Six Months

The six month mark is staring down on us…this Saturday to be exact. Zoe died on a Saturday so each day this week I’ve been thinking back to what I was doing each day this week. Today, six months ago, we had her home from the hospital and it was Valentine’s Day. I dressed them each in their fancy satin birthday shirts that were red and gold and took a picture of each of them with my phone to send to Richard. I remember Zoe being tired…but I thought nothing of it, she was still getting over the flu after all. I remember she I both got to sleep in a bit until it was time for her morning meds around 10am. I remember her sitting in her swing in the family room watching a Baby Einstein video…she wasn’t quite herself, but again I thought nothing of it…I wouldn’t have been myself either after spending 5 days in the hospital with fever and vomiting. What I hate is that this was the last day we’d have her at home with us. This was the very last day that I would snuggle with her in bed…because her next day and a half were spent in the hospital and she was hooked up to so many wires and tubes I couldn’t hold her, they wouldn’t let me hold her due to her fragile medical state. I did not know that the next day, Friday morning, would be the very last time I ever held her in my arms when she was alive. When we went to the ER, Richard and I were both concerned, but I was thinking, okay here we go again, just another week to spend in the hospital. I even packed more stuff this time like her milk and feeding pump because the ER is not equipped with feeding pumps for tube fed babies and I was afraid we’d have a long wait and she’d get hungry. I had my suitcase packed for myself and this time with more clothes for her, more comfy pj’s so she wouldn’t have to wear that awful hospital gown for the next week. Even our pulmonologist didn’t think we’d be here for only a day…she even made a little joke about us wanting to come back and see her again. Richard and I knew it was bad…and I can’t speak for him…but I did not in any way think that we would leave that hospital Saturday morning with an empty stroller.

I try so hard to remember the times that we had together at home, that were fun, that started to feel like we actually would have a “normal” life with triplets…but those last 24 hours were so traumatizing…have scarred my heart so badly…I can’t remember the good things. It only seems like snapshots, like I wasn’t actually there. My mom spent some time with me the other day telling me what she saw and what she remembers from being a constant observer in our home while chasing after Avery and Lily. This helped a lot…when she remembered a specific instance I could remember being there in that moment…and I could see Zoe’s smiling face and hear her squeaky voice. But you know what? It’s just not enough right now…I want her here with me, with Richard, with Avery and Lily…in our home in the flesh!

I’ve been feeling a little lonely too…it’s been 6 months and everyone has gone on with their lives. While others may have been touched deeply or affected in some way by Zoe’s life and death they are able to go on with their lives…another bereaved mother said it’s like the parents of the child are at the top of a mountain peak where an unimaginably fierce storm is swirly around them, so thick with cold, hard, rain and clouds, and thunder where they have no shelter, no place to rest, no place to lie down, they cannot see the bottom of the mountain. Then there are the people who may have been close to the child, and loved the child such as a relative or caregiver…these folks reside some ways down the mountain and may feel the effects of this storm, but they have shelter, and can also see the clear, sunny, warm, valley below…the folks in the valley are those that may be sorry that the child has died, but their lives aren’t changed one way or another by the death. That mountaintop is terrible…you can’t see an end to the wind and the rain, you can’t get enough of a break from the storm to even catch your breath, and you have no one nearby to help you through it…your husband, your other children…they are on their own mountaintops, fighting their own storms. Every once in a while the clouds will part a bit and you can make your way down to the side of the mountain for a hug, a listening ear…but sometimes without any warning the storm just sucks you right back up to the top, leaving your friends and family to wonder where you are and what to do.

