Friday, 23 March 2012

I carried you all the days of your life

Hello my beloved princess,
Today was your estimated due date. I can't begin to describe the sense of loss I am feeling today. It is as deep as a canyon and as empty as nothingness. 

I knew that today would be hard. So very hard. So I made plans to keep myself busy. Not because I didn't want to think about you - is that even possible? I think about you all the time. I made plans because I didn't want today to be just another day.

So I've got candles lit for you and your other angel baby friends and the dinning table is covered in scrap booking paper and other bits and pieces as I work on decorating these journals in your memory. I'll write about the journals in another post, but in this letter to you I want to tell you that every journal was made with love. Each journal was also dedicated in your memory to help other families. 

Your life wasn't meaningless. Even though I still don't know why you couldn't stay with us and I ask often, there is no clear answer. Through our journey of loss with you, I have gained so many amazing new friends that I wouldn't have otherwise. I found a way to be creative and to help other families today in your memory. This whole journey has taught me how to relate to other mums and dads who are facing this situation also. Those things bring me some comfort that there were some positives to arise from this awful experience, but nothing will ever be the same as if you were here healthy, happy and well. 

Everyday daddy and I miss you. I found this saying a while ago, "I carried you all the days of your life". I loved it instantly because it is so true for me. I carried you with love, pride and joy every single day you were with me. If I was given the choice of never having been pregnant with you and not having any of this pain to deal with versus having you again, even if it was with the same outcome, I would choose the latter in a heartbeat. 

To have had you with us for however long you were able to stay was a blessing beyond measure, only I would wish that I could have had longer with you. Never ever have I regretted having you despite the agony and the grief that followed. I only grieve for how brief a moment in time I was given with you for it was far too short a time. 

I wish that you were here on earth not up there in heaven. I wish so much that I was at the hospital falling in love with you all over again. I wish that I was soaking in your newborn smell, your beautiful face and feeling your little body snuggled close. Those are the things I will never have with you, but the one thing I will always have for you is this heart full of overwhelming love.

Mummy's friend Nat, sent me this beautiful card and it says everything in my heart today. I wish today was so different than what it is. I wish that you were here. 

I've asked the angels to give you a special cuddle for me and daddy today. To tell you that you are loved and missed so very, very much. Rest in peace my precious little butterfly. You are in our hearts now and always.

Our love for you is eternal,
Mummy and Daddy xxx 

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

A heavy heart

My heart feels a little bit heavier today. Friday was Pip's EDD (estimated due date). So many thoughts and feelings about what might have been. The excitement, the fear of never having laboured before and not knowing what to expect, the anticipation, the overwhelming love. Last minute shopping trips to make sure everything is ready for baby to come home. Nursery all done and waiting for a new person to call it home. Hospital bag ready and waiting by the door. Coming home outfit picked. Stroller and car seat assembled, installed and ready. Waiting to feel those first hints that you are ready to meet us... 

Instead it will be a very quiet Friday. 

Once again hubby and I are across the oceans from one another because of circumstances out of our control. We promised to do something together when we can be together again as a family a little bit later. 

I can't let the day pass as if it means nothing. So I'm doing something in Pip's memory. Blogging and being able to write here has been such a wonderful release and I have always loved books. So it feels like the right thing to do to donate some journals to Yasminah's Gift of Hope. 

This beautiful organisation that was born out of tragedy helps to support, as well raise awareness and understanding for other families who have experienced miscarriage, premature birth, neonatal loss, stillbirth, infant loss, or a diagnosis of a congenital abnormality during pregnancy or after birth. A gift of hope is a beautiful package that families receive including a beautiful hand decorated journal. 

Pip measured 6.5 weeks old at what should have been her 9 week scan. So 6 and a half journals it is. 6 large ones and one smaller sized one to make the half size. 

Yes I should be packing and doing a million other things because we're about to move overseas soon. But in 10 years when I look back on this day, I won't remember it because I was packing. I will remember it for what it meant to us. This is important and will have a longer lasting effect than packing a few boxes ever will. 

