Monday, August 30, 2010

Amazing Love

Dear Stevie,
Mommy's friend, Angela, put together and posted the most beautiful video on her blog. It's an incredibly touching tribute to her daughter, Charlotte (maybe you know her? I know it's a silly idea, but I could totally see you two doing lots of reading together--both of your mothers were English majors after all :) Her video moved me so much, that I just had to post it here (hope you don't mind, Angela, let me know if you do!) I had big plans of actually "doing" my hair this morning, but I got so caught up in watching Charlotte's story, I never got around to blow drying or straightening it. Oh well, there's always tomorrow, right?

Click here to watch Charlotte's video.

I think what really struck me was the love that just radiates from both Angela and her husband, in the months, weeks, days, and hours, leading up to Charlotte's birth. There's this silly misconception out there that you don't start bonding with your baby until he/she is born. That is just simply not true. There are people in my life who just don't 'get it' at all. It's obvious they don't understand why I am still so sad about you dying, why I haven't 'moved on' yet, why I still talk about you all the time, why it's still hard for me to go to work, and go out with friends, and do all the things I used to do with ease. I guess if you haven't experienced the kind of love that happens with you're pregnant, the kind of love I had for you, that swelled up in my heart the moment I saw those two pink lines, the kind of love that Angela so obviously had for Charlotte, you can't possibly understand the enormity, the hugeness of our losses.

It's just so unfair. We wanted our babies so much. We would have been wonderful parents to our little girls. Why couldn't we keep them? I just don't get it.

Miss you today, baby.

All my love,

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Nothing much to say

Dear Stevie,
The month of August has been a busy one. With vacation, your due date, my birthday, our wedding anniversary, my job that pays the bills, and Faces, my "job" that doesn't (but gives me more fulfillment than I can even explain!), I haven't been left with much time to write to you.

While I'm happy, I guess, that I'm at a point where life feels almost "normal" again, sometimes I really miss the days when it wasn't. When my life revolved around missing you. I miss the days when I had such a strong desire to write here, the days when I NEEDED to write to you every single day, the days when the words just spilled out of me with such ease.

Now, most days it feels like I have nothing much to say, besides the obvious "I love you, I miss you." And really, who wants to read that over and over again?

But today that's all I've got.

I love you, Stevie.

I miss you, Baby.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Check it out

Hey Everyone,
Check out the new update at Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope Please? :)


3 years

Dear Stevie,
3 years ago today, I married your dad.

That's 1,095 "good night, babe"'s...

8,640 hours watching "Arrested Development," "The Sopranos," "Dexter," and "Rescue Me"...

Something like 200 games of Trivial Pursuit...

400 happy hours...

600 walks with the dogs...

800 movie nights...

100 tandem bike rides...

3 Thanksgivings, 3 Christmases, 3 Valentine's Days, and 3 summer vacations...

2 dogs...

1 very loved and very missed little girl...

and a whole lot of love.

Here's to hoping the next three years bring us more joy and laughter (and maybe a little less heartbreak).

We miss you every day, Baby. Wish you were here to celebrate with us. Wish you would have gotten to be a part of our family.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

I can do anything

Dear Stevie,
Last night I stayed up way past my bedtime, chatting for hours with the lovely Andrea. We talked about all we hope to do with Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope, and just about life in general. It is so wonderful to talk to someone who truly gets it. Every single one of the women I have gotten to know in this "babyloss" community is amazing, but like with any community, there are going to be those that you just totally "click" with, and Andrea is one of those people. We share a lot of the same interests (like photography, though she is way better than I'll ever be!), and just seem to have a lot in common.

One of the big things we have in common is that we both get a bit crazy and obsessed (in a good way!) when we get excited about something. Take Faces, for example. For the past few weeks, we've been going back and forth, email after email after email, with more and more ideas. Like, "let's do this!" and then "okay, and then we can add this too!" and then "yeah, and then we should also try this!" and then "totally, and then why don't we do this!"

