Lilypie - Memorial

Friday, 29 June 2012

A Funny Thing About Odds

I think I worry a lot. No, I know I worry a lot. Despite my worries, I never took one minute of my pregnancy for granted and I'm happy about that.

When I found out about my pregnancy. I worried about the beta numbers and the doubling times. The betabase was a great way to obsess. You know just in case it was a chemical pregnancy or even worse an ectopic. Chances are high into week 4 of your pregnancy. But the betas were rising nicely.

I had minor complications that required increase monitoring but nothing serious. Before the first ultrasound, I was researching blighted ovums and molar pregnancies. Hugely nervous. But there she was with a yolk sac and all. The 6 week ultrasound, baby was measuring on track with a heart rate of 100 bpm. Wow, amazing  that Clara measuring about 0.6 mm at the time could have a heartbeat. Then I worried her heartbeat wasn't strong enough. I mean the risk of miscarriage in the first trimester are still pretty high.

Our 7 week ultrasound, in all her 0.88 mm glory had a heart rate of 119 bpm. The risk of miscarriage drops as soon as a heartbeat is detected. Phew, we made it through another milestone.

12 week ultrasound and IPS screening. Heart rate of 156 bpm, measuring 12w2d. Clara past her IPS with flying colours, 1/6500 risk of downs. She's truly my daughter, we're both a bunch of over achievers:) Now, we are past the first trimester, the riskiest part of pregnancy. Phew, another sigh of relief.

19 week anatomy scan. Again everything was perfect! My daughter was measuring right on track. Oh by the way, we are having a GIRL. I knew it in my heart, I had several dreams leading up to that ultrasound that confirmed it. Now, we are past the 20 week mark, 99% chance of taking home our daughter. We start calling our daughter by her name.

24 weeks, viability! I'm getting more accustomed to the idea, I'm bringing home my baby girl. We start cleaning out the nursery. We buy an overly extravagant stroller (Uppababy Vista). I obsess over 10 paint swatches of yellow and which etsy decals I'm going to buy. I'm geared up to have this baby!

25 weeks. If Clara was born premature at this point she has a 50% survival rate. One more week, it would be 50-80%. But we never made it that far. All this time, I was worried about premature labour. Never in a million years did I think that my daughter would have issues with her umbilical cord. The risk of an umbilical cord accident causing stillbirth is 1/1000 but is usually a result of nuchal cord or a true knot. In Clara's case, it seems to be even more rare.

In more support group, it seems like everyone has a story about how rare their situation is, 1/1000 or 1/10,000. If it's so rare, how are we all in the same room. Suffice it to say, I no longer believe in the odds. 

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Moving On Doesn't Mean Forgetting

"Moving on doesn't mean forgetting". This is the most common phrase that has been said to me over the last few weeks. It's almost been 6 weeks since we've lost Clara and I still mostly live within the confines of my home and my mom's home with sporadic visits for counselling and doctor's appointments. Somehow taking myself out of the living world makes me feel better. I see myself doing things that I once enjoyed before being pregnant but it's the guilt of moving forward that prevents me from execution. Guilt of enjoying something outside of the joy that she brought into my life. Guilt that if she did mean the whole world to me, how would  there life outside of my grief for her. I don't think I'll ever truly "move on" and there won't be a day that goes by that I don't "forget her". How could one ever forget their child, I would assume that would be nearly impossible. As the other mother's with baby losses say the best one can do is to move forward.

I give myself pep talks. "Clara wouldn't want to see you suffering like this". "I have to live my life for her now". But the problem is that she isn't here. I know at some point I have to make a reappearance in the real world but for now I need to grieve in my own way. It's such a lonely process even with my love ones surrounding me. I'm not the mess that I was the initial few weeks since she died but talking about her does bring on the flood of tears. I miss my daughter.

This week I feel numb - sometimes it feels like it never happened and Clara will be with me soon. Sometimes I wonder if the pregnancy was a dream and that scares me. I want every part of the pregnancy to feel real and I want Clara to feel real. I hate that time is playing with my mind. I hate grief. I hate that I can't sleep. I hate that Clara isn't here with me. I could write a laundry list of things I hate but I'll stop at that.

