Saturday, August 31, 2013

Wild things

Today I am especially remembering Mira and her lovely mom and dad.

Mira, Eva, Emily and many others are eating cake in heaven today as they celebrate Mira's second birthday. Wish we could be there. Wish more that they were all eating cake down here instead.

Yesterday I had a crazy, crazy day.

I'm getting our stuff ready for school. Getting supplies. Photocopying. Preparing our classroom (aka kitchen table).  Organizing what the school year will look like. Wondering if things will improve this year. Happy with what I've got ready. Excited about what this year will look like. The classic back to school (and August is almost over) hopefulness that will greatly wear off two weeks in.

But I'm a wreck. The kids were WILD in Costco. I felt crazy. I know I looked crazy. And, as we were leaving the story, Vincent dropped my latte on the floor. Man, he could have dropped any of my groceries and I wouldn't have cared as much.

Theodore turned four on May 21st and he's, well, he's four. And he has a four year old attitude to boot. Little J is still 3 and a half but I can see the four year old in her coming out too. Samuel is seven but sometimes he's just a crazy man and there is some deep-seeded hurt going on in his heart. Vincent is almost six and he's growing up. Sometimes he impresses me with how mature he is. The next minute he's swinging from the rooftops. Nathan, well, Nathan is perfect but in Costco yesterday he wasn't happy either. Crying, fussing...and there was little I could do for him.

So there I was with five children and feeling glad that I wasn't obviously pregnant (for the record, I'm not actually pregnant at all, obviously or not) because that would have attracted even more attention. You know, the crazy pregnant woman who obviously doesn't know what birth control is and who already has more then she can handle. Well, I know what birth control is and we're not doing it. And most of the time I have a grip on my crew. But the thought that saddened me the most was that there should have been SIX wild things in Costco yesterday. Eva should be almost three years old with a cheeky attitude. Eva would not be a baby anymore. God, how I miss my lil almost three year old wild thing.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

On big families...

We have a big family. So big in fact that we bought a huge, ugly, white van, that I love for its spaciousness.

That being said however, it often feels like people who hear about Eva don't seem to understand what a great loss she is, even though we have 5 other children (counting Little J).  It seems like we have so many that she is just one more or less and it's not that big a deal really...

It seems like it's a bigger deal before people know about Little J. Cause without Little J, then Eva was/is our only daughter. Then the magnitude of our loss is comprehensible...but once Little J enters the picture then, well, Eva is just one of many.

But I tell you, that's BS. Eva may be one of many. But I am thankful for each and every one of my children individually and as individuals.

Not one of my children, but Samuel, is the spitting image of his dad.

Not one of my children, but Vincent, is so creative he scares me with what he will think of next.

Not one of my children, but Theodore, is so kind and  loves on dolls and stuffies so much, with his tender heart.

Not one of my children, but Little J, loves to hug and kiss so much.

Not one of my children, but Eva, had sparkling eyes and a glowing smile that everyone was attracted to.

Not one of my children, but Nathan, has the power to heal my heart in the way that only Nathan can.

Each of my children are individuals, and the loss of one is a significant and huge loss. Eva changed our hearts. We weren't going to have anymore children. We weren't ever going to meet Nathan. But Eva changed our hearts. And with changed hearts we approach the future. Mourning and missing our daughter but anticipating, with hope, that there will be more individual children to meet because our one special, precious daughter, who we miss more than words can say, lived and died.

Please don't lump her in with the many. She is unique and special. As are each one of my children and as are each and every child on this green earth. Breathing or not.

Monday, August 26, 2013

August 26th 2013

Two years ago today the body of my gorgeous baby girl became ashes.

Ashes. Ashes. We all fall down (and weep).

I hate thinking about what her body endured in life to stay and I hate thinking about what her body endured in death to become ashes.

The rational part of me knows she felt nothing as the skin melted from her body. As her hair was singed (probably the first part of her to be in flame). As her bones succumbed to the heat and crumbled. The mom part of me would nevernevernever let that happen to my child. How could I let that happen to my child? And I weep.

I hate today almost as much as I hate the 15th. I hate that this was the last time I held her beautiful body. Christians will tell me that her body is merely a shell (and I agree) but, you see, I loved her body. I loved her ears and her toes. Her hair and her eyes. Her belly and her soft shoulders. Her eyebrows and her mouth. I loved every.single.inch of her. And I miss her body. And my body remembers the weight of her in my arms. The feel of her against me. And I miss her. Miss the only daughter I ever nursed. The daughter who once shared a body with me only to leave me behind.

Eva my darling, my dear, my precious, my sweet. All the sweet things I want to whisper in your ear...all the moments of joy and sweetness I want to share with you. All the love I want to lavish on you. All the everything that I miss...where are you?

