Wednesday, November 6, 2013

November 6 and 7, 2013 - You have given us so much.....

Originally posted - March 2009

The days leading up to Nicholas' birth were so surreal. I'm convinced that I was in complete shock... and in complete despair. I often wish that I consciously connected with him more during those last few days. Instead, I felt shame. Not ashamed of my sweet baby boy, never that, but ashamed of myself. Ashamed that I had let this horrible thing happen to my baby. Ashamed that my body couldn't keep him safe. I changed in the dark. I wore the absolute baggiest clothes I could find and I physically cringed when my husband would touch my belly. I disconnected because that is what felt safe for me at the time. I didn't want to bond any more than I already had with this baby for fear of completely breaking down. I now know that was the stupidest thing I could have done... our bond was already as strong as strong could be and I wasted precious time.

Secretly I cherished the kicks, the nudges, the hiccups and the bubbles those last few days, but never again did I say "Oh my gosh, watch my belly, he's rocking and rolling again". It's very difficult to put into words why.... I think all of you know the feeling. Complete helplessness. Deep and utter sadness. Those days were so incredibly hard. I couldn't understand why he was so active and seemingly okay when the opposite was true - he would not have that "life" when he wasn't connected to me. It truly is amazing what we do for our babies... how we nourish them, grow them.. and love them so.

It's funny, everyone always seemed to ask how I was sleeping, if at all. I never had any problem sleeping. I was so completely and totally drained that closing my eyes and falling asleep was a relief. My problem was waking up. It literally hurt to wake up... to reality. Every day we would wait for the phone call from the doctor to say that the ethics committee had met and made their decision. Every day I held my breath as the phone rang and rang and rang. I was very angry at the fact that an "Ethics Committee" held the fate of our family and our precious baby at their mercy.

We finally got the call and went into the hospital on Thursday, November 6, 2008. We got to the clinic early and there only a few people walking the halls. I was in autopilot... I remember one pregnant lady sitting across from us. She had seen my bag and pillow and commented on the fact that we were going to have our baby that day.... little did she know.

I have never, ever cried so much or felt such immense pain as I did when I felt our sweet baby boy go...

I was given something to relax me and then the induction began. It seemed to take forever. I was feverish and nauseous from the gel the doctors were giving me every few hours. I was given an epidural where I could manage the dose... I remember forcing myself or my husband to press that button... I wanted to feel this labour. I wanted to work for my Nicholas. This was the last thing we were going to do together... and I wanted to remember every (although painful) minute.

Fast forward to the next day... Friday, November 7, 2008. My body seems to have shut down. I am not dialating, I am not contracting. I can't even do this right.
Then suddenly I feel the tremendous urge to push. He's ready. I'm not. I'm not ready to push him out of me. I'm not ready to let go.

I remember these young, inexperienced (in bedside manner anyway) interns coming in to assist with Nicholas' birth. They were anything but gentle. Not that I cared, really. I didn't care about anything at that point, except for holding my beautiful boy in my arms. I'll never forget the feeling of him slipping out... slipping away. I howled.... just howled. It was over and I was lost. I couldn't keep him safe any longer.

He is just beautiful. The first thing my husband and I noticed was his red hair. Our first born has red hair and Nicholas was the spitting image of him. He smelled so clean and fresh. His skin was so smooth and perfect. His lips so red and kissable. I couldn't get enough of him and yet I felt myself detaching.... shock has a funny way of protecting was needs to be protected. I thank God for shock. It allowed us to savour the precious time we had with our son. To love him. To caress him. To just "be" for at least a few hours before we had to say goodbye.

Goodbye. What an impossible thing to do.

to be continued...

Monday, October 28, 2013

October 28, 2008

October 28, 2008 - The Beginning of the End

October 28, 2008

The day our world stopped. The day we were told that part of our baby boy's brain had not formed. The day we had to make the most unimaginable decision of our lives.

We were scheduled into the high risk pregnancy hospital that afternoon for a number of tests because an ultrasound had shown that the ventricles in our baby's head were larger than normal. My husband and I made the 1/2 hour drive into Toronto and, to be honest, our spirits were hopeful. We certainly had a million questions, but how bad could it be right? I was 33 weeks and had several ultrasounds throughout the pregnancy - every single one was "fine" - until the last one. How could something so catastrophic not been seen earlier??

When we got to the clinic I had blood taken, then we had the amnio... and then the "detailed ultrasound" performed by one of the head doctors. He studied our baby for a long, long time (all the while making small talk). I remember him telling us about his daughter and a big house they had bought not too far from where we lived...I look back now and wonder how in the world he could talk so casually when he could clearly see the trouble our baby was in.

