Monday, December 17, 2012

It all takes me back to *that* place.

Sandy Hook.  I know I don't need to explain.  I've had a roller coaster of emotions, really.  Unlike most people, I didn't react with more worry sending Erin to school.  I didn't hug my children any closer than normal.  Because really, I have already done that every day from the moment they were each born.  I have already had the realization that life is short, and that you should appreciate every moment, and your child can be taken in a moment.  I can't be any more worried than I already am.

What's been hard for me, though, is the parents.  I've actively avoided reading any statements or seeing pictures of the parents.  Because when I think about them, I think about the moment I was told my daughter had died.  Thankfully, her death was peaceful.  Thankfully, she did not die full of fear, or in pain.

But that doesn't mean that it didn't hurt me. 

I've gotten good at ignoring my pain over the past 6 1/2 years.  It's not all encompassing.  I've learned out to let my joy stand side-by-side and, most of the time, shine brighter.  But there are still moments when I feel it.  When I really feel it.  And then, it hurts just the same, just as deeply, just as sharply.  And when I think about those parents, those poor poor broken families, I remember when my life was shattered, and I really feel it.

And it hurts.

I went and bought a green and white bouquet today.  It was actually almost by accident.  I just fell in love with it and didn't place it until a few minutes later I remembered that green and white are Sandy Hook's school colors.  I took it to the Columbine Memorial.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

How to traumatize your 5-year-old.

So, Erin was helping me make dinner today.  Conversation went how I "made" her, and all her siblings, and then we started talking about Cora.  We talked about death and heaven, and I made the mistake of pointing out that since everybody dies, I'm going to die some day.

She burst into tears.

Poor thing, I don't know why it didn't occur to me that she'd be really upset by that.

Friday, November 30, 2012

A gift for Cora

Last year I decided that I should pick a girl Cora's would-be age and get a gift for her in memory of Cora, so I could feel like I was buying a present for her.  Of course, by the time I decided that it was too close to Christmas and the trees weren't available any more.

And this year, I can't FIND one.  Maybe they're waiting until December to put them out?

Anyway, our church Christmas party is tomorrow, and they're doing a toy drive for The Action Center, so I decided I could buy a toy for Cora and donate it there.

Standing in the toy aisle I started to cry.  NONE of the toys seemed right, or good enough.  After staring at it all, I realized it was because I wanted to buy a toy for Cora, not for someone else in memory of Cora.  So I settled on something, left sad because in the end, I was robbed of the chance to buy Christmas gifts for my child. I was left forever wondering what she would want for Christmas.  And it hurts.


Monday, November 26, 2012

A gift from Calypso's mommy

I joined Justmommies forums (specifically the pregnancy loss/stillbirth section) 2 months after Cora died.  So it's been just about 6 1/2 years now.  And in those years I have met hundreds of women who have gone through the same thing as me.  It's heartbreaking, but at the same time I have made so many wonderful friends through this shared experience.

One of them is Calypso's mom. ((I refer to her as Calypso's mom instead of by name, because really, we babyloss moms don't often get to be identified as the mothers of our babies who aren't with us, so it's nice to hear sometimes))

Anyway one of my favorite things about having babyloss friends is that Cora gets remembered, (just as I remember their babies).  It's good to have people do things for her.  And Calypso's mom has a little tree for Calypso, decorated with ornaments in memory of Calypso's friends.  And she did one for Cora.
I love that it's simply her name, because really, her name is perfect.

So, Calypso's mommy, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Cora's stocking

We put up Christmas yesterday.  I've posted about Cora's stocking before, but this time was a little different.  Erin was helping me, and she's a lot more aware about things this year.  She asked me what Santa would put in Cora's stocking, and why there were envelopes in it.  So I told her that Santa puts something to the family in the stocking, because she can't play with her own toys so it doesn't make sense to put something for her in it, but he doesn't want Cora to be forgotten.  I of course teared up.  I always do.  And she hugged me as she always does.

I hope that seeing me grieve for her sister not only shows her how deeply I love her sister, and therefore her, but that grief is okay.  That you don't have to cover it up, and that it's okay to feel.  Mostly, though, I hope she never ever has to know what it feels like to grieve for her child.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Breaks my heart.

