Dear Avianna-May 13th 2022
Good morning my sweet Avianna.
Mommy must be honest that today has been a day of recouping- and she is just getting around to writing to her beautiful baby girl. Mommy has been quite exhausted this week, and she cannot pinpoint exactly why. Back surgery certainly is a humbling experience. If you were to ask me the best part about recovery it would probably be a three-way tie. I would like to think that elimination of most of the pain down my right leg would be my top spot- however being able to get out of bed without feeling as though I might snap in half is also a positive. More than anything I suppose I appreciate the fact that I can sneeze without bracing myself with both hands and on multiple surfaces.
Baby girl, mommy has something heartfelt and serious to talk to you about this morning. It surely is exciting, yet it also produces a lot of mixed emotions, and mommy is struggling.
The world received some wonderful news today-but news that comes with a rush of emotions. You see my sweet girl, scientists in Australia may have found the reasons babies, like you, go to sleep and don’t ever wake back up. It is thought that there is a specific enzyme (substance produced by our bodies which acts as a catalyst to bring about a specific biochemical reaction) in a baby’s brain which plays a key role in waking babies from sleep. So, if there is something wrong or a baby doesn’t feel well, this enzyme aids in allowing you or other babies to cry. Your cry lets mommy or daddy know that something is wrong.
You see my sweet child, you developed a fever after you were put down for a nap, and your body was hyperthermic (your body temperature was well above normal). You never woke up to let mommy know that you were too warm and that you didn’t feel good. Do you remember me talking to you about this in the past? I remember one day talking to you in the car and asking you why you didn’t cry and why you didn’t wake up. I’m sure you remember than day my sweet child. I’m sorry about that- mommy was very sad and she didn’t mean to yell at you. It wasn’t your fault. Nothing was ever your fault. You were the most perfect little baby any mother could ever ask for. Instead, if additional research supports this idea, it could mean that you had low levels of this specific enzyme (BChE). This discovery could lead to a way of identifying those babies at risk and hopefully find a way to address the deficiency. That way other babies, like you my sweet angel, would wake up and let their mommy or daddy know they don’t feel well.
Now comes the hard part. Mommy feels a bit guilty with this news. It is a marvelous discovery- especially if additional research can address the deficiency. Yet mommy can’t help but feel a bit jealous of those in the future. It is similar to when mommy is with her friends and all the other children are running around and playing in the yard, and at the park. Mommy often feels numb, sad, jealous, or oblivious to what is going on around her. I know you always tell me not to feel that way and that you are so proud in the way I have handled your departure. I might miss that someone is holding the door for me, or even talking to me in general, and you remind me that I am human. I am not perfect, and those expecting perfection either aren’t worth my time- or have never experienced the same caliber of loss. This is not any different. Why?
It doesn’t change that you aren’t here. It doesn’t return you to my arms, and it certainly doesn’t make things any easier. Working in healthcare allows mommy to appreciate scientific break throughs in ways others might not find appreciation but this one has me slightly perplexed and self-judging of my character as a human. I’m sure once I have had time to process the breakthrough, and my emotions, my being will be less conflicted. However right now this information is real, raw and my vulnerability is consuming me.
The human in me should be grateful that there will be other humans in the future that won’t ever have to go through what I went through. They won’t have to hold their lifeless child in their arms, intubation tubes and all, feeling just how cold death is. They won’t sit there numb, in disbelief that this is in fact their current reality. They won’t have to have their child’s physician look at them with pity, yet a sense of relief and gratefulness- for they are going home to their own child, warm and snug in bed. Those parents won’t have to let their mind wander, taking it a step further and visualizing the soft embrace between that physician and their child- the sights, the smells, the tactile aspects of that warm embrace. Those parents won’t ever have to worry about watching a television show, hearing a song, or seeing an old friend with the same anxiety I worry about. Those parents will never have to wake up from a dream that felt so real that they could swear their baby was in their arms, and they were dropping her off for day care so that they could go to work. They will never experience the heartbreak of waking up to empty arms, and an empty heart. I should be happy about that. I should be excited for that. I should want that for all human beings- and I do.
Yet I also feel those “too little, too late” feelings creep in. I feel that “If only” thought rearing its head- looking straight at ME of course! I feel like a shitty human as if I lack compassion and understanding. I feel as though I am the epitome of ignorance. How dare I stifle the remarkable situation due to my own experience, my own hurt, my own struggles? Can’t I just put my vulnerability aside and be happy for the rest of the human race?
I can. I will- but not today. Not until I process my grief in my own way, in my own heart, and with my own self-regard. I need to fill my cup before I can help fill anyone else’s.
My dear Avianna, if I could teach you anything, anything at all- this is what I would share. This is the one true lesson I wish I could teach you my sweet baby girl- more than any single thing in this world. I want to teach you that you must fill your own cup before you can fill other’s.
It is the only way.
Mommy used to fill everyone else’s cup, day after day with little self-regard. That was until she lost you. Grieving your death, and processing your departure taught me that I needed a higher standard for myself. It taught me that things aren’t always perfect or controllable- and that is okay. Yet I can control how I react. This situation is not any different. I will process my feelings before anyone else’s, and I will feel every ounce of jealousy that is thrown my way so that I can react in a way that best suits me, so after I may help others.
Lastly, can you do me a favor? Could you be kind enough to deliver a message to all your sweet little friends? It is a message I want them to pass on to their own mommies, daddies, brothers, sisters, and everyone in between. I would like you to tell them:
“I see you, and I hear you. I know what you are going through, and I want to tell you that it is alright. What your feeling is fair. What you are feeling is sensible. Your feelings are not irrational. Forget your self-doubt. Forget your self-judgement. Apologize for mistakes. Apologize for wrong doings. However don’t EVER apologize for how you feel. Be real. Be raw. Be vulnerable. Be unapologetically you.”
Love you my sweet girl. I carry your heart with me,
Thank you for taking the time to read and appreciate the letter to my dearest Avianna. Feel free to leave a comment or tell your own story, and don't forget to take a look at some of our products directly inspired by Avianna! As always, part of proceeds are donated to infant/child loss orgs💜