Lilypie Angel and Memorial tickers

Lilypie Angel and Memorial tickers

6 Apr 2015

It has been a while.

Well, it certainly has been quite a while since I blogged here.

Why, you may wonder? There is no one reason. Instead, it is best to take it as a normal part of the process of living with grief.

Let me explain.

You see, when Amelia's little brother, Mr. Wiggles, was born, I underwent another transformation, this time from a bereaved mother to a bereaved mother and a mother of a living child. It may be similar to going from having one kid at home to having two, or three, in a sense that it is not better or worse, it is just different.

Unfortunately, unlike going from one kid to two, my transformation carried some heavy weight. For example, a change of relationships with other bereaved parents whom I grew to know and love as I stepped over the rainbow was inevitable. It was hard and we tried and it is what it is. But I found myself alone, again.

So I tried finding moms whose babies lived. It was easy, just go to a mommy and me group, or a baby and me class. The moms seemed nice and the babies were sweet. But, I felt like I did not belong. Probably because, with my a dark secret, I did not.

Well, Amelia is never a secret, which is why I think I was such an awkward oddball at these meets. I was spoiling their happy, you see. The question about the number of kids always happened to do the trick. The assumption that he was my first...

Eventually a few lovely ladies were not scared off by my daughter, and we got along great. It was nice.

But I was still alone. The one who had a stillbirth. I could not fully be with them as I was not like them. I had (minor) panic attacks at the sing-a-longs, I brought up birth stories from both my births, I was over vigilant, always. You get the idea.

So, alone, I searched in the dark for a balance. How much do I share, grieve, enjoy? When do I do and when do I not?

For a while I withdrew myself from the bereaved community completely, with a goal to learn how to be a mom of a living child with all the love and dedication as I did with Amelia. It was hard and scary, and also fun and joyful. I wanted to find the joy in parenting. I needed to find the joy in parenting, as I mostly had fear (and love, always had love).

One day, I can't quite pin point when, I found myself there. In the land of saying how tired I was and not feeling the guilt, and how frazzled I felt by Mr.Wiggles' shenanigans. And there I saw it, my acceptance into the club. I finally complained. I was human, the other moms exclaimed! Relieved, they realised I was just like them.

And then Amelia was no longer welcome at our meets...

That is when I realized that the time came for me to put my two kids into one reality, to be able to bring them both with me to the playground, to meet a friend, to run errands. To be, openly, a mom of two. One who runs and one who flies.


How did it go?

Well, I'm working on it.

:)


24 Nov 2013

Making Memories

I made this video with my husband this past spring. It was a project for my University that brought to life an idea I've nurtured for a while. With great feedback, I thought I would be sending it far and wide, yet I sat on it unable to move forward while waiting for the right moment, for a sign, for strength.

This morning I learned a new word - Sankofa - a concept from the Akan people that means to "return to the past to move forward." I worried that Making Memories would be misunderstood because it looks to the past to the things we did and did not do, to the things we cannot change. "Retrieving the past is not taboo, thus say the ancestors" - this quote started my day and answered my purpose, why I do what I do (here is the article that introduced me to the meaning, www.africa.ufl.edu/asq/v9/v9i3a3.htm). Looking to the past to our daughter's stillbirth is not a weakness, it is where we find the strength to move forward to improve the experiences of other parents who are yet to walk in our shoes.

The Making Memories video is based on a letter I wrote to bereaved parents who received one of the memory boxes we donated to a local hospital for Amelia's second birthday. I didn't want to tell the parents what they must do, instead I wanted to tell them what we appreciated and what we regretted in hopes that they will be more informed in making their own decisions.

While making the video I also referred to research done by Dr. Joanne Cacciatore and many others in the field that reaffirm the need to support parents in making memories, in making a connection with their still born baby, being that it is natural to want to see and hold your newborn child and that death needs to be faced, acknowledged, and grieved. Memories made with their baby help parents grieve when there are very few tangible things left from their stillborn child. Caring for Families Experiencing Stillbirth | www.missfoundation.org

So, here it is. Please help us spread this far and wide in hopes that it will help others in facing stillbirth.


25 Sep 2013

Two Years Six Months.

I'm having a bitter-sweet day today. The weather is beautiful and I have no plans but to hang out with my son. We are all healthy and well.

But my daughter would have turned two and a half, had she lived. I would have been happy, proud, excited. Instead I'm sad, tired, and grieving.

I can't say that I'm surprised by this feeling, but it also feels like it came out of the blue, this grief day.

Grief is hard work. Lately I've been getting lots of breaks in the land of the living-child mommy-hood. It's a nice place. I hate to leave it to visit the land of the bereaved, but I get no choice. If I did, Amelia would be turning two and a half today.

13 Aug 2013

What is your daughter's name?

I was playing with Mr. Wiggles at our local coffee shop. A woman came in with a gaggle of kids. The youngest, a girl of about four, went straight to the kids corner and started playing with us. It was neat to see her interact with Mr.Wiggles. She asked what his name is, and I told her. I asked what her name is, and she told me. Then she asked what my daughter's name is, and after a moment of brief hesitation, I told her. I've never met this girl before. I don't really tell young kids about Amelia, I just don't know how. But she didn't ask me IF I had a daughter, she asked me what her name IS. 