I have received incredible support from any number of people…but it never makes the pain go away, it helps for the moment…but it doesn’t stop the storm. Richard, my incredible husband who just celebrated (I say celebrated hesitantly this year) his first birthday without Zoe…has been and continues to be a pillar of strength, fortitude, and love for me and for Avery and Lily. I don’t know how he musters the courage, where he gets this will to keep moving forward…somewhere deep down he gets it. But my heart aches for him…we are so often unable to comfort each other and he has fewer resources for support. It seems that many of the grief groups and multiples groups are for moms…they may include the dads, but more often than not it’s the moms that converse back and forth. He needs some comfort, he needs someone to carry his burden of grief, just for a moment, just to give his heart a break…I try, when I can which sounds pretty pathetic…and I’m trying more and more than I was a few months back, but I know it’s not enough. No matter what, it can never, ever be enough, because Zoe will always be gone, there will always be a huge hole in our hearts and in our lives that can only be filled by her.

I recently emailed with a mom who lost her child in a similar way that we lost Zoe, she now finds herself pregnant with another child, very unexpected, and she has conflicting emotions of pain and joy (much like raising surviving children). She mentioned to me in her last email that she and her husband wanted to make sure that this new baby never bears the burden of the loss of their first born…it made me stop and think for a while…have I burdened Avery and Lily with my grief? Do they associate only sadness and pain with Zoe? Am I doing enough with them to celebrate their sister? How do I do this? How do I celebrate and yet not idealize? Or in the midst of my own tremendous grief are they getting sucked into it to? I hope not…I pray not. What an eye-opening statement though for me to try my hardest to make certain they associate Zoe with life and love and willpower and strength…that they can draw on her strength when they need it and that they know from me that she was and is a real person and not an idealized version of a child that they can never measure up to. It is so easy to idealize a child who has died, especially when that child is Zoe who had an angel’s presence and awareness far beyond her year and 2 months of age. But I do not want Avery and Lily to ever, ever think poorly about Zoe or to feel that they aren’t just as incredible, just as miraculous, just as loving as Zoe is. They are all our miracle babies…to have grown outside the womb for THREE MONTHS before they were supposed to…that is incredible, it is indescribably, it is unimaginable. But they did…all three of them, they did it.

We don’t get as many cards, emails, or phone calls as we did when Zoe first passed, and that is to be expected…no one else is touched as deeply by her death as Richard and I are, we can’t expect everyone we know and love to keep doing this over and over for all eternity. And so many people (thank goodness) have not experienced a loss of this magnitude and don’t know what to do or what to say, we know this too and we do understand…but the silence hurts the most. People grieve in different ways, I grieve more openly (I think) and therefore I want to talk about her I NEED to talk about her. So I say to you again, please don’t be afraid of my tears, please don’t be afraid to mention her name…I long to hear her name each and every waking moment.
I do have a wonderful group of women (you know who you are) who have continued to email me or call if for nothing else than to say “I thought of you today”…I cannot tell you how that one line of text can bring a smile to my face. It means more than I can really describe in words and it is appreciated so much, even if I don’t respond or don’t say so in my response. Please, please keep doing this, I need it and Richard needs it. And if you actually knew Zoe, even if just for a minute, and you read this blog would you please take a moment to share a fond memory, even if was just a minute? We would so love for you to share your memories with us to help us go beyond the trauma of her last 24 hours, and truly remember Zoe as she was in her living days. You can post anonymously if you want or send me an email, we would love it if you could do this for us.

We have been trying to give Avery and Lily a “normal” toddler life so this summer has been jam packed with activities, day trips, play dates, etc. We’ve tried to schedule a play date with another set of triplets, but first my girls were sick, then two of hers weren’t feeling too hot…at any rate, we had planned to go to Babyland General…birthplace of Cabbage Patch dolls. We went ahead and took Avery and Lily and oh, my, goodness!!! What fun we had. If you have not been and you live even remotely close to Cleveland, Georgia…and you have little girls…YOU MUST GO!!!! The first section is set up like a hospital nursery; there are even “preemies” in isolettes! Avery and Lily spent an hour just walking around, pointing, feeding babies with play bottles, offering their pacis, and saying “babies, babies, babies, babies” it was a blast. And yes, of course we left with two Cabbage Patch babies for them and tiny one for Zoe, how could we not?
Since we were so far north in Georgia, we also took the opportunity to visit Tallulah and her mommy Bekah (an old high school friend of mine), it was great fun to be with them and to see the three girls play and interact together.

