Thursday, 20 August 2015

One Month, Two Months

The 20th will never be the same. It's a day I equally dread and celebrate. I know as time goes on I'll stop watching the calendar, but right now I just watch and wait.

Eric and I knew her one month birthday was going to be devastating. I still get weekly e mails from Baby Centre with exciting subjects marking every milestone. I didn't want to read 'Your Baby at One Month!,' but I couldn't help myself. She'd be smiling and cooing. She would be discovering her hands and feet. All we could do is imagine what her smile would look like.

We spent the entire morning in bed crying. We hadn't done that in a long time. Sometimes it just feels so good to let yourself be sad- to not keep busy or distracted, but to really let go. Afterwards, we went for a hike to a spot Eric took me a few months after we started dating.

Her two month birthday would've been today. This time I can't bring myself to read what she would be doing. I deleted the e mail as soon as I saw it. Some of Eric's coworkers gave us a spa gift certificate, so we're going to go for massages and dinner afterwards.

In a way, I appreciate that we have this day. A day to do whatever necessary to heal and to remember to be gentle with ourselves.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

A Quote

'Don't ever discount the wonder of your tears. They can be healing waters and a stream of joy. Sometimes they are the best words the heart can speak.'
-Wm. Paul Young, The Shack

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

The Guilt

I know that nothing I did contributed to Annalee's death. I know that none of this is my fault. Both of us were completely healthy, until she wasn't.

Knowing that doesn't stop those thoughts from creeping in. As my mind tries to make sense of why this happened, the what ifs tend to takeover.

Is it because I drank coffee?
Is it because I sometimes slept on my right side?
Is it because I reached up too high to get something from the cupboard?
Was it because I ate blizzards? lunch meat?

It doesn't matter how nonsensical the thought, it still requires consideration. Then, I brush it away, knowing better, until the next day when it starts all over again.

I wrote this over a week ago and I was still too scared to post it. What if it turned out it WAS something that I did?! Well, today we had our follow up doctor's appointment and she confirmed that it wasn't. The preliminary autopsy results didn't show anything. It wasn't a genetic issue, the placenta looked good, my blood work was normal and all of her organs were the right size for her age. We have to wait until closer to Christmas for the final results, but as of right now, it still looks like it was a fluke. There are pros and cons to finding out what caused it and to never knowing. No answer is a good answer, but it's reassuring to know that it wasn't something that could've been prevented.

The doctor said she was perfect. We already knew that, but now it's a medical fact :)

Monday, 10 August 2015

Anticipation vs. Reality

June 19th was the worst day of our lives. The days after that were measured in comparison. The day we let her go was the second worst, the day we had to go to the funeral home was the third, the day we picked up her ashes was the fourth. I think it helped us to get though those days- to know that it's not going to get any worse. If we made it though yesterday, we can make it through today.

As horrible as all of those days were, I think the nights before were worse. The anticipation of having to let her go, having to make arrangements, etc. was so, so tough. We were really preparing ourselves for the worst, but more often than not, and as is usually the case in life, the reality wasn't nearly as bad. Letting her go meant that we got to meet her. Picking up her ashes meant that we got to bring her home. The days we thought were going to be unbearable always seemed to have a silver lining. We couldn't see it before it happened and even though in the moment it might've been faint, it was there.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Grief Pt.1

I imagine this will be a multi-part series considering that in the past six weeks alone, grief has shown up in a variety of ways.

In the beginning the pain was so bad that my body couldn't even handle it. I would cry so hard that my brain would shut off from overload and exhaustion. I'd go from debilitating sobs to no feelings at all- just staring blankly ahead, no longer able to process anything. When it came to making plans for Annalee at the hospital and at the funeral home, I completely relied on Eric to vocalize our decisions. It was like I became a complete zombie. Bad TV and movies and time seemed to be the only way to get through it. Never in my life did I think I would enjoy Godzilla, but I'm still grateful for that thing (is it a dinosaur? A lizard? Who cares.).

As time has gone on, the grief has become more manageable. Something I've noticed throughout this journey are the different ways that people mourn. When my parents came after Annalee was born my Dad was so eager to help us get stuff done. He and Eric were cleaning up our backyard for Annalee's celebration, we were making trips to the garden centre, Home Depot, etc. and I realized that my Dad is a doer. I think I might be a bit like that too. We like a good project as a means of distraction.

The other surprising thing has been what triggers the heartache. I thought I'd never be able to see babies again, that I'd break down at the next Pampers commercial I saw. I thought I'd never want to go in her room, that I'd keep the door closed forever. That hasn't been the case. It's weird, less obvious things. Going hiking and thinking that the backpack should've been a baby carrier. Catching a glimpse in the mirror and remembering that I'm no longer pregnant and that all of this DID happen. When I see Dads with their kids, my heart aches for Eric. As I write this, I'm watching the house next door to us being torn down and remembering that this was the exact thing I worried about when I was pregnant- how is our baby going to nap through that construction noise?

Nowadays we keep busy and have welcomed the distractions of everyday life. Eric has gone back to work and I fill my days visiting with friends, getting stuff done around the house and trying to focus on my health. I try to recognize when I've been too busy and make sure to take a day to allow myself to do nothing. Sometimes it helps, sometimes it makes things worse. We still cry almost everyday- sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. I know this heartbreak is never going to go away, but people assure me that it does get better.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

I Carry Your Heart

What to Say

One of the things we've heard the most from people is that they don't want to say anything wrong or that they just straight up don't know what to say. Let me tell you this: neither do we.

