Choosing Happiness

I’ve spent a lot of time punishing myself.  When your baby dies it’s hard to see beyond the fact that you feel like a failure as a parent, and a human being.  As a mother, my only job was to keep my baby safe and alive. And I failed. Was it my fault? No. I know that. But the overwhelming sense of guilt sometimes causes me to punish myself for feeling anything but incredible sadness.

It’s hard for anyone who hasn’t walked in my shoes to imagine. The only  way I can possibly draw some parallel for those with living children is to imagine a time something has happened to your child – a bumped head or a scarped knee- because you maybe turned your back for a second. Imagine that guilt. Imagine how you questioned in that instant “if only I hadn’t turned my back for a second?”. Imagine that times about eight hundred million. I will always question what I could have done differently to save her, and I will always feel guilty that I am the one that lived while she was the one that died. It’s a mother’s guilt.

I’ve been trying very hard for the last little while to wake up and choose to be happy that day. Happiness has to be a choice for me.  I don’t just wake up feeling that way. I wake up every day with a feeling of emptiness, and that looming sense that something is missing. I honestly believe that every day for the rest of my life will have that hole in it. I will always wake up feeling sad and confused and empty Therefore, I have to make the conscious choice that despite everything that is missing, it’s still OK to feel happiness.  I deserve to be happy.  Worrying and punishing myself will never change the outcome of what has happened.  I have to start treating the world better than it has treated me, or I will never have a good day again.

These last two months I feel like I have turned a corner on my grief.

I still have awful days. I didn’t anticipate how hard Halloween would be. It makes me fear Christmas. I sat on my couch, home alone on Halloween night, begging to the universe not to send any more trick-or-treaters to my door. I cried my heart out over a “my first Halloween” sleeper that I had bought last year. I hugged it to my chest and cried. I cried because I should have been out with Everlee in her octopus costume. I cried for all of my lost dreams.

But those days are becoming farther between. I’m choosing every day to find some happiness, and to feel the love that I am so lucky to have found in my life.  I can’t believe that when things change I will be happy, instead now I am trying to believe that when I am happy things will change. I have found a place where I accept that I can be happy, and be still be sad and be grieving at the same time.  I don’t need to feel guilty when I laugh, or when I love. It’s not betraying my daughter to find happiness in my life.

Every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day. 

Lies

When she died I had a choice.  I could give up or I could go forward.  For a moment the choice was absolutely clear.  When I was told that she was dead,  in that moment,  I could have followed her along directly.  A leap off the building.  A knife.  The wall and my head. But then right away thoughts of family and friends flooded my brain.  I had to be strong because this situation was already going to screw everything up forever and I couldn’t also double down and make it worse.

So for many, many months, not killing myself was the baseline I had established as “doing pretty good.”   Plus, when you start there, getting out of bed is like successfully climbing Mt. Everest.  I gave myself accolades for simply going outside for a little while.  But those impulses kept growing, kept beating in my heart, kept pushing me forward.  I learned to lie. “I’m ok”.  I learned to breathe again.  And yet I’m still not sure I can reconcile what my life should be versus what it is today, right here. Everything is always coming next, and it is the incredible human spirit that allows us to face the day and tell the lies and forge the hope we have no right to expect and yet we do.

I’m used to the lies by now.  They are common and easy to say.  I say them for the sake of other people, but also for myself.  I have to lie so that I’m not always the one that sucks the air out of a room, even if that room is the entire outdoors on a glorious fall day and someone has questions about me, about my life, about how I’m doing.  There is no point in ruining every idle conversation and friendly chatter with truth about my dead daughter, Everlee.

You’re welcome everyone that I have spared the honest recounting of my recent life.  It is the absolute least I can do, and it cuts me with a slice of sadness every time I do it.  Eight months since she died and it is still recent to me.  Because it is not so much that time has healed my wounds as much as it is that the wounds themselves are the very nature, the very fabric, of my everyday existence.  I miss Everlee as a matter of course, just like breathing, just like moving my body, like blinking, like the beat of my heart.

