Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Year Later

So the fact that I have been non-existent for the past year has not gone unrecognized. Even though I was fairly new to the blogging world, I found it to be a great outlet and really enjoyed the small community that began to form around me. Having that said, my life has been so ridiculously chaotic and upside down that I, for 1. cannot find the time, nor would I ever be able to dedicate that much time to writing about it all. 2. I down right prefer not to share it all. As much as I like blogging, I think the purpose of doing so varies from person to person. Some people have dedication, some don't. But it's a "to each their own" type of deal. I am more on the quiet side when it comes to what I share and who I share it with. Sharing within such a populated area cracks the door into drama world...and I can't even think about being in drama world anymore. But in turn, even though I am not a dedicated blogger, I still make daily visits to my favorite blogs and thoroughly enjoy having that connection. I read a blog or two, other people read the newspaper.

With that said, I will give you a glimpse into the past year of my life.
loss in many aspects
heartbreaks and heartaches
family feuds
giving up
damage...sooo much damage
crutial decisions
learning to forgive
learning to accept
positive thinking
(Thinking positive. I swear one day it will eventually come natural)
and an entire year of firsts that should have been experienced with 5

It's been a year of battling my own self every step of the way, living in a world that had been flipped upside down over and over again, being numb from feeling so much pain, being drove beyond my furthest limits, and all of a sudden bouncing back...thinking positive (if I haven't already mentioned that). You never know how strong you are until being strong is your only option. But as terrible as it was to have my world collapse from beneath my feet, being driven so far beyond my limits really made me put things into perspective. If I've learned anything during this past year, it's who really means what in my life. Having been through my worst, it's about looking back and realizing who played what role during those times. The select few who were by my side every step of the way. The ones who just stepped back. The ones who listened and the ones who couldn't have cared less. The ones who made bad situations worse, both intentionally and unintentionally. The ones who treated me like me and not a porcelain doll. It's realizing who cared and who never did. It was actually quite sad when I put it all into focus, so the past year has been all about being tested, coping, accepting, and learning.

I've heard so many people say the phrase "letting go" in a sentence. As a matter of fact, I'm guilty as charged. But just recently I've realized that the only ones were fooling are ourselves. No matter how much I try to make myself let go of things, I cannot do it! I cannot do it. I was actually devastated and felt like such a failure when I came to this realization. I've spent so many years trying to fix myself until finally I realized I couldn't. I just have to learn how to cope with it all and deal with thing in a constructive manner...THINK POSITIVE! Knowing that I will never be 100%, I will never not hurt, makes me feel tainted. But I don't have to let go, I don't have to not cry, I don't have to be 100%...I just have to be okay. I'm getting there. Being okay is within reach, but it's just out of my grasp.

"When she wraps her hand around my finger,
How it puts a smile in my heart.
Everything becomes a little clearer,
I realize what life is all about.
It's hanging on when your heart has had enough,
It's giving more when you feel like giving up.
I've seen the light, it's in my daughter's eyes.”

March of last year, I mourned.
This year I mourned, celebrated, and honoured
"A moment in my arms
A lifetime in my heart"

Friday, May 27, 2011

It's Just One Of Those Days

I sit behind my computer in search of a way to explain exactly how I feel today.
It's just one of those days...

I feel sad, even though I have two beautiful daughters and an awesome boyfriend.
I feel alone, though I have an amazing mother who never strays from my side.
I feel cold and hungry, though I have a roof over my head with food in the cupboards.
I feel hopeless, yet I'll forever preach that there's always hope.
I feel ashamed of the world I live in, but proud to be a Canadian.
I feel criticized as a mother, yet I always say I don't care what others think.
I feel disgusted over some people's lack of maturity and respect, though I allow them to remain a burden inside my head.
I feel at a loss of guidance, though my ears don't lack advice.
I feel lost for words, with so much to say.
I feel ugly inside and out, because it's days like today that the bad portion of me shows it's face.

