Tuesday, October 18, 2011

We Remember

This past Saturday, October 15th, was Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. A day to raise awareness, to support those who have lost and to honor the lives, however brief, that have touched our souls and left our hearts changed forever. Since becoming involved in the infertility community, I have become close to many families that have had their lives forever changed by these tragedies. I always try to offer support and love in any that I can, knowing that I can't make their world right again and bring their beloved baby back, but I can at the very least honor their child and offer a shoulder to lean on.

One such family suffered an unimaginable loss earlier this year very close to the time I registered for The OC Walk to Remember, a 5k walk to honor and support infant and pregnancy loss. And it was with their precious boy-girl twins in my heart that I registered this year in honor of them, so that their names could be honored.

Last year, having recently suffered a miscarriage myself and wanting to support our neighbors who had lost their 5 month old daughter, I found the walk while searching for events to honor these losses. We walked with our neighbors as well as so many other in the loss community, holding hands and crying along with them. As I walked that day I carried the thought of so many angels in my heart. My Sprout of course, but I also thought of Matthew James, Wyatt River, Logan Ryan and Brody McRae. I greatly appreciated the ceremony at the event in which all of the names of every baby that was being honored was read out loud. Each precious name was given the opportunity to be not only spoken but heard. These names are so powerful, so beautiful, so alive. It often seems that the world has an easy time forgetting that those lost early on in life where never really here, but to those who have had to say goodbye too soon , they will never forget. The names of their children need to be shared, to be acknowledged, to be kept alive.

Such Beautiful Names

While I was thrilled to be honoring precious Bayli & Thomas Jr by having their names read during the ceremony, I knew there were far too many other precious lives that needed to be remembered. Names that needed to be shared. So I came up with the idea for the remembrance shirt that includes the names, legal or not, of those we've lost but will always love. (you can read that blog post here). And Saturday, the whole family wore those names proudly as we walked those symbolic steps. It isn't easy to articulate all of the emotion of that day. I cried, I smiled and I cried some more. It was an an amazing event that I wish there wasn't a reason for, but since there is, I am glad the walk exists.

Dressed and ready to walk for the steps they'll never take

Flowers for Thomas and Bayli

Over 2,000 people registered to walk. It was so moving to see whole families honoring their children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and siblings. It was also inspiring to see so many families from last year that now had their rainbows in their arms. Us included.

Reaching out to touch Thomas & Bayli's names

Us and our neighbors with our rainbow babies

Rainbow buddies <3

Each name is precious and deserves to be honored.
(Let me know if you'd like your angels name added. I can still edit new versions for next year or if you'd like one for yourself.)

Honoring all those lost during the worldwide Wave of Light.

Some of my biggest tears of the day came right before the Remembrance Ceremony began. Just as Chad, Eliana and I had found our place among the crowd, I received a text from my dear friend Deanna, who had recently become unexpectedly pregnant for after a diagnoses of unexplained infertility and becoming a mother to a beautiful boy earlier this year through IVF. She had just had an ultrasound that morning where she tragically learned that her pregnancy had ended at 9 weeks. Although I sadly knew before the day began that my shirt would one day be outdated if another loss occurred amongst those in my life, I never imagined it would be so soon, on the day of remembrance itself. Heartbreaking is too light a word for it. I am still so devastated for her. Please stop by her blog and give her some love if you can. http://misdconception.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Very Merry Half Birthday!

Half a year old! My Snow Pea has been here half a year already! I can't believe how quickly 6 months has gone but at the same time, when I think about how long 6 months is I can't believe that's all it's been, because it honestly feels like she has always been here.

This past month has been an exciting one. Eliana went on her second plane trip and her first excursion out of the U.S. when we went for a long weekend to Washington State and Vancouver. It was also the first trip that was just the three of us and I gotta say, I could used to that! I don't know how we wound up with such an easy-going baby but she did great!She kept her sleeping and feeding routine while we were on the go and even slept in her car seat so we could go to dinner every night. And of course she was little miss social as usual on the plane, making friends with all of the older couples around us who continually warned that before we knew we'd be on a plane to visit her at college just like them. I promised them and myself that I will never take a single moment for granted because if these 6 months are any indication, I know it's going to fly by.

As easy-going as she was during our travels though, I know it's all going to change the next time around since Snow Pea is now officially eating solids! She had her first ever non-liquid meal about a week before she turned 6 months. I had debated on making my own rice cereals, but in the end opted for store bought brown rice cereal because it is not only convenient, but also iron fortified and I know she needs the extra boost at this age. I have heard that a lot of babies don't care for rice cereal, but not my little one! She scarfed it down while kicking and smiling with excitement.