Clara: Today is Daddy's Birthday. I wanted to wish him a "Happy" Birthday today but I can't even imagine saying the word "happy" without you. I wish you were here so we could celebrate. I'll just have to try harder tonight. I know he misses you too and we'll be thinking of you when we eat his birthday pie. That's right, your daddy likes birthday pies - not a big fan of cake.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Camping without Clara

Dear Clara,
Daddy took mommy camping this weekend. Originally, we were all suppose to go to Sandbanks this weekend, for daddy's birthday present. It was close to a hospital just in case we were worried about you. I wish we had the opportunity to take you. We saw a father and son camping trip and I just thought of all the fun things we would have done together.

This weekend was really tough without you, I didn't have the distractions that I have at home. Daddy wants us to enjoy life and the summer, he says it's what you would wanted. I just want to have you here with us. We would have shown you all the joy the outdoors give us but without you how can I enjoy it. My life seems forever changed and I'm not sure what joy I can get out of this cruel world. Cruel. The same world that lets life go on without you in it. You are my world and what gave me joy within it. Nothing will ever seem to be the same, the innocent naive joy. Now everything is tainted with you gone, my heart broken. How can I ever find joy from this world? There are no words to express how much I miss you.

Everyone wants Mommy to get better with good intentions, but does everyone understand what you meant to me and our future together. Did they understand the connection we had, we were a team. My being is now incomplete without you, part of me is gone and will never be recovered. You are irreplaceable. You are the love of my life and while you were here everything made sense and had a purpose. My purpose is gone, missing and it will take a long time to pick up the pieces. I now understand what people mean by say "it is with a heavy heart" when the announce a loss. But it feels like my heart and entire body is heavy with losing you.


Friday, 22 June 2012

5 weeks

It's been 5 weeks since I delivered Clara. I feel numb and lost. I'm scared because the memory of my daughter is fading further and further into the past. Why does life have to move on, I certainly don't want it to. I want to feel the raw emotions that I felt in the first few weeks - the deep mourning that connects me with all the love I have for her. The reality of waking up every morning without her is still excruciating.

It's time to tell her story, so my memory doesn't elude me as time marches forward.

On Tuesday May 15, at my regular OB appointment - all things went well. I heard the baby's heartbeat, he measured my fundal height and Clara was just stirring before the appointment. Wednesday at around 2 pm, I felt one kick during a meeting. I went for a swim and hadn't noticed her moving in the evening. Next morning nothing, drank apple juice and thought I felt some gurgles. So, Scott and I were attending our third prenatal class. In speaking with the instructor, I was concerned with the decrease in fetal movement. She saw the concern in my eye and instructed me to leave the class and go to the hospital.

At the hospital, the nurse couldn't find her heartbeat. So I was concerned but google helped calm some of those fears. When the OB did the sonogram, I could tell my the nurses eyes that she was gone. All I kept thinking was there was no possible way. We were 25 weeks, past all the danger zones of the first trimester, late term miscarriage. We had a 99% chance of bringing home our little girl. I screamed but I don't think reality quite sank in yet. What did I do to cause my little girl to die? We had the choice of inducing right away or going home and coming back the next day. I choose the prior.

I was induced at 1 am on May 18. Scott went home to grab some supplies and came back shortly. Scott tried to sleep that night in our room but I stayed up all night. Shock, that I would have to deliver my baby and she wasn't alive. At around 8 am, my sisters Sara, Jessica and Rebecca came to see me. The doctor on duty just kept on giving more misoprostal without even checking in on me. I decided on an epidural for pain management. Clara was born into this world at 10:34 am. We were introduced to my daughter at 11:30 when the OB finally worked his way to see what had caused her demise. It was something to do with a clot in her umblical cord. Later we found out it was from excessive twists in her umbilical cord ... the lifeline to my baby. A perfect little girl gone from this world, due to an "accident" - and will anger me for the rest of my life.

I held Clara with as much joy as I could muster - a product of Scott and I. We explored our baby girl, a round face, a nose that was a cross between Scott and I. She had a mole above her right breast. Long legs, long arms, long fingers and toes. Her thumb was an exact replica of Scott's. She was absolutely perfect.

My mom, dad and Emily came to the hospital too. We all held my baby girl. Julie and Tim skyped in too to meet my precious little girl. I held my girl for as long as I could - Scott tried to feed me lunch as I didn't have to let her go. We called for the clergy to baptise Clara and we did so around 3 pm.

