Thursday, December 10, 2009

What a Difference . . .

. . . a year makes.  Yesterday I turned 31, and I started thinking about how much of a milestone my birthday last year was.  I turned 30 last year.  It was a milestone birthday that I did not want to celebrate, not because I was getting older but because it was my first birthday as a babyloss mother.  It's not enough to have to celebrate my birthday sandwiched between the holidays, where it inevitably gets lost in the shuffle.  But to have to celebrate it without Dylan around last year was, frankly, grievously overwhelming.  Last year, instead of a birthday card, my husband wrote me this letter:

So I've never really been good at writing cards, but it seems this year to be especially difficult.  Buying a card off of the rack couldn't say what I needed to say.  I could get one that says "Hey you're 30!" but you already know that.  This year, and for every year on, our birthdays will not be complete as our family cannot be complete, for the most special member can no longer be with us.  So what can I say to that?  God's most precious gift to us was bitter-sweet.  For he gave us the most perfect baby in all the world, but we could not keep it. . . . For what gifts can I truly give to you that you do not already have? . . . You have given me so much that you do not know, that no gifts in the world could repay.  You are the crutch to my malady, the roots to my tree.  If I am strong like a brick, then you are the sand that I am made of, for I cannot be what I am without you.  I am truly blessed to have you as a wife, and Dylan as a son.  The Holy Spirit tells me that he's with us right now, celebrating along side of us.  With all of that in mind we say to you, Happy Birthday Mommy.  We love you!

Truly a priceless gift.  When I read this last year, I bawled my eyes out.  Even now, as I re-type it, I am teary-eyed.  Sure, it's been a year, and sure, the grief is less stinging and more bearable, but it's definitely still there.  31 - the 2nd of a lifetime of "incomplete birthdays".

"28" (12/2006) - A Complete Celebration:

"30" (12/2008) - Spent Quietly Contemplating

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thankful

It's just started raining here, a drab, overcast kind of day.  Fitting, really.  Today is November 17, 2009, exactly 17 months since we said goodbye to Dylan.  (Yes, I know I said I'd stop counting before, but I also said that that probably wasn't true).  My mom told me last week that it was my brother's birthday (I'm awful about remembering those things).  He would be 35 years old.  Evidently, a bereaved mother NEVER stops counting.  So, Happy Belated Birthday Alan.  Hope that your nephew celebrated right along with you!

The leaves are falling, Thanksgiving is coming up. I just wanted to share something I'm thankful for today.  Holly, a fellow babylost mommy, e-mailed me this beautiful picture that I wanted to share:



 I'm still amazed at the fact that Dylan's short life could have such a tremendous impact.  Thank you Holly!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

An Emotional Outpour

Just a couple of [random] things that have been on my mind and heavy on my heart. A sort of emotional outpour.

********

Before I got pregnant with Dylan, Justin and I decided that we wanted our kids to be close in age (roughly a year or so apart). Having a daughter less than a year after losing our firstborn is not exactly how I expected our story would go. And now, Dylan's death has affected so much in our lives including every subsequent pregnancy from now on. With Faith here, preparing for a 3rd is not yet a reality, and we're finding more and more reasons to keep lengthening that age gap.

First, there's the fear of another baby dying. (I'm certain that will never go away now. When I was pregnant with Dylan, there was never a fear of him dying. It just wasn't part of my reality. Even when we found out about his heart condition, it never occured to me that he would die. But once pregnancy and infant death become a reality in one's life, that reality never goes away.)

Then, there's the fear of me dying. (It rarely happens anymore, I know, but the reality of dying after labor hit close to home earlier this year when a high school friend died after giving birth to her daughter. The fact that I'm considered a high-risk pregnancy because of my blood pressure coupled with our luck with odds, I just know it's a distinct possibility. For me, the greater issue with this one would be leaving my kids without a mother and Justin without a wife.)

Finally, there's the fear of failing. (As a mother. As a wife. With God. In my healing. In my hope. In my grief. At raising our kids. At any of it. At all of it.)

********

"Sometimes I can't see you anymore. I forget things about you, and I'm afraid that I'm losing us. . . . like the way you smelled . . . and how you felt in my arms. If I let someone in, I'll erase you. I can't. It's not fair. We were supposed to have more time. I don't want to lose us." -paraphrased from One Tree Hill (a conversation between a man and his dead wife)

I wonder if this affects how my relationship evolves with Faith. I mean, I don't think I can reiterate enough how much I love my daughter, but I wonder if it's stifled by the fears of letting someone in again. I'm not afraid of forgetting Dylan per se, I just don't want our memories with him to fade.

********

"The other night dear, as I lay sleeping
I dreamed I held you in my arms
But when I awoke, dear, I was mistaken
So I hung my head and I cried.

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine
You make me happy when skies are gray
You'll never know dear, how much I love you
Please don't take my sunshine away"

We sang [the refrain of] You Are My Sunshine to Dylan alot in the hospital, so obviously it holds a special place in my heart. I keep hearing it on Faith's player in her nursery (it was on one of the lullaby CDs that we'd gotten). I've been crying every time I hear it lately. If I'm anywhere near the player, and I hear the first note of the song, I can't press the NEXT button fast enough.

This version in particular, even from the very beginning as he's climbing the tree before he starts singing, is so poignant:



********

Just another beautiful song I found, called "Down" by Jason Walker:

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Right On. AWESOME!

