Friday, February 24, 2012

After the storm...

Dear Harper,

Time is going so quickly since I had children. When I was younger it seemed like "life" would never get here, I was going to be 7 years old forever. Now that I am an adult all I want is for it to slow down, to take a minute, to breathe. I want an infinite amount of time.

I need a minute to breathe. I always need a minute when I talk about you. At first my eyes water and I try to continue and then my voice cracks and I choke. It's not because I am ashamed to talk about you, but because some days talking about you takes every ounce of energy and every fiber of my being...I get sad, I am at a loss for words and saying "I miss you" just doesn't cover it. 25 weeks didn't cover it, I had a life time of words, hopes and dreams for you that just got shattered the moment your heart stopped beating.

Lately this happens more than not. I look at your baby sister and see her growing and I long for the moments I missed with you. I never got to hear you say "mama", she says it kind of drawn out.. "mmmmama" and only when she is mad or sad. Every other time it is "dada". I wonder what your little voice would have sounded like breaking the silence at 3 AM. It's the little things that get me more than anything. You forget all the little things that you would have missed because you are so focused on the big ones, like birthdays and such. I have a constant reminder of the little things, her name is Harlie Bird. I am thankful for those gentle reminders of the small things. Would you have been a booty scooter or a backward crawler?? Would you like veggies or fruits? Would you like grape juice or would you like apple juice? All the little things.

Last night severe weather moved through our area and I had the windows open in the house because yesterday was so incredibly beautiful for this time of year. The wind was blowing gently into the house. I love that smell, the smell of rain on the wind, the smell of a quick shower blowing through with lightning flashing in the background. I was thankful for the windows being open. Your baby sister was sleeping in the swing just next to the window and it made me even more thankful for her.

A lot of women call the baby they have after a loss their "Rainbow Baby". I figured this meant the wish that was "somewhere over the rainbow" but that's not the case. In fact it means  getting through the storm, there is always a rainbow after the storm. And last night as I watched the lightning and smelled the rain I was so thankful for the beautiful mess you left in your wake.

You have made me more thankful for the little things in life. You have given me an appreciation for all the things I would have overlooked, like messy feedings and extra messy bubble baths. Because of you I relish in these things. I take the time to BREATHE, I take the time to be thankful for everything I have been given in life.

It's a funny circle, I miss you so badly that I can feel my heart breaking and it makes me thankful for everything I have, all the small things and it makes me thankful to have known my sweet Bean. You are perfect in every way because you made me open my eyes, to see the beauty that is a messy floor & dirty diapers. The wonderful in a screaming baby at 3 AM. You have given me the power to know when a relationship needs to be nutured and when it needs to be let go. You gave me a set of sisters that are truly amazing women, and you made bonds with other baby loss moms for me. You have made me a stronger woman, and while everyone has faults (I know I do.) you have made me a better person.

I have so many people that I know I can talk to, who know exactly what it is that I am going through because of you. And now I have this amazing gift you have given me, to write you letters. There are so many things I have left to tell you.  It is amazing how something so terrible can bring so many together. We are all united in broken hearts.
I am forever grateful for the things you have given me....even if it is just the small things. I am so grateful for you, my sweet Love. You have breathed new life into me, you have given me great purpose. You have given me great love and a deep appreciation for the things I have in life. I have so much gratitude for you, even amidst the pain and tears there is so much to be grateful for. When I have a bad day I just remember my love for you, and the beautiful disaster you left behind. It made for a beautiful rainbow.

I am thankful for you...never forget that.

I love you sweet Bean.


"May God give you...for every storm, a rainbow.  For every tear, a smile. For every care, a promise and a blessing in each trial. For every problem life sends, a faithful friend to share, for every sigh a sweet song and an answer for every prayer" ~Irish Blessing

Monday, February 20, 2012

A sister is a forever friend

Dear Harper,

I am compelled to tell you about your sisters. You only had one when you were born but now you have two beautiful sisters in your life, or what would have been your life. 

