I am a wife and mother. I married Travis the summer of 2007 and life really took off. We welcomed our first born, Adrian Reese, June of 2009. We welcomed our second born, Ainslee Ryan, October of 2010 and had a short time with her. She was taken from us in February 2011, just 3 months and 10 days old, from the silent killer called SIDS. 6 months after she passed away, we found out we were expecting our 3rd, due in April of 2012. Our rainbow baby is a girl, sweet Hadlee Hope. We're slowly picking up the pieces and learning how to fit grief and happiness into this crazy thing called life.
So today Adrian and I have been planning to go see Santa. I have been a bit under the weather with what seems to be a cold. I didn't get much sleep last night due to too much coughing and so when I woke up today, I immediately felt emotional. I knew today was going to be one of those days.
Adrian and I set off with my mother in law to head to a place where every child longs to be...Santa's lap. I decided I would take along an 8X10 picture of Ainslee so that I didn't feel like she wasn't included. It was important to me to make sure she was in the picture because it just doesn't feel complete anymore taking pictures without her in them. It will never feel complete.
We parked and started our walk to Santa's line. As we took our place in line, waiting for Santa to show up, I couldn't help but notice a mother with her baby girl in tow, and the grandmother as well. I heard them say it was a little girl and she was 3 1/2 months old. I thought to myself, "of course she is." The woman behind them asked if it was her first baby, and the mother politely said yes. "There's nothing like a first born." replied the woman in line.
I placed my Ainslee picture next to where I was standing and watched as my mother in law and Adrian ran around checking out the Christmas tree, the fountains, and the lights. 10 minutes of waiting seemed a lot longer at the time.
All of a sudden, I hear my sweet little boy's voice screaming "Mommy, Mommy....SANTA!!!!" He was walking next to Santa as he was heading our way. It was a moment of pure joy for Adrian. The emotions that accompanied me seeing this excitement in him were by far overwhelming. I didn't expect them, and they took control of me. He was running towards me and I was just sobbing. In a split second, I realized a lot of things. I realized firstly how incredibly much I love Adrian. I love seeing his excitement and I love that he brings joy to my life. I immediately realize that our sweet 1 year old daughter should be there to share in our family fun. I got so overwhelmed by the fact that she was never going to see Santa again. I would never get her picture with Santa. She would never be in our family pictures again. I was consumed with grief.
As I tried to collect myself, I heard another woman behind us saying how beautiful my baby was. She was talking about Ainslee's picture, so I said thank you. Of course the questions arise and I say that our daugther passed away in February of this year and I was taking her picture to see Santa with my sweet boy. She of course turned around....literally. Some people just can't handle it, and honestly have no idea what to say. I've seen that a lot amongst family, friends, strangers.
The proud grandmother of the 3 1/2 month old girl behind me came around their stroller and car seat and wrapped her arms around me. And I lost it. I cried so hard in this stranger's arms. Not concerned with how I appeared, not concerned with the absurd sounds you make when you wail, not concerned that I had no idea who she was. She simply said, "I understand."
She proceeded to tell me that her daughter that was there, the mother of the 3 1/2 month old, lost twin boys 8 years ago when she was 7 months pregnant. This wasn't her first child, this was her 3rd. That showed me that you have no idea of anyone else's story, as glamorous as it may seem. We all shared stories, we laughed, we cried. And slowly....we made our way up to see Santa.
As we approached Santa's sleigh, I handed Santa Ainslee's picture and asked if he would please hold it for our picture. I explained she had passed away earlier this year and I'd like her to be in our Santa picture. His eyes grew a gray sadness, his old lips turned down, and he touched my shoulder. "I understand." Santa lost his 21 year old great granddaughter to an unknown cause, they found her lifeless at home. I could see his sadness and as I sat next to Santa with my little boy on my lap, my Hadlee wiggling around in my tummy, I thought, everyone has their sadnesses. Everyone has a story. He said that it is completely unnatural for a mother/father/grandparent to bury their child/grandchild. Gosh, he understood. And this sweet St. Nick told me that this Christmas he would pray for me. That's all I wanted to ask Santa for, for Christmas. To please just bring me joy and let me grow old with my children.
Adrian mentioned to Santa he'd like a choo-choo train. :) Our picture was about as perfect as it can get. This Santa was by far the sweetest Santa I've ever met and his kind heart was easily able to be seen.
Today showed me that we are not the only family going through a difficult loss. That other strange faces on the street may look like normal faces to you, may look like a person that has their life together. But in actuality, we have no idea what's on the other end. Today was a reminder that we're not alone in this grief battle. Today was a reminder that the jollyest of souls goes home tonight and has hurt. It was another reminder that God sent me people to show me that we can do this and that he's sent us Adrian and Hadlee to help us through. When the grief does get heavy and I feel like it's crashing down, I remind myself that I am so thankful to be Ainslee's mother. I would never want her to be anyone else's child so I didn't have to feel this pain. I would feel this pain as fresh as the day it happened, day in and day out, for the rest of my life for those short 3 months with her. And so what if I had a Santa line breakdown....it's all part of the healing process. Or so I'm told.
I think I've been in a much needed Hadlee update. So, we went and saw my OB this past Wednesday for a sono with my sonographer and my "20" week with my Dr.
Today marks me being 22 weeks-18 weeks to go until I have her in my arms. I can't even wait! So, leading up to the sono this past Wednesday, I was pretty anxious. I didn't know what we'd see, if she would be healthy, or if there would be something else to report. It seems sonograms can be so wonderful, yet so daunting. They immediately looked at her brain to see her cavum septum pellucidum. It was present, and it looked perfect. I was thrilled. Next part, the heart. She looked at her outflow tracts and saw both of them, functioning the way they are supposed to. Again, thrilled. I felt myself becoming elated. We saw her toes too, and they were perfect.
She was of course moving around everywhere. She had her knees up to her face, toes over her head, hands up and down, flipping and moving constantly. She was busy. We saw her upper lip which was fully formed along with her palate. Hadlee was measuring right on, 21 weeks and 3 days.
On top of the wonderful news about Hadlee, my subchorionic bleed is gone which takes a huge weight off my shoulders. Getting this news about Hadlee's health and my health was wonderful.
