Thursday, December 9, 2010

4 Months

Dear Brianna,

Today is 12/9/10, your 4 month birthday.  Oh, how I wish you were here on this day.  How I wish I could kiss your fuzzy head as I wish you a happy 4 month birthday.  I wish I could take you to the doctor's office for a check up and we could marvel at how you've grown since your birth.  But, baby, you aren't here for any of that.

Today was kind of a hard day for me, baby.  I don't know why exactly, but I'm sure it has to do with it being 4 months since I held you.  I can't believe it's been that long, it feels like it was just yesterday. And then, it also feels like a lifetime ago.  I think it hit me that you really are gone and I won't get to celebrate any birthdays with you.  And that makes me very sad, baby girl.

Brianna, I miss you every day.  I really wish things were different and that you were here with us.  I promise to always remember your birthday, baby.

Love always,


Thursday, November 25, 2010


Well, it's here.  Our first Thanksgiving without Brianna.  Only a lifetime more to go.

I got up early today.  I had to make cookies to take to my parent's house for Thanksgiving dessert.  All the while that I was baking, I just kept thinking "I shouldn't be able to be doing this.  I should be exhausted from sleepless nights with a newborn.  I should be catching naps when I can and resting on this day before getting the baby ready to go to her grandparents' for her first Thanksgiving."  But instead, I was up early and baking cookies.  Cookies I don't even eat.  Cookies for everyone else, so they can enjoy them.  And now, I should be getting a shower and getting ready to go.  But I'm not.  I just don't seem to have the energy yet.

Soon, I will get off this couch and go get a shower.  Then, Tim and I will head out to Thanksgiving lunch at my parents' place.  Neither of us really want to go, but this is the year that my uncles, aunts and cousins will be joining us all for Thanksgiving.  It is a very important holiday for my mom.  My parents have been so supportive and helpful to us over the last few months, that I feel obligated to go.  And we'll put on our happiest faces and try to be good company.  But, we both know that it could be tough and we'll come up with a signal that means "I can't take anymore, we have to leave now."  And then we will leave and head over to our friends' house for a quiet evening with just us and them.  And we'll be able to relax a bit.  But, it still will be hard.  Because Brianna's not here.  And she never will be.  And we'll be missing her.  And thinking how different today should have been.

Don't get me wrong.  I am thankful for the good things in my life.  For my wonderful husband who has been my rock through the last few months and who is the only one who really understands me right now.  For my parents and sister, who have shown us all the love in the world as we deal with the grief and pain.  For my friends who have been there when I needed to talk and there when I just wanted a distraction.  And most of all, I'm thankful that I did get to be Brianna's mom, even though it was only for a short while.  But, I still miss her and really wish things were different.

I love you, Brianna girl.  And I miss you.  Wherever you are, Happy Thanksgiving baby.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Due Date

So, tomorrow is my official due date.  I can't help but think how different my life should be today.  Tomorrow, I should be "done" with my pregnancy, either already with a newborn or about to pop.  I should be experiencing sleepless nights, either from the uncomfortableness of being 40 weeks pregnant or from 3 am feedings.  I should be looking forward to my future with our daughter, planning how to spend the holidays and how to schedule our time with our families so everyone would get to see the new baby.  Instead, I'm trying to figure out how to avoid spending too much time with the families so that I'm not constantly having to put on the happy face during this, the most "wonderful" time of the year.  It all should be so very different.

This past week has been really hard.  I think the anticipation of my due date has been building all week and just making me miserable.  Up until this past week, I was doing better.  But, it feels like I've taken a few steps back on this grief road.  I know this is to be expected, but knowing that doesn't make it suck any less.  I'm not sure how I'll be tomorrow.  I know that we will definitely go to the cemetery to visit Brianna's grave.  I will probably light a candle too as a way to remember her.

One thing we are doing tomorrow as a way to honor and remember Brianna is sending out an email to our immediate family members and close friends with her picture attached.  I really want those in my life to see her, to see that she was a real baby who we wanted so much.  I want them to finally be able to put a face to her name, to our loss, to our grief.  I know that most of them will appreciate getting to see her photo, to be able to be included in something that is so meaningful and personal to us.  But, at the same time, I'm worried about how they will react.  Will they think seeing a picture of a dead baby is too morbid?  Will they be upset with us for sending it out and actually making her more real to them?  Will they not understand why we had to send it out?  But, I have to remind myself that this is important to me and too bad if they can't get it.  Too bad if it upsets them and reminds them of the reality than not all babies get to come home.  On that day, my due date, I want them to remember Brianna.  I want them to see how real she was, how beautiful she was, how perfectly she was made.