Today I am letting life and it's hardships take it's tole on me. Every negative past experience has caught up and is now trampling me. I truly do feel guilty for complaining about life because "each day is a gift and not a given right". If I left this world today, on such a negative thought and feeling, I would never have closure. Life is meant to be lived and loved, not criticized and taken for granted. But just like a recovering addict, I too relapse sometimes. Everything I've worked so hard at, all of my morals and values, everything life stands for slips out of arms reach...just for a little while...resulting in days like today where I've fallen victim to insecurities and ungratefulness.

"No one said life would be easy, they just promised it would be worth it"

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Shining Star

"There is no footprint too small that it cannot make an imprint on this world"

A month ago, I wouldn't have given this statement a second thought after reading it. Now it's a thought that runs through my mind every single night as I look to the sky above. 

When I walked through my door after being released from the hospital, other than my girls screaming out Mommy as they ran into my arms, I hear Brooke say "Mommy, did the baby come out yet?" I do believe it's the most difficult question I've ever been asked in my entire life. I had two days prior to going home to ponder up the perfect answer for her, since I knew it was going to be her first question when she seen me. Rob and I spent many hours discussing how we would explain the whole situation to Brooke, but how in the name of God do you do that? What could we say to make her understand, but at the same time shelter her from knowing too much? We didn't want to use the word 'death' as I don't want that word to exist in my soon-to-be four year old's vocabulary just yet. So what exactly do I say to her to help her understand a very difficult and touchy situation for a young child?

My answer?
As tears began to stream down my face, I led her to the couch and told her there was something very important that I had to tell her. As she sat on the couch so innocently, I knelt down in front of her all while trying to put on a strong face. I told her that Emma came out, but she was a very special baby girl, that she had wings, like all of the beautiful angels up in heaven. I continued to tell her that Heaven needs Emma more than we do, because she was so special, she had to go be with the rest of the angels who had wings like her. My strong face broke as I fell into her arms and cried. I reassured her that Emma loves us all very much and will always be in our hearts, forever. She looked into my eyes and I knew, she knew my heart was broken - she took my lead and a few tears streamed down her face. Rob and I explained to her that we're all very sad and that we'll always miss Emma, but it's absolutely fine to cry because it helps us feel better.

Was that the answer I wanted to give Brooke? No.
Could I have provided her a better answer if I could do it again? No

She understood to a point, but didn't come close to understanding the concept of what happened. Later that night as Rob and I tucked her in, gave her kisses, and shut her door we hear her begin to weep. As her sobs grew louder we hear her say "I miss Emma, I want to see Emma." We went in, sat on her bed and held her. We then thought of something that could be a little easier for her to understand. We explained that when she looks to the sky at night, all the stars that are twinkling in the sky are angels, and that Emma is one of those stars looking down at us. And just like that, that was the answer that made her calm. As I gazed into her eyes, I knew that was the answer she understood and was willing to accept...that she was going to be okay.   

As I scoured the internet a few days later for a poem to have at Emma's service, I stumbled upon this:

Shining Star I see you, out front of my door each night.
    As if you are trying to tell me that my Emma is alright.
    Are you her halo's light I see, as I look to the sky each night?
   If in deed you are my daughter, just know that I'm alright.
   As long as I can see you when I look to the sky each night.
      My Little Angel Emma and her halo's shining light.

Being a lost soul, just like Brooke, I felt the need for guidance, stability, for something to just make sense. The moment my eyes skimmed over this poem, it was like something fell into place - two dots were connected. Somehow, I felt that the whole 'star' explanation was meant to be.

"There is no footprint too small that it cannot make an imprint on this world"
As I look to the sky each night, I look to Emma - who I know, in turn, is looking down at me. This is something that my family will live by for the rest of our lives. I've spent the past week in very deep thought about how two tiny feet, changed my family's view of the night sky forever. I no longer look at the sky as just being space beyond earth, it's now a connection to my Angel in the heaven above. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Baby Angel Emma

March 7th, 2011 - who knew it would become the worst day of my life?

I do apologize for such an enormous gap between blogs, life has been hectic to say the least. I sit behind my computer, with so much to say, but yet I'm lost for words. I have been for the past 10 days.
I've been a lost soul, walking around in a daze.
Numb, yet in so much pain.