Your sister, Brianna, was so very excited that mommy was going to have a baby "lizard". She was only 4 when I found out I was pregnant with you and was going to turn 5 just a couple of months before your were to be born. As little as she was, and not understanding things when "it" happened, she is is a very intuitive little girl. She remembers now being only 5 months away from 7 years old. She holds me when I need to be held and she snaps me out of it when I am in a daze dreaming of holding you again. She is beautiful in every way, even when she is at her worst. She has this cute little nose, and you had it too. You looked a lot like her when you were born. Her almost almond eyes that are as big as moons, you were even going to have her little gap in your teeth (which you get from your momma), I saw the ridge in your gums. You had her long "piano player" fingers and I am not exactly how you all got long fingers because mine are short and stubby. You were beautiful just like Brianna...just breathtaking.

Your sister was so cute when you were in utero, she wanted to share her room with you, her bed with you and was even willing to maybe share a few of her stuffed animals with you. In her eyes, you were being born to be her best friend because at 4 she didn't have one yet. She helped me pick out clothes for you and we would buy them and hang them in "you all's cwoset" as she would say. 

There are days I look back now and think that I might have known your tiny feet would never grace this Earth. I had an urgency about EVERYTHING. We told our friends right away, we even gave your grandpa the test for his birthday just a mere 24 hours after I took it. We wanted everyone to know about you as soon as possible. Your grandma said she would buy the crib for us and I had it picked and waiting for her. It arrived and rested under your sister's bed until we found out if you were a boy or girl. I bought clothing for you because I just didn't want you to be naked, we bought diapers and wipes, and burp clothes. Everything we would need for you. There was hardly anything to register for which I didn't want to do...odd, I wanted to do it with your brother and sister. In all of my preparing I wanted to find a "big sister" shirt for Brianna. I would always find darling ones and I never could bring myself to buy it. 

It was almost as if there was a tiny hand holding me back saying "wait" because I knew if I bought it that she would want to wear it and it would make me have to explain that while she was a big sister that she wasn't really. I wanted you to myself, I didn't want to share you day in and day out. I wanted all of you to stay right with me. I was afraid I would lose pieces of you. These were all feelings that I had before I learned that you grew your wings early.  A sense of urgency to let the world know you existed but an extreme need to keep you to myself. These are the feelings I recognize as knowing you weren't staying. 

Then just a short 7 weeks after your death, there's that word again...death, I found out that that we were having another baby. I panicked, it was ugly because it lasted so long. At 16 weeks we found out that we were having another girl and I was excited because Brianna was going to be a sister and I was going to get to tell her all about her big sister in heaven. I panicked the whole pregnancy, even rented a heart doppler so I could check on her any time I wanted or needed to because I was fearful. It was a long pregnancy and I was so thankful when she was born. I knew you were there looking over her. 

She knows about you, I tell her all the time. She is beautiful & perfect and always happy! She has worn everything that I bought for you and every time I put something on her I get teary eyed and tell her it was her big sister Harper's. I think you gave her a touch of your personality, or what I think you would be like. She is only 8 months old now but she is going to know who you are because I'm going to make sure to tell her.

Sisters are forever friends, Harper. I have no blood sisters unlike you but I have a couple friends who are my sisters without being blood related. They are always there to catch me when I fall, to hug me when I cry, to knock me out of my funk when I am down. I can always count on them for a laugh, and to catch my tears when they fall. They are my sisters, my forever friends. Your brother and sisters call them "auntie" because they are my sisters.

 I could not have survived without them...I would have dried up and become nothing without their help, their friendship, their sisterhood. Not even your Super Daddy could have fixed the aches, pains and broken things they did. Your daddy pieced back parts of my heart only he could, but my sisters pieced back the rest that only that kind of love and friendship can. Your Auntie Lee raced back to hold me when she was in Flordia. She held my hand and was my rock when I needed her, she caught hundreds of thousands of tears and cried with me when I mourned you. Your Auntie Karen reached out with her ever loving arms and embraced me in a way only she can do. (Thanks for urging her to come back to Kentucky...I really do appreciate that!) And your Auntie Holly, she held my hand, she cried for me but never with me because she was placed here to be my stone of strength. These are women that I am not sure how I could survive without everyday because they know me, they understand me and they still love me even with all of my faults.