Justin and I participated in the 5th Annual Atlanta Walk to Remember on Sunday (my 2nd, his 1st). The program included speakers, parents sharing their stories and other original writings, and music. After the short walk, there was a beautiful balloon release. Attached to each balloon were purple butterflies with messages to our angel babies written from mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, grandparents, friends, etc. When I got to the butterfly table, I could feel myself getting teary. Like last year, I just quickly scribbled my message: "Dylan, Missing you so much, each and every day. Hope you're looking down on us and your new sis Faith! Love, Mommy, Daddy, Faith, and Inu"

Justin wrote: "Dylan, It's been far too long since we were blessed with you. We all miss you so much and send our love to you in our prayers every night. We love you with all our hearts and souls, Mommy, Daddy, Faith, and Inu" I swear, sometimes I think he's so much better at this than me.

The gathering was awesome. The stories we all shared - with our tears, in the embraces of our husbands, in long staring matches with living children, even in quiet communion - were awesome. The day was awesome. To have to share this, to have to experience it, to have a reason to participate in this walk . . . tragic, but still awesome.

Anyway, I'm really just poking fun at a random person that stopped us on the walk route (which also explains the title of this post). He asks us, "What are you guys doing here? Are you on some sort of tour?"

I answer, "No, it's a walk."

"Oh really, what kind of walk."

"A Walk to Remember." (At this point, I'm really just trying to not make it awkward for him, but he persists.)

"Oh, what's it for?"

"It's for people whose babies have died."

He says (and I kid you not): "Right on. Awesome!"

I looked at Justin in disbelief. Did he really just say that? Perhaps he didn't hear me. We just kept walking . . .

So, on to some pictures from the day:

Thursday, October 15, 2009

This Little Light of Mine

I don't have anything better to write than what I wrote last year for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Rememberance Day: I lit a candle for Dylan today . . . I know I don't need a special day to remember Dylan, I will remember him everyday for the rest of my life. But it's still nice, you know? . . . I lit just about every candle I could find (I bet Dylan can see the lights from Heaven ;).

This little light of mine,
I'm gonna let it shine


This little light of mine,
I'm gonna let it shine


This little light of mine,
I'm gonna let it shine


Let it shine,
Let it shine,
Let it shine.


I light In Dylan's Memory. I light in Isaac's Memory. I light in Christian's Memory. I light in George's Memory. I light in Audrey's Memory. I light in Cayden's Memory. I light in Samuel's Memory. For Vivian & Annemarie. For Max. For Logan & Brody. For Hope. For Brenham. For Nicholas. For Carleigh. For Jenna. For Thomas. For all.

To other mommies and daddies who had to say goodbye far, far too soon. For the countless other stories I've come across and for the countless other stories that I may never know. I let it shine for all of you tonight. Thank you for sharing your lives, your experiences, your grief; it's enriched me in a way that you may never know.

Friday, October 2, 2009

A New Mourning

Some friends of ours recently got engaged, and when I heard the news, I was beaming for them. I love weddings! I love going to weddings, getting all dressed up, dancing, seeing the bride for the first time. I've shot and edited wedding videos; even had a brief stint as a wedding coordinator.

Then, I thought about Dylan’s wedding. I felt as if I was mourning a new kind of loss. I’m no longer just mourning my newborn son, the tiny little boy that I held in my arms. I’m mourning the person he would become as well. I’m mourning the fact that I will never get to do a mother-son dance with my firstborn. Never have this kind of untainted happiness again:

My existence has changed forever. And if you can’t quite wrap your mind around it, think of like this: Once you become a mother, you’re a mother for life, no matter the circumstance.

Well, once you become a mother whose child has died, you’re a babylost mother for life. There are no band-aids or quick-fix remedies. There are phases you go through. Times that are more difficult than others, but you will always be defined as a babylost mother.

Closing Thoughts of the Day

"When you lose someone, it stays with you, always reminding you of how easy it is to get hurt." --Elena, from The Vampire Diaries (of all places)

"Life is not the way it's supposed to be. It's the way it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference." --Author Unknown (grabbed from a friend's e-mail, thanks Jackie!)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Grieving

Excerpts from tonight's Grey's Anatomy (so true, so profound, so close to home):

"Grief may be a thing we all have in common, but it looks different on everyone."

"The thing we all have to remember is that it can turn on a dime."

"When it hurts so much you can't breathe, that's when you survive."

"Grief comes in its own time for everyone, in its own way."

"The very worst part of grief is that you can't control it."

"The best we can do is to let ourselves feel it when it comes, and let it go when we can."

"The very worst part is that the minute you think you're past it, it starts all over again."

"And always, every time, it starts all over again."
Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Remembering

Remembering on 9/11/09 means something completely different for me than it does for most. Today, while all of my friends update their status on Facebook with something inspirational about the tragic events of 8 years ago, my thoughts were drawn elsewhere. Today, Dylan would've been 15 months old. That's just my reality, perhaps a tad too profound for a status update.