While we were fixing a snack one of the songs from Zoe’s service (Amazing Grace by Chris Tomlin) came on the radio…as you can imagine I could not hold myself together. It was okay, Bekah and my mom were great…but it was the first time that a song has snuck up on me like that. Many times I will long to hear the songs played at Zoe’s memorial service, but for it to catch me off guard was difficult. Then, on our way home I was stopped at a red light in this little town I drive through twice a week when I take the girls to swimming…I looked to my right and saw a restaurant named “Zoe’s Little Italian Pizzeria” which I have never noticed before…was she trying to tell me something? I had prayed the night before for a sign that she was with me…so many people say “her presence will never leave you, she is always with you” but you know sometimes I think that’s just a bunch of baloney! Maybe I am so blocked by my grief that I can’t release this innate tension to relax and truly feel her presence. So anyway, I prayed for a sign and I guess God really had to smack me upside the head to tell me “yes, Keira, Zoe IS in fact with you always” okay, I got that message, and I thank You. I could just picture her running through Babyland right alongside Avery and Lily, I have high hopes that were she still around she’d be standing by now and I could just picture her standing next to these dolls that were as big as she and just squealing with delight. I can just see those emerald green eyes lit up like Avery and Lily’s were in awe of just how many baby dolls there were! This made me smile; for once it didn’t make me cry.

Our trip to Babyland...here is Avery in the "preemie nursery"

It must have been a "touch time" because Lily got to pat the baby

Say "cheese!"

Look at all these baby dolls! I think Lily wanted some of their lunch

Avery liked all the fluffy hair and bows

They are such good "mommies"

Then it was off to Tallulah's house...or Luah as the girls called her

Lily let me dress her up in beads and cute little tutu Bekah made

The girls got along wonderfully...hugs and kisses all around

Ave, me and Bek

Are they old enough to drive already???

All the girls

Dada's birthday, I worked on the Happy Birthday song for a few weeks with the girls...they would sing "Happy to to to you" so cute!!!!


Misty said...

The pictures are beautiful! And you and your hubby look great. I still can't begin to know what it is you both go thru everday between the pain of your loss and the joy of the smiles that are still there. I send you many prayers, but know that you are thought of!!

nancy said...

Time will help the good memories emerge and be with you more and more. Whenever I checked your blog, the pictures of Zoe that I just loved were the ones with those chubby and kissable cheeks.

You are doing such fun things with Avery and Lily--the Cabbage Patch babies trip sounds so perfect for their age!


Anonymous said...

Wow, 6 months...time has just flown. I am so sorry that we couldn't make it to babyland with you guys (and now my girls are sick..ear infection). Avery and Lily are SO much better behaved than my little ones were in Babyland. LOL!

My Favorite Zoe Memory is without a doubt the video of Zoe chewing. My girls love that video. The day it was posted Makenna and Alyssa were sitting in my lap watching it, just laughing. They still laugh at that video even now. It is one of my fall back things when the girls want to "help" momma on the computer or are in a cranky mood.

Kimberly and the GA Guinn Triplets

Kate said...

I'm glad you got your sign.

My son Jack (he's severely brain damaged) will sometimes laugh for no reason. My nurses all believe that his brothers Matthew and Liam are playing with him. It took them a while to admit this to me as they thought it would upset me. It does bring tears, but there's something comforting about knowing my boys are all playing together. However, there's always the sadness that the three of them should be running around with their sisters.

Thank you for sharing Zoe and your family. Know that you are helping those of us who know your pain.

Annie said...

Oh, Keira, I don't know you personally, but I do think of you and Zoe often. I think you are doing an amazing job with Avery and Lily.......I can't even imagine. Your post was a tribute to your beautiful daughter...........very well written.

Anonymous said...

