Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Today

"Gather up your tears, keep them in your pocket. Save them for a time when you're really gonna need them." - The Band Perry
If the world was as it should be, I'd be ducking out of work early today to pick up my three-year-old from school, on our way to celebrate at Chuck E Cheese. She'd be all riled up from the birthday cupcakes we'd made together the night before. She'd insist on breaking the egg and I'd tousle her hair as I wiped up egg from the side of the counter.
When I tell people that today was supposed to be Lydie's birthday, they usually make some remark about her due date. It's not her due date. Her due date was precisely one week before Christmas. December 18th. I'd shuttered when I heard that date, thinking of how poorly we planned. Thinking of how the poor girl would have her birthday mixed into Christmas and her poor mom would have to buy both birthday gifts and Christmas gifts in December. (My birthday is 6 months and 2 days after Christmas and as a child, I always appreciated the perfect spacing of gifts). Those were my concerns.
But instead, back in the mid-summer, we had scheduled a c-section at 39 weeks and 1 day, due to my emergency c-section with her brother just 20 months before. My doctor didn't do VBACs and even though I "grieved" never giving birth vaginally, I decided to choose the harder delivery for me and the safest delivery for my child. My doctor thought I had a bit of PTSD from his labor and running down the hallway to the OR when his heartrate plummeted and thought having a date on the calendar early would help. She gave me the options of December 11th and December 12th. I chose the 12th since her brother was born on April 4th. Thought it would be cool to have babies on 4/4 and 12/12. So the OR was booked for my daughter's arrival five months early, and unlike the majority of moms, I "knew" what day (and time) my child would be born months in advance.
Leading up to that day, I thought about really important things like whether I should take a shower before we left at 4:30 am for the hospital or whether the 20 minutes of extra sleep would be better.
I never saw it coming that instead we'd hold her memorial that day.
Now December 12th holds no marks on the calendar.
Blank.
Just a regular day.
But I know. How could I forget? Today is supposed to be my daughter's birthday.
There will be no Chuck E Cheese today. No cupcakes, no singing.
Just the lighting of the candle, the chorus of "I love you, Lydie" around the dinner table, as there is every night, before the knocked over milk cups and the dropped bowl of corn on the floor and the demanding requests for more chicken nuggets and the reminders of using manners.
But I know what day it is.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

What Two Looked Like for You

Dear Lydie,

Last November, we celebrated your birthday with a hike.  We climbed up rocky stairs, Josie on Dad’s back, and Ben clutching my hand or Oma’s hand, we weaved our way to waterfalls and caves, and we felt you with us.  I captured a photo of light streaming on Ben, as he peered out over a canyon, and we felt you with us.  At 12:14 pm, Dad and I said out loud, “I love you, Lydie,” as we often do.  Later, back at home, we decorated cookies with your name and decorated our countertops with beautiful flowers that remind us of you.  Dad and Ben went out in search of balloons, a bright pink “two” in the middle of a turquoise and yellow one.  Your colors.  We sent them to you in the sky, we watched them disappear and hoped they found their way to you.  I found some quiet time, and I held tufts of your dark hair in my hands.  I smelled it.  I wondered, like I so often do, whether it would have stayed that dark or whether it would have changed color.  After dinner, we gathered as a family, opened your birthday presents and cards from so many who think of you not just in November but every day.  We sang you happy birthday, ate your cookies, and we missed you.  At Thanksgiving, Aunt Laura decorated the table with leaf name cards at seats.  Your name card sat in the center of the table, with a candle on top.  I cried, both out of gratitude that you were included and of course, out of grief, that your namecard held a candle instead of a booster seat.  I missed you.  Could you feel our love?

