February 4, 2010 - One Response

Dear three people who will read this and maybe care,

Sorry I haven’t posted in almost 2 months. Life’s just been getting the best of me lately. I’ve gotta say that I’ve been handed some MAJOR lemons. I’m not exactly complaining here, just still trying to figure out which way to make lemonade. I know that life is supposed to be hard but damn….let’s not get ridiculous here!   I’m sure you understand!

Love,  Mandy

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Happy Birthday!

December 10, 2009 - One Response

It’s Juniper’s birthday.  If she were here, I’d be planning the biggest and best first birthday party ever…but since she isn’t, I have a favor to ask of you all.

Do something nice today for my daughter. I don’t care what it is… Throw an extra buck in the Salvation Army bucket.  Shovel your old neighbor lady’s snow. Whatever you want. Just do it for Juniper, please.

That’s all I have for now. I’ve been looking forward to and dreading this day for a long time so I’m going to try and enjoy it. Thanks, everyone.

“I hold it true, whate’er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
’Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all. “
                                         -Alfred, Lord Tennyson

…and happy birthday, baby. ❤

Different, but the same.

December 3, 2009 - Leave a Response

It’s late and I should be in bed. I have to get up early and anyone who has worked with me at 8am. can tell you that I’m NOT a morning person.  Yet, here I am, in front of the computer, again.

I just got done booking our flight to Disney. We’re going in May and I can’t wait. Kenzi is at the perfect age for it. I’ve never been there, either, and I’m maybe just as excited as she would be if she knew we were going. We’re going to keep it a secret for as long possible. That way she’ll be surprised and we won’t have to listen to her ask when we’re going five million times a day for six months.  Everybody wins!  Courtney and I had planned a trip to Florida to visit a friend and get away but changed our plans. We can’t afford to do both and we’d rather go to Disney. Even though I’m psyched about our new trip, I’m really disappointed that we won’t be able to get away for a little while together. We could use a vacation for the two of us.

We’ve grieved for so long now and it’s taken its toll. I’d read so many books that said how differently men and women recover from the death of a child and how it will affect your relationship but I didn’t SEE that until quite awhile after Juniper died. Our loss has brought us closer together than ever but it’s always there, pecking away at us. Not only are we now known as “a couple that lost a baby” but we are constantly reminded of the family that we would be. It follows us everywhere. And that, to put it simply, stinks.

Courtney and I are similar people for the most part. He’s really in tune with me (how queer did THAT sound?)…and  that’s one of the things I love most about him. He’s always paying attention to me and understands me more than most people do. When it comes to this, though, he’s lost. I’m grieving in my way and he in his, and we just don’t get it sometimes. I’ve seen the look of panic on his face as I’m bawling my eyes out, again, and he doesn’t know why. Or when my mood changes in a second and I’m a total meanie. Or when I get all her things and pictures out, knowing that it’s going to make me upset. Or when I see that Heidi Klum or some other equally random person had her baby and get hysterical. He just doesn’t get it.

I’ve been there with him, too. He doesn’t talk about Juniper much with me because I always cry. He doesn’t need to see her pictures, or go into her room and touch her little things like I do. In fact, he doesn’t do that at all, as far as I know.  In the earlier days I thought that meant he didn’t care. That he’d moved on and didn’t love our daughter the way he should. Even though I still don’t understand his lack of visible sadness, I know that he loves our little girl with all his heart, just as I do. I know that he thinks about her often and misses her terribly. I know that he’s sad…just in his own way.

I’m surprised (and a little ashamed) that it took me so long to figure that out. I know Courtney better than that.  I don’t know what changed and made me see, either. It was just like one day I thought that he wasn’t doing this the “normal” way and the next I realized that there is no normal way. We’re on our own path through grief…and I’m so glad to be on it with him.

Thanksgiving

November 26, 2009 - Leave a Response

This last week or so has been hard for me and I’ve been in a bad mood all the time .  I’ve been working a lot,  hormonal and just plain sad.  I know that December will be hard this year and the anticipation of all the milestones and holidays coming up has me scrambled.  Tomorrow is Thanksgiving . I’m dreading seeing everyone else happy and celebrating with their families while my family is missing its newest member. If Juniper were here, everything would be completely different and I hate being reminded of that.  As if there isn’t enough out there already to make me think about what we’re missing.

