better.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Punch in the Gut (and Nashville, TN!)

Last year, I woke up on Easter morning, rubbed my swollen eyes and asked Gary to help me go for a walk.  The more I could prove to the doctor that I could do on my own, the faster I could be discharged to go home.  As Gary carried the memory box to his car and then later came back for me, the sadness of how hard it was to leave the hospital without our baby weighed heavy on us both.

At first, all Thursday nights were hard.  It was Thursday that I stopped feeling her kick.  It was Thursday that we drove to the hospital.  It was Thursday that we were told "no fetal heartbeat".

Friday was the day I delivered her so Friday's were also hard.  I would mentally make a note each Friday...1 week without her, 2 weeks without her, 6 weeks without her.  12 weeks without her.  I counted the months of her absence as I did when she was here.  But in the past, each week marked a milestone whereas now, each week marked more heartache.

Then gradually, time does what it does and it was just the 22nd of every month that was hard for me.  I could handle Thursday's and I could handle Friday's, but the day of the month that we lost her will be the last bit of her that I will cling to in this way.

That was, at least, until I had to deal with Easter.

I knew it was going to be hard.  I knew my heart was gonna ache.  I knew the tears were right behind my eyes and wanting to roll down my cheeks.  

We left for Nashville before the sun was even up on Thursday.  By lunch, we were at the County Music Hall of Fame and Museum.  We toured that city like it was our own and we had a blast.  We bought souvenirs for our nieces and nephews and for ourselves.  We toured the historical music venues and felt the ghosts of Elvis and Johnny Cash all around us. We saw a live show at the Grand Ol Opry and took an amazing tour backstage.



Thursday before Easter was now the day we got to Nashville.

Good Friday was now the day we went to the Grand Ol Opry.

Saturday was bar hopping and live music listening and laughter and fun.

Sunday was the day I came home.

Allie was with us every step of this trip.  I flashed back to Easter Weekend of 2011 and relived every second.  I was prepared for the pain and let it in more than I do at other times.  I was also prepared to make new memories and enjoy myself and let those in as well.

At some point, I realized our trip an adventure as well as an escape. 

I told Gary last night at dinner that when I stop to think of the unfairness of it all, it overwhelms me.  I do not let myself think like that too much as there is nothing to gain from it and it will only make me sad.  

Over the course of this weekend, I realized how utterly unfair it is that we have to live through the agony that is Easter and then again on the 22nd of this month when we celebrate our baby's actual birthday.  Eventually, April 22nd will be a Tuesday or a Wednesday and then it might not have the same punch in my gut.  But Easter will always have a Good Friday and Easter Sunday.  

I suppose it will get easier...and I suppose in some ways, I do not mind the pain as it makes me remember my little angel and how much love I had for her then and still have for her now.  So while I hate being sad and want to fight the tears, I am ok with the warmth that is in my heart right now.  And the swollen eyes.

Love you, baby.  Daddy and I took you with us in our hearts this weekend and hope that when we are lucky enough to have a sibling for you, we can take him or her to Nashville and relive the experience through the eyes of your brother or sister.  Wouldn't that be something?  I sure like to think so.






Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Easter

Growing up Jewish, Easter was not really a big deal to me.  Sure, I loved Cadbury eggs, but that was about the extent of my Easter celebrating.

When Gary and I got together, the Catholic holiday's took on new meaning as they were the holiday's he grew up celebrating.  Although he is not a religious man, they were still "his" holidays.  I claimed Yom Kippur and he claimed Christmas.  

Our first Easter together, I awoke to an Easter egg hunt in Gary's apartment.  He had little plastic eggs hidden all around the apartment with notes in them.  The notes were personal little love notes to me and they were WAY better than chocolate.  My basket was a stuffed animal turtle that I carried around all day.  I still have the turtle and the eggs.  And I am smiling as I remember that morning. 

Our last Easter together, Gary drove me home from the hospital after I delivered our baby girl, still.  There was no hunt, no eggs, no celebration.  There were tears and sorrow and pain.

This Easter, we are going away.  The timing was right with a work trip that Gary had and we jumped on it.  We fly out first thing Thursday.  Nashville - I need you to make Easter happy for me again.  Or at least neutral as it was when I was growing up.  With your Grand Ol Opry and County Music Hall of Fame, please give me new associations of this day.

Passover starts this weekend and so we will not be celebrating that, either.  This year, we are going holiday-less...and that is quite ok by me.

Happy holidays to you all - no matter what you celebrate.  May the season be kind to you and may you find peace.   Enjoy your loved ones and hold them tight.  Live.  Love.  Laugh.  Hope.

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. ...