I’m grateful for the little things

It has been a little over a year since our daughter Berkley passed away. This year has been hard and complicated to say the least. We have learned a lot this year about pain, ourselves, the grieving process and the world we live in. The loss of our daughter has changed how we look at the world. It has made life harder, it has made us more grateful and it has given us a deeper understanding.

At times it is very exhausting having to carry the weight of the loss. The first year felt as if we were just trying to survive, grow and understand the pain. We would celebrate our small victories moving through the grieving process. We started to participate in life again and actually began to enjoy it again.

It taught us a lot about ourselves and made us go through an existential crisis. We questioned the meaning of our lives and what the purpose of our life is supposed to be. It’s not an easy thing to do when you are in deep grief but, I guess that’s when it happened. It made us look at every aspect of our lives. The good and the bad. It is hard and it is painful. At times we feel very lost still and it’s hard to make decisions.

Losing our daughter gave us a deeper understanding of life and compassion for other people. I have seen people lose children before but, I couldn’t have imagined the depth and length of pain they endure until we experienced this pain ourselves. It made me look at other people that are struggling with their own battles with mental health, sickness, loss, personal issues, addiction, or any other thing a person has struggle with in this life. I know now that I will never know what they are going through. I know now that I don’t have a right to pass any sort of judgment on how they handle the battles they are enduring. We are so unique, we have different coping mechanisms, and all have been given different battles.

I know for me it was the little things that helped us survive, heal and helped us learn to live again. It was the friends and family that stood by our sides. The strangers that reached out to us. The random letters, messages and people reaching out to us months after we lost our daughter. It was the people in our lives that waited for us to return. It was being told after months of not being myself that someone saw a glimpse of the “old me”. It was when people would tell us it was nice to hear us laugh again. It is when you bring up Berkley in a conversation, when you still ask how we are doing, when you still allow us to have rough patches and when you haven’t put a time limit on our grieving process.

We wanted to do something in honor of Berkley and we participated in the Hope and Hearts walk for the Missing Grace Foundation. We set out just to walk. We hoped a few people would walk with us and maybe raise just a little money if we were lucky. We ended up having a large group of our friends and family join us and  we raised $3,300. We had many people that we love donate and reach out to us that couldn’t make it to the walk. We are beyond grateful for everyone that supported us.

With everything we have endured this year we are grateful for the little things. Thank you for allowing me to say my daughter’s name. Thank you for standing by our sides and being patient with us as we travel this journey. Those may be little things to you but, the mean the world to us.

A letter to our daughter 

Last year we spent Mother’s Day much different then we are spending it this year. Last year we saw you for the first time and found out you were a little girl. That was one of my happiest days of my life. The reality of seeing you and knowing who you were.


From that day on we spent the rest of the pregnancy imagining what life would be like raising a little girl. I was so happy imagining a little girl following her father around the garage. Our little daughter playing dress up with her mommy. We fell in love with you so fast and started to plan our future with you, everything was imagined with you here with us.

You are gone, and that is why life is so hard these days. We will never know what color eyes you had, what color your hair would have been, what you would look like as you grew. We never heard your first cry, first laugh, or watched you take your first steps. We never got to see you off for your first day of school, watch you get married or start a family of your own. Our family will always be different with out you here. 

That’s why life is so different, so hard and full of pain. We have a lot of things we have to come to terms with. Things that will never make sense. 

They are so hard because, you taught us what unconditional love is, what beauty is, what is like to love and lose. I could have never imagined life this way. Without you. 

Losing you has changed me. I know an unimaginable love that exist in parents. Even though you are gone, I still worry about how you left, were you ok, did you suffer and are you okay now? So far from us physically but you make up every ounce of us mentally and spiritually. 

You taught me how strong I am. How strong our marriage is. Our rose colored glasses have been shattered and we can see things differently then we ever imagined. Our beliefs about what life on earth is about and why things happen is this world. You taught me the importance of compassion, understanding, and how to be a better person. 

