Three on Monday That Were Intended for Sunday…

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So I’ve got three posts today. I’ll explain…

Since yesterday morning, I’ve had quite a lot mulling around in my mind. I’ve been writing and rewriting posts in my mind and here at the computer on and off for two days. With several freelance jobs I have in the works {and more on the way}, I realized I won’t be able to blog much throughout the week. So while Sunday is still fresh on my mind, I decided to get on my blog and post about it all at once before I take a short break from blogland.

Yesterday was such a full day for us. I mean that in a busy-with-lots-to-do sense. But more so in the sense of being full of emotions… the full gamut, from start to finish.

So much of it was good. So much was difficult, too.

I had started a What I Remember… post yesterday morning as I drank my coffee and prepared for the day, but I soon realized that with the time change that had taken place overnight, I wouldn’t have enough time to finish, proofread and publish it. So I held off. Our day filled up quickly and left no room for writing. I was okay with that, as I sort of wanted to spend Sunday just reflective, protecting it from anything chaotic or stressful. Writing here would have made me late, and late would have made things stressful. So I put it aside without hesitation.

But after shopping for a dress for the memorial service and later attending the service, I had even more that I wanted to process and share pertaining to the day… so much more. Our time after the service was spent in reflection and tears and, later, with pizza as we watched some television together, leaving little time for writing out all that I would have had wanted to share by the end of Sunday.

So here it all is for Monday, instead… like, a lot.

As I said, I have a busy week ahead with freelance work, and even when I’m not working on those jobs, I will be getting ready for Mr. B’s parents’ stay with us at the end of March.

I thought of writing these thoughts out in individual posts today {before my the memory of our day gets blurred} and then publishing each of the three posts throughout the week. But I decided to put all my Sunday thoughts/posts together in one. I realize there is a lot here for just one post, but I’m looking at it as everything I would have posted here throughout my week, all wrapped into one… except for Thursday’s Project 52 post, which I will be back here for.

So first up… what this Sunday made me remember, before I forget.

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WHAT I REMEMBER, BEFORE I FORGET

keep calm

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I bought this shower curtain a few days after we moved into our house last year. I had grown a bit tired of the “Keep Calm and Carry On” poster that had been all over the internet after its popularity exploded overnight a few years back. So I swore I would never be one to buy it, because even though I initially liked it when it first came on the scene {enough to consider purchasing a print for my office}, I knew that if I ever bought and framed one, this catchy phrase and print would have become as over-used as any other overnight sensation before I even had the chance to frame my print or pound the nail into the wall to hang it.

However, when I saw it available in a form different from the usual poster print—as a shower curtain, which we needed because we had just moved from a house that had a shower door as opposed to a curtain that we could pack and take with us—I jumped at the chance to buy it. I refused it in poster form, but there in life-sized, big, bold letters on a shower curtain, it almost seemed like a pop art treatment {think Campbell’s soup cans in Warhol paintings}, and thus appealed to me. I ordered one as I thought, this will be the only way anyone will ever see this phrase spelled out in my home… almost a sort of sarcastic homage to the sensation the phrase had become.

Little did I know that only a few months later, behind that curtain, some of the most heart-wrenching tears I’ve ever cried would stream down my face… unrecognizable, as water streaming from the shower mixed with those tears and washed them away as quickly as each one came. Little did I know that for the next several months, the very words it displayed would be the advice I needed but was unable to carry out. Of course, here I am today. So I must have done the latter. I must have carried on, because here I stand.

And today, here I sit, think, breathe, eat, laugh, cry, love, clean, create, fail, watch, remember, hope, hurt and live.

But then?… Keep calm? Oh, no. Rarely did I. And ironically, for some reason, it was during my showers that calm was the most difficult thing to attain. I have a theory as to why, which I will get to in a bit.

Almost three months after I lost my baby girl, we will commemorate her today by driving to the hospital and attending a service in honor of her, as well as so many other babies and children whose lives ended too soon there among those same walls.

