Courage. Trust. Love

August 5th 2014

When I strip it all away, what’s left? If I heal the parts of her story that are hurt and anger and unfairness and injustice and resentment, what will be left? Will her story mean less? If I forgive the people who hurt me when I was so vulnerable and so broken, then am I betraying her? Am I saying it was ok for those things to happen because she wasn’t worth defending? How do I decide that I want the bad parts to go away, when it will make her story so much less detailed. If I strip it all away… What’s left? How do I find the courage to figure this out, without betraying myself. Can I grieve without all my resentment? Can I give up my anger and find grace?

I have been struggling with this for a long time. I’ve said before that I don’t want to heal, because I fear it will make her disappear, or somehow mean less.

But I think I figured it out. I think I know what’s left. It sounds cliche and cheesy. But it is true. It’s Love. It all hurt so much because I love her. It made me angry because I love her fiercely. It felt unfair because no one could possibly love her the way I do, and because I couldn’t make them understand how much I love her. How much I will love her every single day of my life, for the rest of my life, because she will never ever stop being my daughter. I carried her, I held her, I buried her, and it completely broke me. But I have carried on anyway. And I got even more hurt along the way. By people who shouldn’t have damaged me. By people who should have been more careful.

I never considered myself a courageous person until recently. I found a way to look at myself more carefully. I realised just how hard it was to do all the things I did. And I didn’t realise that until 2 years after she was already gone. It is not simple to find clothes that you know your micro preemie sized baby will wear in their coffin. It’s not easy to tell your friends and family that your baby is seriously ill you are choosing to end a life that is so very precious and so very wanted. It’s not easy going to a hospital to have a baby that you will never bring home. It takes bravery to give birth to your child who won’t take a breath. It takes courage to carry your dead baby to the morgue and leave them there. And I did all those things, and more. I did them because I love her. I didn’t think anything of doing them. I let people think they were easy because I never imagined not doing them. And then I resented people for not acknowledging how strong I was. How strong I am. I wanted them to allow me to be broken, but respect my courage. I had complex needs, and they were disappointed, time and time again. But, now, I need to be brave again. Now I need to find trust in their intentions. I need to believe that they did what they did, and said what they said, from a place of love. And from their own grief. Grief that is not like mine, for their grief can be shelved, brought out on anniversaries and birthdays and acceptable days, not ever present like mine. But it is grief none the less. And I need to give myself the gift of hearing what I wanted them to say, by telling it to myself.

I am courageous. I am strong. I did not deserve what happened to me. It was not fair. I have been gracious and true to myself, even when it was unimaginably hard. I love my daughter. I deserve to grieve however I need. I can take all the time I need to heal. I am allowed to be angry. I am still a good person. I am doing my best. I am good enough. I love my daughter. I miss my daughter. I am allowed to.
I. Am. Brave.

I’ve been asked before, in a different situation, in another facet of my grief, why I did what I did for her. And the answer was the same. Love. It’s all for the love of her. I give to charity in her name because I love her. I honour her, publically, because I love her. I grieve her fiercely and intensely because I love her. I get hurt easily about my grief because it’s so personal and so raw and so individual because I. Love. Her.

I don’t want to give up the sadness. I can’t foresee a day where it won’t be true to say “I am sad my daughter died”. I want to be allowed my sadness. I don’t live in that darkness, it’s not a constant, but I want to be able to visit my sadness when I need it. I don’t want to need an occasion for my grief to be respected. And I am still angry that it happened to me. But I am letting go of the anger at the people around me. I am not forgetting them, for I can’t change them and they have so strongly shaped how I have been affected by her death. But I am moving past them. I am looking at those people beyond those acts, finding a way to see them without those parts. I don’t need to be angry at people to still love HER. I don’t need her story to be perfect to still love her. I would love her however her story went. And even if my support had been perfect and no one had hurt me, I wouldn’t miss her any less. If everyone had said exactly the right thing, and done exactly the right thing, she will be still be the exact same dead and I would be broken the exact same. So I am choosing to make those parts matter less. To remember more that I love her regardless of any of it. Grief is so fluid, but that is the constant. She is constant. Just her. Just love.

So when I strip it all back that’s what’s left. Nothing can take that part away. Nothing can make that part less. Nothing will ever change that part of the story. Without the anger, and betrayal and resentment it’s still there. The part that matters most. I love her. I will always love her. That is enough.


4 and A Quarter

My precious Sunshine Princess, 3 months you’ve been 4 now, the Theatrical Threes a distant memory.

