Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Nearly A Year

This Friday will mark one year since you left this earth, and as I write this to you I wonder how that can be when the thought of you, of all that you went through, of holding you that very last time still brings the same physical response. Time has been no match for these automatic things. The clenching in my heart. The rush of heat to the back of my eyes. The feeling of being completely overwhelmed. The urge to fight out of disbelief. Nearly a year has passed my sweet girl, and yet so little has changed. The days mark off the calendar. The lives of those around us progress. My body and face, showing signs of age, testify to the passage of time, but the progression of our lives, of our dreams, of all we had expected and hoped for remains still, shocked by all that happened into a state of perpetual pause. Your room sits untouched. Your presents sit in piles, still neatly wrapped. Your clothes, never worn, hang on hangers with tags. Nearly a year has passed, my sweet girl. Nearly a year, and I am still waiting.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Regrets... I've had a few

Last night I watched my brother in law enter into marriage with a girl that my husband has long called his best friend. The ceremony was both beautiful, on a rooftop garden looking out over the city, and interesting, the bride is Vietnamese and her mother gave her away after being awarded a dowry of gold coins, flowers, livestock (a fake chicken for this occasion), and some fruit. Anyone who attended this wedding and reception would awaken today thinking only of what a great success it all was, but then again, not just anyone is a babylost momma. I am here writing this full of regrets this morning, regrets that I think can only be attributable to this kind of loss. It's not that we ended the night in a pool fully clothed that upsets me, that was actually fun and when in the company of my in-laws who can out-party the best of 'em, kind of to be expected. It's not that I said the wrong thing, or cried easily at the mention of my daughter and the questions as to how I am doing, because I really wouldn't expect anything different of myself when seeing most of these people for the first time since I was pregnant. My regrets are of the "what if" variety.

This morning I woke up early to the rumble of my upset stomach and the pounding of my anxious heart, and began worrying whether I had had "too good" a time. Loss does this to you I think. Where others went out, had a few drinks, ended the night with a dip in a hot tub and woke up today with a little pounding in their heads, I woke up with a pounding in my heart and an overwhelming sense of dread and a barrage of what ifs. What if I am pregnant and don't know it yet and had those drinks last night? What if that seemingly innocent dip in the hot tub with friends after cost me another child?  What if letting my guard down this one time has had terrible consequences? I should probably have prefaced this post by telling you that I tested myself the last few days including yesterday morning and it was negative. As I have mentioned on here before, grieving has left my body all out of whack so I have been doing this all along, testing to be on the safe side before doing anything that I wouldn't do if I was pregnant, having some wine, eating certain seafoods, participating in more dangerous forms of exercise etc etc.  The average person would do the math, realize how just impossible a baby would even be at this point and accept the negative test at face value, but I am not an average person. Doing what would bring comfort to anyone else, cannot ease the mind of a mother who has experienced loss from anticipating more. I don't know if it is because I did absolutely everything in my pregnancy with Peyton to the "t" when it came to my health and nutrition, and still couldn't bring a healthy child into this world, or if it is the unrelenting guilt of not being able to save Peyton and the sense that I am being punished for it that does this to me, but as I sit here this morning unable to get back to sleep I wonder... do any of you find it impossible to relax and enjoy yourselves without worrying that more baby loss is inevitable and assuming that every action is just another step towards it?

Monday, September 21, 2009

I'm So Sorry

I'm so sorry that you were so young
and knew not what to do.
I'm so sorry that the guilt of this
now daily batters you.

I'm so sorry that your thoughts on life
had to gain so much depth.
I'm so sorry that your innocence
left as she drew that last breath.

I'm so sorry that this tragedy
is the only motherhood you've known.
I'm so sorry you never heard her say Momma
or saw her healthy, strong and grown.

I'm so sorry the hurt is always there
walking with you every day.
I'm so sorry that as a new mother
you've never known any other way.

I'm so sorry that your mind replays
all that she went through.
I'm so sorry that you can't accept
it's what you had to do.

