Memories

“A stillborn child is really only ever his death. He didn’t live: that’s how he’s defined. Once he fades from  memory, there’s little evidence at all, nothing that could turn up, for instance, at a French flea market, or be handed down through the family.”
(from “An Exact Figment of my Imagination”
by Elizabeth McCracken)

Malou
is so very real to me.

And I know she is
as much as is possible
to many of you as well.

But yet
it is different,
never getting to know a person
before they’re gone.

It is frightening
to me
to think of
Malou
“fading from memory”

I wish that I had more than 7 months
of creating memories with
Malou.

But yet
I am so eternally
grateful
for those 7 months.

If only it were healthy
to look
backwards not forwards;
to live for
yesterday not today.

One way I try to bring
Malou
into my present
is by finding
new ways to take a picture
that will remind me of her
(it can be almost
unbearable
to imagine that the pictures
I have of her
are the only ones
I’ll ever have)

like these pictures here
of her name in the sand

Malou in the Pacific Ocean

We love you, Malou

 

or this picture of her gravestone
in winter

Xmas Stone

or by finding
new things to do
that will create a fresh memory.

Making a photo album,
donating in her name,
getting a t-shirt with her name on it,
or buying a pretty dress for her

Malou's proud mama

Malou's Mexican Dress

One thing that I don’t know
about her life
is how she has affected yours.

I know how I found out
she died.
I know how I felt.
I know how Tom reacted.
And how my mom reacted.
Because I was there.

But I don’t know about the rest of you
and I want to.

Morbid, maybe,
but I cry a lot anyways –
your stories won’t make it worse.
I am so greedy for everything
having to do with
Malou
and this has to do with her.

Her death.

So please add a comment
and tell me how you first heard
the news that my baby died.

Truly, I want to know.

Where were you?
Who told you?
What was the day like?
What did you do? say? feel?
Anything you are comfortable sharing,
I would be grateful to hear.

Thank you.

Dear girl, you impacted so many people all around the world. I know how much they love you because they shower that love on me.

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Published in: on April 8, 2009 at 16:23  Comments (28)  
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  1. I really love this idea for a post. You might see it on my blog sometime soon… 🙂

    I had just recently lost Ada when a good friend of mine from HS emailed me. She told me she was really sorry for what I was going through and that she had a friend whose sister (that would be you) had just lost a stillborn baby. She knew this girl had made a video about her baby and would I like to see it? I had not entered the world of blogging or really even talked to anybody else who had lost a baby like me. I told her yes, and she sent me the link. I cried HARD the entire way through the video as I looked at all of the happy pregnancy pictures and then the horribly sad but beautiful pictures of tiny Malou. On the one hand, I was reliving my own experience through the eyes of an outsider, but on the other hand, I was thinking about what an incredible little girl Malou was and I was crying for your loss as much as my own. I thought about how unfair it is that anybody should ever have to go through this. Watching that video made me realize how much I needed to talk to others who had a stillborn baby. I’m not sure how this makes you feel, but Malou was one of the first people to help me heal. I’ve watched that video several times since then, including once pretty recently, and I still always cry – for you, for me, for Ada, for Malou, and for all of the other babies out there who we will never get to know.

  2. I had just lost my first pregnancy (twins) at only 10 weeks, and was searching the internet for similar miscarriage stories to help me with my immense loneliness (as I didn’t think anyone around me could relate–not even my husband).
    Then, I started finding much sadder stories–stillbirth stories that were so incredibly painful. I came across the blog “remembering ada” (from the babycenter website) and she had a link to your movie about Malou. I had never seen anything like it. I sat there, all the lights off in the room at sunset, staring at my computer screen. I cried and cried and cried. Your movie was so powerful and anyone watching it could feel the torturous pain you and your husband went through.
    An understanding clicked in my head on the agony of stillbirth and the lack of awareness. So many people lump miscarriage and stillbirth together. They are NOT the same. Your movie changed my life, really…Since losing my babies so early, I never really had such a good cry. Your movie not only helped me release my feelings of grief, but helped me focus on someone other than myself. I no longer felt sorry for myself, I began to look at others and ponder, “I wonder what they’re going through…I’m definitely not the only one with pain…” I’m really in awe of your story, of the impact of Malou, and your strength.

