Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Heart To Hold


A few days ago I received a gift in the mail.

A heart.

A heart weighing the amount Meredith weighed at birth. 

These are made by an organization called A Heart To Hold (click here). They are made so that the mom and dad can have something to hold about the size of their baby, as a mother's body and hormones are expecting to hold a child in the weeks after delivery. My sister had received two when her twin girls were delivered and passed away. I have no idea who requested this beautiful gift to be sent to me, but it means so much. 

I have received other gifts as well that are dear to my heart as well.

A stuffed animal from Robby's Rabbits (click here), angel, cross, and mother figurines, a Christmas ornament with her name made from scrabble tiles (so cute), a beautiful painting of an angel, two bracelets, one with Meredith's monogram engraved on it. So many also cooked (and continue to on some days) and helped clean my home.There were those that also gave to help with the expenses of Meredith's memorial service, as insurance is not available in these circumstances.

I list these items and actions to let people know how we have been blessed, thought of, loved, and remembered. We are so incredibly thankful for the support system that surrounds us.

I also mention these things so that when this happens to another loved one of yours you will have an idea of what you can do to bless them. And it is likely that it will happen to someone else you and I know. 1 in 4 experience pregnancy and infant loss. I have had more people than I expected to tell us about their early miscarriages and late term baby losses. I hated that these people we love experienced this pain, but I am thankful and blessed by their openness and willingness to share.

Many grieve in silence because they feel like they should "be strong" or "move on" and many of these women have been told this in one way or another (disclaimer: I have not had things like this said to me). What people need to remember is that these couples didn't just lose a pregnancy, their child died. And in that the future they dreamed of and planned has changed forever. Even if they have other children before or after the loss, nothing is ever the same. We, like many of these couples are trying to find a new normal. 
The thing is we want our child(ren) to be remembered. We don't want it to be swept under the rug or ignored.

I am heartbroken for the women that have felt as though their loss was not taken seriously or that people have forgotten the child they love so dearly. In truth it probably is taken very seriously and is not forgotten, but those around them do not know what to say or do, especially as time goes on.

There is an article I found through Pinterest about helping your friend(s) survive the first year of pregnancy or infant loss (click here). Depending on your friend or loved one some of the suggestions may or may not fit, however I believe it's a great starting point.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Doctor Appointments & Long Days

Made for Meredith by Forever My Sweet Pea
Yesterday was a long day. There really just isn't any other way to put it. It had been 2 weeks since I delivered Meredith and I had a follow up appointment with Dr. C.

I am fully aware that they know I've been through a lot, but I felt this need to not look like a complete mess while I was there. Now don't get me wrong, I fully expected to cry and be emotional. Yet, I took extra time to not look like I had just rolled out of bed, because I really didn't want to have people (other than who was expected to) asking if I was ok or not. In other words I was not in the mood to break down on complete strangers.

Anyway, I did really well until I pulled into area I always park. I couldn't help but think about the last time I was headed to this office. I was 16 weeks and excited. The appointment went great and I had been overjoyed to get to hear her heartbeat again. It was the most beautiful sound I had ever heard.

This time there was anxiety in place of excitement. I really didn't want to be there, but I knew it was needed. Luckily it seemed as though it was a slow day based on the front waiting area. I didn't have to ignore too many people. Also I have a grey nurse. Nurse K came and got me quickly and immediately put me in a room so I wouldn't have to wait with the expectant mothers and those back fro their 6 week check up with their newborns.

Dr. C. came in and I could tell he was treading softly and choosing his words carefully. He talked to me in the same soft tone he had when the fertility treatments weren't working a few years back. So far all of my blood work done in the hospital was normal (still waiting on genetics testing that was sent off). He and everyone else in my case agrees that it was an incompetent cervix (Click Here for Mayo Clinic explanation). There are steps that will need to be taken in any future pregnancies to help prevent the same thing from happening again (Click Here for Mayo Clinic explanation). We are too wait 6 months before trying to get pregnant again so that my body can heal. He asked me several times if I had any questions. I did when I came in, but he answered them all.

Once we were done chatting I really couldn't get out of there any faster.

