Tag Archives: Hudson’s Heroes

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This has been a full, beautiful day.

The day our daughter would have been two years old.

There is a completely different life I could be living today.

I COULD be living life with One Red-Headed Beauty named Hudson. I could have experienced a world of firsts: steps, words, poops on the potty. I COULD be wrangling two children to bed instead of one.

But I don’t get that life.

So I COULD be someone who has spent the last two years focusing on the ways I was robbed. I COULD spend today hiding from the world that is, wishing for a world that can never be, crying and missing an entire, irreplaceable piece of me.

Sometimes I give myself permission to go there.

Today though, I am someone who is absolutely blessed. I could never have survived the last two years without the Man Who We Call the Hubs: his steadfast nature, his unwavering love of our girl and of me, his strength and his character have carried me through when I haven’t had it in me to be Better Me. Hudson’s Grandparents set excellent examples of both parenthood and marriage. My sister? there are no words. My brother and his sweet family? sweet, thoughtful, and present! My in-laws? How did I get this lucky?

And then there’s Anson. This year we have Anson. A year ago we faced Hudson’s first birthday knowing the Bullet was on his way, and today we experienced Hudson’s birthday with her 5-month old little brother.

Anson loved it.

Uninterrupted Mommy & Daddy time? Awesome! Grandma and Grandpa Shiz drove up for the day? Jackpot! Face time (and sing-along time) with GreatGrandmaR? Hi-ho, hi-ho, hi-ho! Plenty of Non-Mom&Dad People to drool/poop/love on? Anson spent the day in hog heaven.

We took a quick trip in our new “weekend rig” to Vets Memorial Golf Course to get a few pictures with Anson at Hudson’s Hole.

Anson+Hudson

On the walk back to the Blazer, a little white butterfly flitted across out path and I thought of sweet Hudson and smiled.

We hosted a small birthday celebration with our close family this evening. To decorate a bit, we printed up a bunch of pictures from Hudson’s short life and hung them from balloons all through our entry and hallway. Nowadays I don’t spend a lot of time looking at my pictures from Hudson’s life. Seeing these beautiful floating images of our daughter was like seeing them for the first time. They made me catch my breath every once in a while – the memories they brought back, the love they inspired, the way this little girl changed my life.

Last year we spent Hudson’s birthday in a trailer park in Yakima, so I thought “Heck anything is better and classier than that.” But I did go big in the cake department. More money and butter than I care to admit later, we had this masterpiece.

Hudson's 2nd birthday cake

And what’s a birthday celebration without a take-home gift? One of my goals this year was to publish the Meet Baby Dub book. Today I accomplished that goal, and presented my family with their own autographed proofs.

My Aunt and Uncle swung by the house later in the evening, and spent a little time visiting with us, holding Anson, being a part of our day without making it a big thing. But as I walked them to the door, my Aunt turned to me and gave me a big, extra-meaning hug.

“We love you,” she said. “And we love Hudson. She accomplished more in her 3 days than many people do in their entire lives. We’re all bonded in our love for her.”

Those words are the words I’m smiling myself to sleep over as our daughter’s second birthday draws to a close.

We’re all bonded in our love for her.

 

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The day after the day after tomorrow

This is the way we think now.

It’s the 10th of February, which means tomorrow is the 11th of February and tomorrow, our daughter would have been 19 months old. And I bet she would have been excited about meeting her baby brother.

With her, this adventure would have been so different. Our yearning for a second child would be different, certainly. But our anticipation, the excitement of possibly completing our family, the boy-girl duo that would most certainly have been best friends and trouble makers for life… well, all that would have been awfully different if Hudson’s life hadn’t been so tragically short.

But without her, this adventure has been just that – an adventure. Not better or worse, but its own special thing. Bullet’s arrival the day after the day after tomorrow is an important event, regardless of his sister’s legacy. You might say we wanted him more because his sister left so soon, and you might say we’ve better appreciated this pregnancy because we know how tragically a pregnancy can end, but bottom line:

Bullet gets his own fanfare.

With just 2 full days left to face before his arrival, I have so many competing emotions that it is physically depleting. Or maybe that’s just 38 weeks and change of pregnancy making me so exhausted.

The day after the day after tomorrow, we will meet our son and begin getting to know him all over again, his life outside of the womb so much different than the life inside. We’ll see who he looks like. We’ll discover his quirks, and see first hand the expressions that accompany his vigorous movements. We’ll be aware of his presence in such a different way – kicks and squirms inside of me becoming cries and gurgles on the outside.

We’ll raise him to be the best of both of us, and we’ll celebrate him in ways big and small over the course of his lifetime. We’ll see new sides of each other – and we’ll fall in love with all these aspects of each other just as we’ve fallen in love over and over again in the time since we’ve known each other.

The adventure doesn’t stop at arrival, I know. There will be a day that I feel guilty for wanting to a break from Bullet. There will be tears of frustration and tears of joy and probably a few barn-burner fights between the Hubs and I. It won’t be all sunshine and roses and kittens. There will be poop.

Lots and lots of poop.

