Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Year Is A Relative Thing

With Nicholas' first Angel Day only a week away, a friend sent me the following.....

Thought you all may get something out of it.

Thank you, friend. You know who you are.

A Year is a Relative Thing
by Ellen Zinner, PsyD

A year is the period of a planet's revolution around the sun; three hundred and sixty five days for the earth, longer for some planets, shorter for others. In the life of a bereaved individual, the time period of a year is a relative thing.
On the one hand, survivors often are amazed that so much time has passed since the death. Four seasons weathered; the holiday periods endured. It seems impossible that they have borne the pain for a full twelve months. On the other hand, it may seem that time has not moved at all. Emotions and memories seem fresh.

The news of the death and the ensuing days of confusion and painful decision making seem like only yesterday. And with this perspective, comes a fear that little recovery has taken place at all.

Are you caught in a similar time warp? Has the passage of time been too quick and too slow? And what is to be done with this first anniversary of the death? If you are approaching this marker in your bereavement, it is time to take stock of where you have been and where you are heading.

The first death anniversary is a special day for recognizing the loss. I have no doubt that you have been thinking daily about the loss and the change in your life. But this day looms larger than most. It brings back the sadness of the death itself with renewed force sustained by a year of experiencing the full import of the loss.

But the day can also be used a special day for celebrating the life of the deceased. Grieving stems not from the death itself but from the loss of the person. It is the loss of the laughter, the love, and connections past, present, and future which we mourn. How can you celebrate the life of your loved one? This is the challenge of the death anniversary. One family I know takes gold balloons to the high school track where their son had competed and lets float the personal message that each had written to him on the balloons. One widow picnics by the lake where she sprinkled her husband's ashes. Another family "celebrates" annually by having dinner together in a new restaurant that the daughter would have enjoyed. Creating a positive ritual that can be either fulfilled alone or shared adds powerful and supportive meaning to the death anniversary.

The death anniversary is also a day for acknowledging the living. This certainly includes you! The last twelve months have been demanding. You have handled your loss in the way you have needed to survive. You deserve to recognize yourself as one who has endured great hardship and to take care of yourself in a way that will ensure your ability to make a new life for yourself.

Love to you all. xo

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Some Pictures

We took some pictures last weekend. Some pregnancy pictures and some family pictures. A girlfriend from highschool does some awesome photography. She actually took the pregnancy shots of Nicholas too. Funny thing is, she reminded me when we met up last weekend that it was actually a year, to the day, of shooting Nicholas in Mommy's belly. Too strange.

Little Miss Sunshine's Debut

Loving Hands


The Whole Family

My Rock, My Love

Loving Nicholas

Butterfly Kisses

Canadian Fall Colours


This time last year we were preparing for an MRI at Sick Children's Hospital in Toronto to confirm the worst possible news about our unborn baby. We already knew. We already knew in our hearts that he was in a lot of trouble. We already knew that this 'confirmation' was hardly needed.

Although he felt blissfully happy and healthy inside my belly, he was not. He would not survive life without being snuggled inside his mama. He would not take a single breath of our air.

One of the very worst and distressing feelings about that time was the knowledge that there was no possible way for me to protect my child anymore. He couldn't stay inside of me forever... where I could feel him, touch him, love him. He would have to be born and he wouldn't survive the trauma that he faced. It's every parents torture. Every parents darkest, most horrendous nightmare - to know that you are helpless when it comes to your children.

I wish.

I wish so, so many things.

The most obvious is that I wish we were planning a huge first birthday bash for Nicholas. I wish I was struggling with what style of cake to make for him to mash his hands into. I wish he was taking his first steps, trying to keep up with his crazy brothers.

I wish.

I wish we could turn back the hands of time and hold our baby boy again. I wish I could feel the despair and anguish again - just to have one more moment with him.

I wish I had studied his body more closely. I wish I had unwrapped him from his beautiful blue blanket and studied his toes. I am positive he had his daddy's toes (both his brothers do). I wish I had studied his body. I wish I had taken in every little, precious detail. Every freckle. Every beauty mark. I wish I had held him skin to skin...

