Wednesday, 28 August 2013

A Midnight Snack

Fighting a sinus infection, writing thank you cards and not eating enough for dinner.  All culprits of my lack of ability to sleep and my constant thoughts of Hope.  Each time I attempt to fall asleep I think about her and begin feeling sad and get up before I start crying and make my sinus headache that much worse.  I was feeling much better this afternoon, but being on my back in bed appears to be working against me tonight.

Writing cards is something I've always enjoyed.  I deeply enjoy finding a handwritten note in the mail and I like to give that gift to others.  I will say that having Hope, and needing a lot of help, brought my thank you card writing to extreme levels.  Tonight as I sat trying to catch up on my list of cards to write, I found it difficult as I'd been missing Hope all day and was now thinking about her even more and the people that loved her and our family.  Having her picture on each card only made it more difficult in some ways.

Today I sat and organized our calendar for the fall.  I wrote down all the days Sadie would be at Preschool, the mornings we'd attend my women's group and all the other things we already had scheduled.  In some ways it was exciting to see what was in store for Sadie this fall.  In another way it was deeply painful to know that the freedom to plan ahead has come with a deep cost, losing Hope.  My calendar from last year is almost comical.  I planned nothing, I couldn't plan and I simply didn't often plan to do things in advance.  Sadie didn't attend any structured or scheduled weekly activities and I rarely did either.  It's a change, a positive one for Sadie, yet a difficult one for me.

Feeling so terribly ill yesterday was a good reminder of what Hope left behind.  My head was pounding, my sinuses jammed with junk and my body ached.  Although Hope couldn't communicate well, she showed that she felt like junk on many days too.  I was thinking about her tonight as I considered shooting saline up my nostrils, a daily task with Hope.  She was often stuffy from having her feeding tube and oxygen prongs in her nose at all times.  I need to remember the bad times in order to remember how much better Hope's life is now.  She finally has free nostrils and no one is trying to take her blood!

Sadie has a current fascination with breast feeding.  She 'nurses' her dolls and talks about the fact that Hope used to nurse.  I have to explain that although Hope had Mommy Milk, she took it in a unique way.  I'm fairly sure this is not computing as we have the conversation often.  She never saw Hope nurse, she never did.  I'm not sure where this is all coming from, but it allows Sadie and I to talk about her sister and I always enjoy that.  She told me today that sometimes Hope was whiney.  She's right, she was pretty grumpy some days.  I guess we forget those moments and choose to remember the smiles we caught with the camera.

Although we certainly have difficult moments of grief, we are doing well overall.  We still have the random reminders from friends and strangers alike that we are not forgotten.  I find rare moments that I'm able to almost forget that I've lost a child and live like a normal person.  They're usually brief moments as Hope has shaped a great deal of who I am today.  I can't be me without her having been in my life.  On the really difficult days I remind myself that this world is not my home, it is temporary. I am reminded that I have an eternity in Heaven to hug Hope.  Eternity, something my mind is still too finite to fathom, but I'm looking forward to it just the same.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

3 Months In

August 21st marks 3 months without our sweet Hope.  Although we feel like doing nothing, Shawn is still at work and Sadie and I still ventured out to the chiropractor.  We have spent the majority of the day on the couch with the tv, computer and ipad for entertainment.  When I feel like doing something, I've been cleaning.  I used to worry so much about the house being disinfected to keep germs down.  Somehow disinfecting the floors, vacuuming up dust and washing surfaces make me feel close to Hope.  I still struggle to go into her room and often pause at her door before walking in.  I don't often have a reason to go in there, but try to take the journey a few times a week.  We leave the door open and Sadie will often play with Hope's books, climb in her crib and pull out all her stuffed animals.  I don't want her to feel like it's a museum where she's not allowed to touch.

