Monday, November 21, 2011

In Gratitude and Rememberance

Eleven months.

Today marks 11 months since Becky joined and left our family at the same instant, without a breath or a cry.

It's almost a year. It's been a long 11 months. It's been a HARD 11 months. But in that time, I have seen some of the purpose in Becky's life being so short; I have learned a lot from her.

It's the time of year for Christmas music. Last year Annie Lennox released a new Christmas album. Becky LOVED it. It was her very favorite thing to listen to (though she also liked Doctor Horrible's Sing Along Blog, and the Wiggles, this was the number one dance album for her.) This was one of her favorite songs on the album. It's a cool video too, so I'd like to share it with you as I remember her.

Becky left me with a lot of happy memories of the time I had with her, even if it was all in-utero (well, at least most of it. I know she has been with me since then too, but... in different ways.)

She also saved my life, and possibly her sisters'. You see, if I had never been pregnant with her, or had miscarried early on, we would still have been driving our Corolla when we were in our crash. And if she had lived, she would have been in the second row, and me in front on that trip. As it was, we all survived with minor injuries (well, except Maggie, who was completely uninjured becasue she was rear-facing and was protected by that.)

I believe so strongly that she knew what had to happen, and that she made this choice. The only time we could have known exactly what was wrong was during our follow-up high-level ultrasound with Dr. Devore. She was active before and after the ultrasound. During, she took a nap. The knot in her cord was behind her. They poked and prodded and tried to get her to move so they could see the back of the cord, but she just wouldn't. She just didn't move. In the end, they concluded that something was "off" a bit with the cord flow, but since she was growing (she'd jumped from the 15th to the 60th percentile), they were thinking it was okay. If she had moved away, if they had seen the knot behind her, she would have been born by scheduled c-section or emergency c-section if I went into labor. I'd have been upset by that, sure, but I'd have had time to come to terms with it and she would have almost certainly been born healthy. But because of her choice, her actions- it didn't happen that way. And so, because she stayed still when she needed to and did that flip that tightened the knot when she had to, she died just as she was born, and saved me.

Why would she do this? I can only guess that it's because it was necessary for me to stay here. I have work to do. Part of that work is advocating for child passenger safety. I'm a Child Passenger Safety Technician, and have been for about two and a half years now; I'm also currently on the board of Safety Belt Safe USA, an organization which provides education for techs and parents as well as advocating on the state and federal level for improvements in standards, laws, and policies regarding child passenger safety and occupant protection, and advocating for proper use in the media.

I have felt called to this work since I kind of "fell into" it. I have felt like I've found the work I'm meant to do, at least in part. And I feel that Becky's sacrifice for us was in part so that I can continue it- so that, through continued advocacy, spreading the lessons our crash story can teach, and the work I can do to help Safety Belt Safe in their mission, other mamas' babies will be saved.

So in that spirit I'd like to ask three things of you in the next month if you are reading this and care to, to commemorate Becky's life and help me express my gratitude for her gift to us of how she joined our family. They are:

1. Please make sure the children in your care, or those you care for who are in the care of those you can reach with this message (family, friends) are riding as safely as possible in the car. (Let me know if you need information on what that means or how to accomplish it!)

2. Please share my crash story in the link above (there's a brochure ready to print) with at least one person who has a child 12 or under riding in his or her car on a regular basis. This can be via Facebook, email, or by printing out the brochure and handing it to someone.

3. I know budgets are tight, especially this time of year, so this one's the hard one to ask for. If you have a few dollars to spare, even $1, and would like to make a donation in Becky's memory, please consider making a (tax-deductible) donation to Safety Belt Safe. If you go to their website there is a button that says "Make a Donation." Click and a button will pop up. Enter the amount you wish to donate and click "Update Total." Then log in to your paypal account. On the next page, click the button that says "add additional instructions." If you'd like to make your donation in honor of Becky, please write "In memory of " (or "in honor of") "Becky Hamilton." These donations, as a group, will be acknowledged and a little blurb placed in her honor in the January issue of the Safety Belt Safe newsletter. You can also make a donation by check or money order by sending to
SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A., Box 553, Altadena, CA 91003 with a note stating that it is in honor of Becky.

Whether you do any of these things or not, I appreciate your love and support. It would mean a lot to me if you are willing to do any or all of these things for me in memory of Becky, though. Thank you for your friendship.