Sunday, March 6th
Nearly 24 hours had past by without me feeling any movement from baby Emma. Her being a baby on a straight forward sleeping schedule, I knew when I could expect her to be awake. Supper time, just before Rob was leaving to bring my Mom back to Toronto after a weekend visit, I couldn't take it anymore - I had to go to the hospital, just to hear her heartbeat and put my mind at ease. The nurse had trouble, but after 15 minutes was sure she found Emma's heartbeat. Little did we know, it was my heartbeat elevated from being so nervous. The on-call OB-GYN came in with a portable ultrasound machine to see her heartbeat, but was having troubles, so she order an ultrasound done by a tech. Rob and I peered at the screen, but never did see that little flutter. The OB entered the room silently, her face said it all and I knew.

My heart shattered into a million pieces as tears flooded my eyes and drowned my face. After a 27 week and 4 day roller coaster of a pregnancy, it all ended in the blink of an eye. After having clearance from the Amniocentesis results, I went back to just worrying about Emma coming early. The thought of loosing her to an unknown cause never once crossed my mind.


Being as broken and overwhelmed as what I was, the worst had yet to come...I still had to give birth.
Cruel is the only word that comes to mind.
I was induced 10:20pm Sunday night, by 11:00pm the contractions had started. With only a PCA Narcotic to take a little edge off the pain, I lid in bed for 10.5 hours in labour. With Rob and my Mom napping in recliners at the foot of my bed, I didn't sleep a wink. But Emma sent me an angel, Nurse Patty. I have no doubt in my mind that she was sent to take care of me that night. An angel sent straight from Heaven above. She sat by my side nearly the entire night, comforting me in any way she could, offering soft kind words of support. This nurse will always hold a very special place in my heart.

Monday, March 7th
At 9:25am, with Rob, my Mom, Brother, and Sister-in-Law by my side, I gave birth to our baby angel, Emma Lily Faith March. What was supposed to be one of the happiest days of my life, quickly became the worst day of my life. As tears streamed down all of our faces, all I wanted...all I NEEDED at that moment was to hear Emma cry. A cry is something I've never wish for be in my life, but I would have given anything to hear her pitiful infant cry. Instead, nothing but our cries filled the air. Wrapped in a blanket, I was handed my 2lb 3oz silent baby girl. She was perfect and my god did she ever look like Lauren. As blood slowly trickled from her nose, I held her close to my heart and wept. I didn't want to let go, for I held in my arms something that would never be. When I was ready the nurse took Emma, dressed her, took pictures, swaddled her and brought her back so we could have her blessed. During the blessing I grew numb. Not a single tear fell from my eyes. Through sheer exhaustion and anger, I couldn't allow myself to accept the situation. The numbness soon turned back to severe heartache as I handed Emma off to the nurse - as much as I NEVER wanted to let her go, each second that passed with her in my arms, became that much harder to let her go. Never again would I cradle her tiny little body in my arms, kiss her forehead, touch her soft skin or place my finger in her small delicate hand. Never again will my heart be whole.

Though I could have been discharged from the hospital just a few hours after giving birth, Rob and I decided to spend that night in the hospital. A night to mourn our loss, gather ourselves a little, and prepare ourselves for what the rest of the week had in store. Not only did we loose our daughter, but also had a funeral to plan. So many decisions to be made, so many questions to be answered, so many emotions be dealt with. The weight of the world was upon our shoulders. After being discharged on Tuesday, March 8th, Rob and I immediately had to dive in head first, meeting with a funeral director before even going home. We walked into the funeral home like two lost soul in a daze. Decisions had to be made without ever putting any thought into any of it before that time. Cremation or burial? Which urn or casket? Service or no service? And everything else in between. Rob and I decided to have Emma cremated, since we couldn't bare the thought of burying her here in Ontario, and ever leaving her behind if we were to move. We decided upon two petite, heart-shaped urns to have Emma's ashes stored in. One part of her will always be with us, and the other will be laid to rest back home, when the time is right. We made the choice to hold a small, private service, on Friday, March 11th.

