Saturday, March 30, 2013

Easter Dinner

We had my mom and some of Mike's family over for Easter dinner tonight. Everyone pitched in so it wasn't too much work for any one person. We had 8 adults and 4 kids so there were plenty of grown-up hands to help little hands with their food.

Missing was Grandma (Mike's mom) and Eva. Grandma is in care and Eva is in heaven. I know Grandpa was missing Grandma tonight as his children gathered around to enjoy a family meal together.  Eva's absence is so palpable to me when there is a family get together.

Little J was hugging and kissing everyone. She is so generous with her affection that sometimes it's disconcerting. But she is sweet and funny and lovely and a show off.

My heart was jealous for Eva. No one was giving her kisses or hugs. No one was giving her any attention at all. No one even said her name. There were even delayed Christmas gifts for the kids and there was no recognition of Eva. No coat hook for her. Nothing. It's like she no longer exists in the minds of anyone else. She is just a photo on the wall. A shelf gathering dust. A piece of furniture.

But, damnit, I love her and I miss her and I hate that no one says her name unless I do. I hate sitting on the couch wishing my daughter was there to get a present. There to sit on Grandpa's knee. But most of all I just wish she was there at all.

Even if just the presence of her absence was there. But more and more it seems like her absence isn't even thought about. We have a little girl so it's okay. Little J fills the void that Eva left, it seems, for everyone else. And, though I'm happy Little J is probably becoming part of our family, my heart jealously holds onto Eva's spot. Her place. The void. The presence of her absence.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Doctor F.

Wow. Today was a completely emotional day. It started off okay and veered to bitterly sad only to end in a hopeful, joyful way.

My prenatal doctor's office happens to be on the 12th floor of the same building that Eva's local pediatrician, Dr. F, is in. I almost didn't go to this dr for pre-natal, knowing that I would have to take that same elevator everyday. But my dr's office is straight off the elevator. I don't look left at all. Just walk straight in. Every time I've taken that elevator for the last 7 months or so I've wondered if this would be the day...would this be the day I went into Dr F's office.

When Eva died she had an appointment booked with Dr F for a few days after her death. When the office called to confirm the appointment the next day I told them we woudln't be needing it because she had died. The caller said 'oh, I'm sorry' and hung up the phone. We never got another call, card or acknowledgement from that office. It is something that has bothered me for over a year and a half. This is a pediatrician's office. Eva was not 80 years old. She was not supposed to die. She wasn't even one year old.

So today as I was waiting for the elevator after my pre natal appointment I felt a strong urge to go to Dr F's office. I did and I talked to the receptionist. The same receptionist who hung up the phone so quickly 19 months ago. I told her it had taken me a year and a half to make it into the office. I told her about Eva and I told her a card would have gone a long way. And postage would only have cost them 52 cents. That I just needed to tell her. Get out how much it bothered me that there was zero acknowledgement from that office about Eva. And that when it happened to another patient, as it surely would, to remember that.

Of course I got emotional when I talked to her and started crying. But I kept my tone level and managed to say everything I needed to say. I left the office and started crying uncontrollably in the hallway. Nobody saw me and I managed to make my way down to the ground floor and out to the truck. Once in the truck I screamed and wailed and cried so many hot tears. I haven't been that emotional for several months. I didn't even know where all this was coming from. I certainly wasn't expecting it even though I knew it would be emotional to go in there. But the pain and rage and unfairness of her death just came crashing down on me again.

After about 20 minutes I was able to gather myself together and put some dark sunglasses on and continue my day. It got surprisingly better after that.

In the afternoon my friend, who was also my midwife for Theo and Eva's birth came over and we talked and cried together. It was really rather okay.

By the time tonight rolled around and I went to prayer meeting I had eaten chocolate and was feeling, amazingly, much better. I feel like this was another thing I needed to deal with. And prayer meeting was really good too. I dealt with emotions surrounding Little J and had a few practice contractions for the big day that is approaching. Those little contractions felt like validation, somehow. That going to Dr F's office was something I needed to do before this little one makes an appearance.

There's just so many unknowns in my life now. So much unchartered territory that I've never travelled before. And the missing is always there. Always hurting me and poking me and prodding me. And all the damn wishing that does no good.

I could go on and on but you've heard it all before and the heartache never stops.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The luckiest of the unlucky.