But the day after the day after tomorrow, “Life as we Know It” gives way to “Life as it Will Be with Bullet”, and I cannot wait for that life to begin.

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Touched…

I’m overwhelmed in the best way. In just 24 hours we’ve raised almost $500 for the Forget-Me-Not Foundation. Thank you, wonderful, generous, caring friends and family for your support. My Hudson candle is lit and my heart is full.

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Brokenhearted, but hopeful

This morning, my heart broke.

photo(2)The inside of that heart is with Hudson, and the outside, which I’ve worn on my wrist or around my neck every day since I got it, is now broken.

It was kind of a shit start to the first day in The Week.

From Monday to Sunday, we will pass the day we went into labor (the 10th), the day Hudson was born (the 11th), and the day that Hudson died (the 14th).

I was so sure I could sail through The Week relatively un-phased, and then my heart broke.

I was in a hurry to throw my bags in the car and get on the road for work, and I must have caught the edge just right. I just stared in horror at the fragments on my garage floor, the ruby chain dangling haphazardly from my wrist. I wanted to cry. I felt sick. I thought this heart could withstand the heat of cremation. How did this little tap against my car door shatter my heart?

Sometimes the tiniest things can shatter you.

I’ve figured out how I’m spending Hudson’s birthday this year. It’s mostly small personal things. But there is one big thing that has been on my heart, that I’d like to share today.

I started my day with a broken heart, but after work, I went to check the mail, and in it was a letter from C at the Forget-Me-Not Foundation. She had handwritten a card to the Hubs and I, letting us know she was thinking of us this week, almost a year from when she met us and our beautiful Hudson. She said she still can picture us standing over Hudson’s bed, reading stories to her.

One of my favorite memories of Hudson is also one of the strongest memories someone else has of me. How nice.

I would like to make a large donation to the Forget-Me-Not Foundation in honor of Hudson’s birthday this year. In order to do that, for this entire week, 100% of the income from any Hudson’s Heroes teeshirt orders will go to the Forget-Me-Not Foundation, plus I’ll match the amount (so if you buy a $15 shirt, I’ll donate $30 to Forget-Me-Not). I’ve got short and long-sleeved in a variety of sizes. To order a teeshirt and have the full amount sent to the Forget-Me-Not Foundation, you can click on the “Donate” tab at the top of the blog, fill out your information and I’ll take care of the rest.

If you choose to make a donation directly to the Forget-Me-Not Foundation in Hudson’s name, I will mail you a Hudson’s Heroes teeshirt as a thank you.

To give online, visit this link and under Designation, select “Other”, then type in “Forget-Me-Not Foundation”. In the comments, you can enter “imo Hudson Ruth Walter”.

You can also mail your donation directly to:

Providence Health Care Foundation, Eastern Washington
c/o Forget-Me-Not Foundation
PO Box 2555
Spokane, Washington 99220-2555

In the memo on your check you can enter “imo Hudson Ruth Walter”.

Grandma and Grandpa Dub have made  contributions in Hudson’s name on both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and have promised to do so again to celebrate Hudson’s birthday each year. Grandma Shiz has “sold” some of her photography work in exchange for donations to the Forget-Me-Not Foundation. I feel blessed and touched every time I get a letter from the organization saying that yet another donation has been made in our precious daughter’s memory. I am excited to contribute in another big way to celebrate Hudson’s first birthday, and hope that those with means will find it in their hearts to help make a big impact for families who face the loss of an infant.

Sure, I started the week with a broken heart. But I can and will spend the rest of this week offering hope to others.

It’s the least I can do in memory of our beautiful fighter.

 

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Not so perfect… 10 months

Recently I fooled myself into believing that I was getting on a new plateau with my whole grief/loss/coping thing.

I met my new baby niece, and she’s beautiful, and it didn’t even wreck me to hold her; to be honest, I really loved it. I spent a good hour in Hudson’s room, and it made me more happy than it made me sad to go through her things and remember how wonderful it was to be pregnant with her. My new job is going so well. I felt like I got okay with “when it happens, it happens.”

I turned 30 on April 24. Our family celebrated by taking a trip to Maui. The Hubs, Me, Grandma and Grandpa Shiz, Grandma and Grandpa Dub, Auntie Shiz & her E, Uncle Shiz & his pregnant wife M and their sweet daughter N. The whole gang traveled to far-off lands to celebrate the dawn of my next decade.

And while we were there, I was certain: This will be the month.

“When it happens, it happens”  went out the window.

How perfect it would be to get pregnant on the birthday trip to paradise!? To be able to celebrate Mother’s Day knowing that there is already a sweet Baby Dub Dos on the way? Not only would I be able to “relax” a little bit on a vacation (the advice everybody seems to offer with infuriating consistency), but it would be my BIRTHDAY! What a wonderful present! It just seemed like the Universe owed me one, that I was due for something epically great, that 10 months would be long enough to wait, already.

But alas. You all have to wait at least another month for that good news.
The Hubs will be growing the HRW Memorial Beard for at least another 9 months.
The soonest we will be able to bring a baby home is February of 2014.