I am still amazed to have learned that a heart can remain beating when it feels like only dust and awful and the endless void inside.  I am compelled to go forward, no matter the pain of my past.  If anything, her lost life is a fuel for me to live twice as hard, twice as present, twice as calm as I ever would have before. 

This weekend I celebrated my 28th birthday. (My birthday is actually next Monday, but for scheduling purposes I held my celebration this weekend). My birthday has always been my favourite day. I remember having to scale back my celebrations last year because I was beginning to get to that stage in pregnancy where going out just wasn’t a wise choice. I remember thinking at the time that maybe for my 28th birthday the baby, Everlee, could have her first sleepover to that we could have a party at the house once again.

How silly. I had no right to expect that to happen.

I was truly on the fence about whether I wanted to celebrate this year. It seems to me that I don’t have much to celebrate most days. But I had to push forward. I am so glad that I did. I am constantly reminded at every turn, that despite how incredibly tragic my life has been at this juncture, I have also been incredibly blessed with people who stand by me, people who will take the time to lift me up when I can barely life my head to look at the world. I had an amazing night. With amazing people.

Am I ok? No. I don’t know when I’ll be able to say “I’m ok” and mean it when people ask me how I am. But those little lies get me through that minute, that hour, that day. Convincing other people is easy. And maybe if I have enough of those little moments of good, soon I’ll start to believe the lies too. And maybe someday soon they’ll become my truth again.

Thank you everyone for making this weekend something truly special for me. 

Giving Thanks

This weekend is Thanksgiving weekend in Canada. Although it’s not quite the production it often is to our neighbours in the south, I generally like to take time to use this weekend to reflect on all of the things I’m thankful for. It’s hard to do that at the particular juncture in my life, not because I don’t have a lot of incredible things in my life, but because I have been so focused on the darkness, sometimes it’s hard to see the good.

Last year, I spent thanksgiving weekend in Ontario. Niagara falls, more specifically. Two of my good friends were married on the Maid of the Mist in the sweetest (and quickest!) ceremony I have ever seen. We spent Friday nigth at the keg, watching the fireworks over the falls, and saturday enjoying the wedding ceremony. My love, Brayden (my God-daughter’s  brother) was with us, and I was over the moon happy. Spending time with the Hoy children is where I am about my happiest. I was about 16 weeks pregnant at the time. It was that weekend that I felt Everlee kick for the first time (after drinking Starbucks… just like Momma!).

Image
A lot has changed since that week. I have gone from my highest high, to my lowest low in the matter of a short year. I spend a lot of time dwelling on the things that keep my heart heavy. It has consumed me for the last 8 months. So today, I want to take time to write about what I’m thankful for:

Love – I am so thankful for all of the love I have in my life. I have been surrounded by an out pouring of love from near and far. From the people closest to me, the people I least expected and from complete strangers who only know me because of what I write here. I have found love in the most unexpected places in life. I am so thankful to have been blessed to know what love feels like. I spend a lot of time thinking about what I have lost. I don’t spend nearly enough time thinking about all of the beauty and love that surround me. I am so thankful for that love. A wise person once said: To love a person it to see all of their magic, and to remind them of it when they have forgotten. Thank you.

Family – My parents, my in-laws, my sister, and my best friend, Darcy. I wouldn’t be here without you. I mean that. Life wouldn’t be worth living anymore if I didn’t have you. For everything you have done, and everything you continue to do to make me believe that life is worth getting out of bed for in the morning. You continue to shape who I am and how I grow as a person. Thank you.