My next appt is the first week in January where I will do my initial glucose test. I always fail that test and have to do the 3 hour which is so not fun. With Adrian, I had gestational diabetes. With Ainslee, the tests showed I didn't have it, but she was a big baby so I feel I was probably borderline. So, we'll see what this pregnancy brings.
Hadlee's name: So, when we were talking about names, prior to knowing the gender, I called the baby "Hope." I felt this baby was the hope we needed to continue on and add to our family. This baby would bring us new memories and we were hopeful we would grow old with him/her. I knew when I was deciding on a girl name that I wanted it to go with Ainslee since they would be sisters. I didn't want another "A" name, I didn't do that on purpose with Adrian and Ainslee.
Through this grief, I've met some amazing people and one person I honestly can't imagine my life without. I met her through my MEND group and feel that there is a connection that can't be had with anyone else. She is wonderful. She lost her little girl February 28th of this year, 20 days after I lost Ainslee. She ended up going to high school with Travis, goes to my same OB, and has a first born that is a week older than Adrian. Her little girl she lost was Hadley. Hadley was born at 21 weeks, 5 days. She is also buried at Bluebonnet where Ainslee is. I fell in love with the name Hadley and so I wanted to ask my dear friend how she'd feel if we named our little girl after her Hadley, but incorporated Ainslee's spelling to it to get our very own Hadlee. It was a very personal conversation, and I knew that it would be just fine if she said no. But, she was in tears about it, so happy to have her daughter's name live on. I know that if someone I was close with named their daughter Ainslee or incorporated it somehow, that I would feel it was so sweet to honor our daughter in that way. I know everyone is different, and has various feelings, but I was so glad to know we felt the same way. We named her middle name Hope for obvious reasons.
We've started the progression of incorporating Hadlee's things into Ainslee's room. For the most part, it's staying the same. I've taken the guest bed out of there that I would sleep in the last 2 weeks when we tried to transition Ainslee over to her room. It really made the room bigger, it's already a good sized room. On one wall, we have a tree painted with two owls on it, and on it reads "Ainslee Ryan". I decided I couldn't take off her name so I will add Adrian Reese and Hadlee Hope to the wall, and add an extra little owl. In the last few weeks I have felt so strongly about getting owl things for Hadlee. So, I have quite the favorite list on etsy right now. I figure after Christmas, we'll really start getting ready for her.
I was able to go through Ainslee's things in her room and get together all of the things she wore, or things that were Ainslee specific. Along with all the autopsy reports, ambulance reports, funeral paperwork, etc and I put them neatly into my grandmother's old trunk at the foot of our bed. I felt emotionally ready to do this and so I knew I needed to just get it done. I did, and to be honest, it felt okay. Maybe because I didn't have to entirely paint or change her room. But, I felt such a peace with getting started on getting ready for Hadlee and felt mentally wonderful to free up some space in there. I still just love their nursery and I'm looking forward to adding to it with the added names to the owl wall, and a couple cute pieces of furniture to get ready for our Hadlee.
Hadlee's stocking should be in the mail and will be hanging next to her big sister's. I can't believe Ainslee will be a big sister, because in my mind, she's still 3 months old. That's all I know her at is 3 months and 10 days old. Oh how I miss that sweet girl. And yet so looking forward to having Hadlee in my arms. 2 very different journeys with very different feelings yet I am thankful to be a mother to 3 beautiful children.
Today marks 10 months-10 months she's been with Jesus, 10 months since I've held her sweet body in my arms, 10 months since our lives were shattered. 10 months is so close to a year and I just can not begin to wrap my head around her being gone for a year. A year used to seem like a significant period of time, it used to take forever. Prior to losing Ainslee, I thought a year would give us plenty of time to heal. As we approach the 1 year mark, I see where we are in our grief...still unpredictable, still consumed with grief, still missing her. Although I will say that there are joyous moments that have been restored. Adrian and Hadlee help to restore that joy. Our lives changed 10 months ago, and essentially, they continue to change. We're preparing for Hadlee, we're mending broken hearts one day at a time, we're clinging together as a family.
As the Christmas season is upon us, and it's a time of caring, sharing, and giving....I am finally going to reach out and ask for help. I haven't asked for much help on my own since I've lost Ainslee. But, I think with asking for those of you willing to help our family this holiday, that it will make it brighter.
Ainslee would be a year and 2 months old this Christmas. She'd start to enjoy opening presents, seeing the lights, watching her brother light up from the smile on her face. This would be her second Christmas, our first without her. I am so so grateful to have had her first Christmas to hold her and love on her. If only I would have known how short our time would be. So, this year, I am ready to make new memories. And it's up to you to help.
I am asking you to help me fill Ainslee’s stocking with one of two things, or both should you be willing to do so. We would greatly appreciate it if you would 1) write her a letter. It could be about anything. Maybe what you remember about her, what you imagine she would be like, or how she has impacted your life. OR 2) I would like to challenge you to do one random act of kindness for someone between now and Christmas in honor of Ainslee. It can be small, it can be big, just as long as it is something that is kind and as long as you are doing it, you are thinking of our baby girl Ainslee. Once you have completed your random act of kindness, please write a description of what it was. When you have this or just a regular letter completed, please email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org . In the subject line, please write MERRY CHRISTMAS AINSLEE! I will not be opening these until Christmas morning. Travis and I will go through them and read them together. I will know that it is a gift for Ainslee by the subject line you email me, and I will then print it out without reading it.
There are not any guidelines with what you write, or what you do for your act of kindness. It is simply to keep Ainslee's memory alive, especially now. Don't worry about writing the "right" thing, we appreciate any thoughts big and small. Again, we appreciate the continued support and I look forward to seeing our loving friends and family come together once again to make this season brighter.
Merry Christmas to all and especially to my angel....Ainslee Ryan.
Last year on Thanksgiving day, I remember a few things:
I remember holding you.
I remember rocking you.
I remember nursing you.
I remember our family was so excited to have a new addition to the Thanksgiving table.
I will always remember my sweet Ainslee. I love you and I miss you. I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving my love, and now that you're a year old, I'm sure you're enjoying turkey, stuffing, and everything that goes with a feast. I pray that you are happy, healthy, and full of laughter. I pray that you watch over us as we go into the holiday season. Keep us safe, keep us healthy, and keep us close to you.
My sweet niece holding her cousin, Ainslee, on her first Thanksgiving.