Worse yet is that my baby envy has returned. I see a chubby, sweet, not-quite-mobile-yet baby and I just ache to know how much cuter Hudson would have been at the same age. There was a period in the last 10 months where I could actually separate the “having a baby” thing from “missing Hudson” – and I was okay with the fact that we don’t have a baby, while I’ll never be okay with not having Hudson.

Does that make sense?

I try not to let myself jump to the conclusion that something must be wrong with my baby making parts. After all, I’ve been pregnant before, carried the baby full term, had no complications except for the labor. I’ve had some tests done to ensure that all my hormonal gear is not out of whack. Doc says all systems are go. So I try to push the nagging “What if…” questions out of my mind and let my uterus do it’s thang.

I try not to let myself get discouraged when each month and milestone passes. I have a very depressed day on the first day of each new cycle, which I think is fair, but then I pep-talk myself hard about how this is another month to get in better shape, another month to rededicate myself to some personal goals that would be great to accomplish before we have a baby to take care of, blah blah blah.

I try not to let myself imagine the fierce reality that ONE YEAR MIGHT PASS without getting pregnant; I might have to face Hudson’s first birthday without her sibling to look forward to. Can I even do that?

I might have to.

You find yourself capable of much more than you’d ever imagined when all you’re really doing is living.

And it’s Mother’s Day tomorrow.

What a shit weekend.

I mean, I’m trying my best not to let myself get all in a funk about it – by keeping busy, doing fun things with my hubby, and running a 10K for Team Hudson’s Heroes today! On what would be her 10 month birthday, I’m celebrating by donning my Hudson’s Heroes tee shirt and hoofin’ it 6.2 miles (the farthest I’ve run since running a half marathon in November).

I wish things were different. We all do. Mother’s Day should be celebrated with our jabberbox of a charming redhead. At the least it should be celebrated a teensy-tiny bit knocked up, thinking of cool ways to tell our family that Baby Dub Dos is on the way.

It’s been a beautiful week in Walla Walla. We brought Maui temperatures back with us, and have been enjoying 85+ degree weather perfect for golfing and early morning runs. I have always loved the summertime in Walla Walla, but the last week or so has brought back a LOT of memories of those last months of being pregnant with Hudson. I am dogged in my determination to focus on the lovely things, the things that were so special about being pregnant, remembering what it was like to be the Me before all of this Awful happened. But it has been a lot harder than I’d thought – and I think summer heat and beautiful Walla Walla mornings will always be a little bittersweet for me. For the foreseeable future, summer will be Hudson’s.

I’m realizing that there isn’t much of a way for me to pull this post together thematically… it’s just a brain dump of all the day’s thoughts and emotions, the cost of doing business when you don’t write for almost a month. I have other things to write about here, and I’ll pull myself together by then. But today, I’ll just cut myself off with this:

Hudson’s life was too short. We should have a 10-month old today; she would have been the most freakin’ adorable human being you’ve ever seen. She would have been the end of me once she hit her teenage years; she was the end of me when she died 10 months ago.

But Hudson lived; She died.

I’m alive… and more than that, I am living.

 

 

 

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Seven Months

Here we go again. Another month passed, another milestone, another mini-birthday we’re missing with Hudson.

Seven months.

I’m guessing I’d have had to buy some baby clothes by now. The 0-3 and 3-6 month outfits we were given as gifts/hand-me-downs would probably have sustained us to this point, but my 6-9 stash is a little lighter. I’m sure Momma Sue would be happy to subsidize an entire winter-to-spring wardrobe for our no-longer-little baby girl.

What else happens at 7 months? Mobility, maybe some crawling attempts. Maybe we’d start introducing a little mashed up veggie goo to our girl’s diet. Maybe that would make for some grody diapers. Maybe she’d be working on some gibberish noises that I’ll convince myself are “Momma” and “Dada.”

But we don’t have a seven month old today. We have a seven month old heartache. A seven month old missing piece. A seven month empty family.

This weekend, a younger couple that I went to school with lost their baby boy. Different circumstances, but same heartbreaking result. A totally uneventful pregnancy was followed by a sudden and irreversible disaster. Devastation. Parenthood and loss in the span of 24 hours. My heart throbbed all day when I heard. I don’t know the couple well, but I know where they are right now, and I know that it is a very, very dark place. No matter what kind of a support system they have (and I hope and pray they have a tremendous one like the Hubs and I do), the next days and weeks in their life will be their worst.

You do start to come out of it, slowly, day by day, moment by moment, one heartbeat, one breath to the next. You laugh at things sooner than you think. You catch yourself in the middle of the afternoon and realize that you haven’t cried yet. You start to get hopeful, you start to believe that life will be alright, you gain confidence that you can, in fact, face the world and even participate in it. You can be this new person.

I know this because I’ve lived it. But they don’t know this yet.

After Hudson died, I could not wrap my mind around time passing. I was told to wait 6 months before trying to get pregnant again, and I bawled about it the rest of the day. Time couldn’t pass fast enough for me. I’d mark off the weeks from Hudson’s birth, from her death. But I don’t do that anymore. I do become painfully aware of the 11th, and of the 14th, but on any given Wednesday I couldn’t tell you the number of weeks it has been since Hudson was born.