For most of the month, she had been sitting with us in her highchair during dinner time playing with a cup, spoon and rattle I had given her, so when I introduced a spoon with food on it her first impulse was to grab for it. But once realized it had food on it, she promptly stopped reaching and has since been demanding food anytime she is in her chair by kicking and babbling excitedly. What can I say? My girl loves to eat! After rice cereal, I introduced her to bananas and avocado, both of which I made myself using a cheap food processor I got on clearance for $7. So far I love making her food and can't wait to introduce her to more new things, especially since she enjoys it so much!

With new food though comes new tummy behaviors. At her 6 month check-up she measured 26.5 inches and weighed in at 18 pounds 12 ounces! My doctor had a teeny hint of concern in her voice when comparing this weight to her 4 month weigh in, but since she has always been in the 90-95th percentile she wasn't too concerned. And when I told her that Ellie Belly hadn't emptied her belly in almost a week, she laughed and said she would probably be a bit lighter after she finally pooped! Then of course came the tough part- shots. These were harder on me than the last two times because she was so much more aware of what was happening and it killed me to see her hurting like that. After the first one she calmed down right away when I leaned in to comfort her but then came two more and then it took lots of cuddles to make her feel better. She kept turning to make pouty faces at the nurse, letting her know she wasn't happy with what she had just done to her. It would've made me giggle if I hadn't been so busy kissing her squishy cheeks.

So now that she has passed the 6 month mark, I feel like Eliana is officially over the baby hill. I worked with children for years, and I know from experience that all of the really big changes usually happen in the second half of the first year: teething, talking and mobility! Of course I want her to accomplish these things, but there is something to be said for being able to put her on her play mat to play with out worrying where she'll go if I need to run to the bathroom. As excited as I am for that first tooth, those first words and seeing my baby crawl and toddle, I know that's once it's here I will never get this precious time back, so I am keeping that promise I made on the plane and savoring every single toothless smile and movement- free moment.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Walking The Steps They'll Never Take

As you may know, October is Infant and Pregnancy Loss Awareness month. Having experienced pregnancy loss myself as well as having so many close friends who have also miscarried or lost their little ones, it has become very important to me to honor those precious lives. Last year, we began the tradition of participating in the OC Walk to Remember, a 5k walk to take the steps our babies never got to take. We walked for Sprout and for every other Angel baby. We really wanted to support other parents who had suffered a loss, including our neighbors, who you may remember lost their 5 month old daughter to a congenital heart defect last year. It is a special event to walk side by side with these families and honor their children.

This year, I am saddened over even more heartbreaking losses within our community. I have been in tears so many times this year, hurting for those who have had to say goodbye far too soon. Having Snow Pea home with me, happy and healthy, has made me more grateful and happy than I ever could have dreamed, but it also makes me more aware of just how incredibly painful the loss of her from my life would truly be. This year, as I registered again for the walk I remembered our Sprout & how much that loss hurt, but I registered to walk in honor of two very special little ones, Bayli and Thomas Jr. Their names, along with their sisters'- Ayla & Juliet, will be displayed and read aloud during the flower ceremony preceding the walk. If you aren't familiar with these names, or their mother, Lis, you can find her blog here

Since I first registered for the walk I have had so many other precious lives on their loving parents on my mind and in my heart. I registered in honor of 4 amazing babies gone too soon, so that their names would be spoken aloud and seen and remembered, but there are so many other precious names that deserve to be honored as well. I have said it a million times but I will always say it again, the "virtual" community I have become a part of is so incredible, loving and real. I have not met most of the parents whose children's names I will be wearing in the real world, I don't even know some of those parent's real names, but I still feel a strong connection to each of them and a deep hurt for each of their losses. I have shared so much with them, been there through the darkest moments of their lives as best as I could, just as they have done for me. So I have designed a shirt to wear during the walk that has not only their names displayed but the names of many other angels that our community will always miss and never forget.

If you would like to see the shirt or order one for yourself, you can find it at my newly update CafePress store "Angels Remembered". A portion of your order will be donated to support groups for grieving parents. It is the same design for both the men's and women's shirts and you can order it in any color or size you wish. I had to quickly create & order to be able to receive it on time for the walk which takes place on October 15th- Worldwide Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day, so if your angel's name is missing and you would like to add it, let me know and I will be able to create an edit just for you so that your shirt will have it.

I really wanted to find a way to make the shirts myself to see if I could get them any cheaper and raise money for the cause at the same time, but then I remembered I have pretty mediocre crafting skills and almost zero time (this blog is already days overdue!) Since most of the money for the shirts goes to the printers and not the charity, I have created an additional fund raising page for the OC Walk to Remember that will collect donations in honor of sweet Bayli and Thomas to support grieving families. If you would like to learn more or make a donation you can do so at my site Baby Steps For Bayli & Thomas.

On October 15, I will walk, alongside my husband, daughter and friends to lovingly honor, remember and cherish the memories of each of these precious lives. It is truly an honor for me to be able to celebrate them and although the event itself is only one day, the impact it's had on me will last a lifetime.