I headed straight to the cemetery only stopping to pic up some pink carnations. I'm usually not a fan of carnations but I really liked these. When I get there I always cry, but I know that is to be expected. This subsides as I talk to her. Every time the conversation starts I feel this need to tell her that I'm sorry. I know she doesn't expect an apology and that she is in a place where there is no pain, but I apologize all the same. I tell her that we love her and miss her. This time I also told her how strong she  is making me. That I'm trying every day to be the woman she would have been proud to call mom. I stay until I can't think of anything else to say and then I gradually walk back to my car knowing I'll be back next week.

After all of this I was pretty exhausted, emotionally & mentally more than physically. I went home cooked and watched the Home Run Derby with Jason. There is something calming about just sitting together and watching Baseball together (or any sport really). God brought us together for so many reasons and I truly do not believe I could go through the trials of the life with anyone else!

“You never know how strong you are, 
until being strong is your only choice.” 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Never Once



NEVER ONCE

by Matt Redman


Standing on this mountaintop
Looking just how far we’ve come
Knowing that for every step
You were with us

Kneeling on this battle ground
Seeing just how much You’ve done
Knowing every victory
Was Your power in us

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Kneeling on this battle ground
Seeing just how much You’ve done
Knowing every victory
Was Your power in us

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Never once did we ever walk alone
Carried by Your constant grace
Held within Your perfect peace
Never once, no, we never walk alone

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Every step we are breathing in Your grace
Evermore we’ll be breathing out Your praise
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are faithful, God, You are faithful


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Hope

From articles and blogs I have read I know I will have good days and not so good days.

The morning of my birthday wasn't great emotionally. Mainly because I kept thinking this isn't how this day was suppose to be. I shouldn't already be back in my normal clothes. I should still be pregnant.

These thoughts started when I woke up. For a moment I forgot. I forgot the pain, the loss, and the emptiness. I found myself putting my hands on my tummy and having it all flooding back to my mind as I gradually woke up. Over the past week I have found myself out of habit putting my hands on my belly, but it was different than when I was in bed waking up.

Again, Jason was amazing and knew all the right things to say. I've been rely proud of him. I know he's hurting too. I know this has to be difficult because there wasn't anything he could do to stop it and there isn't anything that can be done to fix it.

I know for me I've had a hard time dealing with the fact that there was a lack of control. My body decided to not cooperate or go with the plan I had. We have found peace in the fact that there was nothing we could have done differently, yet there is the annoyance that the situation couldn't be "controlled". I have been learning over the past year to let go of the control I want to have over every detail of my life. Not exactly the easiest thing let me tell you!

The rest of the day was good. My sister brought me flowers and some of my coworkers took me out to an early dinner before church. It was good to get out of the house.

Today has been a week since the memorial service and I am amazingly having a peaceful day. That goes back to there being good days and not so good days. I know things will never be what they were before. Our lives have forever been changed by Meredith's short time here. But what I do know is that God has a plan and a purpose for all of it. We will eventually have a new normal, and I'm ok with that, because we have hope!

Monday, July 7, 2014

One Week

It's been a week since Meredith was brought into this world to pass just as quickly into the arms of Jesus. I've stayed really busy this past week. I tend to be really good at distracting myself.

A few days ago our Mac computer started acting up and the nearest Apple Store is in New Orleans. I really feel that God used that to get us out of Mobile for the day. The day trip on Saturday was what we needed. The drive there and back full of conversation. The time there spent exploring and enjoying the city.

Then Sunday we went to church. I sat in the balcony. As much as I didn't want to stay at home all day I also didn't want to talk to a lot of people. The service was nice and it was good to have some "normalcy". I thought about the Sunday a lot while I was there. All the events that led up to Meredith's birth and the days that followed. Everything is in some way connected to her now. After the service I drove to the cemetery. It was the first time I had gone alone. I've never really "talked" to anyone at a gravesite before, but now it feels like what I should be doing. Telling her all the things I won't get to say on this side of Heaven. But I know she knows.

This morning I woke around 2am. There wasn't anything in particular that woke me, but I knew it was around 2. It had been almost exactly a week. I didn't dwell on this fact long. I prayed for a while and drifted off back to sleep. 

I have decided this week to find ways to honor Meredith's life. The first way I plan to make items for Teeny Tears. This is a group of women all over the United States that make blankets, hats, diapers, and other items for babies born too early. These items are given to the grieving mom to dress their child for the only time (when often most clothing is too big for them). Another way to help bereaved families that I'm considering and others I know have decided to be connected with is called NICU Helping Hands. This group takes old wedding gowns and turns them into Angel Gowns for bereaved families. 

