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.

Going home

imageSunday morning we were allowed to leave the hospital. We had to walk out those same emergency room doors that we came in that early Friday morning. Only this time, we didn’t have our daughter with us. The nurse Rachel walked us to our vehicles. She gave me a huge hug and tears ran down both of our cheeks. Tony insisted that I rode home with his mom and not in my car. We had the car seat set up in my car for a few weeks before we lost her. That drive home was so surreal. I remember just looking out the window and seeing the world moving so fast and everyone was just living another day.

We decided to stay at Tony’s parents house for a couple days. We didn’t want to come home to see her clothes hanging up and her crib, empty. Azure had packed up most of Berkley’s things that were in every room of the house. We asked her to leave the stuff in her room so we could pack that way when we felt ready.

When we got to Tony’s parents house I went downstairs to the guest room. That was the first time I had been alone since I heard that our daughter had died. As soon as I was at the bottom of the stairs I started crying, gasping for air, and my legs gave out as I was trying to walk to the end of the hallway. My whole chest was tight and felt like my heart tore in two. I was still in shock. I could feel the pain of losing her, immense pain, but still a little numb.

The pain would come in waves. It was almost like my body would only let me feel so much physical pain and then my body/mind would just turn on auto pilot. I remember for the first couple weeks feeling like an out of body experience when I wasn’t breaking down. I was just there. We still had things we had to do.

We had to go the funeral home and make arrangements for our daughter. We went there with both of our moms. We decided to have her cremated and keep her close to us. I just couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that our daughter was cremated on her due date. We didn’t have a service for her. We didn’t think we could handle it. Having to be around people while we were so broken would have been torture.

We finally went home after a couple days. Seeing all her stuff waiting for her arrival was heartbreaking. It’s hard to explain but, I also didn’t want it to put away either. We loved her so much. They were her things and It was all that we had left of her.


The day we met our Daughter

It was now 4:30 on Friday morning. I knew we needed to call our parents. I was in shock and stayed in that state for several days. This strange feeling allowed me to function still. I picked up the phone and called my dad. He answered the phone right away and I told him that Berkley had passed away. He was confused and upset. He had to call my mom who was working in St. Cloud. He told her to come home and something bad had happened. My dad also called Tony’s parents house to see what was going on. He didn’t talk to me that long on the phone, so he was confused and wanted to talk to Jim to see what was going on. Tony’s mom answered the phone and my dad could tell that they didn’t know yet. He asked for Jim. Once Jim answered the phone my dad told him what happened. I few minutes later Jim called Tony to see what was going on. I am so grateful my dad called Tony’s parents to tell them. Tony couldn’t pick up the phone to tell his parents. He knew it was going to break their hearts.

When all four of our parents arrived at the hospital you could see sadness in their eyes. They were in shock and were trying to be strong for us. The nurses brought us to the farthest end of the maternity ward. I was so grateful that they kept me away from all of the other mothers and their new babies.

They began to induce labor. That day was a blur. I even sent text messages to a few of our best friends to let them know that we lost Berkley. Our parents stayed up there with us most of the day and Azure joined us at the hospital too. We were all so exhausted mentally, emotionally and physically. I wasn’t progressing that fast so the doctor gave us the option to take a break and sleep through the night. We took that option and we are so grateful we did.

That evening was so heartbreaking yet peaceful. My husband sat by me as I took a bath and he even washed my hair for me. Us having that time together was hard but, it gave us strength for what we had to do the next day.

Saturday morning I woke up calm and collected. I felt the need to share on Facebook that we lost Berkley. We had received a few happy text messages asking if the baby was here yet. A lot of people had no idea what had happened or even knew we were at the hospital. After I posted about it I felt I sense of relief. There were also so many people praying and thinking about us at that time. I think that energy gave us additional strength.

Our parents, my grandma Lorraine, Azure, my aunt and uncle joined us at the hospital. It was so hard to see everyone so broken and sad for us. I am also grateful that they spent the day with us. The nurses were encouraging us to take pictures and have a charm made of Berkley’s hand or foot print. I didn’t want to do any of that. I was just so broken, I didn’t want to have to see any of those things afterwards, since it was so painful. Azure ended up talking us into doing both. I am so grateful she did because, those are the items I cherish the most.

The time was coming close. I was so scared to meet her and for it to be over. When we first found out we lost her. I told them I wanted to be put under and just wanted them to take her out. I was done. I didn’t think I could go through giving birth to my daughter that was already gone. My doctor told me that I needed to give birth to her and I am so grateful she made me do it.

Berkley was born silent and beautiful. She was born at 4:37pm on October 24, 2015. Just 4 days shy of her due date. She weighed 6.8 pounds and was 19 inches long. She had a lot of beautiful brown hair like her dad, a long skinny torso, long legs, my lips and nose. Tony says, “she had my big toe and would have probably been taller then me.” I think that she looked a lot like Tony. Every time I look at him, I see her.


You would think we would be hysterically crying. We weren’t. That came later. When we spent those three hours with her, it was beautiful. We were staring at every inch of her and taking her in. We kissed her and told her we loved her. It was so beautiful to see our child that we created together.

