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.
The above title has so much meaning to me, in so many ways. Rewind 3 1/2 years ago. We were pregnant with our first born. A son. And he was born with jet black hair and the most beautifully perfect face I had ever seen. He made me a Mom and gave me new meaning in this life. I learned about loving so deeply and definitely had the "first time Mom" feel about me. I cleaned every inch of every paci any time it remotely touched the floor. I had a protective air about me which would go in over gear should I feel anyone was intruding my motherly instinct space. I did everything the best way I knew how and I did it out of love for my son. He definitely changed the dynamic of our family and I am so grateful for that. A baby changes everything.
When Adrian was 7 months old, we found out we were pregnant with another baby. It would be our little girl. I was scared at first, thinking Adrian would think I didn't love him enough and didn't make enough time for him with a new baby on the way. We found out we were having a baby girl and I was ecstatic to have a boy and a girl. What a true blessing. This little girl was captivating. She was unexpected, but beautiful nonetheless. Her brown eyes were like chocolate, the sweetest little voice. And she'd curl up in the nape of my neck which could soothe her on even the roughest of colicky days. Ainslee and I attended our first mother/daughter Christmas program and I remember that day vividly. We were in the 5-6th row and I had her in her carseat, all bundled up. She began to fuss and I took her out, held her close, in the nape of my neck. I cried. I felt a little overwhelmed in the moment. I knew this baby was everything to our family. I knew that she came to change us, just didn't know how. As I held her, I heard the most beautiful voice singing a song so dear to me now. "She has to leave, go far way. Heaven knows, she can't stay. A Baby changes Everything." And I cried. And I cried. I cried at the change this baby brought to our family. Feeling so blessed to have Adrian and Ainslee. Feeling sad and guilty that I wasn't able to give more of my undivided attention to Adrian individually, and the same to Ainslee.
I also cried at trying to imagine what it must be like to be told you are expecting God's son. Jesus. He would come and be the Messiah. What a scary thing to be told. So much uncertainty. To have Him in a stable, no room for them. The grace that Mary must have. The grace that Joseph must have. The change this baby would bring to you and to me.
Going through the loss of Ainslee was tragic beyond words. It continues to be a grief battle. But through that battle and loss of hope...a baby was born. Our sweet Hadlee Hope. I remember when they put Hadlee on my chest when she was born, she looked up all around to see what was going on. That is so Hadlee. She is still just as nosy as the day she was born. I am so grateful for her. I remember when I had her I was so confused by the whole process of everything we had been through. It can still seem surreal at times to think of all the events of having Ainslee, losing her, and having Hadlee...all so close together. It was definitely not my plan. Trusting in plans that are not of my own are difficult for me. I see myself falling into fear more often than not and quite frankly, get tired of it. I get tired of feeling paralyzed by fear, wondering what may possibly happen next. Will I be this poor woman who loses her husband, and all children? I sure hope not. But now that I am no stranger to grief and loss, I can't help but feel that I may lose everything. Natural? Sure. Exhausting? Absolutely.
I find myself lately being absolutely head over heels in love with these two living children of mine. I've never felt so in love with them. I am addicted to them to a fault. They consume my mind, my heart, every fiber I have. And tonight, I am truly grateful for all the babies who have changed my life. And everything that has come along with that. A Baby changes Everything. It truly does.
A few weeks ago I was blessed with the opportunity to blog for our church. I am so excited about this opportunity to share my faith with others. Here is my first post below...
“I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” (President Abraham Lincoln, Proclamation, October 3, 1863)
Thanksgiving. A time for crisper weather, changing of leaves, a roasted Turkey, gravy, cranberry sauce, and football! I’m sure any human would automatically revert to this thinking when hearing the word “Thanksgiving.” That, and pilgrims. Abraham Lincoln wanted to ensure despite American’s differences, we were giving thanks to the source from whom all blessings flow.
