Monday, 30 January 2012

I heard your voice in the wind today

I read this poem today on Fran's blog and instantly fell in love with it. 

I heard your voice in the wind today 
and I turned to see your face; 
The warmth of the wind caressed me 
as I stood silently in place. 

I felt your touch in the sun today 
as its warmth filled the sky; 
I closed my eyes for your embrace 
and my spirit soared high. 

I saw your eyes in the window pane 
as I watched the falling rain; 
It seemed as each raindrop fell 
it quietly said your name. 

I held you close in my heart today 
it made me feel complete; 
You may have died…but you are not gone 
you will always be a part of me.

As long as the sun shines… 
the wind blows… 
the rain falls… 
You will live on inside of me forever 
for that is all my heart knows. 

I love it on so many levels. I love the links to the elements. I love the simplicity of the words, yet the profound meaning behind the poem. But most of all I love the heart in it. 

Thank you Fran for sharing.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

It's here!

In November, I posted about the handmade holiday gift exchange that my wonderful friend at Grieve out loud arranged for Christmas. I knew that Christmas was going to be a difficult time for me to get through, especially my first Christmas! And so when Julie told me how much participating in a gift exchange had helped her get through her first Christmas, I knew that I had to be a part of it.

When December came and went without Julie's gift arriving, she worried that perhaps it had gotten lost in the post. I knew that it would arrive just when I needed it and it did! I was having a good day and getting her parcel in the mail was just the cherry on top of it all! 

Here's the mystery parcel out of the envelope. It's hard to see in the picture but it's carefully wrapped up in a lovely pink fabric. It's so special to know that not only did she pick it especially for me out of her personal stash, but it's also very close to her heart as it was bought for her first baby( who ended up being a boy).

And then I unwrapped it to find this!! 

Isn't it gorgeous? The letters are made out of fabric and there are hearts scratched into the golden background as well. I don't know where it will go exactly yet, but it will be to a special spot in our home. For now, it will also follow me around the house like my other treasured Pip things. 

Thank you so much Julie! I love it and I thank my lucky stars for you everyday!! 

Monday, 16 January 2012

A blessed pair

One of the things I really struggled with in the lead up to Christmas last year was how I'd remember and include our angel baby in Christmas from here on out. I shopped for ornaments in the stores around me but couldn't find anything that really fit Pip. All the Christmas angel ornaments I found were beautiful, but they were all adult angels as opposed to baby angels. When I did find ornaments for babies, they were all "Baby's first Christmas" baubles in one form or another. 

Since we married, we've had a tradition of adding an ornament or three to our Christmas tree each year. Often it's something that represents the country or place we're living in. But this year I knew it had to be a special one for our special baby. And so once the search in the world around me proved fruitless, I turned to the internet. 

How do I love thee Etsy, let me count the ways! The little angel ornament on the right caught my eye from the moment I saw it on my search listings. I'm not sure what I loved exactly, perhaps it's the fact that the angel is clearly not an adult, or perhaps it was the way she was holding her teddy bear that seemed so innocent and childlike. But I felt a connection to her and the rest was history. 

The lovely artist who made it also gave me the option of customizing her hair and skin colour (a very significant detail which helps this ornament mean so much more to me personally). So our little angel ornament ended up with curly dark hair (curly like mummy's and dark for both mum and dad). I also loved being able to customize it with Pip's name. I would have loved to have given Pip her own special teddy bear and so who knows? Maybe this is my way of indirectly filling that void too. I prefer not to over analyse.

In the end, I was also blessed with the angel figurine on the left as a gift from the artist! Thank you so much! How lucky am I? I love her, she's so beautiful and I absolutely love how she doesn't have a face, because she could be anyone at all that way. 

I haven't decided if the bigger angel is Pip's guardian angel or mine? Either way, I know that this pair will be a very special part of our future Christmases, but for now like my other things for Pip, they follow me around the house and keep me company everyday. My girl is never far from me, in thoughts, materially through the things I have around to remind me of her and in my heart. I am indeed blessed to have the freedom to remember and grieve my child so openly. 

