Sunday, December 8, 2013

Merry Christmas

December 30th is the official date when Emilia, Lucas, Lily and Abby will become a big sister/big brother.  That of course if Andrew waits until my scheduled c-section!   (I'm sure he will!)

There is a lot of hustle and bustle in our home these days.  Our Christmas decorations are up, Christmas cards are mailed.  Most of the shopping is complete and we are as ready as we can be for Andrew.  Lily is walking around with diapers on her teddy bear and takes her bear for walks in the car seat.  It's hysterical!  Abby's grave is decorated and so is Freddie's Tree.  (If you were at her funeral you would remember the book "The Fall of Freddie the Leaf".  Well I nicknamed the tree behind her grave as Freddie's Tree.)  

On the outside, I am holding up and am told I am glowing.  I must admit, I do look pretty good for being 36 weeks pregnant!  wink. wink.

Physically,  I am ready to have this baby.  Emotionally I am terrified of the unknown.  I keep telling myself, "this baby better come home" when we do something to prepare for his arrival.  It is always mixed emotions.  Happy and scared seem to fit the bill.  It's unfair, having these thoughts and I just do my best to keep moving forward and to remember all of the blessings in our lives.  We are all healthy.  The kids are happy and Roberto and I are doing well.  We have friends, family, and community supporting and praying for us.   But no matter how much gratitude I have for  all of these gifts, I still have my wishes.....

I wish I had Abby here to wrap Christmas presents for.  I wonder what would she look like.  What size would she be wearing since she was such a peanut.  I wonder what it would be like to bring her to Mass or to the grocery store.  Or if we even could do that with her disabilities?  She would be about 22 months old now.  We are all missing out on so much with Abby's absence and lately I just  MISS Abby.  This is new for me.  My sadness has evolved.....Have you ever missed something so bad and you know that whatever that is it is permanently gone?  And that you can never get it back? 

As my heart misses, it co-exists with excitement and joy.  Joy for Andrew and joy for my living children.  They are going to get to experience the wonders of having their baby come home.  Words don't come easily when one of them expresses concern and worry if this baby will come home or die. As a parent we have to think on our feet for answers to their never ending questions and that is one question that I cannot easily answer. I just try to reassure them and flatly say, "that won't happen". Period.  I try to be convincing but because of our experience, we wonder.... How can we not? 

I do believe deep in my heart that Andrew will come home.  He will be loved and cuddled and man handled by little tiny fingers and we can't wait.  He will be kissed and hugged and will get annoyed with all of the attention but he will just have to get used to that!  :)  

For our Christmas cards this year, we got a little more creative and had some professional pictures taken.  To honor and include Abby, we wore our signature family color, purple and included our little Minnie Mouse that belonged to Abby in the hospital.  It continues to float around the house and it brings smiles when it appears just at the right time.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Rainbow Baby!

Rainbow baby.  That's what they call a baby after the death of a previous baby.  Well we are expecting ours this December!  Yes, I am pregnant!  We are expecting a boy, Andrew, and will have him the end of December, which means only four months to go.

I've been wanting to write this post for sometime, but have been making excuses in my head not to.  I fear that people will think that just because we are expecting Andrew that he will replace the love we have for Abby.  So far from the truth and no one has given me that feeling, but the fear  exists within me nonetheless.

Andrew is healthy!  Doctor says he's measuring 2 weeks ahead and called him a football player....UHOH!  This was great news for me since Abby always measured small during the office visits.

The energy in our home is a nice break.  We are all happy and excited about Andrew's arrival.  I am feeling the urge to 'nest' as they say.  I never had that opportunity with Abby.  I wanted to wait and see what would happen.  The only nesting we had with Abby was buying her a cute infant car seat after she was born.  It stayed in the box in the van the whole time we had it and returned it following her death.  Can you imagine?  It's what we needed to do at that time.  This time will be different.

The kids are thrilled!  They came to the ultrasound with us to find out the gender.  They held up well waiting almost 45 minutes!  Lucas was so so happy it was a boy!  He says he can't wait for Andrew to be old enough to share a room, since he doesn't like being alone and wants a roommate.  I am sure that won't last long.  Hahahah! They helped in selecting his name, Andrew John.  It's a fun family activity selecting the name of the next human being to enter our home!  Last Fall, I painted the spare bedroom a dark blue secretly hoping that if I ever receive the blessing again, that it was a boy.   I'm so happy my wishes came true!    I love the idea of raising two girls and two boys.  When we are out in public, of course people we don't know us that well will comment about how nice it will be to have two girls and two boys.  Well Emilia doesn't let that slide and will correct them....saying "no, its three girls and two boys" which I will then have to explain what she means.  Sometimes I'm up for it and sometimes I'm not.  Each situation is different, which means I'm different when I think about it.  In the early stages of my grief I wanted the world to know about my sweet little darling but I'm okay with not sharing her with everyone.  But the funny thing is, is when I open up, it gives people the chance to be comfortable to share their experiences with me.  Their losses.  Their sadness.  And I'm better equipped to respond with compassion and love.  

