Capture Your Grief - Day 31. Sunset Reflection

I was supposed to watch the sunset today and reflect on this last month of capturing my grief, focusing on how I feel, what I learned, liked and disliked. This morning I woke up to beautiful blue skies but as the day progressed the sky got covered in white/grey clouds, so I had no sunset to reflect on. That being said, I have plenty of reflections and a picture of a glorious sunset that Olivia sent this last Wednesday.

This last month and a bit has been equally great and exhausting, up and down, bright and dark (as I know my life will be from now on); but it has mostly been filled with a lot of revelations about myself and others. I was quite nervous when I broke the news of Olivia's passing on social media because I thought that people wouldn't understand what we are truly going through. I was then very nervous when I decided to participate on the very public Capture Your Grief project, because not everyone wants to read about the hard reality of losing a child, and not everyone seems to understand that my daughter died just because she never took a breath. I was and am still terrified/angry/confused at the people that think that this shouldn't be this hard because I didn't get to enjoy a life with Olivia... If you are one of those people please understand that this is equally hard because my future and expectations of life died with her and not a day goes by that I don't wish I would've had at least one chance to look into her eyes and tell her how much I love her.

BUT, for the most part, the world has pleasantly surprised me and it has given me an overwhelming amount of support from friends, acquaintances and even strangers that have found my blog or posts and have reached out more than once with nothing but kindness. To each person that has taken the time to write, call, text, like and every form of reaching out to show love and support THANK YOU! I am planning on replying to each e-mail, private message and text I've received but please be patient with me whilst I find the right words besides yellow hearts.

I have truly appreciated this project as it made me explore parts of my grief that I wouldn't have unless being guided. I think this has done some good to me and it seems to be having an educational purpose for those around me who know bereaved parents. That being said, I'm quite glad it's over... I'm emotionally drained most days as it is, so it's been a bit too much for me to deal with when I had a bad day and had to make sure I stuck to the schedule. This is why I stopped with the schedule and I'm finishing a week late.

This is not the last you will hear from me on the specific subject of my grief and my eternal love for Olivia. I will write blog posts on a different section of this page and will add some resources that I think can only help anyone going through hell or that knows someone who, sadly, is walking the same journey Pierre and I find ourselves in.

If you are a parent and are lucky enough to have your children with you, please go ahead and hug them extra tight tonight. Appreciate the life around you for one minute longer, even if they are being little devils that are not letting you sleep. Parenting is hard work and I only wish I was lucky enough to have sleepless nights and piles and piles of unwashed clothes because Olivia has taken over my life... But I am not so lucky and I get to parent my little girl from very very far away with only imaginary responses in return. So tonight, please push extra hard when your kids are driving you insane and just appreciate the privilege that you have and the lovely chaos that you have and play with them a bit longer and please hug them a bit closer. If you don't have kids, call or write to the person you love the most in the whole world and tell them, because they could truly be gone when you least expect it and then you will find yourself with too much love left to give.

Thank you for every kind word you have given us, and if we never meet again: have a wonderful life!

Capture Your Grief - Day 30. My Promise to You

Dear Olivia,

I promise that I will love you forever and that my love will grow each day, even if you're not here to feel it and even if it hurts too much at times. I promise that you will never be forgotten and that you will always be an important part of our lives. I want to promise that I will enjoy life as much as I did before you left but I don't want to break any promises to you, so instead I promise I will try with everything I have to see the good in life again, I promise to enjoy small and big things because you've shown me that everything can be taken away in a second so I might as well extra enjoy things. Please know that I will always try to be happy for and because of you, even when I'm paralyzed with sadness, don't ever think I'm not trying; but know that this is really hard. 

I promise that you will become the legend that I wanted to be when I was a kid. Your life will leave a legacy behind and you will change the world for the better... That, I can mega promise you. I will make it my life's mission that only smiles come from your memory to everyone that is and will be lucky enough to know that you lived.

Te amo al infinito y más allá,

Mami

A high 5 from Olivia

A high 5 from Olivia

Capture Your Grief - Day 29. Give Away Your Love

The deal today was to perform acts of kindness and spread love wherever I went today to see if this helps my heart. This comes as a great prompt after yesterday's fiasco of a day, because I do love spreading love and kindness everywhere and I am always the person aiming to get a smile out of a stranger's face.

