Tuesday, July 12, 2011

La douleur exquise...

Well it has been some time since I have felt compelled to write a post. It has been only 8 weeks since Olivia came and went. 55 days to be exact. It almost knocks the wind out of me thinking about how much time has passed. Not a day goes by the I don't think about her. 

It wasn't until recently that I really started to feel peace with what happened. I don't want to say that I have felt a final peace, I don't know if that will ever happen. It comes in waves, the pain and peace. But for now... the tide is on the side of peace. Everyone always says, "She will be with you forever". I didn't see it that way at first. I mean it's easy to say... but I always thought, "would she? How do you know?". I think that was the pain talking, the bitter sadness... I was too busy feeling her physical loss, to notice her spiritual presence. I would have moments, in dreams where she was there. I had one dream where It turned out Olivia hadn't really passed away. "They" were keeping her until she was ready.. and when I finally got to her, I put her in my arms. She opened her eyes, they were the most beautiful blueish green color. She looked up at me and said, "Hi Mamma", in the sweetest voice. My hear melted. But almost as soon as I woke up, reality hit me like a ton of bricks. 

I have to say though, that I believe the storm of my grief is starting to calm. The other day I was overwhelmed with the feeling of Olivia's presence. I kept saying, It's like she's not really gone. Almost like I was still carrying her. I even felt excitement. I was wide awake, and I felt the peace. It was warm, and loving and happy. I will never know what life would have been like with Olivia here in physical form, but I've accepted, and even started to fall in love with her being here in spirit form. I have always felt very strongly that because of the way Olivia was lost... she would find her way back to us. In whatever form that may be. And I believe she has. It's an exquisite pain, loving someone you will never have. But do, I love Olivia so much. I am so happy she is mine, even if it's in another world. I look at her pictures now and smile.. that's my daughter. And I'm going to share and remember her as long as I'm on this earth.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

It's time to jump

I feel like I'm running out of words to express what I'm feeling since the loss of Olivia. Things are starting to level out. I now smile when I think of Olivia instead of instantly bursting into tears. I certainly have my moments, but it has gotten easier. It's amazing how if you just let out your raw feelings and emotions, how much easier they are to put back together. Life must go on.. we must move forward. We have to learn from what happened and make the best of it. I can dwell all day on what went wrong, what could have happened differently, how it's not fair... how I want Olivia back. But it won't change that she is no longer physically here with us. So, on to plan B. Making the most of her memory and enjoying the life we have now. I am torn though.. I want to be happy and move on but I don't want it to feel like I'm forgetting Olivia and what happened. How do you feel happy for living a life where your child doesn't exist? How do you let that go?

It feels like I'm standing in an airplane. I've got the parachute strapped to my back and I'm waiting to jump. I want to jump. But the plane, like my grief, is safe... and easy. Much less scarier than jumping out of a plane that is so far up from the ground, but also less fun. If I jump.. what happens? Will I survive? Will I ever feel whole again? Will I be able to hear a crying newborn and not want to run the other direction? Will I ever be able to look back and say, "This is why Olivia was born the way she was"? Will I ever look back and think, I'm so happy my life turned out this way. I don't know... but I'm going to count to 3, Pray like hell that I land with a smile on my face, and jump. And I'm going to enjoy every last beautiful moment of the fall....

Thursday, June 16, 2011

My Dearest Olivia,

     I feel like I didn't get much chance to tell, or even show you how much I loved you in the short time you were with us. So I've decided to write you...

I'm so sorry I wasn't able to protect you or to save you. And even though I'm sure you know why you left us, I can't help but feel so much sadness and guilt. I think sometimes that maybe you didn't know how excited we were to have you. I'm not always the best at expressing my emotions. But If I had known then what I know now - I would have told you every second of every day how wanted you were. I would have taken every possible picture and expressed every emotion to everyone about my happiness for you. I wouldn't have let myself get so frustrated or stressed about having to be on bed rest. I hope you never think I blamed you for that. And I hope you don't think that I didn't take it seriously. I struggle so much with that. 