I know I am the luckiest of the unlucky.
I  have 3 sons breathing the same room air I am breathing.
I have been entrusted by God to raise Little J as well as I can.
I am hopefully expecting a rainbow baby any time now.
I am blesssed beyond measure at the children that share my life (and I greedily want more).
I have not thrown my relationship with Jesus out the window.
I have not let the voices of the few incredibly awful people in my life override the many wonderful ones.
I have held onto laughter in the midst of my pain.
I have a friend who mentions Eva`s name almost every time we are together. Who mentions her name first, without me having to bring it up.

I am the luckiest of the unlucky.
Eva died when I was young enough to bear more children (there is no replacing but there is healing, so I've heard).
As a couple, my husband and I have struggled through the darkest time any parent should have to endure without tearing each other apart through sorrow and anger.
We have been able to reverse a permanent decision that would have made Eva our youngest child.
We were so lucky to be able to conceive.
I have carried this baby to term and, so far, he (likely) is still alive.
I am truly the luckiest of the unlucky.

And still my heart aches and grieves. My heart does not feel lucky. I feel so incredibly unlucky. So broken and so despairing. Even in the midst of my luck.

I was at the library today and overheard some moms talking about how people they knew had had a baby girl after 3 or 4 boys. They were sure enjoying the colour pink in their home. It stabbed me in the heart as I turned away and carefully chose some books for my children. 

I remembered how incredibly lucky I felt when Eva was born. I was so lucky to finally have a girl. So lucky. The desire of my heart, a girl, after 3 boys. I remembered how exciting it was to dress her in pink. To have pink sheets and a pink change table cover. Pink, pink, pink. And then that pink was stolen from me and I feel so unlucky. So unlucky to be packing up her pink when others are rejoicing in the pink of their own little girls. So unlucky but still the luckiest of the unlucky. 

And I feel mean and trite to write this out when so many are suffering the loss of an only child. The loss of multiple babies in the womb. The loss of multiple children. The loss of a functioning womb. The loss of fertility. So many losses and I just sit here, the luckiest of the unlucky, and still so very, very unlucky.

Saturday, March 23, 2013


Dearest Daughter of my heart,

How I miss you and who you would be. Two and a half years old on the 15th of April. Two and a half! The little girly things you would be doing. The joy you would bring my heart to have a daughter.

And here I am writing a letter to my invisible daughter. My speechless daughter. My precious daughter.

I can't wait until I get to see you in heaven. When I can scoop you up and hold you close. Hear your laughter and smell your smell.

Will you be a baby or will you be a young lady?

All this I'd like to know. So much I'd like to see RIGHT NOW!

And the tears come washing down as we wait for the birth of the sibling that never would have been without you.

And I just miss you so much. I always will.

When I wake up and when I lie down.
When I cry and when I smile.
When I answer 'okay' to a 'how are you feeling?'
When I see the beauty of a sunrise.
When the sunflowers bloom, and when they dry out.
You are with me. Always silently travelling in my heart.

Oh sweet Eva. Why am I so bereft? Why did you have to go?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Just perfect.

On Monday I went to the hospital for a non-stress test. Just routine.

I got there and the nurse asked me about my pregnancies and why I was there for routine NST. I said I had had a previous baby with heart problems.

'oh so this is your second pregnancy'

'no, fifth'

'so four at home'

'no, three at home'

'so three term and one miscarriage'

'no, my daughter died when she was 10 months old'

'oh I'm sorry, so let's take your temperature'

She got me settled and strapped the monitors onto me. That was fine, although there was some sanitary drama that this hospital germophobe picked up on that no one else would likely have noticed.

After about 10 minutes on the monitor a loud alarm went off and another nurse came in. She quickly adjusted the machine and said the paper was stuck.

'the paper is stuck, people always freak out. They think their baby is dying or something'.

For the record I was actually not freaking out as the baby was kicking at the time of the alarm (or else I might have been). However her comment sent me for a loop at an already emotional time cause the last time I was in that room was with my sweet Eva still within.

So this nurse left and I started silently crying with the emotions of being there. It's not that I was particularly more sad than usual. It was just emotional. And, for me, the emotions come out of my eyes, more often than not.

And so the original nurse comes in and glances at the strip and cheerily says that everything is just perfect and baby is fine (which is great) but does not even look at me or she would have noticed that not everything is just perfect.

