"Some people only dream of angels; we held one in our arms."

Below you will find Austin's story in multiple parts in order to tell the full story of my pregnancy, his birth, funeral and the months following.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Austin's Story: The Days before the funeral

The next morning came, and I remember emailing some people and just trying to find some distractions. It still didn’t seem real. I remember calling the girls and asking them how they were doing, and just so glad to hear their adorable voices. Around mid-morning, a friend was coming to visit, so I tried to take a shower. I remember thinking, wow, my first shower in a week and a half. I was pumped! Only two minutes into the shower, I was extremely weak. I couldn’t stand and had to get out of the shower. Aaron had to help me with the whole process. I was wondering what was still wrong with me. (Remember, I am somewhat naïve and didn’t realize the blood loss would affect meJ) After my failed shower, I still managed a hair wash, I was back in bed. I remember the doctor coming in saying I could leave later that day (what?) and then another coming back in saying no way, my blood count was back down to 6, and I would need to receive more transfusions. Ugh, not again, I just wanted this to be over, but I knew they would make me stronger, and if I couldn’t stand in the shower, I obviously needed the blood.

Once again, I was scared for the blood transfusions, and the nurse didn’t seem to get it to drip right. Ugh, what should have taken two hours took over four hours, and I still had to receive another unit. I was frustrated, but then tried to remain calm. Once again, I would be receiving transfusions late at night…. Only temporary, I would try to remind myself. My sister, Melanie, stayed with us all day. I remember not crying very much, and just trying to not think about it. It wasn’t that I wasn’t thinking about it; I was just so relieved that I would actually be going home, and that I was getting out of the hospital. That day seemed like a really long day; I was excited to be going home. I remember playing Scrabble with Aaron that night… it was good to pass the time with no television and so that the blood transfusion wouldn’t be on my mind. We had a good night that night, and it was good to just be with him.

The next day I awoke early; I was anxious to leave. I knew I would have to get my blood drawn again, so I took a shower. The transfusion must have worked because I was able to stand by myself. Wahoo…. It was only 6:00 though, and I was all dressed and ready to go. I should have known how long hospitals take. Once again, a waiting game began. I talked on the phone, checked my email a million times and waited for the doctor to come check me. I was extremely tired of waiting and kept asking the nurse when she was coming. I mean, all they had to do was press on my stomach and I could leave. This was getting ridiculous; I just wanted to be out of there. Needless to say, the doctor never did come up, and we didn’t get out of there until 3. It was very weird walking down the hallway to our car; I hadn’t walked outside of the hospital room in over a week and a half, and it was very surreal, as I saw many dads carrying car seats, and we were walking out without a little one. Oh well, at least I was going home to see my girls.

We stopped at Starbucks on that very hot day; yumm, I needed a coffee. It was weird walking into a public place; I felt like I needed to tell everyone, yet I just wanted to be alone. Our car ride home was good; we listened to some good Christian music and just talked about our excitement to see the girls. When we walked in the door, I remember just hearing Alyssa chattering away with Melanie; when she came down to see me, she was sooo excited and gave me a big hug. I was relieved to see my little chatterbox, and she was so adorable. Hayley was at the park, but she soon came back, and was surprised to see me. She had been a little shy through this whole situation, but she quickly warmed up. She asked if I was home for good, and then it was back to reality. They wanted to go outside, so we walked Melanie to the car. Hayley immediately asked if I could walk okay, then is it okay if I wear heels. That’s my girl J We took them inside and told them we wanted to talk about something. Even though they were so young, we felt it was important to tell them what happened. As I told her what happened, we all started crying. Hayley seemed to grasp what was going on, and we gave them each a baby blanket so they would remember him. We showed her some pictures, and she cried really hard. Next thing we knew, she was out fast asleep on the couch. Aaron then took Alyssa upstairs and they slept in her room. I was by myself and in a daze. I didn’t know what to think, or what to do, I was soo sad. I just wanted to find someone to comfort me, while I was relieved to be home; I also didn’t know what to do or how to feel. I remember going outside with the girls later that night and sitting on the porch; they just wanted to be outside again, and I just didn’t want to face anyone. I kept my sunglasses on so as to not really meet eyes with anyone. Eric and Colin came over to help bring our car to the shop, and I was relieved to see familiar faces, and to laugh for a little bit. We then were by ourselves, as a family. We cried again at bedtime, and I explained to Hayley that crying is a normal reaction, and that sometimes Mommy and Daddy get sad. She then went to sleep, as Aaron and I went downstairs to relax in the family room. I remember not really wanting to go to sleep, but feeling so exhausted and glad I was in my bed that night.

