April 20th, 2017: a Summary

Yesterday was a really good day. I am pretty tired today, though, and emotionally drained so this is going to be a very lazy entry. Mostly I’m just going to copy and paste from my Instagram account. (If you hover over the picture or select it you can read its caption.)

From April 19th:

Odin’s birthday is tomorrow. Our Special Odin Day has started a day early thanks to some very kind and thoughtful friends. 💙 Trying to let the love outweigh the pain.

From April 20th:

Special Odin Day! Thank you, dear friends, for all of your messages of love and support and for saying Odin’s name and keeping us in your heart today. We are trying, despite the weather, to make this day memorable. More to come… 💙

Odin Cafe, Toronto ON

Special Odin Day continues. 💞 (Nathan got his wedding ring done, too.)

It was good to feel a little physical pain today. Jazzed up my Odin tattoo and @nzarnke took a big leap! We’re home now and settling in for the evening. Taking time to read all of your loving messages (and open the mail! 🤗) Today has been special for us so far. A very memorable Odin Day. More to come…

Today has been a good day. For better or worse, depending on how you feel about social media, sharing each part has made us feel very loved and supported. We lit a candle at 5:36pm (the time Odin was born) and had a good cry together. Because despite our brave faces, today is hard. Lots of our days are hard even if you can’t see it. But I’m not ready to give in to the heartbreak right now because this is our Special Odin Day! So I’m powering through and sharing again… I’ve been fussing and arranging the “things” from today because it’s keeping me occupied. It’s also keeping me focused on Odin and our love for him. We’re feeling so grateful for our friends and family today.

These are a few more pictures from the day that I didn’t Instagram. 🤗

And these beautiful poems friends shared with us:

Heaven by Patrick Phillips

It will be the past
and we’ll live there together.

Not as it was to live
but as it is remembered.

It will be the past.
We’ll all go back together.

Everyone we ever loved,
and lost, and must remember.

It will be the past.
And it will last forever.

Boo, Forever by Richard Brautigan

Spinning like a ghost
on the bottom of a
top,
I’m haunted by all
the space that I
will live without
you.
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Affirmations

I’ve had a few people ask me what we have planned for Odin’s birthday (which is coming up so quick). The last two weeks were kind of rough (which is relative, I know). But this week I’m feeling pretty good and have come up with a bunch of things I think I’d like to try doing for Odin’s birthday. It’s such an important day with so many heavy feelings and I’ve been really struggling to figure out what to do on that day. The easiest thing (and my plan in the deep dark bubble of last week) was to give in to how sad it is that he’s not here and just stay home in bed crying, looking at his pictures, cuddling Kornflake (the bear we got from the hospital). I know that sounds awful, but it’s honestly the easiest and safest thing to do.

But, somehow, the darkness lifted a bit and I got the energy and inspiration to come up with some things I’d like to do. Things that I hope I can keep up the nerve and energy for next week. Life has become a constant and never-ending battle between the sadness of losing our baby and the love and joy of being his mother. The feelings are honestly the hardest thing to explain and they’re going on in my head and my heart at absolutely every moment. It is super exhausting but at times it can also be empowering. No matter how you slice it, though, it is more than anyone should have to deal with.

There is an artist in Montreal named Sarah Mangle and she has this incredible Affirmations Colouring Book that I’ve found very comforting. Sarah posted a picture on her Instagram account of one of her drawings with words that resonate with me like no other sentiment has: “There are many ways I think of you.” It’s a simple idea, for sure, and I’ve read so many inspirational and sad infant loss quotes that it would make your head spin. But this is a phrase that I think sums it all up. I’m so grateful for her artwork and, specifically, for writing this one simple line that is my whole heart.

My plan next Thursday is to share on social media (Instagram anyway) our Special Odin Day. I’m not putting any pressure on myself to accomplish any of it so don’t hold me to this. But if he were here with us you can bet I’d be spamming you so hard with cute cake-eating pics, funny faces and outfits. The alternative is not at all what I want, but it’s what I’ve got. And the love is the same. There are many ways I think of him.

Posted with permission. Artwork by Sarah Mangle.

The Old Normal

As Odin’s first birthday approaches, I have been trying really hard not to look at last year’s calendar. I’ve been having flashbacks and they are intense and vivid enough without having specific dates to reference. But I caved. I looked. And now I know each of the important dates from last year; the things that happened in our Last Normal Days. I was feeling strong, and wanted to remember the mundane details of Before. (The alpaca festival I went to the day after our anatomy scan before we knew anything was wrong, dinner with a (now) former friend, a dentist appointment, getting Odin’s diagnosis on my mother’s birthday.) I think I’m okay with knowing the specifics because having the days of this month pass without recognizing their weight or remembering something unexpectedly might be worse. Might.

Last year at this time winter was finally melting away like it does every year. I remember wearing some of the more spring-weather-appropriate maternity clothes that had been passed down to me and finally ditching my winter coat. We kept saying that we wanted to go to High Park to see if the cherry blossoms were blooming yet. (They weren’t. Twenty-sixteen was a bad year for them and they didn’t fully blossom that spring like they usually do. The symbolism of this is not lost on me.) We had really great tickets to the Blue Jays Home Opener at the Skydome. And on that same day we had our 20-week anatomy scan and we were going to find out if our little boo boo was a boy or a girl. We were happy.

I think that the start of spring might always be difficult for me now. Considering how nature’s symbol of new life and promise is the mark of the darkest, saddest, time in our lives. I imagine that at the start of spring I will always be reminded, just a little more intensely, of what should have been.

To make matters heavier, there is a woman who sits near me at work who is living the life I had last year. She’s just a regular woman in her second-trimester of pregnancy, making plans and battling fatigue. Her anatomy scan appointment is three days later than mine was last year. I know this because I can hear everything she says. I hear her talking about finding out if her baby is a boy or a girl. I hear her talking about maternity pants. And I die a little bit with each detail.

I know I always sound sad. And that’s because on some level I always am sad and I’m settling in to that reality. For better or worse I’ve been treating this space as a place where I can be honest about how I’m feeling — even if no one reads it. It doesn’t mean I can’t/don’t/won’t also experience joy and happiness, it just means that unless Odin can be alive again I will always be heartbroken and I will always miss him. I am glad it’s spring, though. I’ve missed feeling connected to nature during the long, grey, lifeless cold of winter. I’m trying to look forward to those unexpected moments where a cool breeze or a family of geese reminds me of my little guy. I am ready for those moments with an open heart.