The thing is, before you died, I would often have really great ideas (if I do say so myself!), but very rarely would I actually follow through on any of them. But it's different now. Now, it's not just, "we should totally distribute Faces postcards to hospitals," it's "yes, we should....and here is what the design will look like, and this is what it would cost to print them, and I will start creating a list of hospital bereavement contacts at hospitals around the country." It's not just, "we should totally turn Faces into an official 501c3 nonprofit someday," it's, "yes, we should...and here are the first steps we need to actually make that happen." Our big dreams and ideas are becoming actuality. And it's incredibly exciting.

For the first time in my life, I am not just saying, "I should do this," I am actually doing it. And it's all because of you, Baby.

It's like, if I can go through losing you, I can do anything. I have gone through the very worst thing that can happen to someone, really, and you know what? I survived. There were certainly times I wanted to give up and go wail in a corner somewhere, but I didn't. I'm here. I'm making it.

I think back to how I was, how I felt, three months ago, in the days and weeks immediately following your death, and I am amazed at how far I've come. I truly thought I would never be happy again. I truly believed I would never smile, or laugh, or feel "normal" again. And I've done all those things. Not to say I'm not still sad, or that I don't still struggle and have really bad days, obviously, but I am damn proud of myself. I've been kicked to the ground and have somehow managed to dust myself off and get back up again. That's quite an accomplishment, if you ask me.

Sometimes I find myself amazed by my own strength. By the strength and resiliency of the human spirit. It's empowering. And it's given me a whole new attitude and outlook on life.

I feel like I can literally do anything these days. Everything seems easy, a piece of cake, when compared to holding your dead child in your arms. I used to think about how cool it would be to start my own nonprofit someday, but never thought I'd ever actually be able to pull it off. Now, it's like why not?  

I can do that. 

I used to talk about how cool it would be to be a writer, but then I'd quickly follow it up with, "but I'm not good enough." Now, it's like, I may not be a Mark Twain or Ernest Hemmingway, but I can write just as well as a lot of published authors out there (I mean, come on--just look at Twilight!), so why not?

I can do that.

The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that the people who are successful and get the things they want out of life are the people who just go for it. The people who are willing to take a risk and jump in. The people that think "I can do that" and, well, do it. That's the kind of person I want to be, the kind of person you are teaching me to become. Life is way too short to live any other kind of way.

Thank you for inspiring me, and for helping me realize I can do anything. Anything and everything I set my mind to. I will take this new found confidence you've given me and use it to do great things, Stevie, I promise.

I love you, little girl of mine.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Blown away

Dear Stevie,
I looked through the pictures on my iPhone tonight. I'm not sure why, as I knew there were tons, and I mean tons of belly pictures on it. When I was pregnant with you, I was obsessed with taking pictures of my ever-expanding tummy. I was so proud of and amazed at the little human being I was growing inside of me.

I look at these pictures now and am even more amazed. How crazy that it was you in there. At the time I took these pictures, I would think, "I am so big!" But after seeing you, holding you in my arms, I can't believe you ever fit a space that small! You were almost 2 pounds, over a foot (13.5 inches) long. A pretty big girl for being just 26 weeks along.

I look at the pictures of your feet and think, "wow, these feet were the ones kicking me in the bladder and keeping me awake at night." I look at pictures your long fingers and think, "whoa, those are the hands that would punch me in the ribs." I look at your adorable button nose and think, "crazy, that's the same little nose I saw during our ultrasounds."

I am just completely blown away by it all sometimes.

You, my baby, were alive, your heart beating away in each of those pictures. Were you sleeping? Sucking your thumb? Dancing around in there while I took each shot? It's just amazing to think about, isn't it?

I remember how happy I was in each of these pictures, and I want to go back.

Thank you for giving me the best days of my life, little girl.

Missing you so much,

Monday, August 16, 2010

Fantasy Land

Dear Stevie,
Well, crap.  I totally thought I had dodged a bullet.  I really thought I was going to be "okay" about your due date coming and going. "Fine" even. And I guess I was alright yesterday, your due date, but today? Today is a different story.

The week leading up to your due date, Dad and I were on vacation. For 10 glorious days, we had no responsibilities, no places to be or people to see, no worries. We stayed in a beautiful 4-bedroom, 4-bathroom "cabin" in gorgeous Grand Lake, Colorado. We spent our time soaking up the sun, going out to expensive restaurants, sipping iced tea, touring local breweries, driving through the mountains, and watching movies in front of the fireplace at night. I was so proud of myself that during what I had imagined would be such a hard week, I was having fun and enjoying myself. You were always on my mind, of course, and definitely the center of many of our conversations, but I was happy. Honestly, genuinely happy.