When you were just 7 weeks old, they told us that it was possible I was having a miscarriage. It scared me. I put a guard up. I had already told everyone you were coming. I didn't want to get too excited and then it not work out. But every time I started bleeding, and you were fine. People would say, "She's tough like her mama". I sure don't feel tough now. I remember my first few ultrasounds with you. I would joke with the tech and my doctor that you must be a girl... already giving me grey hairs and causing so much commotion. I remember at 16 weeks when I was told that you were a girl. My Doctor said then the blood clot was small, and things were looking great. I couldn't wait to tell everyone. Daddy didn't get to come with me to that ultrasound, it was one of those last minute rush to the doctors situations. I wanted to surprise him. I decided I was going to get black balloons and have them filled with hot pink confetti. He popped it and saw the pink confetti go flying all over the carpet. It was such a happy moment. Daddy was so happy to have his little girl. We talked often about how he would be wrapped around your little finger. I wanted you to be a mama's girl. My favorite thing to do at night was to listen to your little heart beating away. I could hear you moving around and would always get so excited. Eventually I could feel what I was hearing and that was even more amazing. I would sit and listen and wonder who you were going to be. What you were going to look like. I always imagined us doing things together. Cooking, shopping, singing, dancing... everything. Did you hear the music I played for you? I would sing and dance around, thinking I can't wait for the day I can actually do this with you in my arms. When daddy and I would be out we would say to each other, "Can't wait until Olivia can do this with us!". I wanted you to love what we loved. The first outfit we bought you was an OSU onesie. I imagined you wearing it every Saturday for the football games. That is until we could get a little cheerleader outfit. I joked with a friend once that I was making a little beaver fan from the start. I spent a lot of time planning what your nursery was going to look like. The theme was going to be love birds, and have all kinds of colors. Daddy and I both loved the idea. We had picked a crib, bedding, toys.. I always dragged daddy to the baby section to look at what I thought we should get for you. It was fun trying to decide what we thought you would like. We were at a baby store once and I insisted on buying this baby book! I loved it. I started filling it out weeks before you came. I couldn't wait until I could fill out all your little firsts. And while that book won't get filled up now... I'm glad I pushed daddy to buy it. Your little prints are in there.. and your ultrasound pictures. I'll always cherish it.

It didn't take long to pick your name. In fact I think we had names picked out before I even had an ultrasound. We both loved Olivia, it was like daddy's middle name, which is Oliver. And then you would have my middle name, Marie. Olivia Marie Townshend. Such a pretty name. It was perfect. Olivia means peace. And there isn't a better word to describe you now. You were so peaceful looking. And Beautiful. I also recently looked up your birth flower.. it was Lily of the valley, which also means peace. Some believe the lily of the valley prompts visions of heaven, aiding us to see a brighter future. Well I don't think that could be more true and perfect. Your grandma Lois is going to plant some in her garden for you... It will be your little spot.

I will never be able to go back and changed what happened Olivia. I know that even though we had big plans for you... you had bigger plans for yourself. Bigger plans for me and your daddy. And while I struggle with my own personal guilt and sadness as to why you are gone. I know you are looking down on us all saying, "Just you wait and see..." 

Love you so much little girl... 


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Losing dreams you've come to care about

Well here we are... this is the morning I will never forget... 

It was about 8 in the morning. I woke up still feeling sick from the night before. I usually try to brush off morning sickness, typical stubborn me... like I can control it or something. I had gotten up and moved around a bit, went a laid back down... the nausea wasn't leaving. So I did as I usually do, I gave in... I went to the bathroom and let my body take over. Right as I finally thought it was over.. I felt it. It was like someone just popped a water balloon in my pants. Only I wasn't at a Summer BBQ, and there was no laughter from people throwing over filled balloons at each other. I knew what had just happened. As soon as I could I quickly woke Sam up.. I said "Something's wrong!!! I think my water just broke!" I was trying to stay calm but the thoughts in my head were pouring in faster than I could think. I called my Dr's office and left a message for the on call nurse. I called my mom... I can't remember if I was crying yet or not. I told her what happened and she told me what I already knew... I was in a state of total denial. "Maybe that wasn't it! Maybe I just peed my pants..." the one time in my life I was praying I had just peed my pants. I thought, OK.. even if it was my water that broke, I'm sure it's fine! I know the fluid can rebuild itself... I just have to make it 23 weeks. Just breath. Take a shower. Calm yourself down. It felt like hours before that nurse called me back. She said I needed to come in right away, my Dr was out for the day, but I would see someone else. I was used to that... I had already seen almost every doctor in their office. Sam was going to call in to work, I tried to convince him to just go. It would be fine.. Olivia would be fine. I had to rush to the doctors many times before, and it always turned out fine. I think that was the denial talking. I'm glad he didn't listen to my craziness. We got ready, and headed out. We drove there in silence. I don't think either of us knew what was going to happen... and I certainly didn't want to think or even face the fact that this wasn't good... I couldn't.

