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My Sweet Angel

My Sweet Angel
4/6/09 4:45 pm 4 lbs 1 oz 17 inches

Thursday, April 7, 2022

A Teenage Reflection

Today (yesterday as of posting) is Elise's 13th birthday/angelversary. I still don't know what to call it,  but it's a milestone.  A teenager as society refers to the length of time 13 years is from birth. Here's what I've been feeling lately.  With such a long time passing, it's less "about" Elise as it is more about my journey being her mother. 

13 years ago I was a mom, wife and student.  That's it,  that's all I did. Took care of kids,  a house,  my family and went to an internship and classes to finish my master's degree. 

I never intended to quit teaching permanently. I started grad school just before having Autumn and continued through Andrew.

Elise wasn't part of the plan.  I mean we did decide to have one more after a lot of discussion but the original plan was to stop after Drew.  Then Elise came so quickly once we decided, I hadn't finished school. So there I was,  mom of a teenager, preschooler and toddler,  trying to juggle pregnancy and grad school.  I was set to graduate late April and Elise was due early May so I had it all under control,  until I didn't.  

Everything imploded in an instant.

My daughter died inside me,  questioning my motherhood.
My husband was cheating on me questioning my worth as a wife and the integrity of my family.
And at this point who really cares about a Master's Degree. But somehow I finished and graduated cum laude even.  That part still makes me scratch my head.  I didn't go to graduation,  my degree just showed up in the mail one random day,  not meaning much. 

Eventually my husband and I divorced and all I was left with were my children, including a new one,  my rainbow,  Ella Faith.
I had no choice but to reclaim my motherhood.  
It took a loooooooong time.  
Hell, I'm still working on it,  but deep down it's still who I am at my core.
Except now I'm the single mother of an adult,  2 teenagers, a preteen, and an angel just doing the best I can.
Even if some days that means forcing my ass out of bed and putting one foot in front of the other to get through another day.  
Some days are easier than others.  Some months are easier.  I've even had a few pretty good years, but sometimes it just weighs on me and things are harder to understand and deal with.  
But I know it will pass.  
I look at my amazing children and remember what I'm fighting for and know in my heart it's all going to be ok one day.

Monday, April 5, 2021

A Dozen Years

She's always around,  always there somewhere, but sometimes she's more noticeable.  For the last 2 weeks she's been very noticeable. It is her birthday after all.

I can't even wrap my head around the fact that it's been 12 years.  12 years that I've been trying to put my thoughts and feelings into words in hopes it may help me to just get it out, or maybe educate someone, or even better, help someone going through a similar experience.

14 years ago I "knew" my first and only person who had a stillbirth.  Baby Hannah.  I "met" her mother online in a babywearing chat group.  Andrew was an infant and I remember reading her story and sobbing as I nursed my newborn.  I couldn't even imagine the devastation,  but then it passed. 
2 years later I had my own,  still with no idea it really happened to normal everyday people.  I mean I had a blood clot and other unexplained issues for the first time in 4 pregnancies,  but never did I imagine my baby would die inside of me and I'd have no idea.  
Then it happened. 
I spent hours upon hours reading other stories online trying to make sense of it all,  and trying to find my place in the world with others words.  I still had 3 kids and a cheating husband at home and was finishing my masters degree.  It was quite a mess,  but with the help of  a few amazing friends I navigated my way through and eventually gave birth to Ella just 3 weeks shy of Elise's first birthday.
I remember every single "birthday" we've celebrated.  Early on it was with all our friends and family then eventually it just became the kids and I. I looked back on this blog to see what I wrote about last year and realized I didn't publish it.  
I didn't finish it.  
Talk about a punch in the gut.  
I'm all she has to keep her memory alive and I dropped the ball.  
We were deep in the start of a national pandemic, everything was closed,  everyone was ordered to stay home.  What else better did I have to do? It still kills me to think about,  but I'm trying to show myself some grace.  It was a pandemic,  it was different,  it was weird,  it was isolating and confusing.  So many people were out of work and I was still going in to my office everyday while my kids were home from school.  I really didn't know which end was up most days,  but again I just did my best to navigate through. 
We decided to order carry out from a local eatery last year.  There was no dining in restaurants at this point so we had a picnic dinner in the yard and planted flowers around the house. Not our typical outing doing something fun that she might enjoy,  spending her day enjoying each other,  but we did the best we could and still managed to make memories for and of her.  
This year,  we still haven't quite figured out what we're doing,  but we will do something, in Elise's honor. 