Sunday, 8 January 2012

4 months have passed

Hello sweetness,

It's been 4 months today since we said goodbye. Slowly it's getting easier to breathe. I smile more often. Cry tears less often, but they are still there. The main difference is I can talk about you more often in face to face conversations and smile, whereas before I could barely choke out the words through tears.

One of the two special ornaments I had made especially for you arrived in the post today. It is actually an ornament meant for school teachers I think. The person who makes them usually puts teachers names on them, but when I sent a message explaining what and why I wanted it just so, the artist was more than happy to oblige. I feel so blessed to have found an artist who understood how special this is to my heart. 

I'd spent many hours in December looking for the perfect apple ornament for my special apple pip baby. So much time trolling through websites, not really sure what I was looking for exactly but trusting that I'd know it was the perfect one the moment I saw it. And so it was. 

A sweet little handmade apple, perfectly detailed and lovingly hand painted. With two little hearts as apple pips (this time you are the whole apple itself and daddy and I are the little apple pip hearts on it who love you). And all in a beautiful hand painted red apple. It arrived two days before your 4th anniversary. Perfect timing.

The love and care that went into the ornament is obvious. I'm so glad that I had it custom made for you. It will hang on our tree and follow me around the house as I hang it on various things throughout the year, just to have a piece of you near me. 
(It actually has our family name under "Pip" but I took it away here for privacy reasons)

I lit your candle tonight and said a prayer for you my little love. I hope you are happy and at peace. Daddy and I miss you and love you so much.

Love always,
Mummy and Daddy xxx

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Back up

It's been far too long without any progress on the quilt front. For the past two months I've put aside Pip's quilt to focus on another quilt for my brother. 

It seemed like a good idea at the time to start this big (queen sized) quilt in October, to be ready for Christmas!  It was a simple pattern and I thought I'd get it done - which I did, funnily enough - but not without it's own fair share of panic and anxiety. It looked pretty good in the end and gave me a chance to dust the cobwebs off my piecing and quilting skills. 

But now I'm longing to get back to Pip's quilt. I haven't started yet because we will soon be moving abroad to our new home and I'm worried about misplacing or loosing bits of it in the move. Not to mention the madness that is cleaning, decluttering and packing for the move in itself, which leaves me with little time on a good day.

So that's where things were at when I happened to pop into Spotlight (a local fabric and craft supply store) at lunchtime one day while I was at work. It's funny how things find you when you're not looking. Have you ever had that happen? It usually happens to me with books. I find the right book I need to read at that time, or it finds me rather, just when I'm not looking.

Ok so maybe *I* didn't find it. My lovely Jeanette found it and called me over straight away. And there it was. Nothing outstandingly amazing. It probably wouldn't win any competitions, but nonetheless it was perfect for me and perfect for Pip's quilt. I bought what was left over on the roll. 

It also almost has all of Pip's colours in it too. I love the words because I will never forget how tiny she was. So tiny that my Obstetrician had to zoom in many, many  times on the screen before we could see her. Laying there so still. So sweet and so loved because she is. I just know it. 

The only words missing are "so sad". But perhaps the flood of tears that have already gone into the other pieces of this quilt have covered that sentiment better than printed words ever will be able to. 

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Love for real

My mother in law gave me my first copy of "The Velveteen Rabbit" a few years ago. It's a lovely story for children about love that is ageless, but it is also a wonderful story for adults. A couple of days ago, when I wasn't really looking for it, I came across this quote again. 