  3. Obviously you DO know how I reacted to the saddest news of my life as you were the one telling me. I was in Becky’s house putting McKenna down for her nap. I knew as soon as Beck handed me the phone that it was not good news. I had just talked to you 10 hours before when all was well with you and Malou. I had been very worried that you were in the hospital with yet again, another stomach attack. But after talking and laughing with you I was so reassured that she was just fine. Do you remember that we even discussed that IF they had to deliver her because of problems with you that she would be okay?
    From the first moment that you told me I knew I needed to get to you as fast as I could.
    And I want you to know that I was in the best possible place to hear that devastating news. You cannot imagine how much help and comfort Becky and Jac were to me. Or maybe you can. Becky has had such empathy for all of us and I know she has been a great source of help to you also these past 10 months.
    You also have to know that besides losing my first grandchild, I had to watch MY child go through such horrible pain that I could not fix. And that has been one of the hardest things I have ever had to endure.
    The plane trip over was difficult partly because I did not know if you were okay. (I still imagined that you had something horribly wrong with you regarding all the stomach issues) I was so afraid I would get off the plane with bad news about you. And I wanted to hurry the plane along so I could make it to Malou’s birth.

    I am so greatful that I WAS able to make it to Malou’s birth. Truly, truly greatful that I was a part of it. Watching you and Tom be so brave during all of your labor was heartwrenching, but beautiful as well. You ARE blessed that you had her for even such a short time. We all are.

    I am also greatful to the hospital and all the doctors and midwives and the lovely minister that blessed Malou that day. I feel blessed that I could be there with you as hard as it was. I would not trade that time for anything.

    That being said – I also am so thankful that Hank and Rebecca came over to be with you/me for the week following Malou’s birth. What a help they were! And so much comfort and understanding. I am happy for you that they also got to see Malou in person.

    Well, as usual this is your mom who kind of rambles on, and doesn’t always get her thoughts down on paper as elequently as you do. But I do so understand why you want people to let you know their feelings upon hearing of Malou’s death.

    I love you….

  4. I am already overwhelmed (in a good way) with your responses. Thank you so much for sharing. I look forward to hearing more stories.

    Beth,

    It makes me so happy to hear that Malou was one of the first people to help you heal. I remember you emailing me, asking if you could put a link to my video on your blog, and telling me that blogging was helpful to you. At the time, I didn’t think I could do it. But then I started reading your beautiful blog, and eventually decided to start my own. And thank goodness for that! It has been so helpful to me to do this. So in a way, learning about your Ada has also helped me in my grief.

    -Stephanie

  5. Rikki,

    Welcome. I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you so much for sharing. It is amazing to me that people I don’t even know watch the video of Malou and feel how much love she brought to us, and I love the image of you watching it at sunset. And you writing that it changed your life – that is just an honor; I am so glad it helped you.

    I also remember coming across another blog (www.mattlogelin.com) just a month or so after losing Malou, and that was the first thing that made me feel something for someone else (his wife died a day after their first daughter was born). I remember that it felt “good” to finally have some energy to have compassion and empathy for someone else again. I don’t think I am describing myself well, but hopefully you understand what I am saying.

    And although miscarriage and stillbirths aren’t the same physically, a miscarriage IS still a huge loss. A child is your child no matter how big or small he or she is, and I know how early that immense love starts.

    Take care,
    Stephanie

  6. Dear Mom,

    I did know when and how you heard of course, as it was probably the hardest thing I have ever had to tell someone. It was harder than telling Tom, because although I had a suspicion, Tom and I pretty much found out together. But I knew you were looking forward to Malou just as much as I was, and it broke my heart even more to have to tell you that she was gone. I honestly think that you experience the closest to what I do in this whole process.

    What I didn’t know was all those details you wrote
    about. I am so glad I do now. I am writing through tears, but I am also SO thankful for the same things and people you mention. But most of all I am so thankful that you managed to immediately get on a plane and fly halfway across the world, and I think that is the reason I was technically in labor for 29 hours. That Malou knew I needed you there too, so she waited to make her appearance.

    I love you so much.