Tomorrow, I will talk to Brianna.  I will tell her how much we wanted her.  I will tell her how much I love her and how much her daddy loves her.  These are all things I would have told her had she been born alive on her due date.  But, instead, I will be telling her these things while I visit her grave.  Since she is gone, I will also tell her how much I miss her and how much I wish things were different and she was here with us.  I will tell her she will always be a part of me, her daddy and her family.  As long as I am alive, she will never be forgotten.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


On multiple occasions over the last few weeks, I've mentioned to my husband Tim, that I really need to get my hair cut.  My last salon appointment for a professional cut was December 31, 2009 (no, my memory is not that good to pull that out of thin air...I looked it up on my calendar).  So, it's high time for at least a professional trim.

Let me first explain my hair.  It's a dark brown color and naturally very thick and curly.  And currently, when dry, it comes to the middle of my back in length.  When I was a child, I hated my hair.  It was so hard to manage and my mom really had no clue how to take care of it since her's is naturally straight and not nearly as thick.  Growing up, I had many "bad hair days".  It wasn't until I was in college that I finally discovered how to manage my mane.  After finding great products, I was finally able to style my curly hair in such a way that I was happy with it.  Ever since then, I've loved my hair.

When I found out I was pregnant, I started imagining my baby with dark, curly hair.  You see, I'm not the only one in this couple with dark and curly hair.  Tim's hair is black and if left to its own devices, will grow in thick and wavy.  He keeps it cut very short because it is so thick and wavy and unmanageable.

So, when I discovered that I was pregnant AND the baby was a girl, I was very excited.  In all probability, she would have dark and curly hair, just like me.  From early on, I was really hoping that she would be born with a full head of hair.  I was looking forward to all the things you do with a baby girl's hair...bows and headbands, then ponytails and pigtails as she grew.  Once she was older, I'd be able to pass on all the secrets of how to manage the curse/blessing of the curls.  I'd give her tips on hair products, how she should always use conditioner and comb out her hair in the shower.  I'd take her to my salon for her haircuts and introduce her to the wonder that is having someone wash your hair.

But, now that will never happen for my Brianna.  While in recovery from my c-section, they let me hold her lifeless body.  Oh, how I marveled at her tiny fingers, they were so long and slender.  And her feet!  She had a mixture of our toes, my little toes and Tim's big toes.  But it was her hair that really hit me hard.  At only 25 weeks gestation, she already had a full head of dark, almost black, hair.  And, it was starting to curl.  My beautiful baby girl would have been blessed with curls.  It is just one of the things that I will miss about her and one of the things that I would have loved to teach her about.

Now, looking at my own head of hair reminds me of Brianna.  And I know I really should get it cut, but I just don't seem to be able to call to make the appointment.  I want to hang on to my long curls as a way of remembering her.  As I write that, I realize that it doesn't matter how long or short I keep my hair.  I will always remember her, with her dark, almost curly hair.  By getting my hair cut, I'm not leaving her behind anymore than I am by getting up and living every day.  She will always be a part of me and I will carry her with me wherever I go.  So, maybe tomorrow will be the day I call to set up that salon appointment...maybe.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Ghosts and Rituals (from glow in the woods)

Shortly after Brianna died, an old friend sent me a link to an online community called Glow in the Woods.  This is a community of parents who have suffered the deaths of their babies.  On the site, parents from all over the world can find the support they need as they try to figure out just how to navigate through the world that has just turned upside down.  It has been a great help to me over the last 12 weeks or so and I will be forever grateful to my friend who sent me the URL.

This past Monday on Glow, they posted questions about ghosts and rituals and asked for our responses.  Mine are below.

1 | Do you believe you can communicate with people in the afterlife, or they with you?  Do you believe you can do this with your child?

I'm not sure if I really believe that I can communicate with my daughter (or others who have died).  But that doesn't stop me from talking to her.  Being able to tell her that I miss her and love her help me feel connected to her.  I don't believe that she can communicate with me.

2 | Do you believe in ghosts?  Has this changed since the loss of your child(ren)?

