Wednesday, December 26, 2012

December 26th, 2012

We went out for dinner with friends for my birthday tonight.  Something I've done with my best friends since high school... for 20 years.

Someone mentioned that I was pregnant last year.  I thought about it for a moment and then told them that no, that was the year before. Andrew is almost 2 now.

Then it hit me... I was pregnant last year.

To soften the awkwardness of the moment we started telling inappropriate stories associated with Abby.  Stories of other awkward moments.  It was funny.

Sometimes it's easy to be detached from the pain and find the humor, the lighter side of the story.  I almost think I'm getting a glimpse of what it will be like to talk about Abigail when I can just smile and feel gratitude, not sadness.

I wonder if that will ever fully happen???  Probably not.

It all just happened so fast.  What I would do to go back 5 months and hold her again.  5 months and 1 day.

I don't feel sad right now, just a longing for such a special moment.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

December 25th, 2012

What a wonderful Christmas.  There is nothing more beautiful than watching the joy of my children as they discover their presents and then enjoy opening them.  Part of the joy also comes from watching how excited they are for everyone else and their presents.

My favorite present?  A frame holding a picture of each of my four children.  What a wonderful husband I have.  I felt both sadness and deep peace being able to hold a frame that acknowledged each of them.  My heart will probably always hold conflicting emotions.  But in the forefront I feel so blessed.

We talked with our friend from Dubai today, he always calls on Christmas.  He is Muslim.  I was so touched that he took the time to say kind words about Abby.  He told me some thoughts from his religion.  His sentiments reflected my thoughts, my religion.  It's nice to experience moments where you connect so closely with someone, when you are reminded that when we are striped clean of the BS we are all so similar.

I wonder what Heaven is like on Christmas.  Is it a celebration for what Christ gave to us, or is it a moment of quiet in remembrance of what he went through?

A quote I read recently: It's not happy people who are thankful, it's thankful people who are happy.

So true.

Friday, December 21, 2012

December 21th, 2012

The crazy overwhelmed feelings have passed.  They passed over a week ago.

It obviously wasn't the holidays.  Maybe it was the timing, just one year ago we were delighting in the news of a new pregnancy.

And now I'm settling into this new normal.  Becoming friends with this void in my life.  Knowing we have a lifetime to live together.

I was "ambushed" at church on Sunday.  As I watched these two teenage girls reading a story about Christmas for the pagent I hit a wall of sorrow.  Natalie will never stand up with her sister, I will never see my two girls grown up together.  I've known that for a long time, but sometimes I see it in new way.  It's amazing how raw the anguish can feel.

I'm at a place right now where I can be ambushed by emotion, but I can still walk through my days.  It's painful to be reminded of our loss, of the loss of so many desires.  At the same time, I can look at pictures of Abby and smile at the experience we had.

We were so blessed.  We are so blessed.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

December 15th, 2012

I can't remember if I wrote about Molly Bears yet.  I've been anticipating the arrival of our Molly Bear.  A new friend was so kind and choose to send one our way.  They are a weighted teddy bear for families with any form of infant loss.

Our bear arrived yesterday.  We were busy and getting ready to leave the house, so Trever asked that we not open the package.  So we waited until today when we had a quiet moment together.  Just holding the box was strange, if that can even be the right word.

I even weighed the box thinking there must be something else in there, it was so heavy.

So we opened the box today.  And we gathered our beautiful bear in our arms.  And we cried.  Tears streaming down each of our cheeks.  It was amazing to close our eyes and feel the weight.  To hold something that weighed exactly 4 lbs 5 ounces.  It's been so long since we've felt that weight.

Each time we pick her up we cradle her without thought to why.  Her weight is healing, I can feel her in my heart.

My favorite thing about our bear is that Trever and I relate so deeply with this experience.  The first time we each held her we thought of the exact same moment with Abigail.  That thought gave way to others.  We loved taking a moment to be connected to Abigail, to each other, to our memories.

And then our kids fell in love with her.  Nathan says we can call her our Abby Bear, for obvious reasons.  Natalie's eyes got so wide (my mom told her about the bear before I brought it to her), she asked if it was real. (A reminder of what it is like to be a 4 year old).  Even Andrew wants to carry her around and knows that she is something special. The kids "fight" to get a turn with her.  They all want to hold our darling Abby Bear.

She is so special.  But she is just a bear.  Not our darling girl.  Since nothing will bring Abby back into my arms, I will just close my eyes and hold this beautiful little bear and feel Abby in my heart.

Friday, December 7, 2012

December 7th, 2012

I wonder if it's "the holidays" that are making me feel a bit down.  Which by the way, would have been an understatement on Wednesday.  I can't count the number of times my eyes filled with tears, I walked through the day like a zombie.  I couldn't connect to the world around me.  It was a day for putting one foot in front of the other and sticking with a routine.

I've slowly been coming back to myself.  But I'm still a bit numb.

So back to my question.  Is it the holiday season?  And why is that?  My sister in law and I were talking about it, wondering about it.  Is it that we are using so much energy and emotion that we don't have the reserves left that we need?

Am I feeling this way because my subconscious (and now my conscious mind) realize that it was one year ago that we were excited about the beginning of another pregnancy?  It was right at the beginning of December that we finally started sharing the news.  We had considered waiting and sharing the news as a Christmas present... but we're really not good at waiting.

For whatever the reason it just reminds me that I am a Zebra hidden among horses.  I can look and act the same (most days), but I have stripes.  I'm just a little bit different.

I still love this quote:  "So this is my life.  And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I'm still trying to figure out how that could be." The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

December 4th, 2012

It's strange to feel heavy emotions again.  I forget that this cloud of sadness is bound to reappear from time to time.  Usually without warning or reason.

I can feel the physical weight of my emotions, the heaviness on my eyes and shoulders.

I saw a commercial with a baby in a hospital blanket, my body instantly tried to turn away from the TV before my mind had even registered what was happening.

I was thinking that this grieving process isn't necessarily as difficult as people might think, at least not in the way they would think.  At the same time, it so much more difficult than I probably show.

All I want to do is lay in bed.  Just lay there.  Nothing else.  I could, but for some reason I won't.  I wonder when I wake up tomorrow if I will wish I had taken this day off.  Trever will be gone for a few days so this is my only chance.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

November 27th, 2012

It amazing how complex grief can be.

I really felt so comforted as I wrote my post last night.

But then I ended up feeling emotionally empty, and essentially crying myself to sleep.

I can't remember the last time I cried.

It feels strange to even write that, for more reasons than I could possible articulate.

I wouldn't change one decision we made with this journey (in terms of the big decisions), I know Trever wouldn't either.  I'm so thankful, and, but... I can't finish that sentence.  In the end it's true.  I'm just so thankful.  My thankfulness overrides my sadness, my emptiness, my longing.  But it doesn't actually take them away.

I guess it's good to just embrace the fact that sadness and joy are not exclusive, they can inhabit me at the same time.  They do inhabit me at the same time.

Monday, November 26, 2012

November 26th, 2012

I remember when Natalie was little.  There were times (haha) that she would be crying so loudly in the car.  I would remind myself that it was a blessing to have a baby crying, that there were plenty of families who would gladly embrace what can easily be considered an annoyance.

Today I realized that I am now on the other side of that story.  I am the one who wishes I had to take deep breaths to help myself relax and embrace the baby.  Or just to hear her cry, even if it was upsetting everyone in the car.

It was a strange moment to remember how I used to feel, and to know that I was so right.  And it was fitting to realize this on the 4 month anniversary of Abby's death.

Playing with the kids tonight was so great.  But in truth my mind was really focused on how much I wish we had another little one to raise.  I just love raising these kids, they are so great (in my opinion, which is clearly biased).

But the sadness that I feel when I long for Abigail to still be in our life isn't overwhelming anymore (at least not right now).  It feels more like an old comfortable blanket.  Almost warm and welcoming rather than piercing.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Today I am remembering to be thankful for the beautiful time we were able to share with Abigail.

Sometimes it is easy to forget to be thankful for the time we had rather than thinking of the time we are not getting.

I am so thankful we were given such a special baby.

I am so thankful we found out that she would be special, so that we embraced each day with her before we were able to meet her.

I am so thankful Abigail was born strong, surrounded by so much love.

I am so thankful her path was so clearly laid out for us.  That we were given peace and not decisions.

