Monday, August 31, 2009

The Smallest Gifts

"Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift, that is why we call it the "present"

It is 65 degrees outside today, sunny, cool and just plain amazing. I ran 6 miles this morning and I am convinced I could have run a full marathon. It was the best run that I have had in over 2 years and I feel great! As I was running, I thought about what an incredible gift it is that God gave me this day to enjoy. I thanked God for my health, and for blessing me with this spectacular day. That is when this weeks inspiration came to me...the smallest gifts. Gifts come in all shapes and sizes. A gift does not have to be a physical item that you receive. It can be a hug, an unexpected phone call or in my case today, the warmth of the sun and the refreshing breeze that moved me to run!

I could not help but think about all of the gifts that I have received because of Alex. Each week I talk about the fact that I feel like I have been given an opportunity to really enjoy and live my life again, and each day I am reminded that Alex gave me the strength to look at my life and take advantage of all those opportunities. I don't know what tomorrow will bring and thus I am learning to live each day to it's fullest potential. Yesterday, I took Elena to an art class at Gymboree and she got to make a painted landscape (a masterpiece!!) and a sailboat. Something as simple as painting and drawing was the highlight of my day. Elena is the greatest gift that God has given me and every day I discover more gifts that she continues to give.

One such gift that Alex gave to Efrain and I was the Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep organization. Our photographer, Julia Pearson, was an angel that came to us and I only hope that she knows how important it is for us to have the memories of Alex. I look at all the pictures on a daily basis and I smile at the memory of feeling Alex inside me. One of the quotes on the NILMDTS website reads, "No footprint is too small that is can not make an imprint on your soul" That quote is so powerful and could not be more accurate. From the moment we know that Alex was growing inside me, he changed our lives. Efrain and I started to plan for our family, making room in our home, talking to Elena about her new baby brother or sister and giving my belly kisses so that Alex would know from day one how much we loved him. Once we know Alex's fate, our dreams changed but not our love. We still continue to make plans for our family, we still talk to Elena about her baby brother and we still kiss my belly, only now we kiss the pictures of my belly. Alex is with us forever and Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep gave us the gift of eternal memories.

Each day now I look forward to the gifts that I will receive. I have already been given the gift of a great run today, but there could be more to come. Large or small, each gift makes me grateful to be alive and gives me hope that Alex is looking down upon me and I can't help but believe that he is responsible for the gifts that I am given. I love you Alex, thank you!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Life..through the eyes of a child

I have been doing a lot of reading since I discovered the fate of my little Alex. I started reading books written about dealing with the loss of an infant, and I have also read other grief books that help you understand how to overcome your sadness and continue living your life. One such book, "When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold S Kushner, the author states that when we experience loss the question should not be "Why did this happen to me?", rather "Now that this has happened, what am I going to do about it?"

What I am going to do now that I will never know, never hold, never kiss what should have been my first born son? I have asked myself this many times and I repeatedly turn to Elena when my heart feels too heavy to face such questions. It is her smile, her laugh and her innocence that gave me my answer...Live for each moment, learn lessons through the eyes of a child.

When I think about the joy of living life as a child, I can't help but think of the quote "Dance as if no one is watching, love as if you've never been hurt." My little Elena has got some rhythm and she loves to dance. Anytime she hears music, her hips start to move, she doesn't care if the world is watching and even if she was crying 1 minute earlier, her mood is changed and her smile lights up the room. Likewise, Elena does not yet know the pain of loss, death, disappointment and anger. She falls, she cries and she gets right back up. A child's heart is open and they have so much love to give. While they may be hurt for one brief moment, they are able to overcome this hurt and go on loving..."love as if you've never been hurt", if Elena can do this, why shouldn't I try to follow her lead? Become like a child and don't let your heart be broken by harmful things, but let it always bounce back with new hopes and second chances.

Yesterday was my nephew Julian's 2nd birthday party! Watching 20 children run around My Gym, I could not help but be in envy of the excitement that 2 hours of play brought to each child. When is the last time I just played for 2 hours, not a care in the world, not a worry on my mind? I couldn't tell you. However, back to the question at hand, "What I am going to do now that this has happened to me?" I promise that I am going to take time for myself. Whether it means 2 hours of running, 2 hours of pampering, 2 hours of reading or 2 hours of doing nothing, I know that I need that time to reflect each day.

Before lossing Alex, I was going through the motions of life without really taking time to live it. I feel as if I have a second chance at life. I chance to find myself again. Running is helping me feel better about my physical self, reading and blogging is helping me take care of my spiritual self, and being Elena's mom is helping me remember to laugh more and "dance as if no one is watching." Which, if I may add, is the best part of my day...nothing beats dancing to "The Hot Dog Dance" each morning! Great way to start each day!

'Sometimes looking deep into the eyes of a child, you are conscious of meeting a glance full
of wisdom. The child has known nothing yet
but love and beauty. All this piled-up world knowledge you have acquired is unguessed at
by her. And yet you meet this wonderful look
that tells you in a moment more than all the
years of experience have seemed to teach.'

-Hildegarde Hawthorne

Friday, August 14, 2009

Unconditional Love

"Love is life's most precious gift"

As soon as I have moments that I miss being pregnant with Alex and I miss the dream of holding him and loving him on this earth, I am reminded of the love that surrounds me and I can't help but be grateful. If this experience has taught me one thing, it is that "love is life's most precious gift". Whether it is the love you have for a spouse, a parent, a child or a friend, love makes life worth living. I look at all of the love in my life and I know that I am blessed. Alex would have been so happy to know all the people in my life, and my heart tells me that he felt that love before he passed away.

