Happy 4th Birthday, Malou Amelia!

There is no
full circle for me.

But it has been four years.

Malou Amelia
has been buried in the ground
7 times longer
than  she was alive in my womb.

She has been dead for all of her birthdays.
Every single one.

Now that doesn’t seem fair, does it?
Of course not,
because it isn’t.

My poor baby.
I wish she was here
for me to love and cuddle and kiss.

I wish she was here
so I could bake her a cake
and watch her face light up
at all the candles.

But she’s not.

But her little brothers are.

As I write this now,
her little brother Liam is napping
and her other little brother,
due to arrive right before her birthday,
is gently kicking me.

Thank you, thank you, thank you,
I constantly breathe to the universe…
in my thoughts, my tears, my laughter…

I am so grateful.

I know how lucky I am.

But it doesn’t mean I have come
full circle.

My family is still incomplete.
It always will be.
It doesn’t matter how many children we have,
none can replace
Malou Amelia.

I am so grateful to have had her
for the short time we did,
but I am also still so sad
that she is always missing
and there is nothing I can do about it.

***

I wrote the above just a few weeks before
Malou’s
birthday.

I wanted to schedule it
to automatically post on her actual birthday
as I knew (well, hoped)
I’d be busy tending to her
little brother.

But I never scheduled it
because I was scared.

And superstitious.

As if,
by scheduling it,
I may jinx my
good luck
and something would happen
to baby brother as well.

Thank goodness that wasn’t the case.

I spent the anniversary
of the day
Malou
died,
the 26th of May,
laboring her precious
little brother.

I spent the night alone
with my thoughts
in the hospital…
remembering how four years before
I was in the hospital as well,
unknowingly spending my last moments
with my beloved daughter.

I prayed my son
would make it through that night
and he did.

Just before 10 in the morning,
with four easy pushes (or so)
little Nohi
arrived safe and sound.

We were able to leave
the hospital the same day.

As I announced on Facebook,

“4 years ago today
Malou Amelia
died.
4 hours ago today,
her little brother was born.
From now on,
this is going to be a
Good Day!”

And I mean it.

I want to reclaim that date…
May 26th
represents life and happiness and goodness
for me again.

I want to leave
the sad power of that day
in the past.

From now on
it is a day of celebration.

Not that we will forget…
but every time
Nohi has a birthday,
I can look at him
and
be grateful…

that we survived,
kept going,
and the universe
gave us something
beyond wonderful
to replace the something
beyond sad
that it once was.

We still have the 28th of May
to celebrate
Malou Amelia…
that’s her day,
her birthday.

This year, we took
both of her brothers,
along with grandma, auntie and uncle,
to visit her at her grave.

Then we had some ice cream
on the nearby lake.

Later on in the evening,
I made her a cake.

I couldn’t bring myself
to ask anyone to sing
Happy Birthday.

I do that
in my head
for her.

For me,
it’s just too sad
to sing to her in heaven.

So I think it instead.

It was a pretty emotional day
for me,
cuddling my brand new boy,
dark-haired like his sister,
and remembering that
four years before
I was cuddling my firstborn,
dark-haired beauty.

My head filled with all the
could-have
and
should-have-beens.

And I cried.

But no matter how much
I wish my complete family
was here in the flesh,
I know there is nothing
I can do about it.

So I try to count my blessings
and
always,
always,
include
my girl
in those.

Here is 2-day old Nohi visiting Malou on her birthday

Grateful

Malou’s family

Happy 3rd Birthday, Malou Amelia

Where does the time go?
My little girl should be 3 years old today.

I see Liam playing with
other little girls
the same age,
and he LOVES it.

It both breaks and melts my heart.

I told my mom the other day
that he is just meant to be
a little brother.

He is happiest when he has a little person
to follow around
(but not so interested in younger kids
following him around :)).

Every night
Liam kisses the picture of his sister
Malou…
he used to just stare at it
and hold the picture frame,
then he started blowing kisses to her,
and now he gives a full-on
puckered-lips smooch.