Ryan, my nephew, holding Ainslee, my mother in law and my niece
My sweet little Adrian on Thanksgiving day last year playing outside.
I sadly didn't get a picture of our family on Thanksgiving, or a picture of Ainslee and I on Thanksgiving. I thought I'd have more Thanksgivings with her and tried not to be like a "first time mom" since I always heard it so much with Adrian. I regret not taking pictures because now we don't have the chance to take them anymore. I'm at least glad I have these pictures of that day, a very memorable day for me, and one I was always remember and cherish.
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone and their families. If you're traveling, please be safe.
So yesterday when I put up my SIDS information that I wanted to share, I had a friend of mine share it on her facebook wall. I thought it was so sweet that she is just as passionate about it because of all she's witnessed with us. It definitely made me feel supported. As I checked facebook last night, I saw that someone had responded to the post on her page. This is what that response said:
Great post and a wonderful reminder. My brother, Brad, was the firefighter that responded to Ainslee. He said that was his hardest day ever on the job. We have been praying for the Soppe family, that God will give them peace and healing and will BLESS their family abundantly.
I read this and became hot all over, I started to sweat, and thoughts and feelings came flooding in immediately. I have thought about the responders to Ainslee since the day she died, and I've always wanted to thank them. They were the only ones there to help her. I haven't gotten the courage up to actually follow through and writing the letter or figuring out what in the world to say. How do you thank someone for trying to revive your child and be with them when you couldn't? I decided immediately to send her a message on facebook....
Hi Stacie. I just saw your response to the post Stacy put on her wall about our Ainslee. I saw that your brother responded to her. There has not been a day that has gone by that I haven't thought about the EMT's and firefighters that responded to her. I have the address down to send them a thank you letter for trying to save our little girl but haven't gotten the courage or the right words to say to write it. I can't believe your brother was there. I have been so terrified that she was alone, that I wasn't there to help her, to be her mother and protect her. I have awful, vivid thoughts that cross my mind about what she was going through and what the team was doing to save her, knowing I could do nothing and wasn't there to protect her. My son was there at the time too when this happened. He was 19 months old at the time. I can't believe your brother was there, I just can't believe it. Can you tell him thank you for me? For doing the best he could for our little girl. I've thought about how that day impacted the responder's life. Since I couldn't be with her when it happened, I have prayed that the people that responded to her cared for her as if she was their own. I'm just in tears. I'm so glad you responded to Stacy's message she put out there. Please let your brother know what him and his team means to us.
I hope that my response was okay. I just recently made the connection that the famly I have been praying for is Travis Soppe's family. I went to Bell with Travis, although I did not know him well. My heart breaks for you, truly breaks. My brother cared for your sweet baby girl. He was the first responder with his friend Ryan. Ainslee was not alone, he was there and was praying over her even after he handed her to the doctors. He was very worried about you. Brad is my baby brother and one that does not let things affect him. He called me after he left the hospital when he was alone and asked me to pray for you. He knew your first name and Ainslee's name. He told me what happened and he cried for you and Travis. We have been praying for you ever since. He knew your son was at the babysitters. He told me a big focus was to protect your son from what was happening. I want you to know that my brother has done many calls, it is his job, but your daughter was more than a job to him. You and her have affected him more than anyone. You have made him a better responder. There is no thank you necessary. Although, I greatly appreciate it. I know that God has a plan and a purpose although, many times it is hard to understand. Thank you for sharing your story, your heart, and your hurt. You are saving many lives by making us aware. How can I continue to pray for you? As a mom, I cannot imagine what you are going through. Know that there are many people you are not aware of and do not even know that are still praying for your family. My family will remember Ainslee forever.
Again in tears, I responded back to her.
Your response was more than okay. It's just been heavy on my heart to either meet the team that worked on Ainslee or thank them in some way but it makes me feel so comforted to know that your brother was praying over her. Thank God she was in good hands. That is so comforting as a mother because I have felt so helpless. To know she was in the care of a Christian person who was using the power of prayer to help her does numbers for me. I still sit here and just cry thinking about all they did for her, to her. The pushing of medicines, the CPR, the intubation. It's just all so overwhelming and sickening. I remember when I was trying to find my way to the ER, running around the hospital and finally saw the ambulance that brought her there, there was a man standing by the ambulance as I looked in the back frantically for her. He told me they took her inside. He looked young. I was thankful they let us go into the ER room with her while they worked on her. That day forever marks the most awful day for us. We are definitely still trying to recover and I'm sure it'll take alot longer to do so. It's now been 9 months, feels like yesterday, and we'll soon be approaching her 1 year mark. I just still have a hard time wrapping my head around this and realizing this has happened. Again, thank you for letting me talk to you...and please please, tell your brother what he means to me. When I couldn't be with my daughter, which is the most gut wrenching thing, he was....and he prayed over her. I couldn't ask for more. Thank you.
What a small world. I couldn't believe this girl went to high school with Travis, and that her little brother helped our Ainslee. This of course brought up a lot of sadness, tears, and pain. But I am so thankful to have that communication open and get some of those hard emotions out. I will forever be greatful for the love and mercy God showed, even in such a difficult time. He sent in his prayer warriors to pray over our daughter, she was well taken care of. And of course I would still rather have been with her, to ride with her to the hospital instead of meet them there, but since I couldn't, I am so thankful that Brad and his team were the ones to care for her. She wasn't another job, she was a perfect baby girl, a symbol of life and love. The responders saw that, cared for her, and once again, Ainslee has used her short life to better others. What an amazing legacy she has left and how wonderful for a sweet baby to leave such an imprint on this world.
If you have a baby younger than 1 year of age, chances are that he or she is sleeping in a way that goes against the latest recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). At the AAP’s national conference in Boston, which wraps up today, the Academy released their revised policy statement on safe sleeping and SIDS prevention.
Until babies are 1 year old, they should:
Be put to sleep on their back. Always, always, always. At some point, your baby will be able to roll from her back to her front and from her front to her back—and at that point, you can leave her in whatever position she ends up.
Sleep in the same room as—but not the same bed as—their parents. To keep a baby in your room until age 1 may seem… let’s say… difficult, but “these recommendations are most important in the first few months,” says pediatrician Rachel Moon, M.D, lead author of the new guidelines and chair of the AAP SIDS task force. Bedsharing is not recommended at any age, even if you’re using an actual cosleeping device that attaches to the side of your bed. “No bedsharing can be classified as safe,” says Dr. Moon, who adds that babies under 3 months are at a “very, very high risk” of suffocation.
