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Blog Challenge: Day 10

  • Posted on October 10, 2011 at 12:12 pm

If you have Rainbows or older children, do they know and remember your angel(s)?

Gracie is older by a minute.  But, she’s still too young to understand who Benjamin is and why he’s not with us.  We don’t have any other children.  Gracie and Benjamin were our first and we had hoped, the only two we would have.  It’s been a huge struggle for us to even have a family, so we’re incredibly thankful that we were even given the opportunity/chance to have them.  If it wasn’t for modern medicine and technology, I wouldn’t have ever been able to have a child.

Blog Challenge: Day 9

  • Posted on October 9, 2011 at 12:06 pm

If you have other children, how has your loss affected them?  If you don’t other children how has your loss affected your relationship with your partner?

It’s really too soon to know exactly how Gracie feels about the loss of her brother, though I often wonder if she can sense his absence on some subconscious level.  After all, she spent almost seven months sharing a space with him.  I know she’ll want to know who he is.  One of the main reasons we had him laid to rest in Westminster is so that we all would have a place to go to visit him.  I wanted Gracie to be able to give him a flower if she so chose and for her to have a physical place to visit.  Benjamin’s a part of our lives, even though he’s gone.  She’ll always be a twin, even though her twin brother isn’t with her physically.

Blog Challenge: Day 8

  • Posted on October 8, 2011 at 11:32 am

Do you feel you have more good days than bad ones?

Eh.  It depends, but I’ve found that in this past year since Benjamin’s passing, I am more sad.  It’s not that I have more bad days than good days – they’re all about the same, but I just have a constant sadness that follows me around.  It’s become a part of me, something that I’ll never be able to get rid of.  I suppose it’s better to say that I have my moments within those good days, bad days, so-so days that makes my heart hurt.

Blog Challenge: Day 7

  • Posted on October 7, 2011 at 11:30 am

Do you do something to honor your angel? If so what?

I make things in his honor and memory.  I first started making Hope pendants that included his name on the back.  Now, I make Scrabble tile pendants with the word “Hope” on them, with a Swarovski crystal and pearl, and a tiny silver-plated feather to go with it.  That feather means a lot to me, too.  It was what the hospital put on my door to let others know we were dealing with the passing of our son.

We also go to his grave to leave sunflowers – 4 of them.  Four representing each of us.  I love sunflowers because they’re sunny, bright, and cheerful.

Blog Challenge: Day 6

  • Posted on October 6, 2011 at 12:01 pm

How do you answer the question of how many children you have?

Usually, I say I had twins, but one of them passed away.  I am a mother of twins, and will always be a mother of twins, and my daughter will always be a twin.

I know it makes some people uncomfortable, talking about a baby who passed away, but I feel it’s necessary that people know.  If I don’t say anything, then Benjamin never really existed.  And, he did.  I felt him move in my stomach and I was able to hear his little heart beating for three weeks, while I was in the hospital.  I feel the least I can do to honor him is to say that he did exist, even if only for a little while.

Blog Challenge: Day 5

  • Posted on October 5, 2011 at 11:28 am

Do you ever get subtle reminders of your angel?  If so, what are they?

Benjamin’s marker has a hummingbird on it because we felt that a hummingbird would best represent him.  Something so small that works so hard to survive… it just seemed fitting for him.  I see hummingbirds all the time and every time I see one, I think of him.  But, even when I don’t see a hummingbird, I think of him.

I also have a necklace I wear with the twins’ names on it.  It’s a sterling silver hand-poured circle, with their names on one side and on the back, the words, “our beloved son” with the date of their birth.  On the same chain, next to the circle, I have a crescent moon charm with Benjamin’s name stamped on it.  I wear this necklace every day and rarely take it off.  Gracie loves to hold it in her hand and wave it around, and because of this, I’ve had to replace the jump ring the original pendant was hanging from.  That’s OK.  It’ll be hers one day, anyway.

Blog Challenge: Day 4

  • Posted on October 4, 2011 at 9:10 am

Through your grief process what has kept you going?

Oh my… my husband and my daughter, most definitely.

My art, too.

One day, I was looking through my teacher things and came across a poem.  My students were reading “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck and I was looking for supplemental materials to tie in to the story.  I had stashed a poem by Emily Dickinson away in a folder and pulled it out to read it.

“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul
and sings the tune–without the words
and never stops at all.”
~Emily Dickinson

I couldn’t get that part of the poem out of my brain.  It stuck there, swirling around when I got up in the morning and when I went to bed at night.  I suddenly, finally, had an urge to create something.  My first idea was to take the poem and make pendants out of it to give to other women at the hospital who had lost their babies.  Then, it morphed into memory boxes, the poem handwritten around the bottom of the box.  These I also donated to the hospital.