Friday, July 4, 2014

Sitting Still

Today I had to get out of the house. I couldn't just sit around anymore.  I'm sure I will have days that i don't want to leave the house as different aspects of this hit me, but today was not that day.

So Jason and I got up and went. We really didn't have any particular place to go, so we took our time and window shopped.

We started to make plans for the room that was suppose to be the nursery. The room is basically empty. I was ok with this while we were making plans for a crib and decorating for Meredith's arrival. 

After a lot of thought, until a time comes when the room will be used as a nursery I really don't want there to just be an empty, unused room in our house. We don't have a plan set, but some good ideas for how to utilize the extra space til the time comes again.

Then we picked up some white daisies and went to the cemetery. The tent from the service was still up and the spray from her casket were laying on top of the ground. There was again a great breeze and the weather was not as hot as July 4th usually is. We stood there quietly. 

I was thinking how unreal this whole experience feels. We stood there holding hands shedding silent tears. The grief we are experiencing together has shown me the bond we truly have. There is a peace in knowing that we can communicate without words and comfort each other without explination.

As we were leaving a woman that was leaving flowers for her loved one stopped to give us words of encouragement. I hope one day I am able to do the same for someone else going through this pain. I don't want this to be a silent part of my past, but something God can use for His glory. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

One of the Hardest Things



Today Jason and I did the hardest things I've ever had to do. We laid our little girl in her final resting place. The weather was beautiful and somehow there was a peace that I can only explain being from God. We were blessed to be surrounded by an abundance of friends and family that have shown us so much love this week.

I've always wondered how people make it through these types of things. Obviously the main answer is Christ. However, He has given us a tool to utilize during times like this: community. Without that I think we would all be lost. Through community we feel the love of Christ surrounding us.

Something the pastor said today stuck out. He said the life we're in is like looking at the back of a cross stitch and it looks like a jumbled mess. But in the end the cross stitch will be turned over and we'll see the beauty that God is stitching together. I think part of that beauty is how we show love to one another in times like these.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

I Held You Your Whole Life

Our time together was brief...

On Friday, March 21 we found out after almost 6 years of waiting we were expecting you...


On Monday, April 14 we heard your heart beat for the first time...


Mid April we announced you were coming to the world...


After this we started planning. Baby registries for the showers friends and family were organizing, purchasing small items, talking about names, more doctor appointments, planning a fresh coat of paint of the nursery, needing maternity clothes, setting the ultrasound appointment to learn boy or girl, and feeling those first few butterflies of your movements.....

Then, on Monday, June 30 at 2:33am you were born and passed into the loving arms of Jesus...


It comforts us to know that the first thing you saw when you opened your perfect little eyes was the face of Jesus. That you are with your grandparents and cousins you would have never met here on earth and that one day you will meet the ones that had to say goodbye to you all to soon... One day we fully believe Jesus will hand you back to us when we enter the gates of heaven and get to hold you as we sit at His feet and worship the only One who can heal the pain and brokenness we feel today.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

I'll Love You Forever

Sunday, June 29 started as any other Sunday. We got up, got dressed, gathered what we needed for the service at church and headed out the door. Choir and band practice went great and the kids that were set to be baptized and sing (a song from Vacation Bible School) were super excited.

In the middle of working on some tech stuff for the service, I felt "funny", but the feeling soon went away so I pushed it aside as a weird pregnancy thing. During the service I was running the computer and felt it again. As soon as Jason came to the sound booth (he had been on stage playing guitar) I went to the restroom. What I found was that I was possibly having an issue with fluid. Stepping outside I called the emergency line at my doctor's office. I told Jason what was going on while I waited for the nurse on call to call me back. The nurse called me back fairly quickly and asked me to come into the ER as soon as possible.

On a Sunday the traffic was light and we got to the hospital in almost no time. Everyone was very sweet in the ER and did everything as quickly as possible to get me into ultrasound to figure out what was going on.

