Time, it seems, usually flies. Especially when you have
children. For instance, when Emma turned one, I didn’t know where the time
went. The months and milestones just rolled right by and I remember wishing life
would slow down.
As I approach what should have been Isla’s first birthday,
her death and birth feel like so long ago. Perhaps it’s because I wasn’t living
through all the milestones that occur during the first year of a baby’s life
and the rapid growth from month to month that seem to make time fly by.
Looking back, I feel like a lot has happened since then. I went through a whole
8 week maternity leave, tried for 6 months to get pregnant again, then spent 11
weeks pregnant, just about a whole trimester, before learning I miscarried.
Each of those events themselves seem like they lasted a lifetime. No wonder the
year feels like it was long.
Now, as September 27th nears, I cannot help but be
filled with a yearning for things to be different. To go back to exactly a year
ago from now, when Isla was still alive, about to be born… and do something, anything that would have created a
different outcome. I so wish I was
planning her first birthday party.
To be honest, I feel a little overwhelmed, like I should have
some grandiose plan to honor her on this solemn anniversary. Part of me feels like I should do some big
thing – I don’t know what – but that shouts to the world that Isla made a mark
and that she meant something. We do plan on honoring Isla’s memory by bringing a rose to the cemetery with a balloon for Emma to send up. She meant a lot to us, still does and always
Some only dream of angels. I held one in my arms.
This is a photo of Isla's Memorial brick at the cemetery where her ashes are buried. It has special meaning because it is a tribute to Isla from Todd, Emma and I, along with our parents, our siblings & their families. Isla is a very special daughter, sister, granddaughter, niece and cousin.
I just learned that today is “National Teddy Bear Day”! Had I
known earlier, I may have done more to celebrate Emma’s beloved “Bear”. Well,
let me start at the beginning of his story…
My sister, Amy, who is 10 years older than me, worked at a
store called Brian Alden in the Branhaven Plaza (Branford, CT). I believe she
was 16 when she started, which made me only 6. My Mom and I used to visit her
at the store on occasion. The store carried a variety of wood toys, stuffed
animals and wood furniture and household items. It was a pretty great store!
Anyway….2 years later, my sister was getting ready to leave for college….I don’t
remember the exact year….but it was mid 80’s. I had come in to visit and fell
in love with this bear. Fast forward to our annual family vacation at Higgins
Beach in Scarborough, Maine. It was bedtime for me and I made my way to my bed,
which was situated on the floor in my Mom and Dad’s room b/c we were sharing a
cottage with limited space. As I approached my bed I noticed the bear I had
admired again and again, relaxing on my pillow! I really don’t recall the rest
of the details, but my sister bought that bear for me because she was leaving
for college that Fall and felt her little sister needed a bear to comfort her
during the lonely times. She was so right!
That bear sat on my bed for years to come, as a symbol of
comfort. He travelled with me to Atlanta, GA in February 2001 when I moved out
of my house to live with Todd. I kept him in my closet for 8 years before he
was called to life again!
Emma was a year old. I had this bear in my closet that I
thought she would like. That is a total understatement!!!!!!!!!!!!! I introduced
her to bear and thus began a relationship that is still going strong today! She
loved “Bear” from the moment she met him. She brought him everywhere and loved
to pick at his fur for comfort and to help her fall asleep at night. When she
started daycare at Bright Horizons, she brought bear and everyone got to know
Today, on this special day of Teddy Bear recognition…I would
like to thank bear. He has truly been a source of unconditional love. Not only
that, but he has carried his love through the ages….across families as a
reminder of our love and bonds. As many times as I need to sew or patch bear
up, I will. He is a special part of our family that defines tradition and love!