I have read several books lately about childbirth and midwifery. A recurring theme among them all is that with the advent of the strip medical professionals look only at the strip and don't even talk to the mom. I totally found that out first hand on Monday when everything was 'just perfect'.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The crib.

Eva`s crib was also Samuel`s crib. Was also Vincent`s crib. Was also Theodore`s crib. We have not taken that crib down since our eldest son was a baby in it. There has been a baby in it until the day Eva died.

When Eva lived she shared a room with Little J. The room adjacent to ours. We had two cribs in there end to end. When Eva died we left her crib in there for quite a few months. Eventually I moved it to our room where I put her special things in it and remembered our girl. Away from the judging eyes of random visitors. And when we reversed our permanent decision to not have any more children the crib became a symbol of hope for new life. After months and months of dissapointment I was just about to take it down (who am I would have taken me more months again) when we got two lines on a strip telling us that we had Hope. Hope. The crib stayed. We would use it again. We hope.

6 days ago we packed up Eva's stuff from the crib. Samuel, Vincent, Mike and I. At quiet time. While Theodore and Little J napped.

I had bought a huge rubbermaid bin over a month ago that has been waiting in our room since then. It's larger than the coffins we looked at, at the funeral home.

We packed up her blankets. We packed up some photos people had given us. We packed up her stuffies and teddies. We packed up the butterfly memory box with hospital bracelets etc in it. We packed up the book I read to her over and over again in PICU  'Won't you be my kissaroo'.  We packed up her hopeful yellow dress. We packed up the shirt I was wearing when I ran screaming down the stairs of RMH with her in my arms...the shirt I was wearing when I held her in my arms as she took her dying gasps. We packed up our hopes. We packed up our dreams. We packed up our desires. We packed up our memories. And underneath it all was the pink sheet she had slept on last. The pink sheet that still had her drool on it.

I can't begin to explain to you all that we packed up 6 days ago.  We packed up our baby's baby things and didn't get her 2 year old stuff out. We packed up her cuddle blanket that she should have been using to nap with at that very moment. It felt like we were burying her, again.

As I put the lid on her stuff Vincent asked if he could have one of her bears. I told him yes but it would be very special. I'd rather my kids have a bear of hers and love on it like she should have been doing than have it packed away. I also kept her bunny. The bunny whose soft head reminds me of the softest hair snuggled under my chin as Eva slept on my chest.

Every day I looked at that crib and knew that our little rainbow baby would never come until we packed up that crib. My body would not release him or her until I had done this. And now it's done. And I've washed some gender neutral baby things. I've packed a hospital bag and Eva's carseat is sitting in our room ready to go. There are some new things waiting for our rainbow in the crib but I haven't really gotten it ready. It's more like a storage bin now and that's okay. I know Mike will sidecar the crib after s/he's born and it will be okay. It doesn't need to happen right away. It doesn`t need to be perfect. It may not happen at all.  There are no guarantees in life.

But it does feel like a weight off my shoulders. Something BIG that really needed to be done before baby came. Something I would probably have done months ago if that crib had not symbolized our hope for new life as well as our love for Eva.

I really hope that crib soon holds the baby that`s kicking me now. I hope to exhaustedly nurse a newborn and watch our little one grow. Although, I know I will not really breathe at all until we cross the ten month threshold. But even then I know that anything could happen, at any time. And so I hope with unquenchable hope.

And I am looking forward to holding our little rainbow baby. One day soon. Less than a month. Almost here. We`re waiting for you. The crib is waiting for you too.

Sunday, March 17, 2013


I can tell that everyone in our family is getting antsy about this new baby coming. Me included.

Yesterday Samuel brought up again the fact that he tripped and fell while holding Eva as a baby. Did it cause her heart to slide out of order? he asked.

Vincent asked a friend who was babysitting him if their baby died could he have her mobile?

Theodore prays almost daily to God to bring Eva down from Heaven.

Vincent asked me to make sure that when he dies he would get a shelf next to Eva with all his favourite things on it. This is especially hard for me to hear as he has a bruise on his cheek that has been there for a couple of weeks and has circles under his eyes. I am so afraid of him getting cancer. For some reason it's always Vincent that I envision so sick. My trickster Vincent with his indomptable spirit.

A few times I've referred to this baby as Eva, in my thoughts. It's a mind-blower when that happens.