This is something most adults are so afraid of doing, yet this little girl made my day by asking. I have no idea why she asked, how did she know to ask, if there was something she knew, or if it was just something she asked without thinking. She told me she has a sister who is two and a half. Of course she does...

I don't know how the universe works, but today I'm both, laughing and crying. 

4 Aug 2013

Conversation with a Big Sister.

I have a little buddy in our park, a little girl who recently became a big sister. Mr. Wiggles is just a few months older than her brother, so she is very interested in sharing and comparing...

Today we had an interesting conversation. It felt nice to talk to this little girl, as I felt somewhat closer to my own little girl... Yet it broke my heart as she told me how she doesn't get much sleep these days with her little brother crying every night. She told me how she picks the buggers out of his nose because her parents don't. She told me how she teaches him how to point at things, how to shake his booty. She shared her sisterly love, excitement, and responsibility for her little brother. 

My heart broke as I watched Mr. Wiggles and thought how he will never get that from his Big Sister. I know she watches over him and is always with us, but it's not the same... And I kept wanting to say that he also has a big sister. And I didn't know how to say that to a six-year old...  

3 Aug 2013

Other Two-Year Olds. Alive or Dying.

I come across a lot of two-year olds. Maybe it's just that the age of two is more prominent in my mind, since Amelia would be almost two-and-a-half. Still, they are everywhere: at the playground, in a grocery store, and in the news.

The news... I just read a story about a boy, a few months older than Amelia, who is dying. Another girl Amelia's age recently succumbed to cancer. Other ones died in car crashes, accidents... FUCK!!!

I can't stand it. The realisation that these parents are joining me now in missing their kids, now two but next year three, then four, five and so on: It will never end. I can't stop it. My heart just breaks for them. My heart breaks for all of us. And as the years go by, there will be more and more of us in this club of parents missing their kids...

I used to be jealous of the people whose children got to live, even a little bit. They got so much more than I ever did with Amelia, just as I got so much more than those who lost their kids before full term... Still, I can't imagine what parents who lose their two-year olds go through.

The reality is scary, we have no control over our lives, and being a bereaved parent makes it impossible to pretend otherwise.

Sorry, no happy note to end this post today. Although as I'm sitting here, typing, a humming bird came by my window. I've never seen her come this late in the day (it's almost 8pm here), she usually comes in the mornings. So, I guess Amelia was here, with me, as I wrote this. And I love her.

14 Jul 2013

First thoughts after the Conference.

I wrote this as we took a few minutes to catch our breath outside the venue...

The conference has drawn to a close and everyone went home. Here we are, standing by the entrance, the last ones to leave. A family next to us pulls up in their car and a family of three emerge: father, mother, and daughter. My heart pulls a little (actually, a lot), thinking that this is what should've been, could've been. It will never be and it hurts.

And then there comes Guilt. She says, you have a son, how dare you feel this sadness and wish for your daughter! Would your son be here if she was?

I dislike Mrs. Guilt very much...


Then I look over to the side and see my daughter in her Mimi-doll, sitting quietly in my son's stroller, one model-year newer yet the same as hers would have been, and I realise: I do have a daughter. And I have a son. This will always be. Not the three of us, but the four. And I am now OK with it.




This is something I owe to every person who was in the room at the conference this weekend: participants, presenters, volunteers, and organisers. What a beautiful event it was. Filled with tears, laughter, hugs, and understanding nods and glances. Lots of tissues were used, lots of tea and coffee drank. I also feel that a lot was learned by everyone, a lot was shared. So much support and love for each other. I hope new connections were made that will turn into much needed support and eventually into friendships that will last a lifetime.

It was a beautiful gathering of truly amazing people.

Thank you to everyone for making it possible.

13 Jun 2013

Fear. Part 2.

I've been trying to analyze this mind-boggling fear that cripples me sometimes, oftentimes. It seems that I need help... I probably do. Yet, I fear that if I do get help, if my fear lessens just one tiny bit, it will be enough to cause $#!t to happen again. Yes, it's not logical.

There is nothing logical in the death of a perfectly healthy baby either.


There are two parts two my fear.

One is the Fear of Death of my Child. This is a big one. The silent scream at the realisation, the world spinning as life as we know it ends. The end...

Two is the Fear of Life After. That scary, awful, brutally painful place, it scares me as much as the first fear. The helplessness, the misunderstandings, the platitudes, the millions of others who have what we lost...


Last night we stayed up all night watching Wiggles sleep, just to make sure we'll make it to through the next day, just to make sure he will live. Just in case. Yes, I'm tired and sleep deprived, I've been staying up for close to seven months now, making sure. Still, it's so much better than the other option...

I guess Fear is my best friend and my best enemy these days.

2 Jun 2013

Fear.

After dinner, as usual, I went to put Wiggles to bed. We co-sleep, so I nurse and hug him until he falls asleep in our family bed and then sneak out.

Sometimes it takes almost an hour, sometimes just minutes. Today it was very fast.

Sneaking out of our bedroom, I was excited that I get to have dessert before 9pm. I went to the kitchen and made us some ice cream with fresh fruit. Then I went to check in on Wiggles, as I always do. When I opened the bedroom door, he was laying on his back, one arm up above his head, quiet, silent, almost pale, his mouth open... Mouth open the same way as Amelia's mouth was open... It was just hanging open every time we moved her.

Cold sweat rolled over my whole body, yet I knew he was alive - his chest was moving. I'm like an eagle and can spot that movement in the dark, from far away. Yet my brain just didn't believe it, his mouth was open and he looked so pale...

