A year ago we were preparing. There was excitement paired with anxious nerves. We were coming up on an appointment at our obstetrician's office to see and hear the first heart tones of an 11-week-old baby we thought would be joining our family in August of 2016.
The appointment was scheduled two days before we were headed to Maui for a weeklong vacation. I had a pedicure scheduled with my mom right after the ultrasound, Kiki was home playing with Melanie and our bags were mostly packed. I had plans.
The ultrasound didn't reveal a strong heartbeat. At best, this tiny bundle of cells never made it past 7 weeks. I cried and tried to be brave, but I didn't know how I was supposed to feel or what we would do next. Courage I had before seemed gone and I felt paralyzed.
The next day Dan and I arrived early for my procedure and the following day after that we boarded a flight to Maui. I've never been as grateful to get away from it all. Hawaii was the best medicine for us. It was time spent together as a family. Time to enjoy our beautiful girl. Time to begin healing. Time to be present.
I don't tell you this story for pity. I know this loss is common. You may have experienced it yourself or know a close friend or family member who has suffered the loss. Or maybe you never even get there. I know far too many people who have gone through grief at all stages of making babies. You never think you'll be in those shoes, though. And we go on to grieve in our own ways. We each move on with different plans. For me, the hardest part is know which path is right for us.
I share this because I am reflecting on an anniversary. Storytelling is healing. It also helps me to think about all I have gained this year.
Our plans changed a year ago. I thought I knew what 2016 would look like (we had even strategically planned vacations). And one day, that all changed. This past year I have done more soul-searching than I've done in a long time. I've said yes more times than no. I've started exercising more regularly again and watching less TV. I am making and keeping goals I never had before.
I spend time soaking up my daughter. I came home that day, a year ago, from the hospital with a new sense of gratitude for Kiki, even for the hard parts of parenting a 3 year-old. I am not spending my days at a hospital, using my degree as a pharmacist, but I am grateful I have a sweet girl with whom to play princess and dance next to for hours.
I've chosen to use this experience and grow from it while listening to my heart. I've learned that plans change and I will choose to move forward, counting the many blessings I have today.
Our loss isn't unique. Loss is common. We were fortunate to have a healthy child to come home to that day in January a year ago. She didn't know what we had lost. All she had was love. Writing has become a therapy for me over the past years. Reflecting on the good and hard helps put things into perspective. I am grateful for all I have to feel and love, even the hard. The hard is what makes it good.