Sunday, October 20, 2013

On Her 3rd Birthday

On this day, 3 years ago, we said hello and goodbye to our precious firstborn daughter, Caroline Elizabeth. She was born at 7:27pm and weighed 6lbs 11oz and was 21 inches long. She was a whole person, complete. She was perfection. With long legs, piano-player fingers, a perfect mouth and nose...amazing. She was everything I ever dreamed of and so much more, except we didn't get to keep her.

I still miss her. Ache for her. Crave her.

I'm thankful for the promise that I'll be with her again one day. I have so much I want to say to her, so many hugs and kisses to catch up on.  One day...

Happy birthday, sweet baby Caroline. I love you today, tomorrow, forever.

These are the sweet flowers placed on the altar at my parents' church this morning in her memory.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Happy "2 Old" Art Birthday Party, Addalee!

You guys.  My middle baby is 2...what?!  How has this happened?  Seems like just days ago we were bringing her home from the hospital and watching her learn to roll over, eat solids, talk, walk, etc.  Now we're moving into the territory of potty training and drinking from "people cups" (i.e. non-sippy cups).

For her party, we decided on an art/coloring/painting party. 

It came together pretty easily, really.  I was fortunate to hit a back to school tax free holiday to buy a lot of the supplies too, score! 

We had the kids color and paint on the back porch.  I stumbled upon this colorable table cloth (it was actually the LAST thing I found for the party!), and knew it was perfect. We also had huge coloring pads, but they didn't even care about them with the tablecloth!

Abigail got in on the fun too! (Even though she only wanted to eat the crayons)

I made this "necklace" shirt for the birthday girl!

After coloring, we ate fruit, veggies, and most importantly cupcakes!

The cupcakes were iced in white buttercream with candy sprinkles and crayons as toppers

After eating, we went outside again to play in the water!  We had water tables, a splash pad thingy, and a little pool.  We also played with sidewalk chalk, messy outdoor bubbles, and finger (or toe!) paints!

Then it was back inside to finish up.

Then just like that, it was time for goodbyes and favors.

The favors were a little note pad, a pack of washable crayons, a hand shaped clapper noise maker thingy, some jelly bracelets, stickers, party blower, and KitKat.  They sat next to a beautiful framed piece of Addalee's art work. :)

And so another birthday party is in the books.  It sure was a good time!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Addalee Turns 2

2 years ago on this day, our hearts were filled with such hope and our tummies with lots of butterflies. After a very difficult 36 weeks of pregnancy (emotionally and physically), we were being induced on a hot and sunny Monday morning. We couldn't wait to meet this girl we'd fallen for head over heels and prayed for so diligently. At 8:34 pm, with a tiny little cry, she was here. She was teeny tiny and perfect at 5lbs 5oz and 19.5 inches long (much smaller than her big sister Caroline at 6lbs 11oz and 21 inches long). 

Just Born Addalee

"Are you my Momma?"

Sweet little thing

She was like a soothing balm to our broken hearts. She has brought a healing into our lives that we are thankful for each day. It has never been her job to fix our brokenness of missing Caroline. We will always miss her. But we are thrilled to experience the joy Caroline's little sister brings into our lives.

1st Birthday Photo Shoot

Happy, happy birthday my dear sweet girl. You're a joy. Your laughter is music to our ears. Your smiles melt us. We love you to the moon and back!!

Goodness, she's changed so much! 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Diaper Genie

We sold our Diaper Genie today. Actually, we sold the Diaper Genie and our wipe warmer. Big deal, right? Well yeah, kinda. Not because I'm a hoarder and actually got rid of something (technically, I'm only marginally a hoarder), but because of when they came into our lives and what they represent.

Both items were shower gifts at showers thrown for Caroline. Our lives were on track and things were falling into place. Simpler. Naive. Innocent. They were set up and waiting for her, just like us. And they were left sitting in her finished nursery after we lost her.

They sat in that little pink and yellow room waiting for a baby to come use them, and finally it happened, thank God. Twice now. But we've moved on from them. They haven't been used much in ages, so it was time for them to move out and make a little space. We may not have any more babies. Besides, someone else can use them, right?

