Monday, September 12, 2016

The Day You Were Born

Dear Quinn,

It’s taken me 4 years to write this. At first I wasn’t sure why, and blamed myself. Good mothers would have recorded these moments while they were fresh. Good mothers would not let the memories grow stale. But, I just couldn’t find the right words, the perfect ones that included every small and insignificant detail. Every attempt seemed futile, and unworthy. And I have come to realize, that to enter into these memories is to walk on hallowed ground. It is a holy moment, the one where you were born, that to conjure up, leaves me exhausted, hollowed out, wiped clean, and yearning for more. So, I do so carefully, and not frequently, as fear of what might swallow me up often looms, and therefore, it has taken me so long to write on paper in its fullness. 
But this year, on your 4th birthday, I am ready. I am ready to remember and dive in, and even share. 
So this is my gift to you dear daughter – that every second of your small life is recorded, remembered, honored for the miracle that it was, that you are, to us. 

Here is The Day You Were Born. 

The sun was shining. I could feel it on my face. Brightly. So brightly. Didn’t the universe know what had happened? Why wasn’t it crying out in pain with me? Why were the heavens not weeping great and mournful tears? It seemed to be almost a joke. My eyes slid open, heavily, slowly, still deadened by the sleeping pill given the night before, and fixated on the clock directly in front of the hospital bed where I lay. 

8:00 a.m.

The door opened, and the curtain protecting us from the outside world slid back. Mary. She tipped her head to the side and smiled a small, sad smile. “Hi…” she said, a statement pain, and regret, and the greatest of apologies caught in the back of her throat. 

I don’t know if I responded. Perhaps I tried a smile, but I don’t think I could have mustered it. I turned back to the clock. 

The nurse entered with her. Erin. She quickly moved of the side of the bed and wrapped me in her arms, and didn’t say a word. I didn’t need words. But in that act, I knew I could trust her with the birth of this, my most precious child. 

“I’m going to break your water,” I heard from the foot of the bed. I nodded. Every movement felt like pushing its way through a fog. I closed my eyes. Let this be a nightmare. Then a small gush, a quick change of the sheets. Alone again. Sleep, or something like it. 

The pain woke me. Waves that began slowly, but quickly increased. My soft moans of disbelief from the night before turned to guttural moans of labour.  Still quiet, but a shift. My body was taking over.
There was movement to my left. Ashley was there. And Jen. I’m not sure when or how they arrived, but they were there, at my side, whispering words of love into my ears. 

You are doing great. 

Breathe through it. 

You can do it. 

9:30 a.m.

Another nurse, a needle of morphine, and then things started to get fuzzy. 

Music was playing. From someone’s phone, I think. It was Bethel Church, I think. 

I was wrapped in the cloud of pain relief, but I knew this one thing for sure, at this moment, the Holy Spirit entered our room, Quinn. It was thick and heavy, and there was utter peace all around me as my body prepared to give birth to your body. It was quiet, so quiet, like a blanket shrouding us with its protection. There was sorrow, but more so, there was focus. 

And then the waves increased, and I cried out to be freed of any more brokenness. I can’t take it. I can’t bear any more than what I have already been cruelly given.

The anesthesiologist came - a smile on his face, and a skip in his step. He was too friendly, too happy for this moment. Maybe he didn’t know… Maybe I was just another woman, about to give birth to her firstborn child. Like normal, like it is supposed to happen. 

With the sting of the needle in my spine came relief from the contractions that threatened to overtake me. For a short time, I slept. Fuzzy, blurry, sleep. A cool cloth on my forehead. Rolling from side to side.

And then, it started again. Why wasn’t the epidural working? Was I still supposed to feel it all? I don’t think I said this out loud, but my soft moans brought the nurses to my side. 

“We don’t know how to hook up the drip,” they said.  “It’s a new system. We’ll have to wait.”

But it was almost too late. In an instant, everything became sharp and clear, and I knew.


“I have to push.”

A flurry of footsteps. She’s saying she has to push! Now? Already? Is she sure?

Mary was there again. Smiling encouragement as she sat gently at the end of the bed. 
It was as if the blinders were taken off, the veil lifted, the camera focused, and every sense sharpened.

“What if I don’t know what to do?” I asked desperately.  The first clear words I had uttered in many hours. 

She smiled and said simply, “You will. Here, push right here.”

And then it was time. The room disappeared, Daniel, Jen, Ashley, anyone else who may have been standing there, and it was just me, and you, little girl. My body knew what to do, and like I had been training my whole life for this, I pushed. I pushed and I pushed, not stopping to breathe. 