I will be the first to admit, I did a lot of worrying over
the summer about Emma’s transition to Kindergarten. She had been going to
Bright Horizons, located on our work campus, with only work people’s kids since
she was 16 months old. I had formed relationships with teachers, staff and parents
and felt fully comfortable and content with the way things were. Kindergarten and Elementary School seemed
like a whole new foreign world to me and I harbored a lot of anxiety in the
weeks and days leading up to the first day of school. Part of it was also due
to Emma’s own reluctance. She was not looking forward to the change and that
multiplied my own anxiety. I tried to keep it positive for Emma, though. In preparation, we talked a lot about all the
friends she would make, and things she would be doing and learning in
Kindergarten. We shopped for clothes, supplies and lunch box staples. We
visited her classroom and met her teachers. When the first day of school came
around, Emma was terrified. She clung to us as we walked her in and the tears
started as soon as we got to her classroom. After getting her somewhat settled,
assuring her it was going to be ok and a final hug, kiss and I love you, I
walked out the door and my own tears started flowing. I had been nervous about
this whole thing, but I hadn’t expected to be that emotional. I was somewhat
embarrassed, so I kept my head down and made a bee line for the car with poor
Todd walking behind. He assured me she was going to be ok, but I was so sad to leave
her crying and scared. I rode to work with such a heavy heart. Then…I missed a
call from the school and panicked because they didn’t leave a message. I did
end up getting in touch with her teacher and she said she called me to reassure
me that Emma was doing great and stopped crying shortly after I left. She said
she doesn’t usually do that, but she could see it in my eyes that I needed some
reassurance. I am so grateful for that because I was able to get on with me day
feeling a lot better. Todd was home sick, so he went to pick her up instead of
having her go to the After School Program. They called me when they got home
and Emma chattered on happily about the things she did and the new friends she
made. WHEW! That made my day. On the way home I stopped and got her flowers, balloons
and an ice cream cake to celebrate a successful first day!
Since then, things have been running very smooth and we have
fallen into a good routine. She is more tired at night due to getting up
earlier, no nap and increased activity. Last night she was sleeping by 8:30,
and although we were not quite sure what to do with ourselves at first, Todd
and I enjoyed a little peace and quiet to unwind and relax. Something we definitely
were not used to since she has always been a NIGHTHAWK!!! She loves to help me
pack her lunch and pick out her clothes the night before and genuinely seems to
be enjoying the Kindergarten experience. This morning, we got out of the house
on time and in peace since we were all rested and relaxed. Todd asked us if he
came home with the wrong family last night!!!! We do have some work to do on
drop off. I am still walking her in. She is clearly not ready to hop out of the
car in the drop off lane (although I KNOW she could do it). We are trying to
take it a step at a time. She still cries a little when I drop her, but I have
toughened up and don’t feel the need to stay until she calms down (b/c I know
that will only prolong it). I am getting over my desire to stay and make it
better because I know she is capable of pulling herself together on her own and
this is building up confidence in her that she can do it.
In my last post, I spoke
of my readiness and hope to get pregnant again. Well….just a short time after
that, my prayers were answered and we were absolutely relieved, excited and terrified
to confirm I was pregnant and we were on our way towards fulfilling our wishes
to add to our loving family! My due date was February 24th and as
the weeks went by we were cautiously optimistic about the good times ahead,
with our hopes and dreams of Emma finally getting a chance to be a big sister!!
I knew it was going to be a long 9 months of worry and anxiety, particularly as
we approached the 38 week mark when Isla passed away. But I was full of courage
and knew that I had the full support of Todd and friends and family as we
anticipated Baby Santello’s safe arrival. We eventually told Emma the news and
she was absolutely delighted to have another chance at being the big sister and
immediately talked of how she was going to take on all duties pertaining to
taking care of a baby! Todd and I were going to have it made!! We told some
close family and friends, but I was very hesitant to make this news “public”
before I heard a heartbeat or saw an ultrasound with a wiggling baby. I know
most people do wait until at least the first trimester is over…but last time I
think I spilled the beans around 9 or 10 weeks. This time I was so afraid to
jinx it. I visited the doctor at 9 weeks
and thought they may listen for the heartbeat…but they didn’t. At that time, I
think there is a 50/50 chance of hearing it, and I believe they didn’t even
want to try in case they couldn’t because that would have really caused me to
worry, even though I know it’s not guaranteed at that point. I was disappointed since I had really been
hoping to be assured of some sign of life. But, I was feeling tired and
nauseous and cranky…so I figured, no news is good news, right?! I was having an
ultrasound soon, so we’d just wait for our reassurance then.
