Monday, May 28, 2012

Highs and Lows

It's been hard for me to write this past week as my emotions have been all over the place. There have been highs and there have been lows and there has not really been any one event which would really warrant either emotion!

I'll start off by saying that I am writing today from the warmth of my dining room - it's 79 degrees in here and that is with every fan in the house on.  The AC guy will be out first thing tomorrow (yay!) but that means one more night of ick.  I do not do well in the heat and I am melting fast over here and it's annoying me.  Earlier today, I was almost in tears about it.  That was a low.

On Saturday, we spent the day with my brother and sister-in-law and our favorite Pennsylvania niece.  Ella is walking all over the place and smiling and clapping and it's impossible to feel badly when I am around her. Often times I wonder how it would be if she was walking and smiling and clapping with her cousin by her side, but on Saturday, I was able to just experience the joy that is my brother's child.  And my sister-in-law, who designs jewelry on the side, made this bracelet for me.  I asked her for one a few weeks ago and she took the idea and ran with it.  I have only taken if off so far to snap this picture.   The picture does not do it's sparkly and pretty with pink beads and crystals and it's more than what I hoped for.  I love it.  That was a high.

We have been seeing the fertility specialist A LOT.  I do not blog about it much as the emotions from all of our visits are really something Gary and I have to work on just the two of us.  I have been missing a lot of work, spending piles of money and going through all kinds of tests in the hopes that one day Allie will be a big sister.  I know it will be worth it in the end which is why we are jumping through all these hoops, but it's exhausting.  So that is a low-high.

Tomorrow marks 2 years from when I walked down that isle and said, "I do" to the love of my life.  Last year's anniversary was bittersweet as we were planning on having a newborn at home with us.  This year, we still miss her like mad, but we have learned to live our lives with her spirit in our hearts and have hope for a living baby to one day share this house with us.  We have struggled to stay sane these past 13 months but the one thing that neither of us ever had to do was question our love for each other.  That's a definite high.

Last month, I commissioned a woman to draw a sketch of Allie. I will post the pic sometime soon, after we have had the chance to show the sketch to our friends and family.  I saw on Facebook, though, that this same woman goes to the beach twice a month near her house in Charleston, SC and writes the names of babies in the sand for anyone that wants it.  I signed up this month and got this picture.  I LOVE IT.  It's so beautiful.  We already ordered several copies and may frame it next to her portrait.  We'll see.  So, another "high", I suppose.

And now I am seeing a pattern.  There are way more highs than lows.  It always happens that when I write - it puts my life into perspective.  If the only lows were no AC (which still kinda sucks, but in the grand scheme of things...) and the chaos of doctor's appointments, well, that's not too bad, huh? 

So I will close with this last image from the past few days.  My husband, my very own superhero, playing outside with Ella. She is clutching the Captain America toy that was from Gary's very own collection.  I am not sure that it gets cuter than that!   In fact, I know that it doesn't!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Walk

Here is the poem we read yesterday that I promised to post!

The Walk

i walked for you
i put your name on my back
your soul in my heart
and i walked with others
who know
each step
each thought
each breath
each bubble sent skyward
was for you
a walk to remember
is what they call it
i do not need to walk to remember
i remember every minute of every day
i walked to celebrate
to thank you
to acknowledge you
to scream your name to those
who forget
i walked for you
for love

written by Sandy Goodman
author of Love Never Dies: A Mother's Journey from Loss to Love, (Jodere Group, 2002)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Walk to Remember

Today was the 2nd Annual UNITE Walk to Remember.  We had a gorgeous day here in the Eastern PA and it was the perfect day to be outside.

We packed a picnic lunch and met up with everyone around noon.  In addition to spending time with the people we knew, we got the chance to interact with new people.  Many areas were represented and it was nice to see that we were all there for the same single reason - to remember our babies.

There were plenty of children there - some teeny tiny and some much bigger.  There was laughter and joy and smiles all around.  Many wore ribbons with the name of their baby on it as a way to remember and it was so poignant to see little kids wearing the names of their sisters or brothers.

Many people asked Gary and I about our shirts, the ones he designed last year.  We were proud to explain her Allie's logo and how we came up with it.  We wore our shirts last weeks, too, and also sparked some interest.  We were so happy to be wearing them.

About an hour after arrival, all the families gathered together for a poem.  I asked for it to be sent to be as I really liked it.  I will post it when I get it, but in the meantime, I can tell you what I remember...I am paraphrasing, so bear with me.  