No one can make sense of the situation, so there isn't really any use trying, but I think the worst thing you can do for anyone in this situation or any other form of grief is to say nothing. We enjoy sharing Annalee's story. She was and still remains a huge part of our lives, so to not acknowledge that is more hurtful than any words. Yes, we will probably cry, but some of those tears are joyful.

Also know that a simple 'I'm thinking of you,' goes a very, very long way. It may not seem like it, but trust me, it does. In the early days after Annalee's loss, I pictured everyone's messages and love forming a great big bubble that surrounded and protected us. I could actually feel it around us and I still do.

Just be sincere. Ask questions. Share your feelings. Speak from the heart and nothing you say will be wrong.

Monday, 3 August 2015

A Quote

'There must be those among whom we can sit down and weep and still be counted as warriors.'
-Adrienne Rich

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Her Name

When Eric and I first met, one of the first things we bonded over was our love of The Band. We'd end nights out dancing to the Last Waltz and 6 years later we walked down the aisle as a married couple to Acadian Driftwood.

Annalee was not one of the names we had planned for our baby, but after going through this experience and seeing that she had a lot of my features, Eric thought we should name her after me. I was and still am so honored. There is no greater gift in the world than that.

We went back and forth coming up with names and as soon as Annalee came up, we knew that it was right. There's a line in the song 'The Weight,' that goes, 'Do me a favor, son, won't you stay and keep Annalee company.'

I still haven't worked up the courage to listen to the song, but I look forward to the day that I hear it on the radio and think of our sweet Annalee.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

The Story

I had a completely textbook pregnancy. For nearly 39 weeks I'd felt great, the baby was healthy and we were so excited to start this new adventure.

June 19th started like any other day. We woke up, Eric went to work, I had breakfast and a bath. Around 10:00am I noticed that I hadn't felt any movement for a while. I wasn't particularly worried as our little Lentil wasn't particularly active in the mornings, but I texted Eric to let him know that I was going to drink some cold water and lay down and that if I didn't feel anything in the next half an hour, I was going to go to the hospital to get it checked out. He left work and picked me up. I still wasn't worried- we were ten days from the due date. How could anything be wrong?

When we got to the hospital, they admitted us right away. The nurse came in and tried to find the baby's heartbeat, but couldn't. She blamed the machine, but I knew right away that something was wrong. There had never been an issue finding the heartbeat before and if she could hear mine, it probably wasn't a technical issue. She brought in another machine and still nothing. She left to get the doctor and I completely broke down. I knew in that moment that things were not good. The doctor came in and confirmed what I already knew. There was no heartbeat. Our baby had passed away.

Eric and I completely lost it. My brain couldn't handle the news. I felt like it wasn't actually happening to us. How could it? Especially this late in the game! And then the realization that this horrific experience had only just begin. I still had to give birth.

The doctor came back in and told us the next steps. They were too full to get us in that day and we'd have to go home and wait until the next morning. At first, I was outraged. How dare they send us home to sit with our poor baby still in my belly?! Looking back on it, I'm so grateful that they did. Going home gave us time to start the grieving process and say our goodbyes. It gave us time to make decisions together and come to grips with what our lives were going to look like without our new baby.

We went back the next morning and were hurried into our labour and delivery room. I have to say that from start to finish we were treated like gold. The nurses and doctors were so gracious and incredibly kind. Every single one of them became a part of our family that day and we will forever be grateful for them. I was induced at 11:30 and Annalee was born 11 hours later. The labor was intense (to say the least), but it ended up being better than I could've asked for. Because I was induced, I ended up getting an epidural- which was not part of our original birth plan (HA!). After all of our hypnobirthing classes and natural childbirth books, I was sad that I wouldn't actually feel the labor itself, but then, at 10cm, the epidural had worn of entirely. I was pressing the little button, they gave me a top up... and nothing. I could feel everything that was happening. So, I basically got to skip the painful middle part and experience everything else. It was incredible! I can't help but think that the Universe felt like it had given me enough to handle and that, perhaps, it could cut me a bit of a break.

We didn't know what we were having and our doctor was so good about giving us the same experience that any other parent's would have. She exclaimed, 'It's a girl!,' plunked her down on my chest and asked Eric if he'd like to cut the cord (which he did). Even though we knew that she wasn't going to cry and that we were going to have to leave without her, we'd never been so happy. She was beautiful! She had curly hair and big feet like her Dad and big lips like me. I couldn't get over how perfect she was. We were like every other proud parents. We spent the next 13 hours just staring at her- memorizing every single one of her little features. We gave her a bath, swaddled her and dressed her in the outfit she would've come home in. 

I thought I would never leave the hospital. We would just move into that room- I'd take the hospital bed, Eric could sleep on the couch and we'd eat egg salad sandwiches for the rest of our lives with Annalee by our sides, but at a certain point a peace just sort of washed over me and I knew it was time to say goodbye. We couldn't, in fact, stay there forever and even though she wouldn't physically be with us, we both knew that she'd always be in our hearts. And so we came home.