I'm so sorry that it happened
and all the pain you're in.
I'm so sorry that God dealt you a hand
impossible to win.

I'm so sorry for the loss of her
and never knowing how or why.
I'm so sorry that you had to watch
your precious daughter die.

I'm so sorry that you've lost yourself
and what you drempt would be.
But most of all I'm so sorry
this poem is about me.

~Kristin Binder

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Do you have an answer for me?

Ever have a question you just can't seem to find an answer to? Losing Peyton, I have many, but there is one in particular that I have been struggling with quite a bit lately. I have always had a clear vision of what my dreams for this life would be, and these dreams now feel so impossibly unreachable.  So here it is, the question I am throwing out to the blogosphere because no newspaper horoscopes or shakes of the Magic 8 Ball seem to be helping ... how do I get there from here?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Picture. A Candle. Some Angels... Another Show & Tell

As I sit in this uncomfortable limbo between the day my daughter entered this world, and that which she left it, I find myself experiencing a lot of different emotions. There have been moments recently that have left me in that place; that dark, questioning, angry, pitiful, resenting, bargaining place that came just after Peyton's death; while others have left me feeling like an outsider looking in on someone else's misfortune... surely this did not happen to my baby. Those are the worst to me, those moments of numbness. I have written before about hating the numb. It is frustrating to feel so many things, to want to express them and no longer have the energy or the emotion to release them. Usually, after an extended period of numb, comes a crash of reality, and with it, the cycle begins again.

I have been trying not to focus on what happened at this time last year. I did it for the first few days, and to be honest it just nauseated me.
At this time last year... we started chemo on our not even six pound child and watched her swell over night to eight and a half pounds.
At this time last year... I discovered a bump near her eye. A bump I was assured was nothing more than a tear duct. A bump that I was told I was overreacting to because I was "looking for things." A bump that as it turned out was a fungal infection invading my child's face and ultimately caused her death.
At this time last year... we were walking blindly into the worst few weeks of our lives. Weeks that came with surgeries on our child, countless transfusions, constant worry, the news of a tumor in her brain the size of a plum.

You see what I mean? It is hard not to go there, to the the terror of this time last year. So, in an effort to not dwell only on that, I have decided to try (see how honest I am being here... to try) to focus instead on feeling Peyton's spirit with us.

Each evening spanning the time between the moment Peyton came into our lives, and that which she left it (in the physical sense), we have been lighting a candle in our baby's honor. It is on the mantle in our living room, where we spend most of our time, and watching it glow among her picture and a few mementos that mean so much to us, brings me a sense of calm and peace. There is a warmth to the candle, to the white flame that flickers across her picture. Having that light, that warmth, that animation against the stillness of her photo makes me feel like Peyton's soul is here with us, and in feeling her presence in that little light, comes a reprieve from the dark shadows of guilt, questioning and anger. With that candle lit, our house feels a little less empty of our child.

Today, for show and tell, I am sharing with you Peyton's candle, and the significance of those things that we have chosen to put around it.

This is the first picture taken of Peyton in my arms. She was three days old when I got to hold her the first time. This picture shows my child the way she looked before chemo, before drugs, before infections. Just my beautiful child, trying to take in through bright blue eyes, the wonder of the big world around her.

Right below her picture I keep a rose from her funeral spray.

This beautiful "P" was a gift from one of her Grandma's and brought to her grave for Peyton's first birthday. My husband and I loved it so much, and didn't want the cruel Northeast weather to ruin it, so we brought it home to display near her instead.

Peyton's picture is surrounded by my collection of Willow Tree figurines. These have all been given to us at various times. The one in the back left was a gift given to me by a friend when we first got engaged called "Promise". The one in the back right means so much to me, it was a gift given to us right before Peyton was born, by friends who have blessed us with unrelenting friendship over the course of this impossible year. It is called "Our Gift." One of the little angels, the first one on the right, is from my father. He gave it to me in the early days after Peyton died. It is called "Angel of Remembrance." Ironically he picked it out for me without realizing I even had a collection of them. There is another angel, on the right in front called "Angel of Miracles." This gift was brought to my house for Peyton while she was in the hospital by a friend I have known all my life. It is the only gift, among the stacks of many unwrapped boxes in Peyton's room, that I have been able to bring myself to remove from her nursery. I am sure I am forgetting to mention where some others came from but you get it... Peyton is surrounded by the love of our amazing friends and family.