Growing up, I have a ton of wonderful Thanksgiving memories of my grandmother and grandfather’s home, her cooking like a mad woman, hiding the rum in her coke somewhere in a corner, all of us grandkids with our fingers constantly in the relish tray, and all the men miserably full from the amazing food she would prepare. Sure, these are all fabulous memories to me. But one memory that has to be my most favorite Thanksgiving memory is my Thanksgiving with my 2nd born, Ainslee.
There was a turkey, there was gravy, there was a relish tray. There was my baby. She was perfect in every way at only a month old. She of course slept wonderfully up until it was time for me to enjoy my Thanksgiving meal. Then she wanted her Thanksgiving meal. I took her upstairs to nurse her and remember how incredibly blessed I felt to have this beautiful dark haired baby to spend Thanksgiving with. Another wonderful blessing to be truly thankful for.
That would be our only Thanksgiving together but it would lead me to a place I never thought possible to reach. Her love and short life lead me to Him, our Creator. Sure I always had a faith filled life and considered myself to be a Christian. But she would lead me to His love and ultimately experience the satisfaction of what Thanksgiving meant.
“Do this in memory of Me.”
Jesus Christ offers Himself under the form of bread and wine. He surrenders Himself unto us for our nourishment, for our salvation, for the cleansing of our humanly bodies, to save us. By receiving Him, we accept rejuvenation for ourselves and divine vitality which can only come from His Thanksgiving. So naturally the sacrificial banquet of remembrance is called the Eucharist, or “thanksgiving.” “Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.”
Thanking Him during this time and for our salvation and giving all praise to Him is what has always been intended during this time of thanks. He gave His whole, entire self to us-body, blood, soul and divinity.
Thanksgiving isn’t separated from sacrifice and the Mass itself is a celebration of God’s undying love through His very own sacrifice. This is how we truly accept Christ and live a Christian life, by allowing Him to be our nourishment, our Thanksgiving. True thanksgiving means self-giving. This is the meaning of the Eucharist.
I can think of no American holiday that so closely resembles the symbolism and meaning of the sacrament of the Eucharist. We celebrate Thanksgiving as a sign of American unity and thanksgiving to God who has given us great gifts.
Today I am thankful for my family, my job and my home. I’m thankful for the salvation of Jesus Christ and the hope of Heaven. I am thankful for His sacrifice. I thank Him every day for that dark haired baby girl. That she lead me to where I need to be spiritually. I am so incredibly thankful to have spent a Thanksgiving with her and for the chance to be shown and taught about true Thanksgiving. I’m thankful God trusted me to be her mother, knowing what her 3 months on this earth would do for this broken Christian.
Today I am thankful for the Eucharist. I am thankful for Thanksgiving.
So...a little Hadlee update! I have some good news. I have been able to get Hadlee OUT of her swaddle...FINALLY! At 6+ months, she is out of her swaddle and sleeping in her sleep sacks over her sleeper. Oh that in itself makes me happy. That's the first good news. The 2nd good news is we moved her over to her room! On Ainslee's birthday, we moved Hadlee to the girl's room because sleep was just not happening in this house and it was exhausting. I wasn't ready to move her, but we had to try anything. And....the 3rd good news-It worked!!!!!!!!! Hadlee is sleeping so much better in her bed. Last night was her best night yet. She went to sleep just fine, got up at 2:30 in the morning, and then back to bed until 6 this morning. I am one happy Momma. I think she had to get out of our room and sleeping next to me. She could sniff me out as soon as I'd come in the room to get in bed. I am sleeping in the guest room now because it's closer to her room and makes me feel safer until I get used to her sleeping. Even though she's sleeping better, I am still checking her monitor every 30 minutes to an hour.
The other night we did have a little scare with her monitor. I haven't had any false alarms on her angel care until the other night. I was having a hard time falling asleep and finally started to doze...then it happened, the alarm went off. I flew out of bed, covers flying, my legs were like jello as I was trying to figure out how to use them to get running. It was an awful kind of panic. I got down the hall, into her room, scooped her up and couldn't even look at her to see if I was going to be looking at a breathing baby, or a lifeless one. I took her to my husband and could feel her breathing so knew she was fine. I told him what happened and I was taking her to bed with me to just feel her breath for a bit. I laid with her for an hour just holding her and then she was ready to eat. So so scary.