Use a pacifier as often as possible. Pacifiers are associated with a decreased risk of SIDS, perhaps because it may position the tongue in a way that helps keep the airways open, Dr. Moon says. Pacifiers also tend to arouse babies as they sleep (I’ll say! Who else has experienced that sinking feeling every time their newborn’s pacifier popped out of her mouth and woke her up?!), and when babies are able to be easily woken, their risk of SIDS goes down.
Be breastfed. Lots of research backs up the positive connection between nursing and SIDS risk reduction.
Be fully immunized. There may be a protective effect here, too; evidence points to a 50 percent decrease in the risk of SIDS.
Not have anything in their cribs (or bassinets or Pack & Plays) except a tight-fitting sheet. No bumpers—not even the mesh kind. (Chicago now bans the sale of bumpers.) No stuffed animals. No pillows. No blankets. Nothing between the mattress and the sheet to make the surface softer. (“Soft does not equal safe,” says Dr. Moon. “Soft is bad.”) No elevating the head of the crib mattress by propping pillows underneath it, either, because babies can slide down to the bottom of the crib and end up in a position that obstructs their airway, or get wedged between the mattress and the side of the crib.
Not sleep in a car seat, stroller, swing, or sling for more than 60-90 minutes, and even then only under close supervision. Nothing but a crib, bassinet, or Pack & Play is recommended for extended periods of sleep. If your baby falls asleep in one of those other places, Dr. Moon recommends moving him as soon as is practical. Otherwise, they run the risk of sliding or slumping down and boosting the chance of suffocation.
Not sleep with the help of any products marketed as reducing the risk of SIDS. This goes for wedges, positioners, and home apnea monitors. “Parents believe that if a product is sold, it must be safe. They don’t always understand that these items don’t have to be tested or proven to work in order to be in stores,” says Dr. Moon.
She made an important point about why some parents don’t follow safe sleep recommendations. “Everybody thinks their baby is the exception to the rule,” she explains. “They’ll say ‘My baby has reflux.’ ‘My baby was premature.’ ‘My baby’s not a good sleeper.’” But she sees more than her share of infant deaths—at least one per month in her hometown of Washington, D.C. “We have to get the message out.”
Another key thing that I've been told is to keep a fan on to help circulate the air the baby breaths, this doesn't have to be on high or blowing directly on baby. Just enough to keep it circulating. These tips won't prevent SIDS, but they are the appropriate steps to take to make a safe sleep environment for your baby or child. Again, all of these tips are things that we did as parents and as you can see, it didn't save our baby. Sometimes, sadly, SIDS just happens and it's out of our control. However, it's always nice to have peace of mind that you've done everything possible to prevent this and keep your child safe. Don't make excuses for your baby if they "need" to sleep a certain way....they'll eventually catch up on sleep one day, and so will you. :)
You can also click HERE and HERE for more information on SIDS.
So, this week has been incredibly busy. I am ready for it to slow down, not sure when that will happen. At any rate, I ended my day with a visit to my OB. His sono machine vs. my sonographer's sono machine are very different. His machine is from like 1902 and you can see basics on it....however, we saw her TOES! What a relief it was to see her sweet little feets swimming so freely.
We followed up my visit with a conversation that actually went well. I was just going to let this appt play itself out and it did just that. We did discuss medication again, and I did tell him he's brought it up a number of times and that if he didn't get the request from me, not to even bother bringing it up anymore. He told me that he forgets if he offers it, and he prefers not to use it, but didn't want me to feel like there wasn't help. He told me that he just genuinely cares about us, and it's hard for him to see us so sad. I explained that while it is hard for outsiders to see us suffer, cry, and grieve, that it doesn't make it their job to fix us. We're not a project and due to the tragedy of losing Ainslee, it's now a life we have to live. And we do it as best as we know how. I explained that I do feel comfortable coming into his office and crying and that I didn't want to feel insane or crazy when I left for letting my emotions out as I see fit. I told him how this pregnancy was wonderful and how I couldn't feel more blessed to have another child. But we are in the middle of a disaster and we're searching for pieces and ways to construct our lives back to "normal." I understand he likes to see the happy pregnant mommy, and I love to be that person. But, our story took a different turn and now along with my happiness in this pregnancy, is my sadness with our loss. He then hugged me and I felt that I left there with a common understanding. I genuinely believe he does care for us, I just think he thought it was his job to fix us.
All that said, I am still going to consult with another OB and after that, make a decision on what I feel is best for our family. If I decide to stay with my current OB, then that will be just fine. I have been praying about it along with praying for what we will name baby "Hope." I do feel God will show me the answers to both and the comfort for each decision we decide on.
On a greater note, I have felt this sweet little girl move around all day long today and what a blessing and wonderful reminder she is to the life we have still to live. When I think about her, I think about her older sister watching over her, guarding her, and protecting her every move. And I just love that her older sister already knows this sweet little girl. To think that Ainslee last was in my tummy and now her little sister is in there is such a wonderful thing. To think that they both were/are in the same place growing in my stomach makes me feel like they are close to each other.
I love this sweet baby "Hope" so incredibly much. She is just wonderful to see, to feel, to hope for. I go back December 7th for my 20 week sono, I'll be 21 weeks at that point and will be so ready to see her and pray that everything looks just great.
So this is completely over due; however, here it is...our weekend. So, this last weekend Travis and I planned to head down to San Antonio. I haven't been down there since my Pappy got moved to a nursing home down there. It would be our first time out of town away from Adrian and I was so nervous about this. I almost chickened out many times. But I kept telling myself that I needed to see Pappy, this would be my only opportunity to before the holidays. Holidays are always so important to me to be with Pappy because I know our time is limited. I know everyone's time is limited, but obviously an 88 year old man has numbered days. I don't know when he'll be gone and I want to spend as much time with him as possible. He means so much to me.
