Thursday, January 16, 2014

Swimming


At the one-year mark, I found my grief shifting.

I’m not saying 12 months was a magical number of healing, or that it even had anything to do with the fact that it was one year, it was simply when I started to notice.

In the days and months that followed coming home from the hospital with empty arms, grief was all encompassing. It was right there, raw, consuming. I expected it around every corner, constant reminders that made me approach life cautiously, knowing the pain was right there, in everything, all the time. I wept, not just cried, each, and every day for almost 6 months straight. The tears were always on the brink of coming, always threatening to expose me, always my companion. Was I depressed? Perhaps, slightly. How can you make it through an earth shattering moment and not be “depressed”? But that term gets thrown around too loosely. No…mostly, I was just learning to live without the daughter I love so deeply.

But, as time went on, I learned to cope. It didn’t mean the grief and the sadness went away. No, not at all. In fact, they just became deeper, more engrained, more real. The shock began to wear off, and the weight of what I will live with through the rest of my life began to set in. But the ability to interact with life, to participate with the day to day, and even smile (though most of the time it was fake), became easier.

And now… now it has shifted to deep within my soul. It lives with me, as it will until the end of my days, and will forever mold me into the woman and parent I am becoming. Though I am not a prisoner to its shackles, I am a friend to its embrace. Grief will forever change me. But, as opposed to its ever-nearness before, now it can spring up and shock me with tears when I least expect it.

It’s like swimming.

Your body is plunged in to an icy, cold pool and for a while, you are frozen. Literally. You can’t move. For awhile, all you can do is float, lungs gasping for breath at the surface, hoping you make it. Then, you begin to flex your fingers, and toes, and legs, and arms. Your body grows accustomed to the cold, and you start to swim. The frigidness is all around you, but you learn to move with it. You even close your eyes and start to enjoy the feel of the water around you - the way it carries you, as you start to feel a little lighter.

And then…

BAM

You smash into the concrete wall on the other side of the pool.

And the pain is just as raw and real and breath-taking.

A gasp at a row of three-year-old ballerinas, knowing you will never swell with pride watching Her on stage.  

A sob in a dark theater, realizing you will never watch Her face light up in Disneyland like hers does on screen.  

A knife in the gut as a child in Target cries out, "Mama!", knowing you will never heard those words on Her lips. 

These moments take you by surprise, and suddenly it all rushes back in an instant.

She is gone.

And it hurts.

Because, I love Her.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

To a Little Girl, On Her Birthday...


Dear Quinn,

My daughter
My beautiful one.
My long awaited.
My precious gift.

Today marks one year.
One year since our lives were changed by you.
One year since I gave birth to you.
One years since I have held you in my arms.
One year since I became a Mommy. To you. Your mommy.

I didn’t want to feel the physical pain that day. I told them to give me all the drugs to make is disappear. Just make it go away.

But you, and Jesus, had other plans. You wanted me to feel every second of that pain, so that afterwards I would be able to hold on, not to the hurt, but to my strength as your mommy, to my pride of doing it and doing it WELL.

And so, you came, fast and hard, and so very painful. But oh, so beautiful.

I knew, in my grief stricken fog, the harder I pushed, the sooner I would get to meet you. And I had waited so long to meet you. And so I pushed with strength that was not my own, I bore down and gave birth to you, a child who would never have life on this earth.

And then you were placed in my arms. And everything changed. EVERYTHING. My whole world became you.

I LOVED YOU.

It didn’t start slow, or grow as I spent time with you, it hit hard and fast, just as the labour. I was filled with the pain of loving you. It encompassed me and took my breath away with how deep it was. I loved you. I love you. Just as much. Even more.

And then it began.

The impossible task of fitting a lifetime into a day. I couldn’t kiss you enough. I couldn’t hold you for long enough. I couldn’t get enough of your face, your hose, your lips, your chin, you little belly, your fingers, your giant flipper feet. I gorged myself with you and still I was not satiated. I would move heaven and earth to spend just one more minute, one more look, one more touch. It will never be enough.

And then we had to say goodbye.
Goodbye.
The act of parting.
Forever on this earth.
The part of this sinful world that is so unintended, and so unnatural.

One year later, we are still saying goodbye. And one year from now, we will be doing the same thing.  Until this ends, it won’t end.