In December, Ben held Josie’s hand when she cried on Santa’s knee.  I thought about your space, there in between them.  Your Christmas tree lit up our family room, and your brother and sister played with ornaments bearing your name, picked out just for you.  Ornaments of angels and stars and hearts. A “baby’s first Christmas” Oma Jo bought before you died.  An ornament reading, “Lydia, may your star shine down from heaven.”  An ornament that Leigh, the videographer who videotaped your memorial, was given in her childhood and took off her own tree to put on yours.  A bird holding the word “peace” that I bought you last year.  A pink heart Dad bought you, with a matching green one for your sister.  So much love on one little tree.  Our big Christmas tree was decorated with a new ornament from a new friend, holding your name between your siblings. How special that friend is, how rare it is for me to find friends who understand without explanation.  On Christmas Eve, your brother and sister wore matching plaid, and I missed you.  You were supposed to be my Christmas baby, due a week before Christmas. We hung your stocking on the mantle.  On Christmas morning, it was empty, and we missed you.  I’m often not sure it’s possible to miss you more than I always do, but Christmas morning makes me feel like that is possible afterall.  We opened presents and Aunt Laura gave you a book called “Forever.”  When the whole family gathered around the Christmas table, we lit your candle, as we do every evening, and Pop-Pop was the first and the loudest to say “I love you, Lydie.” Could you feel our love?

In January, we visited an indoor water park.  Ben zipped off with AJ, climbing to the top of a huge water slide, zipping down, and then running in circles to do it all again. Jos had just started walking, and yet she climbed the stairs again and again and again, never tiring of the slide.  We took turns catching her, laughing at her glee. I wondered which part would be your favorite, what you would do again and again and again.  Later that month, I interviewed with the national board of the Star Legacy Foundation and founded our very own Ohio Chapter.  I vowed to continue my advocacy work about stillbirth awareness and research and to make a difference for other families.  I do this work because I miss you so damn much and I shouldn’t have to.  Could you feel our love?

In February, I skied with Ben while Dad stayed with Josie in the lodge.  Two would be the perfect age to start skiing, and I imagined you out there, on the bunny slope. How you’d be in the bunny bump, the cutest little ski boots on your feet.  We'd be struggling on the magic carpet together, since you wouldn't be ready for the chair lift yet.  I missed you.  The days were long and dark and I missed you. I watched your brother and sister play together and I missed you.  I watched them fight with each other and I missed you.  I wondered what your laugh would sound like and I missed you.  I woke up, hugged your blanket for a moment, said out loud, "Love you, Lydie." Could you feel our love?   

In March, flowers started peeking through in your new garden.  I breathed a sigh of relief and thought about how your presence has infiltrated our new home.  I had been worried you wouldn’t come with us when we moved. A friend of mine had told me, "A love like this knows no bounds," and she was right. You did come with us, and I feel you here.  Your portrait arrived in my inbox and I stared at the computer screen, tears flowing down my face – the sketch of this beautiful baby girl with a full head of dark hair and long fingers, wrapped in her baby blanket her mother spent eight months making.  First I saw Josie but then I saw you.  (Others found Benjamin similarities.  Isn't it amazing to know you looked like both your brother and your sister?)  I framed your sketch, Dad hung it proudly in our hallway, and your little sister pointed to it, saying “baby.”  I responded, “That’s Lydie.  That’s your sister, Lydie.”   Could you feel our love?

In April, your big brother turned four.  I hung the birthday banner and underneath, we took family photos.  When I asked Ben to put his arm around his sister, he hugged the Molly Bear with your name on it, and laughed, “I thought you meant Lydie, not Josie!”  Later that month we decorated Easter eggs with your name.  In there somewhere, I got another email from a family thanking me for the Cuddle Cot donation.  Telling me about how they got time with their children, time we didn’t get together, because of you.  Your brother started asking why he didn’t get to hold you, and my mama heart hurt.  Could you feel our love?

In May, I was invited to speak at a Bereaved Mother’s Day event. I told them all about you, how I couldn’t wait to meet the girl who would change my life forever.  I told them, through my tears, how I thought your story was over when I left the hospital.  But I’m learning that your story is just beginning. Mother’s Day came around again, and I didn’t get to hold you. I spent the day in Minnesota with Reese’s mom and we missed our daughters out loud. I talked about you with my closest friend, who you brought to me.  Later that same month, I spoke to nurses and chaplains and social workers and doulas in a conference I organized.  I talked to them about how to take care of families whose babies died.  I told them how I believe your death was preventable, if only I had had different prenatal care. I hoped I was making you proud of me. In the parent panel, your dad spoke of you with a tremoring voice, bursting with pride.  Later we road-tripped to the cottage for our inaugural summer weekend and I felt you in the wind in my hair, the sand on my feet, the waves crashing.  We let your brother and your cousin Lane stay up late and they grabbed sticks and wrote your name in the sand under the setting sun, just as I always do. I always feel you so strongly there.  Could you feel our love?