    Stephanie

  7. I don’t think that I will forget the moment that I heard that Malou had died. It was memorial day weekend here and we had just gone to a BBQ at a friends house. We came home to get the car to drive to Krista’s. I had a message on my phone so I checked it (sometimes unusual for me). It was from Becky telling me that you “had lost the baby”. I couldn’t even stand up. I remember sitting down on the stairs and saying oh my God as I was listening to her. Miles asked if everything was okay and I said that you have lost the baby and started crying. We hugged and cried.
    I called Amber and told her that Becky had called with the horrible news. She, thankfully said that she would call Keely and tell her. We then headed over to Krista’s and as soon as I got in I had to tell her. I just sort of blurted out that Becky had called me and that you had lost the baby. (That always sounds so strange to me. How do you LOSE your baby?!) I started crying, she started crying and we just hugged. Just standing in Krista’s kitchen crying and hugging. I know that we were crying for you. Your lose, your pain and your crying.
    I remember feeling an indescribable empathy for you and Tom having this pain. I could only imagine the loss of a child and the rip your heart out feeling that must follow. I think that having Owen, who is luckily healthy and with us, made it even more personal for me because I couldn’t imagine my life without him. The next day I kept wondering if you were still in labor, had she been born and what was happening. I had this feeling that you were in labor, half way around the world, I pictured you pushing with Tom and your mom. I hoped that even though the outcome would be different, that you were experiencing this rite of passage as a woman.
    I still cry for you, Tom and Malou. I know this your pain will never be erased, no matter how many beautiful children that you have. I am so proud of you. Proud that you go one living. Proud that you are talking about Malou and your feelings. Proud to call you my friend.

    Love always, B

  8. I remember the phone call. It was Mom and I knew it was not a normal call. Do you know that feeling you get when you hear your phone ringing and you can just feel that you are about to hear something you don’t want to hear. That’s what I felt. Rebecca and I were together in our apartment. I was feeling pretty stressed about schoolwork and preparing for a new job. Rebecca and I were planning a trip back home to the Northwest. I remember it being a beautiful day – the kind of day that reminds me of the summers back home in Vancouver. A bright blue sky, slight breeze, warm but not hot. I was standing in our front room, looking out our window at the huge old maple tree in front of our building. And then the phone rang.

    That sinking feeling. Why do we get the feeling? Sometimes the feeling doesn’t turn out to be right. I could see it was Mom calling. Maybe she was just calling to say hi. She does that too. But still…

    “Hank, I have some bad news.”
    She could barely get the rest out.
    “Stephanie lost the baby.”

    I can’t remember what I said. I do remember not knowing what to say. In some situations there just aren’t the right words. Mom was crying and telling me that she was going to get on a plane right away, that Dad was bringing clothes, that she didn’t know what to do, that this was so hard, that Dad was bringing clothes, that she couldn’t believe it was happening, that she was getting on a plane right away. We talked for a few minutes. Mom would gain composure then start crying again. Rebecca was watching me talk and I mouthed the words Stephanie lost the baby. Mom said I should call and gave me your number. Then we said goodbye.

    I talked to Rebecca for a while. There was still a lot we didn’t know. We were worried about your health. We both knew that we wanted to go see you, but we also didn’t want to intrude. When I called you, I still didn’t know what to say. I do remember that we both just sat there on the phone silent for a while and I listened to you cry. I’ve heard and seen you cry a lot – I’m your brother after all – but I’d never heard you cry like that. It really hurt and scared me. You couldn’t stop the sobs. I do remember telling you that if you wanted us there, Rebecca and I would go. We would get there. And you said yes, you wanted us there. So we went.

    Before we flew to Denmark, we went to store to get an outfit for Malou. You had asked for a lavender-colored outfit. Rebecca and I went to a few stores and kept asking for premie-sized outfits. I remember the salespeople assumed we were buying this for a premie who was alive. We didn’t go into details…just purchased the outfit and left. Is this what you face when asked everyday questions? Do you have kids? Are you a mother? How many children do you want? What do you say to those questions? And what do you think of when you hear them? I know it must not be easy.

    I talked to Mom a few more times. I remember talking to Mom when she was at the hospital with you. She was telling me that she didn’t know how you were going to get through this. That your heart was broken. Really broken. And I could tell Mom’s heart was broken. It seemed like everything was so sad that there seemed to be no direction to go. It was just all-consuming sadness. I’m not sure how to say this, but talking to you and Mom, I felt like an outsider. Not excluded – just that I was looking in on something I didn’t really understand. Maybe it’s because I don’t have my own children yet. Maybe it has something to do with motherhood. I’m not sure. But I definitely felt, and still feel now, that I can only sympathize to a certain point. I can’t get to the point where I really know what you feel. Maybe I never will.