Breathe Deanne. Take a break! I heard. 

But I couldn’t. I was going to do this. I was going to do this well. 

A short gasp and a pause to wait for the next round of tightening in my belly. And it came quick and hard. Burning, and tearing through my body. You were coming. And you were coming fiercely. Again and again, I pushed, only pausing when forced to. But I needed to see you. I needed you  to be born so I wouldn’t waste another moment of the short time I got to spend with you. I needed my baby. So, I pushed with all my might. With every ounce of strength in my being, I fought for you.


Suddenly with one last great breath, you were there, held up in front of me. I saw you and everything changed. You went from being just a wishful thought to something real. No longer did I have to imagine. You were there, right in front of me. You existed.
“It’s a girl.”

My girl. My daughter. It was so quiet. 

And then you were in my arms. The world around me ceased to exist, the flurry of nurses and doctors, the medical instruments they were using to try and rid my body of the traitor that was my placenta, the tears that were flowing down cheeks, that damn sunshine. It all disappeared, and there was only you and I. I was awestruck. Struck down with awe at the child that we had created together. You left me breathless with your beauty, and I drank you in. Every single bit of you, I began to etch into my brain, into my fingertips, into my heart, as I knew I would have to call on these memories for the rest of my life. I stared at a small image of myself. I traced the rise of your small nose, across the curve of your cheek, and down to your perfect little chin, an imprint that fit my finger perfectly. I kissed your lips so softly, I inhaled your scent deeply. You were the most beautiful baby I had every laid eyes on. You were perfection. You were mine.
Quinn Olivia. We already had your name. And it was perfect, just like you. 

The activity in the room died down. There were instructions given, a shower taken, a tiny sleeper delicately placed on your body. 

And then we slept.  To this day, I have not had a rest that could even come close to the bliss of that sleep. Heaven and earth married for a moment of pure peace – warm, perfect, deep, dreamless, and utterly complete. That sunshine bathed us in its perfect light, and I slept with you on my chest, and for a moment, all was as it should have been.  We were together. I had my daughter. It was as if every step in my entire life led up to this one moment – the moment I became a mother. 
The rest of the story is not for today, as the rest is the story of saying goodbye, and those are memories my heart cannot hold today. 

So for today, this is what I will replay, over, and over again. The celebration of the time I gave birth to you, the day you were BORN. 

I love you with all of my heart and my soul, 

Your Mama

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

I Have Faith

There are moments in life when the clouds part, and something just makes sense, even if it’s only for a moment. They are not often. They are can not be conjured. When they happen, it's a gift. Fitting for the season...

I’ve been reading this blog:

I feel like I’m reading my own words. Words that swirl in my own brain, but I have trouble crafting into full sentences, so she has done it for me.

Michaela, you are a mother of my heart.

I’ve been questioning my faith a lot.

A lot.

I’m talking deep down, soul shaking, life changing, questioning. What do I believe? Do I even have faith? Most of the time, I’m just angry. Angry at Him for not letting me keep my daughter. Angry that the bottom third of my Christmas tree is neatly arranged, and not loaded with decorations the height of a two-year-old. Angry that my grief affects every single moment of every single day. Angry that I can’t sleep at night because I’m worried my son will die while I rest. Angry that I have to live the rest of my life navigating through being the mother of a child in heaven. The rest of the time is spent begging God to help me make it through the next moment of crushing anxiety, fear, letting go, etc. If doesn’t feel like much of a relationship. It feels desperate, and bitter, and confusing.

But then… I look at my little boy, my miracle boy, and I read a statement like this from Michaela:

"My baby. Baby child, quickening in my womb, you are our greatest leap of faith."

And the sky clears. And the sun breaks through. 
Asher’s existence is proof of my faith. All I have to do is look at him and remember that I had enough faith that God was the giver of good gifts to even attempt to conceive him. I had enough faith to carry another child, knowing full well that he or she could be taken at me from any moment, but believing that he wouldn’t. I have faith each and every time I let myself drift asleep, that there is a God that watches over him while I cannot. I have faith. Even though it is small, and messy, and looks a lot different that the blissful, naïve kind, it is there. I have faith. I have faith. I have faith. The more I say it, perhaps the bigger it will grow.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Today Is Not For Celebrating