What felt like hours later, we finally saw the doctor. She listened to me tell her what happened. She explained that sometimes a blood clot can build fluid around it and maybe that's what I had felt. And since I was bleeding so much that made perfect sense. I was silently begging... PLEASE!! PLEASE LET THAT BLOOD CLOT BE GONE. She did a test for fluid and it came back negative. My hope had increased even more. I felt good. She wanted to do an ultrasound just to be sure. They brought in the portable ultrasound machine. Loaded me up with gel and she took a look. Now I wasn't totally new to this ultrasound thing, I had already had about 10 before this. And while I certainly wasn't a professional... I knew that what we were looking at was not good. I couldn't see Olivia. Where was my girl?! I was struggling to look, frantically searching the screen for the flicker of her heart beating. Phew.. there it was. She was there. But I knew something wasn't right... The Dr didn't say much, she wanted to get me into a room with a higher quality machine. We went right over to another room... I knew the drill. 

As we came in, they had my ultrasound pictures from last week up on a couple different computer screens. I could tell it was pictures of my amniotic fluid, which last week they said I had more than enough. I laid down on the bed. My eyes were burning a hole through the TV screen on the wall in front me. I waited as she loaded me up with more gel and there it was again... a jumbled image of what was inside of me. I couldn't see the Olivia I saw last week. It was blurry, black and jumbled. I watched as she measured the fluid.. and my worst fears were officially confirmed. No fluid. My water had broke. We were then taken back to the other room. Our Dr came in.. she looked like she was struggling to say what I was already thinking. She handed me a box of tissues, and started going over our options. It hit me like 500 tons of bricks, all at once... I just burst into tears. I couldn't handle it. I am so grateful that I had Sam there, full of so much strength. He kept me from breaking, even though I knew he felt exactly as I did. My hope was fading.. fast. There was so much information being thrown at us, I couldn't keep up. My Dr said, "You can choose to end the pregnancy." they said even if Olivia made it the risks of health problems were overwhelming. I hardly even blinked before I said "No". I thought, who I am to play God. I'm not going to decide to end her life just because my body wasn't doing what it was supposed to do. I didn't care if she came out blind... as long as she came out. Breathing, smiling, living.... So we were told the quick version of what had to happen now, they sent us off to the perinatal OB over by St. Vincents with a prescription for antibiotics and a prayer.

This day so far had been filled with a lot of waiting, hoping, and questions... and it wasn't going to end. The perinatal OB said that the next 48 hours were crucial. I could go into labor, I could get an infection, Olivia could get an infection. I was to not move.. to drink more water than I could even handle, and to pray like I had never prayed before. Once I made it to 23 weeks I would be hospitalized. I thought OK, Olivia... 14 days. Please.... Please hang on for 14 days. I was trying to stay strong... to stay relaxed for Olivia, and for my body. We left feeling as hopeful as we could. I wasn't in any pain, no contractions... I even managed to laugh a few times. I went straight to bed when we got home. I laid there trying to calm myself down. Trying to get a sense of what was going on. I hooked up the doppler and listened to Olivia's heart beating... there was no sound more calming to me. Knowing she was with me still gave me peace. I felt like our chances were good. Olivia had survived all the other trauma my body had gone through. I begged and pleaded and prayed... please.. please let this work out. Two weeks away had never felt longer... 