I have truly been amazed by the outpouring of emails, cards, letters, phone calls and visits. It is times like these make me realize how important relationships are to get you through the good times and the bad times. Every relationship has a purpose, each person that enters your life leaves an imprint on your soul. I can see that now. I have been lifted up by my closest family members and I have been surprised by people I have not talked to in years. Friends that I laughed with in college, have now been a shoulder to cry on. My uncle whom I only see a few times a year, sent me flowers from Alex, with a message from heaven. Those flowers arrived and words can't describe the overwhelming sense of peace that I felt. I immediately called him as I needed him to know how important the gesture was that day.

Many friends expressed their sadness for me and many have been silent during this time, as I am sure it is uncomfortable for some to talk about my situation. At first I was upset that people would see me and not ask me how I was or acknowledge the death of my little Alex. But, again I can't let anger control me. Love comes in many forms, and I need to remember that a smile, a hug, a simple glance can mean so much. My friends have been so wonderful with their understanding and whether or not we talk about Alex, just being with them and laughing is , as they say, "the best medicine". It is the small tokens of love that I am thankful for each day, because without my friends and family, the healing process would be much more difficult. I am not alone in this journey and I thank everyone for their open, honest conversations with me and for helping me smile even when my soul is crying.

After all, "It is better to have love and lost, then to never have loved at all". As I said before, many have asked me if I am nervous to get pregnant again, if I will try again soon and if I feel differently about the overall joy of pregnancy. The answer is complicated. Of course I will never be as naive as I was with Elena about pregnancy and birth. However, I can't wait to experience the love of knowing a child is growing inside me. Pregnancy is and will always be the greatest joy of my life. I loved Alex from the moment he was conceived and I will always love him. If anything, he taught me to appreciate each moment of pregnancy more and I think Efrain and I both will be better parents for loving Alex.

Finally, I am learning to love running again!! It has been hard getting back into training and running, especially when it is 100 degrees outside. But I am doing this for more than myself and that makes me want to run and I think I am slowly (and I mean slowly) learning to love running again. I ran 4 miles on Thursday and it was not easy. I was listening to "Beautiful Day" by U2 when I almost gave up. But the tune kept me going, it is a beautiful day, each day is a gift and I am lucky to be alive.

Thank you to everyone for following my journey, remember to cherish each and every day and know that something as simple as a hug is the greatest symbol of love that you can give. Until next time...

Friday, August 7, 2009

Finding Happiness

" Hope lifts us up!"

My sister Amy gave me a WillowTree design when we found out about Alex's diagnosis of Trisomy 18. The symbol of the little boy holding up the balloon with the word hope inside is so powerful and the word is one that I constantly use for my own healing. I have always believed that when you have hope, anything is possible.

This past week has been hard for me. August 6 marked one month since I last felt Alex inside me. One month since the dream of his birth has died. How do I remain hopefully? There are days when I cry and feel so lonely and cheated. I see pregnant women and I feel so jealous of the joy that they have to look forward to and I find myself becoming angry with God. But I soon take a step back and remember all that I have in my life and the happiness that surrounds me.
Each day brings new hope and I see everything as a sign that I can move forward and my pregnacy with Alex will forever be remembered.

Don't laugh!! Wednesday my friend Gina and I attended the American Idol concert, yes, you read correctly. We had a blast and I know now that there was a reason I joined thousands of tweens for a night of Idol madness! Singer Danny Gokey, lost his wife last year, just 3 weeks before he tried out for Idol. He has always inspired me with his strength and he sings with such passion and conviction, I think I cry everytime I hear his voice. He sang 3 songs and then ended with My Wish, by Rascal Flatts. Before he sang the song, that he dedicated to his wife, he spoke to the crowd. He talked about this wife's passing and said" You can not let a tragedy or loss define must continue to follow your dreams and define your life" Gina and I looked at eachother as if he was directing those words to me. That's exactly it...I can't let Alex's death define the person that I am or will become. My dream of him will always live on and my dreams for my life must continue. I left the concert ready to take my business, my training and my life to the next level.

I have been running all week. I am up to 3 miles, which may seem like nothing, but considering that I have not run more than 2 since October, it is a step in the right direction. I have downloaded motivational music for running and inspirational music when I need to be reminded why I am training for a half marathon. Of course, My Wish, made the list after the Idol concert, but my favorite song remains to be, You Never Let Go, by David Crowder Band. I heard this song on another blog of a women who had lost her son after 16 minutes of life. He was born with Trisomy 18 and she described it as "the sweetest 16 minutes of her life". It gave me chills to know that our lives were both touched by Trisomy 18...mine with 16 weeks of Alex growing inside me, her's with 16 minutes of knowing her son. Reading her blog and hearing this song makes me feel so alive. While it hurts to think that we have to endure the pain of lossing a child that we will never know, it gives me HOPE to know that we are both continuing to live a life that has meaning and I feel as if each day brings me a new sense of dreams that will continue to be fulfilled. Alex has become my strength and Elena is my motivation.

Until next week, I plan to run throughout the weekend (before it gets too hot next week) and my goal is to run up to 4 miles next week. I have created a Legacy Page for Alex, You can visit this page to donate to my half marathon training. My goal is to raise $1600 total (the 16 theme again!). 100% of your funds will go toward research and support services for families undergoing a diagnosis of Trisomy 18. Thank you for you support.
"Once you choose hope, anything is possible"
-Chrisopher Reeve