In June, I finished work for a while.  I settled into my routine of time off with your brother and sister.  The summer routine of slower breakfasts, no rushing, mornings of playgrounds and the library and the grocery store and afternoons almost always at the pool.  I wished I could spend this time with you. I thought about those big flipper feet of yours and knew you’d be a good swimmer, just like Ben and Jos.  We road-tripped to Indiana, watched Meg and Andy get married, marveled that they were thoughtful enough to include you on the seating chart. At home, Jos started saying “Love you Lydie" on her own when we lit your candle. We visited the cottage again, had donuts at your tree.  We celebrated my birthday and I missed you. Could you feel our love?

In July, we slept in the hospital for three full nights with your little sister.  She was a trooper, and Dad and I couldn’t leave her side.  I thought of you, how I wished you were ever given a fighting chance.  It was so hard to hand her over to a doctor to operate on her and turn to walk the other direction to the waiting room.  But that’s far from the hardest time I’ve been forced to turn and walk away from my child.  You’ve given me perspective, my dear.  You’ve taught me how to be tough and how to be brave.  I used that toughness and braveness a few days later when your dad had a biopsy to determine if he had cancer.  I clutched his faded Lydie heart that he carries in his pocket while he was in surgery.  I thought of you and I hoped, hoped, hoped we’d fall on the good side of statistics this time. And somehow, this time, we did.  Once we got those two surgeries over with, we escaped twice more to the cottage.  This time at your tree, Josie wiped my eyes as I cried.  I wondered how much she understands about you. We spent a week at the cottage, building sand castles and boogey boarding and running down sand dunes and building campfires and playing baseball and finding sea glass and jumping off the Mat and kayaking and eating bridge fries and missing you.  Could you feel our love?

In August, your big brother and little sister started a new school.  I worried no one would know you there. So I told them all about you, about our middle child.  One morning, still wearing only a towel after my shower, I walked to an eastern window, wondering what the sky looked like.  It was bright pink.  “Good morning, Lydie,” I said outloud.  Your wind chimes, the ones from Kelly, that read “Hear the wind and know I am near” sounded in reply, and your skeptic mama felt you.  Your sister started wearing shoes I bought for you, adorable Keens, and that made me both happy and sad.  Happy those shoes will be used.  Sad that those hand-me-downs aren’t discolored, with the Velcro full of fuzz and the bottoms all scuffed up. They are the final brand new hand-me-down, and that too, makes me happy and sad all at once. The last item that was meant to be for you that is instead for your rainbow sister.  Jos loves those shoes, dancing around so proud of them, which I laughingly called “the new shoe dance." On hot days, Ben and Jos watered your garden, carrying cans of water from the rain barrel. Could you feel our love?

In September, I walked into your sister’s room, wearing last year’s t-shirt and Jos announced proudly, “Lydie’s Loop!”  She knows you.  We celebrated Oma and Pop-Pop’s anniversary at the cottage, posing with the rock that is inscribed with your name.  We missed you.  The whole family gathered at the beach and sent lanterns over the lake, to you.  You painted us a beautiful sky, and we missed you.  Back at home, we picked apples, throwing them down after only a few bites to grab a new one.  You’ve been to that orchard with us, soon before you were born, and in the years that followed, we’ve seen you in the sun that forms a star in our photos.  I pictured you running through the orchard, giggling with your hair flying behind you. Would it still be dark, or would it have lightened in the summer sun? Could you feel our love?