At the beginning of my 11th week, I noticed some slight
spotting. It wasn’t totally worrisome, as that can be common in early
pregnancy, but I felt the need to call my doctor because she had assured me she
was there for me whenever I needed her. So I told her what was going on and she
wasn’t too concerned but told me to come on in for an ultrasound in the office
for reassurance. I was a bit nervous b/c it would be the same room that I
learned of Isla’s fate. I tried to remain positive. However, I cannot deny that
I had a really bad feeling as I was driving to the doctor. I had thought about
having Todd come with me…but once again…I just wanted to stay positive and was
trying to be brave. I just couldn’t get
the nagging feeling out of my head that I was going to see nothing up on the
ultrasound screen. I tried to chalk it
up to being nervous about this pregnancy in light of what we’d been through…that
it would be pretty normal to be so nervous. Anyway…yeah….when the image came up
on the ultrasound screen, it was a big empty hole. Sadly, where we should’ve seen what looked
like a jumping bean, there was nothing. I knew…even though they had to send me
to my Perinatologist for a more in depth ultrasound and confirmation. Todd was waiting for my call and I didn’t have
to say anything since he knew from my sobs that my fears were true.
This little one was not meant to be. He/She stopped
developing at 6 weeks and just didn’t have what it needed to continue on. Thankfully nothing was wrong with me…other
than a broken heart and dampened spirit. The doctor’s said that sometimes these
things happen and still see no reason for me to think I can’t go on to have
another healthy pregnancy and baby.
After a few days of healing physically and emotionally, I
came to terms with the fact that this wasn’t meant to be. I am trying not to dwell on it and know that
sometimes in life there are misfortunes we must face on the way to where we are
going. This was definitely a blow to our family to have to deal with this so
soon after losing Isla. But we have each other…so I know we are going to be OK.
So…today, we were riding home from work/school…and Todd and
I were discussing some things that have been bothering me lately. I’ve been
feeling down about some things and Todd wanted to know what’s been troubling me
and how he could help. Lately, I have been missing my family and sometimes when
summer starts I think back to how much I loved summer when I lived in Branford,
surrounded by family and friends. Also, I cannot deny that I am feeling a bit
down about the hopes and what-ifs of getting pregnant again. It’s been 9 months
since Isla died and I live in fear that I was not meant to be the mother of 2.
I was expressing this to Todd in the car and Emma piped up from the backseat
wanting to know how a baby would get in my tummy. EEK! Todd turned to me and
said “Kate…?” So…I turned and told Emma that God would send us a baby when he
thought we were ready for one. That seemed to appease her. She asked if our
baby was “inbisible” (invisible) until God sends him/her to us. I told her yes
and that we must be patient until our time comes.
That appeased her, but left me with questions. How do I
prove I am ready? Is having a baby a scientific thing…or a miracle…or
both?? I believe it is both and that
timing is everything; not only the timing of the egg meeting the sperm but the
timing in life. I am hoping that spring or summer of 2013 is perfect timing to
welcome a much wanted addition to our family. I hope God is listening closely.
We are ready to let hope into our hearts that we might be fortunate enough to
expand our love to another member of the family.
I stood in my kitchen tonight, baking cupcakes for a small
celebration we are having at home tomorrow night, in honor of Emma’s graduation
from Pre-K at Bright Horizons/Georgia Power. As I mixed together the butter,
sugar, flour, vanilla and other ingredients, I thought back - a bit teary eyed - to almost 4 years ago (July 08) when I
tentatively dropped Emma off in the Mulberry Classroom with a bunch of “strangers”
to take care of her. She had spent the past 16 months of her life at home with
me while I worked a “Virtual Recruiter” position, allowing me to work from home
and keep her by my side. It was a strange feeling to leave her to the care of
others as I made my way to the office for the first time in over 2 years. As
the days went on, though, Emma thrived. She made friends, she engaged in
activities, she learned to drink from a cup, made milkshakes, colored pictures,
and the “seed” was planted for a lifelong desire to learn and grow. She learned
to sing songs, count to ten, recite the alphabet, etc, etc. And my fears of
leaving her with strangers went out the window. These “strangers” became like
family as I became involved in the center as a member of the parent partner committee.
Over the years, Emma did have some issues with drop off…separation, from me,
especially was always a little hard on her. But, admittedly, I always had a
hard time walking away without just “one more hug and kiss”!! As Emma
progressed through the center through the 2’s classroom, preschool and pre-k, I
couldn’t have been happier with my decision to go back to work and send her off
to “daycare”…or what we have called from the beginning, “school”! As a family,
it has been an invaluable experience and I couldn’t be prouder to be part of
the Bright Generations graduating class of 2012!!
