As I Drive

Where my mind goes as I drive, I think back to those long torturous drives that I had grown to detest, anticipating the anxiety that arose as I approached my destination. I have grown to hate the radio because of those long drives, angry at its insistence to play happy annoying songs, angry at its ignorance of my need to hear sad songs or silence because the music or talk it emits draws upon too many emotions that at the moment I cannot focus on. All I can focus on is my arrival at her side. I circle the building, over and over looking for free parking, I could park in cozy and safe underground parking but at fifteen dollars a day times forty two days so far is not realistic, so I circle, praying for someone to leave, desperate. Finally I find one a bit further away but I do not care. I need to get inside. I need to see her. I exit my car, often forgetting all that I will need for the day and eventually having to run back to get them. I run, my legs ache it feels as though I am not moving very fast, I push the doors open and begin my agonizingly painful walk down the long, white often empty corridor, trying to avoid the smells that surround me, wanting desperately to just magically appear at her side every morning; but having to endure this long routine of getting to her. I finally reach the room; I rush to scrub my hands, remove my rings, and sign my name on the visitor’s sheet although they should know who I am by now. I drop off the extra snacks I have brought for the kids of other families that visit in the adjoining family waiting room. I remember the first time I brought my other children here, in shock, not prepared for them to whine for food and having none. I did not want other new comers to have to feel that, I wanted to help. I wanted someone to help me. I felt so lost, so confused, so scared. Finally I get to her side, I see that they have been poking at her again; I hold back my tears as I stroke her beautiful little face, that is splattered with dried blood from their obvious failed attempts at finding useful arteries. Why. My mind so often wonders why. Why me, why her, why does this happen to anyone. I try to pick her up but it is so hard with all the tubes and IVs, so I lay my head on her tiny body, the body I grew inside my own, the body that grew unable to breathe on its own, the beautifully perfect on the outside but so broken on the inside body, that now has become mine as well. Broken; my heart is broken, my mind, now broken, unable to understand the jargon being spoken to me by doctors, specialists and surgeons. I am unable to function I just want to hold her and have everyone else shut their mouths. Stop talking to me; stop telling me to leave her so we can have a meeting about a future no one knows for sure. Stop making me drive all the way here every day, getting stuck in traffic wondering if when I get here will she be the same, will she still be there. The panic that has grown in me over these last few weeks is almost unbearable I say almost because I am still here. I just want to take her home; I just want her to be normal, to be able to breathe on her own, to not need multiple surgeries to fix the problems with her heart. I just want to stop feeling scared and sad. I often think back to all those times I knew something was wrong, all those appointments with my doctor where I could not stop crying nor could I explain why I was crying, I just knew something was wrong because of the morbid, guilty thought I often had was if I have a miscarriage that may be better. Then she came, it was traumatic to say the least. She was folded in half, I needed a caesarean but it was four in the morning and no anesthesiologist was on so I was supposed to wait till she got here, but I could not wait, not anymore, I was already two weeks late. I kept pushing, another thought that will leave me riddled with guilt, what if I just waited, what if I did this to you. So out she came, folded in half, not breathing and turning blue. The room went silent. Hours passed before someone came back to talk to us. I did not even know until months later that your dad was asked to hold your hand and talk to you as they tried to resuscitate you. A moment he is haunted by today. They told us you were being transferred to the neo natal intensive care unit at Children’s Hospital. They told us we should follow. They told us I would be admitted there. That they had to insert a tube so she could breathe but with an unknown amount of time without oxygen that she most likely had brain damage, there is even a name for it: asphyxiated birth- birth without oxygen. One of many new words I was forced to learn very unwillingly. That they would do what they could for her but that there were no guarantees. This was the first of many long, silent drives down to the hospital, to see my daughter that was born not breathing my daughter that we also later would find out was born with congenital heart disease: three holes in her heart, an abnormal trachea and needed a feeding tube. Her first surgery was when she was just 5 weeks old. But I knew none of this on that first drive. I was in shock, in denial, a part of me assumed that when we got down there, she`d be fine. The brain is funny that way. That was the first drive until 52 days later we made the last. We did not know it was the last of course, not until we got there and learned of the results from the latest scans, I did not know that was the beginning of my anxiety that surrounds driving now. We learn that the chance of you surviving, being so small and so fragile already, that the chance of surviving the surgery needed to fix you was slim if any chance of survival at all. We were told they would operate if we asked them to. But did we want to lose you on the operating table or in our arms. It is quite odd to have people speak to you this way, so matter of fact, about your child. That is going to die. They offered to move you to hospice but did not know if you would survive the transfer. So we held you, right there in the pediatric intensive care unit as they removed your tubes, always in the back of my mind was the thought -what if she breathes on her own, what if. A saying that will haunt me forever: what if. But you did not breathe on your own. Your dad and I held your amazing, precious little body until we could not. We walked silently back down that cold, white corridor for the last time and drove in silence for the last time that long treacherous drive home; never to see you again. Never able to drive again without thinking of the first, the last and the fifty lonely drives` in between trying desperately to see you.