As I showered this morning to get ready for the service and the rest of my day, I thought about the other times I had showered in preparation for a visit there. Our prenatal doctor visits were at the hospital where we gave birth, because the team of maternal fetal specialists we were seeing worked in offices directly attached to the hospital… essentially, part of the hospital.

Our very first visit there was around fifteen weeks gestation. It was a visit to follow-up the routine ultrasound we had at thirteen weeks which revealed the abnormality on Anysia’s abdomen. We would drive to this new and unfamiliar place where we were told that some of the most knowledgable doctors on the subject of omphaloceles in Chicagoland practice. And after deciding to continue our care there so that we could deliver in a hospital where there is a perinatal palliative care program, every subsequent prenatal visit would be there as well.

I couldn’t help but think how different a shower it was in preparation to go back there today than it had been all those other times. This time I was calm.

I remember a pregnancy marked by so many tears… one so filled with sadness, but also fear and anger and questioning… of course. Not completely hopeless. Not completely without peace. But so unbelievably devastating… and only now, looking back, do I see just how much. I remember there being two places where I seemed to weep the most. One was, without fail, each night as I tucked my son into bed, sitting on the floor by his low toddler bed as he drifted off to sleep. This is also the place I most often called out to God… silently, of course. But most of my praying was done in these moments. Sitting there next to my first child as my second grew in my belly… larger and larger, to the point where I could hardly even sit at his side toward the end. And usually, with prayer came the deepest outpouring of my desperate heart. Usually, I didn’t even know what to pray. But I remember praying anyway.

The other place where the tears poured out {in droves} was in the shower. I suspect that these episodes of crying were triggered by the inescapable sight of my ever-growing belly. Looking down at it, I couldn’t fathom her life only to fathom her death. It was something far too unbelievable to take in, so I often just broke down crying. Many times, these tears led to anger. I remember once, soon after we’d received a diagnosis, becoming so angry, I picked up Izzy’s bath toys in frustration and threw them across the bathroom as I screamed WHY?… WHY?… WHY?… spraying water everywhere as the toys flew past the shower curtain. When I was done, I dropped down to the tub floor under the stream of the shower with my arms wrapped around my legs and face buried in my knees. And I wept. And I wept and I wept and I wept. It’s horrible even to recall the state I was in. It was one of the darkest points for sure. And as I showered for our trip to the hospital today, I remembered it so well.

All these months later, I don’t know how I made it through such anguish-filled days. I mean that with all my heart. It had to be by the grace of God. As sad as our loss remains, it is remarkable to think that we’ve made it through those hardest days of accepting. In many ways, though she was still with us, those were the worst of days… in many ways, more difficult than after she passed. They were ugly days, for sure. In writing about them, I see beauty, too. But at the moment, it was ugly and dark and terrifying.

I remember when people would say to us, “You seem so strong and you are handling this with such grace.” I would think, NO! That’s just not true. You don’t see me when I scream and fall apart. You didn’t see when Mr. B. kicked his foot through a chair in frustration and anger. You don’t see us when we are short-tempered with each other or with our son over the littlest things… yelling when he surely didn’t deserve to be yelled at. You didn’t see me when I couldn’t breathe, overcome with anxiety. You don’t know how many times I’ve complained and become angry or disappointed in everything and everyone around me… when I was grace-LESS… not grace-FUL.

You only see me now… now that I’ve pulled myself back together for a moment or two.

It is a painful thing to remember such times. So painful, I want to shut down the memory of it. But I know how important it is not to. If anything, I see importance in intentionally remembering. In looking back… to, once again, see how far we’ve come by God’s help.

His help was the help to survive. The help to get to this point today… a day which I could not have imagined back when I threw those bath toys in screams. A day I was able to shower and realize I was no longer weeping there at the thought of driving to a hospital that holds so much bad news and sadness for me. His help was the help to reach this point alive… not unscathed, but alive… still expecting some waves along the way, but still trusting too. Still hoping. Still holding on to what I believe.