Looking back on the past seven months, it doesn’t seem like it could possibly have been that long. I’ve left a job and started a new one. I’ve written a novel. I’ve run a half marathon and raised over $1000 for the Forget-Me-Not Foundation with Hudson’s Heroes teeshirts. We’ve paid off all the medical bills. We’ve bought a new kitchen table, installed a ceiling fan, put in a tile back splash in the kitchen. I’ve held other babies and been to baby showers and been to baby birthday parties and somehow did it all without completely falling apart. I’ve fallen more in love with my husband than I ever thought was possible. My life has changed in ways I’d never have planned for myself. The last 7 months have felt like mere moments and eternities at the same time.

A lot of healing can happen in 7 months.

 

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Happy 5 Month Birthday, Baby Girl

I cannot believe that it has been five months since our girlie was born, just under five months since the world as we know it got smashed to pieces. Have I been this person for five months?

This person.

Heartbroken.
New priorities.
Heightened feelings.

Most importantly: a mom.

We’re sneaking up on what would have been Hudson’s first Christmas. And while I imagine this particular holiday season will be rough, I do like to allow myself the luxury from time to time of imagining what she’d be like right now.

Chubby all around. Cheeks, thighs, arm and neck folds. Sticky sideways smiles, no symmetry to Hudson’s expressions quite yet. An obscene wardrobe – the most stylist 5-month old on the block, thanks to Momma Sue and Grandma Dub and crafty Aunties. Giggles. I imagine what our daughter’s giggles would be like, and it makes me ache for a sound I never heard.

I won’t lie to you, Hudson and I would be wearing matching Mrs. Claus outfits this holiday season for some kind of a photo shoot.

I allow myself the luxury of imagining our house with a baby in it. Slowly but surely, the assorted baby paraphernalia we brought home with us from the hospital has made its way back to Hudson’s room, and we’re down to just her heartbeat teddy bear, a photo album, a box of Hudson’s Heroes teeshirts, and the biggest size of this picture that Costco would print up on our wall.

I miss laying kisses on those sweet feet.

I miss laying kisses on those sweet feet.

But if Hudson had lived to come home with us, the joint would be awash with rattles and tummy time mats and jumpers and her black and white zebra and a whole wealth of toys I don’t even know about yet because we only made it as far as newborn toys. I’m confident at one point or another, the Hubs or I would have stepped on one of the toys strewn about, resulting in a torrent of loud words that end in *** that would have us then concerned that our daughter’s first word would be a four letter one.

In a way, I’m grateful that Hudson didn’t come home with us only to die some other way. How could I ever be in our living room after spending hours of tummy time with her there? How could I step foot in her nursery knowing she’d spent hours in baby dreamland in there? How could I lay eyes on the rocker knowing I’d fed her in that rocker?

Except of course as I imagine those experiences with our daughter in our home, I have to take every thing I said up there back. I wish for any world where I spent time interacting with our daughter, even if it were still going to end this painful way. We are missing out every day on some kind of a milestone or achievement that our little overachiever would have been delighting us with. What I wouldn’t give for memories of staring contests with our googly eyed little newborn! I would trade a thousand restful nights for one interrupted by my baby’s screaming and fussing.

And I know these experiences await me, when Baby Dub Dos, Tres and Quatro arrive on the scene (did I just predict triplets? Dear me!). So when I step on those baby toys, in the future, I’ll remember today and I’ll grit my teeth but I won’t swear. Those sleep deprived nights will be a dream come true. The world will stop for baby staring contests.

Nothing in this life is a guarantee. The only thing in life that you can truly control is how you view your life – the gratefulness with which you greet each day, the choice to smile instead of frown, the decision to be brave and to take risks and to love all out. I’m working on these things, and life is more full. I’m choosing these things, and I feel rewarded. It’s the worst thing in the world that I don’t have a 5-month old today, but my day is not ruined.

A huge hunk of my heart is gone forever, but I don’t feel incomplete. Because that’s what I choose.

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Seattle Half Marathon – Hudson’s Heroes Triumph

I believe I have mentioned on here once or twice that I was training for a half marathon. It was a positive goal to focus on while I’m “not allowed” to get knocked up again, and it was a great motivator to get me back into pre-baby shape. On the Sunday after Thanksgiving, my sister and I ran the Seattle Half Marathon, the culmination of all that training and hard work.

"Hudson's Heroes" sign - H H!

“Hudson’s Heroes” sign – H H!

It was the worst I have ever felt running.

I’ve run a full marathon, a HARD one, and at no point while running those 26.2 miles did I feel as horrible as I felt at about mile 10 of the Seattle Half Marathon.

How discouraging.

I trained pretty diligently for this race. I actually think I followed the half marathon training plan (good ol’ Hal Higdon) better than I followed my marathon training plan. I’ve had the time to do my mid-week runs, 5-milers became routine, and I was feeling pretty good about my race pace (my goal was to finish in 2:25, which averages out to 11-minute miles).