As Carly gave me the option, I won't share the specifics of my random acts of kindness today because then it would be more about me giving myself a high five, and that is not the point here. I do wanted to say though that I strongly believe that everyone can be a bit nicer and kinder in day to day life (even if you're already a ray of sunshine).

Where I come from we always say good morning/afternoon/evening, and in a lot of cases we ask the person in front of us: How are you today? Well, since moving to the UK my greetings and "how are you todays" have been received with mixed reviews. One day a bus driver told me to fuck off when I said good morning and smiled, I responded: "Sure, I will go do that" with the same smile. Most of the time people act pleasantly surprised and you get the biggest smile out of complete strangers just by asking them how is their day going. 

So, I invite the world to be kinder for no reason... I promise it will be worth it!

I saw this sign today outside of the  Mind  charity shop on Fulham Road

I saw this sign today outside of the Mind charity shop on Fulham Road

Capture Your Grief - Day 28. Self Compassion

Let me start this post by saying that today I'm having a crap day... Last year I was running the NYC Marathon with Olivia and this year I have walked less then 200 steps and just forced myself to get dressed (3pm) because I have to pick up the plaque for the bench and a close friend is visiting us later. So, apologies if my post doesn't come through bright and hopeful, I have none of that in me today...

I am normally very good at self-care, I eat right, exercise a lot because it's my stress releaser and I always make sure to invest in some me time and some us time for me and Pierre. I don't have low self-esteem and have alway been quite fond of the person I am so I take care of me. So yes, I'm good at self-care and love the Whole-Foods tag line that says "treat your body (and mind) like it belongs to a person you love" and I normally try to live by it.

I am also my harshest critic and I hold a grudge like few people can (that is one thing I have ALWAYS wanted to change and I actively work towards doing so) specially when it comes to something I did. Our bodies are supposed to be wise and we are supposed to know best because we are mothers... well, my body killed my baby and nothing changed even though I did receive all the hints and went to the hospital. So no, I have no self compassion at the moment. I know and believe all the lines of: there's nothing anyone could've done, it's not my fault, I did everything I was supposed to, etc. But knowing that doesn't change the fact that it was my body that created and stopped Olivia's life and I don't forgive myself for that.

I will definitely try to let go of the grudge, but dear body and mind of mine, please understand this place we are in and know that I love you, but I also hate you... You literally broke my heart and even though I will try to glue it back together it will forever be changed and sometimes break again (glue is not strong enough). Dear heart, I'm sorry that you are all messed up and that even at the best of times, you will always have the hole of Olivia's missing piece.

Olivia and I about to cross the finish line at the 2015 NYC marathon

Olivia and I about to cross the finish line at the 2015 NYC marathon

Capture Your Grief - Day 27. Family is Forever

I realise that today is supposed to be the last day of Capture Your Grief, but I was traveling and wasn't in the perfect place to do this thoughtfully all the time. So, I will write a bit more often but I will finish this later this week and not today.

So, we are supposed to share about our family and how it looks like now; Carly also reminds us that family doesn't have to be blood and that is something I wholeheartedly agree with. I feel like I have many families: my blood (the one that I was born into), my friends (which are the family members I've chosen) and the family that Pierre and I are creating. They are all vital to my existence and I know each member knows how important they are to me and how much I love them - Even when I only get to see some of them once a year if I'm lucky due to Venezuelans being spread around the world.

I want to focus on the common denominator in all my families for this post, and the one that I have an actual key role in forming: Pierre + Mariana + Olivia = Family. One of the biggest pains I have is that there is no picture of us and Olivia together (even though we took them, but that is a story for another time), I will never be able to see me holding her and even though Pierre holding her is one of the best memories in life, it is that, a memory... So, I have to actually imagine how the picture would've looked and how we would've looked like together. Yes, I know this is something material and that she is bigger than all of that... but, you'd be surprised how much it hurts not being able to see us as a family.