I guess it's pretty easy to be happy when you're living in fantasy land.

In that world, where the most stress I experience in a day is trying to decide between going out for Mexican or Chinese, I can be happy and content in the midst of my sadness. In that world, the world of red wine and good books, the world of no work and all play, I can make it through a week without crying. In that world, I'm so brave.

But today, here in the real world, I'm just a mess.

Maybe it wasn't such a great idea to have the end of my vacation and the end of my pregnancy journey coincide so perfectly. I mean, it's hard enough re-entering the real world after a trip to fantasy land as it is. Throw in an unfulfilled due date, and the transition becomes almost unbearable, I guess.

I woke up this morning with a quivering lip and a lump in the back of my throat. Up until yesterday, I was "supposed" to be pregnant. I should have been [blank] weeks pregnant for the last three months. Up until yesterday, I wasn't "supposed" to have you in my arms. I wasn't supposed to be a mommy quite yet.

Today, I should be a mommy. Today marks the "I should have a [blank] month old" stage. Instead of wishing I was still pregnant, now I wish I was kissing your sweet face and ticking your toes.

Most of the time I try to stay as positive as I can. But today I just can't do it. I don't want to be going to work and doing all the stuff I was supposed to be on maternity leave for. I'm sick of having to walk by your crib with no baby in it every freaking time I have to use the bathroom. I'm tired of feeling like I'm the only one that cares, and of feeling like some sort of crazy person for caring so much. I can't take another past-due bill in the mailbox from the OB clinic or hospital or Anesthesiologist who are making me pay, thousands of dollars, for the worst thing that has ever happened to me in my entire life.

Can I please go back to fantasy land?

I miss you, Baby. I want you back more than I could ever put into words.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Wish you were here

Dear Stevie,
Dad and I had an absolutely amazing, incredible vacation in Colorado last week. It was just what we needed.

I wish you could have been there, Baby.

Love you,

Friday, August 6, 2010


Dear Stevie,
Eight months ago, I was sitting on an airplane. I was on my way to Whistler, BC, reading a book called "You: Having a Baby." I had just found out I was pregnant the week before, and trying so hard to imagine what August would be like. What I'd feel like, what I'd look like, what I'd be doing on your due date.

I never imagined I'd be sitting on a plane, again.

Dad and I are leaving tonight to go on vacation. We're headed to Colorado, to stay at Dad's grandparents vacation home in Grand Lake. We fly home on August 15th, the day you were supposed to be born. On that day, I should be either huge and comfortable, waiting for labor to begin, or maybe even already home, adjusting to life with my newborn. But I'll be on a plane. Probably crying on Dad's shoulder.

I know August 15th was just my estimated due date. I know chances are you wouldn't have actually been born on that exact day. I know. But August 15th was the day I had circled and and wrote, "Baby day!!!" around, the day I had set an alarm for on my iPhone (like I was going to forget it!), the day I spoke of whenever someone asked, "when are you due?" The day that signified so much. August 15th was supposed to be the day my life would change forever. It was supposed to be the day I became a mother.

Now, August 15th is just another day. A good day for traveling, I guess.

The last time I was on an airplane, I was so full of hope. I was scared as hell, but I was so excited. So, so excited to be your mommy. I was at the beginning of a journey, and my eyes and thoughts were fixed on the future as I felt the plane barrel down the runway and lift off into the sky.

When my plane takes off next week, my thoughts won't be fixed on the future, they'll be fixed on the past. On all that's happened between the last time I was sitting there, staring out the window, watching the cars and houses below get smaller and smaller, and now. On all my unfilled expectations. On all my broken dreams.

Funny how my journey sort of began...and will end, on an airplane. It's like a strange sense of closure or something. I've come full circle.

I am excited to go on our trip, I really am. I think it will be good for Dad and I to get away together and just relax and enjoy each other's company. I think it will be good to have a change of scenery. But as we get closer and closer to August 15th, I feel my heart getting heavier and heavier.