The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath, and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces. He was wise, for he had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger, and by-and-by break their mainsprings and pass away, and he knew that they were only toys, and would never turn into anything else. For nursery magic is very strange and wonderful, and only those playthings that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand all about it. 
"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"
 “REAL isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you.  When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become real.”  
“Does it hurt?” asked the rabbit.  
“Sometimes,” said the skin horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are REAL, you don’t mind being hurt.”  
“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up” he asked, “or bit by bit?”  
“It doesn't happen all at once,” said the skin horse. “You become. It takes a long time.  That’s why it doesn’t often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or have to be carefully kept.  Generally, by the time you are REAL, most of your hair has been loved off, your eyes drop out, you get loose in the joints and very shabby.  But these things don’t matter at all, because, once you are REAL you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.” 
“I suppose you are REAL?” said the Rabbit.  And then he wished he had not said it – for he thought the skin horse might be sensitive. 
But the skin horse only smiled.  “The Boy’s Uncle made me REAL,” he said.  “That was a great many years ago – but once you are REAL you can’t become unreal again.”
                                                                                                                From The Velveteen Rabbit, 
                                                                                                                         by Margery Williams.
          REAL isn't how you are made. It's a thing that happens to you. I always thought of being real in terms of being down to earth and not prone to flitting off in flights of fancy. 
As I read these words, I wondered if this grief, just like the sum of all my life's experiences, are somehow making me more real. 
          When a child loves you...REALLY loves you, then you become real. Maybe for me it's the other way around. When I loved my child from the moment I knew she was here, and over time how I came to REALLY love her and how I continue to love her more and more every day, she was real and will always stay real to me. 

          Does it hurt? Oh boy, does it ever. 

          When you are REAL, you don't mind being hurt. To me the real definition of courage and bravery isn't about not feeling afraid at all, but continuing on despite being scared to death (sometimes this can be confused with stupidity). 

          Does it happen all at once, or bit by bit? When Pip died, it happened over a span of a few weeks. The first ultrasound of doom, then the second, then finally the miscarriage itself. After that I truly felt like I was at the crossroads. I had the choice of whether to stop and grieve. Or I could try to go on and grieve in little bits. I chose the later because I knew that if I stopped, I'd fall apart completely and I couldn't do that, I had a family to care for and a job to do where people depended on me everyday. Fall apart bit by bit, keep moving forward. Don't stop, or the whole world will cave in. Sometimes I can't believe myself that I was in agony at midnight from the physical pain of my miscarriage, then the next morning I was at supervision  talking about my cases and feeling emotionally dead. A part of me had literally just died, but yet there I was trying to work and carry on. One foot in front of the other. 

You become. What have I become? I can certainly feel that I was a completely different person before and I am a completely different person now, afterwards. Do I like who I have become? Some days I really don't. My husband once said to me that I'm my own worst enemy because I am extremely harsh on myself. And it's true. I do expect a lot of myself and feel like crap when I don't meet my own high standards. But most days, once I realise what I'm feeling and why, understanding and peace sink in and it's okay. Most days are good now, but every few weeks the sadness and grief builds up and it becomes a mini volcano, only this emotional volcano implodes internally. So the hurt and the pain stay inside, regroup and wait for the next implosion. It's like those children's toys with goo inside that you can squish around. The goo breaks apart and moves around in the container, but then once the pressure is freed, the ball of goo regroups and waits for the next squeeze.

It takes a long time. How long will it take to recover from this grief? How long does this stay with you? Do you ever forget? Because I don't ever want to forget Pip. Like a friend said, no one can ever tell me that she's not my first. Maybe not my firstborn, but my first pregnancy and always the first to have had my heart.

Once you are real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand. I think that I've been incredibly lucky that most of the people I've met have understood. If you want to be positive, surround yourself with people who are positive, people who will support you and encourage you, not people who will put you down and belittle you. The same principle I'm applying now to this different equation. I try to surround myself with understanding, peace and love. So far so good. 

Once you are real, you can't become unreal again. Such simple words, but such profound wisdom at the same time. This is the club that no one wants to join, yet once you're here, you can never go back and you will never be the same again. 

