Reflections on 2017

Today is the last day of 2017. As I write this there are only 19.5 hours left in this year. In a few hours, the last sunrise will take the place and hundreds of people will start to gather near our home in Time Square to watch the ball drop. In these frigid temperatures they will count down the New Year, 10,9,8... resolutions will be made and broken. Every year I write a blog post reflecting on the last 365 days. However, this year one particular day eclipses all the other days. That day, of course, is the day we lost our youngest son Roman. With the pain and the grief still fresh in our hearts we say goodbye to 2017, but not to forget, I don't think I'll ever forget this year, nor do I want to. My memories of Roman are something I wish to never forget.  For all the pain that we have endured in the last few weeks of this year, it was also filled with great amounts of joy. We rang in the new year with some of our best friends last year. We got to take our children to Europe and show them amazing feats of architecture like the Eiffel tower and beautiful portraits like the Mona Lisa. Aly will still shout out if she sees the Eiffel tower anywhere. We've seen our son Fynn grow and learn to speak and become his own little man. In April Brooke called me at work to tell me that we were expecting a third child and I was pleasantly surprised.  It was a bit ironic because my boss and I had just been talking about having more children about an hour or two before Brooke called me.  In May we had our annual friends trip, though this year it was a bit low key, we came to our good friends place in NJ for the long weekend.  The summer was a blast, we enjoyed the warm weather, took trips to Governor's Island, we rode bicycles, we had family come visit and we visited family.  In July we had a debacle of a travel, 2 canceled flights, and 4 days delayed later, we made it to Oklahoma. In August we had some more summer fun, splash pads in the city, ice cream after dinner, pool parties and bar-b-q.  In September we went apple picking! October came and went and November we eagerly awaiting the birth of Roman.  We stayed home for Thanksgiving and Brooke cooked an amazing Thanksgiving dinner.  The morning of November 27th, we rushed to the hospital fully expecting to see our son, we didn’t get the chance.  Our son was lost, the next few weeks were a whirlwind we held a funeral, we said our goodbyes, we were surrounded by so much love that it was overwhelming.  In December I turned 30, this was rough, I was hoping to be 30, and sleepless because of our newborn.  For Christmas, we spent it with my parents, brother, sister in law and our cute little niece.  Today is the last day of 2017.  In the midst of tragedy, pain, and loss, I know that the Lord has and will continue to sustain my family and me. 

2 Corinthians 6:2 reads: 

‘“In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.’

2017 will be a year that I will never forget, nor do I want to forget.  I pray that in 2018 the Lord will be gracious to us and to all of you. 

Lastly, I leave you with a quote from one of my favorite authors. 

“If I knew that today would be the last time I’d see you, I would hug you tight and pray the Lord be the keeper of your soul. If I knew that this would be the last time you pass through this door, I’d embrace you, kiss you, and call you back for one more. If I knew that this would be the last time I would hear your voice, I’d take hold of each word to be able to hear it over and over again. If I knew this is the last time I see you, I’d tell you I love you, and would not just assume foolishly you know it already.” 

— Gabriel Garcia Marquez

-Ron


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November/December 2017 Update

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I have combined the last two months' blog updates, because as you are well aware by now, the end of November was the hardest day of our life.  So I am just now getting around to jotting down some updates for the last two months.  Also, I should note that I accidentally deleted almost all of my November photos!

We started off the month celebrating the kids' birthdays.  We had a play date birthday party at their favorite playground (Tom Otterness Playground) with all of their friends and family. They are so loved!!

The next weekend, as part of Aly's birthday present, Ron took her to see Disney on Ice in Brooklyn.  She absolutely loved it!  Make sure you check out the super sweet video below that Ron made to document the trip!

That same weekend we had a quick day visit from Gigi and Bop, which is always great!  

We stayed home and celebrated Thanksgiving as our little family this year, as we were a little too close to Roman's due date to be travelling even to Long Island. So we spent Thanksgiving morning watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade.  We have friends that live along the parade route, so we hung out with them, and then were able to watch the parade easily, as their block is blocked off!  It was so much fun, and we can't wait to do it again!  

The Monday after Thanksgiving, November 27th, we met and said goodbye to our sweet Roman.  This has been by far the hardest thing any of us have had to endure.  I could say 10,000 words about Roman right now, but we've already written some thoughts out that you can read here, here, and here if you haven't already.

After saying goodbye to Roman, we wanted to spend some intentional time together as a family, and really just enjoy time with the two kids that God has blessed us with.  Some of the fun things we got to do this month were ice skating, visiting Santa, building gingerbread houses, baking cookies, visiting the "Big Tree", riding carousals, and going to the Transit Museum and the Natural History Museum.  It's been a sweet time together.