    Rebecca and I got to Denmark and we were so glad we did. I remember seeing you in the airport. Tears were coming from your eyes even as you were speaking normally (or at least trying to speak normally). I still didn’t know what to say. I never did. I couldn’t say this pain would all pass soon. I couldn’t say I knew what you were going through. I couldn’t say it’s all okay because we all love you. I couldn’t really do anything. So I just tried to be there with you and Tom and Mom. Thank God for Rebecca too. She is such a natural person and good listener that, I know for me and I think for you too, just having her there made everything a little more bearable.

    Okay, I would like to go on. I don’t write about this much. I hope it gives you some idea of what it was like for me to hear about Malou. I do want to say that I can still remember seeing Malou for the first time. I remember her image very vividly. It seemed like she could have been alive. Like she should have been alive. I remember you couldn’t take your eyes off of her. She was in the outfit that Rebecca and I brought over. It was something small, but it made me feel really good that I could get her that small gift.

    Do you remember how, a few weeks before Malou died, you and Zach and I were all emailing about potential names for your baby. You had mentioned the name Malou. I remember I liked the name. I just now went back and looked at the email I wrote to you about her name. Do you remember?

    “I personally like Malou. It is unique (over here anyway), fun to say, and conjures up pleasant images (personally I think of a full moon on a clear night over a mountainous landscape…not sure why).”

    That was on May 16, 2008. Less than two weeks before Malou died. For me, at least, that image of a bright moon on a clear night is peaceful and it is comforting to me. Maybe it is for you too. Now, when I look up and see the moon, I think of Malou, and I feel that she is there and that she is quiet and peaceful, just like the first time I saw her.

    And, what is strange (and I just realized this now…seriously) – it is a full moon here tonight. I can see it out the same window I was looking when Mom called to tell me you had lost Malou.

  9. Oh, Brandy,

    Thank you for telling me that. I remember getting phone calls from you girls, while I was in the hospital and when I got home. I remember us crying together, and I remember thinking I was so lucky to have girlfriends who empathized so much. And still do – remember when I called you sobbing, pulled over on some road in Portland? I just knew you’d understand as much as you could and most importantly, listen with no judgment. Thank you.

    Love, Stephanie

    P.S. And you’re right, how DO you “lose a baby”? I use the term as well, it sounds a little softer, less harsh than the alternative, I guess. We use the same term in Danish. “Jeg har mistet mit barn.” I have lost my child. But in some ways, it is accurate – where do they go? I imagine my Malou in heaven…but I don’t really know where that is. If I did, I would be there. I am sure I will find her when I die…so losing her is only temporary. She WILL be found. But not on my terms – that’s the hardest part. I just have to wait.

  10. My dear brother Hank,

    I forgot what a beautiful writer you are. I loved reading every word of what you wrote. And I DO remember you telling me that the name Malou conjured up that beautiful, peaceful image (and I agreed! :).

    I was having a hard time last night, and went outside and the stars were so beautiful in the clear sky, and the full moon was so bright, with an aura all around it. I imagined Malou on that moon – so far away, but so bright and beautiful. And even though we’re so far away, it is nice to think we are looking at the same moon and that it reminds us of Malou.

    I will forever be grateful that Mom came out here to be with me, but that’s the type of mom we have. It’s no suprise, it just is. We are lucky, but it’s also a “mama thing” I think. I remember Mom telling me in the hospital that you had said you would come out if I wanted. And I was so overwhelmed with gratitude. I remember talking to you while lying in the hospital bed, and just telling you that it was “so bad” and I’m not sure what I meant. Everything was so bad, the pain, the reality, the emotions. And you gently asked if I would like you to come out, and that Rebecca would like to come out too, if that was ok with me (and of course it was). I felt so lucky to have a brother and sister-i-l like you two. Just to drop everything and fly out to be with us. (And you made it seem like no big deal that you both would stay up into the wee hours of the morning participating on-line in classes. incredible!)