Each time today I go on facebook and see a post or picture of Hope, I well up with tears.  Sadie will look over and ask me if I need a hug to feel happy again.  She's used to seeing me cry and doesn't appear too fazed by it.  She asked me today where people go pee after they die.  She's more worried about the details of Hope's new life.

I find my biggest battle on the anniversaries is cooking.  I try to plan ahead and get everything ready to make it easy, yet at the end of the day there's nothing in the oven and for the second day in a row, we'll be going out.  Cooking is one of those things that just puts me over the edge when I'm not doing well, yet is something I usually enjoy.

It's helped to organize all of Hope's things into a special box.  Soon I'll begin going through all her clothes as a good friend is going to make a quilt out of all her sleepers for me.  A way to keep them around with a purpose.  She has so many that bring back memories of specific days in the hospital and pictures taken of her in them.  Having treasures from her life with us has become very important for us.

In the midst of the pain and the sorrow of losing Hope, I find myself encouraged.  We have never been alone through this journey and we continue to be supported through our grief.  We have been so blessed to have the community around us that we do.  Thank you for loving on our family.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Precious Baby Girls

This evening I got the exciting message, "she's here!"  Today my sister delivered her 5th child and my 4th niece.  She looks beautiful and is a healthy baby girl.  I felt great, I was excited for my sister and thankful that she arrived safely.  Driving home from a friend's house, minutes from my own house, I had to pull over to let an ambulance pass.  I have always been irritated by those cars that move over slowly or can't seem to get out of the way fast enough.  I have always thought, "what if the person inside is someone you know?  Move over quickly!"  I now instantly think of Hope and the lights flashing and sirens blaring as they waited for people to get out of the way, rushing her to the Stollery last May.  It was in the ambulance that Hope crashed and began to go downhill so quickly.  Every time an ambulance rushes past me, the tears quickly rush down my face.  I can't help but think of her and wish that somehow that ambulance had gotten to the hospital faster and that they had been able to find a way to save her.

Tonight, celebrating this new precious life in our family, I mourn the loss of Hope's life.  It's an odd feeling to be overjoyed and deeply grieved at the same time.  How can I cry and grieve on such an exciting day?  I feel guilty for thinking of myself when my new niece has just entered the world.  Hope was 13 months old, but she still bore the qualities of a newborn.  Babies will always remind me of Hope, not lifting her head securely, never speaking and not truly eating real food.  She was always a newborn in my eyes.  

I realized this week that although being away a great deal this summer was a welcomed distraction, it was also exhausting.  I'm finally home for the rest of the summer and I feel completely wiped.  Tonight, 6 days after returning to Calgary, I am finally doing our laundry and slowly putting things away.  That may be normal for a lot of people, but I'm usually way too anal for that.  I simply can't seem to get back into the groove and I'm hoping this next week will allow me to get back on track.  I'm tired of feeling like I'm behind on a million things.  I still have a huge stack of thank you cards waiting to be written.  People that have loved on us in some way and never heard back from me!

This Wednesday will mark the 3 month anniversary since Hope's death.  I drove past a florist this week and saw a sign that said, 'August 21st- Rose Day'.  I have no idea what Rose Day is, yet I found it oddly comforting that this 21st came with something beautiful, roses.  The 21st days are the most difficult.  I read a book by another family that had lost a child and they spoke about the monthly anniversaries and how difficult they were for the first year especially.  I dread knowing that I have another 9 to go and will also have to endure; Christmas, Easter, her 2nd Birthday and even silly holidays like Halloween.

I continue to believe that God's ways are greater than my own.  I know that his plans are best and I trust in that.  It does not soften the blow or lessen the pain of being without Hope though.  Her room is still empty, there will always be constant reminders and I still refuse to wash the shirt I was wearing the night she died.  Sadie still brings her up almost daily and will often play with an invisible friend she calls Hope.  Every doll is now Hope and each stuffed animal is given her name as well.  She is not forgotten in our home.