Being pregnant with a sub baby is emotional.  I often ask the universe why couldn't we just keep Abby?  Why couldn't she stay?  Did we make the right choices for her?  Did we miss something?

Grieving the death of a baby and embracing the life of a new one exists in a parallel universe.  My grief and excitement exist independently of each other.   I'm glad for this because I am clear in my happiness for Andrew, not having the expectations that he will replace our little Abby.

The song "Somewhere over the rainbow" is very special to me.  It was played at our luncheon after Abby's funeral and we danced and cried as we had to enter this new journey called grief.  As I listen to it today I imagine Abby on the rainbow waving to Andrew as he is choosing Roberto and I as his parents and guiding him through his new life!  She will make a remarkable big sister as Emilia, Lucas and Lily will be!!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Grief Ledge

I read an article two years ago called "Living on The Ledge" by Joanne Lutz, Founder of the The Consciousness Collaborative.  I never forgot about it when I read it.  It was powerful to me then and now even more so.  "The Ledge" can be anything for us.  A relationship ledge.  A work ledge.  A marriage ledge.  A loss of any kind ledge.  For me, I want to refer to it as my grief ledge.  Here is a link to the article:

......And here is what Joanne wrote:

"When I was in my 20's I had a friend who would call periodically for me to "talk her down off the ledge."  This was code language for "please listen to how I feel and help me to make sense of what's happening in my life."  When I felt on the edge, I called her with the same plea.  Every once in a while, though, I could sense in her voice a mirror of my own's hard work to be responsible to bring someone back to safety.

Ever received one of these calls?  A friend who's struggling with her husband; your brother who feels oppressed by his boss; or your child afraid that not going to the best college is going to be the end of the world...and when the call comes...what do you do?

If you're feeling as I did, your mission appears clear.  Get him or her in out of the cold and into the safety nest only you can provide.  So, off we go, how to accomplish this:

Option 1)  Fix it!  Find a way to solve the problem or explain how easily he/she can solve the problem by just...hmm...let's pause for a moment here.  How do you feel when someone tries to tell you how easy it is to "fix" your problem "if you would just..."  I don't know about you, but my teeth start grinding and I tune them right out.

Okay, let's move on to
Option 2)  Pat on the head.  "Oh, it will be okay, don't worry.  It will all work out.  You're getting all worked up for nothing."  Actually, for me this one is worse than fix it.  For me, it feels completely condescending when someone tells me not to feel what I feel.  Clearly, no one is listening in this scenario.

Option 3)  Help dig the hole that the jumper will land in.  This is a case of "yes-ing" someone to death.  Agreeing with all of the injustices, how the world is against them, and "the man" has really got control.  You can almost imagine yourself watching Dexter and every so often picking the phone up to say, "yeah, I hear ya."  Uggh!

In my 30's I experienced a paradigm shift relating to these calls.  While the plea might be "talk me down from the ledge," the true request is: "hang out on the ledge with me and be present."  This rights the universe on its axis; because, being present means there's nothing to do.  I can sit on the metaphorical ledge with hot chocolate and a blanket, and know that my grounded presence creates an invitation for my friend to find his own ground.  By listening, being genuine, noticing the patterns of what I hear, and tapping into my authentic curiosity, there is no action to take, nothing to fix, no one to rescue.

I encourage you to give ledge-living a try, rather than attempting to talk someone down off of it.  This respectful exchange builds intimacy - even when it feels hard or scary.  The connection to yourself and other becomes clean and clear, as each person remains responsible for her own feelings...his own journey. 

Looking forward to warm nights on the ledge,

This article resonates with me to my core.  It explains why I have been feeling the way I have been feeling.  LonelyScaredShaky GroundOn edge.   It is a lonely journey sitting on the ledge overlooking the grief view feeling the way I have been feeling.  

We have received good intentions by people, meaning well by responding with the options shared above.   I know in my heart that they really do try to say or do the right thing.   I have been told recently that they don't even realize that they are hurting me, which makes me even more sad.  These responses are wearing me down.  I see this now.  They're not lifting me up nor do they help me to be the best version of myself.