Friends – Friends are the family you get to choose. And you are all the best decisions I have ever made. I have had a lot of the same best friends for over 20 years. Through my highest highs, and my lowest lows. I love you more than life. I also have a lot of friends who have recently come into my life, over just the last few years. They didn’t need to stick by me. They weren’t obligated by time and circumstance to do so. But they did. And they have shown how truly blessed I am to have each and every one of them in my life. I have never been somebody who trusts, or lets people in easily. But you are here for a reason. I only hope that someday I am able to be the kind of friend to you that you have been to me. You have believed in me so much, that I am actually starting to believe in myself. You love me for simply being me. You are once in a lifetime kind of people. You may think you know who your best friends are, but you really won’t until you hit rock bottom. Thank you.

Health – I never really understood the concept of mental health until this year. I thought I did. But I really didn’t. On so many levels I am so much stronger than I like to admit to myself most times. Health is hope, and hope is everything. I am so thankful for the wonderful doctors and especially the wonderful nurses that I have encountered in the last year. They are the ones that keep us all strong, in so many ways. I am thankful that my health has finally reached a point where I can try to make Everlee a big sister. I am so thankful for Miranda, my psychologist. She probably knows more about me than anyone on the planet. She has helped me see light when I am seeing nothing but darkness. It’s so true, that if you don’t have your health you have nothing. I am so thankful to have my health back to a place where I am not worried about myself.

Politics – You might laugh at this one. But politics has been a huge part of my adult life. It has my been passion since I had any idea what government was. Politics was what brought me back to caring about things outside of myself again. My party is like part of my family. I am thankful to be a part of a party that values me and my voice. I am thankful that the people in power have listened to my concerns not only about the issuing of stillbirth certificates in the province, but also on issues relating to fertility issues in the province, and issues important to young families like mine. I am thankful that we live in freedom, and that we can support or criticize our government without fear or reservation. I am thankful that we are in such a great place in the provinces history. And I am thankful for all of the amazing people I have met and fell in love with because of politics.

You – I wrote this blog expecting no one to read it but my close family and friends. And they’re here. But so are so many other people who only know me in passing, or don’t know me at all. almost 75k visitors and counting. Over 600 regular readers. You’re here and you continue to read about my darling little girl. You know she was here, and you know that she mattered and she was loved. You follow our journey and you genuinely care about us. You’ve sent messages, emails, cards, and even sent gifts to us. Having this blog has allowed me to find my voice and speak out to help those who walk this dark and lonely road in baby-lost-land. Thank you for being a part of our lives.

Being Everlee’s Mom – Everybody has gone through something that has changed them in a way that they could never go back to the way they were. For me, that something has been becoming a mom to Everlee. Being Everlee’s mom has been the greatest thing to ever happen to me. I hate that she is gone. I hate it. And I miss her more with every second that passes. But those nine months we were together were the most happy I have ever been. I wouldn’t trade that. I wouldn’t not want to know that joy. No matter how painful it is now, I am so thankful for the much too short time I had her. so more than anything this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for being her mommy, and for all of the love and understanding she has brought to my life.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Purpose

I am, and always have been, fiercely independent. But I am also terrified of being alone. I have been so lucky to have the most amazing people surrounding me throughout this nightmare. Friends who try (as hard as they might)  to pick me up. And friends who, when they discovered I couldn’t be picked up, laid down beside me to listen for awhile. You have loved me at my darkest.  But despite that, I have felt so utterly alone in all of this. Not because they haven’t been incredibly supportive, but because there’s just no possible way they could understand.

Yesterday someone I know posted this blog post on my facebook wall:

http://facetsoflifeafterloss.blogspot.ca/2013/08/dear-non-bereaved-mama-with-love.html

It’s a letter to mothers with their children from a bereaved mother.  I have read literally hundreds of articles and blogs over the last 7 months, but none of them have resonated with me the way this one has.  It’s like she reached into my soul and pulled out the ords I couldn’t find.

I am so grateful that you don’t know how life is after the loss of your child.  I am so grateful that you don’t know the pain, the heartache or the desperation that takes occupancy within my heart.

Sometimes I wish you would just “understand” me, but then again I am so grateful that you don’t.

Sometimes all I want to do is sleep and sometimes I am afraid to.

Sometimes I am so sad.