15 months. Part of me wants to stop counting because it just makes me sad to think about what he would be doing at this age and what he would look like. The other part of me is driven to never stop counting and never forget. That part will probably triumph because, behind the pain and behind the tears, we still want to celebrate a life that was cut far too short. We love you Dill!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Woman on the Verge of Tears

I have a lump in my throat. It's there all the time. ALL THE TIME. My new existence can be summed up as this: sudden outbursts of crying may occur. Yes, it sounds like a prescription drug commercial, but the truth is, grief does have all these side-effects (tears, sadness, anger, disinterest, etc.). I never know when the next outbreak will occur. It could be triggered by a certain smell; a certain note in a song; a picture; a sweet letter or e-mail from a friend; a smile from my newborn; a certain day of the month; a sad look on my husband's face. At any time, on any day, I can lose it. Now, the one upside of being a year(+) out already is that I can pull myself together afterward.

Some days are better and more bearable than others. Some events are still happy too. There's just that lump in my throat, and it's just too bad there's not a magic drug for it.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Drawing Courage From . . .

There are days when I feel like if world to came crumbling in on me, I wouldn't fight it or do anything to prevent it. It certainly has taken the emotional strength of every fiber of my body to get through those days. It's always nice when people tell me how brave I've been through our whole ordeal because on those days, when I feel so broken and bruised, sometimes I just need to hear it.

So, where does my courage come from?

First and foremost, from Dylan. The mere idea that Dylan "deserves a strong mom" has gotten me out of bed more times than I can even count. More often than not, I don't want to be sad because I know that that's not what Dylan would want either.

Then, of course, there's my husband Justin. He gives me the strength and courage to face every, single day and all the things that get thrown at me. He's amazing for all that he does and for all that he puts up with.

There's my mom, who's always been a personal hero of mine. We now have this unspoken connection between us, not only because I'm a mother now but also because I'm a babylost mother. My mom courageously battled through my brother being in a coma for years and having to make the heart-breaking decision to take him off life support. My brother was older than Dyaln when he passed, but in whatever form or fashion that it occurs, parents who lose children face the unfathomable. And I think that because we've both faced it now, it makes our mother/daughter bond all the more special and close.

Finally, I'm always encouraged by the love and support of family and friends who've been there for us through it all; who were there from the beginning and are still there now (even if it's been over a year); who have no expectations of us or how we process our grief; who don't wince when we talk about Dylan; who sent cards and e-mails; who called us up; or who just dropped by. Those are the people that, when you least expect it, give you little bursts of courage that mean so very much.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Had A Moment

This past Monday was my first day back at work from being on maternity leave with Faith. I had a great half-day reprieve when Justin brought me lunch and brought Faith up to work for a visit. So of course I took her around the office to show off our beautiful, new daughter. And of course, everyone was so excited about meeting her. But one of my co-workers cradled Faith in her arms and just started crying. She said, through the tears, "Oh Katrina, I'm so happy for you guys". And as my eyes welled up knowing exactly who we were both thinking about at that moment, I mouthed the words "Thank you" to her. It touched me so deeply to know that, even in the excitement of our new little miracle, our first miracle is not forgotten.


Friday, July 3, 2009

Bit of Wisdom

One of the readings at church this past Sunday (really struck a cord with me):

Wisdom 1:13-15; 2:23-24

God did not make death,
nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living.
For he fashioned all things that they might have being;
and the creatures of the world are wholesome,
and there is not a destructive drug among them
nor any domain of the netherworld on earth,
for justice is undying.
For God formed man to be imperishable;
the image of his own nature he made him.
But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world,
and they who belong to his company experience it.

Under the Tree - June

Under the Tree

"Under the Tree" is a discussion spot for babyloss mothers started by Carly from Love Reign Over Me.


Okay, so obviously I'm a little behind in posting this one, but it looked like fun, so I still wanted to participate!


Hair Color: Dark Brown

Eye color: Dark Brown

Profession: Mommy and Promotions Coordinator at a local TV station

Relationship status: Happily Married


My Favorites:

Favorite color: Blue

Favorite movie: "Knocked Up"

Favorite animal: Non-domestic? Probably whales (kind of a random one, I know, but I fell in love with the Belugas at the Georgia Aquarium)

Favorite store: Banana Republic

Favorite childhood memory: Being a huge tomboy and always trying to keep up with what the boys were doing

Favorite hobby: Writing and Photography

Favorite song/singer: "Paul Revere" by the Beastie Boys / John Mayer

Favorite book/author: "Great Gatsby" / Edgar Allan Poe

Favorite school subject: Newspaper/Journalism

Favorite vacation destination: Maui, where we went for our honeymoon; or Destin, FL where we go every year

Favorite food: Salmon, Spaghetti/Lasagna (preferably mom's), or chocolate

Favorite restaurant: Trader Vics


This or That:

Coke or Pepsi: Coke

Beer or wine: Either, depends on my mood

Coffee or tea: Tea, preferably sweet and iced!

Apple Juice or O.J.: OJ

Summer or Winter: Can I say Fall?

Cats or dogs: Dogs

Salty or sweet: Both!

Plane or boat: Plane

Morning or night: Night

Money or love: No question, LOVE!

Breakfast or dinner: Dinner

Forgiveness or revenge: Forgiveness

House or apartment: House

Like to cook: Not really, so I married a great cook!


Have You Ever:

Got a speeding ticket: Yes

Wished you were someone else: I'm sure I have

Cried during a movie: Uh, can you say "Steel Magnolias"?

Describe yourself in one word: Complicated

Biggest fear: I'm not afraid of anything anymore, other than losing another child

Biggest mistake: My ex?