    And you two saved us – me, Tom and Mom. You gave me, us, a reason to function. You two (and mom, when she wasn’t comforting me) made us dinner, poured us wine, did the dishes, and you listened, and talked about Malou, and talked about other things, you laughed, you gave us a reason to get up every day. All I wanted to do was stay in bed and cry. It felt like such a big deal to get out of the house, but (in a good way) we were forced to do that. And you put no expectations on us. You were content to take a walk, or sit on a blanket at a park…and just let us be.

    And thank you for finding the perfect outfit for Malou to be buried in. I never thought about how you two also experienced the feeling of knowing what you’re doing isn’t what it looks like to an outsider. I think the same thing when I buy things for Malou’s grave. It could look like I am just buying a pretty bouquet of flowers for a friend, or a lantern for the back patio, or whatever. But it’s not.

    People do ask me if I have children and it gets easier, as I’ve learned to just say, “I have a daughter who died.” I can hardly believe I am writing those words, let alone saying them out loud. I have to remove a part of myself from it every time. I daydream that I am going to just answer “yes” one time and see how far I can go with it. I would love to just pretend she’s alive and feel “normal.” But more than that, I wish she WERE alive and I WAS a normal mother.

    Thank you, dear brother.
    Love you, Stephanie

  11. My dearest daughter.
    I cry again, now, just reliving the memory of that moment when Barb told me about 8am that Malou had died. Losing a child, I believe, must be the worst feeling one could ever go through. I am so sorry you and Tom had to go through it. I know it is and was always my greatest fear I had while raising you, Hank and Zach.

    My memory of the day I leaned about Malou’s passing is a bit vague… probably because of all the things we needed to do, e.g. Barb being out of town…should she come here or I go there, needing to get plane tickets, determine where to depart from (Portland or Seattle), seeing if we could get Barb’s first class ticket scheduled for that summer to be moved forward, and of course determining what we could or should do for you and Tom. Realizing your home is small, and not knowing how long (weeks) we should be with you during this time, we decided that Barb was the best person to be by your side as you delivered Malou to the world. Barb is God’s blessing to our family. I am glad Malou’s spirit and body was in Barb’s very capable hands just 16 hours after her passing.

    I remember hurrying through our house selecting clothes for the trip to bring to Barb in Seattle (as you know we were visiting her sister in Gig Harbor at that time). Driving somewhat quickly… it almost seems unconsciously… to Gig Harbor.

    AND THEN… when I arrived.., to talk with you on the phone while Barb was sitting next to me on the couch in Jackie’s home. Hearing your cries… your sobs. It was very difficult to sit there, 12,000 miles apart, and know there was nothing I could do… something a father is not use to. I wanted to try to provide you support… and answers… but it was impossible. My tears and sobs were just as much as yours during that phone call. I guess it was just a time for you and me to share emotional feelings as words could not meet our needs during that phone call.

    I felt so hollow. There was just nothing I could say to help us understand “why” this happened other than that things sometimes happen for a good reason. God we must believe… has a plan. And one thing I am sure of is that God has plans for you and Tom to be great parents. It will happen… someday soon.

    I love you, Steph.
    Dad

  12. Just writing “Uncle Zach” above is tough for me. Everything leading up to you getting pregnant was as exciting as it was devastating when I found out the news. Knowing how much you and Tom wanted a child and how mom glowed about the idea of being a grandmother made everything so hard for me. And, in my own selfish way, I wanted to be an Uncle sooo badly too! But, before I go on, I just wanted to say that I am an Uncle and I have tried so hard to be the best Uncle for Malou. She has give me so much.

    I was in Seattle at Mitch and Bora’s apartment sleeping when mom called. She asked me multiple times if I was up and if I was awake. She wanted me to comprehend what she was about to say. Yet, how can you comprehend something like that? Initially, I didn’t know how to react. My emotions wanted me to cry but my body wouldn’t. I felt trapped in this wave of helplessness. Here I am in Seattle, and my sister and bro-i-l are dealing with this? And my mom is packing and in Gig Harbor? All I could do was pray for your safety and sit… hours and hours away.

    This was such a jolt for the Smith family. Nothing like this has ever occurred to us, at least in my recollection.

    That same night, I sat on my bed with my computer. So much pain was flowing through me that I just had to cry it all out. I wrote poetry as that sometimes helps me express things logically to myself, though the situation presented no logic whatsoever. I sent it to you and the family that night and was told that mom read it to you at the hospital. The only way I could be there, the only way I could help. I tried so hard, but all I could feel was pain for my family, and I missed my niece already.

