Thursday, June 2, 2011

His birthday

I had been dreading this day for so long. It seemed so scary. I made some plans for the day, but nothing too detailed. I didn't feel capable of that.

I went to bed on May 31st wearing the pink shirt I wore while in labour. I wore it once or twice last June, but not since then. I woke up just before 6am. My labour with Jacob got really bad around 6am, and worse and worse until 9am, when he was born. I lay in bed for 2 hours reliving it. I lay on my side and remembered doing that since that was my position during most of the labour. I pictured the room, I pictured the people in it. I could have had a huge cry, but I held it in, partly because I felt like I would never stop and partly because I didn't want to wake Ted up.

I got out of bed at 8am and started the finishing touches on the box I was donating to the hospital. I'm happy with how it turned out.

The box had:

  • 2 blankets - one to use when the parents are holding their baby that they can take home, and one to wrap the baby in when they leave the hospital.
  • A picture frame with a butterfly on it.
  • A teddy bear
  • A candle
  • A measuring tape
  • The Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope postcard
  • The Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope contact card with my name and phone number
  • A candle
  • Three letters from me. I wrote one of them and will post it soon. The other two I found online. One is a letter 'from' a baby and the other is about the new normal.
  • A list of tips for them to do in the hospital. I explained the 2 blankets, told them to spend as much time with their baby as they want, bath the baby, open the baby's eyes, take pictures (even if they aren't sure they want to). 
At 9am, I lit a candle for Jacob in the living room. We have used this candle many times (it is a beeswax candle, so it lasts for 120 hours or so). I lit it, watched to make sure it was lit and went to sit on the couch with Ted. Within seconds the candle extinguished and we got our sign. The same thing happened on Jacob's due date. We have lit the candle many times in between and it has never done that since his due date.

I finished the box and we got ready to go to the hospital. I was nervous about going, but I wanted to. I was hoping that my nurse Patrice, and the nurse that I talked to for awhile when Laurie's baby was born, would be there. We parked on a side street and walked over. The same walk we have done before, under much harder circumstances. I only saw the back of one pregnant woman the whole time we were there. We headed into Labour and Delivery and walked down the hall. Then Laura came out of a room. I said her name and she recognized me and we hugged. I explained that it was Jacob's birthday and we brought in a box to donate to the next family. She said that was really nice, opened the box and had a look through. I told her she could read the letters if she wanted to, in case they needed to know what they were handing out. She said she didn't need to. She did read the list of things to do and said how good it was. I said that I could bring in more if she wanted me too and she does. Then I looked down the hall and Patrice was standing there. She saw me, we smiled and waved to each other and she came over quickly and gave me her usual bear hug. Ted hasn't seen her since the day Jacob was born. He reached out to shake her hand. She pushed his hand aside and gave him a huge hug too. I explained why we were there.  She said how great I look (if she is comparing it to how I looked when Jacob was born, I'm sure I do!). We talked for awhile and I told Laura that I was thinking of her and Grant on May 11th, the day her baby died several years ago.

They asked how I was doing with my sisters baby and I said that it has been hard, but it is getting easier, although I've only held him about 3 times and she only lives down the street. 

I knew that Laura works on the folders with pamphlets on local bereavement groups, exercising after delivery and how to stop milk etc. I told her the information was really helpful and that I'd like to contribute to them if I could. I brought out the Faces of Loss postcards and Laura and Patrice were really interested. Patrice said that a box had been donated the other day with the same postcard and the same style of box. I said that it was from my friend Jackie and I told them more about the website and how it works. I told them how nice Jane, another nurse, had been when Jackie brought in the box. How it was the best reaction Jackie had ever received when donating a box and Patrice said she thinks that the nurses at OTMH are just a bit better at these things than at other places. They both said that they love Jane and that she had a loss also, her 21 year old son. I think they said it was a boating accident in May 2008. I said that is when Jackie lost her son. 