The grief ledge is a scary place.  No one enters the ledge willingly!  I entered it and have been sitting on it because I was forced to.  I had no choice!!!  I have been sitting on my grief ledge for over a year.  Roberto sits there too.  We are there for each other, keeping each other company.  We get visitors.  At random, infrequent times.  The best times are when it is unsolicited.  We treasure all of the moments with our visitors!!  It takes a great amount of courage to sit on our grief ledge with us.  To be still and silent and just be.  To hold our hand or give us a hug.  To see the view from our perspective which is terrifying.  To feel the vulnerability of death and all of what that encompasses.  To face your own mortality.  So thank you to those of you came to visit me and Roberto on our grief ledge.  I welcome you to sit with us for as long or as little as you can.  I will be there for my own mortal eternity. 

My hope sharing all of this is that the next time you encounter a friend or a loved one that has had a loss as significant as mine, that you will have a better understanding on how to 'be there' for them.  That opinions, judgements, and criticisms are not effective.  All well intended, but moot.  That what one truly needs is simply your presence.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A Trip to CHB in Abby's Memory

Last week, we finally ventured into Children's Hospital.  It was time.  I had been waiting for the right time to feel good enough to go in.

If you remember, we rounded up a nice collection of baby toys and clothes at Abby's Remembrance Day Celebration back in March.  We then brought the collection to Abby's social worker at Children's Hospital She was excited to be able to pass them along to their patients and the patient's siblings.  It was nice to see Phoebe.  A darling of a girl.  CHB is lucky to have her!

It was a quick moment.  It wasn't overly emotional which felt kinda nice.  Had we chosen an earlier time in the year, it would have been much more difficult.  But the winter blues was past us and the sun was out and traveling into Boston felt welcoming. 

Being in the hospital wasn't scary.  We had been there about three times since last year so I think the shock of it was worn off.  It was a little weird though.  I had flashbacks of being there.  I wanted the purpose back of having the need to be there.  I would watch the children, in wheelchairs or strollers and so badly wanted that to be me pushing a wheelchair with my Abby instead.  I once had someone say to me, that if Abby were alive, I would still be missing her because she would be back and forth to the hospital and that she wouldn't always be home with me.  I know they meant well, they tried to make me feel better.  But there is no positive spin on Abby not being here!!   I know.  I'm not your average mother, wishing to be able to hospital surf with my baby, but that sure sounds a lot better to me then the other hand I was dealt!!

 Roberto and I really appreciate the generosity of all of you in assisting us in collecting the baby items to donate to CHB.  It was a bitter-sweet moment, but we are so grateful that we were able to do so in Abby's memory!  So THANK YOU!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Bay State Parent Magazine

Back in February, I shared with you all the amazing gift that a local business gave to my family, Balloons All Over.  (See Abby's Birthday Post on February 28th for a little reminder!).

My news quickly spread and reached an editor to a local parent magazine, BayStateParent.  Jennifer asked me if I would be willing to share Abby's story in the April issue, which was featuring babies.  I immediately went into a frenzy of joy!  I will take any chance to share my story of Abby with anyone who will listen.  All grieving parents want to speak about their loved ones as much as we can.  And as you all know, I try to do so with my blog and facebook.  But this opportunity is such an honor!

I write to release emotions.  To express my deepest thoughts.  To share my struggles and gifts.  I put it here with the intent that it goes somewhere to 'la la land'.  I never dreamed that it would be worthy to be featured in a magazine! 

Thank you God, for providing me a gift within my struggle.  I hope that sharing Abby's story will affect its readers in a way that you seek. Please use me as a means to show that not all fatal diagnoses have to be solved by medical interventions.  And that by carrying to term, we may have struggle and we may feel inconsolable pain but we will find solace because we not only choose life, but we choose You!   

Love never dies!!

In the magazine, two older blog posts will be featured.  One is a letter that I wrote to Abby shortly after she died.  The other is a more recent one, her first birthday.  Both are very special to me and dear to my heart.

The magazine is a free publication.  Our story can be found on page 28.

God Bless.

In like a LION, out like a LAMB

There is the old expression, March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb.  I can honestly say that has happened for me.  Not in the traditional sense but more in the emotional sense.

My Lion was March 22nd.  Abby's Heaven Date.  Most of March 2013 was extremely painful.  So many moments.  So many memories re-lived.  From the date of her birth to the day she flew into heaven, it was a very tumultuous storm.  Some days I forced myself out of bed wanting to stay in it.  I would lie there for thirty minutes to an hour praying and remembering, sobbing and holding her little onesie that I sleep with.  This little onesie is the last piece of clothing that was on her little body when I had to let her body go and give her to her doctor for the very last time..... When I did get out of bed, I did the bare minimum around the house.  Laundry when I absolutely had to.  I didn't go grocery shopping.  I didn't cook for almost two weeks as Roberto often came home to cereal.   The kids were bouncing off the walls, mostly bored.  I could barely breathe.....

