I actually had another post ready on the 18th of April that talked about the terrifying feeling I get when I sense that the world thinks that I'm fine now because I seem to be like my old positive and bubbly self. I hate that. I hate that people feel the need to see an ending to this journey and, even if they are well intentioned, want to share with me that they are happy that the storm passed. Just like the line "life is a journey, not a destination" I wish everyone understood that there is no such thing as this "chapter" being closed; I will forever be working on my Olivia grief and that is very much ok. Forget about what you think is normal, healthy or makes sense; all those terms went out of the window the day my daughter died.
I decided against publishing that post as, even though it is full of truths, it felt like a very long rant about people that hit a button that they shouldn't have... Instead I've decided to post about one of the most amazing things that has happened in a while.
World, let me introduce you to the epic: Olivia Bear
One of the first times I talked to Paula (Juliette's mum and one of the most amazing people ever) on the phone she told me about another mum at Sands that had made a weighted bear so that her other children could also hold their sibling. I always thought it was a great idea, but no clue how I could do it as I'm not very crafty. Then one day, my friend Marisa told me about Molly Bears, an amazing charity that was created by a mum like me for mums like me. Bridget Crews, Molly Christine's mum tells their story do on their page:
"We lost our angel, Molly Christine at 34 weeks, on May 30th 2010. I had not felt our active girl all day on the 29th. That night I went to the hospital to get checked and make sure Molly was alright. We were told that our precious daughter no longer had a heartbeat. She died from a tight true knot in her cord. Devastated would not even begin to describe how we felt.
I was given a weighted teddy bear from a dear friend from high school. This bear weighed three pounds. In an effort to have a bear that weighed the same as Molly, I bought a shell and a package of rice. In the middle of the produce isle, I carefully weighed rice, fluff and the shell. I am sure people thought I was crazy, but I did not care. I went home and with my children and husband, we created the very first Molly Bear. For the first time in weeks, I was able to sleep holding her. It was then that I knew I had to find a way to help other angel families."
Sadly, there is quite a demand for weighted bears, so they only open the orders once a month and there are only 150 spaces. After much thought, and many nights of holding my own teddy bear (Osi), I sat on my computer the minute the order forms went live in January 2017 and ordered my very own Olivia Bear.
The process was simple and they ask you to give any details you might want to be a part of your Bear, with weight clearly being the most important. I included a lot of things and hoped that I was doing the right thing and not adding another layer of grief when I was reminded that it was a bear I was holding and not my daughter.
Then, a few days before my birthday a big box arrived home and there it was: the most amazing Bear I had ever seen (and I've had A LOT of stuffed animals in my lifetime). She was made by Jenn, Mommy of Hope and Grace, 25th of April 2012. I wish I could contact Jenn and thank her for making Olivia Bear so perfect. I would also tell her how sorry I am about her daughters Hope and Grace not being here and then I would just like for her to talk to me about her life and their life. It's so comforting to talk about your children to people that want to listen for real and that are, or have been, in a similar position to yours. Jenn, you are amazing and I hope I can ever give to someone the comfort you have given me.
Holding Olivia Bear is truly magical and it really helped me go back to the few hours I had with Olivia. Sometimes, depending on how vulnerable I'm willing to feel, I hold her and close my eyes and I'm transported to the hospital when it was just the three of us. Two of my friends have held her and they have both commented on how Olivia was indeed a "sturdy" baby judging from her Bear. I love that! She was born with a normal newborn baby girl weight: 2.76 Kgs. I had somehow forgotten how heavy she actually felt, until I held Olivia Bear for the first time.
So, here she is, the little Bear that makes my heart feel better for a little bit. She has her own pillow where she sleeps every night and in the mornings, after we make the bed, she chills between our pillows holding the picture of Olivia that normally sits on my bedside table. Osi is always besides her, holding onto the little pillow that was with Olivia in the hospital.
My arms were and are, quite literally, in pain for not being able to hold Olivia again and I know that sadly that won't ever change. But, holding Olivia Bear makes life a tiny bit less painful and I will take that with open arms and big smiles.