Envy

I’ve been struggling to write here since finding out I am pregnant. Not because I have a lack of thoughts or feelings, but because I always saw this as Everlee’s sacred space. I have been feeling that writing here about being pregnant was somehow me moving on and leaving her behind. However, after much consideration I have realized that Everlee becoming a big sister is every bit as much about her as it is about the baby growing in my tummy.  No matter how many other children I go on to have, I am, and always will be Everlee’s mom. 

I am going to try my hardest to spend some of my very long days writing here about my experience with pregnancy after stillbirth. 

I’ve been sentenced to bed rest since 18 weeks. I am now 23. There is nothing pressing wrong, it’s more of a preventative measure to protect me from slowly rising blood pressure, and my own anxiety. I have a nurse that calls me every day, and visits every 3 days. They do all of he normal pre-natal visit sort of things – urine dip, blood pressure check, fetal heart rate. Can I tell you how reassuring it is that I get to hear that steady clack-clack-clack of the heartbeat every few days? Still nerve wracking every time, but it gives me some peace. I’m also seeing my OBGYN once a week, and getting bi-weekly ultrasounds/biophysicals. As nervous as I am about everything, I honestly couldn’t be more grateful for the world class health care I am getting. (and in reading some of my american friends‘ blogs, may I also say how thankful I am for the Canadian health care system?) After 5 weeks of bed rest – and almost 3 months to go I’m at a oint now whwere I can’t tell you what the weather has been like, or how much gas costs right now, but I can tell you who was arrested in last night’s episode of cops, and how many hours it is until my next doctors appointment. 

 It has been a long 5 weeks, but I have been able to fill my days and occupy my time. I have some wonderful people who have helped me in doing that. To all of those who taken the time to visit me (sometimes with puppies!!), call, text, facebook, tweet.. thank you! You’ve helped the days pass more quickly, and gave me the strength I need some days to get through and mark another x on the calendar. You’re amazing. 

But what happens when the fear creeps in? What happens when you have so much joy, you become afraid you’re not supposed to grieve anymore? Quite frankly the journey is wearing me out. The ups and downs, twists and turns and then it all stops and spins again. This portion of the journey to becoming a mom of two seems to just spiral out of control sometimes – all while rarely leaving my couch. Everyone is having first birthdays that I just sit on the outskirts of – never forgetting the first birthday we never got to have. I am trying so hard to basque in the brightness and the joy of this pregnancy, but sometimes the fear just takes over, and 5 minutes without a kick in the belly makes me want to run screaming to the case room just to check. 

The bed rest is catching up to me. I can’t go to meetings, or out with friends. I have entirely too much time on my hands. You would think I would write more, but I have built walls around this pregnancy. I’m so focused on getting this baby here safely, I have had to block out some of my grieving. But then, the guilt of realizing I’m not grieving as much seems to make the pain that much more intense when I let my guard own. But then I have to box it up and put it away again because I know I have to focus on this pregnancy and this baby. 

It’s a vicious cycle that is leaving me breathless and a little stir crazy. This is part of a double sided journey. And it makes me envious of all of those other women I know that are blissfully pregnant, and unaware of all of the horrors that I know. How I long for those days of innocence when I didn’t feel like I was jinxing something to want to hang a picture on the nursery wall or post a picture of my growing belly for all to see on facebook.  I hope this pregnant lasts at least 13 more weeks, but at the same time I hope they go by as quickly as possible and that I can embrace both of my children; this baby in my arms and Everlee in my heart. 

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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!).

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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.

A Good Day

First off let me say thank you, from the bottom on my heart, to the people who sent me good wishes and all of the luck they had for my appointment yesterday. After a number of months waiting to get to see the Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) specialist, I finally had my appointment with her yesterday morning.

To say I was terrified about this appointment would be an understatement. She was what stood between me and making Everlee a big sister. It was possible she would tell me that I could never get pregnant again. Or, that I shouldn’t because the risk was too high. Everything about my future was in her hands.

8%.

That’s the chance that another pregnancy will result in an abruption like the one that took Everlee. Any chance is too high, but an 8% chance of it happening again means that there’s a 92% chance it won’t, right?