I just made pumpkin chocolate chip cookies with Erin.  After everything was all mixed up, she got out a book and stuff and started to pretend to make her own cookies.  Gingerbread men. With her cousins...and Cora.

I hate that to play with her sister she has to pretend.  I LOVE that she knows her sister, but really?  It just hurts that she doesn't really get to know her.  I wasn't the only one robbed.  Erin, Patrick, and Allison were robbed of a sister.  And as Erin gets older it's becoming more and more evident to me.  How long until she meets other kids and realizes what a big sister is supposed to be?  Will she go crying to me like I did to my dad at not having one?  I didn't know about my stillborn sister at that time, and that's when my dad told me, but how will it feel for Erin?  When she understands what death really is and sees others have what she should?

It just breaks my heart.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


I find holidays hard.  And I don't think I'm ever going to get over it.  I became pregnant with Erin in October of 2006, about 5 months after Cora died, so I was pregnant through Cora's would-be first holiday season.  But honestly, I found no comfort in it because I knew from experience that pregnancy was no guarantee of a baby, and I was skirting the edge of real terror at any given moment.

But even being pregnant didn't change the fact that that Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas I was supposed to have a baby, not be expecting one.

Holidays change when you have a child, and I knew that from hearing others speak of it (and I just knew that logically, it would be true since having a child changes everything else).  But a child's death also changes holidays, in a way that you can't really expect.

I feel like I say this every time, but I truly do appreciate having my living children to celebrate with.  However I'm missing one.  And I always will be missing one.

Yesterday, my daughter's elementary school had their annual "Turkey Trot." But just before that they had a little memorial for a boy who died of leukemia this summer.  He would have been a 6th grader this academic year.  They planted a tree in his memory, and it has a plaque.  My heart broke for his parents and what they went through with the long battle before his death, but at the same time, I felt such envy.  They got 12 years with him.  They have pictures of him, alive and well, and happy and smiling.  They knew his laugh, and his likes and dislikes, who he was.  I can't imagine how hard it was for them, but at the same time, I wish I had those memories.  I wish I had any memories, and not just imaginations.

I wish I could remember Cora's Christmases, instead of imagining what they were like.  I wish I could remember her Halloween costume choices, instead of just imagining what she would have wanted to be.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

First birthdays

I don't know why first birthdays are so hard.  This is the 4th time I've done a first birthday, the 3rd with a living child. We did cupcakes & presents with friends today for Allison.  Her birthday isn't actually until Monday, but today worked best.  Anyway, I was totally in the moment while IN the moment.  But for the rest of today, looking at the pictures, part of my heart breaks over again.

Instead of this
I had this.
Cora's first birthday was a beautiful day.  It couldn't have been more perfect.  Except that she wasn't there.  Kind of a huge imperfection, I know.  I wish I could have spent it with her.  I wish I could have had pictures of her covered in chocolate icing.  I wish I wish I wish.

Monday, August 20, 2012

First day of school

This is a post I should have made a year ago.  A year ago, Cora should have started kindergarten.  And it DID hurt a year ago, thinking all those should-have-beens, but it's one of those things that you don't really know how to grieve the missing of until you've actually experienced it.  Today I saw Cora's younger sister's excitement and wonder as she finally got to go to kindergarten (she's been talking about it for over a year now).

I cried when she went into the classroom.  Part of it was the normal mommy-cry of your baby growing up.  But a lot of it was missing the pictures of Cora in her backpack and first day outfit that I didn't get to take.  Missing the excited conversations about what she did and the new rules she'd learned and the kids in her class.  I'm not going to get to take first-day pictures of her, and that loss hurts more than I realized it would.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Cooking with Cora

Both Erin and Patrick love to cook with me, and I have often wondered if Cora would have too.  It's made me sad, on occasions, that I spend so much time in the kitchen and there's nothing in there of her.  Well, I found a way.  I decided a while back that since I have such and enormous window sill behind my kitchen sink, I should utilize it and do an herb garden.  I bought 4 different kinds, and then went looking for pots (something I should have done beforehand, since I ended up having to buy one).  Anyway, sitting empty in the garage was the angel pot that I bought to put a flower in for Cora.  You may remember it from earlier posts
Well, now it has oregano in it, and she watches me while I'm doing the dishes