I really want a girl but I can see the benefits of a boy. No one will think this baby has replaced Eva and there will be no confusion for the kids that this baby is Eva come back from heaven. This baby is his/her own little person. No one should bear the burden of being or replacing their dead sibling. Although the part of me that is always wishful thinking would love it if that could be so.

Someone asked me today if I was anxious about the birth. I replied that I just want this baby to be born alive and stay that way. Well, you've had good births before haven't you? Yes but there are no guarantees. Oh, Em, you need to think positive.

Think positive?  I know people are well-meaning but positive thinking will get me nowhere fast. I was the most positive thinker on the planet when Eva died. And if there's one thing I've really learned in this journey since Eva's death is that there are no guarantees. None. And we must seize every moment of love that we can. Every moment of joy. Every moment of a living baby kicking within. Every moment of our children's lives. Every moment of togetherness.

Because it can end. Like that. From one moment to the next we can be gone or, worse, they can be gone. And no amount of positive thinking can change their gone-ness. Poof!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The happiest time of my life.

My computer was down for a few days so this post has been rolling around in my head for several days now.  And a doozy to boot.

We went to Edmonton last week. Edmonton is always an emotional mixed-bag for me. On the one hand Eva is so close to me there and on the other hand it is so painfully plain that she is NOT with me. The pain is more intense in Edmonton than it is at home, even. The places she was with me and the places she is so obviously not anymore.

Mike had meetings on Monday all day so I had the day to myself all day, alone. That is so rare it's worth a post all on its own. I started the day with breakfast, in silence, alone.

Next I planned to head down to South Edmonton Commons but on the way there I stopped in at Ronald McDonald House. I just couldn't resist going in and seeing the place that was home to me and my Eva. The place where the few people who still know me there see me as Eva's mom. A name that is quickly filing into obscurity. Does anyone still think of me as Eva's mom or am I now just Samuel, Vincent, Theodore and maybe little J's mom? Hope or Nathan's mom? But I am still Eva's mom too. Always Eva's mom. Always. But a name nobody calls me by.

So I rang the doorbell and the house manager opened the door. She was warm and welcoming. As is her personality. She is a strong woman with a soft heart. She does her job with compassion and strength. And it is a hard job. I sat at her desk for a while and we chatted. She asked me if I was all ready for this baby. No, not really. She laughed as if I had said something funny. And maybe I did. But then the tears came and I said that I was not ready because Eva's crib was still full of Eva's things. Then she asked if I was getting counselling. And that is when I laughed because, yes, I am getting counselling. But that's not what struck me. What struck me is that this woman who is so close to death so often. Who herself has a child who has survived cancer does not get it. Until your child dies you just cannot get it. You can be as close to it as you want. But you can retreat. There is no getting it. No getting that it's not abnormal that Eva's crib still has Eva's stuff in it (by the way I've since emptied it out but that is more for another post).  Although some of the uninitiated to this world might think it's a shrine, it's not. It's just so hard to box up her stuff when we're not getting out the 2 year old stuff. It's so hard to realize that the stuff and memories is all we'll ever have of our girl. And there will be no more memories. No more pictures. No more stuff. No more little girl laughter.

And then Elaine came downstairs. Unfortunately, Elaine knows where I'm coming from. Elaine and her husband Brian gave us love beyond measure when we stayed at RMH. And it continues today. Elaine sat down with me and had coffee. Elaine's daughter, Sherri, died of cancer when she was 7 years old, over 30 years ago. Elaine knows, first hand, the road I am walking and there is immeasurable, sad comfort in that fact. It's amazing how many people are in the dead kid boat when you climb in yourself. But it's so, so big and lonely sometimes too. The aloneness of the dead kid boat is isolating and overwhelming because, no matter how many people are in the boat with you. You travel alone.

And I left RMH again, alone. Without Eva.

I continued my voyage southwards to the Roots store, Oshkosh, Education Station and Ikea. Last time I was in the Roots store Vincent was pushing Eva around in her stroller. He rammed into an unhappy lady. This time I was inoffensive, alone. The same as last time I was in there I bought a pair of shades. But I left by myself, and felt like I was forgetting someone in there.