My parents were the first to come in to meet their grandchild. My dad is an old school Vietnam vet. You could call him a “tough guy.” As he held her he smiled and cried. It was so hard to see my parents so broken and so sad. My dad said, “Berkley dying was the worst thing that ever happened to him in his life.” and my father has had the farthest thing from an easy life.

Then Tony’s parents came in to spend time with Berkley. Then my grandma, uncle, aunt, Tony’s siblings, Azure and Sahar. They all tried to fight back tears to be strong for us. They all held her and told her they loved her. It was heartbreaking to see everyone that was so excited for our new family member to be so broken.

Tony and I spent the last hour with our daughter taking pictures with the photographer that the hospital lined up. It was so hard that we knew it was time to say goodbye. There wasn’t enough time. She was getting cold and I didn’t want to remember my baby like that. We stared at every inch of her again, so that we could try to remember what she looked like as time goes on. Then we each held her, kissed her and said, “I love you.”



Living with the plague

Suffering such a heartbreaking tragedy is very isolating. You know that people feel sorry for you and are thinking about you. Life and relationships have changed. Trying to exist in a small community is hard enough. After something so shocking happens to you, it gets even harder.

Some of our closest friends and family do not know what to say. So they stay away. Everyone is afraid to offend us or they don’t know how to interact with us.

Going out in public is very hard too. I was in the grocery store the other day. A girl I  went to high school with came around the corner into the aisle I was in. I could see the look of shock on her face. She was visibly startled to see me and looked like she saw a ghost. I took off as fast as I could because, I could tell she was uncomfortable. Again, people don’t know what to say.

Then on the other side there are people that are not afraid to ask questions. I went into a local bar that is about three miles away from our house to pick up pizza. The bartender asked, “Did you ever find out why it happened?” I stopped in there again on Tony’s birthday and she asked me, “Are you going to try again?” I barely know this person and she is just so blunt and curious. To be honest, I would rather have someone ask me a question. Instead of treating me like I have the plague.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand trying to talk to us might be hard. Even knowing about what happened to us is hard. Especially if you are pregnant. I remember when women would post in the birth groups when they had a loss. I would be so upset and wondered why are they sharing that. Don’t they know that they are scaring me? Now I understand. They are just trying to heal.

One of the hardest things about losing a child is that you are trying to exist in a world full of pregnancy, newborns, babies, and families. They are harsh realities of my life right now. I was pregnant with several of my close friends. I still have a few people close to me that are currently pregnant. I miss our relationships so much. Right now I am just not strong enough to be around them. I don’t mind talking to them but, I just can’t see them right now. I am still very happy for them.

Please just be patient with us. We are still in here, somewhere. If you wouldn’t say anything thing to me before this happened. You don’t need to and please don’t feel like you need to. Just remember we don’t have the plague and we won’t take you down with us.

The Worst Day of our lives

image.jpegIt was a beautiful October day. The whole week had been very busy. Monday we had a doctor appointment to check on Berkley and everything was great. After work Wednesday I had a board meeting for the Rescue I volunteer with. I was having contractions during the whole meeting. Everyone was teasing me that they didn’t want my water to break at the meeting. Thursday morning I woke up in a horrible mood and didn’t feel good. Berkley was moving positions a lot but the contractions were gone.

Later that night when I was getting ready for bed I started to get nervous because I couldn’t remember the last time she had kicked. She was still moving positions but just not kicking. I know the doctor had reassured me that she was running out of room and she wouldn’t be moving like she was weeks before. Since she was moving positions I was hoping she was ok.

I called labor and delivery to tell them I was nervous. She sounded like she had heard this many times before. She said, “Just drink some water and wait an hour. Then call back if you need to.” In that hour I slammed water, chocolate milk, ginger ale and ice water. As we laid in bed terrified. Tony was spooning me, holding my tummy hoping for her to kick. We both could feel her move but no kicking. We called her back and she said to come in.

As we left the house it was now dark, cold and raining. My body began to shake uncontrollably. I was so scared something was wrong but, I also was telling myself that I am just a scared first time mom. Hoping everything was fine.

We arrived at the hospital and had to go through the emergency room to go up to labor and delivery. My nerves took over and I got sick on the way up. The nurses up there reassured us that they could feel her moving. They even asked me if I could because, they were so sure of it. They had a hard time finding her heartbeat but said they kept getting it every once in a while. They told us they thought that she was in a strange position and maybe had too much fluid in there with her.

We came back up from having an ultrasound. The tech wouldn’t tell us anything. The nurse came walking in and asked, “What did they say?” I then got extremely nervous and could see the look on her face change when I told her the tech wouldn’t say anything. My doctor came walking in. I knew it was something bad because it was now 4am in morning and my doctor is here. I could see it on her face and then she said the words that will haunt me the rest of my life, “She is gone.”

I looked over at Tony and he was staring thousands of miles away. My body began to shake again and I ran to the bathroom to throw up. I couldn’t believe it was real, it was happening to us, and she was gone.