On Loss and Remembrance

Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day and today I send love to all of my family, friends and readers that have lost a pregnancy or baby.

One in four woman will lose a baby in their life. 25% of women. So many more than you may ever know.

It’s a sad and often silent sisterhood.

I didn’t learn how much miscarriage and child loss affected those around me until I became the 1 in 4.

When I became pregnant in 2011, while Michael and I were working desperately on keeping our marriage together, I was elated. Sure, everyone always tells you that a baby can’t fix what’s broken. But we were already on the mend. Our pregnancy was something to bind us even closer together.

But just as swiftly as I found out I was pregnant, I began to spot, and then cramp, and after several devastating hours in the emergency room it was clear that I had lost my baby.

It was hard. So very hard. But like all hard things, I wrote about it, and the outpouring of stories, love, compassion and support I received was remarkable. You can read my thoughts and the kindness I received HERE.

I have lost my father, my grandparents, aunts, uncles, beloved cousins. Attended countless funerals, memorials and wakes.

But losing my baby was something so intimate and personal and internal for me. No memorial service. No coffin. Largely just me and my sadness.

I know so many brave women that have named their Angels. That honor them with tattoos or trees or statues.

But I haven’t.

Not because I don’t long for and miss who my baby could have been. But because I am not strong enough to give my baby a name. To memorialize. To constantly remember.

It hurts in such an abstract and hard way. It’s like I can’t touch the grief. It’s there. Right under the surface, a nagging sadness in the corner of my heart. But I can’t cry it out. I can’t grieve it away. It aches but I’m used to it.

And then there’s the guilt. Guilty for longing for a baby that was lost when just months later I was graced with my perfect and healthy Isora. Perhaps guilt is irrational in this circumstance. But it’s there. I can’t help it.

So many friends have suffered losses in the past couple years. Mamas who gave me the excited news about being pregnant only to call to tell me something went wrong. Friends who lost a baby and feel that was their one and only chance to be a mother. Women that have suffered multiple miscarriages only to finally be blessed with a rainbow baby. And one incredible mother who has lost three dear sons, in such a short amount of time, whose courage and strength are inspiring to thousands of us.

My heart and soul goes out to each and every one of them. My tears pour out onto my keyboard for them. Whether they suffer in silence, or welcome people into their journey, they are, each and every one a hero. Heroes that are capable of making life and surviving beyond the life they have created though it pains them to do so.

I know that the ache in my heart is part of motherhood. Part of life, really. And while I would love to be holding my baby, instead I choose to accept that this baby was lost so that Isora could be born.

So I light my candle today…for Dani, Jen, Leslie, Kaitlyn, Stephanie and of course my dear Diana and the hundreds of others.

May each of you find peace and comfort from the grief. And may your Rainbows light the way.

 

(Nearly) Wordless Wednesday: Here Comes Santa Claus

What a week. It’s been sad and trying to say the very least. Sad for any one with a heart. So incredibly unimaginably hard for the people of Newtown.

Despite this sadness the holiday season marches on. Cheerful Christmas tunes in every store. Lights twinkling in front yards. Rolls of wrapping paper being cut and taped into sweet surprises. It IS the most wonderful time of the year.

Perhaps the best thing we can do to honor those sweet babies that lost their lives is to continue to live ours. To celebrate their youth and the significance their loss has had on our national discourse. Perhaps they will be more than just the most important people to their families. Perhaps they will become symbols of peace. Symbols of change. May they rest in peace.

Saturday, the day after such a devastating tragedy, was the annual Crafts with Santa program at our library. One of my Mom’s popular and wonderful kid’s programs of the year. Kids and their parents come to make a bunch of crafts then they can visit with Santa, take photos and each child gets a book. And it’s all FREE. Best. Program. Ever.

This year was certainly busy, but it had the highest volunteer rate of any Santa day yet. So much so that I didn’t have to ‘man’ a table. I was free to walk about and visit with old friends and take tons of pictures. It’s at once so relaxing because I can enjoy myself (as much as anyone with two children under 3 can enjoy themselves at a chaotic event). But it’s a bit sad to realize that my Mom can handle all these programs without me. Not because the library staff isn’t great (they are) but just because we put all these things together ourselves for so many years, and she doesn’t need me anymore. :(

After crafts came the real magic. Santa time.

Being VIPs of the library means that we got to answer the staff door when Santa came a knocking. And this Santa? He’s brilliant. A real snowy white beard and the long white hair to match. And he has the most kind and twinkling eyes. So mischievous and yet sweet.

Cedella got a chance to say hi and shake hands and talk to him for a while before she had to get her Christmas dress on and before Santa had to make his entrance. The perks of being a library brat, right?

I get to play elf to Santa for the afternoon with my friend and old co-worker Mary. And yes, I say lines from Elf in my head the entire time.

It feels great to watch all the different children come and sit (or scream) on Santa’s lap. Listening to what they want for Christmas is hilarious and oh so sweet. And our Santa’s response is always so kind and yet doesn’t put the parents on the hooks for things they don’t have the inclination or the funds to buy.

Our Santa never brings live animals “because they don’t fly so well on the sleigh”. And expensive electronic items “are very popular so they may not make it, but may I bring you some surprises instead?” What kid says ‘no’ to surprises from Santa? Not a one.

When at last all the kiddies were done with their Santa lap-sitting it was our turn.

Time for Isora to finally meet the Man in Red.

It didn’t go so well…

And even though she got a chance to warm up to him before it can time to sit on his lap, Cedella wouldn’t sit with him. But she did stand next to him as long as I was holding her.

And then this happened…

Santa “And what would you like for Christmas young lady?”

Cedella: “Presents”

Santa “What kind of presents?”

Cedella “All of those…” pointing to the entire cart full of wrapped books for the library kids.

And with that Santa chuckled and Cedella got shy and our visit with Santa was over.

After a very welcomed trade with her little friend Avery, Cedella scored a Tinkerbell book. And sat right down in the middle of the library to read it. (That’s her proud librarian Grandma right behind her).

I couldn’t let their sweet dresses go to waste. So I snapped a few pictures of them with the library’s gorgeous tree. I love this one of them looking at each other…

And there’s my sweet angels with their whole lives ahead of them and so many Christmases to come ::deep breath::

And my sweet Izzie Boo.

Seeing these pictures and knowing that their are families that won’t be celebrating the holidays with their children, whether its from the senseless violence in Newtown, the devastation of the wars in Middle East or due to the tragedy of childhood cancers and illnesses. We will be lighting a candle and praying for peace every night for the rest of the year for them. It’s not much, I know. But it’s something.

Merry Christmas to you all and to all a good night.