After a long appointment, with talk of lots of numbers, and ratios, chances and preventative measures, the MFM gave me the news I have been waiting to hear – I can get pregnant again. It won’t be easy getting there, and pregnancy won’t be easy if we do. But I can try.

So in the coming weeks I will start fertility treatments. I saw the doctor this morning who was the one who upset me back in May. With the first glimpse she got of me her first reaction was to say “WOW! how much have you lost”. I told her. She told me I looked great. And then she acted like nothing had ever happened and the appointment continued. She told me how we would proceed, and I went on my way.

I’ve decided, for the time being I want to keep that part of my life private. Fertility treatments are an emotional roller coaster. A game of hurry up and wait. They’re stressful under the most normal of circumstances. With the added stress of my previous pregnancy, I don’t feel it will be helpful for me to agonize over every minute of it. Above anything what doctors have told me is that I need to remain calm and keep my anxiety low to help with my fertility and keep any new pregnancy healthy. I need to try to be stress free. Doctors orders. And constantly being asked, or talking about what my body is going through is stressful to me. When there is something to update on, I will do so, but for the time being, this blog won’t be used to talk about fertility treatments and in all likelihood, until it’s painfully obvious, I probably won’t tell anyone when I am pregnant.

So that’s the update. Yesterday was a good day. I had a good night with good friends last night. It’s the first date I can touch on the calendar to say that I had a good day. So thank you, to everyone who made that possible. This is what hope feels like.

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.

 

Day 2

I remember wondering in those first days and weeks after we lost Everlee if I would ever make it through a day without crying ever again. I don’t remember when it happened, I’m sure it wasn’t a particularly momentous day. But it happened none the less. I still cry more days than I don’t. I usually cry quietly to myself in the darkness of night now. But, usually, I can muster the strength to make it through the daylight hours without letting my heart leak onto my face. I have always hated showing any outward sign of weakness. That part of me soldiers on. Funny, when you consider how I’ve chosen to make some of my most personal and vulnerable thoughts so public here.

These last three days, I have had reminiscent feelings of those first few weeks. The anxiety has returned tenfold. If you’re having a bad day today, consider this: I threw up in the shower this morning. Note to self: don’t eat breakfast for the next few days, and hope that this wave of intensity passes. A little perspective. And as I picked up my coffee at Starbucks and headed onto the onramp to the highway toward my office for the second time this week it started. The tightness in my chest, that hot burning feeling at the back of my eye balls, the topsy-turvy feeling in my tummy, the dryness in my throat. And then came the tears.

And I wondered aloud (as I often do have very meaningful discussion with myself out loud when driving alone) “will I ever be able to drive to work without bursting into tears? Will I ever make it through a day at work without having to go lock myself in the bathroom to cry?”. As a wise man once taught me (thank you for *everything* but especially this Mr. Duffenais) Tomorrow is a better day. Hopefully some day in the not so distant future, on some not particularly momentous day, I’ll make into work dry-eyed. And hopefully some day soon people won’t pass my open office door and wonder if they should pop their head in to say hello. And hopefully some day soon I won’t have to work myself up for 45 minutes to be able to walk to the cafeteria to get a yogurt for my break. And hopefully someday soon I won’t have to think about all of these things so intently.

This grief thing is never ending. Time diminishes the intensity of it, or maybe, time diminishes the frequency of intense periods. Because when the waves crest, the intensity of the anger, resentment, guilt, and sadness is raw and painful like that of the first weeks after it happened. Acute, deep, and fierce.

There are times when, out of the blue, the tears well up and my face turns hot. Maybe there was a trigger – a new baby born, seeing a Facebook post about how someone else is pregnant and not me, or catching the faint smell of new furniture still wafting from her closed bedroom door. Maybe it was nothing at all, Just sudden, inundating sadness. But it’s always there. Picking at my soul. Always on the periphery of my mind. Always something missing. That is how the rest of my life will be. I believe someday the grief won’t be as intense. But it will be always present in my life. It’s my new normal.

Tick Tock.

I was going to wait until tomorrow to write an entry, but the urge overwhelmed me. I’m sitting here in my basement, quietly packing up my personal things to bring back to my office tomorrow. My degrees, my Mr Potato Head, my photos. Tomorrow, I ease back into the land of the living.

