Saturday, December 25, 2010


Christmas morning.  Michael is sleeping, and I'm up early as I wait to skype with my family in Saskatoon.  My dad is making pancakes and when my dad is in the kitchen, everything gets put on hold.  I wish I was there for the best ricotta filled Christmas morning traditional pancakes, but right now I'm looking out over our view of the snow tipped mountains.  The rain has stopped momentarily, but from the looks of the clouds in the distance,  I'm thinking it will start to rain around noon.  I've just printed off the Globe and Mail holiday crossword puzzle.  1200 words of discovery.  This is another family tradition.  It drives Michael crazy, because our family becomes obsessed with random trivia, and can't talk about anything else for a few days.  Tradition.  Why is it so meaningful?  I always think of the musical Fiddler on the Roof, when I think of tradition. The importance of ritual, and celebrating together as a family.  Last year at this time, Michael and I were looking forward to beginning new traditions with our family.  What would this year be like if we had our little Luka?  I want to imagine the toys everywhere, her little giggle, and opening her first gifts from Santa.  But, when I think about it, it just seems so surreal.  Last night, Michael said he wants to move on with his life.  Not to forget Luka, but for life to continue, and for new things to happen. We want to buy a house, discover new ways to fulfill our souls, and try for another baby.  As hard as it is to not have Luka with us,  I also want to start thinking about the New Year and what is to come.  Driving up the mountain yesterday, I felt optimistic.  We are blessed to have such wonderful friends here in Chilliwack, who have adopted us as family.  We spent a glorious night and day at Marie's cabin, and went snowshoeing in the pristine mountain air.  We laughed, ate lots of food, played games, and had intellectual conversations.  I thought Christmas would be more difficult.  But, because of Luka, we have discovered new traditions with new friends.  Today we are going to go over to Michelle and Ashley's for a full day of Christmas fun.  They have welcomed us with open arms. They have been the biggest blessing in a very difficult year.  Their friendship has given Michael and I renewed hope and belief that life is wonderful, even without Luka.  I truly believe that Luka's gift to us this Christmas is to remind us of the importance of our lives.  To love, laugh, celebrate and find joy again.  As I walked through the snowy mountains a few days ago, I thought of Luka and her gentle spirit in the snow covered trees.  The softness of the snow, the cool running water of the stream, and the freshness of the air,  reminded me of her.  And I knew she was with me.  Snowshoeing.  A new tradition.  Thank you Luka.  I can't wait to do it again next year, and hopefully introduce you to your new brother or sister.

                        Merry Christmas everyone. Thank you for reading about my journey.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

living life after Luka

The holidays have arrived, and it was wonderful to sleep in this morning, and wake up with no alarm.   I woke up at two in the morning to watch the bright moon shine through our bedroom window.  Now, it's cloudy and gray and I'm hoping it will snow.  It was a very busy week and Michael and I are both worn out but excited for the holidays.  It's been an emotional week, and I have felt pretty low for a couple of days.  Someone I knew from my childhood died this week of ovarian cancer.  I used to babysit her children when they were little.  She was only 49, and she was an amazing woman.  She was my Facebook friend, and when I found out she died it hit me really hard.  I went to yoga on Wednesday feeling very sad, but I knew it would help me release the tears I needed to shed.  It was a beautiful class, and afterward I allowed the tears to fall.  I'm sure people were wondering why I was crying, but I just let myself.  In the car, I let go.  I cried for Luka, I cried for Angie, I cried for the unexplainable reason of death and loss.  As a culture, we never talk about death, and before Luka died, I avoided the topic altogether.  Now that it's part of my experience,  I wish I could say I understood it.  But I don't.  Last night, we went out for dinner with some friends, and ended up in a long conversation about living life,  and the gift of loss.  One of the questions that arose was whether we should be grateful when someone else dies.  As we grieve, we miss and long for that person to still be in our lives.  But it also teaches us to live our lives with purpose and meaning.  Losing Luka is still very painful, and each day is a journey.  But I need to continue to live my life.  I need to laugh, love, celebrate, experience joy, watch the moon shine into my window, climb mountains, fail, play, and follow my heart.  I am grateful that Luka has taught me to see this world differently.  She has opened up my eyes to the pain and joy of being a human.  I may not understand her death, but I am questioning and thinking about my life and the lives of those around me.  Today, Michael and I are going to spend time together.  I'll get groceries, we may even make pirags, the best Latvian bacon buns, and just enjoy each others company.  If we had Luka it would have been a completely different holiday.  But we don't, and so I will do my best to live in the now and embrace what I have and love, while remembering Luka and her gentle spirit.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