In October, my months and months of hard work culminated in the second annual Lydie’s Loop.  Hundreds of people wore your name in pink, with your footprints in yellow on their turquoise shirts.  We spoke about you, and read the names of fifty other much-loved, much-missed babies.  We donated thousands of dollars to research so other families don’t have to live without their children the way we have to live without you.  I spoke to newspaper reporters about Lydie’s Loop and about you.  How perfect your little body was, your dark hair and flipper feet, reading to you and kissing you again and again, until I had to kiss you that final time.  How I sleep with the blanket I crocheted you that held you and still holds your blood every single night, how you’re changing the world.  Your sister turned two, and I joked that I have two two-year-olds for three short weeks.  My Irish twins.  On October 15th, we celebrated the Wave of Light by lighting your candles.  The weather turned colder and grief hit me hard. I mailed out your birth announcements, almost three years too late, to the special family and friends who honor you just as we do.  Could you feel our love?


Your dad, in a letter he wrote to you for your first birthday, told you we celebrate your absolute place in our family, "so painfully empty but so beautifully full."  This continues to be true and I know it always will be.  Two didn't look like it should, but it was full of love.

And now it’s November again.  Tomorrow, you're three. Another birthday without the birthday girl. 

I love you every moment of every day.  I loved you at one and at two and now I love you at three.  I’ll love you at a hundred and a hundred and one.  I’ll love you for always.

That letter that Dad penned for you on your first birthday, he said he dreamed that these words find you in the starry night sky: You are loved, you are loved, you are loved.  We'll keep making sure you feel all our love.   

Happy third birthday, my girl.      

Mom

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Feeling it in my bones

I've been thinking a lot about how my body knows what time of year it is.

I've been trying to figure out how to put this into words, how I feel November coming deep within my bones.  How I could possibly explain this to someone whose body doesn't carry the shock and trauma and grief the way that mine does.  How it's visceral, not rational or intellectual, how I feel it in my guts.

Then, this morning, I was listening to my favorite podcast, Terrible, Thanks for Asking, and my sister-in-grief, Nora McInerny, who became a widow at age 31 when her husband died from cancer,  put it into words for me:

"It was a year later and I woke up, and my body remembered.  It remembered all of the horror to follow, and it was bracing me to lose Aaron again."

This is it.  My body is bracing to lose Lydie all over again.

A difference between Nora and me?  Her loved one did not die inside her body.

So while it feels physical for Nora, it makes sense that it really feels physical for me.

My body remembers the ultrasound, at the end of October.  The last time I saw Lydie moving, when I thought we'd be bringing her home in a few short weeks.  An extra, unplanned ultrasound, after my belly was measuring small.   "Let's just take a look at her, just to be safe," my OB had suggested.  I felt panicked as my OB ushered me from the examination room to the ultrasound sound.  And sweet, sweet relief when I was told my daughter was in the 30th percentile and doing just fine.

She would be dead in two weeks.

My brain asks why I didn't demand an NST, more testing, why I took my OB's word that my baby was fine.

I know the reality is that I didn't know then what I know now.

I know the reality is that most women trust their OBs.

That doesn't mean I don't wonder if Lydie actually had intrauterine growth restriction, if maybe that cord constricted many times, causing her to be smaller than both her brother and sister were at that gestation.  That maybe she constricted her cord, unconstricted her cord, constricted her cord, unconstricted her cord many times, before the time when she didn't.  That maybe if I had had an NST we might have seen decelerations of her heartrate and realized the danger of her umbilical cord.  That maybe if I had been 35 and "Advanced Maternal Age," I might have had more thorough prenatal care.

There's a million what ifs and there will always be, because we'll never have answers.

I live with these what ifs everyday, but it's this time of year that I wonder the most.

Three years ago, I was still living in the before.

Three years ago, I still could have changed the outcome.

Last night, Ben pulled on his Spiderman costume and Josie her Elmo, and we met up with our neighbor friends. I drank my travel mug of wine and reminded Benjamin to use his manners and helped Josephine up steep steps and thought of Lydie. Three years ago, trick or treating, a neighbor handed me a piece of candy and told me it was for the baby.

The baby would be dead within the week.

I never saw it coming, though her death took place inside me.