Two years of ashes. Two years of ashes.

Sunday, August 25, 2013


I'm tired. Tired of this blog. Tired of delving into the emotional turmoil that is my life to write about it on this blog. Tired of feeling. Just plain tired.

I wish I didn't have these feelings to write about. I wish I was just like most of the other mamas out there. But I'm not.

Today at church someone got my sons mixed up (easy to do and no harm done) but later said to me, laughing, 'you have too many children, I can't keep them straight'. I didn't know what to say. Cause I don't have too many children. No matter how many children I have I will never have too many nor will ever have enough. It's just one of those things.

We just bought a new van. It's HUGE. It's white. There's loads of space. I love it! But there's always not quite enough car seats in it. No matter how many fill it.

See, there I go again. Delving, digging. hurting. I'm so sad that this is my life. That there is always someone missing. That, no matter how joyful I feel, I can never share that joy with Eva. Never give her a taste of the sweetness. Never show her something new and see her delight.

Nathan is growing (as he should be) but he is reaching and grasping and wanting....and every day he is more and more like his sister. Every day he gets closer to what were the last days we had with Eva.

And I can barely bear it. The pain of remembering how little time we had with her.  I'm tired of the pain. Tired of missing her. Hasn't she been gone long enough now...haven't we endured enough time without her now...can I have her back yet?

Saturday, August 17, 2013

tiny And HUGE

The two year anniversary of Eva's death has now passed me by. I am in the two month season now where Eva never drew breath.

I could tell people were praying for us for the last couple of days cause it wasn't too terrible.  Also, I was taking my placenta capsules and eating chocolate to keep the depression and anger from devouring me.

I thought I was doing ok. However, I have noticed a pattern. As soon as I think, ok, I've got this handled then a curveball comes my way and I am buried again.

My kids were their usual annoying, loving, awesome, curious, mischievous selves and I found myself yelling at them for nothing. They just enraged me with their normal kidlike behaviour. At least I found it in me to apologize to them and ask their forgiveness. Cause even when I'm irrational I can tell I'm not being fair to these kids I love so much.

It's just that I love Eva too. And damnit, I want her here too. And I'm sure she'd make me mad too but I wouldn't be grieving like I am now. So I'd be more normal (ha, but still). I know I'd still yell at my kids but I wouldn't be so enraged about the death of my precious daughter.

I'm being brutally honest here folks and if you're standing in judgement of me yelling at my kids and thinking I should just be grateful for the kids I have, well, you're right. But, thing is, I AM grateful for ALL my kids. And let s/he who has never yelled at her/his kids cast the first stone.

Her death sucks and no matter how many blog posts I can write about the good things that have come from it the reality is that they are tiny compared to the magnitude of Eva's death. (Except Nathan, he's HUGE).

Thursday, August 15, 2013

August 15th 2013

As the second anniversary of the worst day of my life and the best day of Eva's life draws to a close, I am left with incomprehension.

Sure, I know that Eva is dead. I know that I am bereaved and bereft. But I still am incredulous that this really is my life now. Is my daughter really, absolutely dead? Is this not some continual nightmare that has gone on for far too long and surely I should wake up by now...

This morning was overcast and grey. It rained. I enjoyed the rain. The tears from heaven that joined mine.

Today I checked out of life. I blocked the calendar off and decided on nothing other than planting another tree. A tree is all I can do for the sweetest girl to almost crawl on this green earth. We chose a variety of ornamental apple that has delicate pink blossoms in the spring. Pink, of course, for Eva. The other tree we have for her is a flaming maple that is gorgeous in the fall, around her birthday. Next year it will be a weeping willow, maybe. Seems appropriate anyway. A tree for every year she has spent in heaven. A tree for every year our hearts have beat without her. A stupid tree.

My heart is so raw and close to the surface today. Like I have no ribcage. But today was bearable. It had to be. I had to bear it. There was no other way to get through today other than to bear it. And, truly, I would not want to skip it. I checked out of my regular life today but I checked into my pain. I checked into my grief. I checked into my love for Eva. I bore the giftings of the day. Painful as they are.

I was exhausted today. An exhaustion I remember from the early days of grieving. I was gifted with time for a nap in the afternoon.

I was gifted with flowers from a neighbour who remembered Eva. Truly, the only gifts you can give me now are your memories and your prayers.

I went for coffee with my mom today. A special moment to remember the daughter and the grand daughter we both love so much. I was surprised that the world continued on. But of course it did. It always does. Whether our hearts are broken or not.

I took no photos today. No photos of the tree or the planting of it. I don't know why. I was just too sad to take photos of a tree. I hate that I have a tree when what I should have is a daughter.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

What year is this?

Where has the time gone? How have two years passed me by? How is it possible that we have had the time to wail in the deepest agony, cremate our child, undergo surgery, struggle to conceive, conceive and bear a child...who is now already four months old?