To see what others are sharing, visit Mel's show and tell.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Justice? What justice?

There is a new side to me since losing Peyton. An angry, vociferous side that has lost any and all patience with parents who don't appreciate the gift that they have in their children. I am not proud of it, but it's there.

Yesterday, hubby and I were driving to the store on a very busy road near a large housing complex. As we neared a light, we passed a woman pushing a baby stroller down the road, with a cigarette in one hand, and her cellphone in the other. I wanted to jump out of the car, to smack her and scream "What the hell are you doing? Are you even paying attention!"

It may sound insignificant, and maybe my reaction would have been totally out of line, but really... if you are smoking with one hand and talking on the phone with the other while pushing a stroller down a very busy road... how well are you holding onto that stroller, and how much attention are you paying to your child? Does she not know how incredibly blessed she is to even have the opportunity to push a full stroller?

Scenes like that of this woman, stories I hear on the news nightly of people neglecting and not appreciating their children... they just make me wonder where the justice is? This community is full of so many women who want nothing more than to have our babies back, to love and nurture and appreciate them. We wouldn't be perfect, no mother is, but I am sure that if we were walking among speeding cars, we would be holding tight to those strollers.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Baby Lost Momma's Daydream

Oh my child, I wish that I
could know what happens in the sky,
could grab onto the bluebird's tail
and up to Heaven's Gate could sail,
to visit you; to see your face
to know you're happy in that place.
Oh sweet baby girl of mine,
I wish to you that I could climb.
I'd jump through wisps of clouds and rain,
to hold you close just once again.
I wish that I could see you run,
and smile and play and just have fun,
doing all the things little ones do,
things cancer and chemo stole from you.
If I could see you were okay,
I swear to you, I wouldn't stay.
Mommy promises, I'd let you go,
returning to my life on earth below.
Oh, if I could float for one quick view,
of the angels up there that surround you;
I'd thank them for giving you such care,
in that sweet other world up there.
But alas, gravity keeps me down here,
in this place where joy mixes with fear
I have no way but Faith to know,
that up to Heaven you did go.
Just know my heart for you still beats
as I journey along these mortal streets.
When you see my face and hear me sigh,
it's you, I'm picturing in the sky.
~Kristin Binder

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Birthday Passes, A Life Remembered

Today for Mel's Show & Tell I am sharing images from Peyton's Birthday memorial celebration.
As difficult as last week was, and in particular facing her birthday without her, there was beauty in the celebration of her life. Our family and a few friends met at Peyton's grave in the early evening hours. My husband and I said some words before handing out the balloons. We decided to release 28 balloons, one for each day that Peyton was here with us, and had everyone write notes to tie to them. We also handed out markers to personalize each balloon with messages of love for our little girl.
When the balloons had disappeared into the heavens, we lit sparklers in celebration of Peyton's birthday.
The song playing first on this blog "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" is the song we played as the balloons were released (thank you Lost--for--words for inspiring the decision to use this song.)

To see what others are showing and telling please visit this link.

****Please disregard the date on these pics. I dont know how to reset the date so every day is 2/12/05 in my pics.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Thank You

I would like to send out a huge and heartfelt thank you to all who visited this blog and offered words of comfort and encouragement over the past few days. It has meant the world to us to know that we were not alone in missing Peyton.

This milestone of Peyton's birthday proved to be a truly bittersweet one, bringing anger and streams of tears at the injustice of not having her here one moment, and smiles as we remembered the quirks that made Peyton so uniquely Peyton the next. My husband and I have split the weekend between being in the company of friends and family, and spending time by ourselves to reflect and grieve for all that this date symbolizes.