Sometimes it is too hard to look in the mirror because there I see the pain in my eyes that I feel in my heart.

Sometimes I want to tell you how hard it is but I have resorted to just telling you I am “okay,” that’s what the world thinks I should be anyway.  Sometimes it is easier to just be “okay” in society until I get home to silence and then, then I wish I had a friend.

The loneliness struck again this week. I thought back to the day we came home from the hospital after leaving Everlee.  Led through the back halls of the hospital.  Empty handed.  Darcy didn’t have to walk into the hospital with an empty car seat, and carry her out to the car for the first time. I remember that feeling of extreme isolation.  That no one I knew – not a single person – understood what it felt like to deliver their full-term baby after they already knew she was gone. 

I don’t let people in often. I may seem like the kind of person who wears her heart on her sleeve, because I have been so brutally honest with my feelings and my grief here. But believe me when I say that there is so much, and so many thoughts and feelings that I don’t share here. Fear of being judged and  fear of losing control stop the words from escaping my finger tips. But this blog has allowed me to open up in ways I never have before. I don’t let people see me like this. If I tell you that you’re my friend that means a lot. If I tell you that I love you, know that it’s not a phrase or expression and know that I actually love you in the best and most honest ways that I can. And if I tell you that I trust you, know that you are among the elite in my life. But even then, opening up is so very hard for me.

But all of this pain has to have a purpose. If it doesn’t, I might as well wither away and die. I want to inspire people. I want someone to look at me and say “because of you, I didn’t give up”. That thought it what keeps me going. That thought it what keeps me writing. Everlee can’t have died in vain. If she has, then I have no reason to keep going. Her life, no matter how short, has a purpose. And it’s my job to fulfill that now

Because of you,  Everlee, I’ve had to grow thicker skin and be stronger than I ever knew I could possibly be, even though most days I barely have the strength to lift my head to look at the world. I’ve had to accept that terrible things happen. To good people, even.  And there’s nothing you can do to change it or fix it. I’ve had to learn how to accept things I never wanted to accept.  I’ve had to learn to make myself laugh again. To want to live life again. To find joy again.

 

I didn’t lose my pregnancy

(Note: This entry started at one place and then I went off on a tangent. My bad)

I’m sitting here, about to type this entry knowing it’s probably going to come across as harsh and insensitive. I am going to type the rest of this very carefully. But, I want to preface by saying that I don’t intend it to be that way. And although parts of it may offend some of you, I merely mean this entry to show that none of us can have the same experiences. That doesn’t mean to give any less significance to the experiences of others, just that they’re different and painful and hurtful in different ways. We all hurt sometimes. 

I didn’t lose a pregnancy. What happened to me wasn’t a miscarriage. I can’t imagine what it’s like to have a miscarriage. And when people hear my story and tell me about losing their pregnancies at 7-8-9-10 weeks, I don’t see the connection the way they do. That by no means diminishes that pain and suffering that comes along with it. It’s a loss. A horrible, senseless, blameless loss. But it’s not the same. I didn’t lose my pregnancy. 

I can see how it would be easy for you to think so. I was pregnant on Everlee when she died. But I never refer to it in that way, and I don’t even come close to thinking of it in that way. My daughter died. I didn’t have a miscarriage. I didn’t lose a pregnancy. Like anyone who loses a child at any age, I have a room full of her things. I have a closet full of her clothes. I have an album full of her pictures. I held her in my arms. I stroked her hair. I kissed her face. I counted her fingers and toes. I know how she felt in my arms. I know how she smelled. I know that her fingers were long and definitely not like mine. I picture her beautiful face every single minute of the day and know it looked exactly like mine, red hair and all. 