As the lady who bought them drove away, I cried. Not because we got rid of a Diaper Genie and wipe warmer. I cried because we got rid of something we'd gotten for her. I cried because we let go of something for babies. I cried because we let go. We never let go of Caroline, bit it's still hard for me to let go of the things we had for her. 

I hope they have lots of use ahead of them in a busy, loving home, filled with lots of babies and love. No more sitting and waiting...

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Known Love

I ran across this picture on Facebook today and it angered me.

I'm almost certain that whomever created this little image had nothing but good intentions, but it made me wanna puke and punch something. To imply that you don't know love because you haven't mothered a living child, well that's just plain rude and ignorant. 

I'll venture to say that until you've heard a doctor confirm your worst fears, dealt with the reality that your beautiful baby is not ever going to grow into the person you had so many dreams for, made funeral arrangements, kissed your baby (no matter the age) for the very last time and said goodbye, you've not known pain. Sure, life can throw terrible things in our paths. But I've heard so many people tell me that the pain of losing a child is some of the worst there is. 

So because I didn't get to read to her little ears, powder her little booty, and wipe away her little tears, I know a different, but fiercely deep love. The love of a brokenhearted mama; but definitely love. I knew it then. And I know it still when I care for her sisters here. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

It's Almost Here...Again

It's that time of year again. Mother's Day.

I'm happy to say that I don't dread it nearly as much as I have in years past. But it's still kind of an awkward day for me. I'm not completely sure how to handle myself. I don't know if I'll be able to just be in the moment and therefore overall cheerful and happy, or if I'll be sad thinking of the girl who should be here, but isn't. My guess is that I'll land somewhere in between.

It's also a day that my family doesn't know how to handle me. They don't know if they should say something, or just treat it as any other day. I suppose they are just following the lead I set back on Mother's Day after Caroline died. They are just letting it go by without any hubbub. Truth is, I want to be recognized now. I want to be appreciated for the 3 girls that I've birthed, and the 2 girls that I spend my days with. Somehow saying nothing feels worse now.

I do know that I kind of hate TV right now. I despise all the Mother's Day commercials, they just make me a crying mess! I'm thankful Netflix doesn't have commercials!!

Overall, it really is just another day. But it's a day I'm going to try to enjoy this year. I hope that the other moms in the same boat as I am are able to find at least some joy. I know I'll be thinking of all of the sweet babies we're all missing, the ones that made us mothers, the ones that were joining our families with open arms.

So, Happy Mother's Day!

Monday, March 4, 2013

PP Pre-E

Did you know that you can get Pre-Eclampsia AFTER you give birth?!  Yeah. Me either.  But apparently it happens.  It's aptly named Postpartum Pre-Eclampsia, and it's no fun.

I'm a low blood pressure kind of gal.  Like, it never gets above 110/70. Throughout my pregnancy with Abigail (and Addalee, for that matter), I was borderline hypotensive. I had trouble keeping my bp high enough during labor and had to lay flat for most of it. 

Just after Abigail was born, I began having headaches. I have a history of migraines, but this was different. I didn't know how much of my feeling bad  had to do with the birth process, so I wasn't too worried. My blood pressure was monitored for a bit after the birth, and had returned to textbook average. I felt kind of under the weather for the days after. I developed a lot of pain in my right side, terrible headaches, and radiating pain up the side of my neck.

I called my OB, and told them what was going on with me. It had been a week since having Abby, and 7 long days of feeling pretty rough. I still thought that a lot or most of what I was feeling was just my body going through trauma and drastic hormone changes, not to mention the lack of sleep! I figured they'd have me come in just to have a quick look, and they did. They thought I was having hormonal migtaines and some gallbladder issues. I was scheduled for a CT of my head and an ultrasound of my gallbladder the next day. I was also given a shot for the pain. As we sat and waited at the office, my head throbbed with each beat of my heart. It was pretty miserable.

