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Thursday, June 7, 2007

One Year Ago...

One year ago this past evening, around 10pm, right after finishing dinner with Mark, Vanessa, Josh, Nancie, Karina, and Ethan, we headed to Pennsylvania Hospital. Sharon hadn't been feeling at all well for a couple of days and had a miserable lower back ache and a bunch of other somewhat worrisome symptoms.

After parking Vanessa's car and heading up to Labor and Delivery's Emergency Room, we remarked (quite foolishly) that we'd be home in an hour.

Little did we know that for the next 100 or so hours, everyone in our circle of friends and family would be praying--not least of all me, who would not and could not spend the night alone with Sharon in L&D for fear that delivery was imminent and that I wouldn't be able to handle it--for Sharon to hold onto the babies and for the babies to grow, grow, grow. And that for the next almost 3 weeks we'd be living moment to moment praying for PDAs to close, infections to clear, IVHs to resolve and for both of them to defy the rule of the NICU rollercoaster by doing better than anyone ever expected a 23 weeker to do. And that for the months after that, we'd be staging vigils by Hallie's isolette, praying for her lungs to recover, for her to breathe on her own, for her not to need steroids, for her to be able to get off the vent with just some steroids, for her never to need chest compressions ever again, etc etc.

In other words, since this time last year, we've been living in the trenches and I think that both of us are so shell shocked and have such post traumatic stress disorder that we have no idea about how to live anymore. We're always in crisis mode, and when there is no crisis, we tend to invent one. Crisis is a way of life. How sad.

This is obviously an emotional time of the year for us and I imagine it always will be. As much as we are thrilled that Hallie's birthday is so soon approaching, there is this quite understandable, lingering bittersweet taste in our mouths. Hallie's birthday was not the joyous and momentous occasion that we had both imagined. And Hallie's birthday will always be Olivia's birthday and, while we are both grateful to have had Olivia in our lives, we had her with us for far too short of a period of time. While watching Hallie grow and become more of a charming and feisty little person is in itself a wonderful experience, it too is tinged with sadness because it reminds us how we never got the chance to do that with Olivia Skye.

Hallie is blissfully unaware of all of this, at least as far as we can tell. We are not sure how or when we will tell her the story of her arrival or share with her our feelings of love and sorrow about her sister, but for the meantime, while we talk to her about Olivia, we are pretty sure that she has no idea what we are saying. She is too busy doing her thing, which involves a lot of work on motor skills (spoken as a parent of a child in Early Intervention).

Here's a few shots of Hallie from yesterday.

Her biggest fascination, in terms of her physical environment, right now is exploring hallways, doorways, and other places of entrance and egress:

While we are all for exploration, the baby gates are now bought and will be up tomorrow!

Hallie has also been busy pulling herself up in her crib. I came in to find her like this yesterday:

And last evening, she had a great time grooving to the sound of the Mummers (a Philly tradition: they are groups of men in string bands who sport flamboyant costumes and who organize elaborately choreographed dances that they present on New Years Day in a major parade. They practice all year long for this in halls and warehouses in South Philly, which is where we live). A local park (three blocks away) has organized a series of Tuesday night events for kids, and we brought Hallie, who had a wonderful time. She enjoyed the music, the dancing, and the company of lots of other kids:

And, finally, Hallie enjoyed sporting her new toothy grin. We think that her smile is the most beautiful smile in the whole world, and so I'll close this post with this image:


Ms.Kitty said...

She is way too cute!!! Those are such great pics! Miss Hallie is quite photogenic.
It is important that you know that you are never alone. You all have quite the support system and you should never hesitate to use it, especially at this time of year.

Anonymous said...

Hallie is adorable! This time of year will probably always be sad. I had twins in June 2004 at 24 weeks, we lost one of them 12 days later. This is our 3rd birthday now and it still is hard to get through. You will be in my thoughts.


Cora said...

Boy do I understand the mixed emotions of this time of year. Today was the day a year ago that I rushed to the hospital too...then spent 2 more glorious days pregnant (on bedrest, in trendellenberg) praying to have time for the steroids to work. I think that no matter what this first year will be one of the hardest...there will be so many anniversaries of both good and bad things. I can only imagine how hard it is for the 2 of you because of the loss of Olivia. You'll be in my thoughts...and I love Hallie's new toothy grin!
mama to Amelia

Laura said...

i understand those mixed emotions as well. i have a few anniversaries like this to reflect on what might have been: the delivery of stillborn twins 17 years ago, the 99 days of bedrest with my darling daughter #4, the bedside vigil over darling daughter #2 in the picu when she took on a 6 ton speeding truck (and won), the night i met my 24 weeker son (and started an IV on him).
it's mazing where life takes us and when we see the smiles of our children it makes it all so worht it.
hugs to you two!

Nancy said...

I think the first birthday is definitely the most difficult. We only knew 12 hours before her birth that she would be making her grand entrance. And the 1 year anniversary of those 12 hours was brutal. I counted down and relived every second of it.

Almost 6 years later, I still relive every moment. But it's different. Not easier, but different. All of those memories that caused me pain that first time around, now bring a smile to my face.

You will have the perfect words to tell Hallie about her sister when the time comes. And the stories of Olivia and the stories of their birth will come gradually. Caitlyn was looking at her baby pics one day, same ones she had looked at 1000 times, and out of the blue asked what that thing in her mouth was. She also said it must have been hard to breathe with that in her mouth LOL the irony of it all!

Hallie's toothy grin is fab! I could look at it all day long!

Nancy said...

I forgot to add (cause my comment wasn't long enough already) that I write a letter to Caitlyn ever year on her birthday. I tell her exactly how I am feeling about her birth and what fabulous things she is doing and has accomplished that year. Makes for a good outlet of getting all that "stuff" out.

On the day Caitlyn has her first child, should she have any, this will be my gift to her.

Sarah Furlough said...

What a beautiful post. I know Hallie's birthday will always be tinged with the knowledge that Olivia is no longer with you, but I know you will celebrate Hallie and all she has had to overcome.

My heart breaks for you as you approach all of your "anniversaries." You were such a support to me through all of our "firsts." I want you to know that I am always here to listen to you, and my heart grieves with you. It has always given me comfort to know that there are people who can relate, and who support me.

Kiss Hallie for me, and I'll tell my Logan to kiss Miss Olivia. May sunnier days be ahead. Thinking of you in the coming days.

Anonymous said...

Can you even begin to believe what an amazing child you have? That a year ago she was a 23-weeker struggling to survive, and now look at her?

My heart aches for you two with all the bittersweet emotion this anniversary brings, but it also rejoices for you with the gorgeous life you have in Hallie.

And I LOVE that grin!

Sonia said...

I went through a tough time too earlier this year from the anniversary of my pPROM date and Isaac's and Rachel's birthday. It was hard not to relive last year during those 5 weeks. But for some reason, after I got through their birthday (which was also Rachel's angel day), I really started feeling like I was on the healing path.

Praying for you guys as you go through this time of joy and sorrow.