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Friday, April 29, 2011

Alexandra's Birthday

Today my daughter turns one. One year of missed moments has passed, and somehow it feels like it all happened yesterday.
It is snowing, the snow started yesterday, just like last year, big fluffy snow flakes are falling, tears from Heaven for Alexandra.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter at the Cemetery

Yesterday was a difficult day for me. It started the way any Easter should, with Dayne waking up excited, wanting to hunt for eggs. I thought about Dayne's first Easter and how cute he was and how cute Alexandra would have have been. I thought about how our table would have looked, with Dayne's Phineas and Ferb and Webkinz themed gifts and something girly, Dora, or Disney Princess for Alexandra. I probably shouldn't do that, but these are the things I'm missing out on, and I am so very aware of it.
And, as with all of our holidays, we visited the cemetery. It was the most difficult holiday visit. I tried not to cry as we stood there, looking at our daughter's headstone. I didn't want to ruin Dayne's day, he is able to bring Alexandra's memory into everything that he does in such a positive way, he is able to stand at her grave and say "Hi Alexandra!" with a smile. He doesn't know how different it would have been if she was here, he just accepts that this is the way it is and that's ok.
Steve's sister had been to the cemetery before us and she had left an Easter basket there for Alexandra. It had a stuffed bunny and a ceramic bunny and it even had some chocolate eggs in it. Alexandra had been included like any other niece or nephew in her life and it was so touching to me. Dayne announced as he noticed the basket, "Look Mommy! The Easter bunny even came to see Alexandra!"
We made it through the last first holiday without Alexandra, and this week we will make it through her first birthday, together.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter

The other day I was reminded that I used to post poems a lot, I haven't for a while because I forgot. Today seems like a good day for a new a poem.
I hope that everyone is having a peaceful and gentle Easter.

Tiny Angels

Tiny Angels rest your wings
sit with me for awhile.
How I long to hold your hand,
And see your tender smile.
Tiny Angel, look at me,
I want this image clear....
That I will forget your precious face
Is my biggest fear.
Tiny Angel can you tell me,
Why you have gone away?
You weren't here for very long....
Why is it, you couldn't stay?
Tiny Angel shook his head,
"These things I do not know....
But I do know that you love me,
And that I love you so".

Author Unknown

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter, my last pregnant holiday

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday and it has hit me how hard this day might be for me, possibly the most difficult first holiday without Alexandra. Last Easter I was at my Grandma's house, hugely pregnant and excited, this Easter, I am neither pregnant, nor excited. I am without belly and without baby and it dawns on me that this one is going to be a doozy.
I have packed the day with outings, time with family, so that I can work on making new memories that include Alexandra's memory in a positive way...This first Easter, I don't think that's going to be as easy as it is to type it.
Of course, as with all important dates in our lives now, we have set aside time to go to the cemetery tomorrow and bring Alexandra her new toy, a stuffy as usual; a pink duck with white bunny ears, perfect for Easter.
Last year, when we were at the cemetery picking the place where Alexandra would be laid to rest, we noticed that there were pin wheels on all the graves, I thought that it must have been an Easter thing, some other loss mom had decided to get all the babies a little Easter pin wheel. I wonder if it will happen this year, will someone take the time to give all of the babies a little pin wheel? It's just a pin wheel, but it will mean a lot to see that someone else has included Alexandra in their Easter...We'll see.
For now, one step at a time, one moment after another, remembering to breathe, we will get through this one like every other horrible moment of the last year and we will work on learning how to include our Alexandra in everything we do, in a healthy and positive way.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Alexandra's Day