The doctor was called away for what felt like hours and during that time my husband and I tried to remain calm... we didn't know anything for sure at this point. My husband looked at the transcript from the previous ultrasound and figured things were fairly positive (he has some training in the medical field and can read the jargon). When the doctor finally returned he probed my belly again and asked if he and the doctor we had been seeing (who was now in the room) could speak with each other freely. Sure. I didn't understand a single thing they were saying, but something deep in my soul knew that none of it was good. I kept looking at my husband for some kind of reassurance.... nothing. He just kept shaking his head and looking really concerned. When my husband looks concerned I know there's trouble.

The doctors finished up and we were sent to wait in the waiting room... for what we now know was the worst news of our life.

We were taken into the genetic councilor's office and shut the door. Oh God...

"Part of the baby's brain has not formed at all" the words went through me like a sword. "There was some kind of insult to the baby", probably during or after my emergency surgery at 20 weeks, "There is a high chance that the baby will not make it through labour or for very long once he is born" .... my vision is blurry now, I am staring blankly at who knows what, I don't hear them anymore. "If the baby is born alive we cannot guarantee what quality of life he will have... with half the brain missing...." "Everyone has different views and ideas of what quality of life is....there are options for you." Options, are you serious??!!!

After a while we were left alone in that office.... to scream, to sob, to shake uncontrollably. Our first and foremost thought was that we did not want our precious baby boy to suffer. We did not want him to be born gasping for breath, struggling to stay alive. We did not want him on life support and we did not want our beautiful boy to be attached to tubes and needles. We also felt like we had to think about our two boys at home... there were 5 people to think about. I will never forget my husband saying that. I don't remember too much, but that I remember. It struck a chord and resonated in my breaking heart.

The decision to let him go, without a doubt, was the most heart-wrenching, soul-searing, horrendous decision we have had to ever, ever had to make, but I truly believe we made it out of love. I have to believe that we spared him the pain, the suffering that he would have inevitably endured, regardless of the outcome.

I pleaded with the doctors not to send me home that night.... I really didn't know how to face anyone. But there are policies, of course. We were sent home to writhe in our pain... to start grieving our little boy who was still actively kicking and pushing his mommy's belly.

We waited 4 days to get an MRI scheduled. The MRI was to 110% confirm the findings (which we were all for).

That was Friday, October 31, 2008 - Halloween Day. And that is for another post.

My heart and soul ache for you Nicholas..... we love you more every day... xo

Thursday, October 24, 2013


Every year around this time I struggle.  The tears flow without warning.  There is a dull ache in my chest and my breaths are a little harder to take.  The vulnerability I feel at this time is painstaking.  Unstoppable.  Agonizing.

I try my very hardest to honour you, sweet Nicholas.  To keep your beautiful legacy alive in this world.  I try to give back to others hurting as we do.  I do it in your name.  I do it because you gave me clarity to what I could give back in this life.  You were taken away.  I am still here.  My resolve is to parent you through comforting others.  To allow my love for you honour other babies gone too soon.  To offer support and strength to their families.  To remember you with purity and passion.

But the anniversaries come with pain and sorrow.  The subconscious memories blindside me and I am left to pick up the pieces.  The rest of the year is dedicated to honouring your beautiful little life.... but today, little man, mommy is struggling. 

I love you. 

I am so sorry.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Nicholas' 5th Angel Day

October 22, 2013

Dear Family and Friends,                                               

Nicholas’ Birth/Angel day is Thursday, Novemeber 7th.  It will have been 5 whole years since Jim and I had the incredible opportunity to meet our third son, face to tiny, perfect face.  Five years since we were blessed to hold him in our arms… smell him… kiss him….talk to him… love him.  

I am struggling with 5 years.  Every year is a milestone, but 5 seems truly unimaginable.  When Nicholas died I remember genuinely wondering how the world could continue to spin… how the stars still shone… how the birds still sang…  Our world was drastically halted in that moment and it seemed beyond unfair and cruel that time didn’t stop.

Flash forward to today.  

I couldn’t be more grateful for time.  

Time to dull the intense pain.  

Time to begin to heal our broken hearts. 

 Time to try to forgive myself.  

Time to remember and honour Nicholas.  

Time to realize how much love he has brought to our lives.

Most of you will remember that we have been marking Nicholas’ Angel Day with a special and unique event each year.  Together, with an amazing support system, we have created life long memories on what is an extremely emotional day for our family.

This year we will be travelling to Ottawa on November 7th.  To be honest, I have had a hard time accepting this truth, however, we have come up with a plan to continue our tradition of honouring Nicholas’ memory on his birth/angel day.

I have been busy putting together more Comfort Boxes.  We will donate 6 of them to a hospital close to where we are staying in Ottawa.  We are more than comforted to know that some families may find some much needed solace from the items we have provided.  

