Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas 2011

This was our second Christmas without Jacob, August and Cub and our first without Madeline and Emma. I should have been 28 weeks pregnant on Christmas Day this year.

This Christmas was easier than last Christmas, although we didn't put up any decorations in our house this year and I didn't listen to any Christmas music (except in the malls when I didn't have a choice). We did receive some cards from friends and babyloss Mom's, which we put up. I have to make a special mention of a card from my sister Jessie since she addressed it to Dana, Ted and Jacob.

We just had trouble finding any joy last year, except for when Jacob was mentioned. This year we still missed him and our other babies and we weren't really excited for Christmas, but we weren't dreading it as much. Every minute of it wasn't extremely painful this year. And a few really nice things happened that made Christmas a lot better.

We still thought of and remembered them all the time. When my 2 nephews were playing on the floor, I thought of the other babies that should be down there too. When my sister was opening the gifts for Danny, I imagined the sort of gifts we would have been receiving if any one of our lost babies was alive...clothes and toys and cute things for them.

At Christmas last year, we felt sure that by next Christmas, we would either have a baby in our arms or I would be due very soon with a baby. In the days leading up to this Christmas, we decided that we won't talk like that anymore.

We went to Laurie's on Christmas Eve for dinner. We brought all our gifts and stocking stuffers over since we would be back there the next morning to open gifts. Soon after eating, everyone left for church. We didn't want to go as they were all going to the family service and we didn't need to see all the babies and toddlers there. The assistant minister is also pregnant and my Mom says that she talks about her pregnancy a lot when giving a sermon. We went home and I made a pie and knit for awhile. When everyone got back to Laurie's, we went back too. Lindsay sat on the floor with Ben putting things in the stockings (Ben doesn't realize that that is Santa's job yet). There was a stocking for each person there, but there should have been another stocking getting filled up. Laurie mentioned fixing some of them up, then looked at me and said that she would make a new one for next year too. Hopefully we will have a baby in our arms (so much for not thinking that way anymore) to use it.

A few pictures of Christmas Eve:

So hard to get a good picture of them together. 

Couldn't resist getting a picture of this when Danny grabbed
the bag and started playing with it. Laurie knew right
away why I wanted this picture. 

After that was done, someone put on the movie Up. Within seconds I started remembering the first time we watched that movie. I was almost 3 months pregnant with Jacob. Lindsay had come over for a movie night. I had been really nauseous, but that night was the first time in months that I had been able to sit on the couch instead of having to lie down on it all evening. It was a huge step and I started feeling better from that day on. About 10-15 minutes into the movie, the main character is married and they are getting a nursery ready. But then things go wrong. They don't specify whether they lost a baby or whether they can't get pregnant, but there is a scene with the husband and wife in the doctor's office crying and then a scene of the wife sitting in the backyard, staring off into the distance. I don't know why they would have been painted and furnishing a nursery if she hadn't been pregnant, but she didn't look it. I just assume that she lost a baby. I hadn't really remembered that scene and Ted and I just looked at each other and decided that we would leave soon. I just didn't want to watch the whole movie. I was talking to my Mom today and she told me that when that scene came on, she was worried about us and that my brother-in-law Brian later told her that he couldn't even look at us during and immediately after watching that scene. I love that they both felt that way.

We came home and Jessie and Dave came over a bit later, as they were sleeping over. Ted and Dave sat up playing video games while Jessie and I talked in the kitchen. Eventually we moved to the living room too, where I fell asleep.

I cried twice that night. Once, when the pie was baking and I listened to Sarah McLachlan's Song for  Winter's Night and looked at Jacob's pictures. The second was after we got back from Laurie's for the night. Ted was in the shower. I sat at the kitchen table in the dark and just cried.

Christmas morning we went over to Laurie and Andy's before Ben woke up. While things were quiet, I looks some pictures of Jacob's bears and the tree.

Jacob's bears. I knit a new sweater for the bear that Ted
and I bought last year.
Also had to get a picture of Jacob's stocking with the others.
There was nothing in it, but I liked to see it there.

We opened our stockings, made breakfast, then started opening gifts. Mom wasn't feeling well and needed to go home and rest, so we did our family picture before she left.