Pierre and I are and will forever be family, I hope that our love stays as strong forever and that we fulfill the pact of dying at the same time when we are old and in our sleep. But, as I've harshly found out, life doesn't always go as planned and anything can be wiped in a second. That being said, Pierre, Olivia and I will always be family. She made us parents and that is a bond that can't and won't be broken. Of course I wish with all my heart that we are lucky enough to have more children and that they get to stay with us, but the first major step towards that will ALWAYS be Olivia, and she is our first daughter and hopefully she will one day also be a big sister.

This picture was taken on our way to Canada Christmas 2015 where we told my family that I was pregnant! Only then, we though Olivia was a boy...

This picture was taken on our way to Canada Christmas 2015 where we told my family that I was pregnant! Only then, we though Olivia was a boy...

Capture Your Grief - Day 26. What Heals You

I'm still battling with the term "healing", as that implies that one day I will be all good and cured and I hope you understand that this will never happen. Life will eventually get better and this intense pain will show up less often, but Olivia's absence will ALWAYS hurt and that will never be "healed".

But, there are a few things that help me move towards enjoying life and not just plain survival. Traveling with Pierre heals me, and we've done a lot of that because of his work and my maternity leave: I've had my fair share of international breakdowns, and most of the time I don't see him all day, but we wake up and fall asleep together and that's all I need. My family and friends heal me, their happy moments make me happy, their achievements make me proud and their love strengthens me. Exercise heals me, the day I got the green light to exercise everything was immediately less horrible; I am currently exercising 5 days a week and for however long I'm ai it, I feel like the old me only a little bit stronger. Cross stitching heals me... Yes, we were taught how to do it in school and doing so whilst watching bad tv shows is EXTREMELY therapeutic. 

There are three things that help me enjoy life above all: Hearing Olivia's name whenever relevant, I LOVE when someone talks about her and doesn't dance around her name because it might hurt... Her absence hurts, her name hugs me! Messages telling me a random moment when someone thought about us or when Olivia winked makes my heart smile. And my ultimate healing comes from Pierre, his smiles make me smile, his love makes me love him more and the fact that I know more or less what he's going through forces me to be better because we need each other to enjoy this unexpected new life.

This was taken on my last pregnant trip after a friend's wedding

This was taken on my last pregnant trip after a friend's wedding

Capture Your Grief - Day 25. I am

"Today" even though I'm many days behind here, we are supposed to fill in the following blanks:

I wish: Olivia was here or that I would be wherever she is... I wish we could be together.

I remember: The moment Rachel put her in my arms after she was born... That is the single happiest moment in my life. Time stood still and she wasn't "not there", the three of us were together, Pierre was outnumbered and our family was whole. I remember every minute as if it was yesterday... I just wish it wasn't a memory.

I could not believe: And I still can't believe that she is gone. I've always said that long distance relationships only work when there is an expiration date on the distance. Well, Olivia is not coming back and I have no clue on when I will move to "the other side", so according to my previous logic, this isn't going to work. But, she is my pichona amada and I am 100% hers, so we will patiently wait for each other somehow and the day when God decides my time on this side is up, I truly hope she is waiting for me on the other side so I can hold her again and feel complete.  

If only: This is dangerous, because it can open the can of worms of all the possibilities and the parallel universe, had we done one single things differently. But I will focus on: If only we could have one more second together...

I am: Forever grateful that she is my daughter and forever sad that I don't get to enjoy her.

One of my favourite pictures during my pregnancy

One of my favourite pictures during my pregnancy

Capture Your Grief - Day 24. Consciously Becoming

This topic seems to be very much about a before and after Olivia and this is a subject that I battle with every single second I'm alive... This is not the way "after Olivia" should look like and I refuse to accept this reality almost every day. The questions we get ask about this are:

Who were you before your children died? I was happy! I was a controlling person who loved my family and friends deeply and who looked for the beauty in everything. I was a glass half full kind of person who refused to be sucked by darkness and who would have happy as the default setting. Don't get me wrong, I was also a judgemental woman who loved to talk smack about random people just because it's fun. Above all, I was and am a nice person. I was a daughter, a sister, a niece, a granddaughter, a wife and a friend.