frustration and regret

It's a miserable Sunday morning, and the rain is coming down in buckets.  It's been very cloudy the last week, and the sun hasn't shone since last weekend.  It's to be expected at this time of year,  and I appreciate the warmth of the air when it rains.  I'd rather this then plugging in a car and wearing layers of clothing.  It's been a very interesting weekend emotionally.  I woke up Saturday morning sad and hopeful, after having a beautiful dream about Luka. She was alive, healthy, and I was holding her.  But for some reason I had this feeling she didn't belong to me.  I spent Saturday fighting tears, intense anger and frustration.  Michael went to his studio to play with some new art supplies, and I went to the gym and got on the treadmill and ran.  Hard.  Trying to get my mind and body to shed the anger.  It's so easy to be angry at the unfairness.  At first I was mad that I didn't have Luka, and then I started thinking about how badly I want to be pregnant again.  Which caused me to think about the c section. Which made me regret.  Oh, how I didn't want that damn procedure.  I wanted a home birth in water, outside and overlooking our view of the mountains.  I read and read about the beauty of birth and the gentle way a baby can come into the world. We had everything ready for the home birth.  A big blow up birthing pool,  food in the fridge to nourish me as I was in labour,  and a beautiful play list of music to welcome our baby into the world.  I visualized about the moment where I could feel the baby's head crowning, and then the last push out into this world.  I didn't want the bright lights, the feeling of being strapped down and not being able to see or feel my daughter being born.  I know that babies are resilient, but I am heartbroken Luka had to enter the world so harshly, especially because she was so fragile.  When I think about it to much, I feel torn in half.  After we lost Luka,  I didn't think I'd mourn the loss of my birth experience, but it's starting to come to the surface as we think about our next pregnancy.  I want a child, and I want to bring that child into the world the way I dreamed of.  I have to let go of the water birth, because next time I want to be in the hospital, because of the whole experience with Luka.  I know even in the hospital with my midwives and my doula, I can have a gentle birth.  I will demand it.  But, now I have to wait.  I hate waiting.  If anyone knows me, they know I'm not patient.  I jokingly told Michelle yesterday that I just want a baby, and I don't care how it gets here.  Even the stork could bring me a baby.  But in my heart, I know I need to wait, so that I have the chance to have a natural birth.  I know anything is possible, and I will welcome what ever comes my way.  It's just hard.  One more week of school, and then Christmas holidays.  I'm hoping it will snow, and the rain will stop.  The holidays will be busy with friends, and Michael and I spending time with each other.  And then it will be January.  A new year, new opportunities, and hopefully, new life.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


It's the last evening of the Christmas primary musical at school and Michael and I quickly came home for a rest and dinner.  It's been an exhausting week.  My students are all tired from performing and the teachers are walking around like zombies.  Every year I wonder, "Why do we do this?"  It's also been a week of remembering my early pregnancy with Luka.  Last year, I was feeling so sick, and it was hard being at the school for the Christmas concert.  I remember sitting back stage and feeling nauseous.  At this time last year we had our first ultrasound of Luka.  She was so small, but we could see her little hands and feet.  We also heard the heartbeat for the first time.  It was the best feeling and I remember us both crying for joy.  Two years before becoming pregnant with Luka, I suffered a miscarriage.  We were scheduled to see the midwife to hear the baby's heartbeat and I miscarried the day before our appointment.  So, when we heard Luka's heartbeat and saw the ultrasound, we were so relieved and believed that all would be well.  Last year there were four pregnant women at the school, including me. There was one due in March, one in April, and two of us in early July.  All three had healthy babies, and are now on maternity leave.  On Tuesday afternoon, they all came to the matinee performance and sat in the back row.  And I wasn't one of them.  It was such a strange feeling, and very painful.  I tried my best to just focus on the play, but my eyes kept on wandering over to their adorable babies.  I couldn't help thinking what my life would be like now if I had Luka.  What would I be doing?  Would I still be living in Chilliwack? Would Michael still be teaching at the school?  All of these questions.  And no answers.  Last year, after hearing Luka's heartbeat, we recorded it on Michael's cell phone.  We played it for our families and friends over the phone.  So steady and strong.  It's what kept us going the whole pregnancy.  If her heart was beating, then nothing else could go wrong.  I never thought that we would experience something so awful.  The miscarriage was hard, but nothing compared to losing Luka.  The holidays are coming, and I need the break.  Michael and I are going to take time to relax and continue to heal.  The new year is coming.  And I welcome it with open arms.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

to be a father

The weekend is half over, and I'm up fairly early to watch the top of the mountains dance in the sunlight. We've had so little sun the last couple of weeks, but yesterday was a perfectly clear day, and this morning the sun is doing it's best to peek out through the clouds.  It's been a busy week.  Report cards are done and sent out, and I spent most of my week trying to figure out costumes for twenty-four Grade three children for the Christmas musical.  I could write a whole blog on the chaos of elementary schools at Christmas time, but that's for another time.  Last night,  I went out with my girlfriends, while Michael went to the Santa Clause parade with a friend and his three children.  When I went to pick him up at the end of the evening, he was sitting on the couch, and our friend's daughter was curled up beside him.  Children just gravitate to him, because he's so easy to fall in love with.  I love watching Michael with children.  He has a natural and beautiful way of being with them.  This past week has been challenging for him at school, and I wish he knew how much he influences his students, and how wonderful a teacher he really is.  But I know that his biggest wish right now is to be a father.  He was so looking forward to having a baby to hold and love.  His heart has been broken, and I wish I could fix it.  This week he found a studio space,  so that he can start creating and exploring his artistic side once again.  When he came home from viewing the space, he seemed lighter.  Optimistic.  Excited for change.  Michael is a gifted teacher, but his passion lies in being an artist and performer. He is loving, creative, playful, and open to all possibilities.  The same qualities that made and will make him a wonderful father.   He has been the most supportive and loving husband, and our relationship has grown so much stronger since the death of our baby girl.  After I was released from the hospital in July, we made a pact that we wouldn't let this whole experience ruin our relationship and our love for each other.  And we've stuck to it.  Yesterday, while I was getting my hair done, my hairdresser told me that she thinks it's wonderful that Michael and I are doing so much to help us heal.  We have been trying our best to move through our lives in the best ways possible.  Yoga, exercise, cooking, cultivating new friendships, crying together, laughing together, and thanking the universe for it's many gifts.  Michael has opened up his heart to new adventures, new possibilities, and the cards are slowly starting to fall into place for him.  And as they fall into place, I know that one of those cards will grant him his wish to be a father again.