As darkness descends on this night, the eve of my daughter’s birth-day two years later, equally dark and unwelcome memories flash through my mind. It should not be this way. I should be fondly remembering the day before I gave birth to her, recalling the night I began to labour, thinking excitedly, this is it! But instead, I must relive the most heartbreaking night of my life. The moments no mother should ever have to endure. I so desperately try and block them out, but yet they play.
Over and over again. 
I watch the scenes as if a bystander, as if that could not possibly have happened to me. It’s simply a horror movie.
But then I feel the pain, and it’s all too real.
It happened.
Perhaps a part of me hopes that by writing the fragments down, I will banish them out of my head, relegated to hang forever hopeless in space and time. One can hope…

Clutching everything. Anything.
The nurse’s face. The doctor’s face. Horror.
Screaming. Bloodcurdling, primal, screams only appropriate for death.
No. No. No.
Silence. Emptiness. Stillness.
Weeping. So much weeping.
Mom…our baby…
Men. Clinging to one another.
A rotating door of comforters.
A sink, dripping. Dripping. Dripping.
So numb.

Thursday, January 16, 2014


At the one-year mark, I found my grief shifting.

I’m not saying 12 months was a magical number of healing, or that it even had anything to do with the fact that it was one year, it was simply when I started to notice.

In the days and months that followed coming home from the hospital with empty arms, grief was all encompassing. It was right there, raw, consuming. I expected it around every corner, constant reminders that made me approach life cautiously, knowing the pain was right there, in everything, all the time. I wept, not just cried, each, and every day for almost 6 months straight. The tears were always on the brink of coming, always threatening to expose me, always my companion. Was I depressed? Perhaps, slightly. How can you make it through an earth shattering moment and not be “depressed”? But that term gets thrown around too loosely. No…mostly, I was just learning to live without the daughter I love so deeply.

But, as time went on, I learned to cope. It didn’t mean the grief and the sadness went away. No, not at all. In fact, they just became deeper, more engrained, more real. The shock began to wear off, and the weight of what I will live with through the rest of my life began to set in. But the ability to interact with life, to participate with the day to day, and even smile (though most of the time it was fake), became easier.

And now… now it has shifted to deep within my soul. It lives with me, as it will until the end of my days, and will forever mold me into the woman and parent I am becoming. Though I am not a prisoner to its shackles, I am a friend to its embrace. Grief will forever change me. But, as opposed to its ever-nearness before, now it can spring up and shock me with tears when I least expect it.

It’s like swimming.

Your body is plunged in to an icy, cold pool and for a while, you are frozen. Literally. You can’t move. For awhile, all you can do is float, lungs gasping for breath at the surface, hoping you make it. Then, you begin to flex your fingers, and toes, and legs, and arms. Your body grows accustomed to the cold, and you start to swim. The frigidness is all around you, but you learn to move with it. You even close your eyes and start to enjoy the feel of the water around you - the way it carries you, as you start to feel a little lighter.

And then…


You smash into the concrete wall on the other side of the pool.

And the pain is just as raw and real and breath-taking.

A gasp at a row of three-year-old ballerinas, knowing you will never swell with pride watching Her on stage.  

A sob in a dark theater, realizing you will never watch Her face light up in Disneyland like hers does on screen.  

A knife in the gut as a child in Target cries out, "Mama!", knowing you will never heard those words on Her lips. 

These moments take you by surprise, and suddenly it all rushes back in an instant.

She is gone.

And it hurts.

Because, I love Her.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

To a Little Girl, On Her Birthday...

Dear Quinn,

My daughter
My beautiful one.
My long awaited.
My precious gift.

Today marks one year.
One year since our lives were changed by you.
One year since I gave birth to you.
One years since I have held you in my arms.
One year since I became a Mommy. To you. Your mommy.

I didn’t want to feel the physical pain that day. I told them to give me all the drugs to make is disappear. Just make it go away.

But you, and Jesus, had other plans. You wanted me to feel every second of that pain, so that afterwards I would be able to hold on, not to the hurt, but to my strength as your mommy, to my pride of doing it and doing it WELL.

And so, you came, fast and hard, and so very painful. But oh, so beautiful.

I knew, in my grief stricken fog, the harder I pushed, the sooner I would get to meet you. And I had waited so long to meet you. And so I pushed with strength that was not my own, I bore down and gave birth to you, a child who would never have life on this earth.

And then you were placed in my arms. And everything changed. EVERYTHING. My whole world became you.


It didn’t start slow, or grow as I spent time with you, it hit hard and fast, just as the labour. I was filled with the pain of loving you. It encompassed me and took my breath away with how deep it was. I loved you. I love you. Just as much. Even more.