During March, I remembered her life with me.  And I did alot of wishing.  I was so mixed and torn.  I was greatful to have had three weeks with her.  Greatful that the kids were able to meet her.  Greatful to have been able to hold and sing to her.  But I was also feeling jipped.  Jipped of a future lost.

March 22nd.  Her Heaven Date.  Roberto took the day off.  To honor Little Miss Abby, we visited the cemetery and lit a candle for her on her table.  Roberto's niece, Melissa, came over and my in-laws, Roberto's sister, Marie & Dave brought dinner.  That meant the world to me and Roberto.  It was a nice distraction, since the day was so terribly difficult.  I did not have the heart to 'celebrate' her Heaven Date.  I just didn't feel like it was worth 'celebrating'.  There is nothing about that day that I want to ever be joyous about.  And I couldn't wait for it to be over......

The 'dreadful' day that all parents dread came for us and passed.  When I woke up on the 23rd, I was relieved.  Sooooo relieved.  The heaviness in my heart and fog somewhat lifted and I was able to breathe.  Since then, I can hear Spring blooming.  I can hear the birds chirping outside.  I can enjoy my kids' and their amazing smiles again. 

My Lamb was Easter.  It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.  (Last Easter was just downright awful, since it was only two weeks following Abby's death).  But this year it was a nice surprise to be okay.  My prayers the night before Easter Day, I prayed to have the energy to get thru the day.  I asked God to give me the strength.  I just couldn't do it by myself.

And my prayers were answered.  Easter morning, we woke up and had our traditional egg hunt (indoors mind you!).  It is easier and warmer with little ones.  The kids received their Easter baskets left for them by the Easter Bunny (sssssh).   They all ate their candies and chocolate along with a piece of fruit and were ready to attend the 8am mass!

Of course, the Easter Bunny left one special little egg for our very own special little 'egg'!  Lucas was so sweet, showing it off to his friends later in the day!


After mass, we always head over to the cemetery to say 'hello'.  We always give the kids the option of either getting out of the car or staying in it.  But I made them get out this time.  I wanted them to see that the Easter Bunny had left Abby some chocolate and a little present too!  And when the saw that he did, they were so wonderfully excited for her!! 

 Whenever trying to get my kids to say 'cheese' for a picture, they always need to have some goofy time for silly faces!

Prior to leaving, Emilia, from time to time, likes to have some alone time with her sister.  She likes to talk to her.  I haven't a clue what she says though!  Even though they don't express it alot, our kids grieve too.

We had decided to stay home this year and invite our friends Erica and Adam with their three girls to come over for a non-traditional, kid friendly lunch!  Erica has three beautiful girls, one of which is a six week old!  I thought it would be really nice to be together this year.  It tickled my heart that I could pay-it-forward in Abby's memory.  My in-laws were so good to us when we had babies during various holidays, I wanted to extend that love that I received to my dear friend Erica.  I told her if the meal doesn't taste good, we could always order Chinese! 

I prepared a ham, potato salad and macaroni and cheese!  All from scratch, all of which that I made.  Pats on the back to me.  I know, it doesn't sound that fabulous, but all the kids ate it and all the adults ate it and there weren't much leftovers, so by my book, it was a hit!

We embraced Easter with a sense of peace.  And even though I didn't have Abby to share it with, it was one of my most favorite holidays.  And that says alot for me right now, since I find it difficult to 'stop and smell the roses'.  But look at those roses above.  How can I not smile?

I am wishing you a Blessed Easter Monday.  (I am Canadian after all!).

Pictures of Abby's Remembrance Day Celebration!

A warm thank you goes out to our niece, Natalie, who was our photographer that day!!  Thank you Natalie for capturing our moments while we were able to remain present for our sweet Abby.


Thursday, March 21, 2013

One Year

"An angel opened the book of life
And wrote down my baby's birth,
Then she whispered as she closed the book
Too beautiful for earth".
*author unknown*

In Memory of Abigail Rose Bachman
February 29, 2012 - March 22, 2012

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Abby's Special Day

I am having a really really hard time getting the inspiration to write about Abby’s Remembrance Day Celebration.   I don't know why really.  I guess I'm just really sad that it is over.....

Overall, it was a great day.  I feel proud of Roberto and me.  I feel blessed to have been able to give her the day that she deserved.  But it was a bitter-sweet day. 