Who are you now? I think I am, in essence, the same person but (as I've said before), I have been changed to the core and most of it, I hate. I am still a happy and glass half full kind of person; only now I have to fight for that because I just don't believe it. My glass is definitely empty and there are no drops to hang on to... But, I imagine there are and I hold on to them until I think I'm going a bit crazy... Just because I NEED to hold on to that happy side of life. I am less judgemental, because you just don't know what other people have had on their plate; and whilst that doesn't mean bad things give you carte blanche to be a bitch, it does mean that I understand... and that I need to cut you some slack. I still fight to be nice and happy, it's just much much harder now and before things just happened naturally.

Have you been irrevocably changed by the death of your children? Yes, just ask any mother who has outlived a child. In my case, I don't trust logic anymore and I surely don't trust my body and all the amazing things its supposed to be built for. My new life motto (and truly honest point of view) is: if you put water in the freezer, it won't turn into ice.

How are you different now? My default setting is sad, but I fight every second to battle that and be happy; just because that's the person Olivia chose to be her mother.

Do you love anything about the new you? Not yet.

Do you want and old part of you back? Yes! I want to be able to trust again, I want to look forward to life and not be terrified that Pierre might get killed crossing the street. I want innocence and eagerness to live life and enjoy everything with pure joy.

Who are you becoming? In theory I know I am a mother, but sometimes I don't believe it myself. So, I'm actively working towards believing I am a mother. As my friend and fellow Awesome Mum Sonali wrote once: "We are perhaps the selfless type of mother that loves so deeply, honours their baby but never gets any of the rewards such as cuddles or smiles. Maybe that's a bit smug but also accurate"  - So, I became a mother thanks to Olivia, and I am working towards believing it myself.

Capture Your Grief - Day 23. Sounds, Seasons + Scents

I've said this before and I will say it again: I love that I have things that make me feel closer to my Chiquita and I love that I find them everywhere. But I hate that I have that, I don't want reminders that she existed, I want sleepless nights and arguments with Pierre about dirty diapers...

On the sounds front I have our Olivia song, the one that Pierre played to her and the one that was playing when she was born, Claude de Bussy's Claire de Lune. I feel nostalgic but insanely close to her when I hear that song and I allow myself every now and then to enjoy it. On the other hand, Pierre feels sad when he hears it because he misses those moments with Olivia so much and he was going to be THE musical influence on her life. Unfortunately for her, I had Bieber's latest hits on my playlist when I was pregnant, so there are a few of his songs that remind me of our time together. Sorry for the bad music Chiquita!

On the sounds that I wish I could hear (besides anything from Olivia), there is the greeting that Pierre had with Olivia... Whenever he would start a conversation with her he would say: Oliviaaaa, c'est Papa! - My heart melted with love each time... I miss that sound the most.

The sunshine brings me closer to Olivia, regardless of the season, but as she was born at the beginning of summer, clearly the most beautiful days are Olivia days!

Olivia had her own scent and we have smelled her here and there when walking around. The first time we went out for lunch with my mom, our table was literally in a capsule of Olivia smell and it was AMAZING! She smelled like something orangy and perfect. Pierre tells me all the time that I smell like Olivia, mostly my face or neck... I wish I could smell myself...

I asked Pierre to pick a picture for this post... This is in my family's house in Italy, where everything is amazing.

I asked Pierre to pick a picture for this post... This is in my family's house in Italy, where everything is amazing.

Capture Your Grief - Day 22. Pearls of Wisdom

This was meant to be posted on the 22nd of October, and you know what is amazing? I didn't have the mindset or the time to write a post because Pierre and I were traveling to attend the wedding of two amazing people: Katie and Dave. The amazing part with this topic is that I have always and will always know the bride as Pearl (hint, look at the title of the post today!). So, I've been MIA because I was too busy being happy for my amazing friends and allowing myself to just enjoy their day. Of course, we had quite a few tough times when we moved to the side, let ourselves cry and miss Olivia but we were then greeted back with joy over our friends day. The best part of the day besides obviously Pearl and Dave getting married? The amazing people who came by and asked us about Olivia, I felt whole when someone out of nowhere came by and acknowledged her and gave me a chance to just explain a bit about all my range of emotions on the day. I had no more sad episodes that day after they came by, I think it was thanks to them as after that I knew that she was in people's minds and that at least two people understood what a rollercoaster it was to be there (THANK YOU!)... Sorry that I start off topic, but I love my friend Pearl too much not to talk about her awesome day, when the topic is Pearls of Wisdom (she is also super wise!).