Oprah said that all pain is the same, how we deal with it is what makes the difference. I truly believe that. Maybe a miscarriage is something you can learn to live with a little easier. At least that’s what my experience in talking to other mothers has taught me, and not a conclusion I have jumped to on my own.  I’ve been off work now for 7 months. I still cry in the middle of the night. I still wake thinking I can hear her crying for me. I still hate my body with every ounce of my being for doing this to her. Most people who have miscarriages get pregnant again on their own very quickly and have completely normal pregnancies afterward. That will NEVER be the case for me. Not only can I not get pregnant on my own ( a completely separate issue), I will never have a normal pregnancy again. Each subsequent (if I’m even lucky enough to get that far) will remind me of getting so close to bringing home a smiling baby girl only to have her stolen from me at the 11th hour. There will never be a moments peace with being pregnant. There is no sigh of relief at 12 weeks for me. Because I know now how easily pregnant women are lulled into a sense of security. Because I know that being 34 weeks pregnant isn’t a promise of having a baby in that meticulously arranged nursery. 

There’s no magic in baby making or pregnancy for me. Doctors appointment, after test, after ultrasound after appointment. Waiting on baited breath. Heart beating. Blood pressure rising. palms sweaty. pins and needles. And I haven’t even made it to the high risk specialist yet. This new normal I am searching for isn’t anything close to normal. But it’s my life. 

I’ve started the process for returning to work. It will be a few weeks before I begin my ease back, but the plans are in place to begin with a few half days a week and slowly working myself back up to being a full time functioning member of society. The newly-acquired social anxiety is still there, a monster rearing it’s ugly head when I least expect it. In preparation for my reintegration into the world of the living I’ve been making an honest attempt at getting out of the house more. I have resolved to not say no to anyone who asks me to do something unless the panic about it is so bad I feel like I might perish (If I have been blow you off lately, and believe me there are a lot of you, now is the time to try and drag me from the house).  

I have also had the most amazing and good-for-the-soul little house guest for the last number of weeks. My sister is in the process of moving into a new house, and has just gotten a rescue puppy. Being that at the moment she still lives with my parents and our childhood dog (who is a ripe 17 years old… cantankerous and stuck in his ways like any old man), the pupper – Opie – is currently staying with me. He has been, by far, the best medicine I have had. his puppy kisses and boundless energy and quirky antics make me genuinely smile and laugh again. He is better than any pills my doctors could give me. I’m so thankful to have him for this short period of time. 

Image

 Someone once told me that in order to start getting back to normal I need to “fake it until you make it”. Sometimes I heed that advice. I try my best to paint on a smile and I bite my tongue from screaming at people “Don’t you know my baby is dead” when they expect me to behave as if nothing life altering has happened to me. But most of the time I don’t want to fake it. I don’t want to deny the profound turn my life has taken.This is who I am now. Of course parts of me are the same. Some things will never change. They’re who I am. But my core, the very centre of my being has shifted. I am a mother now. A childless mother. And absolutely, I will go through the motions of life, and fight back the tears with a smile on my face, because that is what you do in baby loss land, and I will hope, that even if just for a moment, my smile will feel good, and genuine, and real. 

I hate posts like this. Ones where I have no wisdom to offer, or comfort or inspiration to give others on this journey. I’m just sending thoughts out to the universe, because honestly, no matter how many people I have surrounding me with love and support, sometimes I feel so desperately alone. But I’ll keep moving, and keep hoping. There’s still got to be some hope out there.

Inch By Inch

To those of you who have been following my story, whether it be from right beside me, or only via my blog, you would know that around the same time that Everlee was born (within 6 weeks) both of my very best friends had babies as well. Claire was Born in January, and Danny was born in the wee hours of the first day or February. As a psychiatrist I spoke to once put it, it made a dreadfully tragic circumstance that much more painful for me to deal with. We were supposed to enter a new chapter of our lives together, like we did for high school, post-secondary and marriage. We’ve done everything together. And this was supposed to be the start of another generation of friends.

Don’t get me wrong for a second, I am over the moon happy for A and K. I love their children as if they were my own blood. They are wonderful babies. But knowing that my two best friends who I have turned to for everything in my entire life were now moving onto a stage of life that we were supposed to journey on together, without me, has been beyond heartbreaking. In spoken and unspoken ways we have been all in a delicate dance for the last number of months.