With the bears for Jacob, of course. 

Laurie had made a gift for everyone, but the store she ordered it from didn't have them ready in time. She made us each a book of photos with us and her kids. It was a lot of work and she was so disappointed and they weren't ready in time. Before Ted and I left for the garden around 1pm, she showed Ted and I what our book looked like online. The pictures were great and we love it. But then we got to the last 2 pages. There was a picture of Jacob's name from last winter, written on the hat of a snowman. On the next page was a note. It basically said that we all wish that Jacob was included in these pictures and that he was here with us this Christmas. That he will always be missing and we will always miss him. Of course I started crying right away and gave her a huge hug and told her how much that meant to me. She said that of course she had to include him somehow.

We went home and got the rose that I bought the day before. We parked in front of the garden and I noticed that there were already 2 bouquet's of flowers there. One of them wasn't very close to where Jacob is buried, but one of them was and I said to Ted that I wondered it could be for him. That maybe my family put it there the night before when the went to church, or maybe my friend Jackie brought them. But it is about a 45 minute round trip to the garden from Jackie's house.

So we walked up and I saw that the flowers were daisies (the flower for Jackie's son Oscar). We pulled them out and saw this on them.

Tears came to my eyes and I was just so grateful. We love it. Then we put our rose in the garden, talked to Jacob and hugged each other for a long time, wondering how it's possible that this is where we visit our son on Christmas Day.

We went back to Laurie's and told everyone about the flowers that were left there for Jacob. It just made us so happy.

After another hour or so, Lindsay, Brian, Ted and I went to our house to get dinner ready. Ted did most of the work. Lindsay's friend Sana came over, as she has for the last few Christmases. Dad came over before dinner, but Mom didn't feel well enough to eat so she stayed home.  It was a nice time. I was very aware of the high chair that was missing, it wasn't totally overwhelming.

After dinner, we watched a few episodes of Modern Family, a show that we all love. It was around 9:30 when everyone left.

It was a good Christmas, but people were missing. They will always be missing. We can still enjoy ourselves sometimes, but they will always be missing and we will always be aware of that.

Just a few more pictures from this Christmas. Jennifer, Angel's Mom, took two pictures of Jacob's name in Jamaica, one on Christmas Eve and one on Christmas Day. Thank you Jennifer. I love them.

I also received two very nice gifts from Allison. 

One for each baby

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

It won't be Jacob

Last night, shortly after we got home from work, Ted told me that he has been doing a lot of thinking about having another baby. My heart started pounding a little because I didn't know what he was going to say. He said that he really wants another one, but in a way (just a small way) he doesn't....because the baby won't be Jacob and he wants Jacob. I want him too. When I was pregnant after losing him, I was happy for that baby, but I ached for Jacob even more.

But we can never have him in this lifetime.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Candle lighting

Last night I went to a candle lighting ceremony that Vivian organized and it was beautiful. I picked up Jackie on the way and it was nice to have company in the car and a navigator since I was driving to an unfamiliar part of Toronto.

There were 6 of us there so it was a nice, intimate group. Vivian greeted us with the best hug. She always gives wonderful, amazing hugs.

Vivian did so much work organizing this. She just kept pulling out something else that was a very nice touch. She printed some nice messages on cards and placed them around the tables. There was babyloss music playing throughout the night. Songs that most babyloss Mom's are familiar with and we listen to often.

Vivian brought many tealight candles. At first we took the number that we needed to represent our own babies, but then we started saying names of other babies that we know and writing their names on labels and giving each of them a candle as well. It was surreal how many babies we knew between us that have died. I was scared of not thinking of all of their names, so I also did a candle labelled "In memory of".

Vivian got up and read some poems, then she read what she wrote about Ryan and we were all in tears by the time she was finished. Such a miracle he was, how strongly he is missed. Then she lit a candle for Ryan and her first, Squishy, and the babies of some of her friends. Then it was my turn. I lit a candle for Jacob and said that I was lighting a candle in memory of Jacob, who was stillborn on June 1, 2010. I got through saying that okay, but by the time I picked up the candle for August, I was crying too much to continue. I just had to sit there with one lit candle in one hand and an unlit one in the other while I cried for my boy, who I miss so much.