That is what I think of as I drive.

Thanks for reading

Namaste,

Sheri

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It is ok to be sad

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I feel you rolling your eyes, as I hit post. Another grief post you think! Your pain is no longer because it wasn’t your child you lost, it was mine, so you did feel sad for a bit after, you don’t understand how or why I am still grieving or posting sad stuff about grief. I get it its not your loss, you don’t feel it every day like I do and you don’t want to remember it  as much as I do. You might think I am bitter or want sympathy, I don’t. Just know that my heart hurts when I glance at the spot on the floor where she stopped breathing, that I have trouble thinking of moving because this is where she lived for 2 short weeks. Every time I hear a story of tragedy or a life lost I cry for her. Am I stuck? no I am human. I am a mother that gave birth to a beautiful baby that struggled to live, to breathe, that spent 5 weeks in the NICU, not sleeping, not feeling and slowly breaking. That was almost four years ago I know, you think I must have moved past this pain, I have another little girl right. She is my savior, yes. but also my daily reminder of my first little girl that is not here. Would they be best friends? or Would they fight a lot?  I wonder. And yes that too makes me sad. Immediate grief after a tragedy is overwhelming, its consuming and then time takes it away, little by little the intense memories fade and it is easier to ‘pretend’ life is what it is.

Today is October 15th- International Awareness of Stillbirth, miscarriage and infant loss

A day that makes me sad but grateful to have met and to be a part of a community of women, amazing women, that too have suffered a loss, something that is not openly spoken about but should be, something that people are uncomfortable to bring up, leaving the person(s) that suffered the loss alone. Why are we told not to share a pregnancy until 3 months? in case you lose the baby right, we don’t need to upset people like that! but then we suffer alone with our loss. Not right. After I lost my daughter, after she was born at full term, after she was given a birth certificate because she lived past 21 days (the time the government thinks your baby needs to live to be considered a human!) even though we all know as soon as we see that pink or blue line we have a child in our life, whether they live past 21 days or not, to be deemed a person! Different issue, I move on. The stigma that surrounds uncomfortable feelings needs to stop. People need compassion not shame. I don’t know how to change the world into thinking its ok to be sad, we do not need to ‘pretend’ to be happy all the time. As Buddha says ‘Life is suffering’ I believe we have pockets of happy moments or happy feelings but if you truly look at the world and live true, you see that it is about surviving, surviving tragedy around us, surviving, genocide, rape, famine , disease, homelessness, joblessness, then death. Acknowledging life’s struggles does not make us ‘negative’ it makes us real and if you let yourself feel the sad you will better be able to appreciate the happy.

After I lost my daughter, so many women came up to me and told me about their losses, a women lost her son when he was 21, another suffered multiple miscarriages’ but never told anyone, so many stories, so many women that suffered alone because society made them feel like they had to hide their shame because it wasn’t ‘happy news’ I call bollocks! I will continue to share my grief and encourage others to share because we are here for such a short time, all we have is each other. To help, to love, to pick each other up and hug.

Namaste

Thanks for reading.

Sheri

My Space will soon be 4

The space

There is a space in our family that cannot be filled. At one time it was tiny, 18 inches long, yet to reach three pounds, long and lean but tucked into a bundle dripping with my tears.

That space inserted itself into every day. She was milestones unmet, crib sheets unused, car seats returned. The pain of her absence stubbornly followed my every moment. Tears in the shower, aching emptiness in my chest and constant wonder over the functioning world.

Our space grew as we did. Two years old, a height evenly between her brother and sister, toddling in places she should be and shouldn’t.

This space came and went. She woke me up in the morning and reminded me over again how life had changed, she was a hair color I would never know and words I would never hear and this spot in every photo where I knew she should be.

As our space got older we got stronger. At four she was probably all kinds of things, probably tall and thin, probably inseparable from her sister, probably the one to like hugs more and dirt less.

We could almost see her, the little person she would have become and this hurt so much more but sometimes less.

When our space inched past 6 she was so far from the baby we held we weren’t sure how to imagine her. She might be the tallest or the shortest or have straight hair or curly forever tangled in a brush.