Monday, November 29, 2010

to be a mother

It's almost December.  Just over four months since Luka was born and then left this world.  It's hard to believe she would be four months old if she were still with us.  There are days where everything that happened seems like yesterday, and there other days where time seems to go by so slowly.  It was a busy weekend.  Michael and I worked frantically on Friday night and all day Saturday, to get our report cards done.  On Sunday we went to the East Side Cultural Crawl in Vancouver.  It's a big showcase for a variety of artists, and allows the public to view their talents.  It was lovely to be around all types of people, who were celebrating and appreciating the value and process of art. Every second person seemed to be a mother carrying their newborn baby in a sling.  I sometimes wonder if I should be immune to these things by now, but every time I saw a baby,  it would tug on my heart strings.  To be a mother.  What a glorious feeling.  The bond you have instantly; whether you fully realize it or not.  To hold your child in your arms and feel her on your skin.  To truly experience unconditional love.   And to have that taken away, without warning.  Before we knew that  Luka wasn't going to survive,  I thought I would be raising a disabled child.  And there was no question in my mind that that is what I was going to do, and love her everyday of her life.  Then I had to do what no mother ever dreams of doing;  I had to hold my daughter in my arms and watch her take her last breath.  I had to let her go to be with the wind and the trees.  It was the most challenging, powerful, life changing, and devastating moment I have ever experienced.  As I watched the mothers with their babies looking at art,  I longed to be them.  I wanted to tell them how lucky they were.  To embrace every moment.  To hold on to their children tightly, because life is so fragile.  So precious.  On the drive home, Michelle and I had a long conversation about motherhood, and the fact that society doesn't celebrate and honour motherhood like they used to.  To me, it is the most important and honourable job that is given to us as women, if you choose to have children.  I think of how much I would have loved to raise my little Luka, and how I wanted to give her all that I know and understand in this world.  And for those few precious days, I gave her all I was able to.  I can't wait for the day when I will be a mother again.  And in time,  I know in my heart, that it will happen.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

ninety-nine percent

This morning we drove to Vancouver for our first meeting with the genetics team since Luka died.  It was a beautiful clear morning, and the moon was still in the sky as we drove down the mountain.  It felt like Saskatchewan, dry and cold. There was a massive wind storm last night and there were remnants of fallen trees everywhere.  But today was calm and sunny.  A perfect way to start our journey into Vancouver.  It was a quiet and reflective drive.  Remembering Luka, and thinking about the future. When we arrived at the hospital, I wasn't expecting the emotion to hit me so hard.  As soon as we stepped through the doors, the smell and the emotions of four months ago overwhelmed me, and I immediately began to cry.  We walked the same hall that took us to the cafeteria, where we ate our last meal before we took Luka off her life support.  We walked by the little park where I stood outside and asked the universe to take Luka into the wind and the trees.  So before we even entered the elevator to the genetics floor,  I felt like I was back in July.  I pulled myself together, and while we waited to see the counselors,  Michael and I sat quietly, holding hands, anticipating what the next hour would hold.  The counselors were wonderful, a young doctor in her last year of residency, and an experienced doctor who has been with the genetics team for thirty years.  The young doctor had met Luka, and had examined her in July.  We talked for two hours, about Luka, the future and chances of having a healthy child.  They showed us pictures of chromosomes, told us about all the genetic testing that is possible in our next pregnancy, and gave us statistics.  As I listened them to speak,  I realized how lucky we are to have this kind of care, and the wonderful care Luka had in her short life.  I now know that our chances of having a recurrence is only one percent. This may seem high, but the doctor said to look at it as a ninety nine percent chance of it not reoccurring. We are at a very low risk of having another Trisomy 18 baby.  They wanted us to walk away today with hope, and lots of it.  After leaving the hospital, we went for lunch and then Michael went and bought a new winter jacket.  On the drive home, I fell asleep thinking of Luka and her last moments.  Once home, we went for a walk as the sun was setting, with Sassy, the neighbour's dog.  It was cold, but it was great to get some fresh air and watch Sassy chase sticks in the snow.  I thought about hope, and ninety-nine percent.  It's so hard not to think about the one percent.  Just the thought of it happening again scares me to death.  But the thought of the opposite, makes my heart soar, and my soul cry with happiness.  And so I hope.  With one hundred percent of my being, I hope.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

