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.