Carrying on and calm.
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SHE WAS SO KIND

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These days, my wardrobe is very limited. If I have to go out, I still wear the maternity pants I had been wearing before giving birth to Anysia. On the days I’m home and have nowhere to go, I usually just wear whatever stretchy and comfortable clothes that will fit… yoga pants, tee-shirts and cardigans, mostly. Some days, I’ll wear pajamas all day {usually on days when I’m hit with a wave of grief}.

I have plenty of nice clothing to wear for events such as memorial services. It’s just that I don’t fit in any of it right now. I won’t go into why that is still the case. It’s not the point of what I wanted to share. But I mention it, because it sets up what I do want to share.

I couldn’t very well show up to a memorial service in yoga pants. Well, I guess I could. I’m sure no one would have judged me for that. But I didn’t want to. Much like today, yesterday was warmer than it’s been. The sun was out, the birds were singing, and the freshness in the air put a sense of hope, renewal and life there, too. Though the season of lent is upon us and we would be mourning our daughter’s death at a service along with other families who lost, I also felt a sense of resurrection as I moved through the morning, and I wanted to go buy something new to wear to reflect it. New me {changed beyond what I could ever imagine}, new clothes, a new day, and soon, a new season. This was my thinking as I headed off to the T.J.Maxx closest to my house.

In my mind, I pictured something black {it seemed appropriate and it’s also slimming… yes, even for attending my own daughter’s memorial service, I had concerns about my appearance}. But I also wanted something I could wear into the warmer months ahead and something that seemed hopeful and bright. So I pictured a floral print or a bright pattern to accompany the black.

Other than maternity clothes, I haven’t shopped for new clothing at all these past couple of years. Shopping in this beautiful, recently-opened store felt foreign to me. Before becoming a mom, fashion and clothing were important to me… an extension of my artistic expression. Sadly, when I had Isaac, that sort of fell by the wayside {as it often does for moms who don’t make a point to keep such things a priority}. I think that as soon as that first baby-spit-up from Isaac hit my shoulder, wearing nice things and putting thought into how I dressed sort of went out the window.

Yesterday was different. Yesterday, I did care. But even if I hadn’t, I simply had nothing appropriate to wear that I could still fit into.

I gathered up six or seven pieces from the racks and headed toward the lovely dressing rooms to try them on. Even the dressing rooms sang newness to me. As I mentioned, it was a newer store. Not only did it open recently {so everything was still in pristine condition}, but a lot of thought had been put into the changing area to make it beautiful and almost luxurious… as if the customer trying on clothes is in the comfort of her own home. The lighting wasn’t harsh like I often find it, the wood floors weren’t cold or dirty, the walls weren’t bare and stark, but rather, covered with a pretty floral paper. Everything was clean and new and full of warmth… and, strangely, I found comfort there.

But any comfort I felt would soon turn to frustration. I went there truly not knowing what size I am. In fact, with no scale in my home, I don’t even really know my weight. I only have an idea based on what the nurse told me I weigh at my most recent OBGYN appointment. So, naturally, I pulled clothes off the racks based on estimates of what I might fit into, knowing I had gained some pregnancy weight that I have not yet shed. I gathered items that were larger than what I would have fit into prior to getting pregnant with Anysia. Everything was either Medium or Size 10. As I began to try them all on there in that “fitting room”, I quickly realized they were anything but fitting. This is when my treat-myself-to-a-new-outfit excursion began to head south… or at least the part that felt like a treat.

But I maintained hope and told myself that numbers did not matter, as long as I could find something that I was comfortable in and that helped me feel put together.