Your proudest accomplishment: Carrying and Having Dylan, and how I've carried myself in the aftermath

Dream job: Wedding Coordinator or Wedding Photographer

Special talents: Video-editing

Where would you rather be at the moment: At the Beach

Famous person you want to meet: Orlando Bloom

Song to be played at your funeral: "One Sweet Day" Mariah Carey/Boyz II Men

Sunday, June 14, 2009

What To Expect When You're Expecting [After Loss]

"No one told me it would be like this" . . . I'm sure this sentiment has crossed the minds of many parents. But as a parent who's now had a child after losing one, the thought still rings true. It's not like I feel resentment or contempt towards my new baby, it's just a sort of sadness I feel when I look into her eyes or watch her doing . . . well, pretty much anything and think "Dylan never got to do this". It's bittersweet. I'm sure it's not in any chapter of any book. I should be grateful and overjoyed that we have a new healthy baby, but there are times when thoughts of Dylan just leave me heavy-hearted. I know my emotions are heightened by the tragic combo of "postpartum blues" and having to celebrate the 1-year anniversary of Dylan's death at the same time. And I hope I'm not wrong for even thinking this way. I love my daughter dearly. I love my son dearly and miss him every day. It's just a surreal life to be living, that's all.

I can't believe the year that we've survived. I can't believe that the pain hasn't subsided; dulled, but never went away (and certainly never will). And Faith is no band-aid (boy, that's a loaded statement if I've ever heard one). Dylan will always have a part of my heart that no one else could ever replace.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Happy Birthday Dylan!


Regarding the 1-year anniversary of the day she was diagnosed with cancer, a friend recently wrote "Today is not a bad day, or a sad day, or a mad day. Its a tribute to the strength and fortitude to overcome a challenge. It's a HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!"

I find myself inspired by her words. Although our circumstances are not the same, I've felt a similar "strength and fortitude" over the course of the past year that have gotten me through the roughest of days. In alot of ways, today was similar to everyday in the past year rolled into one. I woke up this morning by my cell phone bombarding me with texts, voicemails, and emails of family and friends all remembering with us and acknowledging the day. And though I could've easily stayed in bed and slept the day away, I didn't. I remembered those mornings in the first few months after Dylan's death that I spent just wanting to stay in bed.

But I didn't just stay in bed. I pressed on. We both did. As difficult as it was to do so without our amazing son, we did. Yes, it was challenging. And yes, some days were more difficult than others.

"Today is not a bad day." It's Dylan's birthday. And like anyone else's birthday, it's a celebration of his life, a celebration of him. There were times that I did find myself sad today, sad that Dylan's not here with us for this celebration. But it's still not a bad day or a mad day. It's Dylan's birthday. We just want to wish our precious son a HAPPY BIRTHDAY! We love you and miss you dearly, with all our hearts. Thank you for the difference you've made in our lives; thank you for making us the best parents we could possibly be; thank you for gracing us with 6 beautiful days. May your celebration in Heaven be blessed with laughter and joy. HAPPY BIRTHDAY DYLAN!

video

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Looming Over Me

In these days leading up to June 11th (Dylan's birthday), I am admittedly anxious and sad. Is it strange that we've come full-circle already by welcoming Dylan's baby sister into the world just 2 weeks ago? It's strange to me. We've been blessed with this beautiful bundle of joy in our lives, but a bit of it is overshadowed by this looming anniversary (not one that we'd particularly like to be celebrating but one that we obviously can't overlook as well). I pray that the strength that we've exhibited over the course of the past year will carry us over these difficult days ahead.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Little Perspective

First, there’s the perspective a grieving parent has from losing a child. I’ve learned to take my worries and my stresses in life with a grain of salt. Kind of like the mentality, “Hey, I’ve survived losing my son, there’s not much else in the world that I can’t survive.”

Then, there’s the perspective that you get in understanding where someone on the other side of the fence is coming from. A couple months ago, I wrote about a co-worker who struggled with saying the word “memorial” to me. I didn’t understand it, and it definitely caught me off guard. Just last week, this very co-worker comes into my office and begins to give me [sort of] an unsolicited explanation. She told me how, as a mother herself, she couldn’t even fathom what I’d been through and that there were no words. None of the “Hallmark” responses felt appropriate. It was just easier for her to not talk about it than to say something wildly inappropriate.

I guess, in a way, I could totally see where she was coming from. I mean, as grieving parents, it’s easy to get upset if someone says the wrong thing to you and it’s just as easy to get upset if someone says nothing to you. For “outsiders”, it’s a tough balance to maintain. And even beyond that, each grieving parent experiences so differently that what works for me might not work for another set of parents or another grieving mother. The thoughts and statements and gestures that have helped me along the way may be offensive or received differently by someone else.

Even as someone who’s been through this tragedy, I may possess a certain level of empathy but I still wouldn’t know the perfect thing to say every single time, in every single situation. And perhaps there just isn’t a perfect thing to say, perhaps there are not a definitive set of guidelines that work across the board. It’s a fine line we walk everyday, just as I’m sure it’s a fine line for non-grievers to walk alongside us.

I just want to thank those of you who’ve continued to walk with us regardless. Whether you’ve said the wrong thing(s), the “perfect” thing(s), or have said nothing at all, I’m still blessed that you’re in my life and that you have let Dylan be a part of yours.