We made the 5 hour trip down there on Saturday morning. I was getting nervous as we approached the nursing home. Was it going to be clean? Was the staff going to be nice? Was it going to be "good enough"? Let's be real. There's never anything good enough for the people you love. But, I tried to keep what's best for Pappy in the forefront of my mind and tried to keep a good head about it. We walked in, headed up the elevator to the 2nd floor....and there he was. At the end of the hall, in his wheel chair, waiting. I approached him as he had his back to me and he turned to me with a smile. Oh how I love this man. Brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it. The first thing he asks me is, "have you seen your grandmother yet?" I got nervous and replied, "no." I planned to leave it at that, I didn't know if he was having a memory lapse or what was going on. He then said, "have you tried to call her?" I then replied, "not yet." He was persistent. As he always is with something he's passionate about. "Well you need to give her a call, she wants to see you," he says with his caring heart. "Pappy, remember Mima passed away a few years ago. " He says "yeah, I guess you're right. I just forgot, this is the only time this has happened." I told him she had a very important job to take care of my Ainslee and he got the picture. It was a momentary lapse of forgetfulness, sad nonetheless. I hated having to tell him this, almost like I was correcting him. But know he's still "with it," so if he has these temporary brief moments, I feel like I can still get him back on track.
We spent time visiting with him and took him on a walk around the facility outside with his dog. My aunt lives in San Antonio and now keeps his dog so she can take her up there every day. Here are a few pics of our day.
That night, we had a Thanksgiving dinner at the nursing home prepared by my family. I got to celebrate "Thanksgiving" with Pappy. Pappy was at a retirement center prior to moving here and because he gradually became a 2 person assist, he wasn't able to stay there in our hometown in Oklahoma which was the driving force behind his move. There is such a difference between his retirement home and this nursing home. The quality of care isn't the problem, that is apparently great and exceeds family expectations. I haven't seen enough of it to make an educated judgement. From what I can see, the other tenants are not as "with it" nor are they able to do as much as he does. They don't look as good as he does. They do look like they would be in a nursing home, like your typical nursing home patients. I wish that there was no such place as a nursing home, with old patients that lose their independence, with quality of life slowly slipping away. It makes me so sad to see other people get old and lose this independence and revert back to a child with the dependence of others. I think it was hard to watch and see that this is what it's come down to for my Pappy. I've never wanted him in a nursing home. I grew up with my mom as a nurse in nursing homes and some of the things she would witness were inhumane, so I can't help but have anxiousness about nursing homes. I know there are great ones, and there are not so great ones. I just wish there was something in between the retirement center where he was and where he's at now.
As we left that day, I just cried and cried. I felt so sorry for him. I miss him so much all the time. He just means so much to me. He's always been there for me, he's provided for me, he's been my father, he's shown me stability, he's shown me what love looks like, he's been a faithful Godly man, he's been what I've looked for in my husband.
I got through my emotions, and started to smile thinking about returning back to my sweet Adrian. Oh it was great to see him. We walked in the door and he had made Mommy something special.
Handpicked flowers out of Grandma's garden in a gatorade bottle. Just precious. "Made you Momma." Oh he is so sweet. I've been trying out my new camera a lot more that Trav got me for my 30th this year, and I think I'm starting to figure some things out.
Tomorrow I go to check on Baby "Hope." I'm now 18 1/2 weeks pregnant. Tomorrow I don't have a sono scheduled, just an OB visit. My 20 week sono will be scheduled for 2 weeks from now. Here's an 18 1/2 week pic from today after a very busy work day.
Oh what a mess. I don't even know where to begin to get this pain, insanity, and confusion out. I guess I'll just start from the beginning and hopefully by the end of this I will have some clarity. Either that or remain a jumbled mess.
So yesterday when I was having my sonogram of my sweet baby girl, the sonographer mentioned a couple things that were concerning to me. She just mentioned that she couldn't depict baby's toes yet, and that this one part in the brain she was looking at was there, but she wants to see it more prevalent at my 20 week, along with the outflow tracts of the heart. She saw those, but wants to see them "better" at 20 weeks. Why she thought it was a good idea to tell this mother who has already lost has got me puzzled. I left the sonogram feeling over joyed that God was blessing us with another baby girl...terrified that she would be taken from me also. I also have a subchorionic bleed, a tiny one, but I do have one to say the least. And I'm terrified for that also. I know every mother wants to keep their babies, but Lord, please...I pray, let me keep this daughter of mine.
I wrestled with anxious thoughts last night, fighting the fear. I'm so tired of living in fear. I hate that I worry. I hate that I have this anxiety. And I hate living without Ainslee. The fear is exhausting and I so wish that I could hand it over to God. I think that's easier said than done. If I could literally hand it over, I would. Anyone who suffers from anxiety knows as a human it's not as easy. Those are human emotions that are difficult to escape from.
This morning came and as I still had doubts and fear, I decided to call my OB. I felt his "job" would be to ease the apprehensions, help me get through this phase also. He did nothing short of blaming me for my guilt and my fears, he told me I basically brought it on myself. He said he thought they were doing me a favor by bringing me in earlier to do a gender check but in the grand scheme of it, only hindered the problem. I guess I've now become his problem. He did tell me he thinks she is just fine, that she will be perfect.
He then proceeds to tell me that I need to be having more good days than bad days. I don't even know how to respond to that except to ask, "have you lost a child?" When you've lost a child, then please talk to me about my grief and about how I should or should not feel. But as if that wasn't enough, he then highly suggests I be medicated for this new condition of grief I have. I need to suppress it and ignore it. I need to get on anti-depressents to have "better" days. It's not that I disagree with anti-depressents, but it's not my choice at the moment for how to filter through my grief feelings. And I especially will not be taking anything during my pregnancy. Those are my personal choices. There are no judgements for those that do. I feel that's what's best for me and my baby right now.
After this, I called the OB line again to ask another question, a question he had brought up during our previous conversation that hadn't been discussed before. But, I am the type of person where information has to register in my head before I really discuss it. It had registered what he had said, so I called to question it again. His nurse called back, also his wife, and explained to me that the sonographer hadn't seen Baby "Hope's" toes but would check that at 20 weeks, it could be a gestational thing. She then told me that I should seriously think about anti-depressents. I can't believe that now days you can't ask simple questions without being viewed as a head case and someone who needs to be medicated. I can't believe I can't cry over my Ainslee without being judged. I can't believe that when someone tells me that they need to check back on certain things at my 20 week mark and I have questions about that and the well being of my "hope" I'm then ridiculed for being a mother.