The fitting room attendant was a sweet, pretty girl who couldn’t have been more than half my age. I’ve shopped for clothes enough in the past to know that not all employees this age have a capacity to be polite, helpful and sweet to customers, especially not with customers who are twice their age and twice their dress size. In fact, not all employees have this capacity, period… regardless of their age or their customer’s. Just in the months of going through Anysia’s diagnosis and our loss, I’ve received customer service that was not only not polite, but was downright rude. Not so in this case, though. This girl knew nothing of me or my story. All she could go on in dealing with me was what she could see with her own two eyes. She looked past my age and the tired bags beneath my eyes. She looked past the size of my body as well as the frumpy clothes I was wearing in an attempt to cover it up. She saw me. She saw a human being. She saw someone who needed her help.

At first, help came in the form of zipping up my dress. One of the first things I had pulled off the rack was the dress pictured above. I had grabbed it in Medium and slipped it on over the black shirt I left my house in, as well as a pair of pants {also found on the rack} that were far from fitting. I couldn’t reach the zipper on this dress in order to close it to see if it fit, so she kindly zipped it up for me.

I suppose I should mention the fact that this dress is SO not me. I merely picked it up and considered it because the shape and cut of it looked to me like something that would cover up my still-looks-like-I-recently-gave-birth tummy and my not-at-all-ready-to-wear-fitted-clothes lower half. But I wasn’t wild about the pattern at all. One of the first things I asked the girl who zipped me up was if it looked too little-girlish. She said she didn’t think so and tried to further assure me by telling me she owns something similar. It was sweet of her to say, but in retrospect, this over-forty-year-old chuckles that her affirmation helped me get past my worry that such a dress was not appropriate for my age, coming from someone who couldn’t have been over twenty years old.

Regardless, I trusted her and told her I would consider it, but needed to see if the Large would fit me better. I left my reject picks with her and headed back out for another sweep to find more black pants and that same jumper, only in larger sizes. Sure enough, the young-ish floral print dress was available in Large, and larger sizes of black pants could be found as well. It pained me to be picking up Size 12 pants off the rack. That number is double the size that I’m used to… what I’ve worn most of my adult life. I headed back to my room with the kind of emotions that often lead to a heavy heart beginning to bubble up, but still composed and hopeful. Finding a pair of comfortable flats that perfectly matched the dress on my way back certainly didn’t hurt my resolve.

Once again, the lovely girl attending the dressing room helped me zip up my dress. This time it would be easier to zip… an indication that the large would be the better option for me right now. My newest trouser selection would fit as well. I vented to her how I couldn’t believe I had to look in the Size 12 section for pants. She seemed to understand my frustration, and offered words of permission to be a size or two higher than what I would like right now… and permission to be frustrated about it, as well. I stood in front of the community mirror outside my room and pretended like the size of the clothing did not bother me. Instead, I focused on the style. I kept mentioning that I felt little-girlish in it and that I wasn’t sure if it was the right thing for me. Almost as if she was my own personal shopper or assistant, in an attempt to try to help me figure it all out, she asked me, “Well, have you ever worn something like this before?”

I paused.

A long pause. I knew I had better think before answering her question. Past experience told me I should know better than to answer simple questions on difficult days without first thinking it through and gearing up to keep emotions out of my answer.

But I knew I wouldn’t be able to answer her without crying… thus, the long pause. Tears had been building long before I ever got to the point of being faced with that question. They’d been building from the minute I woke up, I think. I just didn’t realize it because of how calm and collected I noticed myself earlier {see my shower curtain post above}. Much like the Caesar salad incident that occurred early on in my loss, this poor girl had no idea that posing a simple question to me would result in such an emotional response.

Yet she handled my answer with grace and kindness.

More composed than I was at Olive Garden two months ago, I began to share with her why I was there in the first place… what it was specifically for that I had been looking for an outfit. I said something like this…

“I’ll try not to cry… but I’m here to find an outfit for a memorial service that I am going to this afternoon at the hospital where I gave birth to my daughter… she only lived for six hours.” I could have stopped there, but I continued on, whether she wanted me to or not. Judging by the look of compassion that came across her face and the couple of steps she took toward me to listen closer as I shared through my tears in what was almost a whisper, she did want me to continue. And once again, she seemed to be giving me permission. The twenty-year-old giving the forty-year-old permission.

