Wednesday 18 February 2015

Stella : 1 year gone

Well I can’t believe a year has gone by. It’s both gone by slowly as it feels like Stella is still here when I look at the photos of the past memories, and fast as so much has happened and this horrible day is upon us again. Our little girl was suddenly taken this morning a year ago today and united with my Dad who has always wanted a grandchild. I still can’t believe she’s gone despite writing about her for the past year month by month.
I greatly appreciate everyone’s thoughts, prayers, words of encouragement and being there for me this past year either in person and over social media. I realize my posts got longer and longer as the months go on, which makes sense as I miss Stella more and more. I write these posts to get some of my thoughts onto paper as I often don’t have conversations about these thoughts but mainly I do the posts for Stella. She deserves to be thought of (as I know many of you do on a daily basis) and for my feelings for her and what we’ve gone through to be out in the open. I never want her to be forgotten and writing about her on a monthly basis ensures she is not, in my mind. I plan to continue to write about Stella and hope to start a blog that anyone who wishes to follow can. My intention of these posts isn’t to solicit additional support – I am so grateful to everyone who has provided the support I have received in so many different ways, but I get to live on and Stella doesn't. I will be okay but our poor girl was taken too soon for no reason at all.
We finally received word that Stella’s autopsy was completed. Although I have not yet had the opportunity to review the report, her death was ruled as unexplained. There was nothing found that would have caused Stella’s death. The thought of receiving this news has been on my mind for months. It’s something that I cannot change nor choose. If they had determined there was something wrong with Stella, we might have felt we could have helped her. The fact that there was nothing wrong with her is also upsetting because its not fair that she could be taken for no plausible reason. And in this world of technology and medical intelligence, this doesn’t seem right. How could there be no cause, reason or cure? She was here one minute and gone the next, without a sound or a goodbye.
I think about how Stella may have felt at that moment. Its something that is very hard for me as her mother. Always wanting to protect my children and be there for them, I was not able to help her. We are told her death was likely quick and painless, but we will never know. A friend said she likes to think that when Stella was taken she was having a wonderful dream. I like that thought. It’s the part of death we will never fully understand. I’m not a religious person but I definitely like the spirituality of religion and the thought that Stella is in a better place, that she is an angel.
The term angel has taken a different meaning to me since February 18, 2014. People used to say Stella looked like a cherub, I agree. She had golden blond wavy hair, soft and pudgy skin. What you would imagine a cherub to look like. Now the term is used to describe children, out of true honesty, I find very very difficult to hear. No one should want an angel as a child. I have a hard time when others use this term as I feel it is a special title for her (and other deceased children and ofcourse adults) now that she is gone. I feel protective and selfish over this title. There are so many situations that are difficult now but I try to get by as positively as I can.
A second word I have had a hard time with this past year is saying that Stella died or is dead. I cannot seem to be able to use this harsh description. To me, Stella has passed away. She is not dead, her spirit and memory is very alive and I hope it always will be. I hope to be able to continually speak of her as I hope her younger siblings will feel as though they know their sister. I hope new friends feel they know Stella. Stella is special being my first born as she made me a mother and brought me into motherhood. A whole new world I had always dreamed of. As a mother, as most mothers are, I was instantly constantly worried about Stella, her health, her wellbeing, her growth, and ofcourse her happiness. All of these things were put to the test on many occasions but I always followed my gut and did what made me feel comfortable as her guardian. As I’ve said to many friends, we are the only ones that can advocate for our children and protect them. If you let something go by that bothers you, you will be the only person that you will have to explain to. You will be challenged when those say “it’s normal”, “it’s not that bad”, or compare to their own situations. No one knows your situation but you. I felt my title as Mother was tested after Stella passed away. Our street was lined with police cars, all doing their jobs, to investigate our home and my baby as she layed helpless in her crib. We were confined to our kitchen with a police social worker, a stranger who was thrust into my home at my most vulnerable time. It was extremely reassuring when the investigator returned to our home to return Stella’s bedding, her bunny and the jammies she wore and said the nicest thing anyone could have said in his position at that time. He told us that he could tell how we were such great parents and that we did everything we could do for Stella. He told me we went over and above what most parents would do when Stella had been sick or had seizures and could tell by our home how well Stella was taken care of and our love for her. I am so grateful for those words and will never forget them.
As most parents do, we planned ahead and thought about Stella’s future. We planned financially for her education and helped prepare her for what was ahead by purchasing word books and French language books, only weeks before her passing. We planned to potty train Stella Easter weekend and had purchased big girl panties and did the reading to prepare myself for the potty training. I purchased clothes for the upcoming seasons and planned to take Stella on vacation and finally a visit to Seattle. Stella had birthday and Christmas presents she had yet to wear. Although we planned ahead, I know we lived every day to the fullest but it is hard to not experience these things we planned for.
As we have just experienced Valentine’s day and Stella’s last weekend again, I can say that Stella had the best last weekend with our family and friends. Stella knew she was going to be a big sister and got a baby doll for Valentine’s day that she played with all weekend long. Stella gave her school friends individualized valentines and candy kabobs, despite not being old enough to really eat candy, I didn't care. She showed her classmates with some love before not knowingly having to leave. Stella got to see all of my friends that weekend and got to tell her grandparents she was going to be a big sister. She got to go swimming and take a big plunge into her self-confidence when asked to jump into the pool into my arms. The same baby only a year ago who clung to my shoulders when we got into the pool, slowly gained the confidence to jump into my arms that Sunday. We enjoyed Family Day as a family in our home where she was watched by her proud parents in amazement as she played in her kitchen for an extended period of time. She showed us how she would watch us and all that we did when she used the microwave, put spices on her food and played house. We couldn’t believe we made this little person and how she was growing! I remember having thoughts, what a great family day, even if it was our last. Am I psychic? It's scary that some of my thoughts came true.
The next day was the worst day of my life. It’s a bit of a blur as it was so shocking and upsetting. It was exhausting and left us feeling empty and hopeless without our girl. I know that nothing can be as bad as that one day and it can only get better which has helped me get through today despite having flashbacks of that night not knowing what was to come in the morning and the heartbreak that followed. Our hearts are still broken for Stella but they are growing bigger with love for our baby Hudson and always talking about Stella and our love for her. Stella will never be forgotten or replaced but we definitely have some challenges ahead to keep her memory alive in our family and helping our kids get to know their sister they never will in fact meet.
In order to help keep her memory alive and help positively towards finding a reason and cure for this unknown condition/cause of death, we plan on doing a number of things that we hope to get everyone’s support and involvement.

