Each year around March 6th, I like to do something special for the NICU where Zac and Evan began their journeys in this life. I like to do something in memory of Zac and in honor of Evan's birthday. Something to find some peace in knowing only one of our two sons are blowing out birthday candles and being showered by friendship and gifts. Something to find peace in my own heart and a goal to find some sort of "sense" without Zac here. A goal and a joy to settle the stabbing ache in my heart as I prepare for a party that Zac will never be physically present at.
Doing something for the NICU does that for me. It provides a goal for me. A sense of "peace" in the fact that Zac is not here another year. A way to bring a small bit of healing in knowing I'm doing something to remember him and to share him with others. Something to hopefully bring joy to another parent going through the NICU journey.
It feels good to drop off whatever donation has been gathered that year. To say "in rememberance of Zac and in celebration of another birthday for Evan..."
It feels good to be able to say "thank you" to nurses and doctors who worked so very hard and with so much love to provide the best they could for BOTH of our sons.
I need this. I need to have a way to celebrate BOTH of our sons. To have a goal to celebrate BOTH of their lives. To say thank you.
This year I was blessed by friends and family who participated in my donation collection of journals.
Journaling was my lifeline through each NICU day and still is.
I began journaling shortly after Zac's funeral.
I would have started earlier, but for obvious reasons...my head just wasn't there.
But once I began journaling...I couldn't stop. It's a journal of each 66 days Evan was in NICU, and then I just continued it to this day. I hope one day Evan will be interested in reading them, but regardless...it was my way of working through the scariest days of our lives.
So, thanks to the idea from another baby loss mommy who's daughter passed away in NICU...I decided this journal collection was a wonderful idea.
Today Evan and I dropped off 43 journals, and a ton of little crocheted hats that my grandma made. She still can't believe that a head can possibly be THAT tiny to fit these hats. And is always asking if I'm sure she is making them the right size. And I always smile and say "I'm sure baba. I'm sure because it would have fit Evan just perfect!"
It was an extra special day for me as I met the new NICU Family Liason Nurse today. Our sweet Doreen retired before I had a chance to talk with her one last time, so when I called thinking I was leaving a message for Doreen but ended up leaving a message for Shannon, I explained who I was, who our sons were/are and about the donation I had to drop off.
Last night I listened to my messages and Shannon had returned my call and said "actually Heather, it's me, Shannon...who was with Zac the first night the boys were born. I was with him that whole night". As I listened to that voice message I began to shake and my eyes filled with tears. Brett looked at me and asked what was wrong and I said "It's SHANNON! She's the new NICU Liason!"
Brett and Shannon had known each other way back when they were both in school in Moose Jaw...so when the boys were born and Brett saw her...I think it was really helpful to see a familiar face.
And so when I saw Shannon walk out to meet me today, and I saw the tears in her eyes, I just hugged her and we both just started to cry. It meant the world to me to see this sweet angel, and to now know that she is the new NICU Liason...the contact for each of my donations and Christmas baking! That this person, one of the first, who was so lucky as to get to know my sweet Zac, was back in our lives. I will never forget after Evan came home and on his 1st Birthday there was a card in our mail box wishing Evan a happy birthday and remembering Zac. It was from Shannon.
So today was extra special and extra emotional, and when I got home...I just had a good cry and allowed myself to feel the emotions of walking back in to that unit and seeing this sweet girl!
To each of you who contributed to this journal donation...I can't thank you enough. It means the world to me that you have continued to contribute to these yearly donations...and it just really touches my heart that you choose to remember Zac and celebrate Evan with us.
I know that these donations mean so very much to the staff, and to the parents whose lives are touched by them. So I thank you from the bottom of my heart for supporting me in these moments.
Truly, thank you!!
A sweet moment was when Evan and I got off the elevator to the NICU floor, there was one of the house keepers in the hall whose face just LIT UP when she saw Evan and I. She is one of the cleaners on the NICU unit...and so to see how happy she was to see us, and who remembers us so well...it just really melted my heart!
I won't lie...I've been struggling these days. The struggle of pure joy and gratitude and adoration for Evan and the pure sadness of missing Zac so very much has been pulling me in all directions. I know it has been elevated due to our recent unsuccessful embryo transfer, and feeling really sad about that. But the reality is, that tug-of-war of joy and sorrow is a daily part of my life.
But being back and the hospital, having every second come flying back to my mind as if we had just left there with Evan...tears have been shed today. Tears of sheer thanks to God for sparing Evan, tears of sheer love and pride of BOTH of our sons and the fight they gave us, tears of missing my sweet Zac in my arms.
It doesn't help that a few of my favorite shows have been dealing with really tough scenarios.
I love the Little Couple. Watching their struggle with their IVF procedures, their miscarriage, their unsuccessful embryo transfer and now an unsuccessful egg retrieval...it breaks my heart, yet they are so inspiring too.
Yes, I also love Private Practise. I do. But this last episode on Tuesday night broke my heart. One of the doctor's finds out her unborn baby does not have a brain...and this doctor is a neurosurgeon. In one part she is yelling at her sister-in-law and saying "I would be mad at God, but there is no God. No God would do something this painful". The outcome for her baby is leaving this earth.
And now tonight on Grey's Anatomy, a resident gave birth to her son very prematurely. 25 weeks I think? Anyhow, for the past few episodes it has gone through the struggles of a premature birth and they pretty much went through everything that could go wrong with a baby this early. Sadly...I understood everything they were talking about. But on tonight's episode, this baby undergoes surgery for another bowel obstruction only to find out they can not do anything medically. This baby, Tommy, is not going to survive. And the mother is left to make a decision I know first hand of how brutally agonizing it is. To say goodbye. To know your son is not going to make it, and to use those final moments to hold your child you've never been able to hold, and knowing that in holding your child in those moments, it is only to say goodbye to each other on this earth.
Each of these shows have been hitting on very personal cords. And though it is heart breaking to watch these shows, I am so grateful that they are bringing light to what some of us are faced with. It's not just a TV show script...it's real life for some of us.
But after today, after the joy I felt after dropping off these donations...I am grateful. For a lot of things, including my scars. And the wounds that are still trying to heal. Though I wish desperately those scars did not mean such agonizing loss...without them, I would not have the children in heaven that I have. I would not have the child I am honored to mother on this earth.
So to share some joy with others...has been healing.
Now...if only I could get to sleep! I would be grateful for that too!
|Journal donations and crocheted hats (by my baba) to RUH NICU in memory of Zac and in celebration of Evan.|
|My sweet Easter Bunny|
|Evan's new 2-wheeler with training wheels. So proud of his new bike!|
|Seriously...SO ADORABLE! He doesn't go anywhere without his Spiderman cap!|
|Me and my buddy!|