But for whatever reason, on November 25th, at mile 10, I hit the wall so hard I honestly didn’t think I could finish the race. I would have cried, but I’m pretty sure I had sweat out all my excess fluid. I felt panicky and my legs ached. Worst of all, my mental fortitude, your best and most important asset come race day, just went out the window. I took a walking break, and my brain could not convince my legs to start running again.

Thank God for my sister.

My sister - a true Hudson's "Superhero"

My sister – a true Hudson’s “Superhero”

She ran the race with me, stayed with me the whole time, and occasionally barked at the spectators, “Can I get a shout out for team Hudson’s Heroes?”

She could tell I was fading, that I didn’t have much left in the tank. And when I hit that wall, she starting asking me what I needed.

“Want some funny motivation? Or maybe something a little more sappy?”

I didn’t know what I needed. I didn’t even really have the energy to answer.

So she started out with funny motivation, recounting tales of running-bathroom-near-disasters. One of my secondary goals for the half marathon was not to poop my pants, so realizing that I was probably going to accomplish at least one of my goals that day helped me pick up my feet and start running again.

My sister moved on to something a little more sappy – telling me how proud she was of me, how impressive it was to even be doing a half marathon so soon after having major surgery and going through the life shattering loss of Hudson. She talked about how much she wished Hudson were waiting with the rest of my family for us at the finish line, how much easier it would be to fuel these last miles if I had gooey baby kisses to look forward to. She told me that what I was feeling during these last miles of the race was nothing – I’ve been through much, much worse and I came out stronger, I pushed through.

She got us a few more Hudson’s Heroes shout-outs from spectators. She helped me break down those last miles into manageable chunks, and when we got into the finishing chute, surrounded by cheering fans (the race finishes in Memorial Stadium), she saw the clock time and told me we were going to make it in under my goal.

My sister is trying to get my attention.. I look miserable, right?

My sister is trying to get my attention.. I look miserable, right?

My exhausted attempt at the "Hudson's Heroes" HH sign

My exhausted attempt at the “Hudson’s Heroes” HH sign

 

It is a lot easier to sprint when you realize that you are so close, that you don’t have that much further to go, when you can see the clock and you can see the finish line and there are thousands of people wishing you well as you grind out those last steps.

And that’s what I did. I started to sprint when I realized how close we were, shaving seconds off, so close to that blissful feeling of accomplishment and a huge, carb-tastic lunch. My sister leaped across the finish line with me, we got our finisher’s medals, and then we spent a good amount of time intermittently stretching and hugging.

Leaping across the finish line!

Leaping across the finish line!

Sister Stretch

Finishing Hugs!

Finishing Hugs 2!

My goal was to finish in 2:25. Our chip time was 2:24:22. It was, as my sister put it (on Facebook, of course), a “Hudson’s Heroes Triumph.”

We are awesome. That is all this picture says.

We are awesome. That is all this picture says.

Christmas might be my “Mile 10 Wall”. Soon, we’ll have the all-clear to start trying for Baby Dub Dos, my imagined “Finish Line” (even though I have a lifetime to face without my girl, and there is no finish line for dealing with loss). If I do hit a wall though, and lose my mental fortitude, I know that my sister (among many others) will be there to help me pick up my feet and power through.

Maybe it will require some funny motivation (delivering a baby, much like running a marathon, is fraught with risk of pooping oneself), and probably it will require some sappy motivation (because who doesn’t like to be reminded that you’re stronger than you think you are?).

I’ve been so encouraged by comments on this blog, Facebook messages and more from people who are looking forward to meeting Baby Dub Dos almost as much as the Hubs and I are. So much positive energy is directed at me and my reproductive bits that I really don’t think we’ll have much longer to wait (we might even finish in under our “goal time”!). And I know that when I start to near the finish line, there will likely be thousands of spectators rooting for us, giving us “team Hudson’s Heroes” shout outs, and encouraging me to sprint the last few steps.

Yes, I will sprint to that scheduled C-Section!

And when Baby Dub Dos arrives, Team Hudson’s Heroes will have another co-captain, and I’ll gladly trade my Half Marathon registrations for 5K walks (pushing a stroller!).

And I’m WAY cool with that.

My finisher's medal and new Hudson schwag

My finisher’s medal and new Hudson schwag

 

 

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#GivingTuesday

It’s that time of year – when every day of the week gets a sweet hashtag.

#CyberMonday
#BlackFriday
#SmallBusinessSaturday

and my new favorite:

#GivingTuesday

This is a time of massive spending across the world (Happy Birthday, Jesus!), and that’s fine. We are blessed, even in this tough economy, to be able to celebrate this time of year, give gifts, be Secret Santas, stuff stockings, etc. I personally am very much looking forward to some of the Dub and Shiz family traditions in the coming weeks. I have even started my own “Wish List” – little things I might want or need this year that I would never buy for myself, like a beer brewing kit or instructional photography DVDs.

Do not think that I am by any means intending to condemn Christmas and Holiday spending. Go to town, folks. Let’s boost our economy.