I wish I remembered more. I wish that the fog that plagued my brain and body that day didn't inhibit me from remembering more about our time together. Although, I must say that I am grateful for shock. Shock got us through more than we ever thought we could handle those last few days.

I wish.

I wish my parents met their grandson. I am at peace with my husband and my decision to be on our own with Nicholas, but sometimes I wish my mom got to hold him in her arms. To meet him, kiss him. I hope that he knows the love of his Nana.

My dad spent some sweet time with Nicholas at the funeral home. I am grateful for that, but it was different. I wish they were there (they would have been in a heartbeat - we asked them to stay with our other boys and keep things as 'normal' as possible for them)... the day that Nicholas was born into Heaven.

I wish I had the courage to keep him with us longer. I just remember thinking - this is it. We really have to say good bye to our son. We really have to hand him over to a nurse and then God knows what is going to happen to him, to his perfect little body. I was exhausted - I wish I had fallen asleep with him in my arms.

Of course, there are so many things that I am grateful for also. I am thankful that we took as many pictures of our boy as we did. Precious memories. The only ones we have. I am grateful for my wonderful, brave, strong husband. The very best daddy to our boys. I am forever touched by the time they were able to spend together. I am grateful for Nicholas' footprints. For nurses and doctors who displayed compassion and care like you wouldn't believe. Mostly, I am grateful for him. For Nicholas. Our youngest son who just so happened to get caught up in some horribly rare and deeply unfortunate event.

I am grateful for what this special little being has brought to our lives. I am grateful for the lessons he has taught us and so many others. I am grateful that he was brought into our lives, if only for a short time.

He is our Angel... our sweet, sweet Angel and I am proud to be his mommy.

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Little Bit of Heaven

I was at a craft sale on Saturday - 'tis the season, you know. I saw this plaque and just knew that I had to have it!

My very best girlfriend and "chiquitita" bought it for me.... so perfect.

Love you guys.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Over The Top!

Thank you, Kristy!

I was given an "Over The Top" award from Kristy at I Love You To The Moon and Back. Thank you for the recognition.

I am supposed to answer the following 30 questions, with just one word....not always possible. ;)

1. Where is your cell phone? no cell phone
2. Your hair? half up
3. Your mother? home?
4. Your father? work
5. Your favorite food? chicken fajitas
6. Your dream last night? vivid
7. Your favorite drink? white wine with ice (not possible at the moment)
8. Your dream/goal? turning Nicholas' death into something positive
9. What room are you in? office
10. Your hobby? Angel Wings, at the moment
11. Your fear? losing another child
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? happy, content
13. Where were you last night? Home
14. Something that you aren't? A millionaire ;)
15. Muffins? cranberry orange
16. Wish list item? bigger house/yard
17. Where did you grow up? Ontario
18. Last thing you did? debate with two 3 year olds
19. What are you wearing? jeans and a tank
20. Your TV? not on
21. Your pets? cat
22. Friends? absolutely
23. Your life? Bittersweet
24. Your mood? emotional
25. Missing someone? always
26. Vehicle? Montana
27. Something you’re not wearing? Socks
28. Your favorite store? Superstore
29. Your favorite color? blue
30. When was the last time you laughed? can't remember a good belly laugh for a while
31. Last time you cried? yesterday
32. Your best friend? fabulous
33. One place that I go to over and over? my parents
34. One person who emails me regularly? mom
35. Favorite place to eat? home

And of course I need to pass it on to other fellow bloggers.




Almost a Mother


Kristy also awarded me the "One Lovely Blog Award". It means so very much to know that others are reading Nicholas' story and that maybe we can help support someone along the way.

I am supposed to pass this on to deserving bloggers I read. I follow so many wonderful blogs. Well written, passionate, raw and emotional. You are all my "soul sisters"... I swear. This community has been one of my life lines through this shaky journey. I thank you all and I love you all for taking the time to stop by Nicholas' Touch and The Angel Wings Memorial Boutique.

It's impossible to only choose a few blogs that I identify with, but I have to follow the rules.






