Wednesday, August 30, 2017

41

I have been giving a speech about how thankful we are for children's hospital for a few years now. Any chance I am given I am proud to speak about how they saved our daughter's life and all of the other times we have had positive experiences. 

The last time I spoke, I was on my way to Main Campus when it hit me. Out of nowhere I realized that this must have been the place where my brother passed away. That each time my parents came to see my child and console me, they were in the very building where their son had died. Because I wasn't sure, I called my dad to ask. 

He told me that yes, Mikey died at Children's Hospital that Labor day in 1978.  I apologized for never realizing that they had such trauma in this place they have gone to selflessly for their grandkids and for my sister and I. I realized as we spoke that 2 years to the day after Mikey had died, I was in the NICU at the very hospital. I spent 21 days in the NICU being admitted at 3 days old. They attempted to transport me by ambulance from my pediatrician, just as they had my brother before me, but I was well enough that mom drove me herself. 

So the first time my parents were back was when Cincinnati Children's Hospital was saving my life on the anniversary of my brother's death. 

When I spoke with my Dad about Mikey's short stay he told me they were admitted on Friday with Spinal Meningitis and he seemed to be doing better. Then a few days later he went septic. Dad told me of another little boy who was in the room next to Mikey. He had the same diagnosis and the same prognosis. When Mikey died on Monday, September 4 my parents left the hospital without him. The little boy who had been in the room next door walked down the hallway with his mom in front of them. Dad said he never understood how Mikey could be gone and this little boy was able to walk out of the hospital. 

This story Dad shared with me has given me a whole different perspective with Mikey's story having such a tragic ending. It has also had me thinking of who this little boy who survived may be today. 

Fast forward to yesterday. I was messaging with an old friend when a message she sent me back in 2013 popped up. She had told me about how her husband was 4 when he contracted Spinal Meningitis in the summer of 1978. I could barely believe my eyes as I read the details and asked her again. Her husband had gone septic as well. He had recovered. He had walked down the hallway with his mother out of the hospital. Although she couldn't remember the exact date his mother remembered it being near Labor Day. 

As I sat and reflected on all of the stories I have been told of my brother. The new things I learn and the glimpses of who he might have been, this left me speechless. Could it be the little boy who walked out in front of my parents is this close to our lives? 

Fate has a weird way of working itself out. God has a way of showing us what we need to know, in a time when we are ready to know it. As the anniversary of Mikey's death is upon us, those years when the dates and days line up perfectly, this timing is uncanny. 

I have spent as long as I can remember struggling with creating "memories" of my brother through learning about him. Every time I think of him, see his picture I say a prayer for peace. My parents are the most kind, caring and positive people you could ever hope to encounter. They have chosen happiness even after the deepest sorrow imaginable. I am so incredibly blessed to have roll models to strive to be like. Please say a little prayer for mom and dad this weekend. 

As I told a friend a few weeks ago. Some days like birthdays and anniversaries never get easier. 

Time may heal us , but grief has a way of making it stand still again.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

I see you mama

I see you mama 

My heart is broken for you

I know a glimpse of your pain

As life pounds you down

You smile 

As Hope gets harder to have 

You have hope

As the emotional and physical pain

Of praying and hoping 

Of excitement and positive thoughts 

lead to immense heartbreak

You move forward

I know each loss is a part of you

Each baby has a piece of your heart

Each loss was your child

A child you prayed for

A child you planned for 

A child you dreamed of 

From the moment you thought just maybe 

From the moment you got that positive test

From the moment you prayed that this pregnancy would be that one time 

As you travel this road 

Of uncertainty and sadness 

Of hope and faith

When the path gets so dark 

When you feel so alone

Know you are not alone

I will remember each of the babies 

You carried 

You loved

You dreamed of 

I see you mama 

You are not alone ....


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Best You

My buddy.

My best boy.

Some nights I need to stop. 

Stop and think. 

Stop and reflect. 

Stop and remember. 

When you are at your worst.

When it brings me to my worst.