I love you, baby. I wish you were coming with us to see the mountains. I'll carry you there, in my heart.


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Made for this

Dear Stevie,
"Everything happens for a reason." I really hate those four little words. After you died, I heard them all the time. Each time some well-intending person said them to me, I held my tongue, while secretly seething with anger. I remember sitting outside with my friend Marissa, a few weeks after you died, just going off about it. "I don't care what anybody says," I ranted, "I will never, ever be able to say there was any good reason why my daughter had to die. Ever." People were always telling me that someday I would be able to "see the bigger picture," and that "Stevie was destined for greater things." And I seriously wanted to punch them in the face.

So, being the stubborn person that I am, it's really, really hard for me to say what I'm about to say.

Sometimes I feel like this was all meant to be.

I went back and forth about whether or not I should even share these thoughts, but I've always tried to be pretty open and honest here, and right now, this is what's on my heart.

I'm not sure what I think about fate, or destiny, or whatever you want to call it. I'm not sure whether or not I believe God has a big plan all laid out for my life. I just don't know. When people used to talk about God's "plan," I would get so mad. I would imagine him sitting down at some big, lofty desk in Heaven, using one of those feather quills, writing in a leather-bound book entitled "Kristin Joy Cook's Life." I'd imagine him scribbling down, "...and then Kristin will get pregnant, fall in love with her baby and the idea of motherhood...but her baby will die," and just laughing. I mean, he must be some sadistic bastard to include dead babies as part of some people's "plans," right?

But now, I look at it a bit differently. I think, what if your death wasn't planned at all. What if nature just sucks and blood clots just happened to form in your umbilical cord. Maybe God didn't plan to have you die, but maybe he did plan to have your death be used to help others. It sort of feels like everything has been so perfectly set up for me to be able to do lots of good as a result of losing you.

I just can't shake the feeling that I was somehow made for this.

I all of a sudden feel like I have a purpose in life, like I have some sort of huge mission I need to accomplish. I've always kind of had the desire to "do something" to somehow help people, but before you died, I never really had a "cause" to direct that energy into.  It sounds super cliche (and pretty cheesy!), but it's almost like I've found my "higher calling" or something.

I really hope I'm not coming across as cocky or overconfident or anything, but I think the experience of losing you has given me the potential to really make a difference. And that's incredibly exciting to me. It's all I've ever wanted out of life, really.

I'm not exactly sure where I'm headed with all this, but I have big dreams, baby. Big dreams for the both of us.

Maybe God's plan for my life is for me to be a voice for the babylost. And maybe his plan for your life is to be my inspiration.

Or maybe I'm being silly and there's no plan, no bigger picture at all. Like I said, I really don't know. Who knows if it's God's will, or just me trying to make myself feel like I have control over at least a part of this crappy situation.

All I know is your life will not have been for nothing. I'll make sure of that, baby girl of mine.

I love you so much.

Always and forever,

Monday, August 2, 2010


Dear Stevie,
A couple weeks ago, Dad and I got into a pretty big fight. We were in the car, driving home from Chipotle, when he got a phone call from an old friend from college that he hadn't seen or talked to in a couple of years. I was playing around on my phone, not really paying attention, when I heard him say it:

"I'm doing really good actually."

I felt my jaw drop open, my eyes well up with tears. I shot him The Glare (you know the one, the look that says, "I'm super pissed and you need to get off the phone right NOW!"), and he wrapped up his conversation and hung up the phone. Then the following exchange took place:

Him: "What's your problem?"

Me: "Are you serious??"

Awkward silence while he tries to figure out what he did wrong.

Me: "Good to know your daughter dying has been such a positive experience in your life."

Him (getting defensive): "Whoa. What are you talking about?"

Me (practically shouting): "Your friend asked you how you've been and you said 'really good.' How can you be 'really good' when your baby just died??"

Him: "You need to chill out. Just because I don't feel the need to tell everyone in the world about Stevie, doesn't mean I'm not sad or that I don't care."

Me: "You didn't have to tell him the whole story. You could have said 'I'm doing alright,' or 'I've been fine,' but 'REALLY good, actually??' Like, this has been a particularly wonderful time in your life or something??"

Him: "You're being ridiculous."