Emma's very first day...
Oh My Goodness! I am so glad that we still have until August until Emma goes to Kindergarten! I am going to miss my Bright Horizons/Bright Generations family and the love and support they have given us over the years.
I remember my first Mother’s Day without my Mom. May, 2001.
I had recently moved to Atlanta and was navigating through life without a
mother, and no family nearby. One day I was walking through the mall and felt
as if the signs, banners, advertisements and window displays reminding us not
to forget our Moms, were taunting me. In fact , it really pissed me off. I had
this self righteous feeling of how dare this day be thrown in my face while I
was mourning the recent loss of my own Mother. As the years went by, I learned
to replace the anger, and honor her by focusing on the positive aspects of our
special Mother-Daughter relationship and what she meant to my family. After
all, I had a GREAT Mom who loved us with every sense of her being. It was an honor to be her daughter and I absolutely
treasure the memories of times we spent together. She is with me always. Not
only in my heart, but as a mentor, gently guiding me from afar.
As Mother’s Day approaches this year, I find myself feeling
a mixture of emotions. There is the sadness of my first Mother’s Day after
having lost a child. It is certainly sad to celebrate being a Mom and not have
Isla with me. On the other hand, I feel more grateful than ever to be a Mom to
Emma. She is the brightest light in my life and I am so thankful and proud to
be her Mother.
I also have to take a moment to acknowledge something that
makes me so sad. This year, more than ever, I honor the women who want a child
so badly, but cannot get pregnant…and those who lost their first child (whether
through miscarriage, stillbirth or infant loss) and are facing this mother’s
day as a painful reminder of such. I pray with all my heart that these women
can find peace within, and are given the ultimate gift…motherhood and a baby to
and blessings to all…
Me and my beautiful Mom...
Me and my "Emmers"...
Me and Isla @36 weeks. One of our last photos together...
It has been a while since I have written, so I wanted to
post an update. I really do want to keep this blog running…and I don’t feel as
if I have dedicated enough time to doing so.
The truth is I miss Isla lately and the dream that died with
her. Last night I was flipping through my 2011 planner/calendar pages and
everything was so happy as we were anticipating her arrival. I am trying to get
pregnant again and it seems to be taking longer than I care to wait. I know
that another baby is not going to replace Isla…but I am anxious to complete my
family, and I am anxious to give Emma the sibling she so desperately wants. I
am anxious to get pregnant again to reassure myself that I am not suddenly
infertile….and that I wasn’t not meant to have another child. Mostly, I long
for another baby to share the love of my wonderful family. We have so much to
give. Sometimes when Todd and Emma and I are all together, laughing or having a
good time, I feel so sad that Isla missed out on being a part of our family and
the good times we would have all had together. It is just so damn sad and
heartbreaking. We were SO close to having her here with us.
Anyway, I have these ups and downs, which I am pretty sure
is normal, especially during the first year. Feel like recent posts on this
blog have been a little sad (like this one) but I am mostly doing ok. I am fortunate to have a loving and
supportive husband in Todd, and my little Emma who absolutely lights up my
life. There is nothing better or more comforting to me than having them to go
home to at night, and share our family moments together.
Thanks to everyone who reads this and offers support! The
amount of support in the “Baby Loss” community is incredible and I intend to be
better at keeping up and maybe even changing a few things around on my blog.
It has been 6 months since that heart-wrenching day that we had to say hello and goodbye all at once. It is hard to believe that half a year has passed already.
Though not as intensely as the immediate aftermath, I still find myself going over the “what-ifs” and the “should-be’s”. It is hard not to live with regret of what could have been done differently so that you’d be here with us today. It is also difficult not to stop from time to time and wonder how different my life would be. I like to picture happy family moments….sharing holidays & milestones… the joy of each other’s company doing simple things together…and Daddy and I admiring our 2 beautiful daughters and witnessing those priceless moments between sisters that would have melted our hearts. Emma misses you and often says “I wish Isla was here”. She was so looking forward to being the big sister and was ready to take good care of you. She was so looking forward to dropping you off with me in the infant room at school, which we had to visit daily before you were born so she could see all the little ones, thinking that she was soon going to have her chance to proudly call one her own.