This is what 12 years and 3 cars does to a picture.  
Debating if I want to put a new one up.

Friday, January 31, 2020


From future, to past, to present

This topic has been on my mind for months, it keeps resurfacing, I can't avoid it.
I'm trying to become more conscious, more mindful, in my thinking.
I have a lot of alone time to think and I've come to realize something about myself over the last year or so.
For so very long, I lived in the future.
As a kid it was:
"when I'm a teenager"
"when I can drive"
"when I turn 18"
 That turned into:
"when I get my degree"
"when I get married"
"when I'm done having babies"
"when the kids are bigger"
Everything seemed to be a hurdle,  but I was always focused on the light at the end of the tunnel.
When I was pregnant with Elise I had a 13 year old,  a 4 year old and a 2 year old.  I was in school full time doing my internship for my master's degree.  I was tired and probably a little grumpy.  But I knew that in a few months school would be over (for good as I'd been in grad school for 5 years at this point) and I wouldn't be pregnant.  Things would be different,  they'd be better.
HA! Thank you universe for squashing that theory.
So then I began to live in the past.
What did I do,  didn't I do,  could I have done,  should I have done so things didn't turn out this way?
Why did my baby die?
Why did my husband cheat?
Why did I let him back in?
Why didn't I focus more on my family?
It took a long time to realize that no amount of thinking and analyzing would change anything that happened so I had to just learn from it (hopefully) and went back to thinking of the future.
"once the divorce is final"
"once the house is sold"
"once I have a full time job"
"once the kids are old enough"
"once I have my own permanent place for my kids and myself"
Often the questions from the past crept in and I knew it was just the anxiety and depression but boy did they talk loud, and MEAN.
I had many dark times where I couldn't stop the thoughts and then they would snowball into dark thoughts of the future.
It was bad, real bad sometimes.
I'm very thankful I made it through those days, some of them just barely,  but I made it.
And here I am now,  learning to live in the present.
Being grateful for what's here now.
Loving the life we're in day to day.
That's not to say there aren't things I look forward to or times I don't think about the past,  but more often than not they are fleeting thoughts,  not overwhelming distortions of reality.
I still once in a while get caught up in other people's perceptions of what I've done or who I should be and my own insecurities, but overall I know exactly who I am,  where I am,  and just how blessed I am.
So when the occasion presented itself to finally get that tattoo I've been wanting for years,  I took the earliest appointment I could to do it now,  not later,  now.
Enough time has been spent planning for one day, today is one day.
And while Elise's handprint does represent my past,  it is undoubtedly one of the biggest shapers of my present and my future and I'm so incredibly stoked to have a daily physical representation of what's daily in my mind and heart but often not spoken of.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Guilt, and another perspective

Here it is Elise's 10th "birthday".
I never thought it would be so long ago.
A full decade.
1 child, 3 cats, 2 houses, 1 divorce, 10 years ago.

I look at how old my other 4 children are and think it just isn't possible that so much time has passed since life before them.
I barely remember what it was like to only have Emily. Or to only have an 8 year old and a newborn, or to have a teenager, a toddler and a preschooler.
But I have pictures and memories of all the big events in their lives along with some ordinary everyday moments captured in photographs or just my mind's eye and heart.

For Elise there are no childhood memories or pictures.
No firsts, no school events, no sports, no silly stories.
Just the 9 months I knew her in my womb and the few hours I held her body in my arms.