chopping vegetables

It's about an hour until ten people arrive for a dinner party celebrating Michael's birthday.  It's an evening of celebrating being alive and new friendships.  I've spent the whole day cooking and getting ready for the festivities.  It's been a very hard week emotionally, and I am excited to be with people tonight, drink wine, and feast on ginger carrot soup, lasagna, and pistachio gelato.  As I was cooking today,  I thought of Luka and her presence in my life even though she is not with me in the physical sense.  Everyone who is coming to dinner tonight, was part of her life and has made an influence on our lives.  Without Luka we would not have developed the friendships we now have.  It's been a long time since I've had a dinner party, and I've forgotten how much I love to cook.  Listening to music and chopping carrots, I remembered how my nieces had nicknamed Luka "baby carrot" when she was in my belly.  The memory made me smile.  All this week I've been missing her so deeply.  I'm not sure if it's been the weather change, or my body's memory of her growing inside of me last year.  There's been lots of snow on the mountain, and Michael finally put on his snow tires.  Our landlords and friends have been so great in lending us their vehicle, and just being there for us when we need them.  It wasn't until last night that the sadness lifted.  I went to Vancouver with Michelle and attended a fundraiser for Growing Chefs, a program where chefs go into elementary schools and teach kids about growing their own food.  We ate great food, laughed, and talked about the challenges and rewards of life.  It was great to get out of Chilliwack, and shake the darkness of the week.  I can't wait to share another pregnancy and birth with Michelle. Lately, I've been visualizing giving birth to my next baby.  I can't wait for that moment and the feeling of deep joy and gratitude.  I will never forget my little Luka, but I look forward to bringing another life into this world.  I have a feeling Luka's little spirit has been hanging around as I cooked dinner.  There was this wonderful optimistic energy as I created a meal for the people who knew her and loved her as much as I did.  She needed to be part of it.  Here's to you my baby carrot.  This dinner is in honour of you.

Monday, November 15, 2010

stormy weather

It's been a difficult couple of days.  Sunday was miserable.  The fog settled on the mountain, and didn't leave all day.  The sadness settled into my body, and didn't leave all day.  Michael and I had to make a decision about whether to go to Saskatoon for Christmas, and we couldn't figure out why it was so hard. Later on in the afternoon as we drove down the mountain to the gym, we realized it was because without Luka, Christmas seems pointless.  Last year, at this time, we were imagining the excitement we would have to bring her home.  It was to be our first Christmas in thirteen years with our own family.  Now,  going home seems so painful, because we have nothing to bring, except our emptiness and the memories.  At the gym, we ran into someone who hadn't heard about Luka, and she asked us how our baby was.  It came at such a vulnerable moment, and as I stepped onto the elliptical machine, it took all my power to hold back the well of emotion.  All I wanted to do was cry uncontrollably, and curl up somewhere where no one could hear or see me.  But I forced myself to work out, sweating out the emotion.  It helped a little bit, but coming back up the mountain, the fog crept back in, and we still had to decide about Christmas.  So, through tears and gentle conversation, we decided that this year we are going to stay in Chilliwack.  We're going to celebrate Michael and I as a family, and the hope of the new year and new life to come.  We are going to find things to do that honour us, and give us enjoyment. We love our families, and we will miss them, but this year Christmas will be here.  I went to bed early, to try and sleep off the sadness, but with the morning came the rain, and the sadness seemed to permeate deeper.  It was very hard to walk through the doors of the school today.  Both Michael and I didn't sleep well, and we were grateful when the school day was over.  Grief can be so exhausting.  As we left the school, the sky was a stormy mess. It was mild, but the clouds were swirling, and the wind had picked up.  In the horizon, the sun was shining and casting the most beautiful light over the city.  It reminded me of how I felt.  A mess of emotions, swirling and twisting.  But somewhere, there is a glimmer of light, of hope.  That amidst all this pain there is joy to be discovered.  I know the storm will pass, and the sun will shine again.  I just hope it's soon.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


It's been a lovely Remembrance day weekend, and I have been enjoying these four days off.  The weather has turned chilly, and I keep on reminding Michael to put on the winter tires in case it snows.  You absolutely need winter tires living on a mountain.  We're babysitting our landlords cats and it's been nice to have a purring critter fall asleep with me at night. Remembering Mango, our cat of 12 years. This long weekend is a nice break before the craziness at school of report cards, and then a big Christmas production.  Last time this year, I could only eat salty things, and I remember driving down the mountain just to have a McDonald's egg mcmuffin.  We've had a pretty social weekend. Dinner at a friends, and then last night I went out to a Burlesque show full of glitter and boas.  It was a fabulous night of fun, celebrating women, and eating cheesecake.  In the quiet moments, I've been remembering.  Remembering being pregnant, remembering Luka's birth, and remembering her death.  At the Remembrance day assembly on Wednesday, at our school, I had to stop singing O Canada because of tears.  At every assembly when I was pregnant, when there was music,  Luka would move in response.  I would sing to her every night before I fell asleep, "You are my sunshine."   She loved music, and I have no doubt she would have been a musician if she had been born healthy.  Remembering is painful but necessary.  On Thursday, before going to bed I looked at her photos of when she was just born. She was so beautiful.  I remember her looking at me as she was wheeled out of the operating room,  and I remember thinking she looked just like her grandmother.  I remember her soft skin, and when you touched her through the incubator and spoke to her she would respond.  It's amazing how I can remember those three beautiful but difficult days so clearly.  It's like it happened yesterday.  Some people would want the memories to fade, but I need to remember.  It's all I have left of her, and I need to hold on to something.  I don't want to forget, and I look forward to remembering her with her brother or sister someday, when that time arrives. 