But on this one day, #GivingTuesday, maybe we can do some giving that makes a real, positive difference.

Make some cookies and deliver them to somebody you know who is having a tough holiday.
Donate some books to the Goodwill.
Write a fat check to your favorite non-profit.

Today, I donated $100 to the Forget-Me-Not Foundation in Hudson’s name. I have been making small donations over the past few months as people have purchased the Hudson’s Heroes teeshirts. If you are looking for a worthy cause to donate a little cash to, I would highly recommend the Forget-Me-Not Foundation.

This organization provided us with something you simply cannot put a price tag on, something I can’t put on my holiday wish list and something that I wouldn’t trade for any amount of cashola: memories with and of our beautiful, precious, once-in-a-lifetime daughter Hudson. Without this organization, I might not have a sweet teddy bear that plays Hudson’s heartbeat when you squeeze it. I would probably not have the 3D molds of her cute little feet. I wouldn’t have a disc of pictures taken by a professional photographer who donated her time to capture the last days of our daughter’s life (this is one treat that I’m saving to look at, knowing at this point that these are the last photographs I’ll ever see of our baby).

So make your list, check it twice. Then be a little nice, and do something today for #GivingTuesday.

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Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope posting – Hudson’s story

This weekend, the Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope website published Hudson’s story. I’m including it here, but I encourage you to check out their site and give some love to the other women who are bravely sharing their stories.

It is hard to believe that the best days of your life can be the worst days of your life.

The best days of my life were the three days that I got to be a mommy to Hudson Ruth Walter.

Baby Dub was born at 3:50 am on July 11, at the 41 week mark. She weighed 7 lbs. 14 oz. and measured 20 1/2 inches, and she had a full head of hair. Long, red hair.

Baby Dub was born without a heartbeat and had to be resuscitated. After getting a heartbeat going, Hudson was flown to Sacred Heart in Spokane, Washington.

Not even 2 hours old, and already Baby Dub was having adventures on a helicopter.

I got to see her for about 60 seconds before they flew her off to Spokane. Daddy Dub followed quickly but I had to stay in the hospital because I had just had a Cesarean Section and evidently you don’t just hop on the helicopter after one of those.

Hudson didn’t need much time to make you fall in love with her. A perfect little nose (we’re sure from her mommy), huge hands and feet, her daddy’s mouth, and that full head of luscious red hair did everybody in. One NICU nurse commented upon meeting her, “You could put a barrette in there!”

While Daddy Dub traveled to Spokane, I was stuck in Walla Walla with strict instructions to sleep and recover so I could travel the next day to be with our baby girl. I slept from about 6-10 o’clock, when Daddy Dub called from the road to tell me that the doctor at Sacred Heart had called already.

He and another doctor were working hard on Hudson, but she was very sick. Details were best discussed in person, but he wanted to let our daughter’s Daddy know that she’d made it and they were on the case.

Around 11, I got a call from one of the Doctors at Sacred Heart who gave me more of an update on Hudson. Our daughter was without oxygen for a significant period, and the main concern (among many concerns) was brain activity. Damage to the brain from such a significant event could be substantial. She may not have enough brain function to live on her own.

The plan was to undergo a cooling process for 72 hours. They’d keep Hudson’s body temperature around 33 degrees Celsius for three days. The doctor explained to me that there are three types of brain cells – the ones that would recover on their own, the ones that don’t ever recover, and the ones that can benefit from the cooling process and might recover. We were targeting those with the cooling process. He didn’t paint a very positive picture. It wasn’t his job to.

At around 12:30, my father-in-law called my mom and said they were starting a process over at Sacred Heart to get me there that day instead of waiting for the next day. I am so grateful for that phone call. It was agonizing being stuck in Walla Walla, and the moments I got to spend with our daughter were so precious. I would give anything for just a few more minutes. I got an extra couple of hours on that day.

So after much hubbub, I got in the ambulance and embarked on the 3+ hour drive to Spokane. How it took so long I don’t know… don’t ambulances get to go faster than other cars on the road? I tried to sleep but couldn’t. As I told the Hubs via text, the ambulance was the medical equivalent of a Vegas Hot Trolley – a rattling tin can that couldn’t get under 80 degrees even with the air conditioning on full blast. But it was taking me to my daughter and my husband, and I couldn’t wait.

We arrived at Sacred Heart around 7:45 and spent a little time trying to figure out how to get me to my room, but once I got there and got checked in, I was able to go see our baby girl, for reals this time, not through the haze of general anesthesia and a night of difficult labor.