I am so thankful we were able to hold her and love her during her first hours as well as her last.

I am thankful she is in our heart forever.

"To live in the hearts we leave behind is not to die."

Friday, November 16, 2012

November 16th, 2012

I'm just finishing paying what I hope are the last bills associated with Abby's birth.  It's really amazing how fragmented the billing can be.

During one of my conversations the customer service person said, "Oh, she didn't have a name yet.  Does she have a name now?"

Giving the answer was a bit painful.  First off, she had a name before she was even born.  This was the first time that was the case for us.  So, yes she has a name... she always did.  Your doctors just didn't put it in their paperwork.

And although has a name "now", she's not here now.

It's the mundane that can make my chest ache with missing her, with sadness.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

November 11th, 2012

I miss my baby girl so much.  Sometimes it feels like this has all been a dream.  We loved Abigail in my belly for so long, but our time with her was so brief.

Some days it is difficult to remember why my life feels so different.  To know where this sadness comes from.

I'm fairly confident that if someone didn't know me they would have no idea what I have experienced this year.  (A good reminder that we never really know what the people around us are going through.)

People who do know me barely know what I've (we've) gone through.  What we are still working through.

My good friend asked me last night how I was doing.  I stumbled over the answer.

Am I fine? Great? Sad? Normal?

Is this my new normal?  Is this who I am, and how do I even describe how I feel?  How do I describe what it is like to walk through my days?

I still feel foreign to myself, so it's hard to imagine that this is my new normal.

But I have realized that I can go for a period of time without my mental dialog telling me how each step is different, how each moment has been affected by my love for Abby.  I don't always know how long I go. It used to be constant.  Now there are spaces of silence, of truly just being present in the moment.  Present might not be the right word... I think it's more that I am able to be consumed by the moment.  I am always present, even when my dialog is helping me along.

There is some guilt as I realize that I am healing.  We've been learning at GriefShare that the feelings of guilt are normal.  I guess I'm glad we're going to GriefShare.

It gives me time each week to really focus on our loss and learn how to live with my grief as well as work through it.

We are getting the opportunity to learn so much about grief, even aspects that don't seem to apply to us.  We will have lots of tools and insight for future grief, ours or someone else's.  A lot of the knowledge comes down to quietly supporting someone, letting them have the space/closeness/time that they need.  Knowing that this process is *long* for most situations.  Longer than the grieving person will expect and much longer than the friends/family would expect.  Each story is different, but the lack of road map and the presence of confusion seem to be universal.

Next week the focus is on the loss of a child.  It's going to be a tough session.  Trever changed his schedule so he can be there.  I'm glad we're going together.  I feel a bit of anxiety just thinking about it.  

Trever is so wonderful.  I am constantly reminded of how blessed I am to have his partnership, his love in my life.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


This is so strange to me.  I don't think I ever looked up the meaning of Abigail.  Trever was the one who actually picked her name.  If it had been my choice her name would have been Audrey.  I loved both names.  I tend to defer to Trever for our children's names.

I can't remember what our top three choices were when Nathan was born.  But I remember Trever making the choice, saying something like "if you'll do Nathan Michael then that's my choice".  I was high on excitement... of course I agreed.  He chose Michael as a middle name to honor my family, since his family gets the last name.

Natalie Ann was an easy choice, it had been our favorite girl name with our first pregnancy and we still loved it two years later.  Trever wanted Ann as a middle name to keep the tradition of middle names from my family, and my middle name is Ann.  I had a different middle name picked out, but his choice was touching.

When we had Andrew it took us a couple of days to give him a name.  We were deciding between Joseph (not my first choice) and Andrew.  Again, I deferred to Trever.  I wrote out each of the names with three different middle names (Michael, Lee - Trever's middle name and Kenneth - Trever's dad's name).  Trever choose Andrew Michael.  He wanted the boys to have matching middle names.

When we found out we were having a girl with this last pregnancy it only took a day or so before we named her.  Abigail had been Trever's top choice for a girl name when we had Andrew (we didn't know what we were having until he was born).  Audrey was my top choice.  Trever really felt that Abby sounded the happiest.  So once we cleared it with my friend Abby, it was a go.  Abigail Ann won out.

Somehow in the process I never bothered to see what the name meant.

Impulsively I just checked: "her father's joy"

Wow, how fitting.  What a beautiful meaning for her name. It's happy. Each of our children could be described as "father's joy".  I think that is because our kids are awesome and because Trever is such an awesome dad!

Just for fun, here are the meanings of the other kid's names:

Nathan: Gift of God
Andrew: Man, Warrior
Natalie: Christmas Day or Christ's birthday

Friday, November 9, 2012

November 9th, 2012

Trever and I had a great time.  I always miss the kids so much, and I swear that is more intense since we lost Abby.  But I also have such a great time with my husband, and that is so important to us right now.

While we were at the Glass Museum I could hear a baby crying, it sounded like a very little baby getting a diaper change.  The sound was a little too much for me, I kind of started to feel panicked. I either needed to get to that baby and hold it, or get the hell out of the hallway where we were.  Obviously we went with option 2.

I'm getting a chuckle right now thinking about how the story would sound if I had gone with option 1.

And then at dinner, in the midst of seemingly casual conversation, my eyes welled up with tears.

It shouldn't shock me.  I think of Abigail all the time.  But I don't always feel the emotion associated with the thoughts.  So when I do, I'm often times taken off guard.

It's good for me, it helps me to feel normal.  It helps me to feel closer to this experience and Abigail.

I tend to be detached from emotion, I logic my way through situations.  This comes as a constant shock to me since I was always considered "so emotional" growing up.  Trever laughs when I tell him that.  I tend to feel insecure about being "so emotional"... it's strange to think that childhood tags don't always remain in adulthood.  (That is not to say I don't have strong emotional reactions, especially when I'm mad.)

I'm thankful that Abigail is helping me to be more comfortable with my emotions.  That she is helping me to rediscover the joy of tears.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

November 8th, 2012

I'm so excited, Trever and I are heading out on a date tonight.

Trever's parents gave us a night at a hotel in Tacoma as a gift just after Abigail died.

A little get away for us to just be together.

So the kiddos will be with my parents and we are off to enjoy a date and celebrate life.

I'm feeling strange about being away from the kids.  It's normal, but also worse lately than it was before we met Abigail.  Maybe I can just embrace this little bit of anxiety as a reminder of how much I love my children and how much I cherish my time with them.

But I also love my husband and cherish our relationship.  And I know it's important to take advantage of the moments we get to focus on our marriage.

So we're off... to see the glass meuseum, enjoy a yummy dinner when we actually get to have conversation, and get sleep.  Lots and lots of sleep.

And then we'll be back home, surrounded by the love of our family.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

November 7th, 2012

Yesterday I was covered in a cloud of sadness.

I wonder what today will bring.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

November 6, 2012

A couple months ago a woman, Tara, got in touch with me through this blog.  She had a baby who died about 4 years ago.  She helped to give me something to say when I am asked how many children I have.  Her comments have been supportive and caring.  We haven't met in person yet but I'm so thankful for Tara already.

Last week Tara and I talked on the phone for an hour.  I loved hearing her stories about her daughter, Kristen.  I loved being able to talk about Abigail.

Tara has given us a wonderful gift.  She is having a Molly Bear made for us.  A Molly Bear is a handmade bear, that is weighted to be the exact weight of Abigail.  There is a 12-14 month waiting list right now, but Tara was able to gift us one sooner due to her fundraising efforts.  We will hopefully receive our bear before Christmas.

Part of me knows it will be painful to hold the bear when she arrives.  I don't care.  I'm so eager to feel the bear in my arms, to close my eyes and just focus on Abigail.  I'm curious to remember what 4 pounds 5 ounces feels like.

My heart will probably break a little.

I know that some people will think I'm crazy for wanting this.  I'm sure there is someone who will worry for us or think this will not be healthy.  Trever continues to remind me not to worry about that... this journey is unique for each of us and we have to take care of each other, not worry about anyone else.

I think that is just because it's impossible to understand this grief if you haven't lived it.  Even those who have lived out the same scenario experience it differently.  Losing a baby is so confusing.  There is a huge absence in my life, but not a lot of memories to hold onto.  Abigail was part of our life for about 9 months, but only in our arms for less than two days.  I didn't get to hold her long enough to memorize her weight in my arms.  My arms feel so empty.