Laura said that it was her last morning on L & D as she was moving over to scheduling. I kept thinking that Jacob must have had something to do with it all....that she was still working there when we came in, that both she and Patrice were there. I would like to have seen Sylvia too, who was there when Jacob was delivered, but I haven't seen her since and I felt bad asking for if seeing the two of them wasn't enough. Laura said that I have to tell her when I am pregnant again, that she really wants to know. I told her how Dr. C can't find anything wrong with me, but has put me on baby aspirin and I will be on progesterone when I am pregnant, just as she said I should be. Before we left, I asked her how I can get a hold of her to let her know and she started to say an email address, but then looked at Patrice and said that it wouldn't work. Patrice had asked me earlier if I still have her email, that I should email her and we will go out for coffee sometime (she has said this to me before, last June, and it didn't happen, but I like that she suggested it at least). So she said to email her and she will let Laura know.

They asked what we were doing next. I asked if they know the church downtown, which they did, and I said that he is buried in the garden beside it and we are going to go there to blow bubbles and family will be coming there in the afternoon and at night. Laura said to blow some for Grant too and I said I would. 

I said that I also have the business-sized cards from the Faces of Loss website and I could give those if they want to put them in the boxes. They said sure, so I took them out of my purse (and they joked about how much my purse held) and they took me into storage-type room that had a table/tray so I could write my name and number on them. Patrice said that it looks like I have done a lot of work in the baby loss area since my loss and helped a lot of people and it probably helps me too. I said that I have, that it does and that it feels like I am doing something for Jacob when I do it too. 

Patrice was always great at including Ted. She asked if I have any resources for men and I said that I have come across some blogs and I can send them to her if she would like and she wants me to do that. She asked Ted what he has done and he said that he got a tattoo and showed it to them. They both loved it. Patrice grabbed his arm and ran her fingers over Jacob's name. Ted said the feet are the same size that Jacob's were and they loved that. I told them how the tattoo just raises up for some reason from time to time and we like to think it is a sign. Then Ted told me to show them my tattoo, which I did and they loved and I said how it just aches sometimes for no reason and we said how that is a sign too. I also told them about the candle that morning. 

Patrice said she was sorry that she wasn't able to spend more time with me last time I was there. They had a lot of patients that day, but they didn't on Jacob's birthday, which was great for me. I think there was only one room occupied. 

I asked Laura about the possibility of any pictures having been taken of Jacob and she went to look around. I said to Patrice that I just want to go into the room where he was born, so Ted and I went there. 
It was so strange walking in. It seemed so peaceful. I just stared and stared at many things in the room, thinking of how I was lying in that bed (or that place at least) one year ago exactly and holding Jacob. It seems like time stood still in there. It was eery in a way. It made me wish even more that I could be back in that bed holding him again, in spite of all the awful pain that lay ahead. We stood there for about 5 minutes and I asked Ted to take some pictures. 

The clock I stared at, the sign on the wall on how to keep your baby safe.
Everything in that room is a huge reminder. Ted told me that he kept staring
at the sign last year, and particularly the line that said "Never leave your
baby alone in the room".

Trying to smile through the tears

I realized when we left the garden that we hadn't said goodbye to Jacob, so Ted and I went back and Ted spoke and told him how much we miss him, love so many people do. I cried through that. I cried all the way home. We stopped at the mall for something and I cried through the mall. I stared at the ground to avoid seeing babies and pregnant woman, and to hide my tears.

I called 2 friends when I got home. I cried through the first call as I told her what happened. I was more collected by the second call. I also chatted with a friend on Facebook and told her everything.

I opened the gift I had received weeks ago from Allison for Jacob's birthday. I can't believe that I was able to control myself long enough not to open it when I received it. Both items are perfect, the wrapping was beautiful and the card was beautiful.

We have it in the living room right now. I'm hoping the chimes
just start going one time, with no apparent breeze.

A framed picture of Jacob's garden with a beautiful quote by Helen Keller:
"What we have once enjoyed and deeply loved we can never lose, for all that we love
deeply becomes a part of us"

While I was on the phone, Ted was on the couch with the laptop. He took the headphones out at one point and I heard the song he was listening to "Tears in Heaven". He later told me that he was able to work through his emotions while listening to that. It brought on the tears and gave him the release he needed. I feel bad that I didn't realize it at the time, but I feel like he needed to do it on his own.