The next day, we had her 6 month pictures and our family pictures before Christmas card time. I love our sneak peak and how they turned out. I am feeling incredibly blessed to have 2 beautiful living children, a wonderful supportive and handsome husband, and the hope of heaven to be reunited with our entire family. Hope you enjoy some of my favorite pics!
Ainslee's birthday has come and gone. Again. She turned 2! I can't even believe it still. We have had such a busy last week and a half...well actually all of October is always busy for us. So, blogging comes last unfortunately even if I wish I could do it more often.
We participated in our annual Holton's Drive for SIDS event again this year which was on October 27th, my due date with Ainslee. Last year was my first event to attend and I had recently found out I was pregnant with Hadlee. I was only about 8 weeks along and wasn't telling a soul. I was scared last year of where we'd be this year. But as this year approached, I began to see how beautiful life is. I don't always understand it, but it's beautiful nonetheless....if you allow yourself to see the beauty. I was so incredibly grateful to have added another baby girl. And it was great to show up to the event with our Hadlee in tow. No one knew last year I was pregnant, so to show up this year with a 6 month old was fabulous! We made great memories and raised money to help find answers to the mystery of SIDS.
That Sunday, October 28th, we had Ainslee's birthday party at the cemetery. We invited some friends and family and our Deacon at church. It was a beautiful day, sunny with a cool breeze, just perfect. We started with words from the Bible and blessing of her headstone. We then sang Happy Birthday, released balloons with our birthday wishes on them, and then had cupcakes. I got Rainbow Roses for Hadlee to give to her big sister and I think it's a tradition I'll start every year. It was truly a wonderful way to remember the day we had Ainslee. On Ainslee's birthday, October 29th, we didn't want to plan anything because we didn't know how we'd feel. We woke up, and I immediately cried. I longed for my 2 year old. I missed the last year and 9 months of watching her grow, hearing her sweet voice, feeling her face and hands on my face. I just missed her and grief took over again. Luckily, I have 2 pretty sweet living kiddos to really help me out. They can help restore such happiness in this broken Momma. I am really thankful for that.
We ended up hanging out at home and then visiting her at the cemetery as a family. Later, Travis' parents picked up some food and came over. We just hung out as a family and it was low key, but just what we needed. The entire day, I thought about the day I had Ainslee. How beautiful she was with jet black hair, sparkly brown eyes, and beautiful olive toned skin. She was like a sack of potatoes, so healthy, so consuming, so perfect. I remember feeling a different feeling becoming the mother to a little baby girl. I remember holding her in recovery and just staring at her thinking, she is mine. The day of her birth was a happy one.
For Ainslee's birthday, I did 2 things. I heard a story of a 4th grade class that is wanting to take a class trip to Austin to the capitol. Most of these children don't financially have the ability to support a trip like this. So, I decided to "adopt" a child to pay for their trip. I got a very sweet thank you card in the mail, mentioning Ainslee and how happy the little girl was that we got another daughter. Her teacher, one of my roommates in college, must have told her about our story and the compassion that this little girl had was beyond sweet. The 2nd thing I did was to purchase a birthday gift for a girl who was turning 15 that is in a foster home type setting but doesn't receive much for her birthday. Giving to two other girls during Ainslee's birthday was fulfilling.
We are now in the time period of when we had Ainslee alive. I relive those events. We had her at Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, her baptism, and followed by her death. The countdown to February begins. My hope is in Heaven and the reality that we will be together again....one sweet day.
Happy 2nd Birthday my sweet Ainslee girl. Your brother talks about you every day. He says how much he misses you and Jesus. :) He thinks Jesus is one of our babies too. :) Oh your brother cracks me up. I love you Ainslee!