So today, I'm on a mission. Step one: find journals. Step two: decorate journals. Step three: prepare journals for donation. I feel better already knowing that I can, through Yasminah's Gift of Hope, reach out to other families in their despair. Thank you for doing the wonderful work you do, YGOH. 

Sunday, 11 March 2012

5 things that helped me heal

I have not written in a long while for many reasons. I have decided that I will share one last love letter on this blog in the coming weeks and will probably write more about the quilt in the near future. The need to write comes and goes as usual, but today I feel that perhaps it might be useful to share some things that have helped me personally. I would love to hear what has helped you! 

1. I got support 

I think most of us as human beings are able to feel some sadness and empathy when we hear about baby loss, I know I did before I experienced it for myself. But once I went through my own experience, I understood what it was like on a whole other level. An experience like this rewires a person in a way that I cannot describe adequately with words. 

At the perfect moment when I was so lost in my grief, a friend linked me up with a parenting group online and through that group, I found others who had been through similar loss experiences. When the pain was so raw and unbearable as it was for me in the very early days, these ladies understood.

Finding other mums who had experienced the pain I had gone through and lived to heal gave me so much hope. Through my journey with them they have shared their own stories, offered comfort, wisdom and an unconditional love that continues to humble me on a daily basis.

Online support worked the best for me. I read factual websites, I devoured blogs, I found organisations that have an online presence. There is so much support, understanding and wisdom on the internet, not to mention the convenience factor. Being able to sit at my computer in my pajamas at an ungodly hour of the morning or night, whenever I needed something is completely unbeatable.

2. I poured all my love into something I loved doing

 There was so much love in my heart for my baby when I was pregnant (and there still is). At times I literally felt that it was too much to contain, so I needed to channel it all into something. What that expression is will differ for everyone. For me, I have always expressed myself with art. So it was natural that I reached for my quilting.

All the quilts I've made have been given away to others, only because I love giving more than keeping. But this time, this quilt was all about my baby and it would be for us to keep and treasure. Quilting, like any other creative process is for me about the making as much as it was about the final product. A lot of thought goes into every aspect of the quilt, the colours, the design, the layout, the meanings I want to convey. Each element tells it's own story and so the final product as a whole is very meaningful. Pip's quilt is still in progress, hindered somewhat for the time being by an upcoming international move. But I am quite happy to take my time with this quilt, making sure that every piece is exactly as I want it.

I have seen beautiful and haunting works of art by other parents who have loved and lost. Paintings, art journal entries, websites, poems, books, figurines, jewellery, memorial gardens...whatever it is that helps your heart heal the most. I think the most important thing is to create something that is perfect for you. Something or some way that helps you feel at peace. (And sometimes, peace is not felt until a ways into the project), so keep going for a while and see if it's making a difference for you.

3. I talk - if it helps

This one I've struggled a little bit with in a few different ways. Pregnancy loss is something that is still not widely spoken about, but yet is so common. Often it's not talked about because other people do not know how to react. I find it ironic that when one is hurting so deeply from this loss, suddenly you can find yourself protecting yourself from how they might feel about your loss.

People prefer to hear about happy and wonderful things, not sad and horrible losses. It really, really hurts when others do not understand and think that they are helping in terribly thoughtless ways. Their hearts may be in the right place, but the damage caused can be serious and long lasting. It's always a risk to share something that is so private and you do have to be prepared for reactions that may not be caring or supportive in the way you need. So I do get that talking simply isn't an option for a lot of people and completely respect that.

On the flip side, when the person you talk to does get it, it can be an incredibly healing experience. My miscarriage is not a secret. My choice after careful consideration was to be open about it. I have shared my story with many people who have sometimes surprisingly related stories of their own losses that I had no idea about. Regardless of personal experience or not, the genuine comfort and compassion offered by people who are supportive has been so valuable to me.