We fight everyday to be the people we used to be. We will never be exactly those people again and that’s ok. Losing you makes me want to be a better person, wife, friend and mother than I ever could have been. 

Last Mother’s Day you were here and I felt like I wasn’t a mother yet. This year you are gone and I feel more like a mother than  I ever have because, you taught us what is like to love your child so unconditionally that even in death we still feel the love for you over anything else. I love you more than you will ever know, our beautiful Berkley.

The world keeps turning 

It has been a little over five months since our daughter passed away and our lives were turned upside down. Last year was a rough one and our family was hoping 2016 would be filled with nothing but good things. Ha, it’s almost comical how much more you can happen right when you think you can’t possibly handle anything else. Last week Tony had surgery to have a big chunk taken out of his back. They think it is skin cancer but they are not sure. We hope it isn’t and that will hopefully be one  less thing to worry about.

Life threw another horrible curve ball into our and most importantly one of our best friend’s lives. My friend Mel’s husband passed away in a car accident on his way to work three weeks ago. This has flipped our world upside down again. We have a hard time trying to come to terms with a such a devistating loss. Mel, Seth and Olis were one of the families that we were truly happy for. I know that is bad to admit but, it’s hard to be happy for people right now. This will hopefully go away soon because, the guilt that I feel for feeling this way is ripping me apart.

Seth was an amazing person. There are not too many men in this world like him. Strong, loving, hard working, loved the simple things in life and he would do anything for his family. His wife Mel has been friends with Tony and I since we were 15 years old. She has been there for me through out the loss of Berkley. She always was checking in to make sure we were ok. She is a loyal, funny, kindhearted person that is a friend I love endlessly. Mel and Seth have a beautiful son Olis. He is nine months old and is the only baby I have been around since we lost our daughter. He is amazing and brings happiness to everyone around him. He is probably one of the cutest babies out there but, I am a little biased since he has been flirting up a storm with me lately.

Petron Family Go Fund Me

Tony and I are having a hard time wrapping our heads around the horrible things that happen in this world. We don’t understand how a loving husband would be ripped away from his beautiful family in an instant.

This has compounded our loss. We are not only grieving for our daughter but, our friend and their family. I feel myself growing darker and full of sadness.

It’s so hard to relate or interact with anyone. We are so sick of bad news and sadness yet we feel trapped. When you have conversations with anyone that tries to make small talk I find my self miles away. Conversations are usually full of problems that are real to them but to me I would give almost anything to have, “those problems instead”.

I know it is our situation and that is why I feel this way but, I am sick of feeling like this. I understand the reasons why. It’s like my head and heart are on two separate pages. I can’t wait to just be happy again. I will never take that for granted again. I am still fighting everyday to climb out of this hole but, it’s not easy. I do have happy moments and people have commented that they have seen glimpses of the old me but, I just want feel like myself again.

The art of grieving

There are 5 stages of grief; denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. These stages of grief are fueled by intense emotions and irrational thoughts. For the me the stages bounce all around. I can tell I am healing and moving in the right direction but, I still move through all 5 of them.

There are more good days than bad now but, she is always on our minds. No matter where or what we are doing. There she is. We are always thinking about what our life would be like with her and what she would be like. She would be four months old now and would have grown so much. I know that we are in the acceptance stage but are lingering in the depression and anger stages also.

Right now it feels like our theme song is “Paint it, black” by the Rolling Stones. You wish everyone could feel your pain, but in the same sentence you wish no one would ever know this pain. The anger is so irrational. Just seeing a pregnant women is annoying. I can be having a good day and it can change everything. Something that I thought was so precious is now aggravating. I know why I feel this way and that emotion is fueled by the pain of our loss. This is not a feeling that is constant and it is showing itself less than it was but, it’s still my greatest hurdle to overcome.