"A walk to remember is important, but we do not need to walk to remember".  I loved that.

There was another part about "blowing your bubbles skyward" and they passed out little bubbles for us all to blow up into the sky.  Here are some pictures - you need to really look to see the bubbles (bottom right), but I assure you there were there.

Then we walked. It was just a mile.  One simple mile in which each step was for our babies.  My mom walked with another mom and her family.  Gary and I walked hand in hand and discussed how Allie is always with us and around us.  It was shady and lush on the path where we were and it was also peaceful and serene.

When complete, all the families spent some more time at the pavilion talking, sharing stories and talking about how important UNITE has been to all of us.  

Gary and Me

I was asked this past week to write the Fall Fundraiser letter for this organization.  I delightfully accepted.  I began writing just over a year ago as I had no outlet for my grief and now I am being sought after for my words.    As Gary said to me just today, "this cause needs words" and I am glad to be the one to write them.
Mom and Me

So here we sit, Gary on the couch doing his MBA homework and me at the dining room table writing away and in a way, today was just like any other day.  We lived, we laughed, we celebrated our daughter...

Thanks to UNITE for a beautiful day.  Please sign us up now for next year!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day

My first Mother's Day was May, 1974.  I don't have any recollection of it, but I bet my mom does. I was her first born and I would have been close to 4 months old.

Last year on Mother's Day, I did not know what to do.  It was right around my due date, a few weeks after we lost Allie. I did not partake in any family celebrations, just went over my mom's late that afternoon to give her a hug and reassure her that I was ok.

This year, Gary told me I could do whatever I wanted to on this day.  This week leading up to today was a rough one, so I took my time deciding what to do.

This past Friday was my due date.  May 11th.  Our niece was born on November 11th the year before and I loved thinking that if I delivered on time, they would be exactly 6 months apart.  That is just one of the reasons the date has stuck with me.

Yesterday was the tree planting ceremony that is done through the hospital where we delivered Allie.  It was a beautiful day for it and Gary and I got to see her tree thriving.  We also got to see the nurse that was our Labor and Delivery coach and then our Labor and Delivery nurse.  When she first walked up to us, my breath staggered and I got dizzy for a second.  She brought me right back to that hospital room and right back to our pain.  But after I got myself together (by weeping on Gary's shoulder), I was able to talk to her and thank her for all her help and she was able to tell us that she has never forgotten us or our darling daughter.

We also met 2 women there who lost children 17 years ago - one son and one daughter.  Their pain was still there, but they have learned how to live with it.  They shared some stories and were so warm and sincere.

We planted a new tree this year and as with last year, family members were invited to help dig and aid in getting the tree in the ground.  Little kids took little shovels and helped with the dirt and the parents took big shovels and helped as much as they can.  Turn, Turn, Turn played softly in the background from a little boom box.  "A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, a time to reap that which is planted".  It was beautiful.

We took pictures by Allie's tree from last year and plan to go back and visit it each year.  Maybe sooner, if we want.  The park is about a half hour from here and it was very peaceful and serene.  It might be nice to go back early one morning at dawn or maybe late one night at dusk.

On the way home, we stopped by this little country store and Gary bought me a little plaque and a lovely hanging plant in honor of Mother's Day.
We decided to stay home today.  We were invited to brunch at my brother's and as much as we wanted to be there, to see our niece, to celebrate with them, I also knew that I needed to be home where I could feel what I needed to feel and not worry about anyone but myself.  I awoke to cards from Zoe and from Gary and Old Navy gift cards from each of them.  We went back to sleep for a little bit and then lazily watched TV and did chores around the house.  Gary told me the day was mine and what I wanted was just to spend it relaxing with him.  We hung some pictures around the house, including this one that we got for Allie's birthday.  It's from Gary's brother's family and it illustrates how Allie is all around their house and their lives.  They spelled our her name with pieces of their home, yard and fence.  It's perfect.   They also called us today on Face Time and they all wished me a happy Mother's Day.  I almost melted.

My mom stopped by on her way home from my brother's and brought me a beautiful candle.  I got a thoughtful card from my cousin.  A few texts from friends.  All in all, my loved ones made it clear - I may have a hard time calling myself a mom, but they don't.  Not one bit.

Allie - you would be proud of us today.  I think, actually, you would be proud of us most days.  Thank you for making me a mom.  Thank you for making me YOUR mom.  Love you.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Memorial Month

Spring is here.  May is upon us.  The flowers are in bloom and birds are singing. 