There is more than either of us know. 

Sometimes when the moon is full.

Sometimes when Daddy has to leave. 

Sometimes when there are big changes.

Sometimes when you know I need my attention elsewhere. 

Sometimes it is the perfect storm. 

You make things difficult. 

You get a reaction. 

You know how I work. 

I raise my voice. 

You lose a privilege. 

I take time to quiet my mind. 

You take time to make some noise. 

We meet and we talk. 

I tell you I know why you are having a bad night. That it doesn't make it okay. 

That I understand how you feel. 

Sometimes we need to sit and hold each other. 

I have a different set of rules for you. 

I learn something new everyday. 

About you. 

About myself. 

About the person I hope you become. 

About the amazing person you already are. 

About the parent I need to be for you. 

You hate to be alone

You love to tell stories

You sing along to every song

You are caring

You are kind

Sensitive

Funny

Talented

Fast

Sweet

Always hungry

And amazingly you. 

Sometimes I need to remind myself 

I only ever ask you to be the best you.

Sometimes I need to remind myself 

That the best you is pretty amazing. 





Thursday, April 13, 2017

One more time

If I could hold you one more time,
I would breathe your smell in so deep. 
Knowing full well the memories of you would fade and hoping just maybe the scent of you would stay with me. 

If I could touch you one more time, 
I would hold your hands against mine. Memorizing each little wrinkle and crease. Feeling  your skin against mine hoping just maybe the feel of your skin would remain with me. 

If I could see you one more time. 
I would stare into your eyes. Not caring if they were grey or blue. Just knowing that I was looking into the eyes of an angel. I would stare so hard, that just maybe you would see me. 

If I could be near you one more time. If space and time and this Earthly life didn't separate us. If God and I hadn't had such different plans for you. If you had been whole and you had taken a breath.

 If I could be near you just one more time, I'd let your daddy hold you tight. I would take in each moment and know it wasn't just you and me. 

Connor,
 It's been 8 years since we went to the hospital.
 8 years since we saw your heartbeat on the crappy ultrasound machine they brought in.
 8 years since you and God worked your own miracles in your timing and delivery.
 8 years since you made me the mommy of a son.
 I miss you everyday. I am thankful for my time with you, each hiccup, kick and craving. The moments I was able to hold you and the memories I have of you. As time moves on the memories fade. Your blanket has lost its smell. My heart has healed a little. Eight years ago seems like a lifetime.  I love you and miss you so incredibly much. More than I could ever say. I am proud to be your mama. 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Green bag

 When Tj and I were engaged, I found a bag I loved. My mom and I were shopping when I saw it and she bought it for me as an extra gift. Something to use as a carry on for our honeymoon. 
All of these years later this bag serves a far different purpose than it did. 

Today this is my bag. 
I lovingly refer to it as my dead baby bag. 
It holds some of my most most prize possessions. 

The shirt tj ordered before we knew Emma was sick, it came in the mail the day after her diagnosis. 
The shirt I wore to both of my babies funerals. Cards, letters, chromosome reports, funeral Mass cards, poetry, newspapers and obituaries.

Clothes my babies wore

Clothes my babies never got to wear. 
Connor's blanket and shoes. 
Footprints and pictures. 
Their names in print. 

I have this bag in my closet. So if there is ever a fire or a tornado I can grab it and take it with me. I know my things are safe in it. 

Days like today, when Emma would be 9, I sometimes like to take it out and empty it.
 Sort through each item.
 Smell the blankets, knowing full well they no longer smell of a baby, but rather a bag in a closet for 8 years. 
As much as it hurts, sometimes you just need to feel.
 Remember the hope.
 Remember the loss.

 Remember the pain. 