Blogging about it is another way I talk about it too. I guess in a way, I'm having an open conversation with the visitors to this site. One thing to keep in mind though is that blog posts in general are referring to moments in time. Posts do not necessarily reflect the entire reality of the blogger. For example, 95% of the posts on this blog are somewhat sad in nature. Those posts only reflect a moment in time. In that moment, yes I am sad. That is why I am writing. But what the reader does not see is that I feel better after posting and  go on to have other happy moments that I may not necessarily express on the blog.

Other blogger friends have mentioned that sometimes it's very easy for readers to think that the  blogger may be chronically depressed because of the nature of the content. I would say that the sum of blog posts (on my blog at least), does not equal the full equation. Among plenty of other things, there are private experiences my husband and I have had that we haven't shared which are loving, happy and encouraging. I talk about things if it helps me and I have noticed myself becoming increasingly selective about what it is I do share. So that is why I would listen to your heart /gut / instincts and be selective. Talk only if it helps.

4. I Remember often

At the start, it is all you can think about. But with time, slowly life will creep in again and giving yourself permission to keep living is something that is healthy and natural. I've found that doing little things to remember every now and then has really helped me to heal. I have found comfort in the little things that make me think of my baby. Angel figurines, custom made christmas ornaments, candles, cards...the list goes on. It brings me comfort to surround myself with little reminders of my baby. I know for others this only brings distress, so this again is a really  personal thing.

Sometimes I do something along with remembering, such as buying flowers, lighting a candle and saying a prayer. Other times I just remember my baby in my thoughts. Sometimes what I see in the world around me reminds me of my baby. At first those times were very difficult. It seemed like the whole world was pregnant except me. It seemed like everywhere I looked, there were healthy, happy babies, except for mine. It broke my heart (and still does) at the unfairness of it all to hear of families who hurt, abuse and mistreat their beautiful children where there should have been love and protection. What other people had became a painful reminder of what I had lost.

Now I can look at other pregnant mothers on the street and say a silent prayer for their health and wellbeing. Yes remembering can be painful, but for me not remembering would have been even more painful. My baby was a tiny little person. I'm more spiritual than religious and I do believe that it wasn't just a divine coincidence that my girl ended up with us. Her little life had a reason and a purpose. Remembering her helps me feel more at peace.

5. Hope: I believe that it can and will get better

Hope is my belief that there can and will be something better that can come out of all of this. That is not to say that there was nothing good in what has happened - even despite all the pain, suffering and heartbreak, I would never say that having my baby for the short time she was with us was a bad thing. I was so blessed to love and carry my baby for as long as I was able to carry her. It is not to say that "trying again" will erase her or replace her like she was some mistake. She could never be a mistake to me. I am not too keen on much of the linguistics surrounding conception, pregnancy and baby loss for many reasons, but I digress...

Hope for a better tomorrow. Hope for peace. Hope that my baby is somewhere where she is happy, healthy and safe. What has happened will always be a part of me for sure. Yes I have healed to a degree, but this loss will always be a part of my life, a part of my heart and a part of who our family is.

All the clich├ęs about time being a great healer has been true for me. It gets easier with time to accept and integrate this loss into my heart. But healing is also a choice. A very painful choice for sure. The pain sometimes serves as a reminder that it all did really happen, especially when there is nothing tangible to show for your pregnancy. No ultrasound pictures, no memories of the sound of a heartbeat. Perhaps only a positive pregnancy test stick.

At the start I was afraid that with time I would eventually forget my girl. I had such a short time with her that I felt I had to memorise every second so that I would remember her forever. From my own experience I can truthfully say that while that fear is valid, one piece of comfort I can offer is this. A mother's heart never forgets. Never, ever, not in a million years. Some details may fade, but always the love remains.

Try it in little doses at the start. Allowing yourself to heal is something no one but you can do. With that healing comes hope that tomorrow can and will be good.