Today it has been nine months since Molly was born and went to Heaven. It is bittersweet to recall where we were at this time last year, as we had just received Molly’s diagnosis of having a rare and severe combination of congenital heart defects.
It is also around this time last year that a college friend of mine, who is a social worker at the Mayo Clinic working with transplant patients, suggested we start a CarePage to be able to easily share updates with our family and friends throughout our journey with Molly and in turn to receive an incredible amount of care, concern and support from them and eventually caring strangers (especially other Heart Families) who found our CarePage one way or another.
Though I had already been blogging for 9 months at the time, many of our family and close friends didn’t know about my blog or that we had done fertility treatments to conceive Molly and thus starting a CarePage was helpful in keeping those people updated with what was happening with our pregnancy/Molly, while still having my blog for sharing my more personal emotions and experiences along the way.
As in previous months on the 17th, I am taking time today to honor the memory of our daughter and Sean’s baby sister through sharing with you about special things that help our family to continue to remember and feel connected to our baby girl. This month I am going to tell you about a gift that we received from a good friend not too long after Molly was born and went to Heaven. The gift is a print of a StoryPeople story called Butterflies. The print pictured here above reads:
He told me that the night his mother died, there were storms & far away he saw purple lightning & someone left the window open & the room filled with a swirl of butterflies & she slipped out quietly without anyone noticing & I’m sure the grief was softer because of that.
When our friend gave it to me, she said that though the story was actually about someone recounting the death of their mother, that when she read it that it reminded her of when I first told her about our experience with Molly’s birth and death. I am sure the title and part about the butterflies in the story was a factor in her choosing it for us as well.
If you are not familiar with StoryPeople you can follow the hyperlink above to learn more about the stories and products. However, here is how StoryPeople answer the question of “Who We Are” on their website:
We’re a diverse group of people, artists, activists, healers, tinkerers. We talk, we laugh, we eat great food & drink great wine, sometimes we disagree (passionately) & sometimes we agree (equally passionately) & it’s all part of the same gift of being alive together. Our wish is that other people experience this amazing world we live in as a world of imagination & possibility & healing. We believe our stories do that. (& that’s not just Story People stories, but all our stories…) We believe (fiercely) in the power of stories, not because they’re our stories, but because it is valuable & right to protect the precious connections between people.
That’s who we are. We forget at times (isn’t it amazing how life sneaks up & steals your memory of who you want to be?), but mainly, we remember. It’s a future we’re creating together, every day, with each other & with each one of you.
Isn’t than an interesting and inspiring explanation of what StoryPeople are about? So much of their explanation about “Who We Are” I find relates to why I blog and why I think our Adoption, Loss and Infertility (ALI) blogging community is so important.
To be honest I am not a huge fan of the artwork that goes along with each StoryPeople story. Though I do like the bright colors and imagination the artist Brian Andreas uses to create them and have gotten use to his style over time. However, I find many of the stories to be so incredibly moving and was amazed by the first time I visited the website and browsed the various stories which ones that I felt a strong connection with.
There were four more stories in particular that I felt particularly drawn to and decided to order prints of for our home. Each one I like to think represents a different part of our life and family. As I have already shared, the one our friend gave us, Butterflies, represents our baby girl Molly, especially the day she was born and went to Heaven.
We sat side by side in the morning light & looked out at the future together.
It is a simple story, but is symbolic to me of so many “mornings after” in our life together. There have been blissful mornings after, including the day after Bob proposed to me, the day after our wedding, the day after we found out that we were expecting Sean, the day after we moved into our first house, the day after Sean was born and and the days after we found out we were expecting with each of our subsequent pregnancies..
There have also been more bittersweet and difficult mornings after, including the days following the diagnoses of each of our miscarriages, the surgery to remove our ectopic pregnancy, when Molly’s heart abnormalities were discovered and the day our baby girl was born and died. However, no matter what challenges and joys we have experienced, Bob and I have always managed to be grateful for our blessings. When things haven’t gone how we hoped and dreamed they would, we have been able pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, get through our trials together and look towards our future, side by side.
There has never been a day when I have not been proud of you, I said to my son, though some days I’m louder about other stuff so it’s easy to miss that.
Though like many mothers I have been known to brag about my son from time to time and I do try to tell Sean how special he is and how much he means to me often, he is at an age now (five years old), when parenting him can be very challenging. With each passing day he is asserting his independence and testing Bob and I to figure out what he is allowed to do and what he can get away with.
Sean is a fun-loving, creative, intelligent boy and I am truly very proud of him. I like this StoryPeople story, as it references how much I love our son and yet shows how we can get caught up in the stress of day to day disciplining and not be as loud about our pride and joy as we are about the areas we try to help our children grow and improve in.
