Lily's Story

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Happy 2nd Birthday Baby Girl

Today's Lily's second birthday. It's hard to believe two years have gone by already. It seems like so much has happened since then and that day was so long ago... yet, it also seems like it just happened.

The weather today was exactly as it was the day Lily was born. It was in the 50s and partly sunny. There were big, puffy clouds that were a mixture of gray and white. Then there were bursts of sunshine that would warm the air just slightly, but it was still too chilly to go without a jacket. I found myself looking at the sky a lot today because it was so similar to May 9, 2010.

Her birthday this year feels harder than last year's. I think because I knew last year would be difficult. I was prepared for it. We planned around the inevitable sadness. And people came out of the woodwork to support us. To help us through the first anniversary of losing our little baby girl.

This year I felt blindsided by the sadness. I was shocked at the bouts of sobbing that would physically hurt. I just felt too exhausted to do anything. And it felt lonely.

The day wasn't completely sad. Lily's baby brother Dexter brought smiles. He also must have known Mommy needed extra hugs because the normally squirmy little boy stayed to cuddle with me this morning. After a late morning nap, he babbled and babbled. Although we have had balloons for Lily's birthday in our living room since Saturday, today was the first day since we got them that he's paid attention to them. When he'd see me in the kitchen he'd start crawling towards me while still holding onto them. I'm hoping she was with him today in some way too. Maybe in his dreams they got to play together.

My husband and I had a special dinner after Dexter went to bed. Then we ate cupcakes - the same kind we had last year for her birthday from the same bakery that did our wedding cake. And then we released three of the balloons - one purple heart and two white balloons - with a happy birthday message.

Happy Birthday to my sweet Lily.  Mommy loves you and misses you very much.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

In Another Life...

The other day a song by Katy Perry came on the radio- "The One That Got Away." This song is about high school sweethearts who don't make it, but for some reason when I listened to it, all I thought of was Lily. And these verses hit home to me:

Never planned that one day
I'd be losing you....
In another life
I would be your girl
We'd keep all our promises 
Be us against the world
In another life
I would make you stay
So I don't have to say
You were the one that got away

I've been really down lately. I've been wanting another life.  A life where I don't have to answer questions like: "Is Dexter your first?" or "So now that pregnancy went fine, so when are you going to have another?" One where I don't continually ask myself questions to which there are no answers like: "What was the point of getting pregnant with Lily?" or "Why didn't I know how to save her?" or "Why did that woman's baby girl live and mine didn't?" or "Why aren't you feeling better about this yet?"

One where I'm not a bereaved parent. My normal is just normal not the "new normal." One where I don't have to feel guilty if I don't say I was pregnant once before. One where I can say I have another baby at home. My little girl. I didn't lose her. She's still with me.  One where I don't have to wonder if I'll have another daughter, or fear that Lily was my only chance at raising a girl.

A life where I don't have to remind myself not to be disappointed when people don't remember Lily's birthday this year. Or don't donate as much in her memory or join us for the March for Babies event this year. 

One where I don't have to live in constant fear that Dexter's going to die on me too.

I just want it all to be different. Not entirely different though. I want aspects of my current life. My husband can stay of course. I wouldn't trade in Dexter. I'd take a different job. I'd be happy with a different car or house. But really I just want one big thing.

I want Lily. Living and breathing and here with me and my boys.

I want a life where Lily's an active 22 month old girl and Dexter's his curious 4 1/2 month old self. And I'm filling up albums on Facebook of my two beautiful kids and posting about how crazy life is with two little ones.   In another life, maybe it could have been that way.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Here We Are Again

Two weeks ago, I had a great day. It was the kind of day I haven't had since before Lily died. I was happy.  All day. I wasn't stressed out. I wasn't anxious. I wasn't sad. I wasn't angry. I was just happy. About everything and everyone. I even thought about Lily and didn't feel sad or cry. It was a good day.

So yesterday came as a shock to me. I woke up and didn't want to go to work, but did anyway. On the way there, it dawned on me that it's almost been a year since we found out about Dexter. A year ago today actually I got the positive pregnancy test. The day after the Packers won the Superbowl.