He just looked ...


I feel like I live in fear, all the time. I can't help it, and I'm afraid that if I do, something will happen.

26 May 2013

A Beautiful Post By A Friend, on Dignity & Compassion

Recently I blogged about an article in the Calgary Herald that talked about a stillborn baby and the rights of the baby to dignity and compassion. I didn't get into the story of the baby's mother, mostly because I really don't know what happened there and anything I say will be speculation.

But this mother and her baby stayed in my mind... The other day I spoke with a great friend of mine, Toren's mom, about the mother of this baby. While Toren's mom had so much love and compassion for this mother, I was unsure and skeptical. Why was I feeling this way?

The mother delivered her stillborn baby at home and hid the baby's body on her balcony, wrapped in a plastic bag. How could anyone do that, I thought? There is no way she told the truth, I thought... Until I went back to that awful place I avoid and remembered what it was like to give birth to Amelia.

This conversation with Toren's mom reminded me of the shock, the fear, the unimaginable, indescribable place where time stops and life looses any meaning, a place where the ground falls from your feet and the ceiling spins so hard you can't breathe. This is the place where a mother finds her newborn baby dead. Where birth and death meet and she is in the middle of it all, in pain of labour, in pain of loss. A piece of her dies with her baby. How is she expected to be rational, to follow some rules and norms that make sense to others, yet nothing makes sense to her, when she just died with her baby, all while she still breathes...
 
On Stillness: Dignity & Compassion

22 May 2013

Between two worlds. What a lonely place.

Today I came across a post written by another bereaved momma, with a similar story to mine that happened a few years prior. I'm so grateful that she shared her self, that she spoke out, and that I found her.

Today I went back to the hospital where Mr. Wiggles was born, nothing major, just an ultrasound that I needed to do... Back in the same ultrasound room where we thought we got a glimpse of Mr. W's boy bits, I proudly announced to the tech that I came here a lot when pregnant with my son. It was a happy feeling walking that hallway, that entryway, that block. Mr. Wiggles was born alive and screaming here.

Yet one thing would not leave my mind. As this happened to be almost six months after his birth, I remembered a visit we made to the hospital where Amelia was born, a visit that came exactly six months after. We walked into the hospital through the entrance that I was wheeled out of, in shock, with a box on my lap instead of a baby. Empty bellied, broken hearted. That day, six months after, I returned to the hospital to seek help, gosh, I needed it, I was sinking deeper and deeper into grief, dispair, horror of my life. I didn't get it there. Instead, I had a full on panick attack and emotional meltdown from just being in that place again, some kind woman showed us the back way to the mental health area. Another woman who saw me there told me I needed to calm down. ...
Don't really want to go into this, but it didn't help. At all.

Going back to today, I feel that since Wiggles was born, I've been living between two worlds and it's so lonely here. So. Unbearably. Lonely.

Here is what this other b.momma had to say about that:

"I did not feel like a normal mother. I was happy with Liam but I was incredibly lonely. I could share that there had been a baby before Liam, but nowhere, not in any mother's group or playtime was there the space for me to truly tell my story. Nobody could see me only months before, alone, sobbing on a carpet that was soaked with my tears. Nobody else knew the animal cry of a bereaved mother's wail, ricocheting through the darkness of the night. I was walking around with this living baby, a smile on my face, but I could still hear that wail ripping at my soul. I could still feel the quiet, unmoving baby I had held before Liam. I was the mother of two, yet I was silenced from that truth. I simply assumed this was how it had to be."
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/motherwoman/mothers-speaking-the-trut_b_3248784.html

This is so true, every word of it. I couldn't have said it better. 

12 May 2013

Dignity. Compassion. Gratitude.

This Mother's Day, I would like to share with you a present, something that was written by a person I never met, decided upon by a person I never knew. Yet, it went right through to my core, gave me strength, hope, and love. Strength to go forward with my story, hope for a better future for all parents of stillborn children, and love for all the kind people in this world.

The story in the article is about a mother, a bereaved mother, and a confusing, awful situation she is in. I can't comment on it as I know nothing about it and don't wish to speculate.

The part that I really care for is where it makes a distinction between a fetus and a child, calling a stillborn baby a "child in the fullest sense of the word, ready to be born, yet a child whose eyes will never open on the beauties of this world." So gently, beautifully, carefully they defend the parent's right to grieve their baby. Not a fetus, not a dream, but a child.

This comes from the compassion within their hearts, backed by the Supreme Court of Canada and their decision to treat a stillborn child as a person. So confidently they make a distinction between a wanted abortion and a dreaded stillbirth, I now can do the same.

My daughter was a child, a child that lived (within me) and died (within me, also). I am her grieving, loving Mother and always will be.

I cannot thank you enough, Calgary Herald, for your compassion. Thank you. This is the best Mother's Day gift our society could give to a mother of a stillborn child, at least in my eyes.

Editorial: An infant’s dignity

11 May 2013

A friend shares her story of the stillbirth of her son, Toren.

On Stillness: January 6, 2012, 03:00 - 12:47

I really relate to what Toren's mom said about the shock, the feeling that everyone is just staring at you and not doing anything to help, to the feeling of the world just falling away and the mix of death and birth alternating in the mind, mixed with shock. Lots of shock.