Update on "Little Miss Sunshine"

It's been a little while since I have updated on our new beautiful blessing and many of you have been asking, so here goes.

"Little Miss Sunshine" is shining away. She is fabulous and making her presence known as often as possible. Oh, how I am enjoying those little movements fluttering in my belly.

I am now 28 weeks pregnant. 7 months. Wow. Unbelievable, really

I failed my glucose screening last week and had to return for the longer version a couple of days ago. Everything came back fine, thank goodness. That is really the only 'excitement' of this pregnancy so far (knocking on wood now).

We are taking one day at a time. One moment at a time. Sometimes one breath at a time. I am feeling like the memories of losing Nicholas, holding him, kissing him are so vivid again. This is a good thing, but also so very painful because I just long for the real thing.

The emotions of preparing for Little Miss Sunshine and feeling so incredibly guilty for doing so, while grieving our son, are quite overwhelming at times.

I found the perfect Wall Word quote the other day for the baby's room. It literally jumped out at me:


How could I not purchase that?! Totally fitting... there will certainly be one very special Angel dancing the day his sister is brought into this world healthy.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

For Our Husbands and Male Supporters

I saw this on a facebook posting and loved it.

Dedicated to my wonderfully supportive husband...

The Strength of a Man

The strength of a man isn't seen in the width of his shoulders.
It's in the width of his arms that encircle you.

The strength of a man isn't in the deep tone of his voice.
It's in the gentle words he whispers.

The strength of a man isn't how many buddies he has.
It's how good of buddies he is with his children.

The strength of a man isn't in how respected he is at work.
It's in how respected he is at home.

The strength of a man isn't in how hard he hits.
It's in how tender he touches.

The strength in a man isn't in the hair on his chest.
It's in his Heart...that lies within his chest.

The strength of a man isn't how many women he's loved.
It's in can he be true to one woman.

The strength of a man isn't in the weight he can lift.
It's in the burdens he can carry.

Jacqueline Marie Griffiths (written for Hunt D. Rochon)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Racing in Nicholas' Honour

So, I know that my last post was a little depressing. The following is something a lot more positive.

My husband and I have been struggling with what to do (or not to do) on Nicholas' Angel Day. I know that it's going to be a tough day, but we really want to celebrate him. Celebrate what he means to our family and our lives....

And then this opportunity fell into our laps. The following is a letter I have drafted and sent to friends and family who have shown us tremendous love and support throughout the most difficult year of our lives.

Dear Family and Friends,

Many of you are aware that on November 7, 2008, my husband, Jim and I, were challenged with every parent’s worst nightmare when our youngest son, Nicholas, was diagnosed with a very rare brain condition and was born, at full term, sound asleep.
Our family has been forced to face the most intense grief imaginable in the past year – the loss of a child. We have struggled with an array of emotions from despair and disbelief to hopefulness and pride.

Through it all we have been blessed with the love, support and encouragement of some very important people in our lives. Two of these wonderful people are Marcus and Meagan _____. They are people whom we are extremely proud to call friends.

A few weeks ago Marcus and Meagan approached Jim and I about racing in a “Dirty Duathalon” on November 7th (Nicholas’ Angel Day), in honour of our baby boy. Jim and I have been struggling with how to commemorate this milestone and instantly felt that this will be a perfect way to remember our son. We are more than touched by our beautiful friend’s thoughtfulness.

The race is sponsored by Runner’s Life Multisport Store in Peterborough, Ontario. Marcus and Meagan will be racing in the long course (3.8K Run – 10K Bike – 3.8K Run) commencing at Sir Sandford Fleming College on November 7, 2009. The course is completely off road (hence the “dirty” part) and is a mix of single track and open trails. Both Marcus and Meagan are very skilled cross bike riders and avid runners. We look forward to cheering them on.

Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto is where we met and said goodbye to our son, Nicholas. Although it was, by far, the worst day of our lives, the exceptional medical and emotional care we received was second to none. The Valentine Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Mount Sinai is known world- wide for its superb care of high risk mothers and their infants. Babies’ lives are saved even before they’re born with in utero surgery and parents are treated with compassion, sensitivity and respect. It is for these reasons (and many more) that our family has decided to support the Right From The Start Campaign for Women’s and Infant’s Health at Mount Sinai Hospital.

Jim, our two Earth Angels, Evan and Kyle, and I, would like to invite you to support Marcus and Meagan in their ride to honour our son, Nicholas Warren Reeves, on November 7, 2009.

By making a donation, in Nicholas’ name, to Right From The Start: Mount Sinai Hospital’s Campaign for Women’s and Infant’s Health, you will be helping us celebrate Nicholas’ life, honouring his memory and supporting the many women and babies’ in need of urgent, excellent care.

Every donation provides hope. Every gift is precious.

We thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for taking the time to consider remembering our precious Nicholas in such a special way.

With Gratitude,
Marcus and Meagan
Leanna, Jim, Evan, Kyle and Angel Baby Nicholas


We included a link to a special donation page created especially in Nicholas' honour. So far we have received some beautiful and generous donations.

I can't say enough how wonderful it is to remember our son in such a special way. To know that, because of Nicholas, we are able to support essential medical research and equipment needed for tiny miracles and their families makes me extremely proud.

Of course, I wish.... I wish so much that we were raising money for a different reason, however, giving back just a little helps my heart feel a little lighter and brighter.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Remembering George

Remembering George, with Barbara and Ray on his Angel Day, October 20, 2009.

"Fly, fly little wing... fly where only Angels sing..."

Sending you love and strength, my dear, Barb.


The Next Few Weeks

These last few weeks have really taken a toll. I imagine that the next few weeks are going to be even harder, no matter how hard I try to stay "positive".

This time last year...

This time last year was when our world, our lives, our beliefs, our very being would change forever.

On Thursday, October 23, 2008 I was scheduled for, what felt like my 50th ultrasound, to check on our babies brain development. We had been told 6 weeks earlier that the ventricles in his head looked a little enlarged, but that it should work itself out. "Don't lose any sleep over this", my doctor assured me.

Turns out I would be losing a lot more than sleep. At that ultrasound it was confirmed that there was something majorly wrong with our baby's brain... and we were scheduled early the next week for tests at a specialized hospital in Toronto.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008 would prove to be the day our hearts were irreversibly shattered to pieces.

I am feeling anxious, tired, sad... unbelievably sad. It's impossible not to think of the events leading to the worst days of your life. To remember your son and not wish like hell he was celebrating his first birthday in a couple of weeks.

The unstoppable tears are falling again. The exhaustion of carrying this grief around has set in again. The motherly ache to hold her child and protect him has, again, reared it's head in full force.

Of course, none of this is possible. All I have now is my fierce protection of Nicholas' memory. To integrate him, to include him in our family as often as I can. To light his candle to let him know I am thinking of him... constantly. To talk about him, to love him as strongly as I can without holding him in my arms.

So, the next few weeks.... well, I am ready for a million emotions, for a million tears, and hopefully, a couple of smiles in between.

Nicholas, you are true treasure to our hearts. You are a true blessing to our family. We all love you so very much.

Help Mama get through this... I miss you so much.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Love You Forever

Michelle at Angel Albums shared a beautiful quote from a very well known and popular Robert Munch book in honour of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.

"I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living,
My baby you'll be."

By Robert Munsch

What struck me the most is the fact that "Love You Forever" started out as a song that Robert Munsch wrote about two of his babies that were born still?
He said that he wrote it just for them and he would cry whenever he tried to sing it.

I had no idea. We have read this book to our boys several times, given it to friends and family as gifts and never did I realize the origin of it.

Truly amazing.

When we read it again, the book will certainly take on a different meaning...

Lea xo

Towards the Clouds

Dear Nicholas, my special boy,

I looked toward the clouds today
and for a moment saw your face.
And wondered just where you have gone
with the hope it's a peaceful place.

Did you show yourself to me today
to tell me you're all right?
Or was it just a daydream,
playing tricks upon my sight?