In terms of today's actual prompt: "Do you have any words of wisdom to share that you have found helpful?" and I do have a few that have been enlightening. I've actually shared a lot on that topic on my Empathy entry on day 6 of this challenge. However, there is one thing I like to add:

Everyone grieves differently --> Yes they do, and all journeys should be respected and nobody should be forced to do a thing because it's about time x or y happens. Pierre and I have lived everyday very differently and we understand and respect that because we both feel and deal with things in our own ways and there is no right and wrong way to live this.

If you woke up today, you are already amazing.

We arrived late and straight from the airport to the rehearsal dinner but we managed to get a selfie of the rehearsing action.

We arrived late and straight from the airport to the rehearsal dinner but we managed to get a selfie of the rehearsing action.

Capture Your Grief - Day 21. Relationships

This topic asks the following questions: "How have your relationships changed? Did you lose any? Have you made new friendships?" and this is something that I actually have been thinking about non stop since the moment I got back to reality feeling when we went home from the hospital.

Yes, a lot of my relationships have changed and not all for the better or necessarily the worst, but everything has indeed changed. There have been people who I've known all my life and considered very good friends who have just disappeared, been overly cautious about reaching out (I think), so they don't and the ones that have really been out of line and have hurt us (I know they haven't meant to, but they have) by not thinking a little bit before saying or writing certain things. Then there have been people whom I thought were only friendly acquaintances or just new friends, and they have ended up being some of the most thoughtful people that fight to remind me of how loved we are and keeping Olivia's memory alive. Of course, I also have my friends and friends that are like family, I never doubted they were all going to be there in their own way, and they have been. I think it's been hard for some of them because they suffer with and for us , so they focus a bit too much on them on what they need instead of us and what we need from them. Yes, it is very selfish, but even though I know everyone misses Olivia because she was wildly anticipated and loved, it is really just me and Pierre who live this 24/7; we don't think about this all the time or a little bit every day, this is our life and most of the time (at least for now) it sucks and hurts.

But, let's not finish on a sour note. I have gained some wonderful relationships and not all have been from new friends. Losing Olivia has really shown me a new side of people and has of course brought me some completely new and amazing people. Don't get me wrong, I would give back all this new friendships for one more second with Olivia (or maybe all her life!), but at least we are lucky enough that she left us some wonderful people to brave the storm of our new lives with.

This was a picture sent by my friend Cat whom I met thanks to Olivia on our pregnancy yoga classes and who has gladly stayed on to be a friend for life. They went to visit Olivia on a random day and just told me after... It is gestures like this that make our hearts warm and our faces smile!

This was a picture sent by my friend Cat whom I met thanks to Olivia on our pregnancy yoga classes and who has gladly stayed on to be a friend for life. They went to visit Olivia on a random day and just told me after... It is gestures like this that make our hearts warm and our faces smile!

Capture Your Grief - Day 20. Gratitude

This one was a hard one to decide, I debated if I should write about Pierre again and how grateful I am every day that he is my husband and the father of Olivia. I also thought about how grateful I am to be alive and healthy as things can always be worse. I even thought about writing about food, because I have a true love for food and eating and feeding people makes me genuinely happy! But nothing seemed to be suitable for this... Until I was going through old pictures on Pierre's phone and found this one and thought: I was so extra happy when I was pregnant...

So, today and forever I am eternally grateful about my pregnancy with Olivia. Because I was completely oblivious to the fact that my daughter could die before she was even born, I enjoyed every second that we spent together. I loved how pure the feeling of creating life was and laughed a lot talking about how it was all really like Alien, as there was a human feeding off me! The feeling of having your baby move inside your belly is truly indescribable and the best part about being pregnant... I had 9 months of unadulterated joy and that I will only ever be possible because of Olivia.

If I am ever so lucky and have more children, I hope the fear and panic of knowing what I know now will still allow me a few moments of happiness. But clearly, each day will be a psychological challenge hoping that the outcome would be different. So yes, today I am reminded of how lucky I was to be so blissfully naive and have the best 9 months of my life creating the little girl that turned us into parents.