The days between my discharge and Emma's service, seemed impossible to fight through. Late nights and early morning with little to no rest in between. Two little girls who needed our time and presence, while Rob and I needed to be out dealing with funeral arrangements. Our very confused 4 year old who just couldn't understand was an emotional wreck and our 2 year old was very calm and needy - both just needed our full, undivided attention. Our family, who was hurting just as much as Rob and I, were left to care for our household and sometimes unruly daughters, some in another country and unable to be here with us, all left to the wayside to keep up mine and Rob's everyday life, as we dealt with arranging a funeral. Purchasing items for Emma's services resulted in a personal battle with nothing felt good enough for a perfect send off for our Baby Angel. We doddled through stores in a daze, in search for something when we didn't even know what we wanted. We sat behind floral arrangements, none of which caught our eyes. I battled myself ever step of the way. Not to mention, we had to sit down and go through Emma's memory box, which consisted of a piece of paper with her hand and foot prints, the knitted dress she wore, the hat that hugged her tiny head, the blankets she was wrapped in, the teddy bear she had her picture taken with, and a special, home-made blanket chosen by Nurse Patty, who's mother-in-law had a part in making. Also, we had to face the dreaded moment of looking at the three pictures of Emma, taken by the nurse the day she was born...

Friday, March 11th
The day of Emma's service arrived far too quickly, but Rob and I managed to gather everything to put together a service. That morning heartache was in the air, you could have cut with a knife. Showering, getting ready, getting dressed, choosing songs to make a CD for the service, juggling two agitated children, and so on. Rob and I left at 1pm to set up the chapel for 3pm. We walked into the chapel and at the very front of the room, on a table with nothing else on it, laid our angel baby in her heart-shaped urn. It was the absolute worst way to reunite with my child. For a moment, I held her to my heart and cried.

For two people who spent previous days battling with ourselves, who walked into the chapel blindsided as to how to prepare, it all turned out perfectly. After completing the layout, Rob and I stood back to take it all in, and at that moment I almost smiled. Emma was happy with it all, I could feel it in my heart. And though my heart ached through the entire service, I almost felt a sense of calm - that Emma was content. It was a perfect send off, to the heavens above, for a perfect angel.

My heart is broken, never will it be whole again.
Not a day goes by that I don't cry.
Not a second passes that Emma isn't in my thoughts.
I often take out Emma's memory box, hold and smell her clothes and blankets - for it still hold her scent.

Yes, everything happens for a reason, I am a firm believer.
But what's the reasoning behind Emma's passing?
Is she a blessing is disguise?
Sent to bring two people, in a sometimes faulty relationship,
closer than they've ever been?
Sent to open a mother's eyes of an often agitated parent.
Now more of a dedicated mother than before?
Sent to make me realize that petty disputes with friends and family
just isn't worth it in the end?

For at any moment, death can rip someone from your grasp without warning. And at the end of the day could you accept it with no regrets?

Emma Lily Faith March
 May you find comfort and rest peacefully in the wings of an angel.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A New Day

After reading my previous blog, a kind friend politely asked if she could use my blog as her next topic to write about. She offered the support of her friends to me and my family, her gesture was greatly appreciated to say the least. I didn't agree to strictly receive support but rather in hopes of opening at least one person's eyes. As I responded to her question I stated, "I am completely fine with you blogging my blog. It takes a woman to understand a woman, and a mother to understand a mother. I'm not doing this to only receive support but to possibly have an impact on another person's life. In today's madness, people tend to take all they have for granted - healthy children, a roof over their heads, food to put in their mouths, a vehicle to drive, supportive friends and family, and so on. If I can make someone stop and think "Wow, having a bad hair day, smearing my mascara, spilling coffee on my shirt, stepping in a puddle and being stuck in traffic aren't really sufficient situations to whine about... especially when there's someone else out their praying for their unborn child's life. I can't help by feel bad myself when I 'whine' about the situation we're in. I know there's parents out their sitting next to their child in the hospital, watching them fade away as they lay on their death bed. One thing that always helps me through the day is knowing that no matter how bad things get for me, there's ALWAYS someone, somewhere who has it even worse than me...and they're surviving"

My goal had been achieved. The following day, my friend Sarah posted a new blog named The Eye Opener I Needed!! I knew at that moment that I, being one tiny person in this massive world, made an impact! And there's no way for me to explain how great that made me feel!!