Just want to highlight this: I believe parents going through stillbirth are Not Clear-Thinking Consenting Adults. They are people in the state of Acute Shock, and should be treated accordingly. With Care and Consideration.

Lots of love to you all.

21 Apr 2013

The Vancouver Sun Run 2013

Today we walked with our friends and family to remember our babies and to raise funds for the Conference that Still Life Canada is hosting in July 2013.

It was a beautiful sunny day, albeit very cold and windy. We wore our team t-shirts with pictures and names of Amelia, Scarlett, and Toren: they were there with us every step of the way.

Every time the wind blew, the cherry blossom petals danced in the wind, reminding us that even though we can't see them, our babies are always with us. When the sun came out, we knew they were smiling with us.



Thank you everyone for your generous donations to our cause. If you haven't donated yet and would like to contribute, please visit www.still-lifecanada.ca to make a small donation today.

With love,
Amelia's family.

25 Mar 2013

Fundraising for Amelia's Second Birthday.

Dear friends and family,

It has been two years since Amelia was stillborn. She should be running all over the place, potty training and stringing sentences together, but she is not...

On April 21, 2013 we will be walking the Vancouver Sun Run with Amelia in our hearts, pushing an empty stroller to raise funds for a conference Still Life Canada is hosting this summer.  The conference will give parents and healthcare professionals an opportunity to collaborate on building a community of support and informing changes in the healthcare system.


Please support us by sponsoring our walk to help cover the costs of this important event. With a donation of $10, $20, or even $50, you can help us reach our $1000 goal and help us create a better community of support for parents of stillborn babies.

For more information please visit Still-LifeCanada.ca

Three ways to donate:
By cheque: please make cheques payable to Still Life Canada and mail them to 529 - 3381 Cambie Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada  V5Z 4R3.
In cash: please give your cash donation to us in person.
Online: we accept any major credit card, 
please visit still-lifecanada.ca/01/contribute to donate through PayPal.   


Thank you for your generous support,

Alena, Dan, Mariya and Mr.Wiggles. For Amelia.

24 Mar 2013

Same Time Last Year, Amelia Was One.

Same time last year we were celebrating Amelia's first Birthday. It took me a year to write about it.

Why?

Living it is one thing, I don't have a choice. I make the most of it as I go.
Writing it is a choice. It makes it real. I didn't want it to be...

Now, a year later, we attended two other first birthdays of our friends' stillborn children. These beautiful bittersweet events helped me look back and accept.


We started preparing for Amelia's first birthday early, before Christmas. We had this overwhelming desire to make a small difference in other children's lives and we knew it would help us get through our grief. Slowly but surely we collected a package of art supplies: colouring books, crayons and paints, that we shipped to an orphanage in Belarus, my homecountry. That particular orphanage is home to 80 children, all preschool age. Thinking of all those children living in institutions always made my heart hurt, so we did what little we could: we sent them a box of smiles. The package arrived just in time and was delivered on the first anniversary of Amelia's last day of life... I received these beautiful pictures on her first birthday.

We also wanted to help local kids, so over time hubby and I collected same art supplies as well as legos and summer clothes for a little girl. This package we donated to a local shelter for women and children. It was hard buying all the pretty dresses, knowing I should be getting them for my daughter. Yet it helped, at least I got to buy them and bring them home...

In the weeks and days leading up to March 25, I spent quite a lot of time making cherry blossoms from sugar paste. I believe I made close to fifty fragile flowers to decorate her birthday cake (actually, it was two cakes, I wanted to make a two-tier cake but the top one was too full of chocolatey goodness and way too heavy, so one cake became two :).

All this activity helped us get through the anticipation of the day.  It felt good. It felt sad.
Sweet, yet bitter.

On the day of her birthday, friends and family waited for us to decide whether we wanted to see anyone or not. We were in such an overwhelming place, an uncharted territory, it was hard to predict what we needed to get through. In the afternoon, we felt we needed to see them, we couldn't stand being alone. In less than two hours our house was full of friends, smiles, hugs, and good food. We greeted the evening with a party, with cake and candles, just like it should have been. It was beautiful.


We are so grateful for everyone in our lives. Everyone who came to the funeral. Everyone who came to the first birthday. Everyone who stuck around for all the good and the ugly in between.

Thank you.

20 Mar 2013

Introducing Still Life Canada


In the first year of Amelia's life and death, as I processed everything that happened in the 24 hours between "I'm sorry, there's no heartbeat" to us leaving the hospital without our daughter, I realised that I was lucky to have the memories and keepsakes that our midwives and doula helped create. At least I had something...

Still, as I walked the path of grief, a lot of things were missing, Amelia was missing. 

The more I searched for support and meaning, the more I realised how little understanding there is of the process of stillbirth and its effects on families. I felt so alone.

In the second year of Amelia's life and death, I met two families who were walking their first year of grief. As we shared stories of our stillborn children, born at term in three different hospitals of one city, we realised how it was luck that decided what we got and what we missed during the precious last moments with our babies and the events that followed. 

It was also luck that brought us together, yet we felt anything but lucky.

Over coffee, lunch meetings, potlucks and walks in the park we decided something had to be done. We knew there was a gap in services, understanding, and awareness of stillbirth and we wanted to make sure parents walking in our footsteps will have less regrets and more memories. 


This is how Still Life Canada was born.