I am saddened by the fact that we will not have the opportunity to again share this day with an abundance of friends, family and supporters.  However, I am encouraged to know that we will be surrounded by our “hockey family” as we navigate our way through this latest anniversary. 
In the past, the events have changed, as it will this year, but the meaning will always be there.  It is so important to us to have a positive focus on what could be a terrible day re-living horrific memories.    
Nicholas’ legacy lives on and that is what it is all about.

We continue to heal our broken hearts by remembering and honouring our special little guy every day.   We do this together, with love, perseverance and with the boundless support of amazing family and friends who have been there for us every step of the way.   We thank you all.

With Love and Gratitude,
Leanna, Jim ,Evan, Kyle, Madison and Angel Baby Nicholas Reeves

“I would rather have had one breath of his hair, one kiss of his mouth,
one touch of his hand, than an eternity without it…”

Friday, June 14, 2013

Happy Father's Day, Daddy

Happy Father's Day to the strongest, most loving daddy around....

Daddy's Love

Your daddy loves you oh so much
I see it in his eyes.
Every time we speak of you,
He looks up to the sky.

We talk about you often
And wonder what you’d be
If you were down here with us,
With your family.

Daddy is so strong,
His strength surrounds us all.
We lean on him for comfort,
He doesn’t let us fall.

But daddy hurts so deeply,
He misses you so much.
He feels blessed to have known you
And to have felt your touch.

He’s proud to be your daddy
And to have held your hand in his.
He kissed and held you close that day
Forever you’ll be missed.

We love you buddy… xo xo
Mommy (Leanna) – March 2009

Monday, June 10, 2013

Your new garden

We moved your garden yesterday.

I'm sure you already know.

What a potent mix of emotions.  I didn't expect it to be as difficult as it was for your daddy and I. 

Moving your rocks was like holding a piece of you again, bringing us back to the day when we so gently laid them down on a neatly raked space of soil.  One of the big steps on this life long journey.  Your space.  Our memorial to a perfect little baby boy.  So much love, so much respect.  Makes me sad that not everyone has the sensitivity.... or the respect that you deserve.

Your new spot is another perfect one.  A beautiful view of the lake.  With your family.  The one's who love you.  The one's who remember you with gratitude and a deep understanding of what you mean to all of us.

I am comforted by the fact that you will be watching over your brothers and sisters as they splash and play in the water....  keep them safe, baby.

I hope that you are at peace with your new garden.  No matter where it is, it will always be that tangible place where we can nurture and grow and hope.

Lots of love,

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


For those of you visiting after attending the Memorial at Southlake last evening, I welcome you to this place of comfort and healing.  I also commend your strength and courage to walk through those doors.  It is an extremely difficult thing to do.  I only hope that you found some peace and warmth while being surrounded with other parents grieving their precious babies.

Please, have a look through The Angel Wings Memorial Boutique, visit Nicholas' Touch and try to find a connection, some solace in the words written.  My posts are often raw, direct and vivid in description.  Nicholas' Touch is a space where I can share my inner most anxieties about grieving the loss of our 3rd son.  It is a space where my heart is exposed and my grief is very real.  It is my hope that parents experiencing the loss of a child, at any stage in their grief journey, can find some hope in our experience.

I remember, early on, how often I would search out parents who were just a little further ahead in their journey.  How desperate I was to hear their stories and relate.  My heart ached for some proof that the anguish would somehow soften.  That my broken soul could be wrapped in some peace somewhere down the road.

I hope that Nicholas' legacy and our voyage down this often tumultuous path can offer some hope and comfort in knowing that what you are feeling is okay.  That you are not alone.  This community can be one of the most compassionate, generous, and loving communities.  We are here to help, to listen, to cry, to laugh...  We are here to understand and we are here to support.

Much love to you and your babes,

Monday, April 22, 2013

Soft Spring

It comes every year.  I should be used to it by now.  I should be prepared for the shock.  I should be able to stare it in the eyes and steady myself.  I should be able to keep my composure.

But every year it comes... and every year the grief of carrying Nicholas in my heart explodes into a nasty mess.  A heated pool of anguish over the loss of my third son.


It gets me every time.

I stare out the window and witness the tulips slowly rising... the abundance of Robins with full bellies waiting to lay their eggs.  I admire how the grass magically turns from dry, brown, dead.... to lush, green and inviting.  I pop open the windows in our home to release the staleness of winter and allow the cool spring breeze to revitalize the air.  The sun shines and I can feel the warmth as it tries to soothe my soul.

The new life.  The freshness of the air.  The vitality of the buds on the verge of blooming..... it's all so bittersweet.

I love Spring, but it's all such a heavy reminder.

Such life and growth..... but he's dead.