Yesterday we had Hadlee's 6 month well check and I was so excited to go to this appointment. There were a few underlying issues I was itching to discuss, along with the mere fact that 6 months is a great point for us.
We got there and they weighed her. 15 pounds 9 ounces. That puts her in the 43rd percentile for weight. Her height puts her in the 71st percentile and her head is in the 67th percentile. All her measurements have been consistently in the same range so that's great for her growth. At 6 months Hadlee is doing so much! She is rolling both ways consistently. She has also started to get on all fours and rock back and forth. She can sit up with assistance and by herself for just a little bit, but not too long. She's still working on that.
I talked to her pediatrician about her sleeping, or lack there of, and he wants her on 3 meals a day since she is still just breastfed. I told him I'm still just pumping away and that she still only takes about 3 1/2 ounces at a feeding, eating every 3 hours from a bottle during the day. She still will sometimes eat 2 times during the night, and remain up and down in between feedings. I'm sure you can imagine the exhaustion. So, now I'm trying to work with her on getting her on a good schedule eating wise during the day. My new schedule I'm following is: 8:30 am Breakfast (fruit) followed by a 3 1/2 ounce bottle. At noon, she will eat a veggie and a fruit followed by a bottle. Then at 4-4:30 pm she will have another bottle. 6:00 pm she will eat dinner (veggie), and follow up with a bath and then bottle for bedtime. That should be a pretty good schedule for her at this point and should get her nice and full.
We discussed her excema and he wants me to start using Cerave products on her. At bathtime, cleansing her with the cleansing soap (very mild), then get her lotioned up with the hydrating lotion and put the hydrating cream on her "problem" areas. Her main areas of concern at this point are her creases in her right arm and her creases in her right leg. She also has some mild spots on her left leg and has a pretty rotten area on her chest. The area on her chest he feels is more of an allergic reaction to some type of metal on her clothing. She can touch certain clothing and flare up with a bright red spot. She's just a sensitive girl. I'm hoping the Cerave products work, if not we'll be going to a pediatric derm to discuss other options.
At 6 months Hadlee is in size 2 diapers and moving into 6-9 month clothes. 3-6 month clothes are really too small. She is a very smiley baby and is generally happy most of the time. The only exhausting part is the fact that she doesn't sleep much. But, I'm hoping that if we can help to treat the excema and get her full on meals throughout the day, she'll start sleeping better. She is still sleeping in our room in a pack and play and she is still swaddled. I can't seem to get her out of it. I've tried the one arm swaddle and it just still doesn't really work. Once she's able to grab her pacis and put them in her mouth, I'm hoping it'll get better because then she can reach for pacis and I'll put like 12 in her bed! :)
We spend a lot of time in Ainslee and Hadlee's room playing but for some reason, I still just feel like it's Ainslee's room. I tried to add a couple things to the walls to cater to Hadlee but for some reason, I just still feel like it's Ainslee's room. I did so much preparation for Ainslee when she was coming with picking out bedding, getting her furniture, painting the walls, adding the mural and so I prepared it all for her. When we got pregnant with Hadlee and knew it was a girl, I thought I'd just use the same stuff...but now it just doesn't feel like her room. I'm not sure what to do about it but I'd like to do some sort of change to the room to make it more like Hadlee's room somehow. I guess I still need to sit on it and think what will help me feel like it's more Hadlee's now. I like the idea that we have the girls "share" a room, but ultimately I need to also feel comfortable with the fact that it's Hadlee's room. Because at this point, I can't see myself moving her over to her room.
Our next well check will be in January, Hadlee's 9 month. They are going to do a panel of allergy testing on her to see if she's got allergies since she's got a lot of allergy signs. I'm really anticipating seeing what it shows. I just tucked the little stink pot in bed, rocked her until she was asleep, and figured I'll be in there within 45 minutes to do it all over again. :) She's so worth it though.
This past weekend was a great weekend. It was filled with love, laughter, memories, family, friends and fun.