If you haven't read the story before, see if you can find a copy in your local library or online. If you have a smart phone or tablet, there are some awesome apps out there for this story. Some even let you pre-record yourself (or whoever is special to your child) reading it, so that children are able to virtually turn the pages and follow the story to your voice.  

Here are a few links to The Velveteen Rabbit in various formats: 

Sunday, 1 January 2012

A blessed year

As the end of 2011 approached, I truly could not wait for the year to end. Good riddance to a very bad year. I am so ready for 2012, bring it on! A fresh start. Goodbye old hurts. Hello new blessings. 

That was until I read my beautiful friend, Nat's thoughts on this time of year. You have to know what Nat's been through to understand why her words inspired me. When I read her reflections on 2011, I realised that I had been looking at the year solely through a lens of regret and sorrow. 

Yes, my baby is dead. 

No, I will never get to meet her (not on earth at least). 

No, I still haven't figured out how you grieve for someone you love with all your heart but haven't met.  

Slowly and surely as I sat here reading Nat's words and hearing her perspective, I felt like a veil had lifted and for a moment my heart and my spirit felt lighter. 

Yes all of those horrible, awful and painful things are still true. Nothing can and will ever be able to erase that part of this experience. Even so, no matter how godawful losing my baby was, I still had her

What an incredible blessing! I feel like such an idiot because for so long, I'd allowed myself to forget what a huge honour and privilege it was to be Pip's mummy. Being pregnant with her was truly one of the happiest times of my life. I felt like I was floating on a cloud. With every moment that passed, I loved her more and more. My words cannot do justice to just how happy, special and blessed I felt to be carrying her. 

If someone were to wave a magic wand and give me the opportunity to well and truly erase my pregnancy with Pip out of my life, I wouldn't do it. I would never, ever give those 11 weeks back. Even though she only really lived for 6.5 weeks which is little more than half of that time. The rest of the time I was willing her to live, praying for a miracle and hoping against hope that this was all a horrible nightmare. Still, I would do it all again in a heartbeat even if I were to know in advance that she wouldn't make it.

In my hurt, I was only looking forward to new blessings. I'd turned my back on all the other good things that had happened in 2011. Family, travel, love, joy and peace. None of that mattered after Pip was gone. The hurt is so big sometimes that I can't look past it. And in that hurt, I'd lost sight of the the single biggest blessing of 2011. My beautiful baby girl.

I don't know what 2012 will bring. I know that my experience is nothing compared to the scope of what so many other people go through and have to live with every single day. Yes, this hurt feels so big right now. So big that some days I wonder if I will ever not feel broken anymore. 

Yes, 2012 could be worse, without a doubt. But I'm hoping that it won't be. I'm hoping for another wonderful year. Another year of amazing miracles, blessings, joy, laughter and most of all hope

I don't want to lose sight of the beauty of my dreams. I don't want to ever be so caught up in my hurt that I forget what a beautiful blessing my little Pip was. We wanted her so desperately. Then we found out she was here. She grew rapidly in the short time she was here, then she stopped. I didn't want to give her back. I fought, I willed her to live, I raged, I cried and I pleaded. I held on to her for as long as my body allowed me to. Then she was ripped out of me. The emptiness came and I never thought I'd get past that darkness. Most days I'm still empty and it is still pretty dark. But now I know in my heart that she is transformed and I know she lives on. Somewhere, somehow, I know she is okay.

And maybe feeling that in my heart is giving me the permission I need to continue living my life, one broken day at a time. At this moment, there is only the now. My life right now is a collection of moments. One moment after another, one day at a time, one foot in front of the other. Maybe someday those baby steps will grow into bigger steps. Who knows, one day when I'm not looking, it might even mean feeling as okay again as possible. 

I don't know when, how or what that day will be like. But there is a small part of me that is hoping that maybe that day will come in 2012.

Here's to the new year, may it bring us all peace, love and joy.