A few months ago my sister called me and asked if I would be interested in planning a fundraiser to help celebrate Alexandra's birthday. She had an idea to sell children's art to raise money for the pregnancy and infant loss program in our city. My oldest nephew is quite the little artist and had always wanted to put on a show to display his art, this is what led my sister to her idea.
Of course I was interested, but how I could I possibly do this? With such short notice, how would we pull it all together? So, I sent an email to the woman who had been my grief therapist and I asked her what I could do with this idea. She worked quickly, forwarding my email along to the appropriate people, essentially getting the ball rolling for Alexandra's fundraiser.
Before I knew it I was having a meeting with a woman from Calgary Health Trust, the woman who would be there for me, replying to a million emails with a million questions about what to do and how to do it. I think I will be forever grateful for all of the help and support that this amazing woman has given me.
It's been a lot to pull together, for sure, and at times I felt like maybe I bit off more than I could chew. Calling, emailing, and going to businesses, soliciting things, for every ten places I asked one would reply and for every ten that replied, one would say yes. It was a lot of rejection, and some of the emails I received felt like a punch in the gut. I remember the first place I emailed, I was so excited to be celebrating Alexandra's birthday in such a special way, I emailed one of my favorite cake stores and asked if they would be willing to donate a cake to our event. The response I got made the air catch in my throat and my eyes well up, and not in a good way. The email explained to me that this company only helped with causes that made a difference. Are you kidding me? As if the pregnancy and infant loss grief support program didn't make a difference? Really?? I was blown away, so much so that I replied to the email explaining that they need to rethink the rejection email they send to people.
And for the record, I will never again purchase a cake from cakeworks, because I prefer to buy cakes from people that like to make a difference.
So, as these last few months have gone by and the huge fundraiser to do list has gotten smaller and smaller, I realize that that list is about to grow again, as we take this whole next week to pull it all together, running around, picking things up, setting things up, contacting the media, making all the last purchases and changes to the schedules.
I have been finding myself drawn to the idea behind what I now refer to as the "evil cakeworks email." What if nobody comes? What if my fundraiser is a complete flop? What if all the media I contact feels the same way as cakeworks? What if they don't think that my daughter and all of the other babies lost are important enough?
Without the Scott Smed room at the hospital I feel that so much of those last few peaceful moments with our daughter would have been robbed from us. The memory box, teddy bear, blanket, clothes, recognition of birth, finger prints, pictures, hair clippings, pamphlets, books for Dayne, the blessing our daughter received, it all meant more to us than we will ever be able to verbalize. The therapy that I received, the candle light vigils, the gatherings for loss families, it means everything to those that have lost. It means everything and it takes funding.
I have said this before, but I will say it again, my family will never be able to repay the gift that we were given, but we can try to pay those gifts forward by replacing the resources that were used for us, but also help other families in need.
This IS a cause that impacts people. This IS a cause that makes a difference, but I fear that the only people that TRULY get it are those that have lost a child or are close to someone that has...Is that enough? Let's hope so.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Balance and Definition

For the last year Alexandra's memory has been what I get up every day for. Don't get me wrong, Dayne, Steve, our dog and families are all wonderful and amazing gifts to my life that drive me every single day. While I give each of them the same time I always have, the same love I always have, I feel like, somewhere inside of me, they took a back seat to my grief. They took a back seat to my need for Alexandra to be remembered.
I have been a force for the last year, like King Kong, barrelling through my life, forcing everyone to look to me, look at my story, read my story, see Alexandra, hear her, acknowledge her, remember her.
And this isn't going to stop, really. Alexandra's fundraiser is quickly approaching, and when it's finished, Alexandra's charity is next on the list, and then her next fundraiser, and all of my time to come, helping families with their losses. Alexandra is working through me, every single day, pushing me forward, one step after another, and I feel like I am learning to walk with this new force within me.
But I have been wondering lately if I have defined myself ONLY as Alexandra's loss mom.
It all started with a picture. The profile picture I use for pretty much everything, my Alexandra tattoo. It's a truly amazing tattoo, and I love it, but when the time came that I felt like, maybe it's time to change it to a picture of me, I felt that feeling that is so common to me now, guilt. How will people remember her, if everything that I do doesn't reflect her?
So this, I guess, is the next baby loss mom hurdle. Finding a balance between who I am as an individual, and who I am as Alexandra's mother, the carrier of her memory. Defining myself as both Alexandra's mom, the baby loss mom and Dayne's mom, the living boy's mom, and a birth mother, the possible future new baby's mom, a fiance, a pet owner, a friend, sister, daughter, a woman. There is a balance there, and as with anything in life, I will stumble upon it eventually.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Struggle Continues