Still Life Canada: Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Education, Research and Support Society is a non-profit organisation that provides bereavement support for anyone affected by stillbirth and neonatal death and promotes research to reduce both.  As bereaved parents, we accompany others in their discovery of healthy grieving practices, work towards building a caring and compassionate community, initiate personal and professional development networks and provide opportunities for dialogue among parents, families and community.

Please visit our website Still-LifeCanada.ca to learn more.


With love,
Amelia's Family

16 Mar 2013

Salt.

I'm finding it hard to breathe, my mind is gasping for air but my lungs won't move. My heart is breaking into a million pieces, all over again. Once again, I'm crying myself to sleep.

Next to me is my son, sleeping peacefully in his crib. Her crib. Tears roll down my cheeks, quietly, as I think of how she should be tucked into her bed tonight. Instead she is in her grave. GRAVE. My daughter, my beautiful little girl, has spent almost two years in her grave. She should be a big girl by now, running, talking, playing. Instead I feel like I'm loosing her. Time takes me further and further away from her. I hate it.

I'm so tired of grief, of this pain, of this foreverness. It's only been two years though, I have the rest of my life to go.

I try to pretend sometimes that I don't have it, the Grief. I smile and act all happy.

Lies.

It's not happy.

I'm not happy. Not in the way the "innocent" people are.

My "happy" always has a grain of salt in it, a huge big pile of it, actually. Right in the middle. It makes a lot of the stuff taste butter, but at the core it's too.much.salt.

3 Mar 2013

Little feet.

Today was the first day when I actually played with Mr. Wiggles' feet. Up until this afternoon I focused on his hands, face and anything but his feet. I kissed and cleaned them, but I saw them in a fog.

When I was pregnant with Amelia, she used to kick me in the ribs with her little footsies. It was cute and painful at the same time. I used to have to really push my arm into my rib cage to stop her from bending it outward. The whole time I couldn't wait to meet my little girl and kiss those feet.

The day she was born I thought I'd never get to do that. Thanks to my midwife, I got to kiss her foot once. Just once. She unwrapped her leg from the blankets and that's when it really hit me...


27 Feb 2013

Backpacks.

The day Amelia died a weight was put onto my shoulders that I can never take off. It feels like a large, heavy backpack with straps that reach around my whole body, preventing me from taking a deep breath.

When I first got it on March 24, 2011, it was so much bigger than me. For a long time I could not get up, let alone walk with it. It took months before I could lift it off the ground, and almost a year before I could walk with it without falling. In that time it didn't get any smaller, instead I got bigger, stronger.

This awful backpack is not just overwhelmingly large, it is also excruciatingly painful. It is covered in spikes, large and small, for all the things I will ever miss with my daughter. They dig into my body at all times, taking turns in what hurts where. Sometimes it's in my heart, sometimes in my arms. It never stops hurting, but I'm learning to live with the pain, pretending that I'm ok with it.

As life goes on, other stuff gets added to the pack. For example, my sweet Mr. Wiggles came with his own backpack, light and soft, it is full of love and joy. Some days it helps me carry my other one. Other days it makes it harder, as I learn to carry the pain while feeling the joy. It's jarring how out of balance my two backpacks are, so painfully different, yet the same, because they are both mine and I love them no matter what...

25 Feb 2013

Grief. Almost 2 years in.

Grief is a continuation of love. 

You can't grieve a person you didn't love, you can't not grieve a person you loved. 
To deny grief is to deny the existence of love. 

Grief is normal, after all, they do say that love hurts.


14 Feb 2013

Five Valentines Days

My dear sweet girl. As you must know, you papa and I have been together for five years this Valentines day.

Today, as we spent the day with your papa and little brother, I missed you so much I can't find words to describe my heartache for you.

I look at the crib your grandma bought you and you are not there. I took down one of the butterflies I had on your wall and you are not there. Everywhere I look are little girls and their parents. But you are not.

I love your brother and I can't imagine my life without him. Still, I can't quite believe I have to live my life without you. Would he be here had you lived? I think he would have.

You should be sleeping in your crib while your little brother sleeps in his... And your papa and I should have both of you in our arms tonight.


3 Feb 2013

We are one and the same.

I found a sister in pain in the most unlikely person.

While we were waiting to get a blood test done for Mr. Wiggles at a local hospital (our last jaundice test), a woman and a man came into the empty waiting room. They looked rough. Definitely drugs. Definitely street life. I stood back a little, unsure of what to expect.

With a cheerful smile the woman said: Congratulations!

She meant it, I realised, with the most sincere of hearts. I thanked her for that and looked her in the eyes. There was something there...

My baby is in foster care, they took him away when he was three months old, she said while reaching into her plastic bag to pull out a picture of a beautiful little boy, blond with chubby cheeks. The picture was attached to the plastic bag with clear tape, to save it from the rain and from being lost...

The next gesture she made was like looking in the mirror: she pulled her sleeve to reveal her baby's footprint tattooed onto her forearm. I took a step closer, pulled my sleeve up and put Amelia's footprint on my forearm right next to hers.

In that moment we were one and the same: two moms who lost their babies and who miss them deeply no matter what.

25 Jan 2013

Two Children.

I'm out and about quite a lot and that exposes me to people. Many people. Ugh. Well-meaning strangers love to coo at the baby in my Ergo and ask if this is my first. Except for the first time that happened in the hospital, when I said YES, I always answer that Mr. Wiggles is my second. That response is most often followed up with an inquiry about my first. I always say that she died almost two years ago.

