This picture represents an angel holding Brie

This picture represents an angel holding Brie
the focus is the angel holding Brie and the background is PJ and I waiting on Isabel

Sunday, January 1, 2012

26 days....

Today is January 1, 2012...the first day of the new year. As I look back on the past year and look forward to the year to come, there are many good memories from 2011 and ofcourse many memories of pain. 2011 was the year of both grieving and healing.

I joined Gold's Gym in January 2011 and spent the next six months taking out all of my grief and sadness and aggression out on the treadmill. I remember crying my way through workouts...trying to get off of my anti-anxiety medication and spending weeks weaning down the dosage a little at a time. January was also spent making decisions about where to place Brie's ashes. Although we had lost her in December, PJ and I were not yet ready to make the decision of where to bury her ashes and waited until the new year. By the end of January, we had chosen a memorial gardens in Lexington and scheduled Brie's service, while people around us wondered and questioned why we hadn't simply had a service immediately after losing our daughter. It seems that no one seems to understand decisions made by parents dealing with a loss until they have walked a day in your shoes.

February 12th was Brie's Memorial Service and although it was a freezing morning and a very very difficult day, it marked one of that year's "firsts". Little did I realize at the time, but my next child's due date would be one year later (technically February 11). If only someone could have told me that on a day where all I needed was something to hold onto.

I returned to school at the end of February 2011 which was one of the most difficult steps I had to take in my healing, facing a classroom full of ultrasound pictures of Brie and full of memories of classes full of students who would check on their "class baby" every day. I now faced a new group of students who saw me as a stranger with a sad story that none of them wanted to mention. In a way, I bore a scarlet letter and my loss was now part of my new identity whether I wanted it or not.

By April, with the blooming of the dogwoods, crape myrtles and hydrangea bushes in honor of Brie in our backyard I spent many spring afternoons sitting on our back patio and, sipping a glass of chardonnay, listening to the chimes given to me by a dear friend to remember Brie. I felt like I could feel her presence every time the wind blew. With the warmer weather, greener grasses and blooming trees, April also represented the month we were released to start trying to get pregnant if we were ready to face that. We knew that some parents who had been in our shoes had waited years to have another child, but that wasn't the case for us. We were ready...and by the first week of June, we found out we were pregnant.

That day was a day I started to get my hope back. We only told family and a few close friends and began to fervently pray for our little "blueberry". The next ten weeks brought some difficult days, a bleeding scare in July and terrible morning sickness (in the hottest summer in years) which lasted until 16 weeks. By the time school started in August, and the morning sickness was finally starting to wane, we were "out of the woods" by passing through the first trimester and decided to share our pregnancy publicly.

The fall months brough many memorials and services through our hospital and local organizations, as October is the national month of infant and fetal loss. In September, we found out we were expecting another baby girl, and PJ and I decided to open up the door to our nursery and start over again. We started by repainting the walls pink and started sifting through all of our baby things, those that we would save for the next baby, those that would be put in a place to remember Brie and those things that needed to be donated.

We decided to name our second baby girl Isabel Janice which means "chosen and consecrated to God." We could not have picked a more perfect name. December was perhaps the hardest month to face. We began to receive coupons from "Babies R Us" and "Toys R Us" with offers of deals for your "1 Year Old" and when each one came in the mail it brought an onslaught of tears as I threw each of them in the recycling bin and hoped each one was the last one. On December 3, 2011 we honored Brie's one year birthday by bringing new flowers to her grave and attending a candlelight vigil at Edisto Gardens in Orangeburg where our family had helped to purchase a plaque in honor of Brie in the Angel of Hope Garden.

Today, I breathed a sigh of relief when I realized December was done and January was now finally here. Only 26 days until induction....breathe in...26 days...breathe out...until we bring a baby home...The next 26 days involve two doctor's appointments each week involving a weekly ultrasound and a weekly non-stress test. Medically-speaking, we are watching Isabel as much as we possibly can. Today, she weighs a little over 4 pounds, is practicing her breathing, has a very healthy heart and umbilical cord and has the chubbiest cheeks! She doesn't like to be bothered by ultrasound equipment and oftentimes has atleast one hand by her face (sometimes both hands) and tries to hide in the placenta. The funny thing is, her hands have been by her face since our first ultrasound at 16 weeks.