How much do I share of my sorrow without becoming too much?

And how much do they share of their joy without feeling like they’re hurting me?

Most times we don’t have to talk about this agonizing tango. It’s been hard. On all of us. Not just me.  But both of them live at a distance and going through this without them nearby has been worse than I could imagine.

So when the stars aligned a few weeks ago that we could all be together again for the first time in over 2 years, I swallowed my pain and booked a ticket to Halifax so that I could spend a week with my three best girlfriends – two of them with their same-aged children.

A lot of people were worried about me. Including myself. Mostly myself. How would I deal with being in a house with two babies the same age as Everlee should be? Would their crying cut me like thousand tiny knives? And would I be able to look at them without feeling the pain of every one of Everlee’s missed smiles?

Surprisingly, spending time with the kids was not the hardest part of the week for me. What was harder to swallow was the fact that my two best friends has grown into the most wonderful mothers. Watching them cooing over their beautiful babies, and kissing away every tear, and falling in love all over again over every giggle was what was most painful. Their shells were the same, but they had found a new love in the eyes of their kids that has awakened a beauty that I had never seen in them before. Their smiles were brighter, and they glowed with pride. And the jealousy I felt was almost more than I could bear sometimes. And I fought with myself, So overwhelmingly happy for them, to see them oozing with pure joy. And so sad for myself, who should be feeling all of that love for my Everlee, but instead feeling them exact opposite. Hot, burning painful sorrow of her absence.

I enjoyed my week. We shopped. We laughed, we drank beer and talked about the past and the future. I love my girl friends more than almost anything in the whole world, and my pain did not and will not ever overshadow our lifetime of friendship. Long before children were on the immediate radar, the three of us dreamed of a scenario where our kids grew up together, close in age and close in proximity. We imagined our babies crawling around together, our toddlers fighting over toys, our pre-schoolers trading sentences. It’s only natural, of course, for us to wish the sort of closeness between our kids as we share ourselves.  I grieve for that loss. But I am so thankful for their amazing supportive friendship. I am so incredibly lucky to have had these beautiful women in my life for the last 24 years. And nothing – NOTHING – will ever change that.

A, K, MD: I love you endlessly and thank you for being exactly the kind of friends I have needed every day of my life. And thank you for being there for me for that last week in Hali. You’re support and patience with me helped me more than you could ever understand, even if I never speak it aloud.

As I’ve changed -or maybe as my friends have changed- so have our relationships.  Sometimes we’ve stayed buoyed to each other and sometimes we’ve floated away, each pushed along by the tide of our own lives.  The friendships that have stuck and have followed me through my life despite all the changes, both theirs and mine, are the ones in which we’ve continued to find new places in our lives for each other.

I am not the same as I was seven months ago and neither are all of my friendships.  There is no more animosity for the ones who could not stay but there is so much gratitude for the ones that did.

It only hurts when I breathe

I think that I am starting to accept that I will be sad forever.  It is my destiny to grieve.  I mean shouldn’t I?  I have a child who has died.  Should I not be sad until the day that I die?  And it is just starting to dawn on me,  I should be sad.  I should be sad every moment of every day.  How peculiar would it be if I wasn’t sad for my Everlee?  How cold and heartless would I be?  Instead of worrying that I’m still sad, I should worry that some day I might not be sad…as much as I desperately want the sadness to go away, the sadness means that she was real, and that she mattered. 

I know that at some point I have to allow myself to be happy, or at least that’s what my psychologist tells me. But I’m not there yet, and I’m not sure I ever will be. I have cried every day and I don’t know if the tears will ever stop. 

So often I go around feeling like I am alone in my misery, with Darcy. I don’t know many people (and I know nobody my own age) who has gone through this kind of tragedy. I don’t often get to see people on the other side of this Everest of pain. It seems sometimes that no one remembers that I was pregnant, and that there was a living being here on this earth that looked just like me and Darcy.

