Thursday, December 29, 2011

It hurts...

12/29/2011              3:22 pm

Dear Brynna,

Hi baby girl.  I miss you so very much.  I think about you every moment of the day and can’t seem to wrap my heart around the fact that you are really not coming home.

Daddy and I are going on our first ever cruise in March and the trip is only eight weeks away so I ventured out with your brothers today to the gym.  I am trying to get my postpartum, post-op body in shape to put on a swimsuit in 2 months.  I ran and walked on the treadmill for about 40 minutes and did some weights, all the while listening to music on my ipod.  Quite a few times, a song would come on that brought my thoughts right back to you, and I had to fight off the tears.

At one point I was on the leg extension machine and “Brand New Day” by Joshua Radin came on.  I full on started crying and I am sure that the man on the machine across from me wondered what was up with the crazy lady doing leg exercises.  I am sure he probably thought, “she is only lifting 60 lbs, what’s the big deal?”  Oh well, this is the story of my life these days. 

I cry at the drop of a hat.  God, I miss you, baby girl!  What I would give to hold you and feel your beautiful soft skin again!  To rub your back.  To smell your sweet smell, and brush my cheek against your downy hair. 

Sometimes I just go into your room and sit and talk to you.  Do you hear me?  Do you know your momma’s voice?  I hope so.  There are so many things I wanted to tell you, to teach you, to show you.  I am sorry my body betrayed you.  I am sorry you were not brought into this world safely, and placed on your loving mommy’s chest.  I am so sorry.  People tell me not to feel guilty, that it’s not my fault, but that is really hard to accept.  I would have done anything to change it all.  If I could have reached inside and held everything together so that you would have had oxygen, I would have in an instant.  I wish I could trade places with you so that you would be given the opportunity to have a full, happy life.  I am sorry you are gone.  I am so, so sorry.  Please forgive me.

Your biggest brothers, Cole and Aidan say they see you often and talk to you.  I hope that is true.  You have three AMAZING brothers!  They all miss you so much too.  We all think about and talk about you.

Daddy is doing such an amazing job trying to keep things together for our family, but he is so sad too.  One of the things I regret the most is that you will not get to grow up feeling safe in the strong, loving arms of your Daddy.  He loves you more than words can say, and misses you more than he knew was possible. 

I love you, Brynna.  I love you so much.  Thank you for being my daughter.


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas is Over

Well, Christmas is over and put away.  Not exactly sure how we got through it, but we did.  True our tree was only half lit for many weeks (it eventually did get fully lit and decorated thanks to my Mom for her help), I am just proud we even got to the tree farm this year and picked one out.  Man, was that hard!  I am okay with the idea of going places and doing things, until I start picturing how it would look if Brynn were here doing those things and going places with us.  That’s when the intense hurt seeps in. 

It was supposed to go that we all got bundled up to head to the tree farm and Brynna (all cozy in a winter sleeper) would be on my chest in the Baby Bjorn and we would keep each other warm while all the boys (Steven included) picked out the “perfect” tree.  Instead, we bundled up the boys and walked around the tree farm kind of in a sort of robot mode, and I carried a fuzzy pink baby hat in my coat pocket and held onto it as if my life depended on it.  There were a few smiles and the boys had a good time riding the train and eating warm doughnuts and drinking hot cocoa, but there was definitely a great big void.

That is the story of our life now.  We go along living somehow, but all around us we sense a great big void. 

Steven and I went to our first Compassionate Friends Meeting, which is a group for bereaved parents.  They meet once a month.  As we were walking in that cold winter night, we were struck with how much our lives have changed.  Three months prior to all this, I never even considered meetings like this take place.  Our reality at night time was staying home in our warm house, having family dinners and getting our kids to bed.  Not venturing out to some random meeting room at the back of a local hospital’s cafeteria to meet with other parents walking the horrible road of grieving the death of a child.

But, here we are.  It’s amazing how your body can keep going day in and day out, when you feel like your heart is shattered.

We are fast approaching the two month mark now, and I miss her more today than yesterday.  I am not only grieving the loss of our newborn daughter, I am mourning not getting the privilege to witness the girl and woman she would have become.  It breaks my heart that I will never get to put her hair into pigtails, that I will never know her favorite color, or know what her voice sounded like.  We had so many things planned for our little girl.  A life of love and laughter.   But now, we are left with a empty nursery and, even more, empty arms.

There are sometimes brief moments within the long days, that feel a little bit normal.  Like yesterday, when I sat down with all three boys to play a board game.  We were all engrossed in the activity at hand and having fun, and then it all washed over me again as the game ended, that Brynna is not here with us.

I miss her.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

One Month Out

Yesterday was the one month marker since our baby girl died. Six days prior to that was the mark of what would have been her one month birthday. I am sometimes paralyzed with pain to know that for the rest of my life, when I recognize/acknowledge Brynna's birthday, I will only have 6 days until I will be faced with the anniversary of the day we held her in our arms while she took her first unintubated breaths which were also her last breaths here on earth.