I finally collected myself and lit candles for August, Cub, Madeline and Emma Grace, saying how long I carried them and when I lost them. Then I lit the candles for the babies I know. There were so many. I said their names, their Mom's name and the date they were born and/or died. There were a lot of candles in front of me by the time I was done, which was sad.

Then Jennifer, Jackie, Monica and Nigel said their babies' names and stories as they lit their candles, and the candles for the babies they know. We just sat there for a while, looking at the candles. Crying, thinking, missing. It was amazing the see the light that so many candles created and heartbreaking to think that each represented a baby who was loved and missed so badly. I counted the candles at one point and there were 36. The 6 of us knew at least 36 babies that have died. Some of the candles had many names on them. I guess there were 50 babies listed on the candles.

Then one person said something about their baby and slowly we all joined in, talking about random memories, the time we had with our babies, signs we've had from them...anything that came to mind.

We all brought a picture of our babies or something that reminded us of them. I brought Jacob's amazing profile picture from my last good ultrasound with him. The picture ended up being passed around and they commented on what a great profile picture it was. I loved being able to talk about him, about the day I got that picture and how incredibly proud I was/am of him. We looked at pictures of all the babies and learned the stories behind the pictures.

Eventually we started snacking some more on the food that was brought, including the nice cake that the priest donated, which was surprisingly good. I usually don't like store-bought cakes, but this one was really good.

I started taking pictures of each of the candles. It took awhile, since there were so many.

Then we started taking pictures with each other.

Pretty soon it was 10pm and time to go.

Vivian brought out some gifts she made, colour coded for a boy, girl or unknown by the ribbon colour. So I took blue for Jacob, white for August, green for Cub and pink for my girls. Inside is a butterfly of the same colour. Just beautiful.

Jennifer and I had planned to exchange Christmas gifts ahead of time. I got her a key chain that says "Mom" on the front with 3 butterflies and Angel's name inscribed on the back. I'm also going to knit a sweater for the bear she got for Angel.

She gave me some beautiful items. The card she wrote was so nice and touching. She gave me a candle, as I like to light candles for my babies. She also gave me a beautiful glass candle holder with Jacob's name and a butterfly on it.

That would have been enough, but there was a second card in the bag. She made a donation to the Hospital for Sick Children in memory of all of my babies. It was so special. Just a wonderful thing to do in the first place, but also because Jacob would have been a patient there because of his leg and I used to volunteer there. The front of the card is also very similar to the front of Jacob's baby book.


Today Ted and I were in a mall and he said that he woke up this morning and lay in bed thinking about the babies. He was wondering if August and Cub were girls or boys. He thinks that August was a girl and Cub was a boy and asked what I thought. I feel the same way about them and I loved that he was thinking about it. He also said that he was imagining what it will be like when he dies, that he'll be reunited with all of his babies and imagined 3 girls and 2 boys walking towards him as he enters Heaven.   He also called the twins by their names. He wasn't sure about naming them in the beginning, but I wanted to so I got 100% decision making power over their names and used names I've loved since I was a kid. Today he just said their names casually and it was music to my ears.


On Friday night, I went out for dinner with Mel and Jen. I used to work with Jen, until she left and Mel took her job, although she had already been working at the same company for a few years so I knew her already. Jen left a year ago and this was the first time that we managed to get together. Both of these women have been wonderful throughout everything. I was working closely with Jen when Jacob was born and she was a constant support until she left. When a baby was brought in, she would make sure I was ok. She was always doing little things that meant so much. And Mel. Well I can talk to Mel about everything and she is wonderful. Her parents died a few years ago so we can talk about grief and totally understand each other. Anyway, dinner was great and we caught up and talked about work and then Jen asked how I I really was. She knows about all of the miscarriages as well, but asked more about the twins since we weren't working together when they came along. She listened and said that she could see the sadness in my eyes. That I look a lot better than I used to, but she can still see it. She said some words of encouragement and caring and understanding and I'm amazed that she's so good at this. I'm very thankful for both of them.