Then I realized it's been two years since we found out about Lily.  In a few days it'll be two years since our first ultrasound confirmed her existence. Two years since I found out about my abnormal uterus that would take her from us too soon. Two years...

And for some reason I haven't been able to stop crying. It's not even her birthday. It's not an anniversary of any sort really. So who knew I'd be back here again? Who knew I'd be crying this hard again? It's supposed to get better. Why, after so many steps forward, does one step back send me so far back it seems no progress was made.

Yesterday I was ready to move.  I had that feeling so many times after Lily died.  Just move. To Hawaii actually. Just pack up my husband and Dexter and go. I'd wait tables. That'd be okay if it meant I could escape this life. Escape the reality of being a bereaved parent. Just go somewhere where no one knows and I don't have to tell them.

Of course, you can't out travel grief. The sadness would follow. And how could I not tell people about Lily? Still, wouldn't it be wonderful to just live without the sadness for a while?

I'm assured by many that I will be happy again. Many people in the world who've experienced horrible tragedy go on to lead happy lives. I just have to be more patient...

Thursday, January 12, 2012

I'll always wonder...

The other night while I was holding Lily's little brother, Dexter, I was studying his little face. He has his daddy's dimples. He has big blue eyes (for now at least!). His hair is blonde like his daddy's too, but in some lights looks red like his grandpa's. Then there's his nose. A cute little button nose. A nose like his big sister's.

I pulled out Lily's pictures to be sure. Yep. They have the same nose. What other similar features would they have? Would you have been able to tell they're siblings?

I'll always wonder what Lily would have looked like at one month old. At six months. At one year old. Five, ten, sixteen, eighteen...and so on. I'll always wonder what color her eyes would be. They were still fused shut so we never got to see them open. I'll always wonder if she got her daddy's dimples ... my greatest hope was that she would get that cute smile from her dad. And I wanted her to get Grandpa's red hair. Would she have been tall? Would she have big feet like me?

I'll never know and I'll always want to.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Another Christmas without Lily

We're in the midst of another holiday season without our daughter.  For some reason I thought it'd be easier, but I'm finding some days it is and some days it isn't.

Last year the holidays were unbearable. I wanted to skip Thanksgiving and the entire month of December and go straight to January. And January's my least favorite month of the year! Normally, I decorate the house on December 1st; but last year, I didn't decorate at all. We decided late in the season to get a tree but agreed it had to be an ugly one. We half-heartedly decorated it.

The only reason I wanted a tree was so that we could get ornaments for Lily. But even that was hard. I couldn't go shopping for them because all I could see was "Baby's First Christmas" everywhere. You have no idea how many ways people commemorate "Baby's First Christmas" until you lose a baby. Those items were all I could see when I went to the mall or department stores. So I couldn't buy an ornament, because I couldn't shop for one without crying my eyes out.

I admired all of my friends in our local support group who could find the positive and honor their babies in different, uplifting ways during December. I just couldn't do it. I was exhausted from grief and really just plain sad. I didn't really want to do anything but hide away until it was all over.

This year, we have Lily's little brother, Dexter. I really want to make his first Christmas special, even if he's too young to remember and completely unaware of the season. I thought with a new baby - to buy all those "Baby's First Christmas" memorabilia for - the holiday season would be better. Easier. To a certain extent that's true, but every now and then it hits me. Lily would be 19 months old tomorrow, December 9. This Christmas, she could open her presents from Santa. She could get some candy in her stocking. This Christmas was supposed to be awesome. It would have been even more special because we would be spending it with her new little brother.  I'd have two little ones to prop up on Santa's lap.

So this year, I decided to do more for Lily. Because we didn't "get in the spirit" last year, I didn't get a stocking for Lily.  Not a real one anyway. I just got a cheap 99 cent one from Walgreen's that is barely bigger than my hand. This year, I decided to go early and find stockings for our whole family. I was happy to find them and a box in which to store Lily's ornaments from this year and last. I checked out ornaments for her and for Dexter. While I was shopping, I felt happy and sad all at once. Happy I was finally getting her a real stocking and solidifying her place in our family; but at the same time sad because she wasn't with me picking out her stocking, picking out an ornament and looking at the toys in the adjacent aisles. After checking out and answering all the cashier's questions about Dexter ("is this your first?" of course...), I went to my car and broke down.