I have been reading your blog for over a year now. Your girls are just beautiful. Even though I never got to meet Zoe, her infectious grin lights up the computer screen. My 16 month old son saw her photo on the screen and said "baby" with a big smile.

I hope it's okay to say that I feel a deeper appreciation for my son whenever I read your posts. You have helped me savor and appreciate all the little moments with him.

I lost my father 1.5 years ago, when I was pregnant with my son, who would've been his first grandchild. We were extremely close and his one wish was to live to see my son. I am still so heartbroken that he never got to see my son and my son will never know him. Of course this grief does not compare with the grief of losing a child. I could really relate to the mountaintop analogy, though... so true. It does help me to talk about my dad to my mom, husband, brothers, etc. but of course it doesn't take away the pain of not being able to talk to him.

Please know that I often check your blog for updates and that you are in thoughts & prayers across the blogosphere...

Shana said...

I'm just a lurker who has been reading your blog for a year now and I've have been so touched by you and your family. I cried so hard when I found out about baby Zoe going home to Jesus and I can't even begin to imagine what you and your family have gone through. After reading this blog entry, I just had to leave a comment to tell you that I've prayed for you many nights and I'm thinking of you today, I can't believe it has already been 6 months. God Bless you and your family! Zoe has made my life better because I stop and hug my children a little tighter every night and never take a day for granted with them. Thank you for sharing your feelings and your life with us.

Anonymous said...

Your words are beautiful!! You are able to put into words so many feelings I have never been able to outwardly express about my angel Colin. My boys will be 2 next month and Gavin started walking this week. I have the hardest time when Gavin hits milestones because he and Colin were identical. I always wonder if Colin would have been as stubborn as Gavin, would he have been as happy, etc.

Your girls are beautiful. All 3 of them! And Avery and Lily will constantly keep Zoe's memory alive for you and your husband. I am so thankful to have Gavin and Owen running around to remind me of Colin every day.

Your often in my thoughts!!

MaryBeth said...

I just wanted to let you know I was thinking of you all day yesterday.... and am still praying for you daily. I truly wish that I had met your beautiful Zoe, and I look forward to the day we finally meet you, Avery, and Lily for our Babyland playdate. It looks like they had a great time!

Dorinda said...

Keira -

I didn't really get to "know" you until the weekend that Zoe died. I had just joined the same age triplets e-mail group so I didn't really know anyone. I'm pretty sure you had answered one of my questions before that - you had told me that Zoe would twist your hair when I had e-mailed to complain about how cranky my Rachel was (is).

But I remember your posts about Zoe and my heart grieved for you then and it does still. Every time I hear Chris Tomlin's Amazing Grace (my favorite song) I think of you and Zoe and I pray then that you are okay.

I have "only" lost my MIL (who I was very close to) so I can't relate on every level but when I read your words I understand how you feel. I'm sorry I can't be on your mountaintop with you to give you a big hug and make everything all right because I no know one can. But I pray for you often and pray that you will lean on the Lord and His grace.

Please keep posting and please keep writing how you feel. Even six months later I don't expect for you to stop writing about Zoe!

With much, much love.

Sugar Mommy said...

My heart aches for you, your husband and Avery and Lily. Although I do not know you, I read your blog often and am deeply touched by how strong you truly are! What a wonderful Mommy you are to your girls! You are an inspiration! May time heal and may you always be comforted knowing that your "Angel Zoe" is smiling down ather Mommy and her Daddy and Sisters. You are in my heart!

Anonymous said...

Hey there Keira,
Your words never cease to penetrate into my deepest emotions. I want you to know I do think about you, the girls and Richard often. I admire you so much. Next time you are in NC PLEASE let me know - I would really like to give you a big hug!
Love, Hannah

McTriplet Mommy said...

Hey, Keira. Wow, six months. I am sure every "anniversary" is hard. I continue to pray for you and your family nightly.