As you can see, it gets so easy for me to be negative that it’s impossible to see the positive. Since it’s Thanksgiving though, I’m making an effort.  I’ve decided to actually write down the things I’m thankful for, instead of just thinking about them. Then, maybe the next time I’m feeling sad I can look at what I’ve written and feel a little better.  Even though my life has been turned upside down, I still have lots to be happy about…

…like, my husband. Where would I be without him? He puts up with me when I’m mean and is always there when I’m sad. He  makes an effort to understand what I’m going through even though sometimes he’s in over his head.  He treats me like gold when I don’t deserve it and I see so many (majorly!) dysfunctional relationships at work so I know how lucky I am.  He even does the laundry!

And,of course, my daughter.  Did anyone not see this coming?  Her death is the reason my life is such a mess now but her birth is the reason it’s full. While I was pregnant, people told me that I wouldn’t believe how much I’d love my child. They were right. Even though she’s gone, I’d still do anything for her. I can’t even convey this with words, but any parent knows what I mean.  It’s like the end of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, when his heart grows three sizes. Because of her, I’ve taken a HUGE step back and looked at what’s really important in my life.  I’ll be a better parent to the children that we’ll have someday. I’ll never take them, or anyone I love, for granted. I’ve learned how important it is to do everything out of love and to make sure that my loved ones know just how much they mean to me. You don’t always get a re-do.

Tomorrow will be bittersweet for us. I’m going to make an effort to stay positive though.  Every time I see a family with a little girl who’s Juniper’s age or a newborn baby who’s healthy and perfect, I’m going to think about what Juniper has given me instead of what I’m missing out on. I can’t say it’s a fair trade, her not being here for a lesson on how to love, but it’s all I’ve got.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone ❤

 

 

Wait

November 8, 2009 - Leave a Response

I’ve been listening to the same song over and over for the last couple of days, which is pretty normal for me. I find a song I like and I play it until I can’t stand it. Then I wait a week and do it again.  My song du jour is called  “Wait” by Alexi Murdoch. The more I listen to it, the mistier I get until I’m just bawling. It seems that any song I listen to makes me think of Juniper; how much I miss her, how much I love her.  This one is different though. I could have written it myself (if I had any musical talent at all that is).

Since I can’t seem to figure out how to post the song on here, I’ll just have to include the lyrics.

“Feel I’m on the verge of some great truth
Where I’m finally in my place
But I’m fumbling still for proof
And it’s cluttering my space
Casting shadows on my face
I know I have a strength to move ahead
I can hardly leave my room
So I’ll sit perfectly still
And I’ll listen for a tune
When the mind is on the moon

And if I stumble
And if I stall
And if I slip now
And if I should fall
And if I can’t be all that I could be
Will you, will you wait for me

Cause everywhere I seem to be
I am only passing through
I dream these days about the sea
Always wake up feeling blue
Wishing I could dream of you

So if I stumble
And if I fall
And if I slip now
And lose it all
And if I can’t be all that I could be
Will you, will you wait for me

And wait for me
And wait for me
And wait for me
Won’t you wait for me
And wait for me
Please wait for me
Please wait for me
Won’t you wait for me
And wait for me
Please wait for me
Please wait for me
Won’t you wait for me
And wait for me
Please wait for me
Please wait for me
Won’t you wait for me
And wait for me
Please wait for me
Please wait for me
Won’t you wait for me
Please wait for me
Please wait for me
Please wait for me
Won’t you wait for me?”

I took a semester off from college to get married (that’s what I told myself at least). Nearly three years later, I still haven’t gone back and I’m starting to wish it wasn’t that way. While I was pregnant I figured that motherhood would keep me busy enough. That’s the only career I want anyway. When we lost Juniper, I lost that too, and I didn’t (still don’t) know what to do. When it was fresh I accepted being lost because there wasn’t anything else to be. But now, eleven months later, it makes me uncomfortable. I’m not doing anything I said I would. I’ve got no child to care for, no “career” and no idea of where to go next.  I can’t even manage to do the small things I’d decided to do in Juniper’s memory or small day-to-day things for that matter. Thank God Courtney reminds me to pay my bills on time!

I feel broken. I’m definitely not proud of that; I used to have a vision. I’m not proud of myself, so why would anyone else be? That’s where the song comes into play. Even though I feel useless now, I hope everyone will wait for me to get it together, because I know I will. And, more than anything, I hope my daughter waits for me, wherever she is. The thought of seeing her again in the afterlife is what gets me through the bad stuff.

I had a rough week so far, if you didn’t already pick up on that. Writing about this has made me feel a little better though. I don’t know if it makes any sense . It doesn’t make sense to me, either.