... Insert awkwardness here...

I hate to be that person.

But I can't say that Mr. Wiggles is my first, even though some people tried to convince me that he is. People like a neighbour with two kids and a random lady at a grocery store. Those who have all their children alive and well.

You see, I have a daughter. Her name is Amelia. She lives in my heart. She would have been twenty two months old. Today.

I also have a son. His name is Mr. Wiggles. He lives in my arms, most of the time. Sometimes he tolerates an Ergo or a bouncy chair. He is seven weeks old.

This is simple. Both my children I carried to full term, eagerly awaiting their arrival into the world. Both my children I gave birth to. Both my children I love with all my heart. Both my children shape the person I am today. All children are different, so are mine.


28 Dec 2012

21 months.

Why does everyone I run into seem to have either a 21-month old baby or a older daughter/younger son combination?

Buying car insurance today: hear all about someone who brought in their 21 month old and the kid knew the alphabet already. And that someone had a baby girl five weeks ago and she has a full head of hair. I wish I could respond with, oh, gee, I didn't realise my daughter, who was born with a full head of hair 21 months ago, should be reciting alphabet by now, but instead she is dead.

Trying to solve my issue from the previous post I went on Meet Up to find a new mommy group. The only one that fits was started by a mom who had her baby in April 2011. And it caters to 2011/2012 babies. So I guess I'm out of that group...

Ugh.

27 Dec 2012

Sleeping Snoring Baby

It really bothers me when he sleeps.

Not the fact that he is sleeping, but that I can't look at him without seeing Amelia. That's the only time I really see her in him. They look alike and I catch glimpses of her in his eyes, cheeks, lips all the time. But when he sleeps, she is all I see.

The only thing that saves me is his snoring. I never thought I'd be grateful for hearing a man snore...

So all I can do is turn away and listen to his breathing. I just can't look. It breaks my heart over and over again. Seeing the face of my dead baby in my living one's sleep.

I didn't realise how I'll never have a "normal" motherhood until now. Even with a three-week old rainbow I am a mother to a twenty-one-month old angel.

26 Dec 2012

Between Two Worlds

Recently I found myself lost. Lost, locked up, confused. I don't belong to any group I know. It's just me and Mr. Wiggles (and dear husband, of course, but he's at work 8am-9pm, so...).

While I really insanely unbelievably enjoy every second I spend with my son, sometimes I also need adult human interaction and a reason to get out of the house other than running errands.

The babyloss community now feels like a wrong place for me to come to because now I come with Mr. Wiggles and all things baby. How can I bring a newborn baby to a group that mourns babies that died. It feels awkward for me and for them and I really don't know how to navigate it.

The non-loss community is really not a place I want to come to at all. They have no clue. They complain about things that don't make sense to me. They are so different. I will never be like them, and I don't want them to be like me. There is no point in mixing oil and water.

So where do I go?

I have no idea...


18 Dec 2012

New Life!

I am so happy to announce the birth of our son, a healthy and happy new life. He was born a week earlier than anticipated and had to spend a few days getting treated for jaundice, but he is alive and healthy, a two-week old baby that I get to hold and I am so grateful.

History started repeating itself when I was 37 weeks pregnant, his kicks were not as strong and heart rate not as fast, same as it happened with Amelia. This time, because of Amelia, we had a choice of taking a different course of action than we did with her, so he was born into this world screaming.

Thank you my sweet girl. I am so sorry...

To protect his privacy for the future (see, he has one...) I decided not to share his name on this blog, so let's just call him Mr. Wiggles. He really lived up to his name actually, at two weeks he holds his head, pushes up and is trying to roll onto his stomach already. He must have been hitting the gym in the womb every day ;)

We love him so much. It's a different kind of love, full of joy and hope. I feel so much sadness for Amelia, it's a part of the overwhelming love I feel for her. My love for my son is a much calmer kind of love, I really enjoy it. It's so magical when you love someone who you can physically hold, kiss, hug, instead of loving the twinkle of a star, the flaps of a little bird's wings, the brush of cool air on your cheek.

And he looks just like her.


28 Nov 2012

First Time Grandma. Not.

In the last few months a few people referred to my mom as first time grandma-to-be. Today that happened twice. Every one who said this to me knows about Amelia.

It pisses me off.

So, I want to respond, when someone in your family dies, it's like they never existed? Do you think that my mom has not been Amelia's grandma for 20 months already? You don't realise this, but she was there when her first grandbaby was born, she met her with tears in her eyes and pain in her heart. She held her, kissed her, fell in love with her. She took care of us when we got home, she cooked and cleaned for us when we couldn't. She bought Amelia sweet little gifts, dreamt of her, cried for her for the last 20 months and will continue to do so until she gets to meet her again. Do you really think our relationships with our children are only defined in diapers changed and bottles fed? Argh.

My mom will be a grandma for the second time. This time, however, we hope she will get to grandmother a living child.

21 Nov 2012

Memories and Expectations.

My due date with Wiggles is fast approaching. The induction date is even closer. This is a relief.

It's also a deadline, if I may use the word, to find out whether our hearts will be broken again or not.
Since most babies live, I give it 51% chance of everything being ok. That's huge. Yesterday it was 50/50.

I keep myself busy so that I don't go insane (yes, I can't sleep at night because I count kicks, I have panic attacks from things that remind me of same time of pregnancy with Amelia, like dark evenings and big pregnant belly, and while I don't expect this baby to die, I can't imagine this baby living either).