It is adorable.
And it makes me realize
that it will be normal for
Liam
to grow up loving someone
he has never met.

I have to believe
that that will make him
a more loving, compassionate,
sensitive soul.

I hope he gets only the good
from his sister’s death…
extra love and snuggles,
security in knowing that death
isn’t the end of everything
(at least not love),
and avoids the painful grip of sorrow.

Because he won’t know any different.

We’ve had two other (early) losses
since we’ve had
Malou…
so I like to think that
she has some little siblings
playing with her.

It is Liam who is all alone with us.

I’m glad she has company,
but oh my goodness,
how I want them all here.

 Life is so very different from how I planned it,

But it is also so very good right now.

I don’t know how,
but somehow I ended up here…
in a place where my grief and longing
don’t overshadow my love and appreciation
for my life…
at least not daily.

I remember so clearly
the suffocating feeling of knowing that
the rest of my life,
the rest of my whole entire life,
would be filled with emptiness, sadness
and the sharp pain of loss
at every thought or reminder of
Malou.

I didn’t believe it would ever,
could ever,
get better.

Because how could it?
The only cure was impossible.

But somehow, slowly,
partly by choice and partly by luck,
I crept back into truly living life again.

And I haven’t done this by
forgetting
Malou.

To the contrary,
I think about her and look at her picture
and talk to her
every single day.

Some days I shed tears,
most I do not.

But there is not one day
that goes by
that I don’t think about her and love her.

I am always conscious that I am a mother,
two times over.

My dear girl, I love you so much. Three years ago today, I first saw your beautiful face, touched your soft skin and wavy dark hair, and tried to memorize the shape of your fingers, ears, mouth and nose. I held you in my arms and died myself, letting a large part of me go with you into heaven. I didn’t want you to go alone, and I didn’t kow how to live without you, so a part of me just died. But my battered and torn heart kept beating, and now I have a new life and I am a new person. I am a better person for being your mama, but I know you would have given me that gift if you were born alive and still here with us today too. You were, you are, magic. You have spread so much love into this world – you have made the world a better place, and I don’t know why you had to leave it so soon, but I know your life mattered and that you have made a difference. I wish you were here, as we celebrate your birthday jointly with your daddy’s, to blow out your own candles. For now, your daddy will do it with you, and later your little brother will. And one day, hopefully a long, long  earthly time from now, we will all be together as a family and I hope the pain of  years apart will disappear and all we will know is love and happiness together.

Just a day

3 years ago
today
was the worst day of my life,
as it is the day that
I found out
Malou’s
heart had stopped beating.

2 years ago
today
I was one day
pregnant
with Liam,
so even though I didn’t know it
at the time,
it was one of the best days
of my life.

1 year ago today
I had Liam in my arms
and there isn’t much
that is better than that.

And today
I found out some of the best news
I could hope to hear
(but it’s not my news to share,
so I will wait to share it)
AND
Tom and I won a week-long trip
to southern Europe
from a magazine
running a competition
about love stories.

So today, too,
is one of the better/best days
of my life.

I like to think
Malou
has a little something
to do with it all.

That she doesn’t want me
to be defined
by the worst day of my life,
but instead celebrate
that life goes on…

no matter what.

Sometimes that thought is comforting
and other times it is terrifying.

But three years later
I am starting to realize
that days and dates don’t have power.

I think of
Malou,
I love
Malou,
I miss
Malou
every single day.

So all the other dates
that I associate with her
don’t make me “more” sad.

They are just another day.

On her 3rd birthday
this Saturday
we will celebrate her dad’s birthday…
he will blow out her candles,
again.

It’s not how we want it,
but it’s how it is.

***

Last night
at midnight
Liam woke up screaming
and writhing in pain.

We couldn’t comfort him
and so we called urgent care
who told us to come right in.

By the time we arrived
only 10 minutes later
he was fine.