We had a little ceremony for Peyton on Friday night, a balloon release and gathering to mark her too short life. When I have more energy, I will post the pictures to share with you all. It was a truly beautiful moment of celebration, if I dare use that word, and one which will stay with my hubby and I all our lives. As a grieving mother there is no greater comfort than knowing that we are not the only ones who remember and miss our little girl. We were blessed this weekend to have so many great friends and family members reach out to let us know that they have not forgotten Peyton, and that her life, though it was short, had a lasting impact on them. Knowing that she lives on in their memories too is the greatest gift we could ever receive.

Unfortunately, the weight of this past week has, in the end, proved to be a bit too much for us. Both hubby and I are sick as dogs, run down with terrible coughs and body aches - as much due to the stress and grief of facing Peyton's birthday as whatever germs we picked up I am sure, so I am going to bring this entry to an end here.

Please, please know how very fortunate we felt to have received your beautiful messages marking Peyton's birthday and how much it meant that you remembered us in your prayers. This has been the most difficult hurdle since Peyton's death; there were points this past week where I wondered how we would get through, and your thoughts and comforting words have made more of a difference than you will ever know. The support of this community continues to leave me humbled and amazed.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Happy 1st Birthday Peyton

For the last eleven months I have wondered how it would feel to wake up today, on your birthday, without you here. There are so many bittersweet emotions on this day, and I am at a loss for words or poetry to do them justice, so I will share some photos instead, snapshots of your birth and the moments after. I love you baby girl and miss you immensely.

Happy Birthday!

Daddy and I were so excited to meet our little one.

After your birth, they brought you in to say hello before transferring you. We didn't know you were sick so this was really hard. We wanted to hold you so badly.

Daddy held your little hand first.

And then I got my turn.

You looked around for a while, grabbed your pacifier and then fell back asleep. I was amazed at how you didn't even seem to notice all the commotion around you. You were just beautiful.

It was so hard to say goodbye, but they needed to get you to a bigger hospital.

Daddy followed you to the NICU and held your hand for me. It broke my heart to not be able to go, but the C-section made leaving impossible. Grandma stayed by Mommy's side, helping me make sense of what was happening while Pop Pop and Daddy went to see you. They brought pictures and video of you back to me that night, and told me about the Leukemia diagnosis, the odds, and the treatment plan. I was devastated and in total shock. Your Daddy was so strong those first days, traveling between the two hospitals to be by both of our sides. I missed you so much and wanted to be with you, but it would be thirty more hours before the hospital gave me the green light to check out early.

Happy Birthday My Sweet Baby Girl. I Miss You.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

One Year Ago...

One year ago...
I was checked into the hospital.

One year ago...
They induced me a second time,
and told me the contractions would start in the morning.

One year ago...
We debated names with the nurses.
I stayed up all night excited,
Daddy fell asleep on the cot beside me.

One year ago...
We anxiously awaited your arrival.
I was sure you were a boy,
and we finally settled on the name Finn.

One year ago...
We still had our innocence.
We were so young then,
so very, very young.

One year ago...
We knew everything was about to change,
and imagined the wonderful ways
that you would impact our lives.

One year ago...
Was the last day our life was normal.
We lay in wait unknowing,
of the storm up ahead.

One year ago...
I was your mother.
Why didn't I sense what was happening?
How could I not know?

One year ago...

~Kristin Binder

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Mel's 68th Show & Tell - Field Trip

Today for Mel's 68th show and tell I will be taking you on a little field trip of sorts. We won't be traveling to see an art museum or a zoo, and I'm sorry there are not going to be any souvenirs to commemorate your trip. I know that you may question why I would bring you here, and many wouldn't understand why I visit so much myself, but despite all this, what I hope that you gain from this visit is some of the beauty of this place; despite all of its pain.

I have been making daily pilgrimages to this spot for the past eleven months, compelled by a need to sit in silent meditation and feel a closeness to my child. Today I invite you to come along with me, to visit my sweet Peyton's hill; a peaceful green corner this side of Heaven.