On March 30th I found myself in the hospital again, it was a planned trip this time, but none the less scary. I had been called just a few weeks before and told that they had a cancellation and wanted to squeeze me in for my surgery. I would have the cyst removed sooner than expected. This idea made me exceptionally happy, this meant that it would be out of the way and Steve and I would be free to try again.
So, on March 30th, we made our way to the hospital, got checked in and Steve and Dayne were allowed to sit with me in the main waiting area, while I waited to be called to the OR waiting area. Dayne was such a good boy, sitting quietly, coloring and chatting with me. He was, of course, the only child, this was not a child friendly place, I had actually been told that I couldn't bring him at all, but they told me it would be ok once I got there.
It was pretty quick, from the time we first arrived until when I was being called to change into a hospital gown, pants, robe and slippers. Dayne was quite upset that they would not allow me to wear the fluffy pink slippers he had picked out for me the day before, but they said they were not allowed in the OR. It was even more quick from time i had changed to when I was hugging Dayne and Steve goodbye and walking to the OR waiting room.
Sitting there, alone, I was scared. Steve could have come, but we had no one to watch Dayne, so alone I sat, and waited. And when it was time to go into the OR, I was terrified. The doctor's, nurses and anesthetist all commented on Alexandra's tattoo, how pretty it was, and it made me happy...and then I was asleep.
As I was waking up, I kept thinking that it had all been a dream and I had not had the surgery yet, was at home in bed, but every time I opened my eyes I heard people saying "Hello Melissa!" and it slowly came to me that I hadn't been dreaming, the surgery had happened, and was done.
Still fuzzy and not quite awake my doctor came to me and told me that everything with removing the cyst had gone very well, but commented that there was a problem with my right tube, the tube where I had just had an ectopic pregnancy. I remember saying OK, but nothing else, I remember wondering what she was talking about, the cyst was on the left, why was she talking about the right side? I couldn't find my voice though, I was still too tired.
After I was back in recovery, I slowly woke up, dozing off often. Steve and Dayne came and went a few times, checking in on me and seeing if it was time for us to go home. Once the doctor was finished with her surgeries for the day, she came down to talk to me about what had happened. By that time I had been asking the nurse what had happened, what happened to my right tube? She read my chart and told me it had been removed, was that why I was there? Why didn't I know? The doctor had the answers I was looking for.
She gently explained to me that she had taken a look at my right tube to see how it was doing and was shocked by how damaged it was. She told me that she had never seen a tube so damaged. It had stretched, had a hole in it, had filled with scar tissue and was substantially larger than it should have been. The likelihood of that tube causing me more ectopic pregnancies was very, very high and she felt that it needed to be removed, or we would end up back in that room for more surgery to remove the tube.
Even though I didn't choose to have the tube removed before I had surgery, I agreed with her decision, if the tube is useless and will only cause more problems, I would much rather have it removed...Still, that puts one more obstacle in my way and I wonder...are we meant to have another child? Is this ever going to happen for us? The question bounces around in my head, if it's not meant to happen, and I never have another child, will I be able to come to a good place about it? I just don't know.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Do You Remember Alexandra?

Alexandra will turn one this month. April 29th seems to be flying at me at a pace I am not at all comfortable with. The date means so much more than a regular birthday. For me, it's the anniversary of a day of firsts and lasts with my little angel. It marks a year that I have lived while my daughter hasn't, a year visiting her grave, a year trying to carry on without her. My daughter's first birthday will not be filled with all the wonderful things that Dayne's first birthday held, we won't be watching Alexandra smash a cake or open a present. But there will be a party, Alexandra's fundraiser, it will even have my favorite childhood clown. It will be wonderful, and I am even excited about it...But it won't be the same.
And as her day approaches, it brings with it something else that makes me sad. The thought that people will think that now that it's been a year, maybe I should move on...Those words that I hate "move on" Or because it's been a year, people will think that means they don't have to talk about Alexandra, to ask about her, to bring her up at all...To remember her.
I feel like I have already noticed it happening. People that I thought had some sort of special attachment to my daughter seem to have left her behind and it stings. Everything I have done to keep my daughter's memory alive, but I never thought that nothing that I do will matter if everyone else chooses to forget her. Maybe one day I will just be happy with knowing that I remember her, the Steve and Dayne remember her, that we will never forget her and will always know she existed, but that day has yet to come.