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"