Today is your birthday, dear sweet girl, and it feels so wrong to be celebrating your day without you. But today, unlike most days, I am not going to try and be strong, and get through it without too many tears, or memories, or awkward moments. Today, I’m just going to revel in the memories of you. To celebrate you. To remember why this day is so awful, yet so beautiful at the same time. This is my gift to you. - To participate in today, fully, no matter how painful or uncomfortable it may be. I will sit here and I will remember every part of you, your laugh, your smile, your delight, and I will grow to fall even deeper in love with my beautiful daughter.

I LOVE YOU, Quinny Bear, fiercely, and passionately, and without end. I will continue to love you with every breath in my body until that sweet day when we are joined together again.

Forever and ever,
Your Mommy


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Warning Her

Tonight my thoughts are taken hostage by memories of that day.

September 10th.

It was a Monday.
I was exactly 37 weeks pregnant.
Though I had no idea, It was the last day I would get to spend with my daughter...living...breathing...kicking.

I went for a long walk that day. A really long one. A workout for a full-term pregnant lady.

I reached the end, and as I rewarded myself with the first pumpkin spice latte of the season, I remember thinking, 'This is it! Any day now'. It was real. It was happening. We were going to have a baby in our arms.

Do I wish I could go back and scream at that naive pregnant woman sitting in the coffee shop? To yell, and plead, and shake her, and tell her that her world was about to be shattered? That in a mere 24 hours, her life would begin the nightmare she never thought possible, and she wouldn't want to go on living for one more minute?

No.

Why?

Because that woman, that soon-to-be mother, was happy. For those 37 weeks, she was the happiest, most fulfilled, most at peace she had ever been in her life.

And tomorrow it would change.

So, I want to let her enjoy it. Let her soak in the feelings of her little girl moving and squirming. Let her be so excited for what the future would hold. Let her be full of joy. Just for one more minute...because soon, those memories will be all she has left to keep her moving on.


Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Camp in the Sky


People often tell me they don’t want to say anything to me, because they’re scared of saying the wrong thing and hurting me. I have said it many times, and I will say it again, I am already hurt. You can’t hurt me more.
Just talk about her.
Just talk about this.
You can’t really do much more damage. I’m already broken.
The one thing that doesn’t really bring much comfort, is telling me not to worry, because she’s safe in heaven. I will tell you why.

A dear, new friend gave me this beautiful analogy the other day (we met because we have something in common – our babies are in heaven. I wish we never had to meet, but am glad we did).

Imagine it’s summer.  It’s hot, and muggy, and everyone is getting on each other’s nerves. You hear of a wonderful kids camp to send your child to for a week. It’s reputable. It has glowing reviews. The counselors are first aid certified and all have their ECE and child psychology degrees. There is a pool with a personal lifeguard for each child. It is perfect.
You walk your child to the bus that will take them to said camp, kiss his or her little cheek, tell them to have fun and brush their teeth, then wave goodbye as the bus drives away.
Then, you pump your fist in the air and completely forget about them for the entire week they are gone.
No? No.
You worry. You worry they aren’t eating all their vegetables at dinner- even though it’s promised that every dish is infused with a vegetable puree. You worry they fell down and scraped their knee and are crying for their mommy – even though the entire camp is padded with foam mats. You worry they aren’t having fun  - even though they promise an activity for every kid of every interest. You worry they aren’t being hugged enough. Only you hug them the best way. You worry they aren’t being loved as much as they deserve. You worry until the moment they jump off that bus, dirty and disheveled and grinning ear to ear, exclaiming how much fun they had and they wanted to stay forever.
This is my life. Without that last part.

I sent my girl off to the best camp in the world. I know she’s eating her vegetables. I know she’s having the most fun in the world. I know she is loved even more than I could ever give her.
And yet, I worry. I worry because I’m her mom, and that’s what I’m supposed to do.


Saturday, April 27, 2013

It Hurts

Most days, I feel as if my heart is about to explode with the love I have for my little girl. I think of her, and my chest feels as if it is on the verge of bursting open with all the love that is, and will continually be, pent up within.
It hurts.
Physically.
And I know it will not go away because I will never stop loving her. I know that the only way there will be some modicum of lasting relief is to have another, another a physical baby to lavish this love upon.

I have been open and transparent about our journey to a family in the past. It is not an easy road for us. And so, I ask you friend, please beseech God for me on this. Perhaps if we join together as a collective multitude to pray for joy again, he will hear our pleas.

But today, tomorrow, and even the next day, if you see me, talk about her. Ask about her. Include her in our conversation about the sun, and the busy days, and the holiday plans. Because saying her name out loud gives a small amount of release to this pressure that builds up within me. And it hurts a little less for a moment.