The next day was Saturday and I had a good night sleep. I got up and dressed myself and the girls. We had to be out early, as Aaron and I had an appointment at the funeral home. I didn’t’ know what to expect, and looking back, I was in a fog that day. My body was so tired from crying and dealing with everything. We dropped the girls at Starbucks with my mom; I still needed my coffee, and headed over to the memorial home. The person we met with was very nice, and thankfully there aren’t many options for a baby’s service. We decided to have a graveside service, and thankfully Fr. Matt (our family priest friend) was going to be there for us. We filled out the paperwork and just sat in the big room at the very large table. I remember trying so hard to not lose it in there, and surprisingly, I didn’t have the urge to; I just was numb. I wanted this part to be over. Next we had to go to the plot of land to pick out where he would be. What an odd feeling; I don’t think I had been in a cemetery before. All of the plots were separated into Babylands, which I thought was adorable. We found the Garden of Angels to be the perfect match, and he was given his small plot of land. We purchased the land, and left the cemetery for that day. I knew we had picked the perfect place, as I love flowers and trees and this memorial park was beautiful. Aaron and I drove to Tony’s for lunch, and I forced myself to eat something… I was exhausted and my head was killing me. At least I had this part over with, and I could relax for the afternoon.

That night, some of my siblings came over for a cookout. It was good to be around people; I needed to be around people. However, I soon realized I needed to be around people that were not so emotional, and that would be there for me when I needed to talk about it, but not ask me too many questions. I needed space, but I also wanted people close by for that security. I remember at one point getting really sad, and going up to my bathroom and just crying my eyes out. At this point, I didn’t feel comfortable crying in front of everyone; I had already done that and didn’t want to do it again. I dried my eyes, and went downstairs; I felt a little better. I played with the kids, and then it was bedtime again. We put the girls down, and Aaron and I sat on the couch and watched some television. The first whole day I had been home; it felt good, but I was tired. It had already felt like a long time since everything happened.

The next day was Sunday, and we went to church. It was tough, and I don’t think I made it through the mass without crying. I just wanted for this pain to go away. Inside, I was dreading tomorrow, the funeral, but I also wanted it to be over. I went to Michaels to get some supplies to make some memorial cards for Austin. I was trying to think of what I would do in a “normal” situation, and I realized that I would have made announcements in the past. I looked through some grief books and found that many people still send out announcements, which helps commemorate the day. I found this to be therapeautic and I was so glad that I decided to make them. I then went to Kathryn’s dance show with all of my sisters. I thought I would be fine; I just wanted to pretend like everything was fine. It was hard to be there with all my sisters; they were laughing and having a good time, and I just couldn’t join in. I wanted so badly to be there for Kathryn, but I just was aching inside. I thought if I could keep myself busy it would all go away. I made sure I went to the bathroom when they were taking a picture; the last thing I wanted to do was pose and smile, especially being around all of them who were in shape and looked good. I drove home with Colleen, She told me she would come over later and help me, and I was so grateful for that. Jacqueline and Melanie helped us too, and it was good to be with them, and to keep myself busy. We finished up the last of the cards at 12:30; I was so tired, but relieved to have something to hand out to everyone at the funeral. I went to bed and remember falling asleep right away that night.

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