Later on, he got on the computer and started working on something. Eventually he called me over to see and he had started a folder of different pictures over the past year and set it to "Tears in Heaven". Not the Eric Clapton version, but another one. Normally I don't like remakes, but I liked this one. There were a few pictures of June 1 last year and the pain is all over our faces. I'll post it here soon.

Lindsay and Jessie came to Oakville last night. We picked them up shortly after 7. They came to my side of the car, reached in the window at the same time and hugged me. Then they did the same to Ted. It was so cute. They got in the car and told us about something funny on the GO Train (a guy handing out AA batteries to everyone because the place he works was just going to throw them out even though they are still good). I told them about what happened that afternoon and they had heard a version of the events and we compared, but they agreed with me.

We got to the garden and blew more bubbles for Jacob. We discovered that just using dish detergent and some water makes excellent bubbles. It was much more peaceful there last night as I wasn't so emotional. Still sad, but not sobbing.

Ted suggested that we do pictures when we are all jumping at the same time. And I thought it was fun. And it felt good. It doesn't always have to be sadness and longing.  I knew that before, of course, but it was nice just to have fun.  We want to celebrate his life too. We always made sure that we were spaced a certain amount apart so that Jacob's rose would be showing.

Just now, Ted said that he imagines Jacob with his friends, seeing us doing that, and saying "Yes, those are my parents" and laughing or being embarrassed.

Standing apart so the rose can be seen

After the garden, we went to Kelsey's for dinner. We didn't know until the end, but Lindsay and Jessie treated us, which was so nice. I felt bad about ordering an appetizer when we found out though.  It was nice sitting there and just talking and having a good time.

It was after 9:30 when we left. Jessie gave us a beautiful card that said she is thinking of all we had and didn't have with Jacob and that, although his birthday is important, we don't need an anniversary to make us remember him, as they do all the time.  I started crying of course. I just love the messages she writes. I love that she remembers him so often. She gave us this beautiful glass container and suggested that we put some dirt from the garden where he is buried in it. I don't know that I ever would have thought of that, but I LOVE it. We are going to go and get some soon.

We drove them to Kipling so that they wouldn't have to take the GO train. I had some flashbacks on the way. Last year, we went back to the hospital the night of June 1 to see Jacob again and so that Lindsay could see him as she had just gotten in from New York. We went to Laurie's after because I was scared to go home. We ordered pizza. I ate some and started to fall asleep on the couch since I had been up since early Monday morning, it was late Tuesday night and, of course, had been through hell. We left and drove Jessie home to Toronto, along the same highway, and I was almost falling asleep the whole way. I was tired last night too, from all the crying mostly, and I had flashbacks.

I sponsored 5 Laken's Bear's for Jacob's birthday as well. I met Laken's Mom last summer, we emailed alot and she helped me heal. She has started a wonderful project in her baby girl's memory that will bring so many family's comfort.

There are so many people that did nice things for Jacob for his birthday. I don't think I can ever thank them all enough. I don't think I've mentioned on here yet that my friend Elaine (Blaine's Mom) started an event on Facebook for Jacob's birthday. I wouldn't have started one myself, which she knew, so she asked if she could. I have received so many supportive comments and some pictures with Jacob's name on it there, and on my personal Facebook profile. Elaine also sent me a book about angels, which I have been enjoying reading.

We have received cards, gifts, messages and love. People lit candles in their homes for our boy. And we are very grateful. All of the messages of love for Jacob have touched me more than I can ever possibly express.

It still seems impossible that a year has gone by since we have him in our arms. Everything was so dark this time last year and I couldn't see 2 days ahead, much less a year. It was a terrible year. Losing Jacob was hard enough, but we have been knocked down with 2 more losses and now it seems, some fertility issues. But we have made it.


The Wellman's said...

Dana, You are an amazing woman. I absolutely love the box you took to the hospital. You will help so many families. What a wonderful gift.

I have to tell you something, you know on FB I said I lit a candle on the 31st and the 1st, and on the 1st right after I lit it (about 5 minutes later) all THREE wicks were out. I have no idea why, but I relit it again and it stayed lit. When I read about yours I had goosebumps all over.