I hope that you are in a better place…and I must have faith that there is a reason you are there instead of here with us. We miss you and think about you every day. You are living on in our hearts and I have many happy memories of our time together last year when I was happily anticipating and preparing for your arrival. You are always with me. “Mama loves you”.
I found this on Pinterest last night and it really struck me because lately I have found myself in a bit of an emotional "rut".
This reminded me to take life "a day at a time".
The only thing I have to add is that if you are not happy with where you are, you cannot wallow in self pity and expect things to change if you keep doing the same thing. I see this as a reminder that sometimes we find ourselves in a place that we don't want to be, and it is OK because sometimes it just helps us to focus on where we want to go and what we need to do to get there, and not expect change to happen overnight.
Lately, I’ve been feeling a little down. The holidays are over…it’s back to the grind and the weather can’t make up its mind. I am tired of its indecisiveness. One day it is freezing and we are bundling up and making hot chocolate and the next we are looking for our short sleeves and leaving the coats at home. It has been like this all winter.
That isn’t my problem. In fact, I wish that was my problem. It would be easier than dealing with the fact that I gave birth to a dead baby 4 months ago. I miss Isla. I miss being pregnant with Isla, even though I didn’t necessarily enjoy being pregnant…the hope I had in my heart was a good feeling. I miss the anticipation and excitement of meeting her and planning for her arrival. Instead, I am back to square 1. Hoping and wondering if I will get pregnant again….calculating dates and just…waiting. I feel a sense of anxiety to continue on with my plan of expanding our family. I want so badly to reassure Emma that she will have a brother or sister….a little baby to help take care of, that she so desperately wants. I also know that the minute I see 2 lines on that stick (IF I am actually lucky enough to see that again) the anxiety is going to multiply. Like tenfold. So here I am. Anxious to get pregnant, yet knowing more anxiety also awaits. It’s hard to find contentment in this situation. My family was supposed to be complete going into 2012. Now, it’s up in the air and I find myself feeling a bit uneasy lately about my state of discontent. I desperately don’t want to find myself in a state of depression. Been there, done that. After my Mom died of Creutzfeldt-Jakob’s disease in 2000…..I muddled through the few years following her death before I realized I needed help. I couldn’t be prouder of myself for finding my way out of that dark hole of sadness….but I worry about going back. If anything could bring me back there, it is the loss of Isla. I feel like I got great counseling to work through the grief of losing my Mom and I have been applying those tools to my grief over Isla’s passing. Again, I have to be thankful for Emma and Todd for requiring me to be mom and wife on a daily basis…thus forcing me out of bed and making me function.
Anyway….thanks for reading and letting me feel sorry for myself. I usually try and exude a positive nature and hope for happiness. But I am just not feeling that this week. Sometimes, you just have to be at the bottom to see your way to the top. I knew there would be ups and downs in this journey and I remain hopeful and positive that there are good times to come.
I have gained some new followers since my story was posted on the Faces of Hope, Faces of Loss Website. Welcome to you all and thank you for your comments and support. As I have time, I am also checking out your blogs as well.
Today is Valentines Day and it seems there are mixed emotions from people about this day and what it means. Some feel it is a contrived "Hallmark Holiday" created to make money off the suckers who buy in to the hype (like ME!!!!!) I for one, have always loved Valentine's Day. I love the pink and red, the hearts, flowers and chocolates and having an excuse to make the day a little more special than usual! I don't think it is only for those in a relationship, but a day for celebrating "love" in general and the appreciation and love we feel for our parents, children & friends. Since I was a kid, my Mom always made this day special. She would set the dinner table with extra touches...flowers & pretty napkins. We'd eat dinner and then indulge in a yummy dessert as we opened our Valentine's. So, I think of my Mom with much love on this day for always making me feel loved, Valentine's Day or not. Tonight, I will follow her traditions and enjoy a festive evening with Todd and Emma as we celebrate the loving bond of our little family. I am thinking of Isla today and wish that she was here on earth with us. I bet my Mom is taking care of her in heaven!
I'd like to wish everyone a very happy Valentine's Day full of love and treats!
You know how a woman will get her heart broken by a guy…..and then claims that she still believes in love? That is how I feel about babies.