A few hours later I started feeling some cramping... but it wasn't consistent, it wasn't painful. Jennifer came over, she brought me ice cream and just laid with me and talked. She tried to time the pains... they seemed to be about 10-15 minutes apart. We called the on-call doctor. He said to stay put for now. If they get stronger call me back. Looking back I should have just gone in, I always think maybe they could have done something. Maybe they could have stopped what was about to happen. Eventually Jen left, and I decided to try and sleep, which was nearly impossible, but I managed to doze off for an hour or two. I woke up at about 1am to use the restroom. I never understood how I was supposed to be drinking all this water.. but not supposed to be getting up. I don't really know how to write what happened next. It's hard for me to even think about.... I didn't feel any different. The pains had stopped. I thought I was going to go back to bed and wake up the next morning and be 24 hours down and feeling great. But when I went to wipe... I felt something. At first I had no idea what, I though I had started bleeding again. But when I felt again I couldn't deny it... I ran into the bedroom. "We have to go!! We have to go NOW!!" Sam didn't know why and I couldn't bring myself to tell him. To tell him it was over.. That I didn't see a happy ending anymore. That what I had felt was our baby girl's foot... 

I called the hospital - told them we were coming in. and we left. I was admitted to Meridian Park Hospital. This wasn't the plan... This wasn't supposed to happen until September. Everything after that is very blurry. Our nurse Mary Ann.. she was so sweet. She fought back her own tears as she explained to me what was happening. I was dilated 4cm. And Olivia's leg had come out of my cervix. That there was nothing they could do. That even though my babies heart was still beating away.... I had to let her go. I didn't know how I was going to say goodbye. How I could just let this happen. I wanted to die. I wanted to cry. I wanted to scream. But all I could do was listen... everything was happening too fast. I was finally hooked up to an IV after 5 attempts... and received an epidural after 3 attempts. I had been poked, prodded, stabbed.. devastated. I couldn't feel anymore pain.. I went numb. Physically and emotionally. They wanted to induce me but I said no. I wanted it to happen on its own... I couldn't bear the thought of forcing Olivia's heart to stop beating. The rest of that day was filled with family, friends, tears, smiles, sadness, laughter... you name it. Sam and I couldn't believe what was happening. Sam was being so amazing and strong. How do you prepare to lose a daughter that you've never even met? We had decided we wanted to see her, to hold her... they said she might come out alive but wouldn't stay that way for more than a moment. We wanted to share Olivia with everyone. There were so many people in that hospital for her, so much love for her. I didn't understand how someone who was so wanted and loved.. didn't even get a chance to survive. I was heart broken. About an hour or so before I went into actual labor, I asked Tammy, our angel of a nurse, if we could listen to Olivia's heart beat again. I wanted to hear it one last time. She looked at me, and agreed even though we both knew it might not be there. After a couple seconds of searching.. there it was. The most perfect sound. I never want to forget that sound. I silently said my goodbyes and felt like it was time to let go. Finally.. at 6:47pm on May 18th, Miss Olivia came into this world. Her heart was no longer beating... but she was perfect. I remember holding her and thinking... breath. please breath. I knew it wasn't physically possible but all I could hear in my head was her beating heart we had just heard not long before.... I had never felt such devastation and love in the same moment. In a room filled with tears... everyone said their hellos, and goodbyes, to our baby girl. She had left us.

The rest is a blur...  I couldn't wrap my mind around it.. sometimes I still can't. I miss her every moment of every day. She was apart me. She was something we created. She was our daughter, and she was gone.... As painful as it was, I never want to forget those 2 days. Or 21 weeks for that matter. I want to look back on this and remember, and know that while her life was short it was powerful...

“In this life we will encounter hurts and trials that we will not be able to change; we are just going to have to allow them to change us.” -Ron Lee Davis

Hi Mommy and Daddy!!!

It was exactly 4 Mondays ago that my life was perfect.... and the last time my life was perfect.

