Every step.

It’s no secret to anyone, especially those of you who read my blog, that I have had body issues my whole life. I hate my body.

When I was 15, I got my first tattoo. A dove done in rainbow colours on my shoulder blade. It represented something that changed me, and something that meant love to me, my time in England and the friends I made there (I took part in something called the PEACE project, dealing with racially motivated violence and conflict resolution). I thought that if I could use my body as a canvas for all of the beautiful things in my life, that then my body would be beautiful. (Editors note: the tattoo was actually poorly done, and right before I got married
I had it redone by the wonderful Alicia at Trouble Bound who made it the beautiful piece it should have been)

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Since that first tattoo, I have gotten comedy/tragedy masks on my ankle (for my love of performance and to remember the lessons I learned from my high school teacher Tony Duffenais). And last year I had some colourful stars with the words “live laugh love learn” on the inner side of my forearm, in my dear friend Roxy Peterson’s hand writing. All things I began to accept into my life because of him.

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Today I added to my art collection and this is by far my most beautiful and meaningful of all of my tattoos. Huge thank you once again to Alicia at Trouble Bound. Now my little girl will literally be with me every step I take.

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Five Months.

It’s peculiar, people often ask me why I’ve chosen to write about Everlee, our family and my feelings on being a childless first time mother. It constantly amazes and humbles me when I see people and they make reference to reading my blog. Neighbours, friends, family and colleagues, but most surprising to me, dozens of other moms that have found themselves in this very lonely and sad club that we never wanted to be a part of. I have received emails from all over the world, and have found support online where there has been a void in my every day life. In the very early days it was simply to find my lost voice. To find a way to express those most deep raw emotions that could only bubble on the surface of my consciousness.

In the last 5 months this blog has been viewed by over 50000 people, and from what I can gather, has about 500 regular readers who read every entry. At the beginning, I didn’t care if anyone ever read what I wrote, but now I see that this space has become so much more to me than a place to let my words spill from my soul.

To a lot of people, Everlee was only ever a bump on my belly. A fun little (slash not so little) roundness that I carried around and made me waddle. She was something that made my tummy go thump and made me love chicken wings and flakies. But in writing this blog, I have been able to give people a glimpse into the person she was, and could have been. She was spirited, and active and she was loved more deeply than I ever thought I was capable of loving. She made me happier than I had ever been in my entire life in her short time with us. And losing her will always be the most painful thing I have ever had to endure. But having her, even for the shortest amount of time that she was with us, was the happiest I have ever been.

And that’s why I continue to write. So we never forget a beautiful little girl who brought an unimaginable amount of joy for a much too short time.

Happy 5 month birthday, baby girl.

Breathe

What a difference a new perspective can make.

I spent the night awake, worrying, wondering, hoping.. anxiously awaiting my appointment with my new doctor this morning at 11am. If you’ll recall the last one didn’t go so well:

https://everleerose.com/2013/05/13/i-dont-know-how-much-more-i-can-take/

After that appointment I ended up meeting with the managing nurse at the clinic I go to and complained about how I was treated. She was so apologetic and suggested maybe a fresh set of eyes and a fresh start for us would do well. And boy was she right.

In the time that has passed since I wrote that entry I have lost 27.3lbs (probably a little less since I did some celebrating today..) and have spent hours upon hours working on my own mental health, and overall well being.

I spent the night last night in agony wondering would all of my hard work be in vain? Would I be sent away again only to be told that my size was the only diagnosis I would be given? Would my health even be given consideration this time around?

My new doctor was a breath of fresh air. She said she wanted to do a number of tests (bloodwork mostly) to rule out anything that may be a risk in any subsequent pregnancy, if we’re lucky enough to get to that stage. She wants me to see the Maternal fetal Medicine specialist (essentially an extraordinarily high risk pregnancy doctor) to determine how we’ll approach a pregnancy next time around, and she said once that is done and we have a clear slate in front of us, we can start fertility treatments. Right now that looks like either August or September. With this sort of thing, it always a matter of timing.

*I* had to bring up my weight. She said I had done an amazing job, and that she knew I lead a healthy lifestyle before I was pregnant and she wasn’t at all concerned. She told me to keep doing what I’m doing. She said another 15-20lbs wouldn’t hurt, but she’s not concerned as long as I was healthy and mentally ready to move in this direction.

Night and day.

It has been so long since anything positive has happened for us, this day was everything we could have hoped for. So after 2 solid months of agonizing over every morsel of food I have put into my body, I had a cheeseburger, a beer and an ice cream! (Back to healthy clean eating tomorrow I promise!).