My sister Lisa arrived from London, On around 5:30 pm and also got to meet Clara, help make the foot moulds and help me dress her.

We took pictures of Clara.

At 6 pm, my family said goodbye to Clara and Scott and I stayed behind to create memories of our family of 3. We lied in the hospital bed with Clara between us. I on the left and Scott and the right. We told her stories about our vacations, how we met, when we got married. Scott taught her 75 digits of pi - that's what he wanted her to learn one day. At around 9:30 we decided it was time to say goodbye. I kissed my little girl and sang her "hush little baby".

Scott and I left the hospital without our little Clara. The most unreal feeling of leaving your baby behind when all you wanted was to start a new life with that little one. All we have left of our girl was a memory box.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Tiny Feet

Dear Clara,
It impresses me how your tiny feet are responsible for some of my fondest memories of you. How I miss your precious little feet kicking in my belly letting me know that you are happy and healthy. I relished in each kick.

At 16 weeks, sitting at my desk at work is when I first felt you kick mommy. It was a low kick meaning that you were facing forward in the breach position. Tap, Tap, Tap. I sat there wondering if I was imagining things but looking but looking back, it was truly a kick. As you grew stronger, the kicks were able to be felt by the outside world. At 18 weeks, during our drive to New York, daddy felt your light little taps.

I could always tell what position you were in by the way you kicked. Sometimes, there were people (mostly your aunties) that wanted to relish in your kicks. Sometimes, they got to feel those tiny little feet but sometimes you were facing away and only mommy could feel you. I felt special, that only mommy could relish in those sweet little feet. One time, after dinner at your grandmothers, I sat by kitchen counter and was so happy that I could feel your little feet for two hours. You were full of energy.

I wanted desperately for your dad to feel you too. Every time there was the slightest movement, not matter how small, I would grab your daddies hand. One evening while lying in bed, you went on for about 30 minutes just for your dad and I. We were so happy. Full of expectation to see those tiny feet flop around our home. I wish with all my heart that things could have been different.

Your sweet little feet.


Monday, 18 June 2012

One Month Since Birth.

Dear Clara,
I can't believe it's been one month since you were born! You were the most beautiful baby girl I've seen in my whole life. I was so proud of how brave you must of been to fight to stay with your mommy and daddy. You are a fighter, just like your mom.

There isn't a moment that goes by where I don't miss you. I will always carry you in my heart and remember all the love you gave me. I will always cherish our precious memories together. You are the very best thing that ever happened to me.

Love you forever and always,
Your Mommy

Sunday, 17 June 2012

One Month

Today marks the one month point in which they could not find my daughter's heartbeat. Tomorrow, will be the one month mark since I gave birth do my baby girl, Clara. Happy One Month sweet pea, mommy loves you more than you'll ever know.

I'm afraid that each day that passes, my freshest memories of her gets further and further away from me and that frightens me to no end. I want to relish in the fresh memories of my short but very sweet time with her. They say grief isn't a linear process and I'm learning the hard way that this is true. I wish it were linear, that I had a road map that told me what to do, work the steps. I've been reading many many baby loss blogs, searching for answers and I've come up empty handed. It seems everyone deals with their grief in a different manner and bounces around the different stages of grief. The only commonality is that it takes a lot of time and even still the loss is still profound many years later. I've spoken to a woman who lost her son 22 years ago and I still see the sadness in her eyes wondering what career he might have chosen. A life time of memories lost and we are left wondering what might have been. Even now, I wonder what you would have looked like all grown up. At the rare moment, I'm out of the house I stare in envy of mothers and daughters - I wish a million times over that I could have had that with Clara. They are truly blessed.

Perhaps, I'm searching for hope. Hope that life can get better, that my life with Clara was "as good as it gets". I will always miss my daughter but I just can't imagine living my life with all this love to give and no one to give it too. I want to know if there is light at the end of this tunnel but alas, no one can predict what the future holds.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

The Physical Goodbye

Clara was buried in the Garden of Angels with all of the other infants lost. This is the same cemetery that my grandmother was buried and that brings me great comfort, if that is possible. I can't believe it's been 1 month since I lost my world, my purpose.