Though we've never met, and I never have had the chance to see ANY of those beautiful girls in person - my favorite "membory" of Zoe is that video you posted of her eating. Oh my - SO cute! She moved her whole body while she was chewing, so darn cute! Lorne and I watched it over and over... he kept telling me he was going to start eating "like baby Zoe". (and he has started eating so much more - it's extraordinary!)

Thank God I have the chance to raise three boys and that my experience is so very, very different than yours... I truly do know how I blessed I am. I know the situation is quite different, but I also worry that I "discount" what Isaac and Sullivan have been through because what Lorne went through was in some cases "more extraordinary". I know they forgive me. Avery and Lily and so blessed to have such a great mommy and daddy who value life and care for them so much!

I have family in Atlanta. I promise you when we go visit next - I definiately want to get together! I would love the chance to hug you in person. I think about you all the time.

Take care, your friend,

Cindy Richards said...

Keira & Family-
I too have been so touched by your blog, by the way you can express yourself so freely. You truly are an inspiration to me-thank you! My Lily was next door to Zoe in the NICU for 6 weeks, the only thing separating us was a curtain. I felt your pain, I heard your cries, I too having a 1 LB 2 ounce baby was in a deep dark place that I wouldn't wish upon my worst enemy. I loved hearing you sing to Zoe, I loved looking at her beautiful jet black curls. She was such a beautiful, peaceful baby and looked so BIG next to our Lily. I will always remember her beautiful smiling face! I wish you and your family lots of peace and happiness with Avery & Lily.
Thinking of you often-
Cindy Richards & Family
the proud mama of a 1 LB baby
P.S-My Lily and your Avery could pass as twins!

Sheffield said...

Hi Keira & Precious Sorrells Family,

I have a few memories of Zoe that I'd like to share...

Jason and I visited you in the hospital and we girls took turns visiting Zoe while the boys visited Lily and Avery and then we switched. Although Zoe was sedated I remember her communicating with her eyes. She would open them and look around - I knew that she was so aware and I talked to her. Jason and I were most impressed with her crib...it was so colorful and decorated with pictures of the girls and a mobile (& stuffed animals, etc.). I loved seeing her in a loving, "comfortable" micro-environment considering she was in the hospital.

Keira, I came to bring you dinner the week that Zoe died. I was so honored to be with you and Zoe. You gave her a bath and held her so tightly in your arms. I knew that she was very sick but she handled it so well. You could tell just how brave she was. That time spent with you two will forever be etched in my heart. Zoe had life in her eyes and her smile literally could light up a room. She is now lighting up the world beneath her and will no doubt continue to touch lives in her death as she did in life.

We love you!!!

Lauren, Jason and Lola

Andrea Szabo said...

I have been touched by your story and your blog and I have been following it since you announced that Zoe was home from the hospital for the first time. I was so happy for you all.
When I heard the terrible news 6 months ago I could recall in my mind's eyes all the pictures I have seen of Zoe. She touched my life and my family's life in ways you can't imagine and I parent my kids differently and appreciate them more as a result and hug them as if this were the last hug I gave them. We talk about Zoe and I think about her almost every day even though we never met.
Your family is in my prayers. God bless you for your strength.

Andrea mom of Andre and Anton

23wktwinsmommy said...

I found your blog a couple of months ago. I cried uncontrollably one night reading your posts on your last moments with Zoe and the extreme sense of loss and pain you feel. Our twins were born at 23 weeks gestation, and we watched as our son nearly died a number of times. There were days I was sure he wouldn't recover. It was an incredibly painful time. But coming close is not the same. I mourn for your loss and the unbelievable pain you must feel every day. Your love for Zoe is so evident and I truly believe she feels it each and every day she is watching down on you all knowing that one day you will be together again.
-Stephanie, mom to Serena and Edwin, Jr.

All time favorite video of Zoe!

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Bible verses that comfort me

"Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord."
~ 2 Corinthians 5:8

"Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children....Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them"
~ Mark10:14 & 10:16

"...those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint"~ Isaiah40:31