 I miss her so much. There truly are not words to describe this. At times I really feel like I am going out of my mind. I am afraid. Afraid I will always feel this way. Some people on the outside and alot of the books talk about "giving it time" and "letting it fade". I really believe though, that it will hurt this much forever. I remember all the times people said, "over time you forget the pain of labor, the memories fade, that's why women are able to do it again time after time." Well, I am here to say, I have never forgotten the pain of any of my labors, and I did it again and again because I love our children and would do anything for them. So, if the pain of labor never fades, even despite a healthy outcome and a beautiful, healthy baby, how in the heck can one believe the pain of actually losing a child would fade over time? I guess I (we) are just going to have to continue to find a way to work through it, and find a place in our hearts to put it. 

We continue to feel so very loved and supported by so many friends and family and are thankful beyond measure to have you in our lives. Although, you may call, write or text, and we may not be in a place emotionally to answer right then, please know we love you. And please don't stop calling, writing and texting. Please don't stop inviting us to do things with you. One day I will be able to pick up the phone every time. One day I will not hesitate or have to really think about whether or not I am up for joining you for “coffee”. One day I will again just be able to say, "yes, I would love to." But not today. Today it hurts too much.

"One day at a time is all I can bear. If I can make it through this day, 
then I can look back tomorrow, and know that I am strong. 
Even in my weakness.
 And sometimes being weak, is the only way right now, 
that I can be, at all...."
-Joanne Cacciatore (author of "Dear Cheyanne")

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Words for Brynna's Funeral

*following are the words I spoke at our baby girl's funeral*

Wow, here we are.  I just kept hoping as I went to bed the past few nights that I would wake the next morning to find this whole thing a horrible nightmare.  A nightmare that I would be able to put behind me, and move on from.  Yet, here it is Saturday morning and here we all are.  No waking up from this one.

I am Laura Finnegan.  I am Steven’s wife, and mother to Colton, Aidan, Jackson and Brynna.  Thank you all for coming today, and thank you so very much for every bit of love and support you have shown to our family over the last few weeks.  It means so much to have been held up by so many.

I have known since the time of Brynna’s passing, that I wanted to stand up here, as her proud and loving mother, and say something on her behalf.  The problem is I haven’t known exactly what to say or how to put what I’m feeling into words.  To say this has been the hardest experience of my life, of our life (Steven’s and mine), is such an incredible understatement.  I have felt myself break, my heart shatter, so many times and have feared I will not be able to be put back together.  The sadness is intense.  The feelings of hopelessness at times, seem to sneak in through the tiny cracks in the armor I am trying so hard to keep on to protect myself.

But last night as I was falling asleep, knowing it was the night before our daughter’s funeral, I made a decision.  I will not talk anymore right now about the hopelessness or despair.  I will talk about all the joy Brynna, our baby girl, brought to our life from the very moment we decided to have another baby.

Steven and I have been together a long time, over half our lives actually.  We have had disagreements and our share of hard times, but when push comes to shove, we have always figured out a way to compromise and find a middle ground.  For a long, long time, however, we could not agree on whether to have a fourth child or not.  Pretty much from the time Jackson was one year old, I was ready for our #4, but Steven was hesitant.  This was very difficult for both of us because in regard to whether or not to bring a baby into this world, there is no middle ground to be had.  You either do or don’t but either way somebody is compromising their position. Our discussions went on for a long time and there were times that for the sake of our sanity, the topic just had to be “tabled”.

Then one day, I was laying on the couch reading, and Steven came and sat beside me.  He asked me if we could talk for a minute.  I looked up into his smiling eyes and he said, “I am ready.  I want to have another baby.  I want a number 4.”  That moment will always remain as one of the happiest, purest, most memorable moments in my life.  I was so happy.

When I was actually pregnant, Steven knew before I did.  I had taken a few pregnancy tests but they had come back negative.  One night he said he was going to the store and when he came back he had a package of pregnancy tests in one hand and a snickers blizzard from Dairy Queen in the other.  When I asked him what the blizzard was for he replied, “for congratulations or consolation, whichever”.  His eyes were shining though because he was extremely confident in his prediction and a snickers blizzard is what I have craved in each of my prior pregnancies.  He was right.  It was positive.  Again, I (we) were so happy.

From there on, this pregnancy has been happiness.  When asked if we were “trying for a girl” we simply replied, we were so happy to be having a fourth and growing our family by one.  It has been many, many years in the Finnegan line since a girl has been born, so we were fully prepared for and embracing the idea of a fourth boy.  How blessed we considered ourselves just to be having another baby, and over and over we said (and truly meant) “we just want healthy”.  We were so happy.

The day of our ultrasound, the technician asked if we wanted to know the sex of our child.  Steven, who had previously been holding firm to the ground of “let’s wait and be surprised at the hospital” looked at me and said, “I mean I guess if you want to we can find out”.  He was playing so coy, but I knew he was excited to find out that day just like I was.  When the tech told us we were expecting a baby GIRL, Steven was up out his seat like a shot, had his nose pressed to the monitor screen and was insisting the tech show him exactly “how” she knew this.  We were so happy.