Having that said, 24 hours drifted away and Thursday turned into Friday. 
Friday, the day of my preliminary amniocentesis results. I was expecting to receive my results at 3:30. This test is 95% accurate and practically determines weather or not our baby has Trisomy 18. The "F.I.S.H" tests 5 chromosomes that causes 95% of all abnormalities and defects in babies - chromosomes X, Y, 13, 18, and 21. X and Y being the female and male chromosomes, 13th chromosome with defaults causes Trisomy 13, 18th chromosome with defaults causes Trisomy 18, and the 21st chromosome with defaults causes Down Syndrome.

My eyes sprang open at 7:45am like I had never been asleep in the first place. I automatically felt very nervous and edgy. Having Generalized Anxiety Disorder certainly didn't make the situation any easier. Not even a pill could settle my anxiety, it was uncontrollable! I got up and made breakfast for myself and the girls, which I immediately followed by a full clean through of the house, and then baths for both girls. By the time I had finished all of that it was lunch time - Lauren's nap time...Less chaos, less entertaining, more time for my brain to spin out of control. So Brooke and I lid on my bed, watched YTV and done an excessive amount of colouring. Having slept a mere 3 hours the night before, I eventually drifted off into a light sleep for half an hour as Brooke lid next to me, lost in the TV. Suddenly my eyes sprang open, it was 2:30 and the very first thought to run though my head was my amnio results. The following hour was nothing short of agonizing. I got up, had a snack, got Lauren up from her nap, and then there was nothing left to do...but wait. As the girls stormed back and forth the living room like tornadoes in one of their daily hyper fits, I sat on the couch in a trance-like state. I felt unbelievably nauseous and vulnerable, like I was throwing myself at someone Else's feet who was determining my unborn daughter's fate. Having no control HAS TO BE the WORST FEELING EVER! 3:25 came and I couldn't take it anymore, I had to call the Genetic Counsellor (who told me to call her if I hadn't received word by 3:30). The phone rang, and rang, and rang, no answer. My heart sank. Each minute that went by past 3:30, was more and more excrusiating. As each minute past, it became harder for me to breathe, my heart pounded a little faster, my stomach felt a little more nauseous, and I worried just that much more.

FINALLY at 4:15 I received the call from my Genetic Counsellor. I inhaled deeply as my heart skipped a few beats. "I have your preliminary amnio test results back, Mandy, and all 5 chromosomes look fine, which is VERY good news." With that I took a new breathe. The sun shone a little brighter and the snow fell a little more gracefully. At the same time, I do know that we're still not in the clear until my final amnio test results come back in 2-3 weeks time - the full, in depth test of all 46 chromosome. And I know that there's STILL a reason why I had low numbers on my IPS Screening...But I couldn't help but feel like it was a new day, a new chapter in this book called life. I know there's still many more bridges to be crossed during this pregnancy, difficult bridges at that, but I will cross those bridges when they come...because right now is my time to shine.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Bitter-Sweet Beginning

"...Meanwhile I feel as though I'm standing in the middle of a crowded room, screaming at the top of my lungs, and no one even bothers to look up."

It's days like today that leave me in need of an output, some way to release everything I feel inside and out, a way to lift the weight from my shoulder as I gasp for a breath of fresh air. 

21 weeks ago today I became pregnant with my third child.
Having a past history of pre-term birth lodged great worries in my head. I went into labour with my second daughter at 28 weeks. With an almost 2 year old, I lay in a hospital bed, five hours away from home. I gave birth at 30 weeks and 4 days gestation. Lauren weighed a mere 3lbs 7.5oz. Our lives were turned upside down. Is she going to be okay? Will she be okay down the road? How long will she have to remain in the hospital? How will myself and my boyfriend afford to make the weekly 5 hours drive to visit on weekends and then the 5 hour drive back home. All the meanwhile, trying to maintain a job, pay bills, and remain supportive parents at home with our soon to be 2 year old daughter. Well we survived, we all came out on top, beat up, but stronger than ever.