Almost two years. Two years. Two Years. Two YEARS. TWO YEARS!

I'm sure I will relive those words over and over and over again every year, only changing the two to three then four then five. It makes me sick to think of all the years without Eva that lie ahead of me. It nauseates me.

I still have trouble comprehending that we are in the year 2013. I am often surprised to see the date with the year written somewhere or to hear it in conversation. I am surprised to hear that people have held down jobs for so they didn't have when Eva was alive. Sometimes I feel shell-shocked...a part of me continues to live in 2011. A part of me just cannot comprehend that it's possible that my life has continued and my daughter's has come to an abrupt halt.

We had Eva's (2nd annual) Ride on Saturday. I couldn't believe how those children have grown so much and Eva is still 'Baby Eva'. My heart breaks with missing her and yet I continue on. One day at a time. Without her. And Nathan was only a tiny ball of cells at Eva's Ride last year. This year he helped to cut the ribbon.

Sometimes, when I look at Nathan, I feel blessed beyond words but I still feel that my life sucks. It just sucks so much. And it's good.

Our family on earth getting ready for Eva's Ride 2013.

Nathan and I cutting the starting ribbon.

Monday, August 12, 2013

A brief summary to be expounded upon at a later date (maybe).

I have not blogged. Not because there is nothing to say but because there is so much to say I haven't been able to wrap my mind around a post. Here are a few tidbits of the last few days. I will go back and recapture them later. Right now as we are heading into the 2 year anniversary of missing Eva my heart and soul are just plain sad.

1) RMHNA Home Away From Home (for dinner) hosted at our church but put on entirely by two fabulous House folks, Kristi and Linda, who hold a special place in my heart for many reasons. The food for the dinner was donated by a local grocery store. I helped a little with prep but was mainly there from the church. Nathan was his usual good natured self as he rode around in his sling smiling at all.

The dinner time itself held many emotions for me. Joy at the interaction I was able to have with so many House families. Past and present. Surprise at how many double strollers were in our little country church. Jealousy that some people have their miracle children still walking with them. Jealousy that we are not a House family anymore. That we have no reason to book regularly in at the House anymore. Pain mixed with joy upon meeting another Eva (for the second time since she died and both times at our church). Sorrow for another family who will probably one day be walking a similar road to ours. Overwhelming love for my children and especially in the loveliness of Nathan. Guilt that I still have children. Guilt that I have a rainbow baby. Loneliness because Eva isn't there.

2) Eva's Ride. It was an enormous success. We raised money for RMH. We remembered Eva. But when the ribbons are put away, when the hype is over, when the ride is over and the bikes are put away...She is still dead. And that fact that never changes. That fact that I can do nothing about breaks my heart over and over again. How many times will my heart break and heal over and over again?

I still cry out to God 'why me?' when I know that there are others who suffer far worse.

3) An amazing visit with the P family who came from Minnesota with their children for Eva's Ride. Joel, Mike and I treeplanted together a lifetime ago. The visit was a time of sharing, laughter, remembering and a photograph of two families with a pile of children but still there are two missing. I could almost see Eva and Emily rejoicing in heaven as their moms finally meet face to face. They left this morning and with them the artificial buffer to my grief. Today has been very sad as we continue on our daily walk on the twisty road of grief and love and missing Eva.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Everybody suffers.

One of the giftings I received with Eva's death is the awareness of how many people have suffered, are suffering and will suffer. This is not something I wanted.

I am more acutely aware of others' pain now. I can spend time just BEing in their pain without making it my own (I have plenty of my own). I am not afraid of pain and ugly grief. And when I say to someone that nothing in this world is perfect until heaven or that we are all called to walk our own twisty road, everyone knows I don't say those words lightly.

I hear about other people's dying children and my prayers for them are not superficial and my tears for them are true. My prayers are never for healing anymore. They are for a peace beyond understanding for the mama and the papas and the children, whatever the outcome may be.

I know that this is a gifting. Not a gifting I would ever have chosen. And had I known what was coming I would have kicked that gift to the curb in the terrible wrapping it came in and never let it touch my life. But that's not how gifts work. We don't know what's in the package till we open it.

With Eva's death there has been a whole lot of terrible and I am still working on my anger towards some people. Sometimes I wish to shout their names from the rooftops and list their iniquities for you all to see. How many people would shout my name from rooftops if they could? How many people have I hurt? We will all account for our life one day.

I hope to hear 'well done, good and faithful daughter' when it is my turn. Will I? Will you?

With Eva's death there has been a whole lot of good too. I have met people I never would have met. I physically yearn for heaven. I have been allowed to enter into the suffering of so many. I have had people's hearts open to me in ways I never could have imagined. I have been given the gift of sharing in people's pain. The pain they NEVER would have told the old, obliviously happy me.