I often find it hard to remember my life before having kids, and like that, I find it hard to remember my life before my sisters came into it. They have just always been there, just like your brother and sisters. Always there for me, walking the rough roads and the easy right beside me. I love them, and it's a bond like no other.
These are my forever friends, my sisters. They love you, Harper, in only a way they can. They miss you as much as I do, and even cry for you just like Mommy does. Sisterhood goes beyond death into eternity and these are things I need you to know. That when your sisters cross over to meet you, you will have a bond like no other with them. This is one of the greatest blessings I could have ever given you. You gave me the blessing of having another daughter and bringing me even close to the women that God brought me as sisters.  

I love you Harper, to the moon and back. 


Friday, February 17, 2012

By Grace Alone....

Dear Harper,

I have never been much of "group share" kind of person. I don't want to sit in a circle and say "Hello, My name is Sarah and I lost a child." The whole concept of that was foreign to me when you died. I knew right away that I couldn't benefit from that, and it would only sadden my heart further. I did join several online support groups where we could just basically blog or status whatever we were feeling and there were a million hands just like mine stepping up to virtually pat my back or hug me. I never really posted much on any of them, still don't even though I am still a member. Mostly I comb through the stories and I cry at almost every single on I read. It is a release that I need and some would say that it is torturing myself to do this but I need it. I need to know that I am not alone in this grief, and more so that I am not crazy for crying at random.

More therapeutic than that though is creating. When I was in college I was an English/Journalism major. Writing has and always will be one of my strong points, though as the years pass and the distance between me and my college years grows further I am noticing more in my grammatical errors. It used to be a pet peeve, now it seems I just pound away at the keyboard to get it all out, punctuation mistakes and all. Writing has been so incredibly releasing for me. I get to talk to you whenever I want and I can tell you all the things I need to make sure you know before my time comes. There is no urgency here though, I can tell you slowly or quickly, whatever my heart is feeling at the moment.

Not only have I found an outlet for my pain in my letters to you but in creating something that came years before you were even a gleam in my eye. I have been making accessories for little girls since your big sister Brianna was a wee tot. Only recently, when you were found lurking in my womb, I started painting. When I read that back it seems funny to say it that way, I started makes it sound like I am in the Sistine Chapel and painting works of Gods on the ceilings. Nope, not me, when I started painting it was just some unfinished wooden letters, more importantly, the letters H, A, R, P, E, and another R.

I found out on June 3, 2010 at 12:30 PM that you were in fact the girl that I had suspected, that the Chinese gender chart told me to expect and what your daddy had said not moments after that test turned positive. I had the perfect name for my Bean, Harper Lynn. A beautiful name for a beautiful little girl that was going to be here in just a few short months! Your daddy immediately took me to the craft store so I could buy letters to paint for you to have hanging above your crib. I had bought Brianna's first set but knew that I could do it because nothing out there suited my tastes for you.

I started my project the night we came home with the funky retro letters and the hot pink paint. I primed and then base coated them. Brianna had dots on her letters and I just didn't feel like dots suited you, you needed more. It came to me exactly what I wanted and the paint began to flow on to them. You would have the pink letters with white daisies. I felt like you were a free spirit...little did I know, huh? I finished them that night, and your daddy hung them the next day right over your crib. They were perfect just like you.

In the weeks following your death (again, a funny thing, to see death in a blog of letters to my daughter) I moved the letters to the living room so I could see them all the time. I displayed your birth certificate and foot prints along with a handful of black and white pictures of you. Above your pictures was a tiny plaque that read "By Grace Alone..." I was so unsure of what it meant but I knew it was perfect there. Also in those weeks I found it difficult to do anything, I quit working on the bows and stuff that had kept me wildly busy while I was pregnant. I let it all go for a while but then I found out that I was expecting your sister and I knew it was time for Grace to take me where I wouldn't lose my sanity. I began creating again. I made hats and named them after you, Harper's Haute Couture. The bows had been named after Brianna for some time and I thought it was only fair to name that part for you since technically you wore the first hat I ever created. But it was also time for more.