There are also the times I've been deliberate in celebrating her, however.
Usually on her birthday.

But this year I feel like I dropped the ball.

I wanted to host a big event to celebrate her impact on this world.
I had the same wish 5 years ago and it didn't happen.
I beat myself up for quite a while for that.
But I told myself that things will be different in 5 more years. I can make it up on her 10th.
Last year I announced I was going to host a 5k.
I researched and networked and thought I had a good start.

Then, life.

As much as I never wanted it to since the moment I found out Elise died, life went on.

I got the go ahead from my mortgage broker to start looking for a house for myself and my 3 "little" ones. This consumed my entire summer and by fall we were moving and unpacking and settling into our new life for about the 4th time in the last 5 years.
This time it was the real deal though.
This one wasn't temporary, this really is how it's going to be for the foreseeable future.
And it took a little adjusting for us all.
But let me assure you it is wonderful!
We are all doing the best we've been in years!

Just before Christmas I came across a family retreat being held the weekend of Elise's birthday just a couple hours away from our home. I couldn't believe the timing!
By now I knew my 5k idea wasn't going to be able to be pulled off so this seemed perfect!
A weekend getaway for just us centered on Elise with other families navigating the same path we are.
The kids however, in true kid fashion, were not interested.
They said they liked the way we always celebrate her, the same exact way we celebrate each of us; spending the day together doing things we like.

Those kids of mine can be pretty profound sometimes.

I still feel guilty, but I try to cut myself some slack.
I blame it on being her mom! Isn't it just an innate character flaw of (most) moms to always feel guilty, always wonder if they're doing the right thing, if they're doing enough for their children?

A very good friend of mine reminds me when the guilt is taking over and I'm being too hard on myself that I'm actually doing a wonderful service to my children by NOT being able to devote hours and hours and hours to one event because I'm spending my time making a life and living a life for us all!

Elise is loved and Elise is missed every single day, all 3651 of them so far.

Tomorrow we will celebrate her with a family trip somewhere fun, a nice dinner together and dessert at home.

We will make memories for her, of her.

And I'll try to leave (some of) my guilt behind.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Angelversary Announcemnt

It's been a while since I've written so it's probably going to be long. I'm sorry.
Elise would be 9 this year.  That seems so old, so long ago, and it is.  It's hard because there are no new memories to hold onto.  I look at my other kids and there are things they did last week or last year to remember in addition to 5, 7, 9 years ago.  But as I've said before, with Elise, all I have is all I have, so I cling to those memories of my belly, in my arms, at her memorial.
But, in a way, I do have more.  I have her angelversary every year.  I have friends and strangers offer their thoughts and support.  Some offer what memory they have of the time surrounding Elise's life and death.  Some celebrate with us, but most of all so many just remember.  And that's all I want, because Elise's life is worth remembering.
For most of the years on her angelversary I have hosted a traditional birthday party at my home for anyone who wanted to come help us celebrate.  One year I hosted that big Bingo at the American Legion, remember that?  But the last 3 years or so life has gotten in the way (of everything) so the parties stopped and April 6 was no longer a planned event.  It became a "fly by the seat of our pants" day.  We've gone to Chuck E Cheese mostly.  Sometimes other places as well but for the most part it's only been me and the kids and maybe another immediate family member or two .  This year will be no different, except today is Friday, so we're gonna celebrate alllllllllll weekend long!  Trampolines, movies, peep show, six flags, play places, maybe even a hotel stay (it's still a "fly by the seat of our pants" event)
But next year, next year will be 10 years.  That's a milestone, so I started thinking about 2 months ago that I wanted to do something bigger again.  Something more people can participate in.  Maybe even something they can participate in for their own reasons, not just for Elise, it will just be on Elise's birthday.  But that was as far as I got that first time thinking about it.
Later that night, that exact night, I got a text from Emily (my oldest daughter away at college) with a picture of a flyer she saw at her Cross Fit gym.  It was for a 5k in honor of a little boy who was stillborn to raise money for a Cuddle Cot for the local hospital.  Emily asked me if I knew anything about a Cuddle Cot.  Oddly enough, I had done some research on them not to long ago.  Someone wanted to donate one to the local hospital I volunteered at as a support group facilitator for bereaved parents.  Anyway, as we were discussing this I looked at the dates and my calendar on my phone and realized the kids and I would be able to travel to Virginia to participate in this run in late April.  That sounds like a great way for us to honor Elise.  As a matter of fact, a 5k sounds like a great idea for  next April as well!
So tonight, when the kids get home from school, before we head out to celebrate, they are getting a gift.  The gift of visiting their sister Emily at school in 2 weeks to run with her in a 5k honoring their sister Elise and a little boy named Finn Parker Urgo, whom we've never met, but I have a feeling Elise has!
I'm not anticipating anyone feeling moved enough to travel to Virginia to participate with us, but here is the link to the run in case you would like to donate to Finn's mother Lynnsey's  cause.