On November 5, 2017, I will inevitably relive November 5, 2014. I will watch the time and at 8:45ish, I'll think about how I realized I didn't know the last time Lydie moved.  My body will feel that pit in my stomach all over again. At 9:15, I'll relive the moment of the silent Doppler. I'll think about the silence, the panic rising, the moment of relief when I heard a heartbeat, the crash when my OB told me that was my own heartbeat. How at that moment, I knew. A few minutes later, I'll think about how I had to call my husband and tell him, how I was forced to shatter his world. He'll think about how he feels physically ill when he sees the conference room he was sitting in when he received that phone call. Around 10:30 am,  I'll think about how the phone rang, with Benjamin's school's telephone number lighting up the screen and how I was sure they were calling to tell me he was dead too.

You see, by 10:30 am, I was living in the after.

The after is one where you live with the knowledge that you can do everything right - for pretty much your entire life - and everything can go so terribly wrong. It includes anxiety and fear. And jealousy.  And anger.

The after is one that you have to learn to manage these emotions to be a good mom, a good employee, a good friend, a good human being.

In an especially cruel twist, Daylight Savings Time occurs on November 5th this year. Fall back. That means that I get to live an extra hour of the worst day of my life. It also means the game I play, the one that I relieve every moment while staring at the clock is that much more challenging.

Of course, Ben got invited to his very first birthday party from his new school... on November 5th. Justin looked at the invitation, threw it down, and declared, "Well, that's not going to happen."  Ben cried.  I will get into how difficult it is to parent living children and a dead child at some other point, but for now, I will say this: nothing about the after is simple.

We'll do our best to get through the day on November 5th, 2017, the same as we've done on November 5th, 2014, November 5th, 2015, and November 5th, 2016.

I'll let my body feel it, because as terrible as reliving these moments are, I need to. I want to.

I'll grieve heavy that day with the hopes that Lydia's third birthday will feel a little lighter, a little more celebratory of the girl that rocked my world, who I love for the rest of time.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Second Annual Lydie's Loop: A Photo Recap


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I've been wanting to process Lydie's Loop in this space, but I haven't known where to begin.  It’s hard to find the words to explain what it’s like to work nonstop for six months on an event that culminates in 232 people wearing t-shirts that bear your dead daughter’s name and her footprints.  It’s hard to put those emotions into words.  But we got the professional photos back just yesterday, so I’m going to try to use them to tell this story.

On the morning of Lydie’s Loop, at 6 am, I left my house in the dark, driving my Mom’s loaded SUV.  I followed Justin in our loaded Odyssey and my dad in his loaded SUV.  I listened to Lydie’s playlist and I cried.  I cried because I wished that I was one of the many “normal moms” who said things to me like, “Oh, wish we could make it, but we have soccer!”  I wished my biggest cause of stress and anxiety was a packed schedule. 

Just the week before, I had wailed to my sister on the phone about this, how many people gave me some reason they couldn’t make it.  How I wished I couldn’t make some event that is to honor their dead daughter with the ultimate goal to stop babies from dying in the same way their baby had.  We have soccer on Saturday mornings too, and in fact, I’m even the coach.  But there are some times that people just need to SHOW UP.

So I got my tears out on the dark drive, and I heaved a sob when I turned into our old neighborhood, the one I lived in for six years and Lydie lived in for eight months.  But when I pulled into the park’s parking lot, I wiped those tears away and got ready to work.

Which is good because the biggest downside to this park is that you can’t drive anywhere close to the pavilion.  We decided to host at this park again, to not give people a new location to find, and to not have to run the loops of Lydie’s Loop five or six times to track out the mileage on my FitBit like we did for the first event.  But the many trips with the wagon or the Double Bob (which we ironically purchased for our two babies while I was pregnant with Lydie, which is NOT how we imagined using it), certainly add to the work of the day.  Gratefully, I have a few friends who not only SHOW UP but also BRING COFFEE, and we all started our unloading to set up in the dark.


As we set up the pavilion, a Lydie Sky greets us.  It was a moment for me.We also needed that daylight!