We went home and tried to go about our routine. Unfortunately, the pain meds never really helped and I started feeling worse by dinner time.  I tried to relax a bit, but finally the pain in my side and head was enough to make me cry, and that's not like me. I went into my bedroom to have a little time alone (read I was about to throw up from the pain, and I don't want anyone within a mile of me when I feel sick). While I was upstairs, my mom and Arthur decided to call my doctor. He said I needed to be brought back to L&D. So I got Abigail into her PJs, a bottle of expressed milk ready, and hopped in Mom's car to be whisked away to the hospital. Everyone figured I'd be back later that night.

We got there, it was cold and dark and a Tuesday, just like when we went with Caroline. I sat in the same stupid chair to get checked in.  When we got up to L&D, I was walked back to triage.  I hadn't been back in that room since that terrible night.  As the door opened, I felt like I was going to pass out. I wasn't sure if it was the pain or just being back there.  I tried to hold myself together, and did okay until I was told to take the same bed.  There were 3 in the room.  A 1 in 3 chance of being placed in the same one...and I broke down. I told the nurse that I just couldn't lay in that bed, and shared why.  Ugh. 

Once I got situated, the nurse set about examining me.  She asked questions about how I was feeling and lots of, "Do you have pain here? Or here?"  She checked my temperature and my blood pressure.  When the automatic cuff reached the end of its cycle, I heard the little alarm go off, signaling that there was a problem.  I figured it was just a problem with the cuff.  Nope.  My blood pressure was high, but no one told me.  The nurse started really checking my reflexes.  She was hitting my knees and moving my arms.  She hit the button on the blood pressure machine again, telling it to take another reading immediately, and kept checking my reflexes.  I was annoyed.  I was there because my headache was too bad to hold my head up.  Quit making me kick and give me some pain medicine!  Seriously.  My mom is a nurse and I could tell that she was starting to get pretty uncomfortable, but I was in too much pain to really care.  The nurse, who was a total sweetheart, left to call my doctor and update him.

Apparently, my blood pressure was around 190/99, and my reflexes were troublesome too.  And still, all I was concerned about was the pain!  Mostly because I didn't understand what else was going on.  The nurse came back and told me that I was being admitted, and I was going to be getting morphine to help with the pain.  I couldn't believe I was being admitted.  The only hospital stays I'd ever had were to have my girls!  I was shocked that they believed I was sick enough to be hospitalized!  I still thought this was a migraine!

After a delirious night and morning of medication and pain, I had a CT, an ultrasound, and an MRI.  There were blood tests done and more needles and shots than I can count.  Once the pain was managed, I began to feel at least some better.  My blood pressure came back down to a normal level and the pain in my side went away.  I was in the hospital from Tuesday night to Friday late afternoon.  Thankfully, Abigail was able to come and stay with me, so I was able to continue to nurse her.  

All the tests came back normal and my blood pressure returned to normal (even my low normal), I was given a clean bill of health.  The crisis is over and I'm so thankful.  That was no fun, no fun at all.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

One Month

It's hard to believe that Abigail is already a MONTH old!  Wow!  Time is definitely flying by.  Actually, Addalee is 18 months old now.  Surreal.

It's amazing to watch another child grow.  I'm so thankful to have this opportunity.  Abigail is a joy.  I can't believe how different she is from her big sister, Addalee.  For instance, she's a champion eater.  I tried so hard to nurse Addalee, but she was just too tiny and had a hard time with it (and pumping lead to a low supply).  Abigail has taken right to it, and done well with her weight gain!  I'm thrilled to not have to supplement with formula, at least not yet!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Should I Be Scared? - A Birth Story

"Should I be scared?" It's a phrase that has been uttered at 2 of the most terrifying moments of my life. I said those words on that dark and drizzly October night. We were desperately watching the nurses search forcefully, quietly, and grim faced for Caroline's heartbeat. They didn't say anything for what felt like an eternity, then finally, "Yes, sweetheart. You should be." It may sound cold to you reading this, but I was just glad someone was being honest with me, telling me something true. Instead of sugar coating some of the worst news I've ever had to accept.