No, I don't believe in ghosts.  To me, the idea that somehow some souls get stuck here after they die seems sad.  I do believe that we all have a soul and that there is an afterlife.

3 | Have your feelings changed about Halloween?  How do you respond to Halloween humor such as zombie and ghost costumes or macabre gravestones as decorations?

I've never liked Halloween all that much, even as a child.  It's just not one of my favorite holidays. I've never liked all the macabre part of Halloween, be it costumes or decorations, so my feelings about it really haven't changed at all.

4 | Does your religious or cultural background have a day or holiday where the focus is honoring the dead? How do you use this experience to honor your own child(ren)?

I was raised with a protestant upbringing in white suburbia, so no, my religious and cultural background doesn't have a specific day to honor the dead.  I wish it did so that once a year, my loss would be recognized by the community.

5 | Do you ever reach outside of your spiritual/religious framework for comfort from other practices/religions?

Not really.  But, that may change over time.  I'm still all new to the whole babylost mama thing, so who knows.

6 | Is there a season or holiday, other than your child(ren)’s birthday, that inspires you to perform a ritual in memory of your child(ren)?

So far, haven't really had many holidays yet.  But, I think that I will do something at Christmas in memory of Brianna.  Just haven't figured out what exactly.

7 | Is there a ritual you perform everyday? Weekly? Monthly? Yearly?

Everyday, I say goodnight to Brianna before I go to sleep.  Even if she can't hear me, it makes me feel better.  Every weekend (either on Saturday or Sunday), Tim and I visit her grave and take flowers.  We plan on continuing this as a weekly thing until her due date (which is soon).  After that, we are probably going to just go monthly.

8 | Do you perform any public rituals (in real life or online) on October 15? How do your friends, family, or community respond to your acknowledgment of loss?

This past October 15th was the first for us.  Brianna is buried in an area of the cemetary known as the Children's Garden.  This section is reserved for only babies.  One of the moms of another baby in this area organized a candle lighting that was held at the cemetary.  A small tealight candle was placed on each grave and at 7 pm, they were all lit.  Tim and I went to the cemetary to participate in this candle lighting.  It was hauntingly beautiful to see all the little flickering flames in the dark.  I hope to take part in this every year.

That night, when we got home, I posted photos that I had taken on Facebook.  A lot of my friends and family acknowledged the photos and remembered Brianna with me.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Proper Introduction

Since I'm new to blogging, I'm not quite sure of the proper protocol for introducing myself.  So, I'll just lay it all out there.

Hello, my name is Mandy.  I am 31 and I live in the mid-atlantic area of the U.S.  I work outside the home as a civil engineer.  I have been married to my high-school sweetheart, Tim, for 10 years.  These are the basics of who I am.

In real life, this is when most people then ask if I have kids.  In the past, I'd just say no.  But now, I really don't know how to answer that question.  Technically, I guess the answer is still no.  You see, I did have a baby, our first child, a daughter we named Brianna.  But, she was born prematurely (at 25 weeks, 2 days gestation) and had an infection of unknown type, which led to her death during my emergency c-section.  This happened on August 9, 2010, just under 3 months ago.  But in real life, this isn't something that is discussed.  But here in blogland, I can tell my story.  And by doing so, Brianna can be remembered and acknowledged and be *real*.

I've started this blog as a place to tell Brianna's story.  It's also a place where I can just express my thoughts and feelings as I try to figure out who exactly I am now.  All I know right now is that I am forever changed.  And I miss my baby girl tremendously, each and every day.

Thanks for taking the time to stop by my little corner of deadbabyland.  I would love it if you would also introduce yourself.  Who knows, maybe we can help each other through the telling of our stories.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

What Should Be

Today, I should be 36 weeks pregnant.  I should be excited to be approaching a full-term delivery of my first child.  I should be putting the finishing touches on the nursery.  I should be getting all my ducks in a row at work before going on maternity leave.  These are just some of the things I should be doing.

But I'm not.  Because my baby was born very premature and sick almost 11 weeks ago.  And she died.  Instead, today I will be going to visit her grave, as I have done once a week since her funeral.  Instead of waiting to see her beautiful newborn face, I am waiting to see that her grave stone has been installed.  Instead of decorating her room here at home, I'll be taking flowers to decorate her grave.

There are many things that should be happening.  But I can't live in the should be world.  I have to live in this new world of deadbabyland.  It's not something I ever thought I'd have to do.