I still won't be able to feel Abby in my arms.  It will be a bear, not a baby.  But I will be able to close my eyes and remember that the heaviness in my heart is connected to a love that was 4 pounds 5 ounces.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Trever sent a note to someone we know who's son died a few years ago.  Dan is Trever's brother's good friend. I remember so clearly when Jack died.  I was devastated for them.  Hearing about someone's child dying in a situation where they had little to no time to realize what was happening is terrifying.

They sent us a note not long after Abby died.  It was touching.  I don't know the family, but they sent their love and I am so thankful for that.

Here is Dan's response to Trever's note:

Trev- The thoughts go both ways, welcome to a sucky club. Kristen and I got lucky we got into a great support group early on and found it was a great and much needed outlet. The facilitator used a great analogy that everyone there was a zebra amongst a large group of horses, in that we could run the same and act the same, it's just that others could not see our stripes. Keep all those great memories close as there will be nary a day that goes by that you don't think about her or are reminded of what could have been. Choose to celebrate with those close to you and commit to stay strong together! Understand your limits, look out for tricky situations and have a back up plan just in case it gets to be to much(especially around the holidays) feel free and give me a shout if you just want to talk

Words of wisdom.  Wisdom that no one wants to have.  A membership in a sucky club, so true.

October 31st, 2012

I had such a nice evening with a good friend last night.  We just sat and talked (and drank tea... which her husband will be happy to tease us about as we grow old and continue this habit).

It was nice to talk with her about different aspects of this grief process.  We also talked about some of the challenges that have come with this journey.

We talked about the awkwardness that people around me are probably feeling.  Should they or shouldn't they talk about Abby.  Should they be careful to not use her name.  Can they ask questions.  Will talking about her bring me sadness.

She watched a video that I posted (that came from our pastor) about how grief is like a brick in your pocket.  It feels very heavy at first, but after a while (a different amount of time for each person or circumstance) you get used to the weight of the brick.  But from time to time you will be more aware of the brick and it's weight.

My brick doesn't always feel extremely heavy, but I am always aware of it.  I have a constant inner dialog that reflects on what I am doing during my day and points out how the situation or my place in the situation is affected by my brick, by this journey, by my grief.  It's not always negative, and I'm getting more used to the inner dialog.  I think as I get into new habits and start to get comfortable there is less to be "talked" about in my head.

But no one can bring Abby up in conversation and catch me at a moment when she wasn't already on my mind.  I'm always thinking of Abby, and I love to talk about her.  I wish I had more memories to share, more moments to cling to.

I was just on Facebook and saw the picture that our friend Amy posted just after Abigail was born.  I loved looking at that pic and remembering that precious moment when Trever and I could hold all four of our kids in our arms.  I loved reading the comments that people had made on the photo.  It reminds me of the miracle we were given to have Abby born alive.

I don't feel jealous of people with healthy children, well at least not jealous in a negative way.   But I do tend to feel jealous of people who get to have more than one day with their child who has Trisomy 18.  It's selfish but true.

Looking at that picture reminded me of how blessed we were.  I know that so many families don't even get what we enjoyed.  And it probably doesn't matter how much time we would have had... it never would have been enough.

Thank you Sweet Abby for spending time with us.

Natalie talked with me about Abby again today.  How she misses her, how she wishes Abby was still with us.

I've been worried.  Do we know how to support Natalie.  Is she thinking about Abby more than I know, and feeling sad about her?

Today I feel calm, reassured that she is fine.  Natalie has an amazing memory, and people are very important to her.

When I ask her what she is thankful for each night it's super common for her to answer "Disneyland".  And she will say "remember the .... ride".  We went there two years ago.

Before we unpacked our Halloween decorations she told me her fears about a skeleton/ghost guy that we have.  We don't have pictures of him and she hadn't seen him since last Halloween.  She described him perfectly and also described her behavior from last year when he scared her.

Natalie has a great memory.

I love that Abby will hold such a special place in her heart even though their time together was so brief.  I wish we had kept the kids at the hospital more, that Natalie had been able to cuddle up with her all day.  Hmm, hindsight.

I always tell Natalie that I agree, I wish Abby was still with us also.  Today I remembered to tell her what a wonderful big sister she was for Abby.  She was, and I hope I remember to tell her that more often.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

October 30th, 2012

I remember when I went through our miscarriage, almost 5 1/2 years ago, a friend shared the different emotions I should probably expect to experience.  Anger was on the list.

I thought, "what do I have to be angry about".  Logically I understood the miscarriage.  I learned that logic and emotions don't always work together.

It still shocked me when I found myself angry.  It hit almost a month after the start of the miscarriage.  What shocked me was that I found myself angry about the continued blood tests.  Really angry.  I wanted the process to be done, I wanted to at least recapture my physiological balance.

And I did, eventually.

Lately I find myself being angry at my body.  That my body can't/won't do the things I yearn to do.

I'm frustrated that my clothes don't fit.  That my tummy is so postpartum.  Did I mention that my clothes don't fit.  Seriously, I have two pairs of pants that fit... and one of them is leggings, so I don't know if that counts.

I think I might be able to live with those parts if I was able to feel phyiscally strong.  But I still can't run.  Each time I am so uncomfortable.  I feel like I fell on my bicycle yesterday.  (Like onto the bar of my bicycle... and I was riding a man's bike.)

So I walk.  But it's boring.  And what is almost worse... it's hard work for me right now.  I feel like a couch potato!  No fun.  In all honestly I have been a bit of a couch potato for the last 6 months.  So I probably deserve some of this.

But I want to run, I want to feel like I'm pushing myself.  The two times I've decided to "work through the pain" I've ended up having trouble physically getting through my daily tasks for 3-4 days.  It leaves me bitter. It's a vicious cycle.

A friend told me today that I need to give myself a break.  I know she's right.  I need to just love myself (even all of the extras of myself).  It's only been 3 months.  Wow, 3 months feels like a lifetime right now.

I also know that I am probably letting myself be distracted by my physical limitations.  It's tangible.

So I will try to give myself a break, I'll work on that.  For right now I'm still feeling angry at my slow recovery.  Angry at my inability to control the situation.

But that's life, and I think I would be starting to "get it" by now.  Clearly I'm a slow learner.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

October 28th, 2012

Trever and I spoke at church today. Listen here.  It was nice to focus on Abby, to talk about her.  To think about the story and how it unfolded in our lives.  To think about the wonderful gifts we have received through Abigail.

I wish we could have sat up there and talked for hours.  Telling so many more details.  Talking about the joys of being pregnant with Abby.  Reliving the amazing moments after she was born, and then the hours that we shared with Abby in our arms.  Talking about the family and friends who held us up with their energy and eagerness to meet Abby the night she was born.  Their commitment to waiting with us at the hospital is so beautiful.  They got the chance to meet Abby and celebrate her life.  They would have been there to embrace us if the story had been different.

All the visitors, the joy and smiles that filled our room.

The moment when we knew the story was changing. Our neighbor dropped by just before we had the chance to call or families and invite them over to say good bye.  She so graciously cried with me and then went home to gather our children so the grand parents could come alone.  Before she could get home we had changed plans and had all the kids come to the hospital.  I'm so thankful we made that decision.  I'm so thankful we have a neighbor who didn't think twice about adding our three kids into her fold for the evening if we needed her to.

I wish we could have just stood there and talked.  It's different to stand in front of a group that doesn't know the whole story.  To share whatever details come to mind, knowing it's all new information to the listener.

When I listen to the service I realize that we may have focused on the joys, we may not have embraced the pain that goes with this story.  But that is how it is for us, we're generally on one side or the other.  And we spend so much less time thinking about the pain.

I think I'm actually at a point where there is more sadness than pain.  Sometimes I miss the pain, because I feel closer to Abby at those moments.  This is the confusing journey of grief.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

October 25th, 2012

I don't live by a calendar.  Most days I'm not sure what day of the week it is much less what day of the month.  So I keep getting surprised by these "month-birthdays".

3 months ago I was holding my little girl.  We had told our friends we didn't want visitors, but right around this time of night we changed our mind.  We held her and knew that the end was coming, but we were able to smile because she was still with us.  And we had such a great time celebrating Abigail with all our friends.