We anxiously and prayerfully are trying to take each day at a time, but it's not always easy. 26 days is less than a month, less than 4 weeks, but it seems like an eternity. I simply have to "stay the course" and stay focused on doing anything and everything I can to keep my baby girl healthy, and we look forward to 2012 as a year of new beginnings and more and more healing.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Missing one daughter while carrying the other

I have been meaning to update my blog for the past few months, but this fall season has brought back so many memories of last year that I have found it very difficult. I keep looking back on a year ago and how much excitement I had for little Brie's upcoming arrival. A year ago today I was surprised at work with a baby shower. This was the shower where we received a case of diapers and our video monitor...both of which are still in the nursery, unopened and unused. As Brie's one year birthday approaches, we have been attending walks and memorial services offered through the hospital. We just ordered a plaque in her memory at the Angel of Hope children's garden in Orangeburg that will be installed in time for her birthday.
It seems like every Sunday in October has been some kind of emotional service or memorial. I have spent many afternoons at the graveside just sitting on the top of the hill at Brie's marker talking to my sweet girl about her sister and how grateful I am to be their mommy. It is just such a bittersweet time, to be remembering my oldest daughter and yet feeling the little kicks of little Isabel in my belly... my second daughter. Every day, I am full of anxiety and apprehension as my third trimester will be here in a week and a half. Most women find peace in the last trimester, finding comfort in the fact that no matter what happens the baby's chance of survival gets higher and higher...but for me this is the time that I have been anticipating...this time will it end differently? Will Isabel keep moving like she has been? Will we be able to raise her? My heart and mind are at constant odds...will there actually be a baby that we'll be able to bring home and raise? Will it end differently this time?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Dance for Jesus: Little Flutters

Dance for Jesus: Little Flutters: "Today I am sitting in my classroom anticipating what tomorrow, the first day of the new school year, will bring. Last year I was 24 weeks..."

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Dance for Jesus: Forever Cousins

Dance for Jesus: Forever Cousins: "I am always in search of memorials to remember Brie. I have a charm bracelet from PJ, and over the past six months he has given me Brie's ..."

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Dance for Jesus: Things You Shouldn't Say to a Woman Who Has Had a ...

Dance for Jesus: Things You Shouldn't Say to a Woman Who Has Had a ...: "After talking with different ladies who have experienced loss, we all seem to share some common experiences with people who (we think) who m..."

Dance for Jesus: Six months

Dance for Jesus: Six months: "Next Friday will be six months since Brie was born. Wow...six months...since the day my life will forever be changed. In those six months ..."

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Spring Time

Today is Easter Sunday, a day of celebrating the resurrection of Jesus and spending that day with family. Never in my 31 years would I have thought that Easter Sunday would end up being a very difficult day for me. Since Brie passed away four months ago, every day is a struggle but those important family days are now very difficult for me. Everyone dresses up for Easter including little girls and it seemed that everywhere I turned there were beautiful baby girls all decked out in their Easter dresses. Simply a reminder of how life is now different and will always be difficult. My sister Beth Davis and her kids Madeline and Gabe (born three days before Brie) have been here with us for the past week, and it has been such a wonderful time with them but a very very difficult one for me. I feel like everywhere I look, Brie is missing. We took a day trip to the beach, and as Madeline played in the sand and ran to the ocean with her Grandma Mar I was reminded that I will never see Brie swim in the ocean or play with Grandma Mar.
Yes, I believe I will spend eternity with my daughter, but I am human and the here and now is really all I can understand. It bothers me when "super" Christians want to remind me that she's in heaven and I'll be able to see her one day but as "super" as any Christian would like to be, no one wants to say goodbye to their child before they ever got to experience life here on earth with them. People will remind me of how wonderful her life is in heaven, but truth be they want their children in heaven already?
Every day I become more and more aware of what things I am missing with my daughter being gone and although the crying spells are shorter, it still hurts and it's very difficult to understand that I will never have her back in this life.
I go to a monthly support group and have decided to start a separate blog with information on dealing with stillbirth, books I've read, support groups in the area, etc. The blog is if you know someone who might benefit from reading it. In the meantime, say a prayer for us as I attempt to find the courage and energy to face the rest of the school year with a smile on my face and decide how to spend my summer months.