Monday, November 8, 2010


Anger.  It's not a pleasant emotion but it has begun to bubble over in the last couple of days.  There are moments where I'm angry at the universe for taking away my Luka.  I know it's selfish and childish, but there are days where I want to yell at the top of my lungs, "It's not fair."   It's not fair that others around me who were pregnant at the same time, had healthy babies.  It's not fair that I had to have a c section and because of that I have to wait to try again.  It's not fair that Luka never got a chance to smell the fresh air.  It's not fair that I had to hold my baby while she stopped breathing.  It's not fair that my parents watched their first grandchild die.  It's not fair that all the memories haunt me everyday.  I am angry.  And as much as I try to ignore it and hide it, it continuously resurfaces.  A wise friend and mentor once taught me to feel the emotion as deeply as you can feel it, until it changes.  Because eventually it has to change.  The great thing about anger, is that it does get boring.  It feels good to vent, but eventually it hurts too much to hold on to all that pain. I know in my heart and in my soul, that losing Luka has nothing to do with fairness.  There are so many people in the world who suffer horribly from war, poverty, abuse, and other things, that I could never fathom living through.  Is what happens to them fair?  What happened to us was pure chance, and is a biological mishap that I can never explain or fix.  It's life.  But today, I'm allowing myself to be angry.  To feel it, really feel it.  Until it changes.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

surrendering and strength

It's been a good week.  I started writing my novel, which has been a great creative outlet.  The challenge is to write a novel in thirty days with fifty thousand words.  I'm writing a children's novel, and the main character's name is Luka.  She's thirteen and full of spunk.  In my imagination this is how Luka would have been if she was born healthy and strong, and grew to be a teenager.  I know it's silly, but it makes me feel like she is with me as I write. Writing has become a wonderful healer, and I'm really enjoying discovering the joy of words.  I've been really looking forward to Wednesday nights, because of yoga and getting a chance to root myself into the earth.  We also go for dinner after with friends, and it's a really nice way to break up the week. Yoga is a huge trigger for emotion. It is always a gentle and welcome reminder to live in the moment.  Last night the instructor encouraged us to find the balance in our bodies between surrender and strength.  Is it possible to be strong and let go?  It was a perfect metaphor for the last three months, and the grieving process.  It's a constant shift; one minute I'm a tower of strength, and the next minute I'm an emotional wreck.  I still cry everyday.  Some days it's buckets and other days it's a gentle cry after looking at her pictures, or her ashes on our dresser.  Surrendering has always been hard for me.  To truly let go has been one of my biggest challenges in my life.  I love to hold on.  Being pregnant and losing my child was the biggest letting go experience I think I will ever have.  If someone had told me that I would go through this, I would have told them that I wouldn't be able to, that I wasn't strong enough.  But I am strong, and from my strength, I have been given the gift of learning to let go. To surrender.  As we lay in silence on our yoga mats, we were instructed to recite a mantra silently in our minds. Mine was, "I surrender to the process of life, and I trust new life will come to me again." That is my hope and my wish, and I let it go for the universe to decide.

Sunday, October 31, 2010


Yesterday we went to Vancouver to return a pair of jeans Michael had purchased, and we decided to make a day out of it.  It's been awhile since we've been in Vancouver together, and we were really craving our favourite Thai restaurant. It was a beautiful day, so we drove straight to Stanley Park, and walked along the seawall.  We talked about school, what we're going to do for Christmas, our dreams, and of course Luka.  It's interesting how she just weaves her way into a conversation. We also talked about the future; the hope and desire of new life.  Walking through Kitsalano was easier then expected. Michael and I frequented Kits quite often when I was pregnant.  We visited every baby store at least twice, debating and sometimes arguing over the perfect stroller, or the best brand of cloth diaper. Michael wondered yesterday about all the energy spent researching the perfect things for Luka that we will never use for her.  I told him that it was all important and meaningful, and that it brought him great joy to spend hours on the internet looking at designer outfits.  We ate at Maenam, a great Thai restaurant, which was so good, and then began the drive home in the rain.  Listening to music, in the darkness of the highway, my thoughts returned to Luka.  Music has been hard to listen to in the past three months, because all our music relates to my pregnancy, Luka's birth, and then her death.  We had created a beautiful playlist for my home birth which never happened. We ended up playing all the music intended for her coming into this world, for her exit out of this world.  I don't know when I'll be able to listen to those songs, but I hope it brought her peace as we held her in our arms.  It was good to listen to new music last night.  Music really is a soundtrack to our lives, and has amazing powers to heal and transform.  During my pregnancy, there was one song that I listened too over and over by Xavier Rudd, called Breeze.  Every time I heard it I would break into tears. I don't know if the lyrics and the music were a preparation for what was to come, but this song was an essential part of my life and Luka's, and helped shape her little existence on earth.

  You will breeze in
  Fresh air that you are
  They will inhale you deep into their lungs
  They will exhale you as far as you may go
  And you will touch their souls.

                                   -Xavier Rudd, from the album Koonyum Sun

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Wednesday evening, and I have just returned from a very grounding yoga class. It was just what I needed after two days of parent teacher interviews, which can be very challenging.  Yoga has been an amazing healer and I feel great after stretching out my body.  I did a handstand tonight, and trusted my own strength.  With every pose I do,  I have been allowing myself to be strong, to breathe through the stretch, and to allow my power to shine through each pose.  As much as my body needs the power,  my soul needs the peace and the "yin" that comes at the end of the hour and a half.  Lying in shivasana,  my mind always comes back to Luka.  Her tiny nose, her little lips, her gentle cry, and her soft skin on mine.  The dim lights and the quiet music remind me of her last moments in this world, and I think about what is it like to die? I allow myself to feel the stillness of the room, the collective breath, the thoughts and energy of everyone circulating around me, and I embrace the moment.  And I allow the emotion to flow. Across the room, I can feel Michael's energy, and I know intuitively that he is also remembering Luka and opening himself to the emotion.  Feeling it, and then letting it go.  When I stood up from my mat and felt the floor beneath my feet,  I felt grounded.  Connected to something I cannot define or explain.  I am slowly healing my body and soul.  Thank you Luka, for giving me the strength I did not know I had, and opening my heart in ways I could have never imagined.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