I sometimes long to be that person again, only if it could be with Eva. But I do not long to be that person without Eva. That silly person is gone from me.

I have seen so much growth in my life with the loss of my precious girl. Just to be clear here, nothing, NOTHING, could make her death worthwhile, but there have been giftings amidst the agony.

Now I know. Everybody Suffers. One way or another. Everybody suffers. But everything will be made perfect in heaven. I can hardly wait.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Eva's Ride in SIX days!

This Saturday coming up is Eva's Ride. You can view pictures here of last year's Ride.

If you are interested in pledging our children as they ride to remember Eva you can click here.

Life is interesting, crappy, horrible and good in August this year. Organizing Eva's Ride is a huge plus for me as it gives me a chance to say her name and have her life acknowledged.

I wish so much she had had the chance to grow up and be a young girl, teen, mother (but maybe not teen mother:), grandmother...all those things that are shaping my life. I wonder who she would have married...and who he will marry instead, if anyone? How many lives have been touched by hers, but how many haven't?

It's so complex it makes my head hurt on top of my aching heart.

And, bubbling just beneath it all is impotent rage in August. Impotent rage that can do nothing but gnash it's teeth and sob for all that was and is and could have been.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Ninety One

We went to Mike's grandmother's 91st birthday party today.

How some people get to be 91 and some don't get to be 1 is beyond me.

We walked in there and I hated coming to this family gathering without my little girl.

I hated that people talked and cooed and played with all the other kids and no one gave even a thought to Eva. Although maybe they gave her a thought. Who knows?

But I did manage to squeeze her into one conversation. I felt better then and able to function once her life had been acknowledged once.

Also, shit, I hate August so much.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Breastfeeding and World Breastfeeding Week.

For world breastfeeding week I have tallied up the total months (and counting) that I have breastfed.

11 months plus 11.5 months plus 12 months plus 10 months plus 3.5 months equals a total of 48 months. I have enjoyed feeding all my babes but never tallied it up before. That's 4 years of breastfeeding (and counting).

When Eva was in PICU I pumped and pumped and pumped. Took domperidone, blessed thistle and fenugreek to keep my milk up. She was fed nothing for days and then started on fortified breastmilk through a tube in her nose. Our milk took up an entire shelf of the breastmilk freezer in PICU.  When we left PICU there was a whole boxful moving with us. When we were discharged from the hospital and heading to RMH and then home we took loads of milk with us. There was so much it felt like an easy commodity to get. But I knew it wasn't. I spent time without Eva to get that milk out. I woke up in the night to pump. My breasts hurt from pumping and I am totally counting those weeks as breastfeeding weeks even though they were really breast pumping weeks. It was harder to pump than it ever had been to breastfeed.

It took several days to get Eva back on the breast after she was allowed to try again. I was so sad to hold her close and give her a bottle of pumped milk when I longed to breastfeed her again. She was going to be our last child and I was sad at the thought that she would never breastfeed again. But she did! Oh what a little trooper!

When my little girl died so suddenly and the bottom dropped out of our world she was due for a feed. It had been several hours since the very last time I had nursed her (on the side of the road as we drove to Edmonton around 3:30 pm August 15th 2011). My breasts were engorged and painful. I woke up in the morning with milk leaking from my breasts and no baby to drink it. I pumped. But I hated it. I hated seeing Eva's milk flowing from me as if she was still there. It felt like it should have instantly disappeared since the little drinker was gone from me.

I spent two weeks at home drying up my milk supply. I wore breast pads to my daughter's funeral. The milk leaking from my breasts and the painful engorgement was salt in the fresh gaping wound of Eva's death.

World breastfeeding week is here and I am so glad it's so much easier to be a breastfeeding mama these days but my heart goes out more and more these days to the mamas who wish beyond anything their babies were in their arms to breastfeed. Those mamas who are drying up milk meant for a much desired baby. Those mamas who are pumping and donating in their child's honour to a milk bank.

And what did we do with the supply of Eva's milk in our freezer? Well, first I wanted to donate and even tried but at the last minute I backed out. I just.could.not part with Eva's milk because, while it originated from me, it was most definitely hers. Ultimately we donated the milk to a friend of a friend with an infant who needed human milk but could not get any.

Secretly, however, I still have a couple of vials of Eva's milk in our freezer. It sits next to the bags of Nathan's milk. It's beyond expired but feels like a physical rememinder of my girl. So I glance at it now and then and remember the only daughter I ever had the privilege to breastfeed.

So my heart this week is with those mamas who wish they were breastfeeding, but who aren't. The women who are uncelebrated. The women who are quietly avoiding another week celebrating 'the mother'.