She is perfect. I don’t want to take my eyes off of her. I can’t believe we made her, and then again I can. A full, cone-shaped head of hair is the first thing you notice, and you can’t help but wonder where all of it came from. So much, so thick, curly, and RED! It never escaped comment, our daughter’s head of hair, the mystery behind it all a part of the legend that is Hudson. Her nose is tiny and perfect and we all agree is mine. Chubby cheeks, the same cheeks we fell in love with at our 36 week ultrasound. She has soft, arching eyebrows, a light blond, and let’s face it, if you look close enough her hairline extends down to her eyebrows but you have to look really close. A little point of wispy white-blonde hair sticks up off the tip of each of her ears. How can ears be so perfect? They’re not Shrek-like at all, but perfectly round with soft lobes, the ultimate kissable ear (I just wanted to nibble on each one!). Her arms have fuzzy hair all over them, especially the fleshy part of her shoulders, like those Italian construction workers you see getting questioned in episodes of “Law and Order”. Her eyes are closed, and gel seals them so they don’t get dry, but even with a coating of clear gel I can see that she has long, curly blond eyelashes, oh those lashes would get us into trouble, I bet. When the doctor examines her eyes later, I can see that they’re a deep, soft blue. She has a broad chest, with a tiny bruise in the center from doctors performing CPR. I can’t see her mouth very well – ventilator tubes keep most of her mouth covered up, but her little tongue sticks out a bit and her bottom lip is oh so soft. Her legs are chubby (Great Grandma R commented that she had her mommy’s thighs… what’s that supposed to mean?), bent at the knees with her heels tucked in towards her crotch and I imagine how she probably had these same contortionists tendencies when she was in my belly. I have to take off one of the Red Sox socks the Hubs has put on her feet, so I can count her toes.

She’s got it all. And then some. She’s perfection, every little piece of her is a part of me and a part of her daddy, so you know she has to be strong.

I wanted to pick her up, tubes and wires and all, and squeeze her close. Holding my daughter is an ache in my chest that won’t go away, a yearning I never got to satisfy fully, a feels-so-right that I got to experience so briefly it is an injustice. No mommy should go three days before she gets to hold her baby. And no mommy should have to hold her baby as her heartbeat slows to a stop.

That first night with Hudson was a series of questions, doubts, frustrations, what-ifs and what-is-thats. As the obstacles facing Baby Dub began to create a more clear picture, I tried to pick out the hopeful bits to cling to. I dig deep into my faithstores, I pray fervently, I repaint the picture in my head when it gets too bleak. We are looking at a perfectly formed treasure, her brain needs some time on ice but maybe, just maybe-definitely, a miracle is taking place in there.

I need to believe in miracles. Even more so today than on the brief days that made up Hudson’s precious life.

Hudson died just a few hours before the cooling process was supposed to end. I am so very glad that the Hubs and I were with her when her heart rate shot up and then drastically dropped. The nurse on duty quickly sprung into action as I scrambled to get out of the way. I remember the nurse pleading with Hudson, “Oh no you don’t”… turning to the Hubs and I “If we can’t stabilize her you two will have to decide if you want us to resuscitate”, I remember clinging to the Hubs, unbelieving, “This isn’t real, right? This is one of those horrible dreams and I’ll start awake at any moment”. Somehow in all that we let Hudson make the call, and she was removed from all the tubes and wires and handed to her mommy and daddy to die in our loving arms while Grandpa Dub went to call the family.

I don’t know how long we stayed in the room and held our baby. Seeing her face for the first time unencumbered by the breathing tube, holding all 9+ pounds of her (she’d gained two pounds in fluids over the past three days), swaddling her and singing to her and weeping with her daddy, both of us telling her how proud we were of her and how thankful we were that she gave us the time we got. It felt so good to hold her to my shoulder – like a missing piece of me had been found, only to be lost again.

After minutes, hours, years, we looked at each other and realized we had to face our family, who had all been rousted from their middle of the night slumber to come be with us in our grief. The nurse escorted us to a chaplin’s room, through the hallway where our entire family was waiting and I made this somber deathwalk, leaning on my husband and clutching our baby to my shoulder and trying not to make eye contact with anybody as we walked past. Once we were situated in the room, our immediate family was brought in first. Grandmas, Grandpas, Aunties and Uncles, then close friends who are like family all wordlessly wept with us.

This is the injustice of our world – that parents sometimes outlive their children, that grandparents live to see their children lose their children, that a joy like new life should ever be turned this horrific 180.

Finally, the night’s grief led to a heavy exhaustion, I’d cried through every bit of moisture in my body and it was time to let go of Hudson. I didn’t want anybody to see her face, pale and splotchy and lifeless, nothing like the precious yet ever-changing face I had fallen in love with over the past 3 days, 9 months, lifetime.

The nurse urged me to let the family hold her, “They need this.” I didn’t care, nothing mattered except what I wanted, what we needed, and we needed our baby to be alive. Since we didn’t get that, I was adamant about this: I didn’t want my family to see our baby looking so not like our baby.

The nurse laid off me a little bit, then offered to take some pictures of Hudson. This seemed macabre to me, and I refused again. But this time, the nurse was the one who was adamant. “Trust me, later you’ll want any picture you can get of her. Let me do this for you.”

She was right. When all you have left are pictures of your baby, you are grateful for every single one… even if it doesn’t look like who you made.

“Do you have some clothes that you brought for her?”

Through my weak and broken voice:  “We brought some stuff for her, a lot of outfits, some of them were for if she was born on the 4th of July” I blubbered.