But my brain couldn’t let go of the date,
worried that something
was really truly wrong
(instead of just gas and teething pain).

My fear started to overwhelm me,
Oh, God, no,
I can’t lose two babies,
please don’t let
May 26th be the day
my world falls apart again.

 And thankfully it wasn’t.

Instead
later today
we received two bits of
wonderful news.

And I have to remember,
it’s just a day.

It’s just a day.

Even though it’s the day
my baby girl
died,
it’s just a day.

My dear girl, Malou Amelia. I remember you every single day. I think about what you might have been like and looked like, I imagine what it would be like to hug you and have you hug me back, to tell you I love you and hear you say you love me too. I say your name aloud when I am alone, just to hear it. To imagine that I am talking to you. There are no words for how much I miss you and want you in my arms. There are no words to describe how devastated I was 3 years ago today. But I am so very thankful that you are my daughter, and that gives me happiness. Not joy, because the grief won’t allow it, but I am truly happy and grateful that you are my little girl. You were a newborn baby in my mind for a long time, but now you are starting to grow up. I can see you as a three-year-old and I miss that part of you too. You are loved and missed, my sweet girl, and your family is thinking of you and sending so many prayers up to you today and always, so you can feel our love. Love from your mama

More on normal

More of a question…

Is this normal?

I can imagine the worst
with
Liam.

I don’t even want to write
what that means.

But it petrifies me,
and makes me want to
crumble to the floor
at just the briefest
thought – which is always
pushed away
as fast as possible.

Why does my mind
torture me?

Why doesn’t it protect me,
and bathe me in a cocoon
of denial?

Why can’t life
really be safe and predictable
and why
can’t we be assured
that bad things
can’t happen to
good people?

I wish I had the answers.

So tell me,
dear readers,
my dear fellow mamas
both in loss and not…

Am I crazy?
Or is this (sometimes) paralyzing fear
just a part of loving
your child more than
life itself?

Who’s a big boy now?

Liam turned 1.

Malou
didn’t even live long enough
to survive
the day of her birth…

now Liam has been here
for two of his birthdays.

For which I am forever thankful.

But I can’t help that think
Liam is now the big brother.

He still has his “little brother” shirts,
he was still born 2 calendar years after
Malou
but for some reason
he feels like the big brother to me now.

He’s walking, babbling,
smiling, laughing,
cuddling, kissing,
teasing, playing…

he’s living.

For which I am forever thankful.

He’s achieved all of these things
Malou
never got the chance to do.

So even though
she IS the big sister,
she is starting to feel like the
little sister to me instead.

I’m not sure how I feel about that.

When we put Liam to bed,
we always say goodnight to
the picture of
Malou
and play the music on her snow globe.

We always say,
“Say goodnight to your big sister,
Malou” –
well, at least Tom does.

I keep slipping
and wanting to call her little sister,
so instead I’ve started
saying goodnight to
“Little Malou.”

Because she remains the same in my eyes.

I can’t picture her growing up.

I want to,
I just can’t seem to get there.

I try to imagine
how she would look,
what she would sound like,
how she would be.

And it’s just so hard.

She’s just my little baby
and always will be…

***

Liam got a birthday gift
from some friends.

We see these people only a few times a year,
so it was really sweet that they even
remembered that it was Liam’s birthday.

But what was even sweeter,
which touched me more than I can say,
is that they told Tom
they stopped by
Malou’s
grave on the way over to our house.

And that they’ve visisted her
several times before.

I get tears in my eyes just thinking about it.

They never even saw me pregnant…
and yet they visit my daughter
at her grave.

What a gift.

Published in: on February 9, 2011 at 20:39  Comments (3)  
Tags: ,

One year ago today…

my salvation came to me.

Liam’s birthday isn’t until tomorrow,
but it was a year ago in my mind,
in the wee early hours of a cold, snowy Friday.

After three years of actively trying to make a baby,
we finally looked into the open eyes
of our child.