Then, I started making beaded bookmarks, which then morphed into lanyards when a nurse at the support group I attend suggested I make lanyards out of the beaded strands I had.

I have found my creative streak again and it makes me happy to create things in honor of my son.  I miss him every day but being able to create something in his honor helps me feel closer to him.

Warm Up #8:

· Think of horror stories that you have read or seen at the movies. Which did you find the most terrifying? What was so scary about them? Why do you think people enjoy horror tales?

Blog Challenge: Day 3

  • Posted on October 3, 2011 at 9:13 pm

Through your grief process who has been your “rock”?

I’d have to say that my rock would have to be my husband, Michael.  I know that going through something like this would be extremely difficult to do alone.  It’s already difficult, even when we’re able to support each other.  He’s always been there for me to lean on and I appreciate that in him.  Even when something little makes me feel sad, he’s there to support and comfort me.

Gracie is also my little rock.  I’m incredibly grateful for being her mama and she has steadied me in a way I didn’t think possible.  In this storm of a life we live, there she sits, with a smile on her face and a twinkle in her eye.

Today is my birthday.  I would rather have stayed at home with Michael and Gracie, but I went to work.  It was nice to come home and see my little family waiting for me.

Blog Challenge: Day 2

  • Posted on October 2, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Day 2: Tell us about your child(ren). As much or as little as you like. Names, birthdays, stats.

My twins, Grace Kayleigh and Benjamin Kristian, were born in May 2010, at 27 weeks 2 days gestation.  Because Gracie was a footling breach (her little foot was bulging through the opening of my cervix), I had to have an emergency C-section.  Gracie was born first and weighed 2 lbs. 3 oz.  Her brother, Benjamin, was born a minute later and weighed 1 lb. 15 oz.

One of my most cherished pictures is of the two of them together, Benjamin still alive.  I often wonder if he could sense her or if she could sense him?  I often wonder if Gracie can sense that a part of her is missing.  I have read that surviving twins are aware of their twin being gone.

Gracie is now 16 months old.  She’s able to take several steps without falling and will stand with items in her hand for long periods of time.  She’s still unsure of herself when it comes to walking and prefers crawling as her method to get from one place to another FAST.  Very rarely will she wake up upset and crying.  She always, always, always, has a smile on her face when she wakes up in the morning.  It’s one of my favorite parts about being her mother:  seeing her smiling face in the morning.  She’s very good at taking things apart and figuring things out.  She’s ticklish, just like me, and has an infectious laugh.  She’ll most likely be tall, since she’s now long enough to wear the next size up in clothing, even though she fits into the size she’s currently wearing.  She has piercing, sparkling blue eyes that she got from someone else in our families, because neither of us has blue eyes.  Her hair is just like mine:  fine and sparse and taking its time growing in.  She probably won’t have enough hair for a bow on her head until she’s two.

We took her to swimming “lessons” over the summer, which she really enjoyed.  We don’t think she’ll not like swimming, but we most definitely want her to have a healthy respect for water, no matter where it is.

Yesterday, my in-laws came down to celebrate my birthday (it’s on Monday) and asked me what I wanted to do.  I wanted to see Benjamin and leave him some sunflowers, so we went to visit him.  I also left him a sparkly little pinwheel.  I still cannot look at his little marker and not cry.  I only got to spend 20 minutes of my life with him and I really wish I was given more.

Blog Challenge: Day 1

  • Posted on October 1, 2011 at 10:31 am

Day 1: Who are you? Share as little or as much about you in general.

My name is Dana.  I have a 16-month old daughter, Gracie, whom my website is named after.  We lost our son, Benjamin Kristian, her twin brother, to two separate congenital defects, Potter’s syndrome and Ebstein’s anomaly.  Both defects are fatal on their own.  I define myself as a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, and a friend.  Most of what I do, I do in memory of our son.

I had to do fertility treatments just for the privilege of getting pregnant, so I cherished the pregnancy, even though I was scared to death something would go wrong.  So, when something did go wrong, it was very hard for me not blame myself and it became increasingly difficult to deal with.  Fortunately, the lactation specialist in the NICU told me about a support group for infant loss (even though I was told several times in the hospital about it, but I refused to really listen!) and through that group, I met some very wonderful people.

Today, Gracie is 16 months old and a little ham.  Watching her grow up is bittersweet for me.  It’s incredibly difficult to watch your twin daughter grow up alone.

I’m a very creative person.  I love to write, draw, paint, and make jewelry.  I’ve become involved with the Palliative Care committee through the hospital I delivered Gracie and Benjamin, and through the support group I attend, I’ve learned to live a new normal.  Lately, I’ve become more involved with making jewelry to sell and it still boggles my mind that there are total strangers out there who think my stuff is good enough to buy.  I’m also preparing to make a bunch of necklaces to sell at the Los Angeles Walk to Remember on October 15th.