So, I'm seriously considering finding a new OB. I'm one that really likes consistency and he's delivered my other two babies. I hate change. But, I can't have someone thinking I'm crazy because I'm still grieving my daughter. And if after 5 years, I'm still grieving her, don't judge me. And if after 40 years, I'm still missing my sweet beautiful Ainslee, don't you judge me. ESPECIALLY if you don't know this pain. I would never want anyone to know this pain, but I would at least hope for others who don't know it to be sensitive, especially in the "professional" field.
So tonight our church had a mass for All Souls Day. They happened to have it at the cemetery...the cemetery where Ainslee is buried. Travis and I visited Ainslee first and then went to the service held at the mausoleum. I just sobbed during the first part of it. Grieving for Ainslee, scared for this baby girl, fearful of losing again.
At the end of all this, all the fear and anxiety, I'd like to think that I'm making some head way and gaining some clarity. I'd like to think that I'm going to get through this and that this baby girl will be healthy. And if she's not, we will love her and be so very thankful for another beautiful baby girl. Now that I'm at the end of this post and have scribbled all my thoughts down from the last 24 hours, I still feel like a complete jumbled mess. And while this mess is hard to sort through, I will do it. And I will do it on my own. I will do it with the help from my sweet Adrian and my supportive Travis. I will do it for my sweet Ainslee girl. And I will do it for this wonderful life growing inside me. So, while I may seem like a mess, and my life may seem upside down more times than not.....trust me, I will do this.
I guess I'll start with a quick Happy Halloween! Here's a sweet picture of my little lion...
I feel so blessed to have Adrian. He is the light in our lives. Tonight while we trick or treat, I am going to take Ainslee's little Halloween outfit she wore last year, so I can feel her close with us. I am so ready to bid farewell to the month of October.
And to welcome the month of November, we get to find out tomorrow if Baby "Hope" is a BOY or a GIRL! They are doing a gender check for us early so we can find out. I will be 16 1/2 weeks along. My sonographer is the best I've ever seen. She has this amazing equipment on a flat screen. She can look at the umbilical cord to tell the flow of blood in the various arteries and veins, she's just amazing.
So, I am now 16 weeks along! I can't believe that in 4 weeks we'll be halfway done. I can't wait to have this baby in my arms. It is definitely the hope we've prayed for.
Within the last 4-5 days, I've had it brought to my attention that "God isn't finished yet." This has given me hope as well. Although Ainslee's loss is awful, it's not our entire story, there is more to tell. And there is more that God has in store for us. I sat down this morning at the cemetery to wish Ainslee a Happy Halloween. I couldn't believe this was her 2nd Halloween. Last Halloween she was only 2 days old. I sat there and we talked about this baby coming and I imagined bringing this baby to see his/her older sister at the cemetery. I can't even imagine it. I decided it was time to read to her and opened her Bible story book and read the title of today's story....
God Isn't Finished Yet...
This is probably the 2nd or 3rd time this has happened to me. No coincidence my friend. I think the big man and His little helper Ainslee are trying to tell me something very important. And as I sat in the cemetery reading her her story, thinking about our Baby "Hope" and ever greatful for Adrian, I remind myself... He isn't finished yet, and Baby "Hope" is living proof of that. Thank you Jesus for this much needed reminder.
Keep us in prayer tomorrow as we see our little baby. I pray for a healthy report and look forward to finding out....
I finally feel caught up on some sleep and don't feel as exhausted. I actually had enough energy today to do quite a bit of housework without a nap. I haven't felt like that in awhile. So, I promised an update today about Ainslee's birthday. I wanted to write more yesterday for her birthday but the emotional exhaustion wore me out and I had to listen to my body telling me to rest.
Yesterday Ainslee's birthday celebration was beautiful. It was a beautiful day here in DFW and the only thing that could've been better was having Ainslee's face to kiss on. I got up early in the morning and started ironing our clothes for the day. Everyone was to wear pink or their Walk to Remember shirts in honor of Ainlsee's special day. I had one of my dear friends come over at 8:30. I picked Ainslee's cake up at 8. This cake we would all eat at our house. The cake turned out just precious. I had them do baby blocks, just like her headstone. I felt she's my baby and I want everything to be age appropriate.
After the cake I headed to the flower shop and picked up Ainslee's birthday cake for us to take to the cemetery. We then headed to Party City to get Ainslee's 29 balloons. We rushed back to our house, got ready, and headed up to the cemetery.
We met about 30 people at the cemetery at 10 am ready to celebrate this special girl. As everyone arrived, we all held hands, and used the power of prayer to start her celebration. I prayed for our sweet girl. I thanked God for letting us have her, for being her parents. I prayed that we would always remember the life behind this sweet girl and all she taught us. From trusting, to faith, to unconditional love. I then prayed that God would take care of everyone else's pains and sufferings and hold us all close to Him.
We then dispersed all the balloons and sharpies and wrote our birthday wishes to our daughter. I wrote how proud of her I am, and how much I miss her. I wished her a Happy 1st Birthday. We counted to 3 and as we released all 29 balloons, we shouted, "HAPPY BIRTHDAY AINSLEE!" Adrian loves sending up balloons to his sister.
We finished the balloon release just in time to gather around her headstone, light her candle on her flower birthday cake, and then it was 10:36.....the time she was born. We began singing... I did pretty good throughout the first part of the song until it came time to say her name, and I couldn't finish. I couldn't believe we were singing to a headstone. That the life I felt so wonderfully was gone. And not just temporarily, permanently.
Concluding our cemetery ceremony, we then headed back to our house for cake and ice cream. It was a pretty relaxed time with our friends and family. It was wonderful to see all the support we had. We had so many others across the US that wore pink for Ainslee and released balloons for her. All of these people put pictures on facebook for us to see. I even received a video of a little girl singing Baby Ainslee a Happy Birthday song. I was so greatful to have all the support, all the love, all the thoughts, all the prayers. The pain was still ever present, still knowing she wasn't coming back.
As everyone left, and Adrian laid down for his nap, Travis and I decided we needed to nap as well and it was much needed, although not enough. We took Adrian to church at 5 for Mass followed by Trunk or Treat at our church. The flowers at the alter were in memory of Ainslee. I felt going to church on her birthday and ending it with seeing Adrian having fun was a good way to end the day. Seeing him happy brings joy to our lives and keeps us going.