The ultrasound I could tell was taking longer than any ultrasound I've had done (even when I went to the ER at 8 weeks). The baby still had a heart beat and was moving around. However, I noticed she was focusing on other areas more. I'm not a nurse or doctor so I couldn't really tell what she was looking for. She went and got a doctor who looked at the same thing. They didn't say much and said the doctor needed to read the ultrasound to determine for sure what was happening. I could tell the ultrasound tech seemed concerned as she pushed my bed back to ultrasound waiting area. She came back very quickly, told me I was going to a room, and that someone was going to get Jason. She, herself took me up to labor and delivery. I tried not to think about all the possible things that could be going wrong and whether or not anything would be able to be done.

After getting my room one of the nurses asked about my situation and all but one nurse walked outside with the ultrasound tech. After checking my vitals, starting an iv of fluids, and Jason being allowed back Dr. R came in. (My regular doctor, Dr. C, was on vacation and on his way back from Florida, but I was told he knew I was there and was being kept informed about my situation). Dr. R was very respectful, professional, and understanding. He kept apologizing for not being my regular doctor, but assured me that he would be taken care of.

After an exam they determined that I was dilated 4cm. Dr. R said he wanted to make sure I didn't have any infection before trying to put in a stitch or any other procedure to help keep me pregnant. They went ahead and started me on antibiotics as a precaution against infection while Dr. R went to talk with Dr. C and the high risk doctor from another hospital. They were all in agreement about the plan. So we settled in for the night to wait and see for the test results and to make sure there wasn't infection.

A few visitors came by to check in on us and to allow Jason to head home to shower, get clothes, toiletries, and our phone chargers. No one stayed too long, knowing we needed to rest. Jason and I tried to get comfortable (as much as you can in a hospital). I prayed, as I know Jason was, that there wouldn't be any infection and that a stitch would be a viable option. The night nurse, also the bereavement nurse, was assigned to us. Nurse D was very sweet and had been with my sister through her early losses of Joshua, Faith, & Hope.

Around midnight laying almost upside down (an attempt in trying to take the pressure off my uterus and the baby) since about 7pm started to take and toll on my back. Jason and I made myself a "cocoon" of pillows to make me more comfortable. It also helped that he brought me my pillow from home. Around 1 or 1:30 I knew something had gone wrong. I felt a "gush" and started to cramp. I called the nurse and she came in. She checked me and told me she was pretty sure my water had broken. She sat my bed to a normal, more comfortable, position and went to call the doctor (he had gone home at this point being that it was 1am and nothing had come up with any of his patients). I've never had contractions before but I had a pain on my right side that seemed to radiate through my front and back abdomen. I never felt anything on the left side. They put a mild pain medicine in my iv to help me relax but I was still very aware. The nurse asked if I would like an epidural (mostly for the possible pain during the "afterbirth"). Before they could even set up to do it I knew I was about to deliver. The nurse checked me and called in another nurse, Dr. R was on his way but hadn't gotten there yet.

At 2:33 AM with one push our baby was here.

It was the most deafening sound I had ever heard.

The room was silent, instead of hearing a baby's first cry.

Instead of tears of joy, I cried tears of brokenness as the nurse announced that we had a baby girl.

Moments after Meredith Danielle was born.
The nurse asked if I wanted to hold her and all I could do was nod and reach for her. Jason held my hand and pushed my hair out of the way the entire time. He also kept telling me how great I was doing, how strong I was, and how proud he was of me. I have to say he was amazing through all of it. God knew what He was doing when He put this man in my life. Dr. R came in not too long after that. he apologized and was very encouraging. He let me know Dr. C would be in later that morning.

She was perfect! So tiny and perfect. we held her for almost the rest of the night until I couldn't hold my eyes open and the nurse asked me if I wanted to sleep without worrying where she was. I said yes and slept fitfully for a few hours.

I kept her with us the entire rest of the day.

After everyone left together we held our baby girl mostly in silence. Taking turns to have moments with just her. Then I leaned my bed back, wrapped arms around her, and cuddled there with her.I kept finding myself wanting to tell her I was sorry for not being able to hold her under my heart longer so that she could have lived the life we had dreamed fore her. Jason got in beside me as we talked about what she may have been like, how we planned to remember her, and said goodbye.

My peace is in the promise and knowledge that our baby girl, Meredith Danielle, is resting in the arms of Jesus.

---------------------------------

Thank you to everyone that has prayed and is praying, as well as those that have made meals, phone calls, and cleaned our house. Thank you will probably never be enough.