CHD Awareness

For those of you who don't know Dylan's story from the beginning, he was diagnosed with a Congenital Heart Defect at 20 weeks gestation. That was the first indication that we had a very special little boy in our lives. And Dylan's CHD was rare, called Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome. We did alot of research, and read up on all the information that we could muster up online. We had a great pediatric cardiologist already lined up, were going in for constant echocardiograms, met with a top-of-the-line cardiothoracic surgeon at the children's hospital, etc. We went through all the motions necessary for CHD babies (as much of the prep as we could do before birth anyway). So I feel a certain closeness to babies living with a CHD, simply because that's what we were preparing for with Dylan. The surgeries, the medicine, the "he'll never play football". Now while our story didn't quite go as we'd hoped or planned, the extraordinary part is that, in the end, Dylan's heart (defect and all) wasn't what failed his body.

I know that Dylan would've been a special CHD baby himself, and we never stopped having hope that his heart would get the fixin' it needed, function, and thrive. So when I read about other CHD babies, I have the same hope for them. Like Bentley, an adorable 7-month-old who was diagnosed with Tetralogy of Fallot at just 2 days old. She will need surgery in less than 2 months.

Prayers for Bentley

(Click on the picture above to read more about Bentley. Bentley's mommy is doing a giveaway on her blog to spread the word on CHD awareness, so head on over there.)

Monday, April 6, 2009

I Dedicate My First Award to Mike

Kreativ Blogger Award

The Domestic Goddess herself has tagged me with my very first award ever (THANK YOU)! So now I'm supposed to name 7 Things I Love. But since I always have such a difficult time trying to come up with 7 random things or even 7 expected/typical things, I am going to combine this post with another one that I've been planning to write. (And please forgive me in advance for not tagging 7 others, like I'm supposed to . . . I didn't want to deviate too far from my message).

Today, a dear friend of ours is leaving on a jet plane. He has taken a job in California, on the complete opposite coast from us. It feels like the end of an era, and yet we know that we'll see him again and keep in touch often. Anyway, rather than write about any 7 Things We Love, this post will be 7 Things We Love About Mike (it should go without saying that there are more than 7 things we love about this person, but here's what's coming to mind at the moment):

1. The Reader. This is a title that we bestowed on Mike ever since our wedding. He was the lone reader at our wedding and was kind and strong enough to step up to the plate and read at Dylan's memorial as well. He is so well-spoken that we couldn't think of a better person for this job.

2. Peace and Blessings. As much as Mike is an amazing reader, he also writes in a way that is both eloquent and distinct. He always closes every letter that he's ever written to us with Peace and Blessings, and as corny as it may sound, he means it every single time.

3. Dependability. No matter what's going on, Mike is the kind of guy you can call on to be there . . . even if it's 8:30 in the morning on a Saturday, and he's got a 30+ minute drive . . . :) (Thank you for being the only friend present at our convalidation, it meant so much to us).

4. Loyalty. (And we don't mean only when it's convenient for him. ;)

5. Honesty. No matter how awkward it may be, Mike always manages to tell us the truth, whether we want to hear it or not.

6. Generosity. Mike is always giving so much more than what's expected, and in many cases, so much more than some deserve. There is no way we could ever pay Mike back for all that he's given us, so hopefully in the meantime, our friendship will suffice.

7. Karaoke. Mike introduced us and all of our friends to Korean Karaoke bars. So much fun! The rooms are private, and we only need to act a fool in front of people we already know, so it always takes the edge off. Plus, we can always count on Mike to sing the sappy ballads, like "Wherever You Will Go" by The Calling. How very fitting right now:

So lately, been wonderin
Who will be there to take my place
When I'm gone, you'll need love
To light the shadows on your face

If a great wave should fall
It would fall upon us all
And between the sand and stone
Could you make it on your own

If I could, then I would
I'll go wherever you will go
Way up high or down low
I'll go wherever you will go

And maybe, I'll find out
The way to make it back someday
To watch you, to guide you
Through the darkest of your days

If a great wave should fall
It would fall upon us all
Well I hope there's someone out there
Who can bring me back to you

Runaway with my heart
Runaway with my hope
Runaway with my love

I know now, just quite how
My life and love might still go on
In your heart and your mind
I'll stay with you for all of time

If I could turn back time
I'll go wherever you will go
If I could make you mine
I'll go wherever you will go

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Under the Tree - March

Under the Tree

"Under the Tree" is a discussion spot for babyloss mothers started by Carly from Love Reign Over Me.


Do you have a special place in your home for your baby/ies? What is it like? Do you have any rituals that you perform in memory of your baby/ies?

We don't necessarily have a "special" place in the house for Dylan. We have pictures and momentos up all throughout the house. We haven't performed any "rituals" yet either. Although, I hope to fully honor and remember Dylan on his birthday by making and donating a basket of some sort to the hospital NICU. I've already started buying items to do this in June. If that is well-received, my goal is to do that (or something) every June.

If you believe in an afterlife, do you receive signs from your baby/ies? Have you ever felt their presence? Do you find them in nature? Do they visit you in your dreams?

I believe in Heaven. I haven't received any signs from Dylan or felt his presence, but I whole-heartedly believe that he watches over us. At times, if the sky is particularly blue or the clouds just scream perfection, I find myself thinking about Dylan and his perfect beauty.

Do you have a special poem, song, prayer or quote in memory of your baby/ies?