Rewind 5 days earlier... It was our 20 week ultrasound, and we were so excited to get to see our little lady. She still hadn't been 100% confirmed as our baby girl, but I knew. I was nervous because despite being on bed rest for the last month, I was still bleeding... A lot. But to mine and Sam's relief, she looked perfect and the ultrasound tech had nothing but great things to say regarding Olivia. 12oz, 10" long, 10 fingers, 10 toes.. she was being a bit shy so still only 90% sure she was our girl. I had felt so much relief.. we were half way there. I could finally breath and enjoy the pregnancy. That was until my doctor said the words.. "unfortunately...". They had discovered that my blood clot that started out as "nothing serious", had grown to be 9cm (3.5"). She said I was going to be on bed rest the rest of my pregnancy, and most likely be hospitalized after 24 weeks. I tried to brush it off as just a bump in the road. I thought Olivia wouldn't make it this far for things to fail now. If I only knew then what I know now, I would have asked more questions, I would have demanded more answers. We left feeling optimistic and thankful that everything with Olivia was perfect... 

 20 week Ultrasound - It looked like she was giving her mommy kisses...

Fast forward back to Monday..

The day had been great! The bleeding had stopped, I hadn't had any morning sickness the previous week. We were making plans to go register and start planning for the arrival of our Olivia Marie. We were both so happy. I remember not really being able to get to sleep that night, Olivia was giving her mommy quiet the beating. In fact, I was talking to a friend saying I couldn't believe how much she was moving! We made plans to meet up that next day and I couldn't wait to tell her all about Olivia.

I laid in bed that night with Sam, listening to her heart beat with our home doppler and trying to move his hand around my tummy to feel her kicks. I was saying, "she's trying to say hi Mommy and Daddy!!". I wasn't showing too much yet and thought, "next week you will feel them for sure!" I felt so much love for her, I was so excited. I put the doppler away and decided I should get some sleep. I was just about to doze off when I suddenly felt sick. This wasn't rare, I was sick often during my pregnancy, but never at night. I got up to go to the bathroom.. But nothing happened. I thought maybe she just hit my stomach weird.. And went back to bed. I was so happy... I didn't know that those would be the last kicks I felt from my daughter. I didn't know that in less than 8 hours my world would come to a complete standstill....

Sunday, June 12, 2011


I have been through loss before. It's not something new to me, unfortunately. But this loss... this loss was something I never knew I could experience. It's shaken me to my core. Changed who I thought I was and who I wanted to be. Changed how I go about my day. Something as simple as going to the grocery store can now be a draining event.

I feel as if I'm stuck in some sort of grief purgatory. I don't want to spend my days in pain, but when I try and be happy and "normal" - I feel guilt, which then brings back the pain. It's a catch 22. No matter how I decide to start my day.. it always ends with the pain. 

I recently spent some time with my girlfriends, who I love so much. I sat there listening to everyone go on about their lives and how happy they were, and I realized, I didn't have anything to talk about other than Olivia. Time has stood almost completely still for me since May, 18th. And yet, here was everyone else. Living. It overwhelmed me to the fullest. I felt like I didn't belong anymore. And even though I tried my hardest to keep smiling and laughing... the pain. Oh, the pain... It can make you act in ways you don't even understand. I instantly wanted to be home, I wanted to lock myself away and never come out. I felt like I would be doing everyone a favor by just disappearing. That would be so much easier than forcing everyone to witness my despair. Easier than letting people feel sorry for me, or uncomfortable around me because they don't know what to say. I suddenly felt like the elephant in the room. It made me feel more alone than ever. 

The sadness consumes me, makes me think things I know aren't true. I think, how can I allow myself to be happy when Olivia isn't here anymore. I sometimes feel like she left because I was being punished. And so I'm going to keep punishing myself by allowing the sadness to take away all possibilities of happiness. 

This is my purgatory.  And I can't wait to be out of it...


Friday, June 10, 2011

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The source of my peace

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, 
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him, 
And He shall direct your paths.." Proverbs 3:5

I found comfort in that quote the first time I read it. I've never been a very religious person, I believe in God and Satan, Heaven and Hell, But I've never relied on faith to direct my paths or provide comfort in times of sorrow or rejoice. I was recently asked, "Do you blame God?". At first thought I wasn't sure... It would be so easy to be angry with God. To be angry and blame him for taking my baby girl. But after a few moments I decided that, No I don't. I don't know much about God and his plans... but from what I believe, he would never inflict pain on us purposely. And since I believe in Satan, I think blaming God is what he would want. And since Olivia's passing, I have found comfort in words about the Lord and his plans. Comfort in believing that Olivia is an angel now in Heaven. The day Olivia came, I felt an all consuming sadness... and amazingly, the very few times I felt peace were the times when our friends and family around us were praying. And while some will say it came from my own personal strength.. I can't help but think that maybe that strength came from the faith and power in the trust and belief those around us had in God. 