They are things that it seems like only yesterday I hastily packed away into a bag as I was leaving work when my doctors ordered me home on bed rest. I was excited then. I was only a few short weeks from becoming a mom. 

I made comments to people like “I’ll see you in a year” or “next time you see me I’ll have my baby with me!”

How stupid I was. I couldn’t have known then. But how ignorant and foolish I feel now looking back on myself. 

On the long and winding journey through grief there are many markers along the road. Anniversaries, firsts, a certain number of good days in a row. Some of them creep up on you and give you no time to prepare. Other times you can watch yourself come upon them, and every ounce of your being says NO NO NO. And you dig in your heels and try to stop them from rushing up at you. 

Because who wants to move one single inch, one single second, further from the last moment they held their baby in their body, in their arms?

Tick. Tock. and the moments without her zoom past.  

Instead of having a baby to show off when they see me, now they can see the shiny new headstone that was put in place this week for Everlee. I hate that this wretched thing has to exist. But, for what it is, it’s beautiful. 

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I’ve had a massive headache all day. My back has been tangled in knots. My stomach has rolled all day long. I love my job. I love my workplace. I love my coworkers. My doubt, anxiety and fear has nothing to do with any of those things. It’s a monster that lives in me.  I’m prepared that people will say the wrong thing sometimes., I’m prepared that some people may not know. I’m prepared for the breakdowns that i will inevitably have. But, what I fear more than anything is that the thought of taking this massive leap forward will somehow make people think that I’m better. That it will make them think I’ve moved on. 

I went out last night in attempt to bring some closure to my time off. A friend and I went to Erin’s Pub to listen to some irish music and have a few pints. And as I sat there and the listened I found my mind wandering from the music back to the case room.  For the last seven months I’ve suffered from flashbacks. Not passing memories. Flashbacks. I was there. I was back in the room. I was flooded with emotions. And every ounce of me felt the same sting of hot, raw, emotions. 

How could anyone think I have moved on, when I relive those moments, and live with the real pain every single moment of the day.  

If I waited to feel better, or to have moved on I would never be going back to work.  

I wish I could put her picture on my desk. I want to be able to look at her with the adoration she deserves. Everyone else has pictures of their children on their desk. But that’s just one more aspect of motherhood that I don’t get to have. 

So tomorrow, I make my first foray back into the land of the living, but on the inside, I’m still feeling like I’m in the world of the dead. 

Wish me luck. 

 

Share if you have a daughter that makes your life worth living

In my previous life, as a side business, I created strategic social media plans for various organizations. As a side effect to that, I have become a stickler for social media etiquette. The dos and don’ts of the digital world. Don’t auto post to twitter from Facebook. Don’t share anything you haven’t read. Don’t fall for social media “chain mail”. Those sorts of things irk me.

Everyone has those people on their Facebook that are guilty of posting things for “brother week” and “cousin day”. Silly little JPEGs that go viral for weeks on end (how long is brother week anyway?). In The last number of days I have seen an increasing number of silly little pictures that state “share this image if you have a daughter that makes your life worth living”. Now, under normal circumstances, just the thought of hitting share on something like that, no matter what the occasion, turns my stomach. But at least a dozen times in the last few days my finger has hovered over the share button.

What would others think? Would they judge me because my daughter isn’t here? Would they feel sorry for me? Would they question if the thought of my daughter would make me want to die, and not make it worth living?

Get a grip Rhonda, they’re just Facebook trash.

The truth is, Everlee has brought me an insurmountable amount of joy. That beautiful little baby is everything I have ever wanted out of life. And for the nine months that she lived with me I knew what true and honest happiness was. That feeling is what I hold on to. Knowing that feeling, and that joy is what makes my life worth living every day, no matter how often I question if this crushing, soul sucking, all consuming grief is worth getting out of bed for every day.