I am calling May "Memorial Month". The hospital where we delivered Allie is having their annual Memorial Walk this weekend and Gary and I are going to see how her tree is doing after a year of having time to grow.  It was a comforting event last year and we hope it's the same this year, too.  It will only be us this time, as we need to find the strength in each other right now.

Next weekend is another walk.  This one is sponsored by UNITE, the support group that I have come to cherish so much.  Gary, my mom and I will all attend this walk and the lunch that follows and again be able to talk about the babies we all had but are not here with us.  It's cathartic to be around other parents like us. 

In between each walk is Mother's Day.  What a loaded day that is!  I want to celebrate my mom as I have for the past 38 years, but I can't help but feel like it's my day, too.  And is that cause for celebration?  Last year, we skipped the celebration aspect and just did our own thing - this year, I am not so sure.  Who would have ever thought that a day as simple as Mother's Day would cause me such turmoil??  Can I celebrate my mom and Gary's mom and both my sisters-in-law (who happen to be two of the best moms EVER) and not make the day about me and my loss?  I want to, but I am not sure I can.

And then at the end of this month, is the "real" Memorial Day, which also happens to be our wedding anniversary.  Now that I can celebrate!  It's been a lot different than either of us expected, but these past 2 years have been wonderful in so many ways.  As sad as I am, I cherish each and every moment I have with the love of my life - "Gary from work" who fate turned into "Gary my husband".

So this month, we will walk, we will remember, we will celebrate and we will try to find the joy.  I think I can safely look forward to all of it.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

UNITE Article

I was offered the opportunity to write an article for the UNITE newsletter.  I was touched and honored to be able to share some of Allie's story.
Tonight I write from my hotel room in rural Tennessee. I am weary from travelling and should be in bed, but as usual, my mind is wandering. Today is the first day of May. I love May. May is the month I graduated from college and I still remember counting down the days. May is the month I said, “I do” and went from a Miss to a Mrs. May is the month my daughter was supposed to be born.

I met my husband when I was already in my 30’s and it was not long before I was packing up boxes and moving in with him. While it took us a while to find each other, it took very little time to know that what we had was so very special.

While I always thought that having children was something I wanted, it was not till I met my husband that I knew how badly I wanted to have them. To create someone out of the love we had for each other seemed so natural and so right and so exciting.

We got pregnant so easily. I could not believe it at first, but as my belly started to grow, it sunk in more and more. This was really happening! We went to each appointment and got more and more excited as the days and weeks and months wore on. Once we found out she was a girl, we spend weeks trying to find the right name for her. Then we spent as much time designing the perfect nursery. We went to all the classes that were offered at our hospital and spend our free time researching day cares and car seats and whatever else we could imagine.

At 37 weeks and 1 day, I felt decreased fetal movement. I had been to the doctor two days before and everything was fine. I was sure our daughter was just getting ready to make her grand debut and was nervous to read any more into it. Then my instincts kicked in and I asked the right questions to the right people and was instructed to go home, eat something sweet, lie on my side and wait for her to kick.

She never did kick.

I never felt her move again.

The very next day, I delivered her still. It was both the most horrific day of my life and the most wonderful day. I said hello and goodbye to her on one breath - something no parent should have to do with their child. I saw my husband transform into a dad and with my still swollen stomach and tubes and tears all over my body, I became a mother.

I became a mother on April 22, 2011. That May, I celebrated my first Mother’s Day. It was supposed to be with my daughter in my arms, but instead it was with her in my heart.

This past year has been so very hard. In the beginning, getting through one day seemed like a small victory. Going to work took every ounce of energy I had. Doing laundry, chores around the house - it all seemed so meaningless. Slowly, we started to heal. As we grieved for our baby, we started to learn to live without her. It was the hardest thing to do. In some ways, it still is.

The joy and happiness I had for those 37 weeks is what we all try to remember. We celebrate the bliss we had when we first found out we were expecting and the excitement we had each time we went to the doctor and heard her heartbeat. We think about the giddiness we had when we saw the 3D ultrasound for the first time. We remember what it was like to hold her in our arms, before they took her away.

She taught us to love and live our lives with passion as you never know what tomorrow will bring.

We love you, Allison Paige. We loved you before you were even conceived and we continue to love you after you are gone. Gone, but never ever forgotten.

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...