I am so touched by the love that we received on Saturday.  It was a day I wanted to ‘celebrate’ and not dread.  We did a great job just doing that!

We were gathered by friends and family to celebrate Abby.  I believe about 45 in total!  I was worried that Abby’s essence would be lost in the chaos.  So Roberto created these Abby Stories all around our home with a ribbon in the right hand corner and hung them up on the walls.  (They are still there).  In the depths of the loudness and laughter, children’s cries and party doings, it kept Abby near me and helped to remind me why we were doing this in the first place.  I believe we did a great job keeping Abby’s memory alive.

We had a cake for little miss Abby.  I made a rainbow cake with purple icing.  Emilia decorated the icing with a rainbow made with skittles and marshmallows for clouds.  Abby’s name was spelled with skittles too!  A few days prior, the kids asked ‘who will blow out the candles’??  My reply was ‘Me’.  I wanted to do it.  When the time came, we sang Abby a Happy Birthday!  I cried through most of it.  Not many could see that, but I held back the tears as best as I could.  Imagine singing happy birthday to your child who isn’t with you to blow out her own candle.  That opportunity will never be had. 

When it was time for the balloon release, we grabbed our sharpies and wrote messages to Abby in heaven.  I got writer’s block!  I ended up with a simple I LOVE YOU ABBY!  She knows it too!  The balloon release was spectacular!  I loved it!  It was breathtaking seeing 50 balloons rise in the sky!  Makes me smile when I think about it!

We received a nice collection of baby toys, clothes and books to donate to CHB.  We received some lovely personal gifts too.  Thank you!!  Also, thank you friends and family who brought some yummy appetizers and desserts.  And for just being there to hold our hands. 

So Abby’s birthday has passed.  It felt good leading up to her birthday.  My heart felt warm, feeling loved and supported by my community, friends and family. 

And now I feel like I am slipping back down.  Back down the mud slide.  Grief has a funny way of doing that to you.  The emotional roller coaster.  It really does exist. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

One Year Ago on March 6th

One year ago today, March 6th, Abby was transferred to Children's Hospital Boston.  Memories are taking over my mind.  I remember how Roberto and I were so thrilled that Abby was headed to CHB.  We felt so blessed and fortunate that we had this opportunity for our family.  (Just recently we received the news that his health insurance costs were increasing.  To save money, we could opt out of our existing plan and choose a less expensive one with a smaller network of doctors or stay with our current plan for an increase of $120 per month.  With the less expensive plan, we would lose the ability to have access to doctors at CHB, Umass Memorial and BWH.  I was like, "No Way".  We needed all three of those hospitals last year and since we don't have the ability to look into a crystal ball to forsee our future, there is no way I am giving them up.  NO way.)

Each morning as I rise, I am reminded that Abby isn't here.  There is a five second refuge and then the memories of her absence trickle in.  Strangely, the mornings feel like they did one year ago.  Bright as birds start to softly chirp.  The smell of coffee brewing.  Roberto always had the coffee going to welcome my mom.  The mornings feel a bit warmer.  And the days are getting just a tad bit longer.

We were given such hope one year ago.  Prior to being admitted in CHB, Abby had her scope done to see the extent of her tracheomalaysia and she was given a really positive report.  I have an album I created on shutterfly that outlines Abby's days at the hospital and I've been turning the pages to match the current date.  Abby was so stinking cute!  She was loved by everyone who took care of her.

I often feel guilt of not being more present at the hospital with Abby.  My arms were stretched to the max.  I was recovering from the c-section.  My baby was in a NICU.  I had a child in kindergarten and two at home during the day.  My husband was back to work.  Thank GOD for my mom who was there for us day in and day out to babysit, clean and do laundry duty.  Thank GOD I had my sister-in-laws and niece come and help me the weekend before Abby was born to stock my freezer with meals.  We spent the day making chicken, port tenderloins, quiches, pot pies, etc.  Those meals carried us thru a good two to three months. Thank GOD I had my SIL and nieces available to watch the kids so we could go to the hospital and be with Abby.  Not to mention, thank GOD I was able to drive by myself one week after my c-section. 

Sometimes, in my deepest sorrow, the gifts that we have received as a result of all this aren't enough.  They will never be enough.  I still wasn't able to be at the hospital enough to be with Abby.  I still didn't get to hold her enough.  To change enough diapers.  To feed her enough.  To kiss her enough.  To sing to her enough.  It was and never will be enough in my heart. 