Tonight I praise God for new life, the healthy life of a precious baby girl.  I also ask the Lord to give my baby girl the hug I'm not able to give her myself.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

One Empty Hand

It seemed fitting to start writing again today, one month after my last entry.  I don't have a good reason for the absence.  At first I didn't have the desire, then life was busy and we were at the cottage with no internet.

Lots has happened in only 4 weeks.  Shawn and I have had the freedom to dream once again.  In July, we went on a road trip with some friends and spent time in Tofino, Victoria and Vancouver.  This used to be an annual tradition, but last year this trip was not an option for us.  Shawn was elated to be back in the water surfing with his brother and seeing him there was a blessing for me, he was happy.

During our stay in Tofino, my mom called to let me know that my Nannie (her mom) was not doing well.  On July 16th, my 97 year old Nannie went to be with Jesus, and meet Hope for the very first time.    I was honestly jealous of a godly woman going to be with Jesus and feel no more pain.  I look forward to that day and pray that I will have a legacy like my Nannie did.  She loved Jesus entirely and it showed in her life.  I like to picture Hope getting to know her and having her love on Hope like she did on me as a small child.  Losing my Nannie was difficult.  I had longed to come and see her, fearing she would not live for too much longer.  Nannie died less than 2 weeks before I would have finally been able to see her after 2 years of not being able to.  That was painful and I felt frustrated that God would take her now, yet I don't blame her for wanting to go.

Shawn and I debated about what to do.  I desperately wanted to be at the funeral.  I wanted to be with my mom as well.  Sadly, I was not in a strong enough place emotionally.  Shawn and I both agreed that being in a funeral home, next to a casket and in the face of death so quickly would likely be damaging to my grief journey and only make it more painful.  I missed the funeral I swore I never would.

On July 25th, Sadie and I flew to Ontario for a vacation and some time with family.  I was able to see my grandparents (my dad's parents) for the first time in 2 years.  I especially cherished this time after losing Nannie.  Then, on July 26th, we had a celebration of Hope's life.  It was a night I had pictured in my mind a million times.  I longed for the day that Hope would finally be stable enough to come to Ontario and meet the friends, family and strangers alike that had been praying for her.  So many people that we cared about and longed to introduce our little miracle to.  Flying to Ontario with only one little girl was not easy, one hand remained empty.  This entire trip has been a mixture of beauty and pain as a result.  I'm so happy to be able to come again, yet pained by the fact that it is her absence and not healing that brought us here.

On July 26th, people shared their hearts and their experience of walking alongside us in our journey with Hope.  It was encouraging and a reminder that her legacy continues and is not over.  One little girl, that never spoke a word, continues to impact this world.  Nothing could make a mother more proud.

Shawn joined us in early August and we spent time at the cottage with my family.  It was another place I had always wanted to bring Hope and it came with tears.  I find most of my tears are shed on pillow cases and shower tiles.  Sometimes I keep it together for Sadie, but often I would just rather grieve alone.  I rarely fall asleep with dry eyes.

Tomorrow our time away comes to an end and we return to Calgary.  Although it is always nice to be home, I always find it difficult to return.  There's the first time I see her room again, the first time I step in and look through her drawers and her closet.  There's the reality that one day I'll have to put it all away, but the fantasy that I can leave it like it is forever.

On Wednesday, I will be speaking to a group of women about our journey with Hope.  I know that God has taught us a lot over the last year and a half and that we should share it.  In that way I look forward to it.  At the same time, whenever I sit down and work on what I should say, I feel overwhelmed.  I would need a week with these women to truly express what I have learned about God.  I am forever changed, never to be the same.  How can you express that in only an hour?  Would you pray for me as I prepare, that God would have me share only what is on His heart?

Thank you for continuing to care and for continuing to pray for our family.  Even when we are silent.  Although my words here have been few, I've finally found it easy to pray again.  I miss Hope terribly, it feels more painful on certain days, but I continue to love the Lord and find my strength in him.