We spent Christmas at Lito and Litas' house.  It was a great time with family, and it's always so fun to have the cousins together! And now we are wrapping up 2017 by spending the weekend with some of our best friends, the Schmidts!  :)

Alynne

Aly-gator, you are four years old now!  Wow!  Where has the time gone?  It seems like yesterday that we were bringing you home from the hospital.  You are such a wonderful young lady.  You have the biggest heart of anyone I know.  You constantly care for other people and always stop to make sure someone is okay or try to make them feel better.  You are particularly good at comforting Fynn. 
This month has been a big growing up time for you.  You have had to deal with things a 4 year old should never have to deal with, or grown ups for that matter.  Losing your baby brother has been difficult to say the least.  You were so very excited to meet Roman in the hospital and were devastated when you learned what happened.  You talk about Roman daily, usually telling me about the things you would like to do with him if he were here.  It's good for my soul to hear you talk about him.  I pray you always remember him.  We've had difficult conversations with you about death and heaven and God, and I've seen you age a lot in your capacity to understand things. Mami and Papi so wish we could take away your hurt and pain, but we love you so very much.  You are an amazing little girl, and I know Roman would have loved you as much as the rest of us do.  

A few other quick notes for you from these last two months:

-One day you said, "When it's Wintersday, can we build a snowman?"

-We were reading Turkey Trouble, and you asked why the Turkey was scared of being eaten, and I said, well what do people eat for Thanksgiving?  To which you said, "Turkey.  But not that kind of turkey, people eat food turkey!"

-You said one afternoon, "Mami, we should go see the Nutcracker again this year."  and when I told you it was too expensive to do again this year you said, "How about for Christmas, we can get some money, and then we can go!"

-"Lord, please make the weather sunny tomorrow because Fynn has been asking to go to the playground for awhile now."

-We had your first Parent Teacher conference in November.  You are truly loved by your teacher, Mrs. Rivas.  She had such wonderful things to say about you.  We are most proud of how you love on everyone in your class, always including everyone and talking to everyone, even those who don't speak the same language as you!  You are quite the leader in your class!

-This month you have really started reading.  You have many books that you can read on your own.  You must know close to 100 sight words and can sound out most CVC words.  So proud of you!

-"This has been such a special Christmas.  You want to know why? Because Baby Roman gets to celebrate it with Jesus!"

Fynnlan

Oh Fynn, we love you so!  You are so full of fun and energy these days!  You are super silly, constantly making us laugh (check out the drill video below!).  You have started to push boundaries a little more, like trying to escape your room at night!  And we hear a lot of "Don't want iiiiiit," and "No, Papi/Mami."  haha!
The first couple of weeks following Roman's birth were hard for you.  I know you don't really understand what happened, but you could certainly tell something had happened.  You were even more attached to my hip (if that were even possible haha), and just a bit on edge emotionally.  You have since returned to your normal, easy going self.  You still include Roman in your prayers every night, and it makes me so happy.   You would have been the best big brother. 

A few things you have said these past two months:

-"Baby, look!"  You have Baby watch everything you do.

-"I do it!!"  All. The. Time.

-"Shumpy shumpy shump."  (Thumpity thump thump.)

-You ask so many questions these days--What's that? Where going? What we doing?  What you making?

-"Sorry, Papi"  with the saddest little frown face, that bottom lip folds in half!

-You also blow the most adorable "teeth kisses" haha

Silly faces with Fynn
Aly's 4th and Fynn's 2nd birthday party! The kids are so loved!! (Love Fynn's reaction at the end!)
Birthday party fun
Turning Fynn into a super hero �
Aly's birthday surprise!
Spelling and writing practice!
Ice skating at Bryant Park!
Hanging Baby Roman's stocking
Fynn the bird
"look Aly! Oh no, oh no! Broken!!"
"is she in bathroom? No...Is she behind the couch?"
Fynn's first drill! ☺️
Train time with the niños
Singing at church!
Sharing her triangle with Fynn! ☺️
The silliest little boy
Working on reading!
Shumpy Shumpy shump. (thumpity thump thump)
Future pianist

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Roman Xavi- One Month Later

Roman,

Today you would have been one month old.  One month without you here has felt like an eternity of unbearable pain and suffering.  We think about you nearly every second of the day, constantly thinking about what you would be doing right now if you were here, thinking of the aspirations we had for you, but will never get to see come to fruition, mourning the loss of you.   I wish I could see your eyes, I'm sure they were brown like your brother and sister.  I wish I could smell that newborn smell on you.  I even wish I could be covered in spit up and poop at 2am.  Anything to have you here with us.  Most of all, I just wish I was holding you in my arms for hours on end.  Sometimes I wish I could have had even a day with you alive, but I know in my heart that no amount of days with you would have been sufficient, I never would have been ready to let you go.

Two days ago was Christmas.  It was supposed to be your first Christmas with us.  I had matching Santa pajamas for you to wear with Aly and Fynn.  I had a tiny stocking hat to take your newborn photos in.  Now these things are collecting dust, never to be worn by you.  This Christmas we should have been celebrating with you by our side, instead of weeping over your grave, son.  Most of the time, it feels so unfair.  It's hard to accept that I had you for 9 months in my womb, only to lose you in the end.  