holding pattern

It's been an extremely social weekend, full of visiting, remembering, eating, drinking, and dancing. On Friday night we went to visit our midwives, who have become lovely friends. We played Settlers of Catan, and Michael entertained us with his robot.  On Saturday night we went to an Italian fundraiser with friends, at the Italian cultural centre in Vancouver.  We dressed up, and Michael even wore a tie. It was a fun filled evening, with a five course meal, a live band, and free flowing wine.  We had a blast, and even got up on the dance floor.  Michael and I have always had a hard time dancing together, because we both want to lead.  Needless to say, we are both control freaks and we ended up bumping little old Italian couples in the head as we made our way around the dance floor.  We were laughing so hard, something I haven't experienced in a while.  It felt good.  Later in the evening, as the band played slow cheesy love songs, my friend and I started talking about Luka. There were lots of young babies at the event, and she asked if it was hard for me to be around them.  It is hard, and I'm constantly aware that I don't have Luka when I see other mothers. It makes me miss her, but lately it has also given me hope and optimism that I will have a child that I will hold and love.  My friend then asked if it feels like I'm in a holding pattern. I've been thinking about that question all day, and realize I am.  I'm mourning the past, and desiring the future, and trying my best to live in the now.   And I'm so grateful for the now.  My holding pattern has been blessed with good friends, a gentle Grade 3 class, a lovely new couch, a wonderful social life, a loving husband who has a new outlook on his life,  the memory of a beautiful daughter, and the gift of being alive.  Michael and I just went for a walk in the wind.  I love feeling the crispness of the air, and watching the leaves fall from the trees.  Winter is coming, which in my mind is a holding pattern for Spring to arrive and for the hope of new life.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Just got home from a wonderful night of yoga, Indian food, and laughter with friends.  It's been a hard week emotionally for both Michael and I, and I was craving yoga, and the focus and grounding it provides me.  On the way home I was thinking about all the things Luka has given us. 
Michelle our doula, who I instantly knew had to be part of my life when I met her.
A new depth to my relationship with my husband. 
A new outlook on my life and the spiritual world around me.
That I am capable of anything, and no one can stand in my way.
Laughter; that even in the darkest times, we have the ability to laugh.
New friends, who have reached out and provided their love and support.
Old friends, who have shared their grief and the hope for the future.
Family, who have blessed us with their kindness and given us the strength to move forward.
And Love. Absolute pure and unconditional love, which in the end is all that matters.
Thank you my little Luka. Although I am not able to hold you, I know your gentle spirit is carrying me along this unbelievable journey.

Monday, October 18, 2010


Lately I've been thinking about our cat Mango.  I woke up in the middle of the night, and almost went to look for him so I could cuddle with him.  We had to put Mango down right before Luka was born, on my due date.  It was so traumatic at the time. He was our cat for twelve years, our entire married life together.  We were devastated, and I felt bad for Luka, because I was crying so much, and I worried that all that sadness would affect her.  Little did we know what was to come.   If my life were a novel, Mango's death was the foreshadowing of Luka's death.  All the emotion we experienced with Mango was nothing we experienced compared to Luka , but there were so many similarities.  Three days of waiting. Making the decision to let both of them go. The need to hold on. The guilt, the hope and the acceptance.  It was a month of loss. I remember going for a walk after Mango died, and asking the universe for some joy.  I looked up at the trees and watched the wind for a while, and prayed for the joy to come.  And I thought it would come.  The joy of having a baby, and watching him or her enter the world.  Holding them for the first time. Seeing Michael's face light up when the baby was born. Knowing we had a new life to influence and love.  I often think that those three days were all sadness. But there was some joy.  Seeing her react to our voices, putting her on my breast, Michael holding her on his bare chest, my parents holding their first grandchild, and having her really look at us, like she knew she only had a short time with us.  And for Luka, it was all she needed. But I need more. I want more joy. I want to still be holding her, and putting her on my breast, and watching Michael sleep with her.  It's hard to accept that I will never have that with her, but I'm hoping that the universe heard my prayer,  and is just a little behind in getting back to me. 

Saturday, October 16, 2010

wanting a baby

It's Saturday morning, and I'm so glad it's the weekend.  It's sunny and crisp- the perfect fall day.  I can't stop thinking about babies. It seems everyone I know has just had a baby, or is about to.  I love all of my friends, and I am excited for them, but I still can't help thinking that I wish it was me.  I wish I could go back and have that one moment that changed everything. I wish that when they had pulled Luka out of me at my c-section, that she would have come out breathing and crying.  I replay that moment over and over again. I knew something was instantly wrong, even though my midwife had warned me that sometimes c-section babies don't cry right away because they don't get squeezed through the birth canal.  Once they got her breathing her cry was so weak, like a little kitten.  I knew then. Lying there, not seeing her, but hearing her,  I knew that my life was going to change in ways I had never imagined.  I imagine the opposite outcome, and then I have to stop myself because that moment will never happen with Luka. I want a baby.  It's as simple as that.  I want to watch them grow and change and develop.  Yesterday, I saw one of my co workers who was due at the same time as me. She has a beautiful little boy.  It was hard to see him, because he is the same age Luka would be right now.  I know mentally that I still have the possibility of having a healthy child, and I can't wait until we start trying again. But in the meantime, my emotions and the desire to have and hold Luka have taken over.  And I'm going to honour those emotions, until I'm ready to let them go.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

what kids say

Today in the morning one of my students turns to me and says:
"You're baby died, right Mrs.Bickis?"
"Yes, she did."
"How long did she live for, Mrs.Bickis?
"She lived for three days"
"Wow," he says. "Well, at least you had those three days. Better than no days."