I had to ask that same question just a few weeks ago, lying in the same hospital with a big pregnant belly and a world of hope in my heart. Since we have a history of stillbirth, we're watched more closely in pregnancy, especially the last part. My doctor is an amazing man who really tries his hardest to take care of me and my neurosis. Abigail had changed her position to transverse just a week prior, and I had felt a very significant decrease in movement. That wasn't something I handled very well. Decreased movement is grounds for constant monitoring in my mind. They assured me that the third little girl in my womb was healthy and thriving after the biophysical profile and cord doppler were done. I told the doctor that my nerves had pretty well had all they could take. I was at the end of pregnancy, and it was to the point where she would do well outside. I saw no point in leaving her inside and having something terrible happen. So in my 36th week, I was to come in for an ultrasound on Monday, January 28th and be sent to the hospital for induction. I only had to survive from my appointment on Thursday to Monday, easy peasy, right? Ugh. Well I did pretty well, and so did Abigail, until around 5:00 Monday morning. I couldn't get her to move. I mean; nothing. I had an anterior placenta (again), and knew that could be affecting what I was feeling. But I was really feeling nothing. So I panicked, grabbed my doppler, and went downstairs to search for her heartbeat. I didn't want to worry Arthur until I knew something for sure (sad to think that way, but maybe that's some PTSD). I sprawled out on the couch and covered my belly with cold ultrasound gel. I took the probe in my shaking hand, praying to find a heartbeat, and heard faint sounds, but nothing like normal. I felt sick. I was terrified. I searched frantically, and felt what I thought could've been a little kick, but I couldn't allow myself to be too hopeful. Then there it was, her little heart beating, the sound was music to my ears. I felt my entire body of clenched muscles begin to relax, we were okay. She was still alive in there. So with that, I went back to bed. I didn't sleep, but lay there in the quietness and felt her move. Surely and steadily. And I counted the hours.

Later that morning we all got up and got ready for our appointment. I made sure my bags were packed and I had left outfits and detailed instructions for Addalee's routines for her grandparents to take care of her during our hospital stay. It was hard to believe we had made it and were going to meet our third daughter that day.  Addalee was going to have a (living) sibling!

The ultrasound and appointment went well.  Abigail still looked good and healthy.  The ultrasound tech did another cord Doppler, and I asked questions about the location of the cord.  The understanding that my doctor and our sweet ultrasound tech have is that they won’t tell me when our babies have their cord wrapped around their necks.  It’s a way to keep me from being unnecessarily terrified.  I mean, the statistic is that 1/4 of all live births have their cords wrapped around their necks.  It only VERY rarely causes real issues, and even then, more rarely death.  But with our history, no one wants to leave anything too much to chance.  I was dilated to 2 already! So, with some information left out of my version of the story (thankfully), I was sent to the hospital to begin the induction process.

From there, things moved pretty quickly.  I got checked in, changed into the super stylish hospital gown and hopped in the bed.  My IV was started, and anesthesia was called to start my epidural so I could have my water broken.  They strapped the monitor to my belly, and the sweet and steady heartbeat of the tiny girl in my belly filled the room.  All was well.  I got my epidural (which was actually painful this time around), and my doctor was in the room shortly to break my water.  The epidural hadn’t really had time to fully take effect, but he told me it was time to get started.  So with that, he got to work…ouch.  With all the moving around, the monitor lost Abigail’s heartbeat.  I wasn’t worried because I know the external monitors aren’t terribly effective when mom is writhing around and moving the sensors.  But then I noticed the quiet efficiency with which the nurses and doctor were working.  I saw their stoic faces.  Obviously the light and cheerful mood in the room only a few minutes earlier had changed drastically.  One nurse was helping the doctor; the other was pushing the sensor into my belly, frantically trying to hear the baby’s heartbeat.  They were talking to each other, but I couldn’t understand the words through my panic. Nothing.  Silence.  That’s all I was hearing.  The deafening silence of the absence of a heartbeat.  How could this be happening?!  "Should I be scared?" I asked the nurse.  She said, "Not yet."  Finally, my doctor told me that he had to put in an internal monitor.  It was going to be quite painful, but he needed to get it on the baby.  I didn’t care, I just wanted him to fix it.  He was right, it did hurt. A lot.  But then there was her heartbeat.  But it was so so so slow.  At its lowest, it was 48bpm.  It hovered around 60bpm for a few minutes.  Those were some of the longest minutes of my life.  During this time, my blood pressure was dropping, so I was being turned to my side in an effort to bring it back up.  As I turned, I could see Arthur, praying. And I lost it.  I just had to cry.  They gave me oxygen and turned me over onto my other side and finally, her heartbeat came back up to normal, and everyone (except me) breathed easier.  I was still reeling, and having a hard time getting calmed back down.  I was finally able to when my doctor assured me that if there were any more issues, we’d have us a baby in about 5 minutes.  I was only just down the hall from the O.R. and he’d make sure this baby made it here safely.