People forget that every day, every minute, I pine for that tiny soul, my sweet Everlee.

People forget that shoving their big bellies in my face, or their newborns reminds me of how broken and lost I really am and what I’ve lost, and what I may never have again.

Its human nature to forget, maybe that’s a good thing. I don’t know.

Out of sight, out of mind, I guess.

I can’t begrudge them (even if secretly, occasionally, I want to poke them in their perfect world).  

And just when I thought that every last soul on this earth (except Darcy) had forgotten that I had a precious baby once too, someone comes along with a nudge to tell me they remember.

Thank you Cathy, for giving me what many others could not.

Thank You. Thank you. Thank you.

What a whirlwind.

I had no idea last night when I wrote that letter and posted it on this blog that so many people would share my plight. In the 15 hours since I posted that blog it has been viewed almost 4000 times. It has been shared on Facebook 226 times, and retweeted on twitter 45 times as well.

Thank you. When I wrote that letter I wasn’t sure anyone else would care. I know there are a lot of people that care about Everlee and care about me and my family, but I had no idea that so many people would care that my little girl didn’t have the piece of paper to recognize her little life that she deserves. Thank you for sharing my blog, but most of all, thank you for caring about her.

I sent that letter to the Minister at 7pm last night, and by 9:18am this morning I had a response from him personally. It read:

Rhonda

First of All please accept my deepest condolences. As a father I cannot even imagine the pain you have to live with forever. I cannot make a promise of a change however I will Work to make a change.

Nick

And honestly, I couldn’t ask for anymore from him. I know how bureaucracy works, and I know that change doesn’t happen over night. So knowing that this was on his radar was more than enough for me right now.  It is so reassuring to know that we have a government that is so committed to listening to the things that matter to its people.

Shortly after I received that email I got a message from CBC On The Go (a drive time talk radio program). My blog had reached their desk and they wanted to talk to me about what I had written and the response I had gotten. As much as it hurts, and as emotional and raw as this is for me, I could not turn down an opportunity to talk about my little girl to anyone willing to listen. I did the interview and it is supposed to be airing on CBC NL at around 5pm this evening. (more on this in a second)

Not 5 minutes after I hung up the phone with Maggie Gillis, I got a call from the head of vital statistics, the department responsible for birth and death certificates and the ones who would have to write the letter I need for Everlee. They had received my email from the Minister’s office this morning and were contacting me with some  good news.

  1. They have filled out all of the forms I need and are couriering the letter that I need to my door this afternoon. They were extraordinarily apologetic for everything I have had to go though, and the subsequent hoops that has caused me to have to jump through.
  2. They are directly dealing with the Department of Finance to ensure that my application for the parental child benefit goes through without having to cause me further grief. I won’t have to complete any more paper work, or go into their offices to go through the whole pain staking story all over again.
  3. Most importantly, as of this morning they have started reaching out to other jurisdictions to see what is done across Canada in recognizing stillborn babies in an official way and they are moving toward implementing a stillbirth certificate in Newfoundland and Labrador in the coming months.

All because of Everlee.

CBC called back shortly after to clarify some things in the interview, so I happily updated them with the information from Vital Statistics and the good news that they are moving towards a resolution for families like mine. Although the interviewer was happy to hear that, because of the change in the story they were unsure if they would run the interview now. Which is a shame. It was a horrible thing, that has had a positive outcome. I think hearing a story like that would give hope to families like mine, so I hope to hear them run the story this evening. If they do run it I will be updating and posting the audio here on the blog.

In the meantime, Thank you to Minister Nick McGrath for moving so quickly to do the right thing. But most of all, Thank you to all of you for following my daughter’s story and sharing in our journey. My life for the last four months has been agony. I struggle to get out of bed every single day, and my heart aches every single moment of every single day. There hasn’t been a day pass where I haven’t cried. And there hasn’t been a day where I haven’t wished I could take her place. But knowing that so many people out there care about my little girl, and care about me, is what keeps me going.