I remember arriving home from the hospital on March 6, 2012.  I was exhausted.  Emotionally.  Physically.  Mentally.  I vaguely remember having dinner with Natalie (my niece who was watching our kids) and Tony (her man), my  mom and Roberto.  I remember excusing myself after eating and going to bed.  I remember crying myself to sleep while begging God.  I begged him, "I WANT HER.  I WILL DO ANYTHING.  PLEASE LET ME HAVE HER.  I CAN'T BURY A BABY, SO PLEASE LET ME HAVE HER".

I guess HE said NO.  :( 


It was easy for me to go to the place where I felt like I was being punished by God soon after Abby died.  That he was mad at me and was getting back at me for all of my wrong doings in my life.  But God is a loving God and I have found ways to receive Abby's passing as fruitful instead of barren. 

As a result, my relationship with My Heavenly Father is definitely stronger.  I could have walked away and said screw you.  I'm outta here!  But instead I thank God.  I praise HIM in this storm.  Maybe not everyday, but I am trying.  I am finally allowing myself to get real with God.  To get raw.  And HE still loves Me.  Quite the God!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Happy Birthday

Well, the day is finally here!   It is a blessed day!  I am thankful to feel blessed.  Grief is so unpredictable and most days are taxing, but not today!!  :)

One year ago, my baby was born into this world!  I am flooded with wonderful memories, holding Abby, singing to her, amazed at her strength and perseverance!  I remember the first time I laid eyes on her and I couldn't wait for the doctors to wrap things up so I could get to see her again!  I was crawling out of my skin, literally!  Below is my video that I posted last year of all of our pictures.  I thought I would share it again so that you can all see her beauty!  The song rights belong to Selah, "I will carry you". 

To commemorate Abby on her special day, this morning we took the kids to IHOP for breakfast.  We laughed and toasted to Abby. The kids were soooo cute!   They miss Abby.  They don't mention it alot, but I know that they do.

We then headed off to the cemetery to sing Abby HAPPY BIRTHDAY!  We were lucky to be able to even enter the cemetery, thanks to the all the rain we had.  My neighbor is so wonderful to me.  She makes these beautiful boxes for Abby's resting place.  She did one for Christmas, Valentines Day and now her birthday!  It makes my heart warm when she does this for us and for thinking of Abby.  I love Abby's bling!! 

After our visit with Abby, we dropped the kids off to school.  I headed to see my therapist (much needed for someone like me after all I've been thru) and then picked up Lily from my neighbor and went to visit my friend, Erica.  Erica just had a baby girl a week and a half ago and I've only seen a glimpse of her newest addition, Laura.  As soon as I saw Erica with Laura, I stole Laura from her.  It just felt right.  It felt so good to smell and touch and feel a teeny tiny little soul.  So perfect in every which way.  Some moms get so upset when holding a newborn or seeing a newborn around their circle of friends/family.  I have to admit, I have and do too.  It just hurts so badly at times, wishing for something that we can never have.  But not this time.  This time was different.  I could feel Abby with me holding this precious gift from God.  The ability to hold her, I felt it was not of my own doing but of greater intervention.  I felt peace and that felt good!

The day is not over, but I'm sure we will continue our day to celebrate Abby and her sweet gentle self!  :)

To prepare and plan for Abby's Remembrance Day Celebration, we are going to have a balloon release!  I am so excited to do this and I think this will be my favorite part of the day.  To see the balloons floating into the sky reminds me of Abby's spirit, floating and soaring wherever she wants to go.  The world is her limit!  We decided to go back to Balloons All Over in town.  They took such great care of us for Abby's wake/funeral, we wanted to give back to them.  Well, I was in for a delighted and unexpected surprise!  I wrote to my mom's group about my experience and I will add my message to them here.  (for ease of story telling).  It is such an uplifting experience and one that deserves to be shared!

To everyone in the Northborough Moms Group,

I just wanted to share my experience with you regarding Balloons All Over and give my gleaming recommendation for them.

Balloons All Over is in Northborough and the owners are one of a kind!!

Last year, my baby died and for her wake/funeral I wanted balloons. Tons and tons of balloons.  So we decided to order them from Balloons All Over.  We could have chosen Iparty or Hannafords but we wanted to have them delivered to several locations and they were more than willing to do it.  She asked what was the occasion and reluctantly and sadly I told her my baby's funeral/wake.  She then asked what did we want and I truly had no idea.  I just knew I wanted pinks and purples.  She said, "I got this, I know what to do".  When it came time to pay for the order, she wouldn't accept our payment.   She said she has four children and she couldn't imagine having one of her own children die.  I cried.  She cried.  We embraced.  It was a moment that I cherish to this day and share with anyone who will listen!