 This picture was taken at noon.

Such a special moment sitting outside and feeling the warmth.  
This picture was taken around 7:30pm.

My heart aches as I remember our little angel.  My chest feels like a dam that is about to burst.  Looking at pictures and knowing the story is so difficult.  She just looked so tired by this time of night on the day she was born.  Her body had been working so hard, she looks a little like an old lady.

The top picture is one of my very favorite.  I find myself mesmerized just staring at her.

The bottom picture is one of my fondest memories with Abby.  Nothing clouded our time with her during our moments outside.  And there was something surreal about going outside, about being part of this world with our little girl.  We were so thankful to have a moment to show her God's amazing creation on Earth before she went to be with Him.

I believe in God, and I believe in life, and I believe in Heaven.  And I believe there are so many things that we don't know... that some people like to think they know, but we really don't.  And I wonder, if reincarnation works in harmony with God's plan... did Abby just reach her last stage of life?  Wouldn't that be the ultimate life?  To know you were wanted, then to know that your parents wanted to give you whatever life you would naturally have.  In a sense she was chosen twice.  Then you get 25 hours surrounded by love.  And in such a peaceful way, you get to drift off and leave this world for the last time.

What a gift.  A gift for her, and a gift for us.  Happy 3 month birthday my sweet girl.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

October 24th, 2012

I have't been able to sit and write for awhile.

My lack of writing partially comes from the intensity of going to our first Grief Share group.  The other part comes from feeling... hmm, I don't even know how to say it.  I'm not overwhelmed.  I'm not detached.  But I can feel the walls up around my emotions, and I can feel the walls starting to crack.

When I think of Abby today I can literally feel my body and mind starting to weaken a bit.  But not in a bad way.  Ahh, I just can't seem to find the right words.

I guess I'll stop trying.

I know I'm having trouble writing mostly because my mind is still processing an experience that has left me a little bit bitter, hurt and confused.  But I know I can't "talk" through it on here.  And I'm the type of person that has to process something and really try to work through it or I get mentally stuck.  (Which is one of the main reasons I journal/blog).

I will say, after all the anxiety leading up to the first Grief Share meeting, that was then cancelled, I'm glad we followed through and went.  My guiding principle is that it never hurts to give something a try, especially something with a helpful/reflective/learning/supportive platform.  So we're going to participate in the Grief Share group for the full 13 weeks.  We might learn something, we might not.  But we're not going to be in a worse place.

I can so easily talk about Abby with just about anyone at this point.  And I love to talk about her.  I've tried to hold back in a lot of situations mostly because I know it's an uncomfortable topic for people.  But I am getting better at just being brave and embracing the moments when it's normal to mention her.

I was shocked when it was my turn to introduce myself to the group and I hit a brick wall of emotion.  I could barely say my name and who I was grieving through the tears and the catch-your-breath thing that comes with crying.  Almost every time I looked at Trever his eyes were red and watery also.  There are a lot of people around us who have experienced loss, but there is something about being in a room with people who are actively trying to learn about their grief that made it okay to be so vulnerable.

Last week I wouldn't say that we learned anything.  But we gained affirmations about the road we are taking.  We were reassured that this process will take time, longer than most people (even myself) will anticipate.  We feel "normal" in what we've gone through (grief wise) so far.  And we were reminded that the emotions will continue to come in waves for the rest of our lives.  Grief doesn't go away, the love that we had for our daughter, and the hopes that we held when we found out we were pregnant will have an impact on us for the rest of our lives.  There is good in that, there is comfort.  I'm thankful that my sadness at the loss of Abigail is always accompanied by thankfulness for having the chance to grow, nurture and love another child.

"If there were no love, there'd be no grief." Zig Ziglar

Thursday, October 18, 2012

October 18th, 2012

It's amazing to me how life falls into place.  My friend Beth sent me a link to a website (  for a little girl, named Abigail, who died from Trisomy 18.  She sent it to me before Abby was born.  I'm not positive if I looked at it at that time.  I remember we talked about it and what Beth had taken from the story.  So I think I just listened to what Beth told me more than investigating.

But I kept her email with the link in my inbox.

And tonight I decided to read the story.  Sometimes it's nice to feel connected to someone with a similar story.  I remember from talking with Beth that there were strange similarities... mostly that their little girl was named Abigail and they had an older son named Nathan.

I loved Abigail's story.  I found comfort in feeling connected to another family that embraced their daughter with love and helped her to live the life she was given with as much comfort as possible.

Then I went over to the mom's Grief Journal.  Just her description of the grief process rang true to my ears.  Here are some of the things in the section on "The Path to Healing, A Journey Through Grief":

I found that keeping a grief journal - writing down my thoughts as they came to me and processing the events and emotions of my life - really helped me deal with my grief. In looking back at it, it really illustrates for me the strange nature of grief: that it is NOT a steady uphill climb but is more like a wild ride on a rollercoaster. The ups and downs are tiring to read about, and they were exhausting to experience. 

All of these things helped me do my grief work. Many people say that time heals all wounds, but that's not true. It's what we do during that time that heals us. For sure, we can't shortcut the time, but time alone won't do it. We must work at our grief, thus the term grief work. What does that mean? It means feeling the emotions, the pain and sadness, and not denying the feelings. It is often easier to try to avoid the pain, but doing our grief work is what strengthens us to help us heal.

As I have recently received concerns about my grief process it was so nice to feel affirmed that I am normal. I have very important people in my life who support my process, and affirm that this is what the process looks like.  It still feels like a weight is lifted to stumble upon this site.

I haven't read her individual postings in her grief journal.  I'm sure I'll end up there a different day (right now I need to get myself into bed since I have a sick kiddo who will surely be waking me up a few times tonight).

One other excerpt from Mindy, the one that initially encouraged me to look past the birth story:

Shortly after losing Abigail, when I first wrote about the blessing God had given us through her, I never imagined the full extent of the blessing we would receive. Neither did I imagine the depths of pain and grief I would need to go through in order to receive that blessing.
I am now much deeper, much kinder, and even much more joyful than I was before having Abigail. And I am thankful to God for this experience and all it has taught me. But the road to where I am today was very long and very hard. After the initial shock and elation of meeting my daughter wore off, my real grief journey began.
I have described it best in The Journey, which compares grief to a long trek across a huge mountain range. My Grief Journal recounts what my life has been like since saying goodbye to Abigail: the many ups and downs I have experienced as my heart is slowly healing.
If you are here as a friend, your support during the "after" part of the journey will be the most important gift you can give.
And if you are just beginning this difficult journey yourself, I am here to tell you that there IS joy after grief.
More joy than you can imagine.

It's nice to be reminded that this is a journey, and there is hope at the end.  And that life is filled with blessings, the ones I realize now and the ones I still get to learn about.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Some days I struggle with the idea of answered prayers.

It's easy to question whether God is listening to all of my prayers.  To see the answers to my prayers.  There are times that my prayers seem so simple, yet feel unanswered.

And it's easy to pray for something and then forget to acknowledge the answer.

It's easier to question God's presence in life than it is to give credit.

When I find myself wishing we had more time with Abby it's hard to see her 25 hours of life as the answer to my prayers.

But those 25 hours are the miracle that I can come back to for the rest of my life.  It was exactly what I had asked for, more than I had actually asked for.  I'm sure I could go back and find our actual prayer written down.

I know I asked for strength, for peace, for moments being able to hold her and kiss her.  To look into her eyes.

My head is spinning right now as I realize how clearly my prayers were answered.

When we would watch her heart in the ultrasounds we were shocked by what we saw.  Trever was amazed that she could even sustain herself during the pregnancy.  She wasn't really sustaining herself, I was doing the work for her.  God was giving us a gift.

I'm jealous of the families who have more time with their children who have Trisomy 18, but I also need to recognize how many families don't get to experience what we had.  Each story is written differently.  And I'm so thankful for ours.

"A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips".  That is the concept I think of with this experience.  Although our time with Abby was so brief, it will be with us for our lifetime.

It was about a year ago that we conceived Abby.  What a year.

October 16th, 2012

I'm spending some time (probably lots of time in the end) going back and updating our family blog for this year.  I haven't added anything all year.

It's strange to go back, starting in January and revisit our year.  Early in the year, when we didn't know what was ahead.  When we knew we were going to be parents to 4 children.