Saturday was Travis' 32nd birthday! 32 my friends. 32 was rough on Trav and he started the day out with a 2 hours nap at 9 am. :) Hadlee actually took a two hour nap and gave her Daddy a birthday present of a little nap. Adrian and I picked up donuts for the birthday boy and we all headed out to our nephew's soccer game. After the soccer game, which was blazing hot, we visited our sweet Ainslee girl.
We then went home, got ready for Oktoberfest at our church, and headed out for a family fun night. We were celebrating Trav's birthday at our church's first annual Oktoberfest and it was so much fun. It was the best event I've ever been to at our church. Maybe it was the fellowship, along with Travis' birthday and the company we had that night. But, it was a very memorable night. Right before Oktoberfest, we went to Mass and during Mass they played "On Eagle's Wings" which is one of my favorites. We played it at Ainslee's funeral, so I knew it was her way of saying she's with us.
At Oktoberfest, I did the Cupid Shuffle with Hadlee, a little polka dancing with Trav, and all kinds of fun dances with Adrian. They announced Trav's birthday and we all sang Happy Birthday to him, followed by a yummy cake made my sister in law. We also met up with a couple old friends of mine from college. I cheered at OU and one of the baseball guys that I was friends with goes to church now at our church. He recently got married to the girl he dated in college and it has been wonderful to reconnect with them. It's hard to find couples that both you and your husband get along with, so it's nice when you do find those couples. It was great reminiscing all night and catching up.
Sunday was spent with a couple that set Travis and I up 7 years ago. They are very close friends of ours and recently had their 2nd born, a daughter. They came over, we had Wing Stop and watched the Cowboys. After we took our kiddos out to the pumpkin patch where we picked out pumpkins for Adrian, Ainslee and Hadlee. Adrian picked out a big orange one for himself. He picked out a beautiful fairytale pumpkin for Ainslee, and he picked out a whitesh green one for Hadlee. We've got some Mums out and our pumpkins and it's looking like fall outside our home.
We wrapped up our night last night spending time in Ainslee and Hadlee's room. Adrian got a blanket of Ainslee's and said how nice it felt and he wanted to sleep with it. I told him he had to ask Ainslee. So, he looked up to the sky and asked her if he could sleep with it. He then looked at me and said, "her said yes." I was certain he wasn't going to say she said no. :) We kept hanging out in there and he was laying on his back and I could hear him still talking to Ainslee as Travis and I carried on a conversation. I heard him say, "Ainslee, Mommy go to her meeting and her cry. Her miss you." Oh it broke my heart. That was about the time he started crying and saying he misses Ainslee, when he saw me cry at my "meeting." I hate that he sees me hurt, but I can't always hide it from him. And I think it's good for him to see that people grieve and are sad and it's okay to cry. But, also that despite sad times, we are still blessed and a happy family. It's a life lesson for sure.
Today we talked a little bit more about Ainslee and he said, "I know Mommy you sad Ainslee in Heaven. Her not come out of Heaven. But guess what? You have a new baby. Guess who? Hattie!!!" He's even trying to heal my heart and comfort me by saying the sweetest thing he knows how. I'm very thankful for a kind hearted son.
Today I had Hattie's 6 month well check and that is a whole 'nother blog post...maybe tomorrow if time allows for it. Oh...and guess who's going to Carrie Underwood Wednesday in a suite!? This girl! So excited! She's my girl crush.
I'll tell you something. Tonight I am feeling very blessed and very happy. Our family is perfectly planned by God. I'd much rather Ainslee be here to tuck in bed tonight, to kiss and to snuggle with. But, I sure am still glad to be called her mother and be a mother of 3 beautiful loving children.
So, I've fallen behind on my capture your grief project. I just don't have the time to keep up with it with my busy schedule. I know a lot of bloggers always open it up to the public for questions to be asked and provide an answer session. I've had various questions along the way and figured it's a good time to open it up for questions. Feel free to ask questions. I will get them answered this weekend.
Hattie is 6 months! What a milestone in our book! I can't believe we are at the 6 month mark. And yet so incredibly excited to be at this point.