Darcy and I had promised ourselves that no matter what happened today that we would do something we both loved and enjoyed, so we spent the afternoon out on the water whale watching in our beautiful province of Newfoundland. The air was clean and crisp, the whales and birds were plentiful, and there was even a rainbow brought too us by a playful humpback. And for anyone who frequents baby loss blogs or groups, like I know so often many of my blogging friends do, they know the symbolism of a rainbow. And I think my little Everlee had something to do with bringing one to us today, even on the most sunshiny day… We caught a glimpse of our rainbow.
This is what hope feels like. I missed this feeling.

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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.

Happy Father’s Day. Happy Birthday.

Daddy and Everlee

Daddy holding his daughter for the first time.

Most of the time, I intentionally don’t write much about Darcy here. The reason for that being that I don’t want to assume to put words in his mouth, or feelings in his head. If anything in this journey,  I’ve learned that grief and how you cope with it is a very personal thing. No two people grieve the same way. And although Darcy and I are on the same wavelength most of the time, I’m not going to assume to know how he feels well enough to write about it here. That is a mutual respect we have for one another. That is one of the reasons why our partnership works so well, we rarely make assumptions.

Today is a big day in Darcy’s life. Today is his 35th birthday. A milestone of sorts. But today is also his first Father’s Day. Which makes the day taste bitter. Darcy has been apprehensive (to put it mildly) leading up to today. He’s requested multiple times if he could just sleep through it. And as hard as it may be, I think it’s necessary to celebrate the father he was to Everlee and continues to be.

One of those things that haunts me, and I’ve mentioned it before, is that Darcy once said the only thing he ever got to do for our daughter was to carry her little coffin to her grave. And it pains me to think that’s all he thinks he has done.

Darcy, every little thing you did for me while I was pregnant – whether it be going to the store at 7am on a saturday morning because I just *HAD* to have milk,  The emergency chicken wing runs, accompanying me to all of those doctors appointments, or taking charge of the house and making sure things were done while I was on bed rest – they were for her. They were all for Everlee. Our daughter is the luckiest little girl to have a daddy who was willing to sacrifice so much to make her safe and happy. You may have only held her in your arms for a few moments, but you held her in your heart from the very moment we knew she existed.

So I want to take this entry to wish my husband, my partner and my best friend the happiest of birthdays, and the best Father’s Day we can possibly have. You have been my rock through all of this, and since I’ve known you. And you are the best father there is. Because you had such a great role model in your own father, and in your father-in-law. I look forward to celebrating 100 more birthdays with you, and 100 more Father’s Days. I love you. And so does Everlee.

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. 

Why Today?

Why today? Why is today so hard? There is nothing special about today… My heart is broken all over again. I am sobbing. I want my baby back. She was my baby, she was my child, she was my daughter. I want to see her grow I want to see her run. I want to see her live.

Why today? Why has this come crashing down on me now?

This weekend, on the advice of my psychologist, I went out of town to try and get back to some of the things that used to bring me joy. The political party that I am affiliated with was hosting a youth retreat (normally something I probably would have been helping to organize) about 2 hours outside of the city. I was extraordinarily anxious about going there and had made a number of arrangements to ensure that I would be able to escape if I needed to, including making Darcy go with me. But I knew that I would be surrounded by people who knew me, and my situation, and they would be nothing short of supportive in my first venture back into the real world. And they were. I thank them all so much for that. 

It was harder than I expected. In a room where I would normally be in control and vocal,  I found myself reserved and confused. And when everyone went out later in the night, I went back to the hotel. My thoughts wouldn’t organize. I couldn’t focus. My words were coming out jumbled. I was just completely off of my game. But I was there. And that was a huge step for me. 

But what used to make me happy, what used to bring me alive and ignite passion in me and make me genuinely happy just gave me a little fizzle. 

Happy. What a foreign concept. 

I look at pictures of myself 6 months ago and it’s like looking at myself in an alternate universe. I wonder if I will ever be able to feel that way again? I wonder if I’ll ever be able to pull myself out of bed in the morning without bargaining with myself. I wonder if I’ll ever close my eyes at night and just sleep ever again. 

You see, with a dead baby and subsequent infertility, I find it hard to get up in the morning (and go to sleep at night) without feeling like a universal reject. By which I mean, kicked to the curb by the actual Universe. Application denied. Not genetically qualified. Unacceptable to procreate. Unfit to parent. Move along.

 

I’m told I judge myself much more harshly than anyone else, and that may be true, but what if it’s the universe that’s judging me?

Why today? Why everyday? Because I miss her. And nothing will ever change that.