The past week, as Christmas was approaching, I have been dwelling on one of my favorite Christmas songs, 'O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.'  Emmanuel means 'God with us.'  We celebrate Jesus' birth on Christmas.  He came into this world to be with us.  To know us deeply.  To walk with us.  To understand the depths of our pain.  To give us hope.  I am so thankful for this.  This Christmas, I heavily mourn the loss of my son, but greatly rejoice in the birth of our Savior.  This Savior who has been 'with us' every moment, every hour, of this nightmare.  A savior who took the weight of sin upon his shoulders, so that he might save us, give us hope, and be with us daily.  I have been constantly reminding myself of these truths lately, resting in this knowledge.  He is my constant when nothing else seems secure anymore.  

Roman, my son.  I long to hold you, know your eyes, feel your warmth, see your smile.  I love you more than words could express. 

-Mami


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Thoughts on Roman

I never imagined that we would have to bury a child before the age of 30.  I would have never imagined that we could be strong enough to make it through something like the loss of a child.  Yet somehow we have.  Hour by hour, day by day, we are making it.  The days have now turned into weeks, as time cruelly goes on, as if nothing happened. 

I know these blog posts are hard to read--they're hard to write too.  I have been journaling for my own personal processing, but I think occasionally I will post a public post too.  Reading other people's stories have helped me, and so if opening up about my own grief helps others, I am happy to share.   

Many have asked/wondered what happened.  Surely there was a reason, some cause, some warning signs.  No.  There was nothing.  I have had 3 healthy pregnancies, 2 healthy babies, and this pregnancy was showing to be no different. I felt Roman moving the night before as I fell asleep.  The next morning at 38 weeks and 3 days, I started having contractions.  At that point, we didn't have any idea there was anything wrong.  I felt fine, everything seemed normal, and  we didn't even wait as long as you're supposed to before going to the hospital.  However,  when we got there, they told us he didn't have a heartbeat.  Shortly after, I started losing a tremendous amount of blood, which led the doctor to believe that the placenta had abrupted, or separated from the wall of my uterus.  Some common causes or reasons to be at a higher risk for a placenta abruption are smoking, drinking, being over 35, or experiencing trauma to the stomach.  None of which applied to me.  There are also usually signs in your body that it is happening, but again, everything was normal.  In fact, last week, we got all of the testing back, and everything came back normal, even the placenta.  There was absolutely nothing that could have been done differently.  I wrestle with that piece almost daily.  Shouldn't I have realized something was wrong? How could my body have betrayed me like this? Could we have gotten to the hospital any sooner?  But as those questions arise in my mind, I have to constantly remind myself that God chose to take him straight to His side. As hard as it can be to accept, our Roman was never made for this world.  One day after he was born, Ron and I talked about how we don't know what sort of life he would have had, that maybe he was being spared some great pain and suffering here.  But then I thought, you know, even the best life here on earth doesn't even begin to compare to the life he is living in Heaven.  And though we desperately and selfishly want to have our son here with us, we cling to the knowledge that he is in the best place he could be.  Psalm 84:10 tells us that, "Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere."

 

3 in 10,000.

That's about how many people experience a stillbirth at 38 weeks, .03% of women.  Such a small number, and we certainly never thought this number would apply to us. As we've gone through this, I've met and talked with many women who have experienced stillbirth, whether earlier on (24 weeks) or closer to full term.  It's been so eye opening to hear others stories that sound so eerily similar.  My heart aches for those who have had to experience such pain that we know all too well, but at the same time, it comforts me to know we're not alone.  

As I have slowly begun to step back into the real world this past week, it's been hard.  People look from my missing stomach to my empty arms to my aching face, and it's tough.  It's not how it was supposed to be.  I have survived my first, "You had your baby!" conversation, and like most of this whole situation, I have found that by the Lord's strength, I am able to get through it too.  In fact, I have quickly found that I can't help but talk about Christ when I talk about Roman.  He will forever make me a better witness to Christ's love for us.

"Though he slay me, I will hope in him." -Job 13:15

One thing that has been so life-giving for us in this time is everyone's love, support, and generosity.  We were blown away by the number of people who came to Roman's memorial service.  We've been so blessed by everyone helping us financially, logistically, praying for us, reaching out daily, sending scripture and songs, care packages and food.  We are so grateful.  Please continue to pray for us and check on us, it means the world to us.

Lastly, our little Roman has already left such a great legacy here on earth.  We posted our initial blog posts just as a way to share what happened with others and process it ourselves.  We never dreamed the impact it would have on others.  Over 10,000 people read our blog posts.  Over 10,000 people heard about Christ's love for us and where we put our hope in in this time.  We know a few people have become Christians because of this as well.  Wow.  What a testament and legacy for our son's life. As much as I long and ache to have my baby with me, I rejoice greatly for these people and the way God is using Roman. 


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