On Hattie's 6 month birthday, we all headed down to San Antonio to visit Pappy for the first time since Hadlee's been born. Pappy was turning 89 on the 13th of October and we wanted to take the kids to Seaworld. It turned out to be an exhaustingly wonderful weekend.
For Pappy's birthday, we got 2 cakes. One for Pappy's 89th, and one for Hattie's half birthday. It was perfect. We did a balloon release to send heavenly birthday wishes to Ainslee and my cousin Derek. My Aunt Nonnie, Derek's mom, was there too which was wonderful to see her and wrap my arms around her. My mom, brother, our family, my cousins, aunts and uncle all headed out to a Vietnamese dinner, followed by singing and birthday cake.
The next day was Seaworld! Again...exhaustingly wonderful. I loved taking Adrian to such a special place. It's one of my favorites. And I was thankful to have taken Hadlee to another place she'd never been. It was great to be there as a family making new wonderful memories.
Our Hadlee is such a little character. She is such a smiley baby. She loves to be held and she loves to laugh. Our little girl still isn't much of a sleeper. Only 3 30-45 minute naps a day, followed by an up and down night. I'm not sure what's bugging her to wake so much throughout the night, but it is so exhausting. We still have her in our room and yes we follow the same bed time routine EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT. I am wired to have structure and stability, and my kids receive that in return. I'm no military boot camp, but I do try to provide scenarios in which our kids know what to expect.
I tried rice cereal for about a week, but stopped it because Hadlee isn't very regular when it comes to going number 2 and I don't want to complicate things more. I've brought that up to the pediatrician and he says she must be absorbing all of my breast milk. She only goes every 4-5 days. Yes, I'm still pumping. I've tried to get her to latch on again the last couple weeks but she wants nothing to do with nursing itself, just loves her bottle. So, I am still pumping throughout the day and into the night. I don't have any milk stored up anymore at this point so I'm running low on the amount of milk. I am able to make just enough for her. But, if it comes to a point where she may want an extra ounce or two and I'm not expecting it, then I won't have any more breast milk for her. I am however extremely proud of myself for ensuring she's only had breast milk for her first 6 months. I think that is a huge accomplishment. Something I was really trying to achieve.
At 6 months, Hadlee is a moving machine. She is rolling over both ways consistently and even getting on all fours. She will start to rock back and forth on all fours and then plop down on her tummy. I have started some foods with her and she's loving her peas and now squash. I'm taking foods slow. Tonight at dinner, she had 2 helpings of squash, then got ready for bed, and had a 3 1/2 ounce bottle. She is working on sitting up and has started to get her first tooth.
Hadlee's eczema is pretty bad. I don't even know what to do to help her. I've tried aquaphor right after baths, oatmeal lotion, and nothing seems to help. I see her little skin getting broken down and wish I had a magical potion to help her and help her skin look better.
Adrian and Hadlee are our world. And Hadlee thinks the absolute world of Adrian. We may be exhausted, I may be worried about her eczema, but all in all, we are blessed. We are making new happy memories and feeling so blessed to have another daughter to share them with. All the while, remembering our sweet Ainslee.
Happy half birthday my Hadlee Hope. You are so loved.
One of my most treasured items through loss, aside from time, was a sleeper that Ainslee last slept in. When she passed away, I had this sleeper which was unwashed. It still had her spit up on it, her smell. The smell of my breast milk made especially for her. It was a simple brown fleece sleeper with little flowers on it. When she passed away, I clung to that sleeper. It had her smell on it and I could pretend she was still her. I started sleeping with it the day she passed away and slept with it every day. I would make sure not to roll over on it at night. If it accidentally fell on the floor at night, I would cry and feel like I dropped her. When I'd make my bed, I'd put it laid out on my pillow so I could grab it anytime I needed to. When I was preparing for Hadlee's arrival, I knew I couldn't be sleeping with her sleeper anymore. Mentally, it was difficult with the sleeper because a part of me felt like it was really her. A few weeks before Hadlee's arrival I started to move it onto a chair in our room and then the week before, I put it in Ainslee's trunk at the foot of our bed. Up and away. I had to wean myself from the sleeper and to be honest, I sometimes still want it out. But, for now, it's best put up.