I nest.

Part of nesting, a really big part actually, is going through all of the things we had ready for Amelia. I'm so grateful for them, but they do bring tears to my eyes and ache to my heart. It would have hurt more if I didn't have them, but it hurts still. They all remind me of what was, and what never has a chance to be. I miss my little girl so much.

I also have to turn Amelia's room into a room more appropriate for a newborn baby. It's hard. Her changing table used to be storage for candles, keepsakes, gifts. Now I have to find new places for those things. Not because I expect baby to live, but in case I have to grieve two babies, I will have room for that... So I just carried out a lantern I have for Amelia from her room into the living room. Somehow that really hurt. It is a huge change. Maybe it's for the better, maybe not.

Not knowing is the hardest part.

18 days left...

4 Nov 2012

Please Read: Revolution on Standby: Bereavement and the DSM-5

::::::::::Becoming::::::::::: Revolution on Standby: Bereavement and the DSM-5

Dr. Joanne Cacciatore is a brave, strong woman, a bereaved mother. She is the founder of MISS Foundation that helped me so much in the first year and still does.

Please read her blog post, think about it. If you can, spread the word; if not, just make sure you keep it in mind when you come across people who think grief has a time limit. Please have the strength to tell them it doesn't.

Thank you.

1 Nov 2012

Piano Lessons

I was waiting outside my piano studio today when a passerby commented on my growing baby belly. We had a pleasant enough chat about baby, music and the weather.

Yet, once again, a stupid comment ruined the moment:

Stranger: Take your lessons now, when baby comes you won't have the time for it!
Me: I started taking piano lessons after my first baby was born. Every child is different.

Before the unfortunate adviser could say another word, my wonderful piano teacher opened the door and hurried me in.


Lesson of the day: Assumptions should be banned. There is no excuse for assuming we know anything about another person. Each person's life is different. No matter what we think, we just don't know.

18 Oct 2012

My body. I don't trust it.

Amelia was supposed to be the safest with me, in me. But my body betrayed her, it let her die in it.

It took me a while to forgive the object that my soul occupies, while it might sound weird to those with different beliefs (I'm not religious), but I definitely felt a separation between body and soul. Soul despised and blamed body. Body didn't care.

Since I got pregnant with Wiggles, I started hoping that this time it will not betray me. My soul seems to be doing everything it can to please the body to avoid being hurt again. Yesterday I realised that no matter what I do, I still might not be able to prevent things from happening.

We went to see our midwife for a routine appointment. Wiggles was kicking all morning, on the drive to her office, and during our appointment. At the end of it we decided to listen to the heartbeat of the active little baby in my belly. But we couldn't find it. We kept getting mine instead. She tried and tried and tried. One doppler, another doppler. Just like with Amelia. A sound of another baby's heartbeat coming from the room next to us. Just like with Amelia. Our room stood still. Everyone was thinking the same thing, I could tell. But Wiggles was actually giving us a few kicks while we were searching for that magical sound. So in our minds, we knew baby was alive. But there was NO heartbeat. To our hearts, baby was gone. In that moment I felt so betrayed by my body again. I can no longer trust kick counts, for what if it's just my body playing tricks on me, deceiving me so that it can kill my baby. What if as I feel the kicks and get reassured by them, Wiggles is actually in trouble, or worse? What if lighting will strike twice?

Then, all of a sudden, the magical sound - the heartbeat. Baby is Alive. This time we get to walk out of there with a heartbeat.

Such a mix of emotions...

My midwife told me that most likely Wiggles had his/her back next to mine and that's why we couldn't get the sound. So last night I was supposed to sleep over my right hip to make baby move to the front of my belly.

The night Amelia died I slept on my right for the first time in that pregnancy. I still can't accept that.

I did not sleep last night. Neither did Wiggles. We kept tossing from left to right to sitting upright.

I hate this. Why can't I be like many other moms, worrying about mundane things? Not knowing how much can change in a heartbeat.

15 Oct 2012

October 15 - Stillbirth Remembrance Day

Today is the day we remember all babies who died before they were born.

Stillbirth a cruel way to end a pregnancy. A baby so loved, so cherished, never gets to see the light of day. A mother, ready to spend the rest of her life with her child, never gets to look into her baby's eyes, hear her baby's cry. A father, ready to teach his child games and life lessons, gets to bury his baby instead.

Stillborn babies are not just dreams, like some assume, they are not figments of our imagination. They are real children, made of flesh like the rest of us, loved by their parents, like the rest of us. They lived, briefly, but their heart pumped blood through their systems, their eyes opened and arms waved and legs kicked. They experienced light, warmth, sound. They felt love. They will always be loved.

Candles are lit across the globe for babies who live in our hearts.




14 Oct 2012

We Walked For Them Today

A dream came true today: we walked with family and friends, old and new, to celebrate our children that died, remember their lives and make meaning out of our new lives by raising awareness that, sadly, it happens. Pregnancy and Infant death happens to the best of us.

In the morning I called Mother Nature a Bitch for two reasons: for taking away our babies and for raining on the day we celebrate them. It Rained on our "parade" today. Seriously.