I know that we are starting to step into the acceptance stage. We are making great strides in the healing process. We are letting some of the guilt, denial, and bargaining go. I am taking the little accomplishments as they come. I went and spent time with one of friends that I really missed. This is a dear friend that I treasure. She is one of the friends I was pregnant with. She had a son and he is several months older than Berkley. I went to her house planning on staying for a little while and ended up staying most of the day. I held her son. I spent the day with her and her baby. I shockingly felt good about it. I wasn’t sad and was genuinely happy about spending time with both of them. I know I couldn’t have done this a month ago.

We are facing every emotion as it comes. Whether the emotion makes sense or not we just accept them. If I want to be mad at the world or cry. I am and I do. After I get though those emotions I usually feel better. I am hoping the days keep getting “easier” and we continue to move through the grieving process. It feels like you are stuck in these strange feelings and are being controlled by an irrational thinking process. It’s a mess and there is no art to it. We are just doing what we can, when we can. I sometimes look at pictures of me before I knew this pain and think “I miss that person.” I wonder if I will ever be that person again or will everything be a compromise. I will probably be truly happy one day but, I wonder if it will always be followed by “I wish our daughter was here too.”

 

Searching for Answers

When we found out that our daughter had passed away there were so many questions racing through our heads. We were wondering how this could happen and why it would happen. She was due in just a few days. How could she pass away so suddenly after such a healthy pregnancy? My doctor called my pregnancy a “text book” pregnancy. The morning sickness in the first trimester was horrible, then just heartburn, and pregnancy induced carpel tunnel. Besides that I felt great. I remember thinking how great I felt and I couldn’t believe how active I still was even during the last few weeks of pregnancy. I was even joking with my doctor about great I felt at my last appointment on that Monday before we lost Berkley.

We were hoping that we would get some answers why our daughter passed away once she was born. After being thrown into this reality we have learned so much. Stillbirths still happen and some women never get an answer why their child passed away. Right after Berkley was born our doctor could see what happened.

Berkley had a velamentous cord insertion. That is where her umbilical cord inserted on the edge of the placental plate instead of in the center. So it was connected to a weaker spot and the connection ruptured. This is just a random occurrence. Nothing genetic or anything that could have been prevented while she was developing. The frustrating part about this diagnosis is that it is something that they look for at the 20 week anatomy scan. Berkley’s scan came back normal. Umbilical cord insertion was marked as normal. When it wasn’t. If it would have been seen she would have been monitored more. We will never know what the out come would have been if it was seen.

In the beginning this pissed me off more than you could imagine. I couldn’t get over the “What if” and “how did this get missed”. I started researching the diagnosis and the more information I found the more angry I would get. It is something that has a very high survival rate if it is caught and it is highly detectable on an ultrasound. The anger and what if game was consuming me.

I had to let those thoughts go. The answers that I found were not the ones that I wanted. That wasn’t my situation and we can’t bring our daughter back. What happened just happened and it is what it is. We cannot change things that have already happened and we just have to learn to live with the loss of our daughter. Her life was short and it is hard to come to terms with that fact. I am so grateful though, we were able to have our daughter for those 9 months. We grew to love her and will love her until the day we die. Knowing that love is one of the greatest gifts in this life and I will not let her death over shadow the beauty of her life.

The choice

We have to make a choice every morning. I knew that I didn’t want my daughter’s life to be the reason why I would lose control. I knew that I had to change.

I slowly went back to work. I started going out into the public again. Going to places that I go on a regular basis. I am fortunate that my family/coworkers told a lot of the people that we see on a regular basis that I lost my daughter, so I didn’t have to explain. When I started going to the places we would go to for lunch in the small town. Several women’s eyes would fill with tears when the first saw me, they would hug me and tell me they were sorry for my loss. I started to go grocery shopping by myself. These are fast trips and are still very hard for me to do.

My anxiety was out of control and I was carrying around baby weight without a baby. I decided I needed to start going to the gym again. I would sometimes cry all the way to the gym because I was having a bad day but, I made myself go. I am going 4 or 5 days a week to try to calm my mind and get back into shape.