I went to the Oshkosh store and bought some jeans for Samuel. They're a really good price but my memory travelled backwards in time to shopping there with Mike's cousin. She bought Eva a little shirt and shorts outfit that day. Super cute pink and orange. Eva wore it alot and it is actually the outfit she died in and the one that I have zipped into a ziploc and smell my girl again sometimes. And I remember the pink sleeper with hearts all over it that I bought for Eva. It had snaps instead of zippers and was convenient to let all the tubes and wires out. I remember feeling discouraged then that I bought a sleeper with snaps when I prefer zippers, just so the wires could come out. How I wish now that I could buy sleeper after sleeper with snaps instead of zippers. I'll never look at sleepers with snaps in the same way again. As I left the store a little doll caught my eye. Brown hair with little hearts all over it. I really wanted to buy it. But it won't bring Eva back. And I have enough stuff. God, how I miss my girl.

Next stop. Education Station. There I bought a few things for homeschooling. A birthday present for the son of my awesome friend. And a baby room for the dollhouse Theodore and Little J share. A crib, stroller and change table. They were so excited to get a baby room for their dollhouse. But I wish the dollhouse belonged to Eva too. I wish she was in there like a dirty shirt, fighting over who got to be 'mommy' or 'baby' or whatever. I wish my life was so different, but it is what it is and it's wonderful and it sucks. Make sense to anyone else out there?

Last stop. Ikea. I didn't spend too much time there but I did have lunch upstairs and spent some moments going back in time again reliving moments spent there with Eva in July 2011. With her holter monitor on I had to be careful it didn't catch on anything or pull on her skin. That reading from July 2011 would send her back to the hospital for a week but she pulled through as she did over and over again that summer, but ultimately didn't. And my heart aches to go back in time to the happiness I knew.

Never realizing then that it was the happiest time of my life.  The happiest time of my life when I did not know severe grief. The happiest time of my life when I had all my children here on earth with me.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Unquenchable hope.

The 15th has rolled around again. I can pretty safely say that this is the last 15th where I will not have held our baby Hope/Nathan in my arms. Alive or dead s/he will have spent time in my arms.

Somewhere, somehow, along the line of the last nineteen 15ths that I have had to endure without my precious Eva, the pain of them has become duller.  Sometimes I hate how the pain has become duller. I hate how the survival mechanism of being alive has made it so that the pain has to become duller.

Do I miss her less? No.

Do I love her less? No.

There is a word in french that I've been thinking about alot-indomptable. It literally means untameable but can also mean unquenchable, ever-springing, unbeatable. I think of that word alot in regards to hope. It is our human way to have this ever-springing, unquenchable hope. Even in the midst of tragedy. It somehow keeps going. This unquenchable hope for better days. Hope for heaven. Hope for a living baby that keeps living. Unquenchable hope.

The hope that keeps us getting up in the morning.

Saturday, March 9, 2013


I took my earthly children to the agricultural show today. They had a great time climbing on the tractors, watching the dogs, going on a wagon ride and looking at the calves and bulls for sale. The highlight of the show for the kids was the small petting zoo with spring chicks they could hold and a lamb that they could go into the pen with. I had a hard time keeping track of everyone at the same time.

While we were there we met a couple whose son died a couple of months after Eva died. He was their only child at the time. I talked with them for a few minutes and, wanting to mention their son's name and acknowledge him, I mentioned that he would have loved the ag show. Yes, they said, he used to love coming here, and collecting pamphlets for grandpa. Mom looked so good but I know that looking good covers multitudes of pain. The  sadness in dad's eyes was palpable. My heart ached for them and the hard, hard road they have travelled and are still travelling.

It was a hard conversation and I realized just how hard it is for people to talk to me sometimes. How much guts it takes to face my sadness rather than just turn away and pretend not to have seen me. And I am forever grateful to the people who have faced my sadness. Who have walked with me through the darkness. Who have had the guts to bring up Eva's name, despite the pain. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Do you remember?

Do you remember?

Do you remember when you talk with me that a part of me is missing?

Do you remember when you see my children all together that there is one missing?

Do you remember that I am not whole or complete?

Do you remember that there is pain?

Do you see me smile at your child and do you remember mine?

Do you know how deep the pain is in me so that I can laugh with you?

Do you know how hard it is to talk around her?

Do you know how my mouth stretches to say her name but remains silent?

Do you see my heart tattered and torn and raggedly stitched together?

Do you see the healing that is there?

Do you know that even in my silence, she is always there?

Do you see the tears and wonder, or

Do you see the tears and know?

Do you see her shadow playing over there?

Do you remember?

Do you remember Eva?

Do you?