  1. Fundraising in Stella’s memory and for the SUDC program – I’ve already started to think of some fundraising ideas that I hope to bring to fruition this year. I’d love anyone with expertise in the following areas to help if you’d like, including fundraising planning, advertising, graphic design, web design – if you have any ideas or can help with coming up a name for our charity and or events, please contact me. I will contact the SUDC program for their expertise as well.
  2. Along with the fundraising, if anyone’s employer sponsors events or can provide expert help or items/product donations for fundraising, please let me know.
  3. Blog – if anyone has any expertise on getting a blog started, I’d love to hear from you.
  4. Children’s Story – There are all sorts of stories about death out there but I’d like to write one to help children who have lost siblings in such an unexplained way. I don’t want children to fear going to bed at night and I’d like them to understand the love we have for all children in the family those here and those not. There’s a few of you out there that I know could be of some know who you are!
Well I will sign off for now as I normally do. Missing Stella more than ever today and hoping she knows how much we love her and always will. Wishing she was here with us physically to enjoy her life. Always wondering what she would be saying and doing and imagining her growth and the little girl she would be turning into at age 2.5. 

Grief never ends...but it changes. It's a passage...not a place to stay. Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of is the price of love. -Author Unkown.

 Stella's 1 year update

Well it's been a while since I have been in touch with you all. We were all so busy after my first birthday, I just didn't get a chance to sit down at the computer.
So much has happened. I had the most fun first birthday ever! Mommy and Daddy had a pancake bar birthday party for me. Mommy made it a ruffle theme, I had a ruffle tiered birthday cake and one for me to smash as well. It was so much fun to see all of my friends and family at my birthday parties!
Mommy ended up finding a new job in August and had to find me daycare quick. We both had our first days on August 12th. I go to a Montessori school in the toddler program with the older kids. I am getting better now at sleeping on a cot for only 1 nap time as opposed to the two I had at home with Mommy. I love going to "school". Over the past 3 months since I last wrote, I have learned so many things, especially since being at school these past two months. I put pom poms into bottles, toothpicks into holes, pipe cleaners into holes too. I love to paint and draw as well. I am learning songs and poems at school. I also learn day to day things that help me be more independent!
I love to help out around the house (check out the last video!). I put my toys away and put little bits of garbage in the bin all by myself without anyone asking! I like to copy Mommy and sweep the floor, windex the floor (when she does the table), put clips in my hair (which I don't keep in anymore), put belts and necklaces on...I try and put my socks and shoes on but its hard. I am able to put Daddy's shoes on his feet though. I leave a trail of mess everywhere I go....
I understand most things that Mommy and Daddy ask but I am a very determined girl and don't always want to give things away. I always have to have something in my hand, let it be while walking up the stairs, or in my car seat..wherever (you will notice my snack cup and water cup a lot in my photos). I do know how to switch from hand to hand so I can get dressed or in the car seat while holding on. I am dancing some pretty crazy moves lately, anytime I hear music I "get low" like Jack does but I have also developed some spinning moves and other groovy moves I will teach Jack next time I see him!
We got to spend a week in August with Uncle Darron, Auntie Colette, Jack, Grandma and Grandpa at the cottage. We had a BLAST, as usual. Jack and I kept eachother busy the entire time playing together. Jack gives love but I give then Jack gave me hugs every 10 mins. We fall to the ground hugging. I love my cousin!
I don't cry anymore when Mommy drops me at daycare. I come home very tired and very dirty, with sand everywhere! I love the sand box and even go down the slide on my own. My teacher told Mommy that I am "the boss" at daycare. I know when its time to go outside and go get my shoes even before the teacher says so. I wave and say bye to the kids when I leave. I LOVE saying hi all the time even when I have been home a while.
My hair is growing like crazy and getting curly! I have 8 teeth now. What 3 months can bring! I love to use a fork and spoon and feed myself. I say hi, bye, Mama, Dada..I sign "more" and "milk" and say mmmm when I want milk. I nod yes and no. I was pointing at my yoghurt while making noises the other morning, Mommy asked me would you like some yoghurt? I answered by nodding my head! Mommy keeps saying how helpful I am around the house!
I now RUN all of the time. I was walking really well shortly after my last update. I get told to slow down as I am such a busy body running with my arms swinging. You can see me run in some videos.
Other fun events this past few months...going to the cottage with Friend T and Friend K, going to K's, S's, M's and T's 1st birthday parties, sleepover at Grandma and Grandpa's for M&D's anniversary in Sept, a trip to the emergency room by ambulance (I'm ok! chest infection), going to the outdoor pool in July, getting another ear infection (not fun event), Thanksgiving, Mountsberg with M&D, walking by stroller and going to the playground after daycare with Mommy and Daddy, lastly getting professional photos done today!
Sorry for such a long update but so much has happened. I am as happy as ever and sooo giggly! I hope you all are too!
Love Stella