My excited kiddos arrive! Thankful for an Oma who pulled morning duty with them.
Know what's cool?  When years ago you have happy hour margaritas with a soccer friend and some of her friends, you meet a cool woman who is starting her own children's entertainment business, she is so good at what she does that she grows her company into a huge business in a couple years, and sixish years after your first and last meeting, she SHOWS UP and volunteers her time to make awesome balloon animals at your event for your dead daughter.

First balloon of the day is for this rainbow girl.

Look at these big kids, writing their sister/cousin's name all by themselves.

I talk a lot about Beth, one of the women who delivered both of my girls, in this space.  I know how lucky I am to have her.
And I think Jos is pretty lucky too.


And here are Beth's triplets, my niece and nephew (who loooove Beth's triplets), and my kiddos.  Special.



For comparison sake, here's the same kiddos from a year ago.  Minus Josie and plus Lane's pirate facepaint.



Love this photo of our family of five.  Might just be able to send a Christmas card this year.  

Still love this work done by my friend Jessi Snapp, using Lydie's footprints.

We ended up with over forty-five raffle and silent auction prizes.  I actually had help in this area, which was sooo nice!  My uncle Ron made this gorgeous memory box, which was a big hit.  Lydie has the same one.

Almost ready to go.

We had real signs this year!  LEGIT.

Registration is open!


And we begin!  Another speech about Lydie and Star Legacy.

One of our blunders of this event... we decided to read each of the 51 baby names aloud.  At the end of my speech, I said that we don't get to hear their names called at graduation, so we wanted to recognize them here today.  And then I shuffled through all my papers, but the names, that I had so carefully collected, organized, and printed were missing.  I shuffled some more.  And some more.  Until someone tossed us a t-shirt.  It's amazing how you can be so organized and yet the day of the event, it can all go to shit.  That list never did turn up.  But I heard from several people that they loved hearing their child's name... guess were we read it from was not what mattered.
Getting ready for the kids' dash

Look at my boy hustling in the kids' dash!  
All the runners and walkers line up!
Our rainbow.



Lydie's Fam.  Love having photos that feel as complete as they get to be in this lifetime.


The morning passed in a blur.  Meeting new people, trying to stick to our timeline while watching folks walk in from the parking lot when the welcome speeches were supposed to start 5 minutes ago, hugging friends who I haven't seen in a long time who SHOWED UP, chasing raffle bags that blew away as the wind picked up, hoping someone was watching my children because I wasn't, answering questions from all the volunteers, attempting to fix the time clock that never actually showed the time, monitoring the silent auction sheets and hoping the bids came in (they did!), pulling names from raffle bags and announcing winners, and finally... drinking beer at the bar with a few old friends, a few baby loss friends, and my family.
And rainbow babies.

And afterwards, after party.  Which included beer.
The rest of the day passed in a blur as well, as we hosted a SLF Board Member from Minnesota who felt like an old friend, as my family for the day and more old friends visiting for beers late into the evening.

I'd call the event a success, with over $18,000 raised.  Not the $21,000 we raised last year but not too shabby either.  Lydie's Loop brought a community together in Ohio and awareness about stillbirth and prevention efforts, allowed us to continue to promote the Ohio Chapter of the Star Legacy Foundation.   I truly believe that we should not only be supporting bereaved families but focusing on research and prevention efforts, and I also believe that we can do a whole lot more as a national organization working together.

A friend asked me if I had recovered only a couple days later.  Yeah right.  I'm still trying to wrap up this year's event.  I think what others may not recognize is that the work is not over when the event is over.  I wish I was done on October 7th but instead I had bunches of virtual shirts to mail out, dozens of thank you notes to write and mail to businesses and individuals that donated food, raffle prizes, and silent auction prices.

I've heard lots of thank yous, and that feels good, because it often feels like thankless work.

I also got an email TWO DAYS later asking about the date of next year's Lydie's Loop.  While it made me want to throw my phone across the room because please just let me catch my breath, I know it's also a compliment of the highest degree.  My mom told me planning for next year started on October 8th.  Here it goes, continuing on with Lydie's story.