But you know what,  rain can't dampen our love for our children. Friends and family gathered in good spirits, we had a wonderful day full of love, laughter, balloons and cookies. Tears were shed, hugs were shared, love was in the air as we came together in the park in the pouring rain. There was almost no-one else there and that's when I realised how lucky we were with the weather. We had the place to ourselves, we felt safe to share our feelings. For our first walk rain worked so well, it literally brought everyone closer together! And that was the whole point. It was incredible.

For the first time I felt like Amelia's life had meaning. Thank you all who made it possible.

Lots of love.

(Pictures to follow!)

And let's hope next year there will be sun ;)

11 Oct 2012

Being A Better Parent

A few people told me that Amelia has made me a better parent, a better person. I don't know about better, I think I was just fine before. Was I really a bad person and a bad parent before?

She made me a different parent because she made me a different person. One that is more grateful and forgiving, one that it more paranoid and over protective. I don't know if that's necessarily better...

Still, did I really need to learn that lesson through my daughter's death? If anyone thinks that to be true, please explain to me how this mother has five living children...

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/mother-who-super-glued-toddlers-hands-to-wall-says-children-were-a-stress/article4606482/


8 Oct 2012

Another Day, Another Hospital Visit.

This morning started off in a panic. I wasn't feeling well and we got very worried (read: completely freaked out). So I brushed my teeth, got dressed and we headed to the Hospital. Again.

It took just 17 minutes to get there, thankfully it is a public holiday. Thanksgiving. It brings such mixed emotions.

We haven't been to the maternity ward at this hospital yet, so it was all new. Strange, unfamiliar, unsettling. Yet friendly and purple, which is not blue, that was our old hospital. Thankful for that...

We were seen by the nurses right away, baby was trying to escape the fetal monitoring device and everyone was relieved by that. This was the first time we got to use the device, first time I got hooked up to it. With Amelia, we went in for the test but the doppler showed no activity. Neither did the ultrasound when they brought it in. We never got to the stage of getting the pads attached to belly and seeing lines appear on a green strip of paper. Today we were thankful for that green strip of paper.

After a few hours of meeting nurses, residents and doctors, we were released with good news. We got to go home with baby alive and well in the belly. Yet I couldn't shake off the feeling of sadness, panic and guilt. We never got to do that with Amelia. I'm so sorry my sweet baby girl. Thankful for Wiggles, so sad and sorry for You.

There were so many emotional triggers in the hospital, that didn't help either. From chasing the heartbeat, to the hospital bed, to the apple juice (which after giving birth to Amelia I drank in large quantities, trying to get some energy to hold her, and then vomited in a spectacular display of apple juice three-tier fountain). Water only from now on, please.

I have no idea how we are going to get through the next nine weeks. I just hope that we will be taking home baby, alive and healthy, for ever and ever. If not, I'm still thankful for Wiggles.

5 Oct 2012

Things for Baby

So far, I bought a few things for this baby.

First was a toy, at about 14-15 weeks. A present to baby for making it through the first trimester and being alive. That way in case something happened I had a toy to bury baby with.

Second was a pack of receiving blankets at about 20 weeks. Baby was big enough to be born and I needed those with Amelia, so I decided that either way I needed these now. I have them packed in my hospital bag already.

Third was me allowing my mom to buy a winter suit for baby a few weeks ago. That way I have something to bury baby in...

Cheerful, I know.


I also had a nightmare one night that baby was born alive and well and I was so unprepared that he or she had awful diaper rash, because I didn't have a bum cream. Next day I went out and got a pack of wipes and bottle of cream. Those are the only things I bought for "live baby."

But I have to say, making those three first purchases made it much easier to walk into a baby section now. The only things that get me there a clothes for girls Amelia's age...

1 Oct 2012

Is there going to be a baby?

This morning we had an interesting conversation with Hubby that went something like this:

 - Your belly got bigger since yesterday! It seems so much more real, like there is a baby in there...

 - I know, it feels so strange. Not sure how I feel about it.

 - So, what are we going to do if we actually get a baby out of this?

 - Um, I have no idea. I can't really think that far... I was so prepared with Amelia, and this time - it seems I forgot everything.

 - I guess we'll offer it tea or coffee and go from there.


The strangest thing is that we have no idea what to do with a baby that we might have a chance to bring home, alive and well, kicking and screaming. With our sweet Amelia, we read books of attachment parenting, had plans on making sure the umbilical cord was not clamped right away after birth, plans on breastfeeding and co-sleeping. We felt ready. We were so excited.

With Wiggles, there are none of the books, none of the conversations. There is the date: Christmas Eve. That's the one we tell people who ask on the street, in a random conversation. It is our due date and it's pretty cool. It takes the conversation away from inappropriate comments telling us how hard life will be once baby is born... If we want to let them in further, we tell them that we will most definitely be induced earlier, as a precaution, because our first born baby died. That makes them run...

I can't find a word that will describe how we feel right now. We are cautiously hopeful while remaining fearfully optimistic. Preparing for the worst, hoping for the best. We don't know what will happen in 10 weeks and we can't think past that. Life as we know it is 10 weeks long, anything beyond that is a great unknown.


That's our experience with pregnancy and birth so far: normal pregnancy, and then unknown, unexpected. Amelia's death was unknown, unexpected. Wiggles' upcoming birth is unknown, and the outcome will be unexpected, no matter what it is. We just don't know what to expect. No-one knows. They might have wishes and desires, but they don't know.

So what's the point in reading about attachment when in the end we might have to be letting go?