It's not often that my blog takes a heavy tone, but at lease one time a year I think I'm entitled, so bear with me or skip over this entry if you'd like but this is part of me, and if that's why you visit, then I hope you can take the bad with the good.
So, I usually try to blog about my daughter on the anniversary of her death but this year I just felt I couldn't do it and manage to keep a positive feeling about it. So I'm a few days late. I've told this story many times, for anyone new here... first, nice to meet you. My daughter's story isn't a fun filled story but it does have a good ending.

On December 16th, 2004, I went into labor at 21 weeks and 3 days of pregnancy. My memory is hazy of the details of the event because it was so many hours of different medications and things trying to stop the contractions.

All of those things, while important, leads to the fact that by the next day my doctor came in and informed me that I would need to give birth to my daughter. I went through labor and I gave birth to a beautiful, albeit tiny, baby girl who we had named Athena Mari. She was beautiful in every way. All her fingers and toes, itsy bitsy but yet there.  Everything was perfect. Except the fact that she had been stillborn.

The emotions and my life from that moment on through the next couple of weeks are gone. I don't really remember much and some of the things I do remember, I wish I didn't.

Leaving the hospital was the hardest. This was supposed to be joyous. I was supposed to be carrying out my little girl in a bundle of pink blankets. Instead I was being wheeled out in a wheelchair with nothing in my arms but my bag.

Only a week or so after I remember being in the shower and wondering why my breasts hurt so bad (remember this was my first pregnancy). I called my doctor only to find out that it was because my milk had come in. Only I had no baby to nurse. What insult to injury.

Shortly after that I was called to the bereavement office, to pick up my bereavement box. Two boxes that held my daughters pictures and anything that had touched her. Her dress (which was tiny in itself but it swallowed her tiny body), a measuring tape with her length marked on it, the tiny little medical bracelet she had worn only briefly. I sat in my car and I cried with these boxes.

So where is my happy ending? I have a beautiful son who, only through losing my daughter gave us the insight into my medical condition that would make carrying any child difficult. Through medicine and a wonderful doctor and hospital I was able to carry my son, almost full term. And I truly feel that her death helped to lead me to a bigger understanding of life and faith.

Here we sit, 9 years later with a son who is about to turn 8 and does the death of my daughter still affect me? Absolutely. Sometimes in the most random moments but mostly this time of the year. But I'm grateful. I'm grateful to have my son. I'm grateful that I know, one day when we all return to live with our Heavenly Father that we can be reunited as a family - with Athena included! And that, that one truth, know that she is in such a good place and waiting for her family to reunite with her, is what really allows me to be okay and to live my life without constant sadness.

Happy belated birthday Athena. I haven't met you but I hope you know how much you've already been a huge inspiration in our lives and how much I love you.

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