That morning, Scott and I went early to the funeral home to say goodbye to Clara's physical being. We opened up her little casket where we placed a few items with her. This includes a necklace from her Auntie Sara and Uncle Diyan, photos of her family, my baby necklace, Scott's stuffed lamb and the book brown bear. The rest of the items where placed on top of her casket, an elephant form Auntie Jessica, Sophie the giraffe from Auntie Lisa and a penguin from Auntie Rebecca (stitched I <3 CDJ). Brown bear is a book that I taught Rebecca to read when she was young and it's the same book I wanted to teach my daughter to read.

So Scott and I read Clara the book together, I sang her a lullaby and we kissed her and let her know how much we loved her. That was the physical goodbye.

Each night my husband and I talk about our favourite memories of our girl and we tell her a bed time story. Her spirit still lives with us and we will never have to say goodbye to that!

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Time Standing Still

Time is standing still. The world keeps on moving. Each day I grieve heavily for my baby girl that I've lost. In a way, it's the grief that connects me to daughter. That she was real and she meant the world to me. Happiness is fleeting. This unchosen journey of losing Clara, where one minute I was the happiest I've ever been to what I am today - lost. The loneliness I feel without her is becoming unbearable. How do I muster up the strength to find a new way to feel connected to her? I'm lost in the world of baby lost mothers. It feels less lonely but it's also scary as it feels like it's normal to lose a child. I'm afraid. I'm scared. I feel like I'm drowning.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Daddy's Letter

I just wanted to share the letter my husband wrote to our daughter. My favourite line is "I love you more than I ever felt possible". A child changes you and the loss of that child makes the world a different place. I feel so alone without her. During my pregnancy, I lived each day for Clara and each day passes without her, I'm struggling to find a new purpose without much luck. How do I live without my little girl? The little girl my husband and love "more than we ever felt possible".

Dear Clara,
I want you to know just how happy you made your mom and I. For the last six months, we have talked about you everyday, about our hopes and dreams for you and our future. We talked about our plans to take you to amazing places, to teach you and let you choose an instrument to play, take you camping and buy you a bicycle. Every single day your mom and I smiled and laughed, kissed you and felt you kick. Your happiness spread to your aunties, grandparents and friends. We were happy to bring you to New York too. We already miss you so much. It doesn't seem for to your mom and I, but we want you to know we love you and love each other. I don't know how else to say it but I love you more then I ever felt possible. I want you to know about our family. how your dad is a Caucasian from Alberta who lived in Westlock and Edmonton, likes to bike and loves life. Your mom is Chinese born in Canada, her heart is amazing, she would do anything for anyone. Our whole extended family is amazing and you are part of that family. There are so many things to share with you, I don't know where to begin. Just know that when the sun is setting, wherever we are, we will love you and think of you, miss you and celebrate you.
Love Daddy

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Clara's Great Nama Dawn Johnston

Clara's great nama past away this past Monday, June 4th - Dawn Johnston. Her obituary can be found in the below link.

Clara's middle name was given to her by her daddy after his nama. We both wanted Clara to have a strong meaningful name - people to look up to as she grew up. Scott's nama was one of those people who was strong, determined and not to mention smart. She defied convention for her time, travelling away from home to earn a nursing degree. She also believed in discovering the world and travelling - which both Scott and I loved to do. She was well read and above all she was someone that my husband looked up to himself. That was enough for me. There are only a select few people in this world that I find inspirational and Clara Dawn has two of those people in her name.

Clara: If I only got to see you grow up, I know that you would have exceeded my expectations for you. You would have aspired to be like Clara Hughes and your great nama. I know you would have been a sweet soul yet determined. We would have like to show you the world and now I would have given it all up to see your face again. Your great nama now joins you and I hope you will find your inspiration within her. 