My hope and prayer
is that there is never
another baby who is stillborn or dies…
that there is never
another healthy baby who is aborted
because he or she isn’t wanted…
that there is never
another baby who isn’t created
due to infertility.

I am so lucky.
I can’t say I am blessed…
but I can say I am lucky.

Lucky to have my
Malou
and Liam,
lucky to have my amazing
friends and family,
lucky to have met so many wonderful
women in this world,
who are walking the same sad path I am.

And showing me that it can be done.

You are all so brave and wonderful.

I love each and every one of you,
and I will always remember your beautiful babies.

I wish those of you who need it right now:
strength
peace
love
hope.

Especially hope.

The hardest of all.

Happy (early) birthday to my sweet boy, Liam. My firstborn son, but not my firstborn.

My happiness is great, but always tinged with sadness.

But you know what?
I think I have made my peace with that now.

Prayer and vomit

Odd post title, I know…
but this is where my mind has been lately.

You see,
Liam got sick.
And for the first time in his life,
we had a *real* throw-up experience with him.

We’re talking a surprise spew
over himself, Tom, a down comforter
and the couch.

Fortunately, it didn’t seem to bother him
and it didn’t bother me either.

We immediately cleaned him up
and Tom cuddled him
while I cleaned up the mess
and started the laundry.

And it occurred to me
that this is (part of)
what parenthood is.

It’s the nitty gritty part
that either people
forget about
or
exaggerate
when you are pregnant
and they are telling you
what to expect. 😉

But I really felt like
a *mom*
and it felt nice.

That night, I felt the same way
when Liam woke many, many times
since he wasn’t feeling well.

I thought to myself,
this is what it is about.

Giving comfort and love…

I remember so clearly
after
Malou
died…
wishing for everything…

including all the
dirty diapers and sleepless nights.

Because it’s not like
we just want
Malou
for the good times.

We want her all the time,
the good days and the bad.

In the months after she died,
I remember crying myself to sleep,
thinking that I should
be awake with a hungry baby,
not awake with a living nightmare.

And now that I have that,
I appreciate it
so very very much.

I love and appreciate it all.

Good times and bad…

So how does this relate to prayer?

Well, as I was comforting Liam,
rocking him in my arms
in the middle of the night,
I prayed
that he would soon feel better.

But then I had to qualify it
and add,
“And please keep him alive.”

As if God might misinterpret my prayer
and think “feeling better”
could be done in heaven…

I’ve said this before,
that I don’t really believe
God answers prayers…
because otherwise
a LOT of things in this world
would be very different.

But still,
I couldn’t take the chance.

I feel I have to be *very* careful
in my word choice nowadays…

even though I hope
God
understands the words of my heart
and my spoken words are just superfluous.

Sigh.
I wonder if I will ever
be able to just relax?

Tom and I love and cherish
and just plain enjoy Liam every day,
relaxed or not.

In fact, Tom said the other day
that he gets tears in his eyes
just watching him,
because he is so darn cute and amazing.

I feel the same way.

(Maybe you can see why…)

I cherish every second,
not just because it is all so precious,
but because who knows when the last second will come?
And it’s that scary thought
that I could do without
on a daily basis.

But grief runs deep
and causes
a lifetime of changes inside a person.

I mean,
I didn’t know
that this picture

taken at 11.32 am on May 25th, 2008,
would be the very last picture of me
pregnant with
Malou
alive.

And I never could have imagined
that this

 

would be the very last time
I would ever touch my
beautiful daughter.

Looking back,
of course that one week
changed me more than any other week
in my life.

But I really want to learn
to let go of the fear
that it brought to my daily life.

In some ways,
the fear is “good”…

it helps me live in the presence
and appreciate what I have.

But in other ways,
it’s bad…

it makes me feaful and anxious.
And nauseous.

And then I pray.

See?
Prayer and vomit.

32 years

Today I am 32 years old.

It is my 3rd birthday without
Malou
here.