    Love you,

    Zach

  13. Jeanne and I were on the overnight ferry up to Oslo. We had just eaten dinner and went to sit in the back of a bar to listen to the music. (it was a bit quieter in the back). Jeanne¨s phone went off and it was Tina-Liza asking us for help – asking if we could collect your mom from the airport and telling us your sad news. We were devastated and so cross at the same time because we were out on the water and could not do anything to help whn you needed us. I cried and cried. We talked about flying directly back from Oslo when we got there but it would have been too late to help. Sooo frustrating! We walked around Oslo and saw so many mums and newish babies. It was like when you are on a diet and cannot eat chocolate and everyone is eating chocolate and all the ads on papers, tv. etc are on chocolate. Torture! I can sure understand how you feel Steph, hearing of all the pregnancies with your friends and seeing the babies in prams in the street all the time. We were very sad the whole day and just waited for Tom’s sms’s to update us. We walked around aimlessly and talked about you and cried and prayed for you. We still feel bad that we could not do the one thing you asked from us. Luckily we are near you and can talk and see each other and we continue to hope if and when you need us next time, we will be there. We love you. Hugs.

  14. Dear Steph,

    Its making me cry just reading all the posts above and remembering those feelings I had almost a year ago (and still do today). Feeling so sad and heartbroken for you, and that horrible feeling of being so far away and not being able to offer any real comfort.

    It was Memorial Day weekend, I’ll always remember that. And I too was having a BBQ at my house in Arizona. I had a missed call from Amber and when I listened to it, I really couldn’t believe it. I just sat down by myself inside and cried. My other friends and Steve were all still outside, winding down the BBQ. Then I called Amber back to try to get more information, to try to just understand it somehow, although impossible. I couldn’t bring myself to go out and casually talk with my other friends, although I’m sure they would have understood and been sympathetic, but its just not the same. So I called my mom and told her first because I knew she would understand best what I was feeling, and what we imagined the unbelievable pain you were going through. She was as heartbroken as I was. I think I kept saying over and over to her that it just seemed so unreal. But it did help me to talk to her, moms can do that.

    I remember also trying to call you a day or two later to just talk to you and tell you how much I was thinking of you. I ended up talking to your mom, and that was hard, but good. I could tell how upset she was, which made me cry as well, but she told me about how beautiful Malou was and what she looked like. And it helped to picture her even before I got to see the beautiful pictures of her.

    I think about you and Malou all the time. And I am so proud of all that you do, all of yourself that you put out there. You are so brave, and your words help us all. Your love for Malou shines so strong that that does make me smile, even when at other times I want to cry.

    Love, Keely

  15. Dear Dad,

    I remember talking to you on the phone, and you saying you would fly out to be with us if I wanted. And I remember you telling me shortly after that you were writing a song for Malou (how soon after she was born did you start writing that?). I was (and am) so touched by that. I think it has been healing for you, and it is such a beautiful tribute to your love for your granddaughter. Writing those words makes me cry. I think of Malou often as a daughter, but not as much as a granddaughter. But she was that too. She was also a niece. And a friend. And a cousin.
    I love you, Dad.
    Stephanie

  16. Dear Uncle Zach,

    You were a great uncle from day 1. I remember calling first mom and dad, then you and Hank, on the morning (for me, night for you) I found out I was pregnant with Malou. Do you remember what you said? You were so excited (it took you just a second to figure out when instead of “Hi, Zach” I said, “Hi, Uncle Zach”) and you said somethinig to the effect of, “What?! That’s so great! You just made me the happiest guy on earth!” I still smile when I think of that. Your reaction was the best of anyone’s. I like to think Malou made you the “happiest guy on earth.”

    And the poem you wrote for Malou is so sweet. Did you know I printed it out and put it in her casket so she would have something from you? I am going to post it on this blog one day too.

    I love you.
    Stephanie

  17. Dear Carolyn,

    You and Jeanne were going to be such good honorary aunties to Malou. Well, you still are good aunties. You have always known just what to say to make me feel “normal” and you always have something to say about Malou. You’re never afraid to talk about her, and you talk about her so matter-of-factly, like she’s a “real person.” Of course, she IS! I know that…but it’s so wonderful to have someone else who feels it as much as me.