Then in March, seeing the pictures from the morning of March 12th.  We celebrated Nathan's birthday, and then headed off to the ultrasound.  That evening as I got in my car to go to the airport I got the message from the doctors office and I knew there was a problem.

"There are moments which mark your life.  Moments when you realize nothing will ever be the same and time is divided into two parts, before this and after this" Unknown

March 12th was one of those moments for our family.  March 20th solidified that fact when we received Abby's diagnosis.

I'm sure if I had listened I could have heard the crack in my reality, in my hopes.

There were other defining moments too, but they happened more gradually.  Like the moment that Trever said to me that he used to explain that we were being positive about a negative situation, but he had started to realize that it wasn't a negative situation anymore.  That shift of perspective was so helpful.

Abby wasn't a "negative situation".  She was a child.  She was a gift.  She has shaped us as people.  She "pruned our friends and added new ones".  She blessed my heart and although I still yearn for more moments with her, I'm so thankful for being able to embrace her journey.

Going back and thinking through this experience in the terms of what was going on in our lives this year brings me some sadness.  But it's tempered with the joy I feel as I take a moment to reflect on the blessings we have.  The beautiful moments spent together as a family, raising these amazing kids.

Friday, October 12, 2012

October 12th, 2012

This week has been so wonderful.  I feel like I woke up on Monday feeling amazing.  A have mostly been walking around in a bubble of happiness.

I think the grief support group had really put me over the edge of anxiety.

Although our trip to Hawaii was really great, it also came with a lot of baggage/emotional stress.  We hadn't really been home long enough for me to decompress when I got the call about the grief group.

The meeting got cancelled.  I wasn't pleased.  I had fought so hard to prepare for the occasion.  Wasted energy.  When I decide to try it again I'm going to remember not to waste that energy.  And if it doesn't seem to offer me the support I need I just won't go again.

Through all the emotions: the ups, the downs the balance place in the middle, Trever has been amazing.  He is the quintessential partner.  We are in this game of life together.  It's nice to be reminded that he is my partner, my husband, my friend.  We are determined to be a team, to support each other and to continue learning about the other persons (as well as our own) needs.  I really like "us", and I know he does too.  It's awesome.

Natalie and I have been talking about Abigail a lot the last couple of days.  She pulls out the "guest book" and looks at the pictures.

It makes me happy.  I like knowing that my kids have a special place in their heart for their little sister.

Nathan continues to remind us that Abigail is in his heart.  That he doesn't have to be sad and miss her.

But he also agreed with Natalie (and us, of course) that he wishes she had stayed around.  Natalie says that she wishes Abigail lived with us so she could give her kisses and sing to her.

Natalie also wishes that I would have 3 girl babies and 3 boy babies.  Poor thing wants a sister so badly.  Makes me sad for her.  She is such a love.

Saturday, October 6, 2012


A few moments after we knew our time with Abby would be so much shorter than we had wished.
It was 25 hours more than we were sure we would have.  The most intense 25 hours I have ever lived.

The first picture of Abby.  Not so cute, but so beautiful at the same time. The only time we monitored Abby she was experiencing a decelerated heart rate during contractions (all of my kids have done that during labor). It left us uncertain of whether or not Abby would be born alive.  This moment, having her placed on my belly alive, was incredible.

 Such sweet and caring siblings.  Nathan is shielding her eyes from the bright light.  Natalie is feeling to make sure Abigail is warm enough. Her quilt went everywhere with her.  Now it goes everywhere with us.

Our last moments together as a family.  So glad the kids were able to come and say goodbye to their little sister.  They were all so sweet to her.  Makes me so proud of them, and so sad I don't get to see them help to take care of a little baby at home.

 Natalie stayed close to Abigail during this whole visit.  She tucked herself right in with whomever was holding her sister.  And she gave Abigail lots of kisses and love.

Taking a moment to show Abby our beautiful world.  I love this picture of Trever looking at her fingers holding his thumb.  He has such an amazing love for each of his children.

October 6, 2012

I think it's good to be in touch with my emotions.  (I think a break from them from time to time is good also.) I think I need to be in touch with myself, really feeling my emotions (not just thinking about them) to create healing.

Even believing that, it doesn't make the pain and sadness any more comfortable.

It's not easy to get through the days right now.  I'm never sure how much energy I have to give to my responsibilities.  I wonder how this year will affect my kids.  I wonder how much they notice?

Some days I'm the "yes" mom because I just don't have the energy to care to say no.  Pancakes for breakfast and dinner? Sure.  Lunch also? Why not.  A new toy, a snack from every store? Sure.

Other days I try to stop myself from only saying "no".  Because why does it really matter if they watch another show? If we have pancakes instead of something healthy? If we read extra books and stay up later? Some days I feel like the first word out of my mouth is "no", just because I don't have the energy to allow life to happen around me.

They are such great kids, I'm so afraid that I forget to tell them often enough.  Some days I'm working so hard to take care of my responsibilities, that I forget what my only real job is.  To love my children.

To embrace them each day, to fill their hearts with the belief that I love them.  And to honor my love for Abby by letting myself work through the grief.

And not to be a side note but I also need to love myself and my husband.

Some days it all feels like a big job.

I was invited to a grief support group.  I had just been talking to Trever, saying it might be time to look into something.  I'm a huge supporter of counseling, I just haven't gotten around to taking the first step.  This isn't exactly counseling, but I'm hoping to learn something.  And I figure since this fell into my lap just as I was thinking I might need it, then I should listen.

That said, it's causing me a lot of anxiety. Each time I've thought about it, or talked about it I've had tears in my eyes.   I'm sure I'll feel better after going tomorrow.  Maybe the haze that I seem to be living in will be lifted.

I know these waves of sadness come and go.  When I'm being knocked down by a wave it's so hard to imagine being above water again.  I can't remember the last time I actually felt happy.

I am writing about my current emotional state as if it's something I begrudge.  It's not.  It feels real.  It feels authentic.  So I kind of find comfort in being here right now.

I like spending so much of my time thinking of Abby.  Feeling my love for her.  Feeling the sadness of missing her.

I also like to smile, and feel present in my daily life.  So I know I'll be happy to embrace feeling a bit detached at some point too.

And maybe some day I won't sway between deep grief and detachment.  Maybe someday I'll feel like I'm actually living in balance.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

October 3rd, 2012

I can't seem to really connect with my emotions today.  The physical feelings are intense, I've spent most of the day feeling like I'm carrying a 50lb pack, not to mention just wanting to be in bed.

But I can't really put my thoughts/emotions into words, so I'm going to write about other aspects of my day.

My highlight?  When Nathan crawled into bed with us this morning.  He curled up next to me and excitedly said "Abigails blanket!" as he grabbed it and cuddled up.  We took it to Hawaii, I wonder if he actually noticed it was gone, or just realized this morning that he hasn't seen it in a week.  It was a beautiful moment.

As I go through these times/stages of grief it is obvious to me that my husband and I have two very different needs.  (Reference to The Five Love Languages).

He needs touch.  I need space.  It's a difficult dance.

I'm so thankful for our ability to (mostly) work together.  We've been through our share of stress during the past 5 years.  We've been lucky enough to learn about each other and learn to balance our completely opposite needs.  It's still not always easy.

I'm glad he needs touch.  I'm glad that he can give me some space.  I have no doubt he needs more touch just like I need more space.  But I'm thankful we meet in the middle.  If it was all about my needs I'm not sure we would know when to start touching again.  We might just get used to the space.

I look forward to the day that I can relax again.  Not in the "I'm so uptight right now" sense, but in the "my emotions are so intense I don't have room for anything else" sense.  I look forward to the day I want someone's hands on me, rubbing my arm or my back as we stand close in a group of people.  I know Trever will be there when I'm ready since I work hard to still give the opportunity to show me love in his way right now.

The irony in my situation, my personality?  All I really want to do is lay my head in someone's lap and cry.  But not have any movement on my skin.  I want people around me, and I desperately want to be alone.

I'm thinking of going to a grief group this weekend.  It feels funny to be around "those people".  But I'm one of them.  I guess it's that uncomfortable reminder of my reality.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

October 2nd, 2012

Trever and I just got back from a much needed vacation.  I had so many thoughts while we were away, I wish I had a laptop.