I was pregnant with her on my 29th.

I remember exactly what I was wearing,
because I thought it showed off my
9-week-pregnant belly…

So I have a picture of me
cradling
Malou
in my belly
on that day.

I was SO incredibly happy,
and imagined the big 3-0
the following year,
with her in my arms.

Obviously that didn’t happen.

I remember cradling
Liam
in my belly
last year on my 31st.

My only birthday wish
was that he would arrive safely.

And that happened,
for which I am more grateful
every day,
as the more I get to know him,
the more I love him
(I didn’t know that was possible).

Hmmm…if I really believed wishes came true,
I would be wishing for
Malou
to come home
this year.

So I wouldn’t have to live
any more birthdays without her.

Time feels like it is going so fast.

It is scary.

Liam is growing up,
11 months today.

Malou’s life,
short as it was,
is getting farther away from my present.

She is staying in the past,
no matter how hard I try to
bring her into my present
every day.

I don’t want to leave her behind.

But time is marching forward.

And sometimes
it feels like
it is leaving her behind
despite my protests.

But she is a part of me
and I can never her let her go.

One thought that gave me comfort
in my darkest days
after
Malou
died
was that each new day
wasn’t leaving her farther behind,
but was rather bringing me
closer to her…
since each day I lived
was one day closer to my own death.

Yes…
that was comforting.
It still is to an extent,
as disturbing as that may be to people
who haven’t really experienced
grief and therefore
can’t understand.

But now that I have her brother to live for,
I want to slow time
and cherish even more than I already do
every single moment we have together.

Because I know
how suddenly it can all be taken away.

Oh, boy…maybe I will have two wishes this year.

But come to think of it,
they are the same wishes
I have in my heart every day.

Oh, Malou, I wish you were here to help me blow out my candles. I love you so much, sweet girl. I miss you every day, but especially this holiday season, when your absence is felt so much. You should be here with us, helping your little brother open his Christmas gifts and helping your mommy eat her chocolate cake. xoxo

Published in: on December 29, 2010 at 09:00  Comments (3)  
Tags: , ,

Beating hearts

Liam got a cold
and has been having
a hard time getting over it.

He was coughing more than usual today,
and breathing hard,
so we took him to the doctor.

She listened to his lungs
and decided to admit
him to the hospital.

The same hospital
where
Malou
died and was born.

Tom and I weren’t too worried about
Liam
but we both had a yucky feeling
driving to the hospital.

Such a familiar route…
so many memories from
Malou
and also from my pregnancy
with Liam…
all those heartbeat checks
to calm my panic.

The nice thing about
government-provided healthcare
is that you never have to fill out
any forms upon admission or discharge.

However,
since this was Liam’s first trip
to the children’s unit
we did have to fill out a little
questionnaire about him,
which included a line that said:

Siblings? Yes: ___ How many?

I left it blank.
At least I didn’t have to check
No.

But then the doctor came in
and asked us if Liam had any siblings.
(I’m not sure what this had to do
with his breathing troubles…)

I answered,
None living.

Tom explained
and for once a doctor
gave us sympathy.

That was a pleasant surprise.

Then Liam was hooked up
to a little machine to check
his oxygen levels and pulse rate.

I was a little nervous,
staring at a monitor again,
but both were fine.

He then received a breathing treatment
and his oxygen levels and pulse
were measured again.

His oxygen levels had fallen a bit
and his pulse had risen
(both normal reactions).

But the thing that got me
was watching his pulse…
rise and fall and rise and fall.

It varied from upper 90’s to 178 bpm
(Liam was also moving the monitor a lot).

I think my own pulse was even above that,
as I felt my panic rise.

I told the nurse
that I was feeling really worried
because watching this screen reminded me
of all the times I had watched a screen
with a baby inside me,
hoping that that baby was alive.

Well, I didn’t tell her all that…
but I did tell her I was feeling really worried
so could she quickly explain what
we were seeing and what it meant.