As I read my own words they sound so harsh.  Probably because no one should have to write those words.  No one should have to endure the death of their own child.  So, the words may be harsh, but they are my reality.  My world.

As the fragrance in the air subtly changes from winter cold to spring fresh.... I miss him.

That's what our Nicholas smelled like.  Fresh, soft, spring air.  A pure and gentle cocktail of beautiful baby.


Happy Spring, sweet Nicholas.

Mama loves you.

Thursday, February 28, 2013


I love staring at your beautiful and perfect little face, buddy.  Nothing in particular today.  Just missing you.  Just remembering.  Just dreaming.  We love you so much.  Wish it wasn't this way.  Wish we didn't have to do all of that from afar.

Mommy  xx

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


It's been a while since I've had the feeling.  The feeling of pure grief.  The power of grief.  The hold it can take on my heart.  I've been breathless.... like no breath is deep enough... like no breath can repair the sadness.  Like no breath can cleanse my soul.  It's real, I know.  And it's always there... like a shadow I can't get rid of.  Like a demon stuck on the sidelines.  Grief resides in my heart.... all nestled up tight and silent until I least expect it.  And then it can be so fierce that the rage is undeniable and I must succumb to it's force.

Maybe it's the crumby days of winter... cold, wet, sloppy and dark.  For sure it's the passing of my grandpa and the void that is now felt throughout our family.  Maybe it's the fact that another family close to our heart is experiencing the unimaginable as we speak.  Maybe it's just that our son died... and it sucks.... and I miss his kicks... and I miss his smell... and I miss the little boy that should have been.  Maybe it's because it's not natural and it's not fair... our kids do not die before us.  Maybe it's simply that I am not in a good place right now.  Maybe it's  the insurmountable  amount of guilt that has infected my being.... like the grief.... guilt has become a mainstay in my heart.  Maybe it's because my heart hurts and I can't seem to calm it....





Nicholas.... we have come so far.  We have done so much good.  We have offered so much comfort to other families who so desperately need it after their children pass away.  But, some days the good just isn't much of a comfort to me.  I'd much rather I didn't have to collapse at your coffin 4 years ago.  I'd much rather that we didn't have to carry your ashes home.  I'd much rather have a billion more kisses....

I'd much rather love you beside me cuz this loving from afar stuff is really hard....

I'd much rather be able to take a good, deep and cleansing breath and feel renewed and fully joyful.... but right now, I can't.... and that's okay.  It's in these moments and times of pure grief that I am truly reminded of your gift. 

My heart is bigger because of you....

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


In the early morning of January 6, 2013 our family lost a very special man.  The matriarch of our family.  The strength.  The integrity.  The legend.  A few days ago my amazingly tenacious, outrageously strong and infinitely kind grandfather passed on to the next world.

Grandpa or "New Papa" as our kids call him was battling with a fearless foe the last several months.  Alzheimer's had gripped his soul tightly and he was kept prisoner in his very own body.  Once so sharp.  Once so incredibly wise and wistful.... our precious New Papa didn't have a chance against such a mighty disease.

I saw him on New Years Day.  He was weak.  He was gaunt.  He continued to refuse to eat or take his medication.  I promised him that the ice cream I wanted to feed him was his very favourite (Kawartha Dairy) and that I brought it especially for him.  He nearly ate the entire bowl and seemed to savour each mouthful.  Mom and I bargained with him to take his pills... the pills that would keep his mind at ease and calm the paranoia.  He took them and we both sat and rubbed cream into his feet and his legs.  He relished every minute.... groaning and smiling in great comfort.  I kissed him as we left.  Told him I loved him and squeezed a little tighter.  I had a feeling that may the last time....

As mixed up as his mind was... as different as he was... I truly feel like deep down he had the sense to know what was happening to him.  What should not have been happening to him.  For most of his life he was the man in control.  He called the shots and he knew how to manage every situation.... imagine how extremely terrifying to realize that you had no control over your own mind or body anymore.  To imagine yourself as a burden and struggle with the fact there was no getting better.  Grampa took control of the situation he was forced to face the only way he knew how... the only way he mindfully and physically could.  He allowed his body to comfortably decline.  He was valiant in this.  The only thing left to control.  The only way to relieve his family.  The only way to relieve himself without the suffering....

I am comforted by the fact that he is now united with our sweet Nicholas.  Grampa was so heartbroken when Nicholas died.  Again, loss of control.  Watching his only granddaughter suffer the insurmountable.  I am so happy that they are now in each others arms.  

Grampa ~ we all have so many amazing memories with you.  It is these memories that will allow us to reflect and smile.  You have had such an impact on so many lives.  You have left a legacy which will always supercede death.  Rest well... I love you, Nan