Right now I can't really focus on our trip, on the emotions that we experienced (all tucked in around our fun time with friends and much needed time as a couple).

I came home to find a note that a woman who is so dear to me is headed into surgery tomorrow.  9 days ago she found out that her breast cancer has metastasized to her brain.  Yesterday she met with her neurosurgery team.  Tomorrow she goes in for surgery to remove at least one, possibly more tumors.  I'm in shock.  I'm feeling numb.  I want to get on a plane and fly to Charlotte.  Now is not the time, but I'm keeping that option open.

My heart is already so heavy with emotions.  It wasn't the easiest week.  It's amazing when the emotional pain creates physical pressure on your body.  I'm sure that emotions are always affecting me physically, I guess it's just amazing when I am able to realize it due to decreased distractions.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

September 25th, 2012

Two months.

The truth is, I've been so busy today I nearly didn't realize what day it is.  As I sit and think about "two months" I realize I've got some strong boundaries up right now.  I'm not feeling much, and that probably isn't because there isn't much to feel.

I can feel myself pull back each time I try to think of Abby and feel the pain that is always just under the surface.  I would say it isn't healthy, but I think it's okay. I know I will let myself feel again, I want to.  I miss the ache of remembering Abby.  Of actually feeling her place in my heart.

I was just cleaning out my inbox and came across this email from July 29th.

I'm writing a sermon for tomorrow on Colossians 2:1-6- "holding to Jesus even when things are uncertain"...and all I can think about is your daughter.  I'm sorry your daughter has passed.  I don't know why bad things happen or why some babies aren't healthy.  I dont have much I can tell you tonight- other than I'm sorry.  I'm sorry for your kids and for the conversations you are having with them now about where Abby is and why she couldn't stay.  I'm sorry for your husband and that awful feeling to have as a dad that you couldn't protect your child.  I'm sorry for your tears, and for your pain as your body prepares to nurture a life that is no longer present.  It all is just terrible.  But your daughter was beautiful.  And what a gift to get a day with her.  I'm sure it was the best and maybe worst day of your life.  I hope you and your husband can cling together, and continue to trust God even when so much seems too difficult to trust.  He can hold you together and pull you through this.  Your joy and hope around this baby have been a strength and joy to many- myself included.

Blessings on your journey.  

It's amazing how just saying "I don't know" and "I'm sorry" is so powerful.  We have people in our life who say "I know, but you just need to....".  Not helpful.  Ever.  But maybe it is for them.  It's clearly not about us when we are given that encouragement.

Everyone means well.  I'm just so thankful that we have people in our life that are able to really offer supportive words.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

September 18th, 2012

Sometimes I wonder if I should have been clever and named each of my posts instead of just dating them.  But I wasn't, and I'm not about to start now.  I don't think I would like the pressure of defining a post anyway.  Not in this situation.

But that is all beside the point.

Today I found our copy of the video we played at Abigails service.  I was SO excited.  Admittedly I have been just staying afloat in some areas of life (like organization).  The crazy part of the story is that the video was in a logical place.

Abby's video (for some reason I can't upload the video, I can only put the link in)

I'm so thankful we put this together. I love remembering her life when she was still in the womb, and I love seeing those moments when she was first born.  The celebration was amazing.

The pictures that capture the people who were able to come to the hospital to meet Abby bring me peace.  Remembering how "normal" life felt at the start of the day.  The hope we still had, the joy we had in sharing her with so many people.

Through the pictures I can also remember the moment when we knew the story was changing.  When we started hearing the hard news.  She was forgetting to breath.  The feeding tubes were unsuccessful.  And then when I watched her stop breathing for the first time.

It's not captured in the pictures but I will never forget the moment I knew she was gone.

And I can almost feel the complete and consuming pain I felt after I had adjusted to the truth that she was gone.  After we had run out of distractions and there was only room for the truth.  I just held her and let my entire being fall into the grief.  My heart has never felt pain so pure.  I'm so thankful I had the time and the safety to just embrace that moment and feel the pain so completely.

During the last (almost) two months it has been easy to focus on where we are now.

Watching this video was a wonderful way to remember more of the story.  To think about the anticipation: the joy and the fear of pregnancy.  And to feel the amazing love that we had for her, the gratefulness that she was born alive.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

September 15th, 2012

Last night I had some good conversations about Abby.  (I didn't make an ass of myself)

I'm in a good place right now.

I think our journey seems more tragic to other people.  It doesn't feel tragic to us.  I remember at the beginning when Trever thought we were "being positive about a negative situation".  And then one day he said "I don't think of this as a negative situation anymore".

He was, he is, right.

Our experience wasn't negative. It's not something tragic in our lives.  It's something beautiful.

I'm so thankful for the experience.  For being able to embrace life and all it has to offer.  For being able to show little Abigail that we love her, and also to honor the life she was meant to have.

Sure I wish that her life had been longer.  But regardless of it's length, it was still a blessing to me to share in her life.

I won't pretend that there won't still be sadness, but right now I am just full of joy.  I can't help but to smile as I look at her picture.

And I love to listen to my children talk about her.  Natalie was rambling on in the backseat tonight about how Abigail was littler than she is.  I'm so glad she still talks about her.  And it's awesome that she will always have someone in our family that was smaller than her.  She also talked about how she got to hold Abby, how we all took turns.  How she sang her a song when she held her.

I love it.  It warms my heart so much that the kids can remember her and embrace the moments that they shared.  That they can remind us that she is always in our hearts, so we don't have to be sad.  She is always with us.

It's true.  She is a part of our story.  Life is made up of so many stories and she will always be one of the most treasured stories in my life.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

September 12th, 2012

Okay, so I did it once, and thought it was a fluke... then I just did it again.  This could be trouble...

Today, someone inquired about me just having a baby.
"I did"
"Oh, did you have a girl or a boy?"
(cue: uncomfortable smile creeping onto my face.  She clearly doesn't know the story).
"I had a girl." <long uncomfortable pause>

Because how do you drop that bomb?

"Um, she died." (accompanied by LAUGHTER... really, a smile and laughter as I said that.  It's horrible, I don't know why I keep responding that way.)
Look of horror on girls face.
"No, no, it's okay! (it is????) We knew she was expected to have a short life..." (my explanation wasn't that smooth).

I clearly need to have a mental script to get through this scenario when it catches me off guard.  Continuing to have a silly grin on my face and laugh while I deliver shocking news is not going to work.  I know it comes from being nervous, I just know I'm about to share really unexpected and uncomfortable information.  But I don't think I'm helping the situation at all.  It's not like the person can join me and laugh.

The upside?  My best friend made an ass of herself also.  She just looked over at me with a "what are you going to say?" face and we both started laughing together.  (she had heard the story from a few days ago).

That's what best friends are for, right?  To let you know you're not alone, to let you know you are lovable even when you're being completely socially awkward.


Monday, September 10, 2012

September 10th, 2012

Thinking of my sweet girl today, missing her.

What a precious gift she was.

I'm so thankful there is joy, love and appreciation to accompany my sadness.

Saturday was wonderful, we brought out the guest book and shared stories about Abby with friends.

Talking with Trever we realized that we answer the question "How are you doing" so often.  But that doesn't leave much room to talk about Abby's wonderful life.  It's her life and the time we shared with her (even before she was born) that are so important.

So we're trying to spend time talking about her, about our love for her.  Not just about the ache in our hearts.  The longing to hold her.

She was so darling.  Just a tiny little thing.  And those eyes, we were so thankful for how much time she spent with her eyes open.

The joy of her birth was so intense.  I've loved all of my children, and cherished the moment we met them.  But this was the first birth with such a big unknown.  To have Abby born alive was amazing.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Special Needs Children

I used to see children with special needs and feel curious about them.  I'll be honest, part of me has always been thankful that my children don't have special needs.  It's a scary unknown.

I read this yesterday:
Actually, when I think of our situation, I really don't think of our ‘Trisomy journey.’ I think of our ‘Ella journey.’ Ella, the little girl who wasn't supposed to live. Ella, the little girl who pruned our friends, and made new ones for us. Ella, the little girl who made our sons more compassionate kids. Ella, the little girl that made me a better person, in every aspect of my life. For some reason Ella doesn't make us sad, even now"

It really touched me.  It's true that what others see as a hardship can be a blessing.  And "pruning your friends, and made new ones for us" is a benefit to your future.