She did and I calmed down.

We are home now.

Liam is sleeping peacefully.

He will need breathing treatments
here at home
every 3 hours for the next few days.

Poor little guy.
Although he seemed to enjoy himself
for the most part
(he didn’t like the breathing treatments,
but he loved the crib, the nurse,
the machines, and the sleeping pram).

On our way home
Tom and I talked about
how quickly our thoughts can turn
to the worst.

I do it way more often than Tom.

Other parents tell us
it’s normal,
every parent fears the worst,
but I don’t think
they understand exactly
what our worry feels like.

Every single time
I wake up in the middle of the night,
my first thought is,

“Is Liam alive?”

Every.single.time.

Every time he naps,
I have to check that he is breathing.

And in that slight interim
where I wonder if he’s breathing
until I go confirm it,
my mind goes there.

Even though I try not to let it.

My mind imagines the worst.

It is the most nauseating feeling,
yet it is also a familiar feeling.

And whenever I feel it,
not only do I have to fight my worry
for Liam,
but I have to fight my sorrow
for Malou.

I don’t think
I will ever be able to let go of the two.

Worry + Sorrow = Fear
to me.

I think I have done a good job
trying to release Fear’s grip on me,
but I don’t think I will ever completely
be able to let it go.

***

Tomorrow
marks 3 years since
I found out
I was pregnant for the first time,
with our daughter,
Malou Amelia.

Tomorrow is the anniversary
of the happiest day of my life.

I actually think this is true.

It was the start of the best 7.5 months of my life,
the time where I was
unconditionally happy
and where the future
held only the promise
of all my dreams
coming true.

Now the future
is filled with Fear.

If I let it.

So I try my best to let go of the Fear,
live in the moment,
and appreciate each and every beat
of my heart,
Liam’s heart,
Tom’s heart,
my family’s hearts,
my friends’ hearts…
all the hearts beating around the world.

I want to go back there…

I want to go back
to being
unreservedly happy.

I want to go back
to the world where
Malou
is still alive.

I want
Malou
to be in my world
right now,
in the room
right next to her
brother’s.

I want to go back
to the moment
I held her,
as painful as it was.

It was also beautiful.

I visited
Malou’s
grave yesterday
and talked to her.

I was alone,
a rarity these days.

It felt nice
for just the two of us
to be together
alone.

I told her we moved,
I told her we loved her
and missed her,
I told her
I hoped she didn’t understand
why I was crying,
that she could only feel
love and happiness,
warmth and comfort,
peace and contentment.

I told her
we’d never forget her,
I told her that
I bet she’d be a better
big sister
than I ever was
(I believe I hit Hank
when mom brought him home
from the hospital,
and I asked mom if we could switch
Zach with a baby girl
when he was born…),
and I called her
my sweet pea.

Sometimes
I just want to go back.

I don’t want to start over
the whole process of
Grieving…

because I feel like
I have come a long way
and that I have more good days
than bad.

I enjoy
being able to talk about
Malou
without it always being sad.

But, oh my God,
how I would love to hold her again.

One more time.

Stroke her hair,
hold her cheek against mine,
feel her fingers grip around my own.

I’m not even asking
to feel her warm breath
on my cheek,
or her heart pounding those
quick baby-beats…
things I never, ever, ever
take for granted with
Liam
(in fact, I am always
compelled to give a silent
prayer of thanks
every single time).

I just want to see her again.
To hold her again.

I want to go back to that time…

I want to go back to this
type of happiness…

Don’t get me wrong…
this

is happiness.

No question.
Liam makes life wonderful
in a way I didn’t know was possible.

But
Malou
is still missing
in our daily family life…

here she is represented
in her daddy’s cross necklace
(and I also like to think
in the sun streaming
over us)
but we want her HERE.

We want her with us.

I guess that will never change.

But as my elderly neighbor,
who lost her 9 year old daughter
in a tragic car accident
many years ago,
said,
Life can still be good.