None of these are really in memory of Dylan per se, but ones that have especially touched my heart on this journey:

Special Poem:

What Makes A Mother
by Jennifer Wasik

I thought of you and closed my eyes
And prayed to God today.
I asked what makes a Mother
And I know I heard him say.

A Mother has a baby
This we know is true.
But God can you be a Mother
When your baby's not with you?

Yes, you can He replied
With confidence in His voice
I give many women babies
When they leave is not their choice.

Some I send for a lifetime
And others for a day.
And some I send to feel your womb
But there's no need to stay.

I just don't understand this, God
I want my baby here
He took a breath and cleared His throat
And then I saw a tear.

I wish I could show you
What your child is doing today.
If you could see your child smile
With other children and say

"We go to earth and learn our lessons
Of love and life and fear.
My Mommy loved me oh so much
I got to come straight here.

I feel so lucky to have a Mom
Who had so much love for me
I learned my lesson very quickly
My Mommy set me free.

I miss my Mommy oh so much
But I visit her each day.
When she goes to sleep
On her pillow's where I lay.

I stroke her hair and kiss her cheek
And whisper in her ear
"Mommy don't be sad today
I'm your baby and I'm here."

So you see my dear sweet one
Your children are OK
Your babies are here in My home
And this is where they'll stay.

They'll wait for you with me
Until your lesson is through
And on the day that you come Home
They'll be at the gates for you.

So now you see what makes a Mother
It's the feeling in your heart.
It's the love you had so much of
Right from the very start.

Though some may not realize
until their time is done,
Remember all the love you have
And know you are a special MOM.

Special Song:

Special Prayer:

2 Corinthians 12:9

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

Special Quote:

"Life is not the amount of breaths you take, it's the moments that take your breath away."

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

My Miracle

I've wavered lately on miracles and my belief on whether or not they exist. And I came across this post by Angie Smith (Bring the Rain). I was instantly touched by her words: "It sounds absolutely absurd to say that I am at peace with her death . . . But I am. And I actually think that that is the miracle."

It hit me like a ton of bricks. My miracle wasn't Dylan being healed and whole on this side of heaven. God had/has something else in store for me. My miracle was the strength that it has taken to survive, accept, and come closer to Him, even despite my circumstances. I am closer to God than I was before Dylan's death. And even since, I have found a peace and understanding with Dylan's death that I couldn't quite grasp before. And though I will never possess the capacity to understand why things happened the way they did for us or what God's will is, I was given the strength and courage to accept that this is God's will, not mine, at work. Being at peace with Dylan's death and being at peace with God's will, those are our miracles and we are blessed to be where we are on our spiritual journeys.

Remember: "There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." - Albert Einstein

And if you're the praying kind, please keep:

Prayers for Stellan

(Click on the picture above to read more about Stellan.)

Monday, March 23, 2009

How Do You Answer That?

I know early on after Dylan's death, my most difficult moments were when people asked if we had any children. When everything was still fresh and raw, the easy-out response was "no". It kept us from having to go into a long, drawn-out story and prevented the inevitably uncomfortable situation of having to tell a complete stranger that your child is in Heaven. But when our answer was "no", I immediately felt lousy afterwards. I felt like I wasn't honoring Dylan's life and that I was doing my son a huge disservice. I would cry and tell Justin, "What am I saying? Of course we have a child!" Those were some of my most emotional breakdowns.

Now, it's over 9 months later, and we are both comfortable talking about Dylan and bragging about him, just like any other parent. And I think the question has come up more often lately because I am currently pregnant. The usual questions are brought up: "How far along are you?" "Do you know if you're having a boy or a girl?" "Is this your first?" When they get to that last question, which they inevitably do, I say with confidence, "no, this is my second" and leave it at that. Most people continue with the expected follow-up, "Oh, how old is your first?" I respond, "My first would be 9 months, but he passed away." The look of discomfort that that line delivers almost makes me feel bad for them though. They don't know what to say, and they wished they hadn't asked at all. They usually say, "Oh, I'm sorry". But I get the impression that they're not apologizing for my loss but for the fact that they put themselves in that position to begin with.

While I will never feel comfortable going back to responding with "This is my first" or "We have no other children", I do wonder how to ease the discomfort for people asking me that question for the first time. It just happened again last week while meeting a work contact, and immediately after she apologized profusely, I just changed the subject for everyone involved in the conversation. It definitely took the edge off.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

When You Become a Parent

So there's been a couple of instances now where our own friends have lectured us on how life changes "when you guys have kids". Seems like they've forgotten that we are already parents. I mean, we are [parents] right? Even though Dylan isn't in our earthly presence? And on top of that, the larger irony is that the majority of the people who've given us the "when you guys have kids" or the "when you guys become parents" lecture have been people who don't have kids yet. How do they know how life changes, they don't even have kids themselves! It's almost like trying to give me a lecture on how life is when you're Filipino . . . woah, wait, reality check, YOU'RE NOT FILIPINO, I am!!! Yet another "WTF moment" . . . such is life for parents grieving a loss.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

9 Months . . .

Yesterday, Dylan would've been 9 months. I've officially been mourning for my son almost as long as I was pregnant with him. I have this strange serenity over me right now, a calm washing over me. It's difficult to explain, maybe just God's way of protecting me from the deep, deep bitter sadness that I could be in.