My past history of pre-term birth has been worrisome enough during the past 21 weeks. Along with the fact that this has been a problem pregnancy with bleeding, pressure, cramping...many extra hospital visits and an excess amount of ultrasounds. Along with a miscarriage scare in my first trimester. All while juggling our Building Representative job, that restricts us to our buildings nearly 24/7 AND being parents to a soon to be 4 and 2 year old. How do we do it? Good question... In the meantime, at 19 weeks gestation I received word of having tested positive of being high risk for baby having Trisomy 18 (with chances of 1/150). Great, even more to worry about, more nearly-impossible appointments to attend to. Plus who will watch the girls?

Today, I attended an Ultrasound in Hamilton, followed my a meeting with both a Genetic Counsellor and Specialized Doctor. (Luckily, my father-in-law offered to watch the girls as we headed out for my appointment at 6am and our very understand co-worker agreed to cover our building as need be.) I watched the screen attentively as the Ultrasound Tech ran the camera across my stomach over and over again. All I could think is, "My god, this baby girl is absolutely beautiful in 2D, how much more beautiful would she be in real life?" After the Ultrasound was complete, myself and my boyfriend quickly made our way through the maze of a hospital to meet with the Genetic Counsellor. She explained how during my IPS Screening, they tested 5 different proteins in my blood, those numbers should fall around 1.00, but 3 out of 5 of my numbers were below 1.00. One number fell at 0.17, another at 0.49. This didn't make me feel so great until she stated that generally babies with Trisomy 18 would give an IPS result of all 5 numbers being low (we took one step back, then one step forward) She said my ultrasound result came back fine, EXCEPT, baby's hands were clenched, with fingers overlapped. This being a classic telltale sign of baby having Trisomy 18 (and back another step we go).

For people who aren't quite aware of what Trisomy 18 is, the doctor quoted it as being "A disease that's incompatible with life." Babies chances of surviving until birth is 1/3000. If baby does make it to birth, baby has severe mental retardation and severe birth defects. The average life expectancy of a baby who does make it to birth with Trisomy 18 is 5-15 days, with less than a 1% chance of making it to adulthood. Those statistics just makes me hang my head as a tear escapes from the corner of my eye.

Following my meeting with the Doctors, they managed to fit me in for an Amniocentesis, which it the ONLY way to know for sure if our baby girl is going to be okay or not. Helplessly, I laid on the bed as a nurse used the Ultrasound Camera to guide the Doctor, who inserted a needle through my abdomen, through my uterus, into into my womb, and extracted 3 syringes of amniotic fluid from right next to our baby girl.

Now all that's left to do is attempt to stay positive and just wait...
...wait for the good
...wait for the bad

It's days like today that my heart aches so severely for my family. Nothing has ever been easy for us. I feel terrible for my boyfriend who has to deal with all of my frustrations, all the worries of this pregnancy, who remains a good father to our two girls, AND does 100% of our required two person job. In the meantime, being a supportive, understanding boyfriend. Our two girls bare the effects of our stresses as well. I often feel a failure when I need to lay down and rest, when I can't play with them when they demand it. I hate not being able to put my 2 year old to bed because lifting her into her crib sets my stomach pains into high gear. Both girls miss me while I attend endless amounts of appointments and when I'm out of commission in bed. I also feel for my wonderful mother who stated tonight, "The worst part of being a parent is when your child is in pain and there's absolutely nothing you can do about it." My mom, my best friend, understands as well as feels all of my concerns and pain. And also carries the weight of my problems on her own shoulders.

I feel so bad that everyone else is coping with this, just like I am. I feel like I should shelter my girls from our issues more, but it's seems so impossible. Am I a failure? Am I weak? I don't know those answers, but I sure feel as if I am. Being the mother and house-wife that I SHOULD and WANT to be seems so impossible to me right now. I often just want to go to bed and stay there until I wake up from this current nightmare, but I can't be selfish. My girls and boyfriend deserve better...I'm reaching for that better but just can't seem to grasp a hold of it. 

May this blog be an output for all my feelings, worries, and fears because the weight on my shoulders is getting too much to bare.

Here's to a bitter-sweet beginning.

- Mandy -

                                                   Today's Ultrasound (21 Weeks)