When I took my new bag on my honeymoon, probably full of sunglasses and magazines all of those years ago... little did I know the purpose it would serve me now. Even on days when I don't open the bag, I can look at it and feel comfort just knowing what it holds. 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Nine years

Emma, 
It is so hard to believe that in just a few days you would be 9 years old. 
Nine Years. 
Nine years ago I learned what loss felt like. 
Nine years ago I became a different person. 
Nine years ago I lost you. 
Looking back there are so many things I don't remember. I guess that is time's way of letting me heal. Some days I only think of you once or twice and others you never leave my mind. 
You are the baby who made me a better, stronger woman. 
You are the baby who made me a little crazier than I already was. 
You are the baby I expected to be healthy. 
I expected to raise. 
You are the baby that taught me I am not in control. 
You have given me strength and helped me advocate for all of the children in my life. 
You have made me live a life without regret. 
You have changed my views on so many things. 
It is hard to believe that Anna was the same age as Sam is now when we lost you. At the time she seemed so grown up. I remember her dress and the shoes I had to have her wear. I remember watching through tears as she walked around the funeral home just before the service having everyone smell her carnation. I remember thinking how big she was. That is my memory of the two of you. The closest I ever got to having the two of you together. 
I wonder now, who would you be? Would you be sweet and low key like Anna or a funny stinker like Sam. Curly hair or straight? Maybe somewhere in the middle of my other two little girls. 
Life changed forever when we saw your face on that ultrasound. 
When we found your fate. 
I cherish every second of carrying you. 
I cherish every kick, hiccup and craving. 
You will forever be a part of me.
I take solace in knowing God is holding you in His arms. 
I take comfort in knowing you are whole in Heaven. 
I like knowing you are with Connor.
Take good care of your baby brother up there. 
I imagine you fight with him, just as Anna and Wy fight down here. 
And that you love each other unconditionally, just as they do. 
Nine Years. 
Nine Years of loving you. 
Nine years without you. 
I will always and forever love you, Emma Jean. 

Friday, January 27, 2017

Choice

I wrote this 6 1/2 years ago. As the March for Life takes place today I feel it is an important time to share my experience. The heartache that changed me. 


4-13-10
In the past, I can't say I ever took a side on the pro choice/pro life debate. I thought of it as a decision that a woman would come to, that extenuating circumstances would play a major factor in. When I had a child with a fatal birth defect, I didn't even think of myself as someone having to make a “choice” into one of these groups. I remember my mom saying that my Aunt had mentioned it to her, but really didn't even get the concept at the time. It was in the months after that I realized that “termination” is a medical term that lead me into the “pro choice” realm of thinking. When I lost Emma, I never thought of her as “aborted”. She is my child and I love her with all of my heart. T.J. and I made the best decision for ourselves and for Anna. We thought we made the best decision for Emma.

All of the months I grieved for her I sat at the cemetery and looked at the other stones. If only I had thought of the Mothers who lost their children because they didn't stay in their wombs long enough. These babies that came too soon and couldn't be saved. What their mothers wouldn't give to have carried them longer. What I wouldn't give to have carried Emma longer.
I guess there is a turning point in every persons life. A place where they can stop and realize that they have changed. Sitting on a hot Summers day in that cemetery I changed. It was Emma's due date July 28. I had made it to when she should have been here. I was able to heal a little that day and I was able to see things a lot clearer. That was the day I changed my mind on what I thought was a “political issue”.
As I sit here and type this it is the day before Connor's birthday. The night I went into the hospital was one year ago today. I can sit here and think that I did everything for my son to give him as much life as I could. I can look fondly on my time with Connor. I was given such a gift to carry a baby for 9 months who was not able to survive outside of my womb.
 How can anyone not believe in God or in Miracles....without these things what was this experience! I felt every kick and hiccup and helped him to grow into a perfect baby boy. I was able to deliver him, hold him, kiss him, love him and he went to be with our Lord in his own time. I wish every mom faced with a diagnosis like ours could step into my mind for just a few minutes. I wish I could go back 2 years 1 month and a few hours and step into my own mind today. Would I have done things differently? I guess I will never know. One thing I do know is that my life has been forever changed by my two precious babies. I thank God and Emma everyday for the things they have taught me and the strength they gave me to carry Connor. What a gift to be given.