Day 5...Memorial. I was just flipping through the pictures from the day of her funeral. I'm glad to have them to reflect back on what was going on that day because it's hard to remember. But, I also hate looking at my daughter in the tiniest casket I've ever seen. They shouldn't make caskets that small. I don't want to share the pictures of her in her casket because they are very private, but I will share her grave site when she was just buried and the way my sister in law and I decorated it for Ainslee.
I'm having a rough night tonight. I could tell a change in my mood upon gathering things for our walk to remember tomorrow. Hadlee woke up and I ran into the room to rock her. I held her and cried, imagining having a 2 year old needing me to put her to bed as well. I can imagine what she'd look like. Dark brown hair, wispy to her shoulders, beautiful brown eyes staring at me, and arms wrapped around me ready for books and bedtime prayers. Oh how I hate the grief. I miss Ainslee terribly.
October has come and once again sadness is in part of my heart. Of course I have happiness with my husband and children, but there will always be a sadness and an ache for Ainslee, especially every October. If you remember, October is filled with many events that would be even more special if Ainslee were here. So since she's not here, the ache has returned. October 6th is our annual Walk to Remember. October 9th is my birthday, October 13th is Pappy's birthday, October 20th is Travis' birthday, along with our sweet daughter's 2nd birthday, October 29th. And then there's Halloween, Ainslee's first holiday with us.
I've seen an event titled Capture your Grief and have seen what some are doing for this to help move their grief along and embrace it. This is the CarlyMarie Project in honor of Pregnancy and Infant loss awarness month, which is October. As much as I love the support for Breast Cancer awareness, I too wish that all the babies gone too soon got just as much recognition. There's no cure for SIDS and the only sign is death.
This Capture your Grief project started October 1st. Each day you are to take a picture or use a picture that reminds you of the topic for that day. There are 31 topics for 31 days. I am obviously 3 days now behind. The first day was sunset. I'm choosing to forego the sunset day because I don't really have any attachment to sunsets. The 2nd day is Before Loss Self Portrait. I will end this post with my before loss self portrait, and follow it with day 3: After Loss Self Portrait.
Tonight we had a Transitus at church, also a memorial for our loved ones. We bring a picture of our loved one up to church, place it on a table for all to pray for during the next month. We each say our loved ones name and this year, I had to sadly add my cousin's name. Derek Crook. He was my oldest cousin, at a young age of 33. He passed away the day before his 34th birthday this year. August 21st, 2012. His family is hurting, his mother is aching for her son. And I sadly understand. I get to see my Aunt, his mother, in a week and a half and I can't wait to wrap my arms around her. This month we are also participating in a golf tournament benefitting SIDS. I feel like this month of October has turned into one giant memorial that I'll never escape. I'm hoping to eventually look at it as a wonderful time to do many things to honor Ainslee instead of focusing on the sadness of each event. We are only into our 2nd year of loss so I know it'll take time. My biggest hurdle right now is trying to get through Ainslee's 2nd birthday. The thought of her being 2 is unbearable. I remember Adrian's 2nd birthday and how much we adore his age and to know we won't get that for our little girl Ainslee. That hurts.
Here's my days #2 and #3: Before and After loss. I can definitely see a difference in my face, in my eyes, in my heart. I will never be the same girl again...good, bad, or indifferent.
I think about the person I was...3 babies and a funeral ago. That Channan was different than the Channan I know now. When Travis and I got married we were adjusting to marriage and living together. We knew we wanted to start a family early, but were also enjoying each other and the freedom associated with just being married. I felt more carefree, could make decisions easier, would go more places without a worry.