I rambled on, “This is why I appreciate you being so kind and so helpful, because this is so hard for me on so many levels. I have no idea what to wear and I just don’t feel comfortable, and I keep being drawn to this dress, even though it’s so not me, and I know I keep mentioning how it feels too young for me. But in a way, I almost like that it’s little-girlish, because it’s almost like a tribute to my little girl. So in that sense, I feel like I should get it.”

Before I could even finish that last sentence, she was shaking her head in agreement… a thoughtful, slow nod that said “you are 100% right-on” with such a tender look in her eyes that showed an empathy I would not have expected from a young, pretty girl who didn’t know me any more than any other stranger who has walked into her department.

Her thoughtful gesture and words prompted me to softly ask, “Do you think I should get it for that reason?”

Her answer was a slow and quiet, but sure and resounding “yes” as she smiled with compassionate approval… not just approving of my apparel choice, but my display of emotion as well. It was the sweetest thing, and I knew right then, beyond a doubt, that I would find her manager and commend her absolutely empathetic and professional response to not only my customer service needs, but to my grief as well.

I replied. “Okay! Then I’m done. I will get them all”… the dress, the pants, the shoes. We walked back to her station together where she would hang up all the items I would not be taking as she shared with me how her little brother had lost his grandma the day before, and how it would have been her birthday the next day had she lived. She said she could identify with my sadness because she felt such sadness for her half-brother in the midst of his devastating loss. She was surprisingly mature in her empathy and ability to express it. But what I was most struck by was her ability to be kind.

She was so kind to me.

My dressing room experience there was a reminder to me that would have served me well over the past twenty years, from the time I was her age until now… when I worked in retail with less-than-desirable customers, or when I was cut off on the road by what seemed like an insensitive and rude driver, or even when dealing with an employee who was rude to me as a customer… in dealing with anyone whose stories I did not {and could not have} know{n}. The reminder is be kind. Because you don’t know someone’s story… someone who has been rude, someone to whom you might think you have nothing to say, or one you may not identify with. For many, the story is a tragic, painful or sad one. Some may share theirs, but many don’t. And you just never know what someone is going through. It’s not just a “don’t be rude or mean” lesson to learn, which is not the same lesson as “go out of your way to be kind because you never know who could need it or how it might bless someone”. She could have been neutral with me… neither rude nor compassionate and helpful. But she was the latter. And in the midst of the story I’m in, specifically this chapter, it was the most precious gift I could have received yesterday… kindness from a stranger.

Really, at the heart, it was connection… something I’ve been thinking about often and have begun to write about {which I hope to share here soon}. But connection and kindness, I believe, go hand-in-hand. And yesterday, at my hometown T.J.Maxx in my new floral “little-girl” jumper dress that I chose to wear to my little girl’s memorial, I was the recipient of both.
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GATHERED IN HOPE

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Yesterday, we attended a memorial service held at the hospital where Anysia was born and where she died just six hours later. Receiving the invitation to the service was bitter/sweet. But I found myself, once the day came, feeling only the sweet. I woke up ready to go… wanting to go. I did have a bit of reluctance that never really took root. This is only natural, I’m sure. I figured as much… of course there would be pain in returning to the place where we had to let her go.

But for the most part, my outlook was bright and my day was peaceful. We all took it easy on ourselves and allowed a slow-paced morning to unfold. We made sure we were all well-rested and we started getting ready earlier than usual so that we wouldn’t have to rush and ruin the mood with hurried or frantic preparation.

We stayed close to each other and protected each other’s moods. It was not until we left the house to drive there that I began to feel it was at all too difficult to go. Fortunately, a freshly-napped and chattier-than-usual toddler kept us entertained and distracted the whole ride there.