After being reassured that everything was okay, I was left to progress.  Unfortunately, any time I sat up at all, my blood pressure dropped, so I had to stay laying down for most of the labor.  I made it to 5 cm after about 8:00pm.  It seemed like it was going to be all night before we got to meet our girl!  But by about 8:45, I was checked again, and it was almost time!  I could feel a lot of pressure, and knew that it was almost time to push. My doctor and the team were preparing the room for our girl’s arrival, and I was secretly wondering if they were going to have it ready in time!  Once they (finally) were ready, it was time to push.  4 pushes and she was mostly out.  My doctor handed the scissors to Arthur to cut the cord, but he’s a bit squeamish, so he deferred to my mom.  There was some delay getting the scissors handed to my mom since she was standing back a little, and my doctor said, “We’ve gotta go, now.”  He had to go ahead and cut her cord, it was around her neck, and it was tight.  So, he cut it and suctioned her.  It seemed like ages before we heard any sound from her.  But then she let out a small cry, just one small cry, and the room erupted.  Just a second later, she was out all the way and placed on my chest.  The medical team mentioned that there was some meconium there at the end, which is super scary, but that she hadn’t ingested any, so she was okay.  After her tests and exams were completed, we were informed that we had a healthy baby girl.  Whew!

Congratulations, if you’ve read this far!  Sorry it’s so long, but there are a lot of these details that I wanted to make sure I had recorded.  It’s a miracle that I can remember any of them, as I had to be readmitted to the hospital less than a week after being discharged with Abigail, and was on some heavy duty meds.  That story is coming up next.

To all who thought of us and prayed for us during the pregnancy and delivery, THANK YOU! 

Monday, February 11, 2013


It's taken me 2 weeks to get the official post done to introduce sweet little Abigail Caroline. Its been quite a ride since she made her debut on January 28 at 9:10 pm. She is a tiny girl, weighing 6lbs 1oz and 19.25 inches long. She only made one sweet and tiny cry at birth. 

We are all home and doing well. Addalee is adjusting to life as a big sister. She practices diaper in and swaddling her dolls, preparing to be a big help! 

I plan to share our third sweet girl's birth story and some of the details on my return to the hospital only a few days after our release. So stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Great Unknown

Throughout life, we're faced with many situations that put us on the edge of the great and vast unknown. I've never been good at taking the leap, trusting that things will work out. I've always been a worrier. Technically, I think I should be super skinny with the amount of unnecessary worrying I've allowed myself to do (surely that much stress burns some calories).

In my days, I've spent inordinate amounts of time stressing and worrying over zillions of things. I remember the fears I had in 6th grade when my family moved and I had to start a new school. I wondered if I'd ever fit in, or have friends, or a boyfriend, or be able to remember my locker combination or where homeroom was. I worried myself sick for weeks. I was miserable. But, in the end, my worrying didn't accomplish anything. I wish I could say here that my fears were unfounded, but I didn't fit in, I made a few friends, not even almost a boyfriend... for a while, then it got easier. Ahhh, to know then what I know now!

High school brought new worries, and then college with moving out and getting my own apartment... but it was just all part of the experience - the Growing Up Experience. It fell naturally into place after a bit of discomfort and nervousness. I honestly felt like things would always just kind of work out.