When Adrian came along, I was so happy to be a mother. I was thankful that he was sent to make me a mother but I didn't realize what this new found role of mine would consist of. I remember due to Adrian's bad reflux as a baby, it was difficult. But, I felt confident in my mothering with him and confident in my relationship with him. I was apprehensive to take him to an at home daycare, but felt at ease after we got into a routine. I started to realize what it meant to have "your heart walking around outside of your body."
When I got pregnant with Ainslee, Adrian was just 7 months old. That's when my guilt really started. I felt that I was going to be battling between loving one child more than the other, spending more time with one child vs. the other. When Ainslee came, it took about a 3-4 week adjustment for me to get comfortable in this new role as a mother of 2. I was so concerned it was going to change my relationship with Adrian and was trying to avoid that at all cost. I started picking up Adrian shortly after my c-section for fear he would hold a grudge against me if I denied picking him up. We did adjust to being a family of four and all seemed right in the world. Days were difficult at times trying to teach Ainslee to nap, or if she was fussy and Adrian needed attention, that could be trying. But, looking back, I was so grateful to have our family of four and my new role as a mother of 2.
When we lost Ainslee, I gained my title of bereaved mother. I was still a mother to two children, only now I had to figure out how to care for the one in Heaven. It seems that my roles and hats I wear are always changing, but being a bereaved mother is something that sadly sticks. I can't ever give that title back although I'd gladly do it. Trying to figure out how to fit loss, grief, anxieties, worries into our family has been difficult. It has brought on a whole new responsibility, just as all roles do.
Having Hadlee was another adjustment. I had to adjust to my new role of being a mother to 3, one in Heaven. I had to adjust to seeing family pictures of the four of us, knowing there should be 5. I've had to see Big Sis/Lil Sis shirts and have such an ache to want my girls side by side in these. I've had to fight back tears to put on a brave face for my 2 living children. I find myself sighing a lot, thinking of what should or could have been.
Hadlee was so needed in this family, and I am so greatful to have had another baby girl. But, I'm figuring out that it doesn't matter how many more kids we have and what the gender is, there will always be a little girl missing. The hopes and dreams of Ainslee were destroyed and ripped from our family.
Today's role I carry of being a wife and a mother to 3 has changed me. I reflect on the events of the last 3 years and all it's done to change me. I've slowly started molding into this girl I don't recognize. The fear, the anxiety, the worry, the control, the anger, the depression, the grief, the sadness, all to consume me on a daily basis. I try my best to function and to be the girl I once was, but I'm not sure I'll ever be the same as I was...3 babies and a funeral ago.
We have reached another milestone on this exhuasting journey of milestones. Throughout our loss with Ainslee I've met many families, all which have lost babies to SIDS at various ages. I have all their ages memorized to the day of when they passed, and I have exhaustingly been counting down in my head to each one as Hadlee reaches those ages. When she passes each milestone, I breath a little better. It's one step closer to keeping her longer. I'm winding down to my last two SIDS dates. One is 3 days before she is 5 months old, and the other is the day she is 5 months old. And then of course the day she is 6 months will be huge. I do know a few people who have lost babies at 7 and 8 months...but I'm just focusing to get to 6 months for now.
Today we had Hadlee's 4 month well check. This was a big milestone for me because I never made it to Ainslee's 4 month well check. When I left Hadlee's last well check, I couldn't help but wonder if it'd be our last well check. Not only did we reach this milestone, but it was a goal of mine to be able to go into that well check and say that my baby was still breastfeeding. And, we were able to reach that mileston as well. I am so proud of the both of us for working wiht the kinks and keeping the main goal insight of ensuring she gets breast milk.
Today Hadlee weighed 14 pounds exactly which puts her in the 53rd percentile for weight. Height was 25 1/4 inches which put her in the 73rd percentile for height. She's doing all the things they look for, rolling over, great head control, plays with hands, grasps at objects, smiles, laughs and gurgles. Our pediatrician said he felt she was neurologically beyond her age which made me feel good. He talked about introducing rice cereal and this is a topic that I have been hung up on. I can't decide whether to