Some Borrowed Writing

Jeremiah 29:11

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Under The Tree - February

Carly from Love Reign Over Me was kind enough to start Under the Tree, a discussion spot for babyloss mothers.

How long have you been blogging for? Why did you start? What do you want from writing?

I started blogging in October 2008. My first post was exactly 4 months, to the day, of Dylan's birth. I was at work one day, just perusing the internet and randomly stumbled upon a babylost momma's blog. I was immediately engaged by her story, even though it was quite different from my own. And a part of me felt compelled to put my story out there, and share Dylan's life with the world. I've always enjoyed writing, and for that reason, blogging seemed like a sort of natural (and free) therapy/outlet for me.

I want my writing to celebrate Dylan's life. Sharing my words and this experience for the world to see, surprisingly, does not make me feel as vulnerable as one would think. It's my story, it's not up for interpretation or argument. I don't have to feel wrong here. I want people to know our journey. I want people to feel with us, and see the beauty that Dylan's short life brought to us. And maybe one day, when I need it most, I want to see how much we've grown and how much we overcame by surviving this.

Where is safest place for you to share your feelings? Is there anywhere you feel completely accepted just being however you are really feeling?

The safest place for me to share my feelings is actually in conversations with my husband. His words and reactions and perspective on everything that we've been through certainly make me feel completely accepted. He lets me feel how I need to feel, when I need to feel it (without fear or remorse). I know, that outside of God, Justin's the only one who experienced Dylan's few days right by my side. We went through those days together and continue to experience together in our grief. And there isn't anyone else in the world that I'd rather share with.

Can you recommend any books that you have read that have given you a new insight, hope or courage in this new life you find yourself in?

A good friend of mine gave me Grieving the Child I Never Knew by Kathe Wunnenberg. That is really the only book I read pertaining specifically to the grief of childloss. I've also been working my way through A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis, not necessarily a book about infant loss but provides insights on Lewis' own journey with his wife's death.

How would you describe yourself before you lost your baby. How have you changed, who are you today?

Before Dylan, I was a happy-go-lucky person. My worries were typical for my age (friends, money, career, etc.) I never thought going into my first pregnancy that anything could/would go wrong. I am forever changed by Dylan's life and the experiences we had with him during his days. I've taken on the mentality of "don't sweat the small stuff". Justin and I always joke about how the things that we could be worrying about simply can't compare to losing a child. Therefore, surprisingly, we're pretty worry-free people these days.

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7

Even in quoting a simple bible verse, we've changed. We're much more faithful and religious people now. And we firmly believe that our faith was a gift from Dylan, by way of God of course.

How do you think you are coping? Do you see any light in this road or is it all dark right now? Where do you imagine yourself to be in a years time?

All in all, I think that we're coping pretty well. I still have my days, here and there, where I feel really sad and/or I need a good cry. Of course, I've seen the light in this journey. I acknowledge the gift of faith that gives Dylan's life so much meaning and purpose.

In a year's time, I hope to be telling Dylan's little brother or sister all about him. I hope that my memories of Dylan will always be strong but continue to grow in fondness and not bitterness. I hope that we can continue to celebrate Dylan's life and the impact that it had on ours.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Thank You Carly!

I just want to extend my heartfelt gratitude to Carly and everything she does through her Names in the Sand blog. She is a beautiful soul and such an inspiration. Thank you Carly!

What a blessing to finally have Dylan's memorial post on her site. I'm honored just to see it on there.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Heavy Heart

Today is Dylan's 8 month angelversary. I have no words, just missing my sweet son more and more each day.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Dichotomy

This commercial always makes me smile. For obvious reasons, it makes me think about Dylan. It elicits a kind of bittersweet emotion though. On one hand, I think proudly that Dylan would've probably been "that guy". The one all the girls have a crush on and want to hang out with (just like his daddy, of course)!

On the other hand, I start wondering what Dylan would be like as a teenager. And my world is re-shattered by the fact that he will never be a teenager, never learn how to drive a car or take a girl to prom. For me, one of the most difficult things to mourn are the memories Dylan will never get to make, the things that Dylan will never get to do.

It's a wonder how something (like this commercial) can be both heart-warming and heart-breaking at the same time. It's similar to that simultaneous pride and longing that I feel when I look at pictures of Dylan. I miss Dylan dearly, yet I'm also reassured by the fact that he's no longer suffering or in pain and that he's healed and whole in Heaven.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Speechless

Today, I went to lunch with a couple of co-workers. I forgot how the conversation got there, but one of the girls commented on how sweet my mom was. I agreed, of course, but I couldn't recall where this girl had ever met my mom. I asked and just looked at her blankly because I really couldn't remember. She tried to play it off like she'd forgotten also, and then she said, "You know, at the thing."

Again, I gave her a puzzled look. I had no idea where she was going with this line of gestures, she just kept saying, "The thing, the thing." I really had no idea for a solid couple of seconds, and she started getting antsy. Then I said, "Oh, the memorial [for Dylan]?"

She replied, rather uncomfortably, "Yeah, you know it's hard for me to talk about."

I didn't know what to say. I just kind of smiled uncomfortably. WTF!?!?! And I'm very understanding of the fact that people are uncomfortable, it's a natural human reaction when dealing with death. If you haven't been through tragedy, you don't know how to react to those who have. That being said, I've yet to come across someone who's been afraid to say "memorial" to me . . . until today, of course.