And keep your eyes out for info about a 5k on Saturday, April 6, 2019!

PS If anyone has ever done a 5k before and would like to help me get started, please let me know!  I need a place to have it and a place to donate the proceeds before I can really get the ball rolling!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

If She'd Been Born Today, She'd Be Alive

I read this blog post that Baby Lilly's mother wrote when it was posted last week and I cried, a lot, so I bookmarked it to come back to later...after all it was Ella's birthday. But boy did it hit me, hard. I think about so many things that are the same with Elise as in this post.  Why didn't I know? How could I not know?
So many things would be so different if Elise was born before she died.  Not just with Elise, but with my marriage and my life the way it is today. One of those things means Ella wouldn't be here. I can't even begin to describe what a strange thought process it is to think about one of your kids not being here. I mean I think about it every day because one of my kids is not here, but that's different, she never was here, at least not in the outside world.
I always think about Elise more and more this time of year, but I'm also overwhelmed with other things that happen during this time of year, Ella's birthday, Andrew's birthday, Easter, my husband's actions in 2009, and this year add to that the chaos of going through a divorce and being a newly single working mom, it's tough, very tough. Some days it feels too tough, but everyday I get up and I keep going for my kids, the ones that are here and the ones that aren't.  And myself.  I've put it out there on this blog before so there's no point in continuing to act like it didn't happen, but I realized I have to do for me and doing for me is best for my kids. I want them to be proud of me. I want to be someone they can look up to. In many ways I think I am, in some ways I'm not so sure, but I have to keep trying. I have to keep going for them.
Another reason this year is different is that it plays out the same time wise as it did in 2009 it is believed that Elise died on Saturday April 4th and of course she was delivered on Monday April 6, the same way it falls on the calendar this year.  Everything's replaying the same and it's hard not to think about what was happening on all these days 6 years ago and that brings us right back to What If...what if she had been born that day she'd still be alive...

Me, pregnant with Elise, hiding behind my then 4 year old at a party this time 6 years ago.
Oh how I wish I didn't hide and had more pictures of Elise!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Rainbow babies aren't all they're cracked up to be.

I love my rainbow baby.  I can't imagine my life without her, but there is something to be said for letting what is, be.  More often than I care to admit, I wonder how life would be if I listened to what "God" was trying to tell me by taking Elise.  Maybe I did push the envelope by getting pregnant again and having another baby.
Sure I'd always wonder what if, but looking back, I still do.
What if I never had another baby? What if I didn't take my cheating husband back because I was pregnant?  Where would my older children be now?  Where would I be now?  Who would I be today without that last baby defining me?
Do I wish she was never born?  Of course not, but do I imagine how different my life would be without her... Yes... Just like I imagine how different my life would be if Elise lived.
I read so much about how grateful grieving mom's are and I feel like a total piece of shit for not being 100% sure of my decision to go on and have another baby, but as always, maybe, just maybe, there is another mama out there feeling this way, ashamed to admit it, and maybe, just maybe, she'll take some comfort in knowing she's not alone in her thoughts.
Or maybe I'll just get ridiculed by others for feeling the way I do...
Either way, I'll risk it.
I love you, Elise, and all your siblings...