    I know you two would have done anything for us, including flying home from Oslo. I remember you went on that trip because you won something after recommending us to the website (something like that). We went on that same trip to Oslo while I was pregnant with Malou. It was the same trip where I first felt her kicks. Of course, I don’t remember seeing too many babies…I was too consumed with my own. Amazing how your perspective changes.

    Lots of love,
    Stephanie

  18. Dear Keely,

    Thanks for sharing your story too. It is so interesting, and in a way healing, for me to read these things. To hear what the world was like, what people were doing in their “before”…and what happened “after.”

    Even though we are so far apart, and rarely get to see each other, I can feel your love and compassion so clearly. In every email, and every comment on this blog…you always know just what to say. I am really so grateful for your friendship.

    And somehow, I am not surprised that you called your mom first. She and you are so much alike in your kindness and compassion, and she has also been so sweet to me.

    Love, Stephanie

  19. I remember I had recently moved to London when I heard, it was actually Nina who sent me an SMS with the horrible news. When I left Denmark and said farewell you were glowing, so happy and anxious for Malou’s arrival…

    Unfortunately, we didn’t get to know each other too well on a personal level but I can’t even begin to describe the wave of shock and disbelief that came over me while reading that short but painful text message. My heart felt like it had shrunk, I felt true pain for you and Tom and my first reaction was to call you and comfort you and tell you that I was there if you needed me but it was obviously too soon and so I called Nina instead and she told me what she knew and I remember I burst into tears.
    I thought about you every day from then on, spoke to our common friends to ask them how you were doing and then decided to write you an email describing how sorry I was for your loss. I tried calling you many times before finally getting through, and I so wished I could fly back to Denmark to be with you (I know that may sound silly but I was so heartbroken and just wanted to comfort you 🙂

    I was very happy and honoured that you shared lovely Malou’s pictures, video and this blog with me – I read it every single week and share your pain and frustrations and I truly wish you all the best!

    Hugs, hope to see you soon
    Sofia

  20. I remember receiving an SMS from Tom the night before, saying that you were going to be in hospital to have your kidneys checked. On the morning of the next day, we only briefly talked on the phone and you were telling me you were planning on working with your laptop while you were in the hospital. You promised to call me as soon as you had any news from the doctors. What I forgot to tell you that morning was that I had left my cellphone at home. I must have tried half a dozen times or more to call you that day – after I still hadn’t heard any news from you in the afternoon. I remember leaving the office with a weird feeling, because it was so unlike you not to pick up the phone and I was hoping you might have only forgotten to charge your phone.

    When I was almost at our apartment door, I suddenly feared that something could have happened which simply made it impossible for you to pick up the phone (of course hoping that this wasn’t the case). I checked my text messages as soon as I got home and couldn’t believe what I read. Johannes came home just a couple of minutes later and found me crying, sitting on our living room couch. It took me a while to explain to him what had happened, because I was sobbing almost the whole time and he could only understand half of what I said. I just couldn’t understand how Malou (who had often kicked me with her tiny little feet on the right hand side of your pregnant belly) not be alive anymore?

    Later that evening, I called Jesper, then Sopo and our other close colleagues/friends. The next days in the office, I often hoped that this was just a bad dream and that I would wake up sooner or later – which unfortunately wasn’t the case. When I met Laura and our other colleagues in our office and in Group HR, most of them started crying when they heard what had happened and none of us really knew what to say or do.

    I am so sorry that I couldn’t be there for Malou’s funeral because I was on holiday in Germany at that time – but I hope you know that I was thinking of you a lot that day.

    Love,
    Nina

  21. Hi Sofia,

    Thanks for posting here. I remember your concern and your emails and how you tried to call me (I wasn’t the easiest person to get a hold of, was I?). I remember you had recently moved to London while I was still pregnant – remember calling me to try to find out if Malou was a boy or a girl? 😉

    I know how much you care, and I hope we can see each other whenever we (finally) make it to London.

    Hugs,
    Stephanie

  22. Oh, Nina, I remember so clearly talking to you about work since it was the busiest week all year…calling you from the hospital, talking about work like it was important, not realizing that just a few hours later I would have to text you with the horrible news. I knew you would be devastated but that you would take care of everything for me at work. I couldn’t bring myself to call you with the news.