Tomorrow marks Halloween. This was the first holiday we had with Ainslee. I vividly remember being in the hospital with her, dressed in her Halloween outfit and bow, looking cute as can be. I look at that outfit all the time and just remember holding her, thinking I finally have a daughter. I am the mother of a little girl.
Ainslee girl- I hope you had a heavenly celebration. I so wish you were here to celebrate with us. We miss you more than words could ever begin to express. You brought us so much joy in the short 3 months you were with us. We never would have expected that we would only have 3 months with you. At any rate, I am thankful to have had you for those three months than not at all. And all this pain is so worth it, just having held you and been your mother for that time. I know you would be walking now, talking more, laughing, playing with your brother. I would've given anything to see you smash into your birthday cake yesterday. I look at Adrian's 1 year pics and try to imagine what you'd be like and how you would've changed since 3 months. I pray that you are well taken care of. I pray that Mima is taking care of you and holding you close. I pray that you don't fear anything, that you have laughter all the time, that you aren't scared of darkness. I pray that you see us everyday and know what you mean to us, know how much we need you. I pray you hear us when we talk to you, when we pray, when we read you stories, when we sing to you. I pray you never stop watching over us and I pray you keep us all safe. We love you, we love you, we love you. And miss you every day.
What a day. It has been an exhausting couple of weeks in anticipation of this day. And it has all caught up to me. I am flat out exhausted. Today I want to celebrate the life of our precious daughter by sharing pictures from the day we had her along with her first few days. Tomorrow I'll update about her birthday celebrations along with my birthday wishes for my sweet girl. Enjoy...
Ainslee was born at 10:36 a.m. on October 29th, 2010. She was a whopping 9 pounds, 7 ounces and 21 inches long.
Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday sweet Ainslee girl, Happy birthday to you. Wishing you a heavenly birthday celebration, lots of laughter, and the sweetest birthday dances. I love you and miss you my girl.
One year ago today marks my due date with Ainslee. Just wanted to share a couple maternity pics of my last days being pregnant with her.
Today I was sent a story, another blog post, and I read through this woman's story about adoption. The one thing through this woman's pain and confusion that she kept referring to was this:
When telling God: "God, we are confused."
He would then reply with, " I am not finished yet."
This thought just made me weep today. I know we are in the middle of a very bad storm, one that is consuming and confining at this point in our lives. However, reading those words "I am not finished yet" gave me hope. It made me cry because it's true. He's shown me He's not finished yet. Our story is not finished. It's been an ugly chapter losing Ainslee, but a beautiful one having her. It's been a beautiful chapter in our marriage, a beautiful chapter with Adrian, and He's added another beautiful chapter with Baby "Hope."
I need to remind myself that while Ainslee's loss is very much a part of our story, it's not the entire thing and there are good things to come.
So this weekend has been so so busy. This past Thursday was Trav's 31st birthday. I am glad to have made it through another October milestone. We have 2 more left for this month and then this dreaded month will come to a close. I have Halloween of course, and then the ultimate dreaded day. Ainslee's 1st birthday...without her.
Thursday night we celebrated with family for Trav's birthday. Friday night we had dinner with another couple that have been one of our best friends for years. We had a great night catching up with them and having some good laughs.
Today has been filled with a very busy day for me. First I started off with a trip to the florist to order Ainslee's flower birthday cake to take to the cemetery on her birthday. We are officially one week away. Her birthday is the 29th. Then I stopped by Target to get a pair of silver flats...only to leave with a pair of gray heels. I always think I'm going to do flats. And then realize since I'm only 5'1 that it's in my best interest to go with the heels.
After that, my pregnant body was calling for a chili cheese coney from Sonic. I crave these when I'm pregnant. I try to limit my hotdog consumption, but sometimes I have to cave for these babies.
For Adrian's school, I am in charge of doing the bulletin board this next month, for the month of November. So, I headed up to Teacher's Tools and put my Early Childhood Education degree to good use! I love being able to get creative. When I was wrapping up my teachers trip, I got a text from our neighbor saying she wanted to stop by with her little girl. So, I ran home really quick so I could see her.
This little girl is only 2 weeks behind Ainslee. My neighbor and I were pregnant together and shared our joys when our daughters were born. And we shared our sadness when Ainslee passed away. Watching Adrian and this little girl play together today seems so strange to me. It's wonderful to see how great he is with babies, yet so sad to think that is supposed to be our life. I can't even imagine Ainslee being a year old and what our house would be like with the two of them playing. I can't imagine the amount of laughter, tears, smiles, flying toys, and how much more love would be around. Being around babies, of any sex, that are Ainslee's age doesn't really seem to affect me much. I think it's because I don't know her at a year old. I can't even begin to imagine what she'd be like.
After our little visit, I headed up to this antique shop just down the road. I have really been itching to get a few pieces of furniture and do a little extra decorating. These simple purchases and temporary mind consuming activities can get me through to the next moments. I've been on the market for a vintage white buffet but have yet to find one that I love.
Tomorrow we're headed to the Cowboys/Rams game. It will be chaos down in Arlington with the World Series going on too. I had originally wanted to get these silver flats so I'd be comfortable for the long hike that accompanies a Cowboys game. It is so far away to park and walk to the stadium. But, instead, this pregnant Momma will be in my new high heels, huffing and puffing, and eventually ending up with Travis carrying me. Go Cowboys! And Go Rangers!
Oh the pain. The pain has hit me once again full force. I knew two days ago it was coming, the grief tornado. I told Travis it was coming, I could feel the storm brewing. I can cry everyday and feel sad, but it's nothing compared to the grief tornado.
I took Adrian to school today and as I was walking out, the emotions came flooding over me. They engulfed me as a hurricane engulfs a shoreline. I could barely make it to my car. The pain of not having Ainslee was unbearable. How are we still doing this 8 months later? I'm dreading her first birthday. We have 11 days to go. The 29th will be here before we know it. The day we've dreaded since she passed. I can't even imagine having a one year old. I can't imagine looking down at my little brown eyed girl, hearing her say Ma-Ma, and smile her gummy grin. Oh the pain.
Lately on facebook I've seen that there are other little girls turning one. I've seen their enormous bows. I've seen their adorable tutus. I've seen their One year old pictures. I've seen the life behind those pictures, the life in their smiles, the happiness that comes from a one year old. It's a slap in the face of all we're missing out on. Oh the pain.