I wish I could say that the service itself was moving and healing for me. Made obvious by such a statement, it was not. But that only had to do with myself… not the service itself.

Unfortunately, when we arrived, things almost immediately began to feel disconnected… like nothing was cohesive. Mostly, I didn’t feel a sense of cohesiveness in regards to the guests who came to pay respects to Anysia with us, and that is likely because I wasn’t very organized about it all. Once we got there {on time, but what perhaps should have been earlier}, I needed to use the restroom, Isaac became distracted by the play area that had been set up in the hallway outside the chapel, and the seats in the chapel were quickly filling up. I felt there was no time to say hello to everyone before things got started. My nice, quiet and protected peaceful mood began to turn into distraction and frustration.

As the service was about to begin, I took Isaac from his dad’s arms to quiet his cries protests about having to go in the chapel with us. I know it was partly that he just wanted to keep playing, but somehow, I think he felt we were back there for solemn reasons once again… the mood in the air was such, and the music playing had a similar vibe {which makes perfect sense}. He’s pretty bright, and he catches on to things quickly. So I’m pretty sure he recognized the building when we arrived and remembered each and every visit there prior to this day. Every time we had been there before, there were tears and sadness associated with the visit… even confusion, especially for his young mind. I have no doubt that he remembered all those visits and struggled with being back there, seeing many of the same familiar faces he had seen when we were there last December and lost Anysia. I’m sure he recognized the parking garage we always parked in, and that same sidewalk we had always walked to get inside. Once inside, so much there would be familiar to him as well. And although we eventually went to an area of the hospital that we had not been to before—where the chapel is—once there, he recognized familiar faces and, as I said, likely remembered seeing those faces at that same place when we were last there, giving birth to his sister.

I’ve never written much about his experience with the birth of his sister, but in a nutshell, it was sort of rough for him. Because he did not fully understand what was going on, but knew enough to sense that it was sad, I think he had a hard time with it. Plus, he was so disconnected from us through that experience. Though he loved being with his cousins, aunts and grandma in the waiting room, it only added to the disconnection he felt when he would come into the delivery room… especially when he came in and saw this new baby in my arms and was told she was his sister, who he had only ever known as a person we pointed to inside my growing tummy underneath my clothes. I got the sense that he didn’t even really feel like we were his parents anymore that day… as if he’d been replaced. And I can certainly understand. I would have been just as confused.

So I am not one bit surprised if he remembered all this… he retains everything, and it hasn’t even been three months. As we approached the chapel room for the service, he started thrashing in my arms and saying, “I don’t want to go see Anysia”… over and over. We had not even mentioned to him why we were there. This is how I know he remembered. It broke my heart and my courage to go in. I walked him away from the room to a more private spot where I could calm him down and coax him into the room by telling him his auntie had a toy for him. It was the only quick thing I knew to do that would work and keep us from holding the service up and/or get us in there with everyone else before it started.

Unfortunately, this sort of set the tone for how I experienced the service… somewhat frazzled and reluctant. Upon sitting down in my seat, all I could do was bury my head in my sister’s neck and quietly sob as the somber music played. I was sad to be there… sad because of the reason we had to be there in the first place. This was to be expected, though. The chaos that led up to it, I did not expect.

But once I got out a cry, my heart and mind were quieted as I listened to the words that were spoken.

Everything that was said was lovely, but I found myself looking around at all the other mothers from my back-row seat and thinking little about Anysia and much more about them. My heart was broken to see the sadness on their faces, and I could hardly bear it when one of them would openly weep, fighting back her emotions so as to be quiet and respectful. All I could think of was them. This is a good thing for sure… to care about others’ pain. Surely, it helps me to not feel alone, and helps me with my own pain if I can care about others’. Yet, I left the hospital feeling somewhat anxious that I didn’t really reflect very much on Anysia. I still feel heart-broken for those women whose faces I can see even as I type a day later.