A drop in the bucket…

November 4, 2009 - 2 Responses

I’d never thought about starting a blog until just a couple days ago when I was trying, unsuccessfully, to write something about myself. I used to write all the time but recently haven’t been able to gather my thoughts and focus on anything to save my life. I’m not saying that I’m some great wordsmith, nothing close to that, in fact, as you will soon discover. I do enjoy writing though and thought that maybe blogging would be a way to start doing that again. Afterall, it is a fairly anonymous way to write (except that my name is on it…but you know what I mean.). My blog is a just a drop in the internet bucket. My highschool writing teacher always told me over and over “write what you know.” I never listened, since I didn’t think that I knew much that was worth reading. I’m not sure that I know anything like that now, either, but I’m going to try anyway.  Writing hobby aside, I also thought that doing this would be a good way to work through some different things in my life. My daughter, Juniper, died last December at birth. My journey through grief is far from over so I’m here to share it. Reading what other bereaved moms were going through on their blogs and in different books has helped me realize that I’m not going nuts and I’m definitely not alone but also that I’m not just another drop in that bucket. The women that I have “met” here online and in real life have been an amazing source of support for me. If I can do that for another woman who has suffered a loss with my little blog here, I’ll be happy.

I’m not exactly sure how to go about telling our story here so I’ll start at the beginning (seems logical). My husband, Courtney and I started dating almost four years ago. We worked together for a couple years before we got together and were pretty good friends.  Once we started dating though, things went fast. We were engaged three months later. I was pregnant a month after that (whoops!). I had a miscarriage and we were, obviously, heartbroken. We tried to conceive again off and on for what seemed like forever until we found out that I was having some hormone issues and went on a fertility drug. After several months of taking that I was pregnant again.

My pregnancy was fairly uneventful and happy. I was floating the entire time. Everything seemed normal and healthy until the end when we went in for an ultrasound at 32 weeks to check the sex of our baby (she didn’t cooperate the first time). We were told that there was possibly a cyst or a tumor in our baby’s abdomen and that it would need to be checked out. The kidneys also looked “bright”  but that wasn’t a huge concern at the time since the growth was a more pressing issue. I went into labor a week after that ultrasound and was told that our baby was very sick. Her kidneys had looked bright because they were full of cysts and were nonfunctioning. Because of this, she had no amniotic fluid and because of that her lungs hadn’t developed. She also had heart problems. Things did not look good for the baby that we wanted and loved so much but I still didn’t think that she would die.  MY baby couldn’t die.

The next day, on December 10, 2008, she was born. She died after twenty minutes, in our arms and after quite a fight. We named her Juniper Isabelle. She was so beautiful; it still amazes me that a child could be so perfect and be so sick at the same time. My time in the hospital is a blur now. I can’t tell now if that’s because of time or because I was in a fog, or both. There are so many things I wish I’d done while she was with us…held her longer or taken more pictures of her. It’s still unbelievable to me that a person is expected to make the most important decisions of their life while under so much stress. Regrets are inevitable, I guess.

After she died we found out that Juniper had Autosomal Recessive Polycystic Kidney Disease (ARPKD), a genetic disease that Courtney and I both carry. While it’s not always fatal for a baby, it’s obviously not good news. Juniper’s symptoms were all typical of ARPKD, the cyst-filled kidneys, lack of fluid, poor lung development. There is a 25% chance that any child we have will have it.

I was out of the game for months after we lost her. Even now, almost eleven months later, it’s a daily struggle. I think of her constantly. I am a different person now, a sad person, and that’s something I never thought I would be. I can say honestly, though that I would never wish any of this away if it meant that Juniper would have never been. While I do have to live here without her, I am so proud to be her mother. She is the best thing I’ve ever done.

I don’t know what the future will bring for us. We’ve been trying to conceive again with little luck. I’m still taking the fertility drugs for the same problems and I recently had another miscarriage. Needless to say, it’s been difficult and discouraging. But it’s where I am in my life now.

Like I said before, if one person can relate to my story, I’ll be happy. I’m by no means an expert on anything, but in the last year I’ve been through more than I ever thought was possible to bear. At the very least, I’d like to think that makes me a little wiser than I was before.  So here I am, writing what I know, even though I hate having to be one of the unlucky ones who know it. The best thing to come out of my daughter’s death has been an overwhelming desire to do something good in her memory. I can’t dedicate myself to caring for her, like I’d planned to, but I can throw myself into making sure that she is remembered. Sharing our story here seems like a very small way to do that. I live to let Juniper shine now.