And please, don't be afraid of my tears. For they are just a simple expression of a mother's love for her child. They are a beautiful thing.




Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Meet Quinny.


I never wanted to be one of those lame moms who incessantly talks about their children, who writes a blog devoted to them. 

Well, here I am.
And all I want to talk about is her.
Eat it, old me. I'm a lame mom!

For those of you who didn’t get to meet her, I’d like to paint you a picture of my daughter, for a mother knows her child from the day her life begins.  Some of these things I knew inherently, but some have been revealed to me as a gift. This is my girl, my Quinn.

She is delicate. Though her daddy’s large hands and feet may betray her, her features are fine and soft and gentle. She is pretty. She is such a GIRL. She would have grown tall and lithe, with much more finesse in her athletic abilities than her mother. Her eyes are round and wide, but her lips dance with a smile and a dimple that flickers on her right cheek. Her curly brown locks can not be tamed, much to her mother’s chagrin. 

She is stubborn. She gets that from both her parents.  Quinn, please uncurl from that little ball and let the ultrasound tech check you out. Nope. Quinn, please move for your aunties so they can feel you kick. Nope. What Quinn didn’t want to do, Quinn wouldn’t do. She would stamp her foot, pout her little lips, and dig her heels in so deep, there would be no convincing her otherwise.  Mommy would recognize herself in her little girl, and foster that stubbornness into a strong, independent woman with something to say.

She is my morning girl. From the moment I woke up, there she was, happily kicking away. Good morning Mommy! What a beautiful day! So unlike me. So like her father. That would have been their time. Morning time. Daddy would have spoiled her with hot chocolate…every day…he told me.

She grows still when the faint strains of a beautiful piece of music grace her ears. Though she would have driven her piano teachers crazy with her incessant questions during lessons, she would have a deep appreciation for the beauty of music.

She is content. Not on the move a lot, happy to just sit and talk. She would have her moments of wriggling, of dancing and twirling. But then, she would plop herself down and just talk. Like one of the ladies. A chat-ter.

She likes to sleep. Like me, like Daniel. A house full of sleepers. So boring. So nice!

She is pensive. But, by no means serious! She lives up to her name. She thinks. Deeply. There is always a pause before she speaks. She looks at you with her big round eyes, blinks her long eyelashes like her daddy and says. Hmmmm. Hmmmm, Mommy. I’m thinking. And we wait for an answer. And it is simple and profound. My wise little one.

She has a soft heart. She sees the hurting and tries to cheer them with her joy. Just laugh! She says. It’s ok! Just laugh! That laugh would get her into trouble. Stop giggling Quinn, it’s time to pay attention now.

Most of all….
She is joy. Her laugh echoes in the recesses of my mind at all times. It is bubbly and overflows from deep within.  It…she… is pure bliss.

Don't be sad, Mommy. She says to me again. Don't be sad, I'm not sad!
And so I say, I will take joy from yours, my little one. I will grab on to that small flicker and hold on for dear life. Because without it, life is so very, very bleak. 

I pray that Quinn - her life, her being - brings you flickers of joy as well. 









Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Dear Mother

Dear Mother who sits with her child at her side,

There are many things I want to say to you.
Horrible, scathing, lashing words of anger and hot rage, of deep and inconsolable jealousy.

But, because I am commanded to, and please understand, not because I feel like it or want to in this moment, I will choose love. I will choose to feel joy that you get what I do not.

And, instead, I shall say this:

Think of me today. Think of me in the rough moments of being a mother. Because they are there, and they are real, and they are hard.

As you wake every hour, of every night, with a little body that depends so heavily on you, think of me.

As you feel like your day revolves around nothing but poop and boobs and sleep and repeat, think of me.

As that child screams in tantrum over something trite and you feel as if you have no more strength to deal with yet another issue, think of me.

As there are Cheerios, and toys and MESS strewn in every corner of your house, think of me.

Think of the blessing you have in seeing that child breathe, watching their heart beat, getting to be, really BE their Mommy. Think of what I would give for each and every one of those messy seconds with them.

And then, hug them, kiss them, let it go and enjoy each moment you are given with that precious child. For none of us knows when that may end. I was given 37 weeks with my child. 259 days. I pray you will have a lifetime. But please, for me, love that child as if you only had 259 days. Just love. Because in the end, none of this matters. Only them. Only him. Only her. Love them. Just love them with every fiber of your being! Love them with every ounce of love I cannot lavish upon a child right now. Love them for me.

Love,
Quinn's Mommy