“Whatever you brought for her, those are Hudson’s clothes. You’ll be happy you have these…”

We left the nurse with our baby and our overnight bag full of baby clothes and we went to bed and stared wordlessly at each other. It seems impossible to go to sleep when your life is this nightmare… but sleep came more quickly than I had anticipated and then all of a sudden it was morning and yes, this was real, yes, our baby died. There is a printed rose on our room’s door so people know to be gentle with you when they walk in to take your temperature, talk to you about your options.

The amazing social worker from the Forget-Me-Not Foundation came to see us and offered to get us a few lockets of Hudson’s incredible hair. She offered to dress her and bring her to the “Angel Room” for our family to see her and hold her. What had seemed like a horrible idea the night before seemed like an amazing gift in the morning, and of course we said yes, please let us all see her again. The photographer that had been with us the day before had volunteered to come take more pictures of Hudson and we wanted that too.

I showered, put on some of the clothes my wonderful sisters-in-law had gone to get me since our stay in the hospital had proved to be so much longer than we had anticipated. I brushed my hair, even put my contacts in (despite them being foggy from the previous night’s tears). We walked out to brave our family and friends yet again. I remember a friend of my sister’s was there, someone I’d known a bit in college, who was pregnant with her second baby, dressed in black, tears in her eyes, and I remembered thinking how lucky she was to be pregnant as I made brief eye contact with her.

We got to be the first in the Angel Room with Hudson and there she was, our beautiful, stunning baby dressed in her “going home” outfit, the adorable grey and white zebra print onesie with the lime green flower, wrapped in the soft purple blanket with the silky polka dot trim that her aunties had bought for her, sporting the white flowered headband that her other aunties had made in anticipation of the professional photographer’s arrival the previous day.

There has never been a more beautiful person, and we made her. A series of miracles all culminated in this amazing little body, this bundle of nerves and cells and this amazing mesh of my husband and me in new-human form. Even though I knew she was no longer there, the physical evidence of her struck me, “This is still something that we made.” Touching her skin, holding her and feeling her weight once again, it didn’t feel off or wrong at all. Holding your baby is the absolute best feeling.

The social worker encouraged us to take our time. We could stay as long as we liked, stay with Hudson in our room even. She said people had kept their babies in the room with them for days after their death.

But for us, it was time to go home and pick up the pieces.

We were given the opportunity to donate Hudson’s heart valves, and jumped at the chance. I stayed on at the hospital to answer a series of questions a kind-voiced man calling from the organ donation center asked: “Have you and/or Hudson been to Zimbabwe since 1979?”  An overly talkative nurse with a wonky eye came to remove the staples from my C-section incision. She told me of her 5 miscarriages, her two successful deliveries, how she’d donated her breastmilk, on and on and on she went, I’m sure trying to find just the right story to tell me that would make me feel better.

And then we left. The sunlight after three days spent in the hospital seared my cried-out eyeballs. I felt nauseous, like the worst hangover ever.

On the drive home, we talked, and were silent, we cried, and stared blankly. We rallied against the universe. We questioned the existence of God. Somehow in all the possibilities, we hadn’t even considered the possibility that we would go home without our baby. We talked about how beautiful our daughter was. I mean, seriously the most gorgeous baby ever made, and we were the ones who made her.

At one point, my husband blurted out, “How do we not have a baby right now?”

I didn’t have an answer.

After one particularly prolonged silence, my husband smiled silently to himself. When I asked him what he was thinking, he said:

“I was just thinking how glad I am that people who don’t even know us can tell how much we love each other.”

I fell a little more in love with my husband right then. I am thankful for him every single day. I’ll never forget how proud I was of our love in that moment in the car. We are fortunate to have each other.

We are also fortunate to have such an incredible family. Our parents were with us, our siblings and friends, a cadre of Hudson Fans surrounded her with love from the very first moments of her life through to the very last moments which came all too soon.

Today, this same support system has formed “Team Hudson’s Heroes“.

So many people fell in love with Hudson – from the nurses who cared for her to people who never met her and even people who don’t know me. We created one charismatic little human. And although losing her was the most devastating experience I’ve ever had to face, having her was the proudest accomplishment of my life. Having Hudson taught me a new level of love. It made me realize how full life is and also how terribly empty. She made me realize that life is too short to take a single second for granted.

Hudson is forever a part of our family, her pictures proudly displayed on Momma Sue’s wall in the biggest size Costco’s Photo Center can print.

Hudson made me a Mommy, the job I covet now more than any other occupation I’ve ever dreamed of (movie star! Broadway actress! Missionary Veterinarian!).

And so, yes. The worst days of your life can also be the best. Life can become more full despite a devastating loss. The loss of a child creates a strange dichotomy of your “Real Life”, where dwelling in the positive half is the key to survival (and truly, this is all about the reality you choose). And despite some really bad bad days, we’re slowly finding it easier to live in the “Positive Place”, anxiously awaiting the arrival of a brother or sister for Hudson, eagerly looking forward to a really gross diaper change, ready to tackle that journey all over again because even though we lost Hudson, I’ll never, ever regret having her.

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