The next StoryPeople story that really spoke to me was Angels of Mercy. I think it perfectly represents the three other angel babies we have in Heaven (from our two early miscarriages and our ectopic pregnancy):
Most people don’t know there are angels whose only job is to make sure you don’t get too comfortable & fall asleep & miss your life.
Though I would certainly rather have any and all of our angel babies with us here on earth, instead of watching over us from Heaven, I have done my best to find the good that has come from each of our pregnancy losses. After each miscarriage and our ectopic pregnancy I tried to make the best of our situation and use the time that I was healing, before we went on to try again to expand our family, to do something positive for myself and/or our family.
After our first loss I realized that I could stand to lose some weight and get into to better shape physically. So I started exercising more regularly, lost a significant amount of weight and got into the best shape of my life. I also realized how much exercising helped me to heal and be a healthier person emotionally. During that time after our first miscarriage, I also started training to become a group fitness instructor.
After our second miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy, which were only a few months a part, we were told that we had to wait six months before we could try to conceive again, to give my body time to heal from the surgery to remove the ectopic pregnancy. So again I decided to make the most of that time and worked toward very specific goals for myself and our family. During that six months I studied, sat for and passed the American Council on Exercise (A.C.E.) Group Fitness Instructor certification exam. With my A.C.E. certification under my belt, I continued to teach exercise classes regularly at our neighborhood group fitness club, as I healed both physically and emotionally from our pregnancy losses.
I also set out to transition Sean from his crib to a “big boy bed” and potty trained him. My theory was that after we were able to try again to have another child, if Sean was already in a big boy bed and out of diapers it would make it easier on all of us if and when we were able to conceive and sustain another pregnancy to have done all of that already. As it turned out it would be another two years before we would be able to conceive and sustain another pregnancy, so I laugh at times that I was in such a hurry to accomplish some of those things, “just in case”. However, I am pleased that I made the most of the time before Molly came into our life.
The last story print that I picked out Ballerina Mom represents me and my love of dance:
Whenever she stood in line at the bank, or while waiting for the bus, I noticed her feet. The right always in front & perpendicular to the left just so. Even after 2 children, she still dreamed of being a dancer.
I took dance lessons beginning when I was in preschool, danced all throughout my childhood and adolesence and was a part of my high school’s dance company, as both a dancer and choreographer, all four years. For many years I wanted to become a professional dancer, but at some point during high school I decided not to pursue that dream.
However, in recent years I have returned to my dance and choreography roots, as I mentioned above, when I trained and then became an A.C.E. certified Group Fitness Instructor. I still love to dance and improvise choreography at times when I am home listening to music while cleaning our house or making dinner in the kitchen. I currently teach two weekly group fitness classes, through which I get to use some of my dance training and creativity in my choreography in the fitness routines that I teach in my classes. Two of my favorite television shows are So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing with the Stars and I still have fantasies now and then of dancing professionally, though I don’t really see it happening.
Right around Thanksgiving this past year Bob helped me to make my vision for these five StoryPeople stories being a part of our home a reality. The stairway from our kitchen/dining room that leads to our basement has been a stark white color with nothing hanging on the walls since we moved into our house in March 2003. We have always talked of and planned to repaint and decorate in someway, someday. However, other home improvement projects always seemed to take precedence.
When I decided to order these prints, which already come nicely matted, I was able to find five nice matching frames. We picked a complimentary color for the walls of the stairway and Bob kindly painted it one weekend in November. Then we hung the StoryPeople pictures evenly spaced along the wall going down the staircase, so as we and our guests walk to and from the basement they can read the stories that I feel honor and represent each member of our family, including those “angels of mercy” that have gone before us to Heaven.
We hung the stories in the order of which those they represent became a part of our life and/or at the point the sentiments of the stories seemed to hold true. I couldn’t be more pleased with how our “StoryPeople Stairway” turned out and find it so peaceful, therapeutic and motivational to read them now and then as I am making my way up and down the stairs while doing laundry or other day to day household tasks.
This post has evolved into being less about Molly then some of the previous milestone remembrances have been and more about our family as a whole. I feel that it is representative of how we are learning to live on with out our baby girl, while still being able to honor her life and memory. As I have shared in previous months, being able to find meaningful ways to integrate Molly’s life and memory into our life and home helps me and our family to continue to work through our grief and find the good that has come from our journey with our daughter/baby sister. Nine months later we still feel the void that was left in our lives when Molly died, however our hearts are healing and our grief and loss feels softer as time goes on.
Thank you for reading, not just this month, but for following my blog and/or our CarePage and supporting our family over this past year. It helped me so much then and I still find your continued kind words, care, concern, support, thoughts and prayers to be invaluable now. May God continue to bless you and your loved ones in 2009. Happy New Year!