It was a good service, but a sorrowful reminder that what we went through is far too common. And a reminder that there are even more heart-breaking stories of families who lost three at once {triplets} or lost a child after several years of loving them and knowing them so well.

I think perhaps something else played a part in me not feeling connected to Anysia throughout the service. I think with the chapel being far from the room where I said goodbye to her {and in an area unfamiliar to me}, I didn’t feel the connection to her that I hoped I would. It’s almost as if I needed to go back to the room where she passed to feel like it was for her that I was there.

But I have to accept that I didn’t necessarily go to feel a connection to her. That was simply something I expected. The purpose of the service was more to remember. And as the printed program stated, we were all gathered there in hope. That alone was a comfort… the gathered part—we were none of us alone, and the hope part—we all believe we will see our loved one{s} again.

After the service ended, I hoped cohesiveness would still have a chance in the hope that we would all {my family and the guests who came for us} go get something to eat together. But that didn’t seem to flow either. I guess with it being a Sunday night, everyone had to get home and prepare for the week ahead. This was even the case for us. Still, I longed for some time of fellowship and reflection with loved ones. Reflection would have to come later, among just us three in the privacy of our own home, over pizza and a viewing of the timely pilot episode of Resurrection. Not surprising to me, tears were shed as we watched.

I hope to look back some day and see that going to the service yesterday was a healing experience. Right now, it doesn’t feel that way.

But going was not a complete “loss”. I was so touched that there were those who came on our behalf to honor Anysia’s life. I was touched that tears were shed on our behalf for our loss. Attending that service as extended family or friends of Anysia’s family was probably not easy on many levels. So I so appreciate those who came to be with us. I hope they felt the connection that I could not seem to. And I know they shared the sadness I felt for all the other families and their loss. That meant a lot as well.

I was honored that my two sisters were with us. No photos were taken {other than a couple of iPhone pics taken with my sister’s and friend’s phones}, so I can’t share their faces from yesterday. But that’s okay. It gives me a chance to include photos from the day Anysia was born instead… and I’m always glad to have an opportunity to share those, as they are truly special to me.

Here is one of my absolute favorites…

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My two sisters’ faces holding two different emotions that were equally shared by everyone there that day. In one, a mix of sorrow and joy together. In the other, a peace and contentment that one could not help but feel when seeing Anysia’s precious face. These expressions here on my sisters’ faces as they gazed at Anysia say it all. They say everything that was in our hearts that day. It’s truly an amazing capture by my friend who took it. I will cherish it forever.

Just as they did when she was born, both came yesterday to both support us and celebrate her life.

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They were each able to hold her the day she was with us. Neither really got to say goodbye the way Mr. B and I were able to, so I’m sure it meant something to them to be there yesterday in that regard… or so I hope.
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View More: http://sherahgphotography.pass.us/anysia-bateman

With my older sister yesterday were her husband and three children as well. I was glad her kids also had a chance to hold their cousin the day she was born… seen below with the oldest of the three.
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View More: http://sherahgphotography.pass.us/anysia-bateman

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I love this photo of my twin sister holding Anysia…
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How appropriate that she looks quite angelic as she holds her niece, as this is the meaning of her name. I cry when I think of how sad this has made her. When you are a twin, you can easily feel like you are going through what your “other half” does. And I can almost see that here in this photo. But more than the pain, I see love. This love is why she showed up for us yesterday.