I didn't realize it would be this hard again.

Our local support group has an annual Holiday Remembrance Service to remember all of our babies. Last year's service was a blur. I only remember sitting in a pew crying and crying and then getting a cookie afterwards before leaving quickly. This year I thought it'd be better. It was... until a song, "The Water Lily" was played. It's a song about a young mother dreaming about her dead child. I started crying so hard I was nervous I'd start blubbering. And while last year I brought tissues, and people handed me more, this year I didn't bring any. I guess I didn't think I would need them. My favorite part of the service this year was the gift the group's facilitators gave us. It's a keepsake ornament that says "Always remembered. Always in our hearts." It's a perfect addition to Lily's ornament collection.

Today, Dexter and I had a "Lily Day." My husband and I decided to participate in the "Adopt an Angel" program that the Salvation Army runs in conjunction with JC Penney. I "adopted" an 18 month old little girl. I had a blast shopping for her. She needed clothes and a coat, but also wanted toys. I got her everything on her list. Anytime the thought "this is too expensive" came into my mind, I countered it with "If Lily were here, would you buy it?" The answer was always yes. So I bought it all.  Today, Dexter and I dropped the items off at the Salvation Army. It felt really good. I left wishing I could see that little girl open up the gifts and see her new toys.

Once we got back into the car and started driving away, I turned on the radio and "Butterfly Kisses" was playing. Not even kidding. I started crying so hard I had to pull over. It just felt like Lily was saying thank you.  Again, happy and sad at the same time.

Then Dexter and I headed over to the hospital where both Lily and Dexter were born. The hospital has a "Love Lights" tradition whereby friends of the hospital can purchase a light or string of lights for the hospital's holiday trees in memory of a loved one. My husband and I purchased one for Lily and today was the big lighting ceremony. The proceeds from the lights benefited the hospital's new birthing center and NICU

So, this weekend, we'll start getting the house ready for the holidays. We're picking out our tree. I'll decorate. Maybe we'll bake some cookies. And I'll try to figure out how to handle all the crazy Christmas celebrations with various family members who are anxious to celebrate Dexter's first Christmas. And I hope some remember that while we're happy to show Dexter everything about this season, someone is still missing. And it still hurts.

Happy Holidays baby girl. We miss you more than ever.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Sophie's Choice

After Lily died, I got an e-mail from a friend from high school.  She was sorry to hear what happened and wanted me to know she experienced pregnancy loss too. She told me she miscarried her first pregnancy - in the first trimester - and then got pregnant shortly thereafter. That subsequent pregnancy was successful and she told me that she wouldn't have that daughter now, if she hadn't lost the first. She just couldn't imagine her life without her daughter, so in the end, it worked out for the best. That would happen for me too, she said.

After I got pregnant again this year, I heard more stories similar to that and many comments were made about how I "wouldn't be pregnant now if Lily had lived."

Those comments and stories bother me. They hurt me. I know people aren't trying to make me feel bad by sharing those stories or saying those things. Nevertheless, I'd rather they not say that. I wish they would understand this: I don't want to feel grateful I lost Lily because now I have this new baby. I don't see Lily's death as an "everything happens for a reason" situation. I don't want it to be an "if X, then not Y" situation. I don't want to make that morbid sort of "Sophie's choice" between my children. I want them both.

My husband and I were very thoughtful and careful about our decision to conceive again after losing Lily. Aside from the medical reasons for waiting (I needed surgery to remove the septum in my uterus), we wanted to be sure we were ready emotionally for another pregnancy. We didn't want the second baby to be seen or thought of as a "replacement" baby.

When people tell me that I wouldn't be pregnant now if Lily had lived, I tell them that's not true! If Lily had survived last May, we could still be expecting this fall. Even if she was born at term in September 2010, we still could have conceived again in January 2011. It's possible I would have two living children this fall. More importantly, it's the way I would have wanted it!

My husband and I always wanted a lot of kids. To him that means "a baker's dozen."  To me, it means three... maybe four. Given my age, we always knew our kids would be close in age. I've long since prepared myself that we may at some point have several kids under the age of five.  And we're both okay with that.  And want that.