When I imagined motherhood, I never envisioned this, but in the months since Peyton's passing, the serene atmosphere of her spot has brought me great comfort and reflection. I have also done a lot of writing up here, inspired by this place to write entries and poems like this one and this one.

I do what I can to make it nice for her, especially now as we are still awaiting the completion of her stone. On very special days Peyton receives little gifts and decorations from our friends and family when they come for a visit. This adorable little guy was a gift to Peyton, brought back by her Grandma and Pop Pop all the way from Holland.

In the early days after Peyton died, a little old man came over to me to offer his sympathies. He introduced himself as G, and told me that he had been coming to visit his wife Helen's grave each day since her passing a few years earlier. In these last ten months we have become friends, a kind of lonely hearts club -G missing his dear wife, me missing my sweet daughter.

When I first met G, I was struck by a spot that had been worn down to the dirt in the grass near his wife's grave. It broke my heart to know that he was so sad, and missed his Helen so terribly that he couldn't bear to be away from her and in visiting her so frequently had worn the grass by her stone clear away.

Today, in looking through these pictures, I realized that Peyton's grave now bears this same worn away mark. To be honest, the discovery of this patch of dirt has left me with mixed emotions.

To see what the rest of the class is sharing, click here.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Still so lost.

My shoulders slump.
My body hurts.
My eyes blur.
My heart quivers.
My arms ache.
My soul is depleted.
My child is dead.
Where is the hope?
It's been nearly a year since Peyton was born. I am trying so hard to focus on celebrating her this week rather than mourning her (her first birthday should have been this Friday) but it is so hard. So very, very hard. My emotions tax me of my energy and will; my feelings and thoughts take me back to last September. I am nearing this year mark of my child's birth, and all I can do is cry. How do I do this? How do I get through this? None of this is as it should be.

I should be celebrating first steps, finger foods, cut teeth; at least I think that is what she would be doing but having never mothered a living one year old I don't really know. I should be able to see advertisements and shows with families in them and think about how cute my Peyton would look with that toy; in those clothes; instead of being brought to tears. I am realizing, especially now, how isolated this world of baby loss is. I am surrounded by people who love me, who reach out to me, and yet I feel so incredibly alone in this new world. What is wrong with me?

I should be feeling so many things with the approach of Peyton's first birthday, none of which are supposed to revolve around grief...loss...death. How did we end up here? How did this happen to our life?

It has been nearly a year since they told me I had a "beautiful, perfect little girl," only to take it back moments later. Nearly a year since they allowed me to see her for mere moments before whisking her away to another hospital. Nearly a year since we learned of her Leukemia and started treatment. Nearly a year since I checked myself out of the hospital early to be by her side. Nearly a year since I first got to hold her, three days after her birth. Nearly a year since we gained false hope. Nearly a year since I fell so totally in love with her.

It has been nearly a year... and I am still so lost.

I visited Peyton's grave today, and somewhere between fits of tears and anger at myself, and God, and this situation, I wrote this.

Leave me,
oh, bitter wave of sadness.
Leave me.
Let me be!
My eyes need reprieve
from your cruel salty flow.
I am begging you,
please set me free.
Can't you see what you've done,
you greedy emotion?
I'm too young to always feel this old.
You've taken my child,
I have nothing left for you,
do you find joy watching me unfold?
Please leave me,
oh, crushing weight,
I beg you.
Don't you see how you've caused me to break?
My dreams have been splintered,
my joy has been lost,
I don't know how much more I can take.
Please leave me,
oh, angry bitter questioning,
take mercy on me, allow me release
from the grip that you've asserted over my life,
from my inability to find a sense of peace.
~Kristin Binder

Yes, it's been nearly a year, and I am learning that no amount of time negates the pain of loss.
****Please send prayers of love and support to Mirne and Craig who have today announced the heartbreaking loss of their third child Jet. My heart goes out to this couple who have already experienced so much pain in the loss of their first two children. Please visit them and let them know that we all grieve with them for this beautiful boy, gone from this world after only three days of life.