Friday, July 25, 2014

It's time...

I promised myself when I started this blog for Elise that I would not taint it with this information, but it's time to get it out.  Most people have no idea and I'm tired of pretending.

It pisses me off that people think that Elise's death caused my marriage to end.  While devastating, yes, it is such a small part of why.  It also pisses me off that people think because I stayed married for 4 years after her death that it had nothing to do with its ending.
My husband began cheating on me on my son's 2nd birthday, when I was in the third trimester of my fourth pregnancy (Elise).  It was a difficult pregnancy with physical complications (I had a blood clot in my leg and was on blood thinners among other things) as well as the normal life trials and tribulations of being pregnant with a 12 year old, a 4 year old, and a 2 year old.  I was also finishing my internship for my masters degree at this time.
When I went into labor 4 weeks early, my husband continued on to work that day to see his girlfriend leaving me at home to find a sitter for my small children and head to the hospital to deliver my baby.  Only 30 minutes after she was stillborn, he left me in the delivery room holding her dead body to go out in the hallway to call his girlfriend.  The next morning he again left me in a hospital bed with no baby to hold while he went and called her from Target where he was supposed to be printing pictures of her to show her siblings.  Just 5 days later, at Elise's memorial service, his girlfriend was there.  I found all this out 3 weeks later when I accidentally discovered his affair he told me he was leaving us to be with her.  I kicked him out.  He had no where to go so he stayed at a friend's house while his family was on vacation, but when they returned he again had no where to go so he came back home.  We went back and forth for months splitting up and trying to stay together.  He swore he was sorry and he now wanted to make our marriage better.  Needless to say, I got pregnant.  It was just 3 months after Elise's death and only 1 month after I found out about my husband's infidelity.  I couldn't get divorced now so we gave it our all.  We went to counseling both individually and together.  We implemented strategies to make our marriage stronger and to recover from his affair and deal with our grief over Elise's death.  It didn't last long before everything was back to "normal" the way it had always been.  Mike still insisted he wanted this marriage to work and of course I did too, but every few months we'd argue about how nothing is changing.  Nothing is getting better, in fact as time was going on it was getting worse.  Each year just continued to suck.
I woke up last Spring around Elise's 4th angelversary and finally realized that things were never going to change in my marriage.  It was now long enough.  My husband will never be able to do the things he needed to do to repair the damage he had done in betraying me during the most difficult time in my life.  We would never be able to be happy together as a married couple.  So this time, instead of asking him, I told him it was time for us to separate.  And now here we are divorcing.  Over the last 4 years we had talked about divorce and he always said he did not want to be a part time parent to our children.  For the first 9 months he wasn't.  He saw them at least one day just about every weekend and a couple evenings during the week.  We had a very amicable relationship.  Often he would stay here at "our" house on the couch overnight to be with them.  Then he got a girlfriend.  Don't get me wrong, I was happy to know that he had found another person to spend time with, I had that and it was amazing, but within a month he began choosing her over his children.  He is now content with being a part time parent.  He has said those words to me.  He has chosen to only see the children approximately 20% of the month and nothing more.  I am now working part time for the first time in 10 years and he refuses to "watch" his children unless it is his self selected visitation days.  Often leaving them in the care of my boyfriend.  When his visitation time is over, it's over, he's done and leaves.  It has been a very difficult few months for me juggling the children, household responsibilities, working, etc, but I've never felt better as a woman.  I am a better person and mother than I have been in the last 5 years. I don't know what the future holds for me or my children, but I do know one thing:  I was strong in my decision to finally do what is right and best for all of us and in the end it will all be okay!  We will get through this and not just survive, but thrive!
As with every post I write, I finally decided to make this one to create understanding.  For 5 years now I have been unable to solely think about my little girl.  And I don't know if I ever will be able to.  Without fail a memory of what my husband did to me during the only time I had with my daughter sneaks into my mind.  It's not fair.  It's not fair to me or to her, but it is what it is and now everyone knows and I don't have to hide it any longer.