Then I thought of when you left,
still too young to say a word.
Yet the look you gave us said it all,
in our hearts, your good-bye was heard.

You have changed our lives forever,
your short time here not in vain,
and hope you know we tried it all,
to keep you safe from pain.

We will always feel the void inside,
because you are not here,
But each new thought you send our way,
let's us know you're always near.

So until our journey nears it's end
and we hear the Angels sing,
We'll face each new day as it comes,
and live off the Love you bring.

- Author Unknown

Love you buddy,
Mommy xo

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Light a Candle and Remember

As most of us baby loss parents know, today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. A day to remember and reflect on all babies gone too soon. Please light a candle tonight in honour of your own Angel or in memory of other Angels who have touched your life and heart.

Nicholas' candle will be lit with love for him and all of his special friends in Heaven. Love to all you Angel Mommies out there.

We love you, Nicholas. Burn your candle brightly tonight... Mommy will be looking to the sky to see it.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Friday, October 9, 2009

Another Heartache All Together

I would like to begin this post by saying that I recognize and am very sensitive to the fact that many of my new "bloggy friends" are grieving the loss of their first born. This, in and of itself, is an extremely painful journey. I am truly, truly grateful to be a mommy to two beautifully, healthy, vibrant Earth Angels. Our boys have given us a reason to march forward through our grief. They have given us a reason to "keep it together" when emotions threatened to tear us apart.

Having said that though, I must say that watching them grieve for their baby brother has been a completely different kind of excruciating heartbreak.

They say that children experience and express grief in different ways than adults. They tend to move in and out of intense feelings, rather than sustaining high levels of one emotion for long periods of time. I think this is particularly true for young children who may not completely 'understand' the finality of death.

Last night, we had some particularly sad moments. Our 3 1/2 year old was getting ready for bed and asked me if I could stay with him for the night. I told him that mommy and the baby needed to get a good night's sleep in their own bed and that we would see him in the morning. He became very teary eyed and asked if the baby was going to die if I didn't have a good sleep. I told him he didn't have to worry about that. That the baby is very healthy and she would be here to live with us after Christmas. He continued to become very upset, insisting the baby was going to die at Christmas time. He asked why Nicholas' had to die. Why he wasn't with us. He told me he wanted two babies... Nicholas and the new baby. He told me he wanted to hold Nicholas... Through my own emotions, I tried desperately to reassure him. To comfort my son in his deep sadness over the loss of his baby brother.

My heart broke all over again. It broke for our sweet Angel who will never have the opportunity to play and laugh with his brothers. It broke for my precious, innocent little boy who is cycling through his grief and trying to understand the reasons to life's most unanswered questions.

After getting the boys settled down and to sleep, I was drained. Completely drained and in an emotional pit of terrible sadness. The grief came crashing down on me again last night... in so many ways. My sleep was restless... and I'm exhausted.

But, today is a new day. Little Miss Sunshine is making her fabulous presence known and our 3 1/2 year old told me that he is "all better" this morning.

Sweet, simple, acceptance. I only wish it were that easy for us.

This is our 3 1/2 year old, Kyle and I at the pumpkin patch yesterday... One of our true blessings in this life.

Lea xo

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Happy 11 Month Angel Day Baby

Dear Nicholas,

It's a nasty, cold and rainy day here today - a little like mommy's mood. It's amazing how the sadness and desperation can really sneak in on the "day". I miss you, baby. I can literally smell your skin today. I can feel you in my arms. I can feel you in my heart.

Last night, I was tucking your oldest brother into bed and he was reaching up to the sky. I gently pushed his arm back down and under the covers as I thought he was just fooling around at bedtime. He explained to me that he was reaching for you, his baby brother. He was reaching to the clouds and beyond to feel your touch. This is something your daddy taught him to do when he is thinking about you. Once I realized what he was doing we reached together and said our own special prayer - I hope you heard us.