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The hole she left

I've been watching the show Doctor Who on Netflix.  A couple days ago, I was watching the episode "The Doctor's Daughter."  The Doctor and company had ended up on a planet where they were immediately taken captive and the Doctor's hand was shoved into a machine where a tissue sample was taken, his DNA was recombined, and a woman was made from it.  One of the Doctor's companions joked with him about "daddy shock" resulting in sudden unexpected fatherhood.  He then explained to her that he had been a father before, but like his planet and race, they were gone now, casualties of the great Time War.  And then he said, "When I look at her, I see the holes they left and the pain that filled them."

I loved that line because it resonated so much.  Whenever someone makes a comment that insinuates that since I have had three healthy children since Cora's death I should somehow be "better" or that grieving somehow means I'm not grateful for those three, this explains how it feels.

Whenever I look at them, I see the hole she left and that pain that filled it.  Whenever I watch them play, hug, hold hands, or even fight, I see what is missing.

It's like seeing a ghost almost.  I can see in my mind where she would fit.  I can't help but imagine what she would do and what she would say, who she would be.

I find so much immense joy in my children.  I love every small moment with them.

But when I look at them, I see the hole she left and the pain that filled it.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Anniversary & Father's Day

Friday, June 17, 2005, Matt and I were married.  It was one of the happiest days of my life.

Saturday, June 17, 2006, we spread Cora's ashes on the water of Jenny Lake in the Grand Teton Mountains.  It was one of the saddest days of my life.

Interesting how so much can change in a year.  The day after we spread Cora's ashes was Father's Day, of course.  But how do you celebrate the father who can't hold his child in his arms?  We'd also planned on having Cora blessed in our church that day.  It was really hard.  I've never been able to tell if it was harder for me or Matt though.

So today it's my anniversary AND Father's Day, and I can't help but thinking of what it should have been.  We've had 7 great years and have 3 healthy, living children, and I'm missing the one we don't have something fierce.

Friday, June 8, 2012

How Great Thou Art

I've been watching the show "Duets" lately, and this last week's episode was "Songs That Inspire."  John Glosson chose "How Great Thou Art" in dedication to his family.  His older brother died of leukemia the day after his mother found out she was pregnant with him.  Listening to him talk about his brother that he never got to know...I really hope that Erin has that connection to Cora when she's older.  I hope she never truly understands what it was like for me when her sister died, but I hope that as she comes to understand what death really means that she will still feel the connection she seems to have now.  And that Patrick and Allison will grow to have that too.

Because as long as we remember she's never truly gone.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Butterflies and rainbows

Unlike last year, we had good weather for Cora's birthday this year, so we were able to release her butterflies on her birthday.
and the place we went to dinner was next to a Build-a-bear, so Erin decided we needed to go stuff a bear for Cora.  And she chose a rainbow bear.  A rainbow bear stuffed with love by her rainbow siblings.
I love that Erin has such an attachment to her sister that she's never met.

Dear Cora,

I can't believe it's been 6 years.  Who would you be today?  It's hard not to try to imagine you here with me, my life as it should have been.  I wish I could know what you would have been asking for this year.  Would you be a girly-girl, all ponies, princesses and dolls?  Or would you be a rough-and-tumble tomboy?

I miss you.  More than any words can say.  You have a part of my heart that nothing else can take.  There isn't a day that you don't pass into my thoughts, some way, some how.  I wish I could care for you like I do your siblings, and get comments about you from strangers.  Your hair would be a hit, I just know it.

I love you darling girl. Happy birthday.

Love, Mommy

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

If Only I'd Known.

I have often regretted not going to the hospital Cora's last night, when I was at work and a coworker offered to take my place so I could go in because I told her I felt "off."  Especially after looking at the ultrasound from 23 weeks and it becoming painfully obvious that her cord was around her neck then.

I've often told myself that "if only I'd known" about her cord placement, I might have gone in and maybe they would have seen her distress and could have saved her.