Olivia and I in Santa Monica, California for my birthday

Olivia and I in Santa Monica, California for my birthday

Capture Your Grief - Day 19. Grief Rituals

Happy 4 months Chipilina amada! I spent the first few hours of the day frozen in bed reliving the awesomeness of our time together just 4 months ago. It feels like it was yesterday but at the same time it feels like it was 4 thousand years ago... But I digress from today's subject: Grief rituals.

I am very lucky that I got this topic on the 19th of the month because that's when I do the only "ritual" that I'm planning to do for as long as I live: Bench flowers. What exactly is this? Well, every 17th of the month (I started in August) I buy a small bunch of yellow flowers and bring them home. There I give them love, food and attention and I generally just try and fill them with positive thoughts and the best vibes and energy. Then on the 19th, I cut a bit of the stems and out them in a pretty bunch and tie them with some of Olivia's yellow ribbon; attached to that is a message. I then proceed to spend some time on the bench, talking to the air or maybe "picnicking" and then I leave the flowers there and leave. The idea behind my initiative is that I hope that someone walks by, sees the flowers, reads the quote and smiles... If Olivia can make ONE person smile that day, then I did my job. The mega best case scenario? They take them home and their lives can be filled with some yellow happiness as well. Just so you know, I've walked past three hours after and they have been gone each time, so YAY.

I'm sure I'll create yearly rituals for every 19th of June that will involve candles and cake to celebrate Olivia's birthday, but for now all I have is the Bench flowers and that really makes my heart smile.

The biggest bunch were today and Olivia's Tía BL got those for her - The quote is specially dedicated to my Awesome Mums, and to any other mother missing their child.

The biggest bunch were today and Olivia's Tía BL got those for her - The quote is specially dedicated to my Awesome Mums, and to any other mother missing their child.

Capture Your Grief - Day 18. Healing Therapies

Hhhhmmm, healing is a bit of a misleading word here as it is defined as "the process of making or becoming sound or healthy again" and I'm not sure any of those things will fully happen again, at least not in my heart. I don't feel that I'm improving my Olivia-less life, but I do feel that I'm surviving it and some days are better than others.

I've always said "Sharing is caring" and I agree wholeheartedly with this.. By sharing about this hell I think I'm taking care of me and hopefully helping others take care of themselves and their loved ones who have lost a child. I feel that the more I talk and write about my daughter, the more real Olivia becomes to everyone who didn't get a chance to meet and hold her. So I do that everyday, I talk about her and make sure that people understand that having her present ever day helps me survive.

A quick but powerful THANK YOU to everyone that lit a candle for Olivia on Saturday and shared their pictures with us. You might not realise, but each time we received a new picture our hearts were happy because the world was celebrating our Chiquita, just as if they would had she gotten to stay. THANK YOU FOR HELPING US SURVIVE!

Capture Your Grief - Day 17. Sacred Space

Happy Monday! Even though I'm writing this on a Tuesday because I simply could not get my self to write after Saturday... I was and still am, emotionally drained.

Some of today's questions are "Do you have a special place that you visit to be with your children? A place that you feel connected to?" - This is not black and white for me and I've been struggling with this a lot since we came back from the hospital, because I don't think I have a physical place where I feel closer to Olivia. 

The obvious place would be her nursery, right? Not for me. When we were at the hospital, I asked my sister and mana to do a SWAT team operation and take everything out of Olivia's room and hide it somewhere (it's in my Mana's house). I know that at the moment I thought it was the best decision, but I've struggled a lot with not seeing her stuff here and everyday brings me closer to wanting o get it all back just to see it but I'm terrified of how bad it will be.

The next one people would think is the cemetery, and this is where things get a bit insane for me. Olivia's ashes are buried in a beautiful place in France right besides Pierre's dad where I day dream they are having a great time. To be fair, it was my idea to take her there since I truly think it's lovely and very peaceful and I love that she is next to her grandfather. Pierre and I might leave London at some point and I just couldn't do that knowing that Olivia would be left alone here, instead I prefer her being close to where her grandmother lives, where she will always be visited. But, I am having some issues with this at the moment because I hate that I can't just walk to wherever she is and be with her for hours. Instead, I have to plan in advance, get a Eurostar ticket and then someone has to drive me to spend planned time there... I hate that it all feels so forced and that I can't just rock up when I need to be with her; this actually hurts a lot lately.