I was pregnant at the same time as some other friends/acquaintances/face-bookers and as I was dealing with my loss, they went on to have healthy babies. I will admit that it was/is bittersweet to see the pictures and happy announcements. But mostly, to see a new baby brought into the world is more of a “relief” to me. No woman should ever go through what I went through. Period. And to see the announcements of arrivals and pictures of happy families makes me smile…even if it is through tears reminding me of my loss. I consider Emma’s birth to be the happiest time of my life. The memories of those days are just so special to me and I was looking forward to experiencing that feeling again when Isla was born. I am hopeful I will have that chance again….but in the meantime, seeing the delight on the faces of my friend’s and their newborns makes me smile.
MUCH love to those of you experiencing a recent birth and/or addition to your family. I wish for you: quick nightime feedings, naps when they nap, good eaters and better sleepers, a heart FULL of love, great photo ops, and endless kisses on those precious cheeks. xoxo
OK...so I started this challenge the other day and then I deleted the post....so starting over....catching up on the past 3 days!
This is a February Photo-a-day challenge...post a pic a day based on the list below. Thought it sounded like
Photo #1....my view at work...5 days a week!
Photo # 2: "Words" - my Mom passed away in 2000 and we put this on her mass cards that people took. It became a "mantra" for my sisters and I to survive our loss. My sister gave this to me as a gift and it is hanging over my bed. I think it is something to live by whether you have had a loss or not.
Photo #3: "Hands" - simply snapped a pic of my hands! A typical, every day look...my wedding ring and a good every day polish..."Prima Ballerina" by one of my favorite brands, Essie. I have to say...I am pleased with how my nails are looking!!!! They all seem to be the same length. I love to paint my own nails and change out my polish at least once or twice a week.
Tomorrow's photo will be interesting since I don't really plan on leaving my house. I am planning on cleaning out my closet, a task I both dread and yet look forward to. I hate to be tied up in my closet all day, but if desperately needs some organization. I will be much happier once all my stuff is in it's rightful place!
Before Isla was born, I had been thinking about getting a tattoo with her and Emma’s birthdates on it along with mine and Todd’s as well in a circle on my back because a circle is a symbol of forever. I was planning it as a tribute to demonstrate my adoration for my happy little family. In all honesty, I had never really been a big “tattoo person”! However, the thought of a tasteful and discreet tattoo appealed to me and I liked the idea of branding myself with my love for my family permanently!!
After Isla died, I knew for sure that I was going to get a tattoo, but I struggled with exactly what it was I wanted. I didn’t want to go ahead with the circle, because that is for my entire family and Isla’s death left that chapter open for us. We were no longer “done” with having children. So I started researching a design that would incorporate her, Emma and the possibility of a third child. But I liked my original idea for that with the circle of dates. Todd and I visited the tattoo shop while I was on maternity leave to see some examples and talk to a tattoo artist about ideas. The advice he gave was to think about what my family and/or Isla means to me and what type of artwork would be appropriate to symbolize that. I researched many designs on the internet that would include Emma and leave room for the next, but I decided to hold off and do that one at a later date. Due to her circumstances, Isla was worthy of getting her very own ink! I definitely wanted her name on it. I loved the unique name I had picked out for her and was sad that she wasn’t going to be able to bring the name to life. My other thought was that even though she had died, she was going to be part of us forever and I came upon the infinity sign….the perfect symbol of my infinite love for Isla. I found plenty of ideas for the design on the internet and my sister had even mentioned the idea of her name being part of the infinity sign. I thought about getting scrolls or floral “stuff” around it…but I really just wanted it simple. So I drew it out and wrote her name with a little heart dotting the “i” and made my decision to have it inked on the inside of my right wrist.
It didn’t hurt nearly as much as I feared it was going to!!! And it makes me smile to look down at her name, in my handwriting, permanently etched on the inside of my right wrist, along with the Tiffany Infinity bracelet Todd gave me for Christmas. I know I don’t need a tattoo to remember Isla but having it is my meaningful little tribute to the tremendous and infinite love I will always have in my heart for her.
When we first lost Isla and left the hospital empty handed, the thing that got me through the days that followed was Grace. In fact, the ability to be thankful was my saving grace. In an effort to find comfort from my grief, I was constantly reminded of things I should be thankful for. It is sort of ironic how that happened. During a time of such sadness and grief, the only place to find comfort was to look for things that made me happy…that made me get out of bed in the morning and that made me feel like I wasn’t going to drown in my own sorrow.