He's absolutely right. Those three days will stay with me the rest of my life.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

recipe for life

I was eating dinner tonight and I realized that it's been one year ago since our little Luka was conceived,  and when her life began.  I had a feeling that I was pregnant before I took the pregnancy test.  Just knew. It's weird to think that as the cells divided, the 18th chromosome was tripling instead of doubling. That one simple misstep in her DNA gave Luka Trisomy 18. Every cell in her body had three chromosome 18's instead of two.  Down syndrome is Trisomy 21, and supports life with challenges. Babies born with Trisomy 18, rarely live, and usually die within a week.  Most babies die in utero, and mothers end up having to deliver their child stillborn. We were lucky to have had a chance to meet Luka.  People have asked me if we knew Luka had Trisomy 18 before she was born.  We knew nothing.  Every part of the pregnancy was normal.  She had a strong steady heartbeat that Michael could hear by putting his ear on my belly. Our ultrasound at 24 weeks came back as normal, although we question that now.  Her heart was in the centre of her chest, and her lungs were very undeveloped when she was born.  I truly believe that the technician should have seen that on the ultrasound.  Then I think, if we knew, would we have done anything differently? I never got genetic testing, because I was only 35, and it has been known to have many false positives.  I  truly believed that it was my time to have a baby, and the universe was going to provide it for me.  I wonder, why us?  Was it because I have never experienced loss in my life, and it was my turn? Was it because I needed to learn how much strength I actually had? Was it to experience death, which I've feared my whole life? It's a constant guessing game.  I'm coming to terms that I may never know the answers.  I'm grateful that I carried her, met her, held her, put her on my breast, felt her breathe, and watched her leave this earth.  I am grateful that Trisomy 18 is not hereditary and that Michael and I can try again. I look forward to feeling life grow inside me again, and am hopeful that next time the little soul will carry the recipe for life.

Monday, October 11, 2010


It's Thanksgiving morning, and I've been lying in bed procrastinating getting out of bed.  This is the first morning in a while, where I haven't felt like facing the day. But, I pushed myself and here I am on the computer.  Last night we went to friends for a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner.  Of course I overate, and I think that's part of the reason I feel kind of blah today.  Coming home from dinner last night, the stars were out, and the air was crisp and cool.  I love looking at the stars on our mountain. You can see so many of them, and it reminds me of how small we are.  I've been teaching the solar system and space to my students at school.  They have such a fascination with the beyond.  I often wonder if Luka is a star.  I know that's strange, but stars have the same matter we do.  I wonder often where her little spirit is.  I'm not sure what I believe.  Did she find another family to be born to?  Will she come back to us?  Is she with God? Is she playing with all the other babies who have died?  When she took her last breath, I honestly felt that part of her spirit became part of mine.  It was such a powerful, tragic and life changing experience to have her die in my arms.  It's the unknown that is so hard.  Life is so precious, and I am thankful for being alive.  This is what I have to keep reminding myself on mornings like this, when it's hard to get out of bed.  Amongst all the unknowns,  I do know that Luka is with me in some form, and I have to trust that life will bring me the answers when it is time.  And when I see a falling star, I will think of little Luka, and allow myself to wish for a healthy child in the future.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

new couch

We received our new couch today. We bought it about six weeks ago, when we needed some retail therapy. It looks great in our place, and I feel like a grown up having bought new furniture.  I guess I am grown up.  I can't believe I'm only four years away from being forty.  Life goes so quickly. Losing Luka has certainly aged me.  I can't stop thinking about her today.  I wish I could have her next to me, breastfeed her, and snuggle her as she falls asleep.  I'm glad I had a chance to put her on my breast in the hospital.  I'll never forget that feeling of having her latch on, and then fall asleep in my arms.  It's a memory that always makes the tears flow. We went grocery shopping this afternoon.  Seeing babies with their mothers just continuously reminds me that I'm childless.  Our first holiday without her.  I thought I would be walking with her in the autumn leaves, eating Thanksgiving dinner with her, and celebrating our little family.  I desperately needed a walk when I got home, to clear my mind, and get my body moving.  My thoughts stayed with me, but it was good to get out in the fresh air.  It began to pour and I took off my rain jacket to feel the rain on my face, and let the water wash away all my tears. For now.

Friday, October 8, 2010

subway girl

This morning Michael drove me to school, and we stopped to pick up coffee at Starbucks and lunch for me at Subway. This is our occasional routine on Friday mornings.  While I was getting coffee,  Michael went into Subway to get me my turkey and bacon wrap. When I returned to the car,  he told me the subway girl had asked him how our baby was, and if we had had a boy or a girl.  I was amazed that a total stranger had remembered Michael and I.  It's always hard to tell people who don't know about Luka. There was a teacher on call at our school today, who had seen me pregnant last year.  She was surprised I was back already after having my baby.  I told her straight out what happened.  I think I sounded really cold about it, like I didn't care.  I just told her the truth.  And then there's one person who I see once in awhile, and knows everything that happened, who chooses to not acknowledge me or Luka's death.  I don't need to have huge conversations about my experience, but I just would like to be respected.  I keep reminding myself that everyone deals with grief and sorrow differently.  I shouldn't let it affect me, but it does.  We're about to leave for dinner tonight. We're going to Milestones with good friends.  Luka's little life has brought us close to so many people here. We were so down on Chilliwack before she was born, but have learned through our experience that life is too short to ignore what is around you. Once we opened our hearts. we discovered new friendships, and a community that cares and loves us.  We also have so many friends all over the world,  who have blanketed us with love, and continue to do so.  Thank you.  Your words, thoughts, and prayers have been instrumental in helping us heal.  I only hope that at some point, we can see each and everyone of you, and thank you in person.  Well, off to dinner.  I'll be having a glass of wine tonight.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