Then I have her bench, the place where we will have a memorial plaque and where I hope many people will have a chance to visit and talk to her. I go there at least twice a week, even if just to say hi (I actually say it out loud), but then my mind goes to the awful place that says: Who or what are you saying hi to? There is nothing of Olivia in there so you're just talking to the air or an empty bench. I really hope this feeling changes once the plaque is there... 

Then there is the actual sacred space where I always connect with Olivia, and that is my mind... I truly believe that she can hear my thoughts when she wants to and sometimes, when I allow myself to enter the dangerous place of missing her, I can feel her can on my face or our noses against each other doing naricitas. When those magical moments come, I can be anywhere and I would call it sacred. I do need to be very careful though, because the more I allow myself to be lifted by that, the higher I fall from when reality comes back and I realise that all of that is just a memory, and not a moment that I will be able to experience again in this lifetime.

Today's sunset from Olivia's bench - Moments like this are sacred to me 

Today's sunset from Olivia's bench - Moments like this are sacred to me 

Capture Your Grief - Day 16. Full Moon Retreat

Today was all about having a retreat and reflect on how the month is going... After Saturday, the least I wanted to do was to reflect on my feelings as that would send me on a downward spiral. But, I did have a great day with some of the people I love the most in the world, and I got to share Olivia with them and felt them get a bit closer to her. 

I have two pictures of the full moon, the amazing and almost artsy one was sent to me by my uncle, one of the men I love the most on earth and beyond. That moon is back home in Venezuela, where I've had some of the best moments of my life, so I thought it was nice to share that one even though I didn't take it.

Full moon in Venezuela vs. full moon in London, Fulham.

Full moon in Venezuela vs. full moon in London, Fulham.

Capture Your Grief - Day 15. Wave of Light

I have a very love/hate relationship with this, as I love that we get to do things for Olivia, but I hate that it is because she's not here...

We miss you too much Chiquita and today has been particularly crap. I promise that the light you shine through us will never dim and we will make our best to shine brighter for you!

Te amo infinito mi Gasinettica, Mami

Osi, Olivia's faithful companion and the candle specially made for her by Tía Titi

Osi, Olivia's faithful companion and the candle specially made for her by Tía Titi

Capture Your Grief - Day 14. Beliefs + Spirituality

I'm finding it a bit hard to think about this topic when life, as I understood it, just came crashing down. I'm a Catholic and I even wanted to be a nun after watching The Sound of Music when I was little; but I've had a few issue with the church as an institution in many moments in life. I, however, have never had an issue or a doubt in God.

That being said, I have a BIG issue with people trying to make me swallow the God that they believe in whilst I deal with the fact that Olivia is most likely with him and not with me. I do believe that God works in mysterious ways and like my abuelita used to say, "Dios escribe derecho con letras torcidas" - "God writes straight with crooked letters" but none of those things apply here or give any comfort. I like to think of God as any other dad, one that dedicates his life to making the best for their children but equally, one that makes mistakes (Olivia dying being one of them). I feel is frankly outrageous that people tell me to trust God's perfect plan and that everything happens for a reason: ARE YOU INSANE!? No, there is nothing perfect about what's happening here and there is never going to be a good enough reason.

I still love and believe in God with unwavering faith, but I think he messed up here and like any unconditional love, he knows I still love him and that it will take time for me to forgive him and maybe I'll always hold a bit of a grudge. But that is ok, he knows that and I know that.

I've never seen sunflowers in a church, until we went to the Reims cathedral a few weeks ago for a beautiful mass and there she was, Olivia saying hello.

I've never seen sunflowers in a church, until we went to the Reims cathedral a few weeks ago for a beautiful mass and there she was, Olivia saying hello.

Capture Your Grief - Day 13. Dear World

Today we are free to write about whatever we want, trying to focus on what we would like the world to know about our grief. I don't think it's a good idea to give me freedom of speech, I like the idea of Capture Your Grief in part because of the structure it gives me. But, as I really want to stick with this as much as I can, I will write.