She still wouldn't say it. And when I said it, she immediately changed the subject. I just smiled. It doesn't hurt me to say it! Truthfully, it caught me off-guard. I wasn't angry at her, just speechless.

Some Borrowed Writing

Excerpt from "A Grief Observed"
By C.S. Lewis

If a mother is mourning not for what she has lost but for what her child has lost, it is a comfort to believe that the child has not lost the end for which it was created. And it is a comfort to believe that she herself, in losing her chief or only natural happiness, has not lost a greater thing, that she may still hope to 'glorify God and enjoy Him forever.' A comfort to the God-aimed, eternal spirit within her. But not to her motherhood. The specifically maternal happiness must be written off.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Calling in Sad, err, I mean, Sick

For the past 3 mornings, I’ve called in sick to work. And while it’s true that I haven’t really felt 100%, it’s probably not because I’m sick, per se. I mean, if I start thinking about it philosophically, I’ll probably never really feel 100% again. There’s truly a part of me missing. In order for Dylan’s heart to be whole, he had to take a little piece of mine up to Heaven with him.

The reality of the situation is that I couldn’t exactly call in sad to work. Here’s how that voicemail would go: “Hey, it’s Katrina. I’m not coming into work today. I’m feeling sad.” Most people in this situation would just suck it up and force themselves to go to work. And, truly, it’s what I’ve been doing for the past 4 months. But I’m a firm believer (and supporter) of mental health days. Sometimes, you just need them. So I put myself on a sabbatical for the past couple of days, to allow myself to grieve and cry (and do so openly, which I can’t do at work).

But, no worries, the guilt will get me back into work tomorrow.

“Pain is there for a reason. It reminds us that we’re human, that we feel.”

I guess I’ve been kind of “coasting” for the past few months. And it’s not even that I don’t feel the pain, it’s more that I cushion it so that people don’t feel uncomfortable being around me. If my general demeanor gives people the idea that I’m “over it”, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. The truth is that I’m faking the funk for them, for their benefit.

Why is it so much easier for people to celebrate with us than it is for people to mourn with us? Why is it so much easier for people to say, “Congratulations” than to say “I’m so sorry for your loss”? I mean, I get it. People generally don’t know what to say. Even the people who offered the standard, “If you need anything” . . . haven’t really been around to follow through. Yeah, I guess you could say that I’m a little disappointed in some people (co-workers and friends alike).

But because I want to end this rant on a positive note, I must remind myself that there are those few beacons of light in my life in the form of supportive, caring, sympathetic people, willing to walk beside us through this difficult journey. I received this note in the mail months ago and never really thought to post it (she doesn’t even know I’m doing this), but it’s the small things like this that remind me that we are not alone:

“The journey of healing takes patience and time, love and support, courage and hope.”

Dear Katrina,

I think of the day Dylan was born. I also remember when I found out how sick he was . . . and the call on the 17th. I was upset. I cried. I was sad for you. I sat and reflected on my family for awhile. I had no idea what you were feeling. I still don’t. But after reading your blog this morning, I feel closer to you and Dylan. It was my first time seeing him. He is beautiful! Your words really touched my heart. My emotions flowed again, much more this time though. I feel I’ve done nothing to comfort you. In fact, I know I haven’t. Truthfully, I don’t know what to do. I want to be able to support you in your recovery process. So for now, I hope this card can convey my sorrow, my hope, my support, and my love. “It is the nature of the world to provide challenges. It is human nature to support one another.” From one mom to another, who both know what it means to truly love – hold that love in your heart – it will help to heal. Thanks for letting me see your angel and share your journey. I think of you often.


What beautiful words, from a beautiful friend. Thank you.

Friday, January 9, 2009

First Oh-Nine Post!

I got a new camera lens for Christmas and haven't really had any creative use for it yet, so I've been snapping random shots around the house. A few people asked me what we did with Dylan's nursery after he passed. I guess the first thought might be that we packed everything up and put it away. It never occured to Justin and me to do that because we knew that we would try again. We went into our first pregnancy wanting children, and after meeting and losing Dylan, that desire only got stronger. So we shut the nursery door, keeping it just as it was, and knowing/hoping that there would be another baby in our future. Anyway, here are a few nursery accents that I've randomly captured:
I have fallen in love (read: become obssessed with) this quote! I never heard it before our NILMDTS photographer put it on one of Dylan's pictures, but now I feel like I see it all over the place. And, if it's on something I can buy, you better believe I do! We found this beautiful cross on a recent vacation in Charleston.
Justin bought me the frame on top for my birthday. It reads: "Those that we hold in our arms for awhile, we hold in our hearts forever." Dylan is definitely gracing the nursery with his beautiful mug, ready to watch over his little brother or sister.

Belated Thank You

I've mentioned our NILMDTS photographer (http://www.jamesadamhill.com/) in a previous post, and he actually stumbled upon this blog a while ago. He and his wife are such genuinely good people, and I mean good down to the core (the kind of people that Justin and I strive to be). We received the most beautiful gift from them, that they simply decided to do out of the goodness of their hearts. Coincidently, we got it right before Christmas. They'd taken one of the pictures that James shot of Dylan and created the most beautiful canvas print from it. Just like he graces the nursery, Dylan also hangs at the head of our bed, watching over mommy and daddy (thank you a million times over James, we love it! -- there's that quote again, by the way).