Also like yesterday, my sisters took much of the burden off our hands by preoccupying and caring for Isaac when Anysia was born. Not being out in the waiting room with them, I would not have known just how well they took care of him if I didn’t have these pictures to testify as much. It makes me glad to see Isaac so content and cared for during what was such a difficult and unfamiliar situation. They each stepped in as “mom” when I was not able to play mom for a bit.
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Obviously there with me yesterday was Mr. B and Izzy. And I’m sure at this point on my blog, I don’t need photos to illustrate who they are. But again… given the chance to share any photos from the day she was born, I will take it. So here are a couple of Anysia’s dad and big brother…

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Also with us yesterday were a couple of friends… one who was able to come be with us when Anysia was born, and one who was not there, but has closely walked alongside me in my pregnancy and beyond. First {and pictured meeting Anysia below} is one of my closest friends. It meant the world to have her there yesterday. She has the most tender heart toward children and moms, being a mom of her own four sweet kiddos. When I saw her eyes filled with tears yesterday, I knew they weren’t just for me and Mr. B. I knew they were for all moms there… and dads, too.

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She brought us the lovely pink roses seen at the beginning of this post. The white rose in the center was given to us during the memorial service by our delivery nurse {who is pictured below} after we lit our candle for Anysia from the already burning Candle of Love {as it was called}, which was there to light each candle for each little one lost.

In addition to my friend pictured above, the woman who was largely responsible for where I gave birth was in attendance, too. Because of her personal experience with Trisomy 18 and infant loss, she was able to point me in the direction of some of the most wonderful professionals we could have ever asked for to care for our pregnancy and birth… and our sweet baby girl. So, of course, it meant so much to have her there. She has spent many hours writing to me or meeting with us… just guiding us through, what was to us, unchartered territory. And she committed to our family on a personal level, too… bringing us several homemade meals to eat in the days that immediately followed our loss. Actually, everyone there with us yesterday did this throughout our journey {as did so many who were not there}, so I would be remiss to not point that out.

Some of those people I referenced above… medical staff who cared for our pregnancy and the birth… were also there yesterday. I was sure one would be… Kathie, who was our perinatal palliative care coordinator and the loveliest person to work with through so many excruciating days and so many pressing questions and concerns. She didn’t just coordinate our care for Anysia, she also coordinated this service… for all the babies honored there. I wish I had a photo that shows her more, but here she is lovingly listening to Anysia’s heartbeat just moments after she was born. It was a blessing to have her witness Anysia’s birth. She helped us so much through all those months, with the most tender and caring attitude.
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One of the greatest benefits in attending the service yesterday was that we were reunited with her and the nurse who cared for us during labor and delivery. Had it not been for this service, I don’t know that we would have otherwise had such an opportunity.

And now, Danielle… I don’t know what else I could say other than, I love her. We could not have asked for a better nurse to tend to us all when Anysia was born. And when I say all, I don’t just refer to myself, Mr. B and Anysia. She was a God-send in helping make Isaac comfortable in the room that day, too. Because of her, we were able to get some precious photos of Isaac with Anysia. She thought of everything. I could tell she’s been doing what she does for a while, because she didn’t skip a beat.

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But it’s not just experience… it’s her heart. She’s a natural, because in her heart, she is a caring and giving selfless human being. I think this amazing photo above {that I cherish beyond words} says it all. She treated Anysia like she treated any of us… with dignity and love, confidence and care. And she helped me to see what a significant life my daughter’s was, no matter how brief. What a joy to see Danielle again yesterday… and to embrace her and tell her thank you from the bottom of my heart… “There is no one else I would rather have held her as her caregiver in those moments than you.”

A lot went into that service, so for that I am grateful. Even if it did not end up accomplishing what I hoped it would {to no one’s fault… and if there is any to find, it would be with me}, it was a wonderful act of remembrance. So I am thankful for all who gave of their time to make it happen… thankful, as well, for those who took the time to be with us.

No matter what I felt I was able to personally receive by going yesterday, as I walked away from the chapel toward our car, I felt sad, yet honored to gather in hope with the many there who have walked a similar terrible path. And now, with their faces and stories at the front of my mind, I hope for their comfort and healing as much as I hope for ours.
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Photos in second post by Mr. B.
All photos in third post {except the flower photos} by Sherah G Photography

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