When you lose a baby or anyone for that matter, the last thing you really want to hear is, "Everything happens for a reason" and "God has a plan", but when the sadness eases, and you stop to think about the depth of those words... it actually does bring comfort and hope. I believe that those words now are what have given me hope. Hope that I will one day understand the meaning of all this. That Olivia will have a sibling that we otherwise would have never had a chance to meet. That this will make Sam and I become better people and parents and appreciate life that much more. That I can share my story and offer some comfort for those losing a baby. That this loss will make me stronger, and in some backwards way... Happier.

I feel a little more at peace today.. and while I will never know the true understanding of why anything bad happens to anyone. I know that I can find the ability to look at a bigger picture through comforting prayers and words from God and the strength of those around me who believe and live by him. 

I want to dedicate this post to a very sweet friend of mine... I hope you find your comfort and peace soon. Love you....

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Swimming through the ashes of another life...

I wasn't dreaming.. again.

They say morning brings "new hope". For me, morning reminds me all over again that Olivia is gone, and that my life is not what it was 3 weeks ago. 

There are supposedly 5-7 (depending on who you ask) stages of grief. I didn't spend too long in the denial stage. How could I? The physical loss of Olivia was too real. I could no longer feel her kicking around inside of me. I could no longer hear her heart beating through my tummy. She was born sleeping... I held her precious 12.5oz, 10" long body... and there was no denying... she wasn't going to wake up. 

So on to the next 2 stages, where I find myself now. Somewhere In between Pain & Guilt, and Anger. These 3 emotions seem to be the "in crowd" right now, Feeding off of each other and bringing along other close friends of theirs. I feel pain everyday. I feel pain in the guilt I have for not being able to give Olivia the body to be able to live. I feel pain in the thoughts of "could I have done something different? Could I have of saved her?". Oh the shoulda, woulda coulda's are a frequent dialogue in my head right now. They bring along a feeling of worthlessness, and distrust in the world, and my body. That distrust in myself has become a feeling of disgust. It makes me feel unworthy, unlovable... empty. Which, as expected becomes anger. I feel pain in the anger I have for.. I don't even know who or what. But I am angry. I am angry at the fact that I had finally found a path. I was happy. I was content. I had hope. Hope in the life Sam and I were going to share, and give to Olivia. I was making decisions, I had plans. And poof, or in my case "pop". It was over. Now I feel like I don't know who's life I'm living. I have to start over. I had created a vision of life that could no longer become a possibility. I no longer get to make decisions for "us". I was on the path to being Olivia's mama.. I was sharing my body with her. She was a permanent fixture in all things for the future. And while I know the future is still there.. and there is still lots of hope for it - I can't help but be consumed by the "what-if's" of Olivia not being apart of it. 

Amazingly through all that pain.. I do see light. I've always been a particularly stubborn young lady, and while it's not always the case, I think it might be my saving grace. I can't let the pain win. I won't. I know I will get there... My hope is that my posse of emotions will slowly start to disappear, and my soul will heal, with each stroke of this keyboard. So here I am, getting it all out - every hurt, every pain, every tear. I heard these lyrics in a song, and thought... this won't be me.

"Whatever happened to the young man's heart.... Swallowed by pain, as he slowly fell apart..."  

As long as I'm living, My baby you'll be....

Olivia Marie Townshend 5/18/2011

You never said you're leaving
You never said goodbye
You were gone before I knew it,
And only God knows why.

A million times I needed you,
A million times I cried.
If love alone could have saved you,
You never would have died.

In life I loved you dearly
In death I love you still
In my heart you hold a place, 
That nobody could ever fill.

It broke my heart to lose you, 
But you didn't go alone
For part of me went with you, 
The day God took you home.