At 4 you seem so big. So grown. In so many ways it feels like your childhood is slipping away from me, as your need for my help, and input gradually lessens. I spend less time with you than I ever have, you are at preschool 3 days a week, and between your extra curricular activities, and my busyness with The Rainbow’s toddling adventures, I sometimes find I miss you. We find moments to connect every day, especially at bedtime, but sometimes they aren’t as many as I would like. In some ways it feels like I parent you in a more indirect way now; the scaffolding and modelling I used with you as a toddler to teach you so much of the “how” and the right way to manage things have paid off because you are well rounded and self sufficient, but you no longer need me as a constant guide, and it’s strange finding my place in parenting you as your childhood complexities change.

The years of complete physical dependency are all but gone. You still need me for the big things, obviously things like cooking, cleaning, driving, but there are so many little things you do for yourself now, made all the more noticeable by how much I do for The Rainbow, that it reminds me it wasn’t that long ago you needed me constantly like that too. You can dress yourself, get yourself snacks and drinks, spread the butter on your toast, pour the milk on your cereal. You can wash and dry yourself. You pick your own clothes and get yourself ready to leave the house. You can occupy yourself for the whole day, busy in your own world, where your imagination makes you queen, where a cardboard box is a car, an aeroplane, a bath, a castle and a birthday cake all within the space of an hour. It’s like all of a sudden the helpless infant, the dependent toddler, and the needy preschooler have disappeared and left in their wake a self reliant, confident, independent, happy little girl. My guidance is more subtle now, and my unintentional messages more noticeable. You need for me is on a more emotional level now, helping you manage your sadness, or anger, comforting you when the world gets too big. You are still growing and learning socially, starting to have to negotiate more complex friendship circles, and learning that some people aren’t as kind as you would like, and that people think and want different things than you. You don’t understand when I can’t see your perspective, or can’t guess your thoughts, and it frustrates you. As it does me. But I don’t want this world to be harsh for you just yet. I love how you simply assume goodness and optimism. I love that your worldview isn’t tainted.

I’m constantly amazed at how much of your own person you are now. Your words and thoughts and actions are all your own now, influenced by what you see and hear, yes, but so much just yours. The way you think about the world, and the questions you ask, remind me that your thought process is just so different to mine. The innocence and curiosity of childhood gives you such a pure perspective of things, and you are driven to understand and know about everything. You’re learning about the solar system, and dinosaurs and how your body works, and you ask the most remarkable questions, often I really have to think about how to answer you.

Then there is the playful side, the child who explores and plays and create and imagines. You are always laughing, singing or talking to yourself. You think potty humour is hilarious, anything about farts or poos is sure to have you in stitches. You love to play mums and dads, switching roles with me to act as the mummy while I am the little girl. You turn our living room into a volcanic eruption, leaping from cushion to toy to chair to avoid the lava. Dragons and pirates and monsters, mermaids and unicorns and witches and fairies are all very very real, sometimes too real, and they live in your world, the world of joy and creation, a world I remember and miss from my own childhood. I hope you hold onto that magical realm as long as you can.

My heart swells with how proud I am of the person you are. You have so much vibrancy about you. You are imaginative, and smart, and creative and cheeky. You are sweet and empathetic. You are brave and bold. You are an amazing big sister, you adore The Rainbow Princess and love to make her smile and laugh. You are well spoken and outspoken, you are fierce and stubborn and headstrong. You are not easily coerced or bargained with. You want what you want, and I’m (hopefully) helping you learn that right way to go about getting it.

There is so much magic in watching you simply be. You are engaged and bright, sensitive and kind, energetic and playful. You are everything I could have ever wished for, and so much more. I love you sweetheart. To the end of the stars and the bottoms of the ocean.

13 Months

It seems like only yesterday that I sat down to write your 12 month post, but here we are at 13 months already my lovely little Rainbow Princess.

We celebrated your birthday 2 weeks after it, when daddy was home from work. We had a fabulous afternoon party at a local hall, rainbow themed of course! You’re excellent godmother made you a beautiful rainbow layered cake, and for someone who just earlier texted me that she set baking paper on fire in the oven, this was quite an achievement. I pretended to help just so I can tell you I made your first cake, but really all I did was mix the colours into the batter. Your great grandparents made a long trip to attend, and you paternal grandfather came from interstate to meet you for the first time. it was a really special afternoon, only dampened by the fact that you, and quite a few of our expected guests were unwell. You were actually very sick, the sickest you’ve been in your short life, with a lung infection and ear infection, but you coped really well and looked delightful in your rainbow tutu. I have made some really amazing new friends because of you my precious girl, so thank you; thank you for all the love and light you have brought us, that was all particularly obvious that afternoon.