One thing I didn't spend much time worrying about was losing a child. I got pregnant with Caroline after more than a year of trying and after we made it past 12 weeks, I felt like I could breathe easy. And shockingly enough; I did. I planned for her, I prepared for her. Never imagining the great unknown right in front of the feet I could no longer see beneath my giant full-term belly. Then it happened: my world as I knew it was so rocked that it'll never go back into place fully. She died. 36 hours before the planned induction to keep us from going past due, she just died. All the plans, all the preparations, nothing mattered. How could this have really happened? I believed everything was going to just fall into place. I mean, I did it all right: college, marriage, career, babies. How could the plan have not worked? I was blindsided.

Now,I feel like I'm constantly worried about something. From flu germs on my Target cart (that Addalee just had to keep touching and touching), to a drunk driver killing a loved one on the road, to wondering if there might be something to those stories linking immunizations and autism, to Addalee's (normal childhood) fever really turning out to be cancer, to losing this baby too. I'm always under the pressure of trying to expect the unexpected. As if somehow knowing that something terrible is about to happen really lessens the blow. I feel like I don't want to be made a fool of again, like I have something to prove.

I'm only a few weeks away from (Lord willing) delivering baby girl #3. And let's be honest, I'm pretty well completely terrified. I'm scared of something happening like it did with her biggest sister, but I'm also scared of all the other unknowns. Will she be healthy? Will I have to have a c-section? Will Addalee have a hard time adjusting? Can I be a good mother to two (living) children? Will breastfeeding work better this time? Will she sleep well or be a fussy baby? (Will we ever name her?!?!)

I know I need to adopt a more trusting attitude, but I just don't know how. I'm scared. I'm hopeful. I'm still hurting. I'm still broken. I'm excited. And I'm anxious.

We went to baby Cooper's funeral last week. It was really a beautiful service. Jessica and her family had a good amount of support, and they held themselves together well. It brought back many memories for us. As Arthur and I clenched each others hands and cried quietly, I was taken back to that October Friday more than 2 years ago when we said our final goodbye to our firstborn, our hearts beyond shattered. I can't believe how far we've come, or how far we still have to go. In an effort to stay sane, my method of coping has been to stay busy. Instead of really dealing with how sad I still am, how fearful I am to lose another child, how angry I am that any family should go through that; I've been doing laundry and going through closets. Here's hoping I get a clean house, and a healthy living baby out of these next weeks...and things feel less unknown and scary the weeks, months, and years after that.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Baby Cooper and Family Update

Baby Cooper was born this morning. His mama began the induction process on Sunday morning, and it was a long and difficult process. His family held him and loved him, and have started down the long path of grieving their sweet little boy.

I appreciate all the support you offered when I originally shared her story. Please continue to lift them up in your thoughts and prayers.

Jessica does not blog, but I was thinking it may be nice for me to print comments and responses to this post and give them to her. Just as a way to show her that there is a whole group of wonderful ladies thinking of her and standing behind her. Because we all know that when the dust begins to settle and everyone returns to their routines, it's so easy to feel so very alone. I want her to feel surrounded by people that understand.

Thank you in advance for any words of love, sympathy, encouragement, and support you have to offer. You guys are kinda the best!!! :)

Monday, January 7, 2013

Difficult Days

Gosh, I've gotten so bad at blogging.  I hate it, because I really do have a lot to say, I'm just struggling to get it typed out.  

Our little family had a busy, but nice Christmas and New Year.  I want to, and plan to, update soon with pictures and memories, but today isn't that day.

Today, my heart is heavy for a friend.  She was one of the people who came to me in the early days after losing Caroline to share her story of loss, a baby boy in the 20th week.  I was so happy to have someone, in person, that had experienced so many of the terrible things that I had in losing my first child.  Her name is Jessica.  She is a wonderful mother, wife, and friend.  I'm so thankful to have her in my life.  She was pregnant with a baby boy named Cooper, 24 weeks along, and went to the doctor for a routine check this past Thursday and no heartbeat could be found.  Those words give me chills and make me nauseous.  Little Cooper passed away, and the world crashed down around that family's shoulders for a second time.  

It's been a whirlwind of visits and plans and details for them since then. She is currently at the hospital going through the induction process. My heart breaks for them, and I'm requesting any prayers and positive thoughts you can offer be sent up for them.