The balloons at Abby's wake/funeral were the center of our theme.  They did an amazing job!  We even put some on the hearse as we drove thru town.  My kids loved having them there also.  It brightened the mood and really helped make the atmosphere brighter.  The balloons are still spoken about in our home, all the time.  I wrote about my balloon experiences on my blog.  I sent a thank you to Michele, the owner, to express my gratitude.  I've never stepped foot in their business prior to this and to do such a kind act like this to a complete stranger shows the kind of person that she is.  Not knowing at that moment in time, she gave us a gift and we gave one back.  It is a huge financial undertaking paying for a funeral.  She lessened our burden.  Our gift to her was to give an act of charity to a couple that she did not know.  In all of my years as a mother, I've never received an act of kindness from a business owner like that!

The other day I was in the store again, ready to order balloons for Abby's 1st Remembrance Day Celebration that we are having on Saturday.  I placed the order and Judy said she would get back to me that Michele handles the pricing. I hadn't heard from them so today I called again.  Judy called back and I told her I wanted to change the order a bit because my original one didn't feel right.  She said no problem.  She also said that they weren't going to charge us for the balloons AGAIN.  My reaction was "No, no I can't accept that", holding back the tears.  She said, "yes you can".  We spoke a little bit more, and honestly I can't remember exactly what she said/I said because I am still living on that cloud of appreciation and receiving end but the point here is that these two amazing women are a wonderful contribution to the Northborough Community.  They were completely generous and thoughtful one year ago and their generosity continues!!  I am so touched, my heart is just bursting!!  

In Abby's memory, I want to do something in return for these remarkable women.  They seriously won't let me 'pay' for their balloons!!  So l have decided to pay it forward by sharing my experience with you and give a shout out to our community how special they truly are!
Thank you to Balloons All Over, once again!  My heart has been shattered into a thousand pieces.  As a result of YOUR generosity, two pieces of my heart have been mended together.  It sure does feel good to have this mingled in between all of my sorrow...

Happy Birthday to you....
Happy Birthday to you....
Happy Birthday Dear Abby....
Hugs and Kisses, Love Mommy, Daddy and your sibs!!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Eleven Months

Today marks eleven months since Abby left the physical world.... and joined Jesus and so many of my loved ones.  

I've tucked my memories of the day of Abby's passing away.  Protected them.  I didn't have the heart to write them down.  Makes it seem surreal.  Like as if this isn't really my life.  

I'm not ready to write pieces of my memories.  But will I ever be ready?

Eleven months ago I was standing in my kitchen with Roberto, our kids and our niece.  We woke up, showered and were getting ready to leave for the hospital.  Minutes before us leaving, we decided to gather around in a circle, hold hands and pray.  We prayed for Abby.  As a family.  For our family.  Roberto and I got in the car and off we went.  Back on the Masspike.  To this day, whenever I need to drive on the Masspike I wish I was driving to the hospital to see her. 

That morning, I was anxious but relieved.  Excited even.  Finally we were moving forward.  It is tough having a child in a hospital.  Waiting to hear back from doctors and nurses about your baby and the decisions that need to be made.  Having no control really.  Depending on so many people.  Strangers.  Relying on their every word, hoping that the decisions that we agree on are the 'right' decisions.  Begging them to feed her.  They were so concerned that she would inhale the formula into her lungs that they gave her only teaspoons at a time.  The poor thing.  She was starving and I felt helpless as her mother.  They assured me that she was fine but I didn't believe them.  But I felt as though I had no choice.  They were the experts and had to let go and trust them.   

But we had hope.  The surgery was our ticket to going home.  ALL we needed to do was give her the surgery to save her life, recover, go to rehab, learn all of her cares and get educated, align her home care and medical staff and voila!  Our baby can come home! Life can get back to normal, a new normal. 

I didn't think it was possible to have a multitude of emotions all at the same time.  I have peace and anger, frustration and sadness all mingled and mixed like ingredients in a cake batter.  I am the result of a new recipe.  A new version of myself.  Sigh.....

"Faith, Hope and Love" and the greatest of these is love.

My faith has not been tested.  I speak to God daily.  I am as open and transparent as I possibly can be.  I do have my struggles though.  Especially when it comes to my anger.  It is known that anger is a stage of grief.  But I wanted so badly to just skip that stage and be in the acceptance and peace mode.  Well eleven months later I can finally say that yes, I am angry and have the courage to acknowledge this to God and at times at him also.  I am told he can handle that.  I've learned of many people being so angry and upset with him that they stopped all contact whatsoever.  I can't do that.  I need him too much. 