When we were at the zoo last month I found that I looked at the children with special needs with a longing in my heart.  I'm always wondering why we didn't get more time with Abby, and what that time might have looked like considering her T18.

I know we did everything we could think of to embrace her life and to celebrate her.  I'm confident we gave her the life that was written for her.  I just wish her life had been written with a few more days or weeks, or longer.

So now when I see a child with special needs I feel a connection to them.  I feel a extra bit of love for the life they are leading.  It's still a scary thought since it's unknown what that would really be like for our family.  So I'll be honest again that it's still a bit terrifying to consider another pregnancy and what our life would look like if we had a child with special needs.  But I also know, from getting a glimpse, that we would embrace the differences and find the blessings.  (we're not planning another pregnancy)

September 7th, 2012

Today I got this great idea... we should wear shirts that send a clear message.  Depending on the day mine might say "Just Ask" or "I don't want to talk about it" or "Yes, I really am happy today" maybe "Feeling Sad, but you don't need to fix it".

The possibilities are endless and could be very helpful in group settings, or even at the grocery store.

Aside from that thought I have also be pondering how I work through my emotions.  I've had a couple friends ask me if I allow myself to feel my grief.

My first instinct is to answer that I do.  And I think that is mostly true.  But given time to process and consider the answer I'm not completely sure.  I definitely allow myself to be present in whatever emotion/mood I'm in.  But my answer to someone who asks me how I'm doing will inevitably be "fine", even if that's not the case.  I really have to force myself to give a more authentic answer at times.

Even though I believe that I need to embrace how I'm feeling, I don't necessarily go the distance.  I stay closer to center.  I try to close the door when the tears start.  I noticed it at my doctors appointment this week.  As I started to cry (which came unexpected), I immediately worked to shut the tears off and start explaining myself with words.

I think it's easier/safer for me to use words that express myself physically.  And I think I do this out of a fear of being "too emotional".  A tag that was given to me growing up.  I have always felt like it was a negative attribute.  But I watch my daughter, and you could easily tag her with "too emotional", but she's not.  She is perfect, and she really expresses how she is feeling.  I want her to be able to work through her emotions, but I don't want her to learn that she should hide them.

When you work hard to learn to hide your tears, you also end up hiding your giddiness.  I feel like I've put boundaries up and I stick to the middle of the scale for emotions.  I'm not positive there is a reason to change that at this stage of life.  Just as much as I want to embrace my daughter, I also want to embrace myself.

Since I'm a big believer in personal development I'm going to have to balance embracing myself with learning to feel my sadness.  To allow myself to just stare at Abby's picture and feel the pain, feel the regrets, feel the love and accept all of it.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

September 4th, 2012

Trever and I went to the doctor for my six week follow up.  Today is also the first day that we'll be going to Nathan's school and I'll be around all those people who last saw me pregnant.

I knew the school part would be difficult, I've actually asked Trever to not work any overtimes so he can be with me.

I didn't expect going to the doctor to be tough.  I figured we had seen him already so I would be okay.  I knew it would be strange, and probably a bit sad, but I was surprised by my emotion.

Of course there are women with babies at the OB.  For some reason I am more emotional around babies who are strangers to me than I am around babies from friends.  Sitting in the waiting room, looking over at the infant car seat nearby made me very sad.

I "should have a baby with me".  It's a mental pity party that I throw now and then.  It's funny that my mind doesn't default to "I wish I had a baby with me.".

As we walked towards our appointment they pulled the baby out of her seat.  That tipped the scale.  I felt so emotional.  I cried a bit after getting weighed, not because of the number on the scale but because it was my first moment alone.  Then I cried a bit more when our doctor came in.

I always try to put words to my feelings.  Someday I'm going to learn that feelings can't always be explained, and they don't need words for clarification.

It feels good to cry sometimes.  It feels good to acknowledge that I wish I had a baby, that I want to hold a baby, that I'm sad that Abby died.

I am so sad that she died.  I miss her, I miss being pregnant with her.  And I'm so sad that our time with her in this life was so short that I have trouble really feeling the memories of holding her.  As I place my hands on my belly it is easier for me to remember the emotions associated with a budding pregnancy than it is to remember the weight of her in my arms, or the softness of her skin.  I can describe it to myself, but I can't feel it.

September 3rd, 2012

I'm so touched that Abigail is such a big part of Natalie's life/thoughts still.  Anything that is special to Natalie is getting packed up so she can take it to heaven for Abigail.

Today she sat in one of her swimsuits telling me how she was going to save it for Abigail (I don't think the kids ever call her Abby, only Abigail).  Normally Natalie will ask me what they have in heaven (books, parks, beds, etc.).  Today she just sat and talked about how she would bring two swim suits, one for Abigail and one for herself.  Just in case they have a pool in heaven.

I'm glad that she is able to love her sister through her hope and belief that she will be with her again.  I wonder how long this stage will last.  How long with Abby be at the front of her mind?

Friday, August 31, 2012

August 31st, 2012

Natalie and I went to the hospital today to visit a new baby.  She had fun figuring out that this was the same hospital where all of our kids were born.  In true 4 year old form she asked about each of them individually and then confirmed that they were all born at this "doctor".

She was really excited to see the baby.  And she brought 3 babies from home so she could compare their size to  baby Ava.  "Black Eyes" was much smaller, "Fly, Fly" was still too small, and "Lovie was almost as big as the baby.  Natalie talked about remembering that she had brought a baby to the hospital when Abby was born, I had given her the idea to see if her baby doll would  be the same size.

As everyone arrived at the hospital to wait for Abigails arrival Natalie realized she didn't have her baby.  So Beth (the saint that she is) drove Natalie back home to get her.  By the time Abigail got here the kids were sound asleep and none of us remembered to compare the sizes.  Bummer.

It was nice to have a girls afternoon, and to watch Natalie be so tender with Ava.

She asked me if Ava was going to go to heaven.  She asked me how I knew she wouldn't be going to heaven.  She also mentioned that she wished that we had two girl babies.

Those questions used to make me sad for myself and for Natalie.  But I guess I'm used to them now.  And I just think it's a beautiful part of Natalie's life.  She will continue to have a tenderness for girls, and a desire for a little sister.  I'm sorry we won't be able to fill that void for her.

I love the pride that Natalie has when she remembers singing her song to Abigail. She says she was singing to Abby about how much she loved her, and how much she loves her mommy and daddy.  She also asked me today what color Abby's eyes were.  She wants to call her "Blue Eyed Girl".

I miss my little Angel.  I'm so thankful that holding a newborn isn't devastating to me.  I'm sure I'm stuffing the emotions away, but I'm okay with that in this circumstance.  I want to just feel the joy of a newborn and focus on giving her love.  I have the rest of the day to miss my little girl.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

August 30th, 2012

I'll be honest, it's been a long time since I've experienced a hangover.  But some things leave an impression.

I remember the feeling at the end of the hangover.  When I'm able to function again, but don't really want to. When I feel distracted, tired, detached.  When I feel ready to climb into bed and read... not really ready to be responsible for myself much less anyone else.

That's what I'm feeling today.  Clearly I didn't realize how much my emotions were waging war on me the last couple of days.

So today is recovery.  And for the sake of my son I hope this recovery goes away before next Wednesday so I can be a mom and help him get ready for school.  That's not too much to ask, is it?

Tomorrow is the start of a week long cleanse for me.  My body needs it, my mind needs it.  I've treated myself so badly during these last 5 weeks.  It was good to let go, to eat the wrong foods, to just not care.  But I don't stay in that place well.  I want to feel good.  So no more sugar.  I'm excited for my body to recover (I'm allergic to sugar so it's really taken it's toll on me).  No wine for a week... that one is a bit harder.  I don't like to feel deprived or restricted.  In the end I know I'll appreciate my discipline.

It's been so strange to be in this recovery mode without a baby.  I don't feel good about myself (physically), but I don't have a baby to distract me.  Just one more character building opportunity.

As I sit here and write Sara Bareilles is playing in the background.  Because what I *need* is some melancholic music to set the tone.  I feel like a melodramatic teenager.

But that is beside the point.  I like the song, and I like feeling true to myself and my emotions.

So anyway... I have this mellow music playing and from the corner of my eye I can always this picture of Abigail.