And then it began.

The impossible task of fitting a lifetime into a day. I couldn’t kiss you enough. I couldn’t hold you for long enough. I couldn’t get enough of your face, your hose, your lips, your chin, you little belly, your fingers, your giant flipper feet. I gorged myself with you and still I was not satiated. I would move heaven and earth to spend just one more minute, one more look, one more touch. It will never be enough.

And then we had to say goodbye.
The act of parting.
Forever on this earth.
The part of this sinful world that is so unintended, and so unnatural.

One year later, we are still saying goodbye. And one year from now, we will be doing the same thing.  Until this ends, it won’t end.

Today is your birthday, dear sweet girl, and it feels so wrong to be celebrating your day without you. But today, unlike most days, I am not going to try and be strong, and get through it without too many tears, or memories, or awkward moments. Today, I’m just going to revel in the memories of you. To celebrate you. To remember why this day is so awful, yet so beautiful at the same time. This is my gift to you. - To participate in today, fully, no matter how painful or uncomfortable it may be. I will sit here and I will remember every part of you, your laugh, your smile, your delight, and I will grow to fall even deeper in love with my beautiful daughter.

I LOVE YOU, Quinny Bear, fiercely, and passionately, and without end. I will continue to love you with every breath in my body until that sweet day when we are joined together again.

Forever and ever,
Your Mommy

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Warning Her

Tonight my thoughts are taken hostage by memories of that day.

September 10th.

It was a Monday.
I was exactly 37 weeks pregnant.
Though I had no idea, It was the last day I would get to spend with my

I went for a long walk that day. A really long one. A workout for a full-term pregnant lady.

I reached the end, and as I rewarded myself with the first pumpkin spice latte of the season, I remember thinking, 'This is it! Any day now'. It was real. It was happening. We were going to have a baby in our arms.

Do I wish I could go back and scream at that naive pregnant woman sitting in the coffee shop? To yell, and plead, and shake her, and tell her that her world was about to be shattered? That in a mere 24 hours, her life would begin the nightmare she never thought possible, and she wouldn't want to go on living for one more minute?



Because that woman, that soon-to-be mother, was happy. For those 37 weeks, she was the happiest, most fulfilled, most at peace she had ever been in her life.

And tomorrow it would change.

So, I want to let her enjoy it. Let her soak in the feelings of her little girl moving and squirming. Let her be so excited for what the future would hold. Let her be full of joy. Just for one more minute...because soon, those memories will be all she has left to keep her moving on.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Camp in the Sky

People often tell me they don’t want to say anything to me, because they’re scared of saying the wrong thing and hurting me. I have said it many times, and I will say it again, I am already hurt. You can’t hurt me more.
Just talk about her.
Just talk about this.
You can’t really do much more damage. I’m already broken.
The one thing that doesn’t really bring much comfort, is telling me not to worry, because she’s safe in heaven. I will tell you why.

A dear, new friend gave me this beautiful analogy the other day (we met because we have something in common – our babies are in heaven. I wish we never had to meet, but am glad we did).

Imagine it’s summer.  It’s hot, and muggy, and everyone is getting on each other’s nerves. You hear of a wonderful kids camp to send your child to for a week. It’s reputable. It has glowing reviews. The counselors are first aid certified and all have their ECE and child psychology degrees. There is a pool with a personal lifeguard for each child. It is perfect.
You walk your child to the bus that will take them to said camp, kiss his or her little cheek, tell them to have fun and brush their teeth, then wave goodbye as the bus drives away.
Then, you pump your fist in the air and completely forget about them for the entire week they are gone.
No? No.
You worry. You worry they aren’t eating all their vegetables at dinner- even though it’s promised that every dish is infused with a vegetable puree. You worry they fell down and scraped their knee and are crying for their mommy – even though the entire camp is padded with foam mats. You worry they aren’t having fun  - even though they promise an activity for every kid of every interest. You worry they aren’t being hugged enough. Only you hug them the best way. You worry they aren’t being loved as much as they deserve. You worry until the moment they jump off that bus, dirty and disheveled and grinning ear to ear, exclaiming how much fun they had and they wanted to stay forever.
This is my life. Without that last part.

I sent my girl off to the best camp in the world. I know she’s eating her vegetables. I know she’s having the most fun in the world. I know she is loved even more than I could ever give her.
And yet, I worry. I worry because I’m her mom, and that’s what I’m supposed to do.