We are planning a birthday party for Ainslee starting at the cemetery, releasing 29 very colorful balloons for her heavenly party, singing her happy birthday, and following it with cake and ice cream at our house. It only feels natural to plan a party for her. On the other hand it feels incredibly UNNATURAL to plan a party without her here. To pick out a cake just perfect for her. To choose every balloon so carefully to make her feel special. To choose her party hat, her plates and napkins, to choose every little detail without this special little girl here to enjoy it. Oh this pain is awful.
I think today has been one of the hardest days in awhile. As I said, I can cry every day and I can be sad everyday. But there is something different about today. And maybe it's my anticipation of her birthday. But this pain is almost unbearable. Today has been one of those days where I felt I couldn't do it anymore, where I was ready to throw in the towel. Adrian wasn't here for me to cling to him and hold him tight which then makes it worse. Those are the times when I need to cling to him. I love my husband, I love my family...but my little boy is my reason for living. He is just such a kind hearted little boy. He comforts me, he kisses me to make me feel better, he hugs me, he holds me. He needs his mother, and I need him. When I concentrate on him, he helps the pain.
Today my heart is just heavy. I miss Ainslee beyond belief. I miss her face. I miss her brown eyes. I miss her gummy grin. I miss her talks, our talks we would have. I miss giving her a bath. I miss falling asleep with her. I miss nursing her. I miss rocking her. I miss waiting for her to wake up to eat. I miss my little girl.
Today marks my 30th birthday. Yep, 30. Old. Another October day I've been dreading. But, I've gotten through it, so far. I remember when my 28th birthday came around. It was my first birthday to have a child. I remember that it was a day that I felt so elated to have a birthday, to have a child to celebrate with on my birthday. I wasn't expecting that feeling. It was so unexpected and so wonderful. So, naturally this year I was excited to have this feeling all over again...this time with two of my babies. Only that was never to happen.
I've dreaded this day, thinking it was another October day of events that I would have a hard time getting through. But, all in all, it was a good birthday. It was a good birthday because Travis made it so special. He always makes my birthdays special. I never know what to expect, and he always ends up surpassing any expectations I could ever have. I don't tell him often enough, and maybe this is my way to do so, but he sure is a very special man and I'm so thankful to be married to a man that tries to bring a smile to my face and make me feel loved. He is good at doing that.
This morning I got up and immediately wanted to open my gift. I love gifts. And I love surprises. I opened my gift carefully and out I pulled my brand new....Fannie pack. Are you kidding me!? I know I'm 30, I know I'm headed into a new decade, but a Fannie Pack...seriously? After careful consideration of how I was going to be so ecstatic for my new Fannie Pack, I simply looked up at Travis and said...."a fannie pack?" He laughed and told me there was more to my "fannie pack" and to look inside.
Carefully placed in my beloved fannie pack, was what would help us to make memories for a long time to come. It was something I've wanted but never thought to ask for because it is such an investment. There laid my beautiful new Canon t3i. It's wonderful. I have A LOT to learn.
After opening my gift, we headed to church. I wanted to feel that Ainslee was with me, that she was singing me Happy Birthday too. The song during communion today was a song that was sung at her funeral. "On Eagle's Wings". I surprisingly didn't cry through it. I got choked up, but didn't cry. After that, the priest asked for everyone to be seated...all except expectant mothers....
God showed His grace, His mercy, His promise that He is taking care of us. He showed me during church that I am being looked after. He showed me that He is there, that Ainslee is there, and that there is hope for our future. Our Baby "Hope" will help us heal.
Baby "Hope" is due April 15, 2012. Yes, that is also Spring for SIDS day. Ironic huh? I am now 13 weeks pregnant and baby is doing great. I saw the baby on Tuesday and this is by far the most active baby I've had, highest heart beat I've ever seen-170.
So..even though Ainslee is not here, and I hate that more than anything...I technically have 3 children to celebrate my 30th with. I have 3 babies. 3 babies to help me be a better person, a better mother, a better wife, and to welcome another year...another decade. Here's to my 30's!
So last weekend was our Walk to Remember. It was on October 1st so it was a good way to start off the October month, remembering her. It was a beautiful day, sun way out, a little toasty, but perfect weather. There was over 1,000 people participating, remembering their babies. We had 40 people in our group to remember Ainslee.
When we first got there, we registered and then were able to set up some of our child's belongings or memories on a memory table. After that, we all lined up and started our walk. Along the way, we were able to find our sign for our child that had their dates of birth and death. We then sat through a very nice ceremony where each name was called and we were able to hang our Christmas ornament for our baby on a tree they had out there. After that was our balloon release. We each wrote on our balloon a special message for Ainslee. If your baby was a girl, you got a pink balloon, boy is blue, and if you had an early miscarriage, you got a white balloon since gender was unknown.
Here's a few pictures from our day. For some strange reason, I'm not able to load pictures that are vertical onto blogger. Drives me crazy. :)
Well, we got through the Walk to Remember...next up is my 30th birthday which is this Sunday. Slowly trying to get through the events that lead up to her birthday. I will try to update more of our weekend this weekend.
I've been in such a funk lately with blogging. I have so much on my mind, yet absolutely no energy to update. Life has just been hard lately, I feel further away from Ainslee. Today is the last day of September, which means tomorrow starts the month I used to love, the month I now dread. Tomorrow we have a Walk to Remember for Ainslee. Hopefully it'll be a good way to start October in remembering a life that was cherished by many.
Today I met the headstone company at the cemetery to intall Ainslee's headstone. I got to watch them do the entire thing and I had Adrian there with me so he could watch the transition of her getting her headstone. I felt like it would be good for both of us to see. This way, I didn't just show up at the cemetery and it was changed. I like to be involved as much as possible with anything that changes with Ainslee's things. That way I have the control and don't get caught off guard by the change.
At any rate, I wanted to share the design I did and the headstone I chose for my daughter. It was important for me to not look at her headstone and feel even more sad than I already would. I wanted it to be a celebration of her life, and I wanted it to be age appropriate. I wanted it to show how beautiful she was, how much we love and care for her, and most importantly, be a legacy of the life of an amazing little girl. The design turned out beautiful, and I am so happy with the end result.
Here it is!
Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.