Over the course of the 38 weeks I was pregnant with your sister I began painting letters again. I painted for friends and for people who loved my bows and loved the pictures they saw. I painted letters for  A LOT of nurseries. I realized how releasing it could be for me. I painted polka dots, striped, but never flowers. Flowers were left for you. I redid your sister Brianna's letters once I found out that the rainbow baby we were expecting was another girl. Hers were with butterflies and Harlyn's were with tiny birds, still no flowers. It has been 19 and a half months since you passed away and there were no flowers on letters until tonight.

girly and something you would be proud of.

It made me realize what By Grace Alone meant as I put the final touches on Faith's letter and it can be summed up in one statement...
 You will never let me forget that I am always protected by Grace Alone. I love you Harper, and I am glad that you will always know that. It grows more and more everyday.

Thanks for my flowers tonight, you always seem to know what I need. So much like your brother.



The funny man is also the lover.

Dear Harper,

Today I feel the need to tell you about your big brother. Ah, what a lover. He wanted you from the moment that we told him we were having a baby. He wanted a sister, not a brother. He knew he could protect you from day one, or at least he felt he could.  He was so young yet so incredibly wise for his years. We told both your  brother and your sister about you very early in the pregnancy.  I had a sense of urgency in the matters that involved you. 

We told him about you when I was just 6 weeks pregnant. We showed him a picture of a baby at 6 weeks and immediately he chimed up that he was going to be a big brother again. And he said you looked like a bean on the ultrasound and so you became His Bean.  Your nickname will always be Harper Bean because of your brother. His bean.

He told all his friends at school. He talked to my belly, and rubbed my belly trying to connect with you. You knew it too, the moment I could feel you kicking and squirming which was early because I knew what I was feeling. Every time he spoke a word while I was in the same room with him you started wriggling all over the place. When you were having what I called a "quiet day" all I would have to do it call for him and he would tell you all the things he was going to teach you or he would read you a book and you would just jump like the little bean that you were. 

Your brother is wise beyond his years, what we here on Earth call an old soul. He has always known just the right thing to say at just the right time. In the days following your passing I remember his sweet baby face crawling into the bed with me and saying "It's okay Mommy, you did your very best but Harper is in heaven now and she is all better." How did he know that I needed that? He is so smart and so sweet. In the 19 months following your passing he has guided me with short bursts of wisdom like these exactly when I need them. I believe in my heart that sometimes your hand is gently guiding him to these things. He is so in tune with my soul. 

Kaden sending you a balloon on your first birthday

Your brother is a funny man too. I married your daddy because he was a funny man and I guess he passed the torch to your brother. I wish you knew him and all his crazy jokes and antics. The other day we were driving in the car to school and a song that was played at your funeral came on. (Funny thing talking about MY child's funeral, doesn't seem real or that I am at a point in life where I could lose a child.) I was tearing up but he was in the back so he couldn't see my face but he could read my body language, tightened grip on the steering wheel, head in a lower position that normal, shoulders rolled forward. See he is so intelligent in reading me. And out of the blue I hear his beautiful voice carrying to my ears, not an "I'm sorry you are sad" or "It will be okay mommy" but I hear "Just so you know, you should never play the name game with the word truck." So with a giggle on my breath and the tears subsiding I ask him why. He coolly responds with "There's a bad word in it". And I giggle some more. These are excerpts from the Kaden's Book of Knowledge and we are labeling that one #22. He knows when I am in need of a good laugh and that's why I married your daddy, he always knows when I need a laugh...the lover and the funny man. 

Your brother is an angel among us I think. His little body grieved you as hard as I did. He doesn't let a moment escape without a thought of you, what will happen to your ashes when mommy and daddy die. You never want to talk about death with your kids but for your brother and sister it was thrown in their faces. I never thought  I would have to think about who would take your ashes when I died, mostly because I never thought I would have a child's ashes to think about. But now, your brother, the funny man, has decided that he wants them when I die. I asked him if he wanted mine too and he responded with a quick "Nope, just Harper's. Your urn will probably be big and take up a lot of space". Again, the funny man. I am sure some people will read this and think how morbid it is to talk about such things but you have to find the silver lining in everything or you will just sink into a pit of dark. I found this considerably funny, given the circumstances. His random facts are my silver lining. They take me away from the grief when it is abounding. 