So this weekend was nice. Very emotional, but nice and much needed.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Our babies are always physically with us

I saw the link to this article on Angela's blog and I can't even begin to describe how happy it makes me that my lost babies are still with me physically and that their cells might even help me.

Babies' Cells Linger, May Protect Mothers

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Ben brings up Jacob again

Laurie called me tonight, just as we were walking in the door. She said that Ben said something that she thinks I'll love.

I called her back right away and she said that she and Ben were listening to some Christmas carols. When "I Saw Three Ships" came on and it got to the line "The Virgin Mary and Christ were there", Ben said "and don't forget about Jacob!".

I love that boy. It has been awhile since Jacob has been mentioned around him or Ben had brought up Jacob's name. Then tonight, totally out of the blue, he said it. I'm so grateful that Laurie talks about Jacob to Ben. That he knows where Jacob is buried and recognizes the garden as Jacob's. That he knows that Jacob is in Heaven and that no one is afraid to talk about him for any reason.

Laurie said that she really likes to think of Jacob in that song. With the Virgin Mary and Christ. Safe and secure. I really like that thought too.

This has made me really happy tonight. I'm crying a little about it, but it has made me happy.

This is a picture of Ben and I, taken a few days ago. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

18 months

18 months since I held my baby, 18 months since I handed him to a nurse, never to hold him again.

It's hard to believe. It's hard to understand how I have survived this long. I definitely couldn't see this far into the future when Jacob was born and in the early days after. The future was just a huge void and it was a huge accomplishment if I ate without someone telling me to. I couldn't even fathom that I would ever feel as good as I do now. That's not to say that I feel great, but I feel a lot better than I ever thought I would. It kind of bothers me that I do. Sometimes I really miss the days of the heavy grief. I know it sounds crazy because the early grief is horrible, but I miss the big cries.  I miss lying on the floor in the nursery and sobbing. I miss lying in bed and sobbing. I miss standing in the shower and sobbing. I miss driving and sobbing. I think I miss it so much because it made me feel closer to him. I still cry for him, he is still my first thought when I wake up and my last when I got to sleep and he is always on my mind. His ultrasound picture is still up at my desk and I still sleep with his blanket at night. We have pictures of his name around our house, I always wear the necklace I got for him touch it many times a day. His ultrasound picture is in a frame on our dresser with some statues we got because they make us think of him.

I just read the post that I wrote on December 1 last year, Jacob's 6 month anniversary. I remember the days I wrote about there well and I think about them from time to time. I was still in so much pain and turmoil.

Today hasn't been that painful, surprisingly. I'm kind of ashamed and upset that it hasn't been harder. I was so busy at work today that it made the day go fast. But that wouldn't have stopped me from breaking down in the past.  I haven't even cried today. I felt like it once when I needed a break and read another Mom's blog who said that I have helped her. I had a little talk with Jacob then. That there will never be a good enough reason that he died, but that I have made something good come out of his death. So much good came out of his life that I don't even know where to start writing about that, but through his death other people have been helped. Still, I'd take him back in a split second if I could. But reading her blog today really helped my spirits today. Thank you Jennifer.

As we were driving home today, I told Ted that it's strange that I haven't felt terrible all day. He said that he has. Yesterday he was listening to music at work and the song Tears in Heaven came on. It's the song that Ted used when he made a video of pictures of Jacob's life with us. He felt really sad when he heard it, but listened to it twice more and felt terrible. He told me that he just can't believe he is gone. Right after he died, Ted felt terrible, but he thought that when we have another baby, it would help to fill the hole that Jacob has left. He has realized for a long time now that that just won't happen. No one will ever take Jacob's place. Jacob will always be missing. That we have a lifelong sentence of missing our baby every day, with everything we do.

About 2 weeks ago Ted and I were watching TV one night and suddenly it hit me that we were almost at 18 months and I felt like I had just been punched in the stomach. I started to cry, thinking of how close to 2 years we are. I'm dreading his next birthday already. Two years without him is scary and unimaginable, just as 12 months and 18 months was.

I just hate that he died. But I'm so glad he lived.

I love you baby boy.  You made me the happiest I had ever been. That happiness belonged only to you and will always belong to only you.