But in thinking about it today, the anniversary of the day we confirmed she was no longer living, I realized something.  I was thinking about the last movement I remembered, a long stretch into my ribs that prompted me to ask her not to hurt me, and I couldn't help but wonder if it was the last I remembered because it was the last.  If that is the case, then even if I had gone to the hospital then, it would have been too late.

This actually gives me peace, even though some might think it would do the opposite.  It means that my inaction didn't alter the outcome.  

I still hurt immensely for her.  I miss her today of all days, as I relive the trauma of the doctor's awful words "her heart's not beating," and that still image that is seared into my mind.  But it gives me some peace.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

So many emotions

I've had an extremely busy couple of days.  Too much to really feel anything, but now that it's calming, it's all crowding around in my head.

Yesterday we went to help a friend move in to her new house.  She works with my husband, and she invited another coworker who brought her daughter.  Her daughter Cora.

Matt had the gracious foresight to warn me, so meeting her wasn't too bad.  And she's 12, nowhere near my Cora's would-be age.  No, the hard part was hearing Erin and Patrick running around yelling to her, coming back and telling me how much fun they were having with her, how much they liked Cora.  I miss having that name used like that in my house.  It's weird to say I "miss" it too, because I never got to experience it in the first place, but there isn't really a word for how I feel about it.  I hate that Cora is more of an abstract concept than an actual person in my home.

And today is an anniversary of my greatest regret, possibly.  I was thrown a small baby shower by 3 of my friends, it was just the four of us, but it was nice.  Someone asked me how I was feeling, and I said "I almost don't care about the baby anymore, I just don't want to pregnant and sick anymore."

Cora died the next night.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

If Only

Every year I try really hard not to relive the last week of Cora's life.  And I always fail utterly.  Every year I think about what I was doing on a particular day.  And it starts today, April 26th (a Wednesday), the day of my last regular OB appointment.  I was 37 1/2 weeks, and having fairly regular contractions and a LOT of pain/pressure "down under" on top of still being horribly sick like I had been the entire pregnancy. I was very ready to be done with the whole pregnancy thing.  Not only that, but my brother was graduating in Utah that weekend, and my parents would be only a 3 hour drive from me (as opposed to an 11 or so hour drive), so I asked him if he would induce me.

But I was healthy, the baby was healthy, and their policy stood against elective inductions before 39 weeks, so he refused.  I figured it was a long shot, but was still disappointed.

Cora died Sunday night.

If only he'd agreed.  I can't help but run through it in my head.  What might have happened if he'd agreed?

Of course, there's no answer to that.  It's quite possible with her cord where it was that she might have not made it through labor, even with an emergency csection.  But she might have.

Words cannot describe how desperately I want to hear that cry.  To see her open her eyes and look at me. And it hurts so tremendously that I didn't get to.  I had that ripped from me.

The person I was died with her.  Someone else walks in her place.  I like to think that this new person I am is better, more kind, more compassionate, more patient, a better mother.  More appreciative of every moment I DO have.  But, days like today, I really miss the person I was.  I miss the future she was going to have.

I miss my baby girl.

Friday, April 20, 2012


Today was the 13th anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre.  I've reflected a lot on that day since moving to Littleton, and even more today, my first anniversary here.

I was a sophomore in high school, and I was sick that day, so I stayed home.  I don't quite remember how the news got turned on, I was probably flipping through channels and saw something, but I watched the whole thing through.  I spend the day crying, watching in horror as the terrorized students ran towards the news cameras.  I couldn't understand how someone could commit such senseless violence.

I've been taking the kids to Columbine library for almost a year now, many times playing at the park next door.  I'd seen signs for the Columbine memorial, but I'd never been over to see it.  And I honestly had no clue that the high school was just over the hill.

It was really beautiful.  I had no idea it would have that much of an emotional impact on me.  The atmosphere was quite reverent as we walked in.  Even Erin felt it, she was shushing Patrick.  I didn't know any of those who had been killed, but I it still hurt so much to see.  So many lives lost.

Each victim had a plaque with whatever the family felt appropriate to put on it, and one plaque, Rachel Joy Scott's, had something she had written about a month prior.

"I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion, then it will start a chain reaction of the same. People will never know how far a little kindness can go."

Wouldn't the world be a better place if we all learned to do just that?