Monday, March 10, 2014

This year doesn't suck (as much)

Every year as March rolls around I am always so conflicted.  I'm usually working on plans for Ella and Andrew and Elise's birthdays.  2 of them are "happy" and one is the opposite, but I stay busy and try not to dwell.  Then as April comes and goes I tend to reevaluate my life.  I look at where I was in April/May 2008 (innocent) April/May 2009 (destroyed) 2010 (confused) 2011 (some normalcy) 2012 (wanting more) 2013 (waking up) 2014 (moving on).  It was last year that I started to see a glimpse of the "old" me....the me before Elise's death.  I was certainly a much different person, but the fog was lifting.  I was finally craving living again and here I am another year later living!  It will be 5 years since my life changed so dramatically and I'm finally moving in the right direction!  I still miss her so much and always wonder what might have been, but it doesn't consume me.  I was down on myself this year for not going through with my plan for a big fundraiser for her birthday this year. but now I've realized I've given her something even better...a healthy mom, moving toward happiness, continuing to keep her spirit alive and raise awareness.  I know she would be proud and really, that's all I want as a mom...for my kids to know they are loved and for them to be able to look up to me for courage and strength, like I do them every day!
Very strange to be able to write without crying and also having the last few "unprovoked" cries to be "happy" ones. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Stupid glasses

Life has been in fast forward for the last few months.  So many changes and things needing my immediate attention, I haven't had time to sit down and think for more than a few seconds, so naturally I haven't had time to write.  Today I still don't, but I had to...
I think of Elise every single day, some days more in depth than others.  I miss her every single day, some days more deeply than others.  Today is one of those days.  The stupid what ifs, what might have been...
There is a running joke in my family that poor eyesight skips a kid.  I've had glasses since I started school.  My oldest had muscle realignment surgery at 3 and currently wears contacts at 17.  My 9 year old has great eyesight.  My 6 year old has been wearing glasses since 2 and keeps one eye dilated (in lieu of a patch) to strengthen his weak eye.  So the question always was would Elise or her rainbow sister need glasses.  We've taken the now 3 year old for biannual checkups just in case and today it was suggested she get glasses.  It didn't take long for the thought of Elise to rise in my mind.  I tried not to focus on it as my other girls needed my attention at the moment, but any time there was any sort of downtime that's where my mind wandered to.  I bet Elise wouldn't have needed glasses, it would have skipped her, just like we thought.  Stupid thing to be thinking about, I know, I mean really, I don't care about my kids needing them (that 3 year old is gonna be super cute in them!) but just another reminder of my little girl who is not here living life with us, experiencing the mundane adventures that all children get to experience.
Then the guilt sets in.  Why is this bothering me so much, her memory.  Have I been neglecting her?  Of course not.  The 3 year old and I were just talking about her last night.  The kids were just recently fighting over who got to sleep with her bear... 
Her birthday, that's it.  It's coming up soon and I wanted to do a big fundraiser for her, but its not going to happen and that has been killing me.  I'm so angry at myself, but I know in the end, I just can't pull it together this year.  But I should, for her, she deserves it.  It's a no win situation and either way I know I'll beat myself up over whatever happens.  That's part of being a mom, I guess.  Always wishing you could do more, always feeling like you should have done more.  Only it's multiplied when that's all you have and you are the only one fighting to keep your child alive in some small way, if only for yourself.
It all comes back to missing that sweet face and being so damn angry at how things turned out sometimes.  But I refuse to focus on the anger and instead focus on the love that I have for my little girl and all that her life blessed me with.  I couldn't live any other way.
Thanks for the cry, stupid glasses!
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