Friday, 8 June 2012

Private Mommy and Daughter Time

Clara: I just couldn't get to sleep tonight, I'm laying here thinking about you and our special times together. I want to document my special mommy and daughter times together so I will never let those memories fade.
1. Elevator Rides - Mommy used to take the elevator at work to the fifth floor. Most often, we'd be alone. This was my special ride with you baby girl. I remember rubbing my belly and telling you "I'm so lucky that I get to be your Mommy". I still think that is true.
2. After swims - After a good workout in the pool, I'd hit the showers. I did this on average about twice a week while you were in mommy's belly. I would imagine you would be an excellent swimmer and dream about the infant swimming lessons we would take together. However, the majority of the time I would just say "I hope you had fun swimming with mommy". I just wanted to have the healthiest pregnancy possible to give you a head start in life.
3. Stolen moments - At any point that I found the two of us alone together, I would rub my belly from side to side telling you "mommy loves you, mommy loves you, mommy loves you".
4. Car rides - for some reason, you were quite the active baby on the drive to work, perhaps breakfast woke you up. I spoke with you a lot in the car. Daddy remembers looking in the rear view mirror and seeing me talk to you. I don't quite remember what I would say to you but near the the end I started sing to you "hush little baby". You now are mommy's sweetest angel in town.
5. Making dinner for daddy - I must admit as soon as I knew you could recognize sounds, I inflicted you with the voices of Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli. This would be played while making dinner for your daddy and waiting for him to get home. I just wanted to make sue you were cultured:)

The Happiest Days of My Life

That's what my daughter Clara gave to me in her short life, the happiest days of my life. I think back on the experience of being pregnant with her and those have been the best memories that I've ever had. Watching my belly grow and knowing that she was growing too. I think feeling her move and knowing she was full of life is the most fulfilling feeling one can have. I started feeling her move quite early, 16 weeks. But even before that she was active on all our ultrasounds. She was restless and stubborn just like her daddy. Each ultrasound took a long time because she just couldn't stay still! It has me wondering what traits did she get fom me? Either way this precious life was made from the best parts of her mommy and daddy. She was something really special.

I remember Clara and I preparing for her Auntie Julie's weddings shower, we made quite a bit of food for it. We worked really hard to prepare. I look back on photos of the event and I can see that I was glowing and that I was full of life, hope and happiness. Every activity we did together felt amazing and was full of excitment, knowing we would be living in the outside world together soon. Now, i feel those feelings I had will be lost forever. I mourn for the life we could have had. The vacation to Yellowstone that I wanted to take her on or encouraging her to sign up for the kids of steel.

 I went to my first perinatal loss support group meeting yesterday. I talked to Clara in the car as I had done when I was pregnant. It felt nice, I felt connected. I know she is giving me the courage to go and get help and that I need and to to think about the positive things she brought into my life. It's going to be a long and difficult journey through my grief. I just hope she continues to provide me the courage to keep moving forward.

 Clara: there's not a moment in my life where I don't miss you. You will always be alive in my heart!

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Where does love begin or end?

They say "love has no beginning or end". This is what I have been contemplating today. When did my love for Clara begin? I knew I always wanted to have children but did I love her before she was born? Or did I love the idea of raising children? Either way, I knew I had a tremendous amount of love to give. I knew I would sacrifice my life for my children and would do my very best at raising them. That seems almost like a fantasy now that Clara is gone. But the one thing I know for certain is love has no end. My love for my daughter lives within me and is something that will never cease.

Monday, 4 June 2012

My Life Without Clara

Where do I go from here? I'm sure that there are many grieving mothers that ask this question. I've been doing a lot of reading about other mother's losses and I wish with all my heart that it would somehow shed some light on my on path to grieving. But it hasn't. Like all mothers, we hold are children dear to our hearts and I can't even imagine trying to move on without my precious child in my life. It defies the law of nature, a parent grieving for a child. For now, I feel stuck. I feel guilty, angry and so much sadness.
How do I begin to celebrate the life of my baby without her in it? I would want her to be proud of who her Mommy is and already I feel like I'm letting her down.
Clara: I want you to give Mommy the strength to make you proud. Always remember how much mommy loves you!

Friday, 1 June 2012

Missing My Baby Girl

I miss by baby girl Clara with every fibre of my being. I think of her every second of every day and wondering how I'm going to get through the darkest days of my life. Rationally, I know I want to memorialize her in all my future actions but I can't bring myself out of all this grief. I know I'm lucky to have had her in my life even for a sort while but I keep on thinking about all the hopes and dreams I had for raising her. I know I have a wonderful and supportive family and I am thankful. In the end, I know they don't want to speak of her for fear of making me sad. But the only thing that comforts me is talking about her so that her memory is never forgotten. I yearn to hold my little girl in my arms, rock her and sing to her. How do I resolve that will never happen? Unfortunately, there are other women who have suffered a similar loss that are willing to support me through this difficult time. It doesn't seem right for any person to loose their child.  

Clara: Mommy loves you and misses you so much. My heart aches for you. Please help mommy through all of this. At the moment, life is too hard to bear without you.