As my friend Molly told me, she was thinking while driving away from Lydie's Loop, "I was so immensely grateful that you've created this fun and festive event where people can smile AND cry AND play AND grieve AND remember AND hope."   
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A great article about Lydie, Lydie's Loop, and how we founded the Ohio Chapter of the Star Legacy Foundation was published here.  It was exciting to see it on the front page of our local paper!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Litty's Loop

On the day we found out our daughter's heart stopped beating, Justin and I looked at each other and asked the question, "Do we still call her Lydie?"

Lydie was a name to be cheered at soccer games, yelled when she was dawdling instead of putting on her shoes, announced proudly in a crowded auditorium.

It was a name for a living girl.

We didn't verbalize it, but I think we both thought the same thing, Do we save this name?  For a living child?

As a side note, that's exactly what used to happen.  My grandfather, whom I called "Opa" was one of seventeen children.  Two of his siblings died in infancy, and in both cases, the subsequent child was named the same name.

It didn't take us long to answer our own question. Yes, we still call her Lydie.

No one else could ever be Lydie.

When we picked up her ashes from the funeral home and I held her tiny urn in my hands, I stared at the certificate that accompanied it.  Lydia Joanne Welliver, age 0.  The name I had scribbled countless times on the side of my meeting notes, after Sydney and Emma had been decided against. The first time I ever saw her name in print was on a cremation certificate that will be needed if we ever decide to bury our daughter's ashes.

I gave my daughter the most beautiful name, and I mourned that I'd never get to use it as we planned.

Over a beer with the Dead Baby Club (my brother told me he wouldn't babysit again if I referred to the friends we met at support group this way), I admitted out loud that sometimes I liked to think of Lydie as "Litty."  Litty sounded the same but wasn't nearly as pretty, and so, therefore, it didn't make me as sad that I didn't get to use the name Litty as planned.  It epitomized the fucked-up nature of life after loss so well, we roared with laughter and choked on our beer, joking about how the wait staff purposefully sat us in the back of the restaurant because the DBC just wasn't appropriate enough to be around other patrons.

I'll always grieve not getting to shout my daughter's name during loud swim meets, but I am grateful that her name is used regularly these days.

It's just as beautiful of a name as it ever was.  A beautiful name for a beautiful girl.  I still scribble it on the side of my meeting notes.

Now I also get to see her name scrolled across headlines, on t-shirts on loved ones and strangers.  I get to hear her name come out of the mouth of strangers.

That's right, it's Lydie's Loop season again.  (Or if you prefer, which I no longer do, Litty's Loop.)









This makes me cry 9 out of 10 times. And yes, I've watched it that much.

We are less than a month from Lydie's Loop. I'm busy trying to find a photographer, trying to find a balance between successfully promoting the event and annoying people, calling Meijer 15 times to ask about my letter requesting food donations, deciding on the shirt design, and picking up raffle items.  Of which we have over 35 confirmed donations, most of which I'd love to take home, including 4 Browns vs Packers tickets, 4 2018 Indians tickets, 2 sets of Blue Jackets tickets, a family membership to YMCA, a Portraits by Dana portrait, bread every day for a year from Panera, 3 Night Sky posters, a memory chest made by my uncle, a Kate Spade bag, just to name several.

We were so BIG (280 participants!) and so SUCCESSFUL ($21,200!) last year that I worry we will not be able to live up to that this year.  But then again, if we don't, we don't, and any amount of participants promote awareness and build community and any amount of funds help prevent stillbirth and comfort grieving families.  And either way, no matter how many people or how much we fundraise, I get to speak and write and read my daughter's name. And in all my hours and hours of volunteer work, I get to actively be her mom.

When people ask me about my kids and their ages, I respond: "Benjamin is 4, Lydia would be almost three, and Josephine is almost two."  If they catch it, they often ask, "Would be?"  And sometimes I say, "Yes, she died just before her due date.  But I chair a nonprofit organization and run a fundraising event in her name, so she still takes up a lot of my time."


To those of you who have signed up, thank you.  And to my baby loss friends, I'm glad your child's name will be written with Lydie's.  I'm glad you get to wear your speak and write and wear your child's name, that you so lovingly chose, and that we can parent our children together.


Would be remiss if I didn't share these links...
www.lydiesloop.org
https://www.facebook.com/events/380074122362962/

 
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