When I was working for an agency that assists adult individuals with developmental disabilities, I felt purpose.  I loved my job.  When we found out about Abby's condition, I resigned.  I sacrificed a job that I absolutely loved for the love of my daughter.  I felt as though I had a bigger purpose.  To have a child with disabilities of my own.  When the doctors gave us the rundown of her deformities, they also mentioned the possibility of developmental disabilities.  Didn't even go on my radar of concern.  I knew I would love her regardless.  I credit my experiences with my job and the people I worked with and the care that they gave.  I had so much hope when I left my job in January.  But then, on 3/22 and like a child blowing out a birthday candle, 'whoooo', my hope was blown away.  I am looking forward to the day when I can light that candle again and it stay lit.....

Love.  Unconditional love.  Being in the baby loss club, I am meeting people on line and in local support groups.  Baby loss includes misscarriages, stillborns, perinatal loss and terminated losses.  All devastating.  All very sad and traumatic.  Everyone's story is personal and unique.  No loss is greater than another.  This isn't Grief Olympics.  But I can now see and embrace what you all see in me.  Unconditional love for Abby.  We chose Abby.  We chose life!!  We chose to honor her and her life with a celebration.  We respected her life.  We gave her dignity.  And we still do.  She was a daughter of God the moment she was conceived and will remain my baby for all eternity.  I am not proud.  I am a just a mother.  A good mother.  And would do it again if God asked me to. 

Please continue to pray for us.  February 28th is her first birthday.  March 2nd is our Remembrance Day Celebration.  See the previous post for details!  March 22nd is her first anniversary.  We will get through this.  Please continue to wrap your loving arms around us and please don't let us go......

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Firsts....

 Our first Easter has passed.  Our first Halloween.  Our first Thanksgiving.  First Christmas.  And now we are approaching Abby's FIRST birthday.  It's quickly coming.  I can't deny it.  Time doesn't allow me to.

I wish Abby was here with me to celebrate her First Birthday!  What a celebration that would be.

Instead, we will celebrate Abby's first birthday, but in a special sort of way.  We are having a Remembrance Day for her.  To honor her life and to reflect on our experience.  To dedicate a whole day to Abby!  It brings me solace knowing that we can do this for her and for ourselves.  We need this and are grateful for our families and friends to spend the day with us.  I am trying to balance what to expect out of the day.  I am trying to keep a positive vibe on it and am am looking forward to it.  I choose to embrace her birthday rather then be afraid of it.  But I am a little hesitant.  We've never done this before.  Grief is unpredictable.  I can't predict how I will feel that day or how Roberto will feel.  I read somewhere recently that grief is like a mudslide.  Just when you think you are reaching the top, you slide back down and start all over!  I don't know what emotions or feelings will come up.  Happiness.  Sadness.  Anger.  Relief.  I dunno.  But I vow to be true to myself and not worry about it.  If I need to cry, cry I shall.....

At Abby's Day, we will have sledding, a balloon release, cake and appetizers.  The kids are super excited to have a party!  I want it to be fun and cheerful for them!  They think it is awesome and ask daily when Abby's birthday is.  They are special kids.  They've been through alot and I am so grateful for their smiles and laughter.  If it wasn't for my kids and Roberto, I don't know where I would be.  I love my family.

I wish I could hold Abby and snuggle with her.  I wish I could show her off to the world.  I wish I could be that mom to bring her to mass and have everyone have their eyes on her.  I wish I could see what she would look like.  I wish I could smell her.  I wish I could sing to her.  I wish I could read to her.  I wish I could see how happy the kids would be around her!  I wish I could kiss her.  I wish I could take pictures of her and post them on face book and email them to friends and family.  I wish I could witness her birthdays.  First Communion.  First Day of School.  First tooth loss.  So many wishes.....

Emilia created the rainbow above.  I scanned it and used it as our invitation for Abby's Day.  Rainbows will be the theme this year.  Rainbows have significance for us!  We danced to "Somewhere over the Rainbow" at Abby's funeral.  Sounds upbeat for a funeral?  It wasn't.  It was peaceful and beautiful.  Abby knows I love to dance and my SIL made the tribute for her.  It was the contemporary version and I listen to it all the time.  Also, my grandfather passed away last spring.  One of his last words he spoke was to my aunt and he gave her a toast as he sipped on some wine.  "Here's to you, over the rainbow, it's time to go".  He passed away that night....  I know Abby and Gramps are together!  Rainbows have such a powerful meaning to me.

There is a plaque on my kitchen wall that says it perfectly and I will leave with the quote:

"No rain, No Rainbows"