Monday, March 19, 2012

The other Cora

There's another angel Cora that is special to me. Her name is Cora McCormick.

Cora died at 5 days old due to an undetected congenital heart defect.  Sadly, a very simple test could have detected it and saved Cora's life.  It's called a pulse oximetry test (the little white plastic thing put on the tip of the finger...SO simple).  Cora's amazing mother has been campaigning trying to get bills in several states to make pulse ox tests for newborns standard and mandatory.  And she's doing an amazing job.

Go read Cora's story.  Then contact your representatives and tell them you support a pulse ox bill to be written or passed in your state.

Sunday, March 11, 2012


‎"If you know someone who has lost a child, and you're afraid to mention them because you think you might make them sad by reminding them that they died -- you're not reminding them. They didn't forget they died. What you're reminding them of is that you remembered that they lived, and that is a great gift."--Elizabeth Edwards

Sunday, March 4, 2012

As time goes by...

...I have learned a lot about this grief journey.  It's a long one.  I keep trying to remind Baby Loss friends, and myself by extension, that you're never really "done."  Unlike most journeys, there's no real destination.  There's no point, at least not while I'm alive, when the grief will go away.  It'll always be there.  Do I live my life? Yes.  Do I find joy? Yes.  Will I ever stop hurting for Cora? No.  Not ever.  Not until I get her back into my arms.

I'm so glad I have other children to experience this life with, but having them won't ever bring her back.  They do not fill that Cora-shaped hole in our family and in my heart.  Those dreams I dreamed while pregnant with her were not for any child, they were for her, that specific child.  I could have 100 children, and do all those things with them that I planned do do with her, but I will never get to do them with her, and that hurts so very much.

I've gotten good at ignoring the pain most of the time.  I go about life, focused on the three sweet babies that need my utmost attention here, enjoying almost every moment (because I'll be brutally honest, I don't enjoy cleaning vomit up off my floor [Patrick was sick a couple days ago]...there are just some motherhood moments are just not enjoyable).  But that doesn't mean that the pain, the grief, the missing-Cora has gone away.  It's an old injury now, one that I have learned to live with.  But I do have those stormy nights where it steals my attention and it hurts like the day she died.  The intensity of the pain has not lessened with time, merely the focus I give it throughout my day.

But apparently it's one of those moments where the weather is changing, and the old wound throbs.  I miss her.  And I miss even the hard mommy moments that I never got with her.  Because, as much as I don't enjoy them, I'm glad I have them, because it means I get the great ones too.

Monday, February 20, 2012

If Heaven Wasn't So Far Away...

We were out eating lunch today, and Erin started talking about sisters.  She told me she had one sister, and I explained to her that she actually had two, because Cora was her sister as well as Allison.  She knows about Cora, but I guess it just hasn't registered that she's her sister too.  Anyway, she asked if we could go visit her (which reminded me of the song at the end of this post).  I had to explain that you can't go visit Heaven, it's just not possible.  That made her sad, and with a little pout she said to me "I miss her, Mommy."

Through the tears I could only answer, "I miss her, too."  *sigh*

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The scrapbook

I have been scrapbooking since I was 13 years old.  I love it.  I love having a record of my life.  But you know what I hate?  It illustrates everything that I'm missing out on with Cora.  I'll never get to see her play in the snow, or dress up stuffed animals, or read to her siblings.  I'll never get holiday celebrations, or first days of school, or prom or graduation or wedding.

I was robbed of all of that.  And while I LOVE everything I'm experiencing with my living children, and recording our memories, I hate that I only ever add to Cora's book on her birthday or in October for the Walk to Remember.  And she's never in those pictures.

So while I love to scrapbook...sometimes I hate it too.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sherlock...another good quote (could contain spoilers)

So, Matt and I watched the 3rd episode of the 2nd series of the show Sherlock the other day.  The episode starts with Watson saying his best friend was dead, and ends with him standing in front of Sherlock's gravestone in tears.

He said "I want you to do one thing for me.  Don't be dead.  Just stop it.  Stop it right now."

I can't tell you how often I've said those exact words.  "Just don't be dead."


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

I miss her.

There's not really much else to say.  It's not the knifing grief I get some days.  It's more wistful now.  I just miss her.