She wasn’t just remembered by us anymore, her siblings drew her into their imaginations, painted her into our world, dripping with vibrance and swirling colors. Their thoughts of her made our hearts burst and break at once knowing they had glimpsed our emptiness. She was their space to hold too.

Our space will be 8 soon, we’ve held her for that long. She would be begging me for purple in her hair or loving it cropped short. She should be trading clothes with her sister and sharing her bed at night or hiding her things so she won’t borrow them again.

She is the sister my daughter is sure would fix every annoyance from her brothers. The daughter I imagine would have made our life that perfect kind of ordinary. And the child I would give anything to have back.

She is the space we will always hold, she’s changed form and size and intensity over the years but there’s no force greater than what she’s left for us. A family forever holding her place.

See more of this article at: http://fourplusanangel.com/2015/09/the-space/#sthash.c9obvphA.dpuf

View original at: http://fourplusanangel.com/2015/09/the-space/

I love this post written by Jessica author of ‘Four plus an Angel’ it came in my inbox at the most necessary time. I couldn’t have written this feeling, these sentiments or thoughts any better so I have shared it with you.

Namaste,

Thanks for reading.

Sheri.

A better me because of you

We all have bucket lists of some form or another, learn to cook, run a marathon, travel etc. I always had things in the back of my head that I wanted to do, but just like the garden  I always wanted and never grew until after losing her. I never did those others things either, but suddenly I had to occupy my mind and body so I did them.

Canuck Place Adventure Race 10k, Run for water 5k, BCCH Child Run 1k and 5k, Tough Mudder16k, Vancouver Sun Run 10k

Canuck Place Adventure Race 10k, Run for water 5k, BCCH Child Run 1k and 5k, Tough Mudder16k, Vancouver Sun Run 10k

These are the races I ran over the last 3 years since her passing I have raised over $15,000. for BC Childrens Hospital and Canucks Place Childrens Hospice. I feel proud of her for encouraging me to do the things I always secretly wanted to. I’ve adopted a street I maintain in her honor and I donate blood 3x/year for her. She has made me a better person. The loss of her has taught me that life is precious, life is short and what you do should be meaningful, if only to you.

Lily’s Tree

Lily's Tree

When I was 6 months pregnant with Lily I had an urge to plant a new tree in my yard, my thought was to watch it, and her grow together, I would always know how long the tree was there because it would be the same age as her. I chose a beautiful red Japanese maple tree. I planted right in my front yard; it greets me every time I pull in the driveway.

After lily died, it was hard to look at my tree and not think of her, her name pops into my head when I see the tree; Lily’s tree.

1 dwarf cherry tree, 1 plum tree, 1 apple tree, 1 azalea, 1 lavender bush, 2 rose bushes, 3 blueberry bushes, 4 strawberry bushes, 10 hedge trees, , multiple vegetables yearly in my vegetable garden.

I became obsessed with wanting to grow things, walking in nature; I spent many hours outside staring at tree tops and crying. I told my husband I wanted to build a garden box, I had always wanted to plant and grow things and since I didn’t have a baby taking up my time why not now. The first thing I planted in my garden was Lilies of course and they come back to greet me each July.

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Thank you my angel.

Thanks for reading.

Namaste

 

Who you’d be today

We went away, another trip you should have been on. I miss you lily. I remember that day you left us, I prayed and begged for so many things to have you to stay, I promised you I would buy us matching bathing suits to wear the following summer, I almost bought Hope and I matching suits this trip, I couldn’t. I miss you. This morning I was staring at a photo I keep beside my computer, it is of your brothers holding you and it struck me as I stared that it was you and not your sister Hope. All the things that are missed by you, by your life being over.

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Three years ago I slept a lot, not wanting to endure the pain of the slow minutes that past without you. I prayed to jump ahead in time when it would not be so raw, so real, and so hard. And here I am, three years later and I wish so desperately to go back to that pain, to feel your hurt inside my soul so I cannot move again. I miss you. I think of you still always. I wonder who you’d be today.

Thank you for reading.