Dear World,

Remember me? I'm the annoyingly positive person you met 33.5 years ago! I hope everything is great with you. As you know, things are the worst they can be for me at the moment and the thing is, this moment will never end. I need you to know that I am the same person in essence that I've always been, but I am also drastically changed forever since my daughter Olivia passed away. Like you, I miss me, the old me that would make a "coca-cola" smile for pictures and who would always try to make people smile. I miss the confident me who would not shake at uncertainty because I truly thought I always had a fighting chance at whatever you threw at me. I now find myself almost timid about new situations and my happiness and smiles are no longer second nature, they are a choice and an actual effort I have to make every second I'm alive. I hope you see that I'm truly trying my best and I hope you understand the days where Olivia's absence is too much and I just can't put on the happy or surviving face on.

Dear World, I know you'd like to take my pain away because you understand that no mother should have to go through losing their child, but understand that you unfortunately can't. One thing I do ask you is to please be kind and please stop telling me that I can have other children as it is one of the most hurtful and disrespectful thing to say to a grieving mother, as no child is replaceable. Just think about it this way my dear dear World, you have children... Which one of them could you live without? Not only that, please stop making assumptions about my life, my future and what I can or cannot do. Understand that if and when I'm lucky enough to have more children, Olivia will still be dead but she will be never forgotten and if anything I will love her more fiercely with each breath taken. Remember that I didn't only lose my baby girl, I lost my toddler, seeing her  doing ballet if she wanted to, I will miss out on having a best friend and someone that will be instantly comforted when I'm in the room, just like I am when my mom is with me. I will miss out on her first party, her first love and broken heart and all the birthdays, Christmases and mother's day that never will. So please, don't tell me I can have more children, because that doesn't change that Olivia is not here and it makes me think that you don't understand the pain I will feel forever. 

I don't want to end my letter on a sour note my Dear World, so I want to thank you for everything amazing that you have given me and continue to do so. Thank you for my family, friends and even strangers that have reached out and supported me and Pierre; I know they will continue to do so for as long as they can. Lastly, thank you for giving me the chance to meet my daughter and hold her for hours even if she was gone already; I know that not all mothers get that chance, so THANK YOU for making me a few of the lucky ones who did.

Yours always,

Mariana Saraceni

PS: Please remember to light a candle for Olivia and her friends this Saturday 15th of October at 7pm (your time) and leave it burning for at least one hour. The idea is that we will create a continuous #waveoflight to commemorate all baby's gone too soon and to spare a thought for all the families that miss them so much.

Olivia was wrapped in this blanket after birth and the "shoes" where supposed to be worn when she came back home after birth. Both items were made for her by her great grandmother on her Papa's side. 

Olivia was wrapped in this blanket after birth and the "shoes" where supposed to be worn when she came back home after birth. Both items were made for her by her great grandmother on her Papa's side. 

Capture Your Grief - Day 12. Lemons + Lemonade

I have a bit of a problem about today's topic and questions: "Have you made anything positive come from this unimaginable loss? Did you find any blessings among all the sadness and sorrow?" I always try to see the silver lining in any situation, but let me make this perfectly clear: Olivia dying will NEVER be a good thing, I don't care how much good I may accomplish in my life in her memory, NOTHING will right this wrong and nothing is worth her not being here.

That being said, I do hope to make lemonade for others with this extremely sour lemons life has given me. I have started this blog hoping that it reaches other mothers like me when they are looking for comfort. In the future, when I feel stronger, I have plans to make it my life's mission to raise awareness and money for research on stillbirth. I want to create support materials in Spanish for all the family's that have to go through this hell but are in places where support is minimal, if any at all. 

Every 19th of June for however long I live, a family will receive a special present from Olivia and I'm actually looking forward to that. I am very much into random acts of kindness, and I have many in motion or planned in the name of Olivia, hoping that anyone can smile because of her. 

Yes, other people will benefit somehow from my daughter's passing, but I will never do. I know its selfish, but I would stop everything and give anything just for one more second with her.

Lemon sorbet  filled with super sour lemon jelly - It was like a Kinder surprise of sourness

Lemon sorbet  filled with super sour lemon jelly - It was like a Kinder surprise of sourness