I have this cut out and posted on the wall of my cubicle at work. In fact, I found this on Pinterest and printed it out before I even lost Isla. I have always felt strongly that the way to make a bad situation better is to look for the good and find some positive attributes. But never did I realize it was going to have such an impact on my life and help me survive an unspeakable tragedy.
It seems like losing Isla and being out of work on maternity leave quickly turned into the holidays … and the end of the year from October on all sort of blurred together. That was broken up by the fresh start of a new year and the return to “normal”. But there isn’t a day that goes by that I do not think of Isla. In fact, I can look down at my arm and see her name whenever I want J (more on that later). I feel like I have gotten back to my normal routine of life…yet I will never be the same. There is a hole in my heart and I am always thinking about things I “should” be doing right now. I suppose I will feel like that for the rest of my life…when Isla should be turning 1…when she should be starting kindergarten…getting her license…graduating from high school and on and on. However, on the days I feel down, I look for grace….and I usually find it. In the loving and unconditional support of Todd and the sweet loving innocence of Emma. I try to focus on the good things in life and the simple pleasures that make me smile.
I challenge everyone who is reading this to stop right now and think of 1 thing you are grateful for. I hope it makes you smile!
As 2011 came to an end, part of me wanted to say “good riddance” and “thank God that awful year is over”. The truth is… the year was not all that bad. For most of it, I was blissfully ignorant of what was to come in September.
In the beginning it was shaping up to be one of my favorite years...like 1984 (Todd always makes fun of my love for the 80’s and my childhood reminiscing…and he always jokes that 1984 was one of my best years. I totally think he is right!) Other years that rank are 2004, the year we got married and 2007, the year Emma was born.
Most of 2011 was great. In January we had a rare and fun winter snow/ice storm that had us home-bound for 3 days. Not to mention, Isla was created during this month! February brought us our positive pregnancy test and the fun anticipation of expecting a new baby, which really set the tone for the rest of the year…lots to look forward to and plan for. In March we celebrated Emma’s 4th birthday with a fun pizza party. May kicked off our Summer with a really nice vacation to Destin, FL. The rest of the summer was spent just trying to survive the Atlanta heat in my pregnant condition! August dragged more than usual this year and when September finally arrived I felt as though I was finally turning a corner and could see the finish line to meeting Isla. This is where I am going to fast forward through the bad part of 2011. You all know the story. And in my effort to focus on the positive, I will say this…a bad situation showed me the good in the world…and in my life. In an immediate need for comfort upon finding out I lost my precious baby girl, I thanked my lucky stars for the precious little girl waiting at home for me. And I was so fortunate for the support system I had…Todd, my sisters, Dad and Joye, Todd’s Mom and Dad, my friends and co-workers all made sure I knew that they were there for me. Even facebook….bridged the miles that distanced me from family & friends as people checked in with me constantly to ensure I was “hanging in there”….even people (friends) I wouldn’t be in touch with if it weren’t for facebook.
As the year came to a close, I was met with happiness as we began our celebration of the holidays. For the first time ever, my entire family came to Atlanta to celebrate Thanksgiving. My 2 sisters, Amy and Megan, their husbands, Kevin and Greg, their kids, Nick, Lexi, Michael, Ryan and Christian and my Dad and Joye. I love cooking and hosting gatherings and don’t have the opportunity to do so all that much since my family is far away…and our condo is kind of small! But it all worked out well and there was plenty of room for all of us. We kicked off the Christmas season at Stone Mountain Park before everyone went home. My family being all together was just the thing my heart needed to continue to heal. Hopefully it won’t be as long as it was before we all get together again.
And then Christmas was upon us. A bittersweet year for sure. When we brought out our Christmas décor, it hurt my heart not to hang the stocking Todd’s Mom knit for Isla. I made a special ornament for our tree with Isla’s footprints, which will be there year after year, hung with love and remembrance. Christmas was a mix of solitude and joy for us. It is hard not to feel the joy of the season when you have a 4 year old…and we tried to embrace every joyful moment and the magic of the season through our daughter’s eyes. She had her most magical Christmas yet…since, at 4 years old….does it get any more magical??
I will admit that I had a little bit of the “sads” as I closed out the year, but I definitely have hope in my heart for good things to come in 2012. Stay tuned!