Namaste

Wed.Oct.15th 2014 Child Loss Memorial Service for Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day

langley lawn cemetery childrens plaque

Mourning Mothers held their 12th annual Child Loss Memorial service at 1:30 yesterday(October 15th- Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day) at Langley Lawn Cemetery4393 208 St, Langley, BC There was  a dove release and a display of “Angel Gowns” made from wedding dresses, for stillborn babies or those who have died after birth. We lit a candle for Lily, placed an angel on the cemetery’s Angel Tree. I am so grateful to have found this place, I have been longing for a place to visit where I can remember my girl, having had her cremated, her ashes sit in a love box on our fireplace, we always felt like we had nowhere to go. We wanted to ‘buy’ a bench and have an in memoriam plaque placed on it but unfortunately Langley has decided it appears too negative to have ‘In memory of’ or  birth and death dates, so we decided against it. I cant even begin to describe the anger I felt when they told me this. Anyway, we do have a plaque outside the NICU where Lily spent most of her life but its just too far to visit and a little awkward to stand in a hallway with people and doctors passing by, also when we saw the plaque for the 1rst time we of course took a picture and a security guard told us we were not aloud and questioned why?? We thought are you kidding?! this is OUR plaque for OUR daughter, WE paid for and we will take a picture if we damn well please! Anyways after the service yesterday I felt so completely and utterly drained. But so glad I went.

“I find hope in the darkest of days, and focus in the brightest. I do not judge the universe.”
― Dalai Lama XIV

lily dovetree

What kids could teach us

Nov. 13 2013

I overheard my sons’ friends telling my other sons friend that ‘Hayden’s mom wanted a girl but it was born with half a heart and died but they had another baby and now they have Hope’.  Cute, sad and real.

It is cute that kids can be so open, honest and matter of fact- adults could really learn from how kids can speak so openly. Why do adults tip toe around the truth so often?

Sad: because at some point in their friendship my son told his friend about his sister that died.

Real because that is the reality of our situation and kids don’t mask, hide or have weirdness about talking about certain topics as adults do. The four boys were playing upstairs they saw a picture of lily one friend asked about it and the other friend answered. Simple. Thinking back I wonder if the friend that answered for my son was because he knew it was hard for Hayden and he didn’t want his friend to get sad at having to answer. You may think I give these young kids too much credit but after having witnessed the understanding way in which they have spoken about their sister and the sad reality of what happened, the way they’ve come to question other things has also showed their young intelligence and sense of understanding of the subject.

Unfortunately we do not think kids are able to understand or accept death, we treat them and their grief very differently. Here is a link on tips to help kids through grief.

http://www.nasponline.org/resources/crisis_safety/griefwar.pdf

But I believe, yes kids are resilient, yes they can move on from one subject easier than adults and yes they think and remember as we do a times. Their are nights I have fought back tears as they ask if their dad or I are going to die out of the blue. The random mentions of their sister- out of the blue. The hugs so freely given with silent understanding when mommy is sad. Kids do get it. Probably more than adults.

Nov. 20 2013

Lily’s birthday looms in the back of my mind, I secretly count down the days every night in my mind so I guess it is in the front of my mind not the back. I woke up, took kids to school, did groceries, and while driving home I am wondering why it is so hard for me to see. I pull into the garage, I look in the mirror- holy shit- my eyes are super swollen?! Why? I am not sure. I wasn’t crying last night? was my first thought….was I? No…. I did spend the better half of the day listening to Miranda Lamberts ‘over you’ , cradling Lily’s ashes so I guess I was crying. I don’t think I really notice anymore its just so common for me to be crying I don’t even notice? I walk downstairs and stare at her 11×14 picture on  the wall the biggest I could get without thinking people would call me a crazy person. I remember when I brought it home and put it up in Lily’s room, my husband freaked he said he couldn’t look at it it was too big, I spent days in her room staring at it, kissing it, apologizing to it. I wanted it to feel like she was there.

Lily would be 23months old. She has been gone for 1 year and 9 months. There is a little sister of my boys’ friends who loves ‘my baby Hope’; she is 2 and a bit. She is so sweet to Hope. She truly loves her. I had a thought the other day when she was hugging hope telling her she loved her. Would that have been lily? I mean she’s a few months older than Lil but essentially the same stage she would have…should have been…. Oh how I wish hope had her big sister. I always wanted a sister.

But, no Lily would not have ever walked or talked or eaten. Had she lived and then survived all her surgeries, she was to have a tracheotomy to be able to breathe, she already had a G-tube that fed her through her gastro intestine, she had delayed development because of seizures at birth, they said she wouldn’t walk though I always doubted that they knew anything. They being the “specialists” She was going to be the one that surprised them the one that beat the odds. But she still would never have walked or tasted food. I struggle with what would have been her life, thinking that perhaps she died because she just didn’t want that life, maybe 2 months was what was meant to be her life, maybe it’s just me, and I am feeling guilty. If I had waited for the anesthesiologist and had a c-section she wouldn’t have had so many problems. The breathing would always have been there. I don’t know. I suppose I will never know.