I love documenting you each month, and wish I started it sooner, because it makes me really pay attention to the new things you are doing, and this month there was quite a few. Although you don’t have a lot of words yet, you are really quite communicative and it’s very apparent that you understand a lot of what I am saying to you, and you respond appropriately. You are very interested in interacting with us this month, you’ve started giving high fives, and blowing kisses, nodding yes, shaking your head no. You bring me books you want to read and tap my legs, and clamber happily onto my lap when I oblige and sit down to read with you. When you want a toy or a drink that is out of reach you will find me, take my hand and lead me to it and then point and nod. You often bring me a container from the pantry, indicating what you’d like me to give you to eat (see, you don’t need a snack schedule, you remind me to feed you all the time!) You are so used to your daily routines that you can infer what you need to do from what I say to you, like running to your highchair and trying to climb in when I say its meal time, or heading to the bathroom after dinner for you bath (or running away and hiding when I say it’s time to change your nappy or get dressed). The comment “you’re so clever!” usually elicits a proud clap for yourself, as if to say, “why yes I am!”

You love to put on necklaces, and get really upset if we try to take them off you, but you are always very sharing and will find a spare to put on me. Almost always at home you have a long chain of dress up pearls on. At first I though The Sunshine Princess must have been putting them on you, until she corrected me and I saw you doing it yourself. You love to brush your hair too.

You are starting to sort your shape blocks into the container now, its still in the rudimental phases, but you are on your way. you also love taking lids off and trying to put them back on containers. The climbing has gotten worse, if you can climb it you will. At least now you’ve learnt to get back down by yourself. And you’ve not had too many big falls yet. now I just need you to realize that the slides at the park are for down, not up. Although you did give it a good try.

You love to hold my hand and lead me places, or bring me objects you have found for me to examine. The world must be so fascinating when everything is new. Its my honour that I’m the one you want to walk beside you, and I will enjoy it as long as it lasts, and try to not let my enthusiasm for your treasures fade, even if the thirtieth stick you show me looks exactly like the first.

You’re still a good eater, you went through a phase this month where you thought that anything with Caesar dressing on it was just the absolute best. Other favourites are Chia mountain bread, frozen berries and yoghurt.

Sleepwise most of this month was pretty uneventful. You slept poorly when you were sick, as to be expected, but more nights were better than they have been before, down to 1-2 wakes a night, with just one breastfeed. last month you were still having 2-3 over night, so this is a huge change for you. You are down to one day sleep now, usually a long one in the middle of the day, but some days you are happy with a short sleep. I’ll give it to you kid, you don’t love sleep as much as I wish you did, but you sure cope well without it. It’s another way you are very different to your big sister, at the same age she would have been a mess on the amount of sleep you have some days, but you have far less trouble with it then she did. Maybe it comes from being the little sister, always having to fit in with everything else going on, but you are definitely going to be one who drops the day sleep altogether early . Because I no longer need to spend the first few hours of the night resettling you every half an hour, I have *finally* enrolled in a certificate IV course I became interested in when you were born. It’s exciting but it also reminds me that I no longer have a new baby who needs nearly all of my focus, and that’s a little sad.

You went into toddler size nappies in the day this month (you’ve been wearing them overnight for awhile) and you’re in virtually all size 0 clothing now. There’s still a few 00’s that fit you, but it’s getting to that time again where I need to go through your wardrobe and pack things away.

You said your biggest sister’s nickname (her real name is much harder for you to say, she herself didn’t pronounce it properly until she was over 2) for the first time this month, she was ecstatic. You and her fight sometimes, usually there is snatching and yelling involved, but for the most part you have a really beautiful bond and it melts my heart to watch you together.

You all time favorite things this month are:

  • making indian noises with your hand over your mouth in the car- it makes car rides that much more enjoyable to listen to your noises followed by your proud giggle
  • your yellow ducky book- you’ve learnt to sign duck, which is adorable. Reading the 4 page book 1000 times a day, less adorable.
  • dogs- you and dogs, this has been an ongoing obsession. You love them and make an awful lot of noise when you see them, and chase them with reckless abandon, but are stunned when they actually turn to greet you
  • the bath time frog song. About a week ago I used your squeezy frog to sing you a frog song, and the container to pour “rain” over him. The very next night, and every night since, as soon as I put you in the bath you search out Mr Frog and the container and bang them on the side of the bath until I take them and perform the song for you. I am a brilliant horrible, albeit enthusiastic, singer

You have had rosy, dry cheeks most of this month, because you darling, are the world’s. slowest. teether. Your third tooth came through a few days after your birthday, and the one next to it looked like it wasn’t far behind, but we are still waiting for it to crack the gums. You’ve been pretty good about it, but sometimes you rub your mouth as you’re trying to sleep and I can tell it bothers you. I hope a bunch more make an appearance for you soon.

At 13 months you are cheeky, smiley, communicative, attentive and affectionate. You are becoming a fabulous little toddler, remnants of babyhood are fading away quickly. You are sweet, you are funny and you make me proud. You are thriving sweetheart. I love you.