Your brother misses you in every inch of the world, in every cell of his body. I think sometimes he is torn in happiness in and in grief because of the birth of your sister. I tell him this is okay and he continues on. Just like mommy proudly announces that she has 4 children but only  3 got to stay with him, Kaden proudly announces that he has 3 sisters but one is in heaven. 

This world is a better place because of him. I am so proud to call him my son, and I am proud of who he is. I think you would be proud to call him brother. I just hope you are watching so you can know him more.

I love you sweet Bean.



Thursday, February 16, 2012

I miss you...all the time

Dear Harper,

It's been 19 long months since I answered with a meek nod of my head when I was asked if I was "ready for her to go back". Back is not somewhere anyone wants to talk about, but I will say it. They asked me if I was ready for them to return you to the morgue. How does a mother answer that question? I knew it was time, I knew my time with you was over and it was the right thing to do but it not something I was ready for or wanted to do. I miss you, more lately than usual. Some of these past few days I am swept into the grief as if it were only yesterday. I call them "blue days".

I took your big sister, Brianna, shopping the other day and was told how beautiful she was. When asked how many kids I had I quickly responded that I have 4 but I only got to keep 3 of them. I try to tell people about you but I get these sad looks, and so many say "I'm sorry" or they quickly change the subject because apparently you are taboo. If that is the case then I guess I am taboo too because I talk about you all the time. I tell people how beautiful you were when you were here and how I got to know you for 25 weeks and how I can't wait to know you more. I tell them about all the little things you do for me and I get strange sideways looks like I might be on the crazy side. 

I'm not sure why it has taken me 19 months to decide to start writing down my letters to you. I think them all the time, sometimes I Facebook status them but that no longer seems enough. Some days my hurt & grief needs more than just a few minutes on a page, it needs eternity to simmer and dissipate. I want to be able and go back so I can read to you the things I need you to know. 

You not only have a big sister and a big brother who wanted you more than you could ever know, you now have a baby sister. She is named for you Harper. Kaden and your grandma came up with it, her name is Harlyn. I think she looks quite like you only a bit bigger. She was born just a short 11 months after you were. Don't think it is because we didn't miss you and we moved on because we didn't. Mommy needed a distraction and so that was it, another pregnancy to pass the time by. She was born a month before your first birthday and even at only a month old she helped us celebrate your first birthday by letting go of a balloon. 

Her birth was peppered with very mixed emotions, I was so elated that I had a new baby but it also made me miss you a million times more. I never ever thought she would fill the spot in my heart that was meant for you but I never thought I could feel so torn. I felt guilty because I was happy that I had her but then I felt sad because you weren't here. They have a term for babies born so closely, it's Irish Twins. You guys were 329 days apart. Even now that Harlyn is almost 9 months old, those feelings are the same. Some days are better than others and then she might do something that makes me miss you again like I did in those first days.

I never moved on, and never let it go. I woke up and learned how to deal with my grief, I learned how to carry on and function in a world that was no longer the happy place I thought it was before you. I had to learn how to live in a place that you didn't exist anymore. We left your crib up and made, we left your clothes hanging in the closet. I took lots of pictures of you to hang in our home. We made a spot for you just like your big brother and sister. Your pictures are all over the house so we can make sure your baby sister knows all about you. The days progress and sometimes I wonder how it's been so long and I didn't really notice the time passing. Sometimes I feel like I am stuck in pause and the rest of the world is rushing around me at lightning speed. In these moments I close my eyes and go back to the moment I saw each of my babies and how proud I was each and every time. 

My friend Corin sent me a pocket stone with your name in it. I have carried it everywhere since it arrived. You know, I wouldn't know her if it wasn't for you. I have met so many amazing and strong women because of you. I bet you are a busy little bean having all those friends up there. The day it arrived was a very hard day for me and I am not sure why it was harder than others but it was almost like you were blowing me a kiss by that tiny package arriving. 

My letters come more frequently now that I know it's okay to let it all out. I miss you Harper, more and more as the days pass. I love you even more than I miss you. Life goes on but nothing has changed when it comes to those two things.  I know with each word I write to you my heart lightens because I know somehow that you are reading this.

I love you sweet Bean.