My relationship with my husband is the most important thing to me also. I am so grateful that he is such an amazing person. I knew he was in extreme pain also but, he still would get up every day go to work and make sure I was ok. We knew we had to communicate our emotions with each other and try to understand each other’s grieving process. He would hold me when I was crying uncontrollably and he wasn’t afraid to cry in front of me either. Seeing my husband cry, made me love him even more. Losing our daughter has made our love even stronger.

We started going to counseling together. We wanted to make sure that we were moving forward in our grieving process. I am reading books, talking to other bereaved mothers in online groups, reading articles and blogs from other mothers. Talking to other mothers that know exactly what it feels likes helps me a lot and so does reading their blogs.

In a world full of people that haven’t experienced this pain there is a club of parents that didn’t chose this life but, are living it. Their words give me strength. They understand the intense emotions, the strange triggers, the healing process and that we will not get over this tragedy. We learn to live with the pain and hope the intensity goes down with time.

We made choice. We make a choice every day. Our daughter’s death will not destroy us. We will live for her. I can feel the change within me already. I am still a very broken person but, I am a stronger person. I am braver and I don’t care what others think about me as much. I hope we continue to grow for the better.

I do not believe in Karma. Everything doesn’t happen for a reason. We just live in a broken world. Full of tragedy, things that don’t make sense and things we cannot control. We just have a choice to make about how we respond to the tragedies in the world. We chose to fight, love, and grow from the pain we are experiencing.

Losing my mind

As the initial shock wore off with time I began to lose my mind. I couldn’t function like I used to, I was so lost, broken, and didn’t know who I was anymore. I didn’t understand how we were supposed to go on living a normal life again. After spending the last year planning for a baby, finding out we were going to be parents, and then falling in love with our daughter. She was gone and it was just us again.

We didn’t want to be around anyone or talk to people. There were only a couple people that we would talk to besides our parents. We were in hiding. Tony took a week off of work and I took five weeks off. I was still showering, cleaning, and cooking. So I considered that a win. The rest of the time I was crying, searching for answers, reading, or coloring in a color book. I couldn’t do anything else.

I had to learning how to exist in a world full of reminders of our reality. There were so many triggers that would send us off the deep end. Watching TV, seeing commercials or babies would send me into an uncontrollable crying spell. I had to go to the stores where I would run into a pregnant women, baby or even worse a new born. I would hear a baby crying and my whole body would tense up, pain in my chest would start and I had to do everything in my power to try not to start crying.

I was losing my mind. I felt like a little child and was so broken. I was so angry at world. I had crazy anxiety. Why would this happen to us? Then I thought. Maybe I deserved this pain. We couldn’t do anything anymore. Even going to see our friends felt so pointless. I didn’t care about anything anymore. All I wanted was my husband and my daughter. I didn’t care about anything else.

I started forming some pretty unhealthy habits. I was so afraid to not be able to sleep and  the nightmare would replay in my mind every night. I was drinking Nyquil every night for the first couple months. I was eating horrible. I didn’t even eat junk food like that when I was pregnant. I started drinking every night. I just wanted a break from the pain. I couldn’t take feeling the intense pain that physically hurt me. I remember driving home sometimes not caring If I made it there. I was in such a dark place. Living in the depths of despair. I couldn’t even imagine the pain before I had experienced it myself.

I could see the look on my husband’s face when he looked at me. He was scared. He thought he was never going to see the women he used to love again. My parents told me they were worried too. I was not trying to act this way. I knew it wasn’t healthy. I knew when I drank so much that I was sick twice within two weeks that I was walking a fine line. Addiction runs in both sides of my family so I know it is something I shouldn’t mess with.

I knew I had to pull it together. Losing our daughter was the last thing I could ever imagine happen to us. It destroyed us but we had a choice. To fight for our lives or live in the darkness. We decided to fight.