Today, while out for my morning run to Starbucks my car steered itself to the graveyard. It’s only the second time since we buried her that I have been there. My only time having been there alone. I had no intention, when I woke up this morning, to go there. But something compelled me to go in. It’s a dreary day here. You can feel fall in your bones. The sky was grey, and although it wasn’t raining at the time, the sky was wet and damp. I hate days like this. Because, as morbid as it sounds, I think of her alone there, cold and wet. I think about how I wish I could cuddle her in a soft warm blanket and smother her sweet little face with kisses so that she doesn’t have to be alone in the cold and in the dark. I hate when it rains. So I sat there, by myself and I spoke to her, as I sometimes do. I felt closer though, knowing she was physically there. I told her I was sorry. I always do. I told her how much I loved her and I missed her. I cried my heart out. I cried until my chest was tight, my muscles were sore and people on the other side of the yard could hear me wail. I haven’t cried hard like that in a long time, and I think part of me really needed that. I have been working so hard to keep it all together that sometimes I forget that I really need to fall to pieces sometimes.

After about 15 minutes I picked myself up off of the ground and I moved on with my day.

I guess my point is this, I spend a lot of time wondering what other people think about the decisions I make and how I react when it comes to my daughter. The only thing I have to protect is her memory, and I do so fiercely. When it comes to religion and spirituality I don’t know what I believe in anymore, but I do believe that my daughter, my Everlee, knows that I love her more than life itself. So I won’t share that silly jpeg on Facebook. Instead, I will write here for all to see that Everlee Rose makes every day worth living, because I have to live my life for her now.

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. 

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 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.

Ten Years Later – Class of 2003

I’ve been slacking on writing here lately. It was never my intention to let this slip. it hasn’t been for a lack of thoughts or feelings. My mind races every second of the day and night. But a lot of those thoughts have become redundant. reliving every day as if I’m in the movie groundhog day. Reliving the same painful day over and over. Doing whatever I can to change it, only to wake up and face the same reality once again. Nothing I can ever do will bring Everlee back. Ever. 

For the last few weeks I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the past, and the passage of time in general. Tomorrow night is my 10 year high school reunion. I’ve been converting our prom video to DVD to be played during the evening, and in watching the video I have gained a new appreciation for a lot of things. Looking at the 17 year old version of myself with the whole world and whole future in front of me is kind of spooky when viewed through the lens that is my life right now. 

It’s hard not to be hopelessly optimistic around prom time. The most significant chapter of your life thus far is coming to a close. What has been a routine for 13 years is no more, and there is a degree of uncertainty and excitement about the future. With a head full of dreams and a heart full of bravery you’re set to march out into the big wide world and become what everyone has always described merely as your potential. 

When I left St. Kevin’s ten years ago I had so many dreams. Like most girls, I thought I was going to marry my high school boyfriend. We has been together 2 years at that point – a lifetime in teenaged years. I was going to go to University. I was going to be a geologist (HA!). I was going to make a mark on the university the way I had made a mark on high school – by being involved and by being a big fish in the sea of students. And most important to me, as it always was, I was going to have a family. I wanted 7 kids. 

But, as no one prepares you for in valedictory speeches, life throws you curveballs. Plans change. Friends change. Love changes. And ten years later you’re only a shadow of what you thought you would be. 

Shortly after my first year of University I left my high school boyfriend. I realized that you had to be good at Math to be a geologist. And I realized that being a big fish in a big sea took A LOT of time. (It would eventually become the only thing I even came close to accomplishing on my list of goals for my undergraduate life.)

After first year I took a semester off, almost moved to BC and stayed because I fell in love (for what I now realize was the first time). He broke my heart. I went back to school.  I met my husband-to-be. I got a BA. I got a job. I got married. I got a masters degree. I got pregnant. And then came Everlee. The best and worst thing to ever happen to be rolled up into a sweet 5lbs 1oz package of sleeping perfection.

 My life in summary in the last 10 years. 

It’s true what John Lennon wrote. Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. The days drag on, but the months and the years fly by. And before you know it you’re sitting here looking at yourself, full of hope, piss and vinegar wondering where that passion for life went. I don’t have less dreams but life has seemingly stood still and zoomed past all at the same time. And I’m sitting here, missing my baby girl more with every passing second waiting for life to show me what I’m supposed to do next. 

Everyone endures tragedy. I may be the only one of our 90-odd classmates that has lost her child (and subsequently her heart and soul). But others have endured their own battles. Won and lost their own wars. Life has thrown them curveballs. Their Plans have changed. But, at the core, are we all still fundamentally the same? Do we still look toward the future with dreams in our heads and bravery in our hearts. 

 I do. I have to. What other choice do I have?

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.