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.