I also LOVE the jumping picture and Ted is SO right---he was definitely laughing and smiling at his parents then :) HUGS!!!

Violet1122 said...


I've held my breath so many times the last couple of days, thinking of you and Jacob. I love what you did that day - not only honoring him but celebrating him too.

The box, Dana. I just wept when I saw it and all of the wonderful things you included in it. I wish that no one would ever need such a box... but it will be SUCH a blessing if someone finds the "unthinkable" has happened to them.

I absolutely adore the jumping picture - that one deserves to be printed and framed in your home.

I wish there was something I could do. I wish there was something I could say. I know I probably bring up sad feelings when I comment... but please know that I remember. I remember, Dana. I remember, vividly, the pain and the feelings of hopelessness.

I think of you daily, and I'm praying all the time for the storm to break.

Sending big hugs to you, and to Jacob...

Sarita Boyette said...

Jacob was honored so beautifully on his day! I loved the box and the pictures of his gifts and all of you celebrating him. xoxo

cullensblessings said...

I always love looking at your pictures Dana.. thank you so much for sharing these and for describing so well these days leading up to Jacob's first birthday. I know nothing is as it 'should' be and my heart aches for that.
I just wanted you to know that Jacob's legacy is well kept and remembered by those of us who read and listen to your words.

Melissa said...

I'm always thinking of you, Ted and Jacob. The memory box is beautiful! You're amazing and I know Jacob is proud of his mama! My heart aches for you, but I know deep in my heart that this storm will be time limited before the sun shines again. Sending lots of hugs!

Emily said...

I'm glad the weather was good for Jacob's Day and that you were able to take pictures and blow bubbles in the garden. Despite the circumstances you guys look like you were actually having fun.

When I was in the hospital a few weeks ago, there was that damn sign about 'never leave your baby alone' and there was an added reminder not to give your baby to anyone who wasn't wearing a hospital ID badge and special pin. I felt like screaming everytime I saw it. It seemed like such a stupid sign (and a HUGE SAD REMINDER!!!) to have in the ANTENATAL ward. Although I guess the rooms are sometimes used for moms who have delivered. Still, it felt like a slap in the face.

Jennifer said...

I love what you did on Jacob's Day, Dana. He is so loved.

I like the idea of blowing bubbles, I might 'steal' it and have me and the hubby have a blast with it on Kai's Day. :) Yes, you both have made it through such painful storms and it showed. Keep strong and keep moving forward with your angels in your hearts. <3

Elaine said...

I love what you did for Jacob's day. You have made it through the year. You are so strong and amazing Dana. Jacob is blessed to have you and Ted for parents.

LauraJane said...

Happy birthday Jacob.

Glad you had such a beautiful day, but of course it sucks you needed to. :(

I laughed at the idea of Jacob having to say, "yes, those are my parents", too cute. :)

fireworksandrainbows said...

You made it. One whole year with out him. Does it feel like a milestone? I am just curious how you get there and then continue on.

Jacob is one lucky kid to have such a wonderful family.

Thank you for sharing such intimate details with us Dana, more than anything these are the mosts I need to read sometimes.

I am thinking we too will donate a memory box in Xavier's name to the hospital he was born at. Maybe you can email me what you put in your box?

Lots of love to you and your husband, we are thinking of you.

car said...

Love to you and your family Dana.

Drew's Parents said...

I loved seeing pictures of the box,your family at the garden, and the beautiful glass jar. <3 What a special day for Jacob. You both have touched countless people over the last year. Jacob has become the part of so many BLM's stories. I imagine Jacob has lots of friends in Heaven! I thought what Ted said about the jumping photo was very cute! I can just see an embarrassed little boy talking to his friends about his mom and dad. :-) I am so glad Jacob sent you a sign on his special day. He knows how much his mommy and daddy love and miss him <3 <3 <3

Olivia's Mom said...

I absolutely love how you honored Jacob on his day! Such beautiful pictures. You can see the love for that sweet boy in everything that you guys do to remember him. Much love to you!!!