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
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
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
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.