Me (staring out the window): "Whatever."

We got home. I stomped into the house and up the stairs, then proceeded to cry into my pillow for the next 20 minutes or so. Eventually, of course, we talked and patched things up, and had a fine rest of the evening watching "Rescue Me" on the laptop or something. But slight variations of this exact same fight keep popping up all over the place lately. He isn't sad enough. He doesn't cry enough. He doesn't bring you up in conversation enough. And it's not just Dad. Our families aren't sad enough. Our parents don't cry enough. Our friends don't bring you up in conversation enough.

I get mad at people for not grieving as "hard" as I am or whatever, but I totally understand why they're not. It's hard, because as sad as Dad, our families, and our friends are about you dying, they didn't know you like I did. I am literally the only person in the world who really knew you. Everyone else knew all about you, but everything they knew, they knew because I told them. They knew you liked spicy food...because I told them. They knew you liked dancing to Lady Gaga and Stevie Wonder...because I told them. They never got the chance to "experience you" for themselves.

To them, you were an idea; to me, you were flesh and blood.

They loved what you were to become; I loved what you already were.

They never held you while you were alive; I held you in my tummy for 6 and a half months.

They mainly grieve for your unfulfilled future; I also grieve for the time we did share together.

I am the only one who knows you as more than a sort of abstract thought, really. We had a physical connection, you and I, that magical bond only a mother can have with her unborn child.

It's lonely, just lonely, being the mother of a stillborn baby. Being alone on your own little island of grief has to be one of the worst feelings in the world. I wish you would have lived, even just for a moment. Long enough for your Daddy and the rest of our family and friends to have "experienced" your beautiful soul that way I did.

I miss you, baby. I miss who you were and I miss what you would have become. I am so thankful for those 181 days I got to bond with you and get to know you, my little girl. I've never looked into your eyes, or heard the sound of your voice, but I feel like I know you, the way only a mother can know her daughter.

And, dear daughter, I love who you are so much.


Sunday, August 1, 2010


Dear Stevie,
This weekend was packed full of good times, with good friends. It's taken me awhile to get to the point where I feel "up to" hanging out with people, especially in bigger groups, but the last few days were really, really great. I am blessed to have the kind of friends who I can goof around and be silly with one minute, and who actually bring you up in conversation and talk to me about how I'm feeling (really feeling) the next.

This weekend Dad and I went to an outdoor housewarming party at my friend Ben's house. It was super fun, and super hot. My iPhone said it was only 86 degrees, but I swear it had to have been at least 95 (notice the sweat dripping off Dad's forehead in the following photo...)

Then, once the sun went down, and the weather cooled off a bit, I went on a late-night bike ride with my good friends (and college roomies) Lisa and Jenny.

It was a great summer night. Almost perfect, until Jenny and I got into a bit of an accident riding the tandem through the woods (and we got the "battle wounds" to prove it):

After sleeping incredibly soundly after so much fun and sun the day before, Jersa (my best friend since middle school) and I drove to the Middle of Nowhere, MN (no that's not actually the name of the town, but it should be) to go tubing down the Cannon River.

In typical J and K fashion, we got totally lost getting there (due to some really stupid road-closings and detours):

But once we finally made it, we had a blast.

That is, until, our final ride down the river, when we kind of lost our tubes in a super strong well as Jersa's car key. Only us, I tell you :

Jersa's car key, before it ended up somewhere at the bottom of the river; we were joking about how we needed to "keep it safe!"

After J's husband drove an hour and a half to deliver a spare key for us (thanks, Adam!), we made it home.

This weekend just flew by. I haven't had that much going on in one weekend in a long, long time. You'd think being so busy would help me keep my mind off of you. But that was certainly not the case. As I spent time with the wonderful people in my life, I kept thinking about how sad I am that you'll never get the chance to meet them. You'll never get to go on a "J and K adventure." You won't get to beg Jenny to do your hair (because she's way better at that sort of thing than I am!), or play with Lisa's crazy dog, Panda, while she babysits you.

And you won't get the chance to make your own friends, go own your own summer adventures someday.

I know Heaven must be wonderful, but I can't help but feel like you're missing out on so much here.

I love you, baby girl. Always.

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