You would be 11 months old today. That seems unreal to me. Unreal that you have been gone for that long... I had your youngest brother at gymnastics class today and there were little boys everywhere. I really find it hard to watch babies around 11 months old crawl around, babbling away. I also find it extremely hard to see newborns, more specifically, to hear their high pitch, infant cry... That is a sound I prayed to hear once you were born. Of course, I knew otherwise. I knew you were sound asleep, but I hoped beyond hope for some kind of sheer miracle. I hoped for you to fill that hospital room with your lovely cry. To prove everyone wrong. You didn't. You lay there, peaceful and perfect as only our tears covered your sweet face.

Your baby sister, Little Miss Sunshine, is staying strong. I know you are helping us along. I can feel "Nicholas' Touch" as we travel along this new path of our journey.

Thank you, Angel. We are so truly grateful for you.

Love always and forever,
Mommy, Daddy, Evan, Kyle and "Little Miss Sunshine"


Monday, October 5, 2009

Heart and Hope Quotes

When the heart is enlivened again, it feels like the sun coming out after a week of rainy days. There is hope in the heart that chases the clouds away. Hope is a higher heart frequency and as you begin to reconnect with your heart, hope is waiting to show you new possibilities and arrest the downward spiral of grief and loneliness. It becomes a matter of how soon you want the sun to shine. Listening to the still, small voice in your heart will make hope into a reality.
Sara Paddison, The Hidden Power of the Heart

LOVE this one...

Emily Dickenson
"Hope" is the thing with feathers- that perches in the soul...

Daphine Rose Kingma
Today, see if you can stretch your heart and expand your love so that it touches not only those to whom you can give it easily, but also those who need it so much.

Roberta Sage Hamilton
In our deepest moments of struggle, frustration, fear, and confusion, we are being called upon to reach in and touch our hearts. Then, we will know what to do, what to say, how to be. What is right is always in our deepest heart of hearts. It is from the deepest part of our hearts that we are capable of reaching out and touching another human being. It is, after all, one heart touching another heart.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Grey's Grief

So many of us wrote about last week's season premiere of Grey's Anatomy. It seems as though the entire show was written for us. Of course, many different types of grief were addressed. The episode, in my opinion, was extremely well done. Heart-wrenching, yet beautiful. Devastating, yet full of hope.

The line that struck me most is this one:

"When it hurts so much you can't breathe, that's how you know you need to survive."

I can't even begin to count the many, many times I have felt like this. When grief comes knocking on your door, smacks you to the floor and crushes your soul. Everything begins to swirl, out of control. Your heart quickens to the point it may actually jump out of your chest. The tears sting your eyes and the golf ball size lump in your throat threatens to wail... once again. Your stomach sinks, your mind races a mile a minute..... and suddenly, as quick as the "grief moment" hits you, it melts away and you are completely and utterly drained.

It never ceases to amaze me how incredibly strong and fierce a "grief moment" can be. When you least expect it. When you think you are past the worst of those raw emotions - BAM - smacked down again - like the early days when it seemed impossible to climb out of the pit of despair and anguish.

And yet, it also never ceases to amaze me how strong and resilient the human spirit is. How, after suffering the single most greatest loss, so many of us are still standing, still "living" life without our babies with us, yet remembering and honoring them in such special, meaningful ways.

I remember so many people telling me how strong I am. What a wonderful person I am to be getting out of bed in the morning and going through the motions. My answer was always "I don't have a choice". I am a mother to 3 beautiful boys, 2 of which are here and need their mommy no matter what is happening in 'life'. I am a wife to a wonderfully supportive husband who deserves as much support and love as he shows me. I am a daughter to parents who have been there for us every step of the way and who are grieving their grandson too. I am a sister and a friend to those who have shown us love and light in so many ways. So, in my books, I don't have a choice. "The show must go on". It certainly is a different type of show. A show with many more sad parts right now, but a show all the same.

I am making a conscious effort to not let my family suffer any more than they already have/are.

"When it hurts so much you can't breathe, that's how you know you need to survive."

When it hurts so much, you know you have survived. You know you haven't succumbed to the worst possible devastation a parent can endure.

When it hurts so much you can't breathe, you love your baby more with every breath you do take.