I don't want to think Lily had to die for this new baby to be in our lives. Our plans had this new baby here anyway - with or without his/her big sister on earth. I don't want it to have to be one or the other.

It could have been - and should have been - both.

Monday, September 12, 2011

X Weeks and Craving....

There's been a lot of chatter in the BLM community about the newest Facebook breast cancer awareness game.  For those who don't know, this is a game in which women change their status to "X weeks and craving X." To be honest, I wasn't all that upset by the game. I didn't necessarily find it insensitive... just juvenile like the "games" from previous years indicating where you like to put your purse or the color of your bra. None of these games truly raises awareness for breast cancer.  They just seem pointless.

This year's game just confused me. I first encountered the update from my younger cousin, who has a toddler and has been constantly talking about "missing having a little baby." Hers read, "I'm 18 weeks and craving Hershey's Kisses!!!" I just assumed she was again bringing up her desire to be pregnant again with the status update. But then her mother, my aunt, who is past menopause posted something similar, "I'm 13 weeks and craving gummy worms."  My sister-in-law, a fellow BLM, was also confused and asked her what was going on. Then we all got an email about the game. No one receiving the email played the game.

Again, I wasn't really outraged about it. I didn't feel that they were being insensitive to me or to my sister-in-law who lost our baby girls in the second trimester. That said, it did provoke a lot of thought. I spent days afterwards thinking about Lily and thinking about my current pregnancy (not about breast cancer!).

When I lost Lily, I was 20 weeks and craving oranges, strawberries and Yoplait yogurt. Normally, I'm a Dannon yogurt girl, but for some reason, while pregnant with Lily, I only ever wanted to eat Yoplait. Perhaps Lily had the same tastes as her daddy who prefers Yoplait. I loved oranges. Every afternoon around 3 or 4, I would get this strong craving for an orange. And they tasted delicious. I swear they were the best oranges I've ever eaten. Again, that was a result of Lily because the oranges were certainly not in season. Every night, I would have strawberries and whipped cream. We ate a lot of fruit, but strawberries and oranges were the biggest hits.

After Lily died, the cravings stopped almost immediately. I remember eating an orange the day after her birth/death while still in the hospital, and it didn't taste good.

I was 20 weeks when we lost Lily so I just started feeling Lily move. Her flips and kicks were still too weak for her daddy to feel from the outside, so we were anxiously awaiting the day he could feel her. It was so exciting to feel her and I wanted so badly to share that excitement and joy with my husband. Especially because he would poke my belly and tell the baby to wake up in the morning, and she would poke back. But he never got to feel that.

Currently, I'm 35 weeks pregnant with Lily's little brother or sister. And this entire pregnancy I haven't craved anything... in terms of food that is. The first trimester I could barely eat because I felt sick all the time. Even though my appetite returned during the second trimester, I still didn't crave anything really. And now, during the third trimester, I'm on a modified diet because of gestational diabetes so even if I had cravings, I can't really give into them. I think sometimes my lack of an appetite and cravings is due to anxiety.  Most of the time I just can't figure out what I want to eat, even if I'm really hungry.

My only real cravings this pregnancy are the following:

To just make it another week further in this pregnancy.  This craving and the next have been the only constants this entire pregnancy.

To hear a heart beat every week at our doctor's appointment.

Now that the baby is moving, to feel him/her squirm every day.  And some days it's the only thing I want, especially if the baby isn't particularly active that day.  I've come up with all sorts of ways to get the baby to move to make mommy feel better.  

To make it to the scheduled procedure to remove the cerclage, so I no longer have to worry about going into labor and possibly tearing my cervix.

To hear my baby cry.  I swear that'll be music to my ears.

To hear the doctor say "It's a boy" or "It's a girl" after delivery rather than "the baby has no heartbeat" and the silence that follows those words.

To snuggle a warm, live baby.

To bring my baby home and to watch him/her grow up!

These are my cravings right now. No cravings for candy, just cravings for another life to come into and stay in mine.

I guess after re-reading this entire post, the "breast cancer awareness" game did affect me... just not in the way the people who designed the game wanted me to be affected.