And with my little girl in my  heart, we’re going to change this. She will be recognized.

“You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.” – Winnie the Pooh

Still Loved.

It seems every time I open my facebook lately I’m faced with pictures of pregnancy and newborns. I’ve gotten beyond trying to block them from my newsfeed. There’s too many. They hurt. If someone had asked me last summer how I would cope if my baby died I would have said “I wouldn’t”.

I’m not unhappy for anyone else. 

I’m just jealous that it’s not me. 

I love my pictures of Everlee. I love looking at her little lips, and her cabbage patch nose. I love looking at her little fingers. Her big eyes. And it hurts me that I can’t put those on facebook. It hurts that I don’t have them hung on my wall. I won’t be able to put them on my desk at work. It hurts that I have to have her footprints as my profile picture, and not her sweet little face. I’m not ashamed of her. I would show her to the whole world if I could.

But some people can’t handle it. Sometimes just telling people about her leaves me feeling like I’ve sucker punched them. Dead babies make people sad and uncomfortable. Stillbirth is still such a taboo. I accept that, and I’m ok with it. It’s just one more of those “mommy” experiences I don’t get to have with her. 

I’ve not just lost a baby: I’ve lost a toddler, a school girl, a teenager and an adult daughter. A whole potential life has gone. The only tangible reminders I have left are pictures, as well as her footprints and hospital bracelet. I don’t even have a birth certificate.  These are – and always will be – my most treasured possessions.

If someone had asked me last summer how I would cope if my baby died I would have been wrong. Even now I can’t believe I’m still standing after giving birth to death. 

One Step Forward

I had a really nice time tonight with a friend. Quiet and lovely and they knew exactly what I needed to make me genuinely smile for the first time in a long time.  I left feeling like maybe I could start having more moments like that and that maybe I might be ok sometime in the future. 

On my way home I decided to stop for some subway as a treat for my supper. As I stood in line the woman behind me asked me very politely if I knew how many calories were in my sub because it looked really good (it was a veggie sub on flatbread). She seemed nice, so we started talking about weight loss, and food, and dieting.

A few minutes in, she told me that she just had a baby and she was trying to lose the baby weight and that her baby is five months old.

 I told her that I was doing the same. 

 Then she asked me how old my baby was. I swallowed hard. I couldn’t lie. I swore I would never ever ever lie about Everlee. I said she would be 4 months old. But she passed away. 

The poor woman felt awful. For a few seconds she couldn’t speak properly. She stuttered, and stammered out an “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t ask so many questions”. So I, naturally, started to console her and told her it was ok, she would have no idea. After a few more seconds she finally said “My friend who was pregnant the same time as me. She went in the morning of her C-section at 9 months and they discovered her baby was stillborn. Then she had to deliver the baby.”

“Almost the same thing happened to me.” 

She felt awful. She tried to apologize. She put her hand on my arm and said “God has a reason for everything” but I just couldn’t take it any more. I had to leave. I just looked at her and said “It’s ok”. and I went to my car and burst into tears. 

To anyone reading that it might seem like a simple exchange. To me it was excruciating. Every single word was like a knife in my heart. I hate that the only story I have to tell people about my baby is that she died. I hate that talking about her makes other people so uncomfortable. I hate that every time I take a teeny step forward, my feet are taken from beneath me I stumble several steps backward. I hate that she’s not here. 

It amazes me on a daily basis how many people advise me to turn to God to help heal my suffering. It amazes me how many people tell me that God had a reason for Everlee dying; that this was somehow part of His plan.  I always wonder if those people would have such a simple answer if their child died. If they would find comfort in knowing some man in the sky had planned to rip their child away from them? Maybe some people would. But I certainly don’t. What’s the reason? What was his reason?  I’m glad that it can bring others comfort, but not me. With everything else that I have lost, my faith and trust are among them.