 My heart aches with the love I have for her.  When I see her pictures I am always filled with thankfulness.  I'm just so thankful that we had the opportunity to grow her, to love her, to hold her and to share her.  It's easy to wonder if my life would be easier right now if I wasn't grieving... or at least I assume people wonder that for me.  But I don't wonder that for myself.  I wouldn't give up one step of this journey... other than wishing for another hour, another day, a week.

On that note, and with Christina Peri playing in the background, I'm going to pour myself a glass of wine.  Gotta get it while I can!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

August 29th, 2012

I've essentially been a wreck for two days.

Trever went back to work for the first time yesterday.  Not a huge deal, but we missed him.

Then I took my kids for a play date.  That should be a highlight.  I'm so thankful for the woman who has wanted to give us support, give us some free time.  And I knew the kids would have fun.  But it was stressful for me.  I don't leave my kids with other people.  With my friends rarely, with family... well, as far as my parents are concerned I'm not sure my kids realize that both houses aren't their "home".  It's a beautiful relationship.  But we don't have baby sitters, and I've only left Nathan for a play date once.  Do I sound like a strange mom?  Probably.  Whatever, it's just the way it's worked out for us.

My chest was tight with anxiety.  But I am determined to fight anxiety.  It doesn't get to win.  Maybe if I had a logical reason, or even a rational fear, but that's rare.  So I dropped them off.  And then tried to call a friend to distract myself.  No answer.  So I called my dad, who had Andrew because I couldn't take him.  I knew he would cry and didn't know if he would snap out of it so I didn't torture myself or him.

Then I got to thinking about an upcoming trip to Hawaii.  We've been planning it since the start of the year.  It'll be the first the first trip with just Trever and me in years.  We had hoped we would be bringing a baby, so there is some sadness involved.

My anxiety grew as I thought about leaving the kids and going on a trip.  I totally "get" those people who won't travel on an airplane together... and my mind wants me to consider not driving to the airport together.  Lucky for Trever I fight my crazy-emotionally-irrational moments.  But even though anxiety doesn't get to win in the long definitely took over yesterday and today.

I ended up in tears on the phone multiple times, without warning.

I wanted to go see a newborn baby. (My friend from the river had her baby on Monday night).  Thankfully my friend Beth suggested I wait until Trever, or someone else, could be with me.  I was a wreck.

When I talked to my friend Jen she was trying to reassure me that I didn't need to go to the hospital.  That I could wait until the timing was better, until I was feeling better.  Without even knowing what I was going to say I choked out "but I just want to hold a baby".

That statement started to help me realize where my anxiety was coming from.  Yes, dropping my kids off is hard for me, but the layers of stress were what was really causing my pain.

I have separation anxiety lately, I'm so concerned with something happening to someone else in my family.

I haven't been back to the hospital since we left on July 26th.  There are so many emotions surrounding our time there.  That is the only place where we have memories of holding Abigail.

And I have been longing to hold a baby, but this would be my first opportunity.

And I was going through all of this without my best friend, my husband.

I survived the day... the kids had fun, I didn't go to the hospital, and I finally got to chat with Trever about how I was feeling.

Oh wait... and our bench was delivered for Abby's Garden.  I love her garden, it's beautiful.  But it is a very emotional place for me.  The bench is wonderful, it's perfect.

So I survived... and slept good (thanks to a wonderful chiro appointment!!!).

And then it started all over again today.  But today I wasn't the only emotional one in the family (my kids joined me for some reason... just for the records, misery doesn't need company).

I decided I needed to clean out baby stuff.  Boy stuff, baby gear, and girl clothes.  Letting go of those things is sentimental, letting go of them early because I don't have a baby to use them is overwhelming.  I know I could have waited, but seeing them in the house unused isn't any better so they had to go.

Handing off the girl clothes, remembering Natalie being a baby and knowing that we won't need them again is so sad.  Folding up the newborn clothes, the only ones I had washed, and putting them in a sack broke my heart a bit. We never had the chance to put her in any of the outfits that were waiting at home.

By the time we were heading to the hospital I was tense.  And I was taking it out on Trever.

Somehow, luckily, I had a moment of clarity and we were able to talk through the experience before we got to the hospital.  Life is better when we are on the same page, when I am able to articulate my feelings.  When I talk through things it opens the door for Trever to join me and share his thoughts.

So I shed my tears in the car, I embraced the ache in my chest with a bit of excitement and apprehension.

And then we went in and held that darling little girl.  And it didn't hurt at all.  She is her own self, she didn't remind us of Abby at all.  We were able to just hold her and feel love for her.  It was wonderful.

As we left we saw Vivienne.  Definitely a healing moment.  Vivienne, Kylie and Dianna will always hold such a special place in our hearts, in our memories.  We were so blessed by each of them.  It felt so good to connect with someone who was part of our story on this visit to the hospital.

My heart feels at peace.  It feels a bit exhausted, but calm.

Part of me wished we could have slept over at the hospital. Just laid there and told stories.  There are so many moments to remember.  Did I just infer that I would want to stay overnight in a hospital??? Yes, I am a bit crazy.  But after 4 children and the intensity of Abigails life, St. Pete's Labor and Delivery unit just feels like a piece of home, it holds part of my heart.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

One month

It's strange to write about a "one month" milestone again today.

One month ago we were waking up to face the day.  It was our first morning facing our loss, telling people that Abby had died.

One month ago around 9am we were waiting in the hallway as my parents had some quiet time with Abby.  Saying their goodbyes. Then we were all together with her, spending those last moments holding her and getting ourselves ready to leave the hospital.

Beth and Justin both met us at the hospital.  We felt surrounded by part of our team.  We were exhausted and numb.  I've never shed tears that were truly ripped out of my heart.

After we left the hospital we took her to the funeral home.  Even though she had been gone for hours it was still so painful to say another goodbye.  We had to let go of her precious body, the only part that we could hold and kiss.

Our bodies and minds were empty on the drive home. But then an amazing thing happened.  After we got home our kids came back to greet us.  The love from children is amazing.  Nathan and Natalie gave us hearts to remind us that they would help our hearts feel better, and that Abby would always live in our hearts.

They've been reminding us of that ever since.  She is in their hearts and ours.

It still hurts.  The ache is deep.  I look at her picture and miss her so badly.  I've never missed anything so deeply.

I find myself wanting to hold one of Natalie's babies just to have something in my arms.  But I can't let myself do that, I'm afraid I'd never put it down.  I'd end up being that strange lady with a baby doll in the bjorn.  Just goin' for a walk or shopping for groceries.  I could totally be that crazy lady.  It makes me laugh to think of it.

Laughter really is the best medicine.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Abby's one month birthday

I was just looking at Abigail's picture and thinking about her.  She would have been one month old today.  We knew the odds were so low that she would live to see this day.  But we had hope. We had to mentally prepare for  both possibilities.  The milestones give extra prompting to remember what we had and what is gone.

That is exactly what I had been sitting and thinking as I looked at her darling face.  It was so quick.  It leaves me with confusion and pain.  I've never looked at my children's baby pictures without being able to also look at my children.

A friend sent a very thoughtful email today, her thoughts are so true, 

I can't help thinking that after all the long
months of the emotions you went through, to have her here for what must
seem like such a fleeting moment must be terribly hard to move forward

I miss her.

One month ago we were just starting our day.  Not knowing what was ahead.  We were joyfully embracing Abigail and excited to share her with the world.  A few hours into the morning our room filled with visitors.  

When I think about her life, the moments when we were able to share her are the ones that are most clear for me.  They are filled with love, joy and celebration.  I'm so thankful that we had so many visitors.  That we were in such a joyful place and could welcome our friends. 

I'm so thankful that when we knew Abby's time was going to be short we still took the time to celebrate her with our family and friends.  I never would have known how important it would be to have my friends surround me at the end of the night.  

As my friend said yesterday on our walk, "It was a Bloom moment".  Our net of friends and family were there to join us in our joy and catch us in our sorrow.

I wouldn't trade one moment of this story to lessen my pain.  I'm so glad that we were given the gift to be Abby's parents.  To love her in my belly, to share her with our friends, to show her this world and let her feel the sunshine on her face.

Even as my eyes fill with tears I'm able to find a smile on my face.  She is such a sweet little Angel.