In the weeks and months that followed, everything we did to prepare for our #4 was done with happiness.  Coming up with her name around the dinner table one night, the boys offering their input and opinions.  Surfing the internet for ideas on the d├ęcor for her room. (Up until this point I have only been versed in black, blue, mohawks and superheroes so jumping into this “girl thing” required some research).  Having people remind us of all the things that would be “so different” in having a girl; the pink, the hair bows, the love of all things Disney princess.  Everything made us so happy.  I will never forget one night when Steven and I had been talking about all the new “girl” things we would be getting to experience, he sat up in bed and looked at me, nothing but love in his eyes and said, “I will get to walk her down the aisle”.  So very, very happy.

I was happy about all the things to expect.  I was happy to be pregnant with a healthy baby girl. I was happy my three amazing boys were going to get the opportunity to love and cherish a sister.  I was so happy for my sweet husband to have a daughter that would adore him.  I was also happy another female was coming into our life to “help even the playing field”.  Planning for and anticipating the arrival of Brynna made us all so very happy.

It is true that the details of my labor and Brynna’s birth are sad and traumatic.  And the fact that our baby girl spent her six days of life in the NICU, is not how I had “planned” it in my happy head.  However, our happy moments did not end the moment Brynn was born and not even in the moments surrounding or after her death.

We are happy to have seen our beautiful daughter. To have felt her soft skin, held her tiny hands, smelled her sweet baby smell, and rubbed her back.  We are happy she looked so much like her brother Aidan (this made him happy too).  I am happy her oldest brother Colton got to read to his baby sister.  I am happy that Jackson got to draw pictures to decorate Brynn’s room.  I am happy that Steven and I got to do “spa night” with baby Brynna, massaging her arms and legs and making her, her first bow for her head.  I am happy our daughter met her grandparents and that they had the opportunity to meet her.  I am happy to know that when talked to by her momma, my baby girl’s heart rate and respirations increased.  I am happy Brynn was able to be held in the strong and reassuring arms of her daddy.  I am happy that Steven and I are both blessed by such compassionate and supportive places of work. 
The support shown to us by our bosses and coworkers is something I never could have imagined.  I am happy we got six days with our daughter.  I am happy for the pictures that help cement her memory in our hearts.  I am happy that on the afternoon before she died, I got to hold Brynna skin to skin on my chest and it was a perfect moment in time.  I am happy we had such loving and supportive medical care from our nurses and doctors.  I am happy that my sweet husband, Steven and I got to hold our baby girl, unencumbered by iv’s and breathing tubes, wrapped in her soft pink blanket in the last moments of her life on this earth, and we got to show her our love.

This path we are walking is a dark, scary one.  Sometimes it feels lonely and hopeless, and we are not sure we will navigate our way through it successfully.  However, we are going to commit to remembering all the happiness that planning for and bringing Brynna into this world, brought to our hearts and we are going to keep walking hand in hand.  One day there will be light.  There will be more happiness.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Hospital Entry #6

11/1/2011       5:31 p.m     (Facebook entry written while in the hospital)

Brynna Elizabeth Finnegan
10/26/11- 11/1/11

Thank you all of you for your thoughts and prayers. I am going off Facebook for a while. It's just too much to handle. Please know though, that we love and cherish all of you and the support that has been given is what has gotten us through this past week. 

Sweet dreams, little girl. We love you.


Just For Today
By Vicki Tushingham

Just for today I will try to live through the next 24 hours
and not expect to get over my child's death,
but instead learn to live with it, just one day at a time.

Just for today I will remember my child's life, not just her death,
and bask in the comfort of the treasured days and moments we shared.

Just for today I will forgive all the family and friends
who didn't help or comfort me the way I needed them to.
They truly did not know how.

Just for today I will smile no matter how much I hurt on the inside,
for maybe if I smile a little, my heart will soften and I will begin to heal.

Just for today I will reach out to comfort a relative or friend of my child,
for they are hurting too, and perhaps we can help each other.

Just for today I will free myself from my self-inflicted burden of guilt,
for deep in my heart I know if there was anything in this world
I could have done to save my child from death, I would have done it.

Just for today I will honor my child's memory by doing something with another child
because I know that would make my own child proud.

Just for today I will offer my hand in friendship
to another bereaved parent for I do know how they feel.

Just for today when my heart feels like breaking,
I will stop and remember that grief is the price we pay for loving
and the only reason I hurt is because I had the privilege of loving so much.

Just for today I will not compare myself with others.
I am fortunate to be who I am, and to have had my child for as long as I did.

Just for today I will allow myself to be happy,
for I know that I am not deserting her by living on.

Just for today I will accept that I did not die when my child did,
my life did go on, and I am the only one who can make that life worthwhile once more.