    You have been such an amazing friend throughout the past year. Even before that, you were always so happy and excited and positive about every little development with Malou (even though you were struggling yourself to get pregnant). And after Malou died, you were so good to always check in on me and get me out of the house. And you have NEVER been afraid to mention Malou’s name to me ever. It means so much. Even when you are pregnant now, and it could maybe scare you to think too much about me and Malou and what happened, you are always there, willing to listen, and talk about Malou like it is the most natural thing in the world (because it is, I guess, to want to talk about your child). And I love how you are so thoughtful and often have a little gift for Malou or a story about her. Thank you for that.

    Love,
    Stephanie

  23. Oh, Nina, I remember so clearly talking to you about work since it was the busiest week all year…calling you from the hospital, talking about work like it was important, not realizing that just a few hours later I would have to text you with the horrible news. I knew you would be devastated but that you would take care of everything for me at work. I couldn’t bring myself to call you with the news.

    You have been such an amazing friend throughout the past year. Even before that, you were always so happy and excited and positive about every little development with Malou (even though you were struggling yourself to get pregnant). And after Malou died, you were so good to always check in on me and get me out of the house. And you have NEVER been afraid to mention Malou’s name to me ever. It means so much. Even when you are pregnant now, and it could maybe scare you to think too much about me and Malou and what happened, you are always there, willing to listen, and talk about Malou like it is the most natural thing in the world (because it is, I guess, to want to talk about your child). And I love how you are so thoughtful and often have a little gift for Malou or a story about her. Thank you for that.

    Love,
    Stephanie

  24. Dear Stephanie,

    I think of you often and wish that I could take away this pain. I do not understand it but life has shown me that it makes you stronger.

    I was so excited that you and Nicole were pregant at the same time and I dreamed about all the times Barb and I would sit around and share and compare notes. Then I heard the unthinkable. It really couldn’t be true. With Karen dying and now this, I questioned what kind of God could be so cruel. I found myself protecting Nicole from the news. Here was such a joyous time in our lives and I felt so sad. Sad for the loss of Malou, sad for the loss to come of Isabel’s mother, Chris’ wife, Karen. I tried to reflect on how lucky we were that Karen was able to last the two years that she did, but the loss of Malou made everything so much harder just knowing what was ahead of us.

    I am so glad that you and Chris were able to connect. It has been difficult for him to find someone his age, who has experienced the loss of someone so young. I know it meant alot to him to be able to share with you.

    As much as I struggle with the loss of the years with the kids, the loss of Malou, the loss of Karen, I know that my attitude toward the students I work with has changed. I know it has made me a better teacher and I am more patient with them. I know the pain will always be there but it is true that time heals.

    Isabel and Chris go to Karen’s grave on special occasions and celebrates Karen’s life. Izzy brings flowers and balloons and cookies to share with her mom and it always turns out to be a party. Their idea is to keep Karen’s memory alive and allow Izzy a place to come when she needs to talk to her mom. Izzy reminds me not to be sad but to use these special times to celebrate what little time we had with our loved ones. Steph find little things to celebrate. It helps you get through the hard days. Karyn

  25. Hi Karyn,

    Thanks for your message. Karen has also changed my life (even before I was pregnant) to really appreciate what I have. And I am working on being more patient with people because now more than ever I realize it is people, relationships, love that matters.

    I think of Chris and Izzy often. Life is just so unfair at times. I also think of Nicole and her baby – I remember when I called my parents to tell them the news that I was pregnant, you were there at their house and my mom told me Nicole was pregnant too! I would have loved for our babies to have had the chance to meet.

    Take care.
    With love,
    Stephanie

  26. […] I can see in the “statistics” page that the most-read post overall (which is often viewed hundreds of times per week!) is Mother & Daughter but my favorite post is Memories. […]

  27. It’s my favourite too. I am just blown away by the huge web of love holding your family. xo

  28. Dear Stephanie,
    my name is Heike and I live in Germany (so sorry for my poor English).

    The first time I heard about Malou was in an internet forum for parents a few days ago. Somebody there posted the link to Malou’s video. As I watched her video I was so overwhelmed, of course, because it’s sad, I cried and cried, but especially because IT IS SO FULL OF LOVE! That touches me deeply!

    I decided to write you these lines, as I want you to say that you have such a beautiful, charming girl, I can’t get her out of my mind. So since the last nights a candle for Malou burns on our window board. I hope that is ok for you.

    Lots of love Heike


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