It's been a long week, but it was easier.  I'm very tired, and am glad tomorrow is Friday.  I can't believe it's Thanksgiving already.  Luka would have been almost three months old.  Hard to believe.  Sometimes I don't want to even imagine her with us, because she was not meant to be here.  But I do, and I miss her.  It's difficult to figure out if I miss her, or the healthy child I wanted.  Michael's making dinner.  It's nice to have him home and help me get through these first few weeks back at school.   I watched a leaf slowly fall from a tree this morning,  dancing in the morning light.  The drive down the mountain is so beautiful. I am so happy and blessed to be living where we live, with landlords who have become good friends, and who lend us their cats.  Toby has basically been living here for the last few weeks.  Seven shows up in between her mouse hunts, and occasionally allows us a cuddle.  I am grateful for so much in my life.  My loving husband, amazing friends all over the world, new blossoming friendships, a job I love, and a wonderful supportive family.  I'm grateful for the experience of carrying Luka for nine months, the love I have and still have for her, and the memories I will never forget.  The rain is coming.  I can feel the dampness setting in.  I welcome it.  Change is in the air.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

opening of the hips

Went to yoga tonight. It felt great to focus and think about my body and my breath. We did lots of opening of the hips stretches.  I thought about the birthing process and how the exercises will prepare me for birthing next time round. It's amazing how the emotion can grab hold of you at the strangest times. Seeing the pregnant woman in the room, makes me long to be her.  The glow, the beauty of a round belly, and the feeling of a baby moving inside you. I miss that feeling. And then I'm in shivasana, in dim lights, listening to the chanting music, and I well up inside. The dimly lit room and the music reminds me of when we held Luka in the private room at the hospital. How difficult is was to hold her and watch her struggle. How beautiful it was to see her at peace when she finally left this world. Music will always haunt me. The music that we were to play for her birth was instead played in her final moments of life.  The yoga instructor rings her bells, and I am back in the room, back to life, to my stretched out and centred body.  It's getting easier to feel the emotion and then let it go. Not hold on to the pain.  After yoga, we went out for Indian food, and had some good laughs with new friends. Another blessing brought to us by Luka.  I've developed a new friendship with my doula, who has been instrumental in my healing. Without her, I would not be where I am today.  So, now it's time for my nightly ritual of having my bath, and going to bed. A new day tomorrow.  Namaste.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

pregnant people everywhere

It's a glorious fall day, and I just returned from a walk with Michael, my husband, and Sassy, the neighbour's dog.  I used to walk with Sassy in my last month of pregnancy, and I wish that she was able to meet Luka.  I'm constantly thinking of being pregnant again. I loved being round and feeling life grow inside me. There are so many people I know who are pregnant or about to have a baby, and I love them all and can't wait to meet their little ones. But I must admit it is still hard to see their anticipation and the excitement they exude over new life.  I can't wait to feel that way again.  I am that person who desperately wants to have a child.  It's strange how life just goes on.  I'm blessed with a great class this year, and I feel happy to be at school.  But as soon as I step into the car and begin the drive up the mountain, I start to feel such mixed emotions.  Sad about the loss of Luka, the excitement of potentially getting pregnant again, and then the frustration that I have to wait. Walking helps. The fresh air, the crunch of the leaves, and the fall light. Reminding me of the ever changing cycle of life.

Monday, October 4, 2010

out of nowhere

Here I am getting ready for bed, and running a bath and the memories flood in.  The hospital, the c-section, the ambulance ride and every feeling and emotion that goes with it.  At the same time, all I can think about is getting pregnant again, and we have to wait. Stupid c-section. And yet we would have not met Luka had she come naturally. She was breech and would have most likely died in birth, because she was not strong.  I miss her, and I miss the idea of her being healthy.  I want to hold her, nurse her, and be tired because she isn't sleeping.  But I keep on going.  Because I have hope, and I'm alive and I know she's with me. Someone asked me today if I have faith.  I have faith that life will answer the questions when I am ready, and that the universe will bring me joy.  And so I continue my routine of going to bed, and having my bath. Time. All I need is time. I just want to believe it.

the beginning

October 4th, 2010
It's a beautiful fall day, and I have returned home from school.  It's my second week back at school, and last night I had a good sleep, so the day went smoothly.  I'm constantly reminded of Luka.  She's everywhere. She's in the laughter of the children and in the way the light comes into my classroom at the end of the day.  I'm also reminded daily of being pregnant.  She grew inside me for a whole school year, and it's strange not to feel her kicking or squirming about when I'm reading aloud to my students.  It's hard to see the mothers and the babies, and there are so many. When I see them I automatically think how unfair it is that I can't hold Luka and be with her.  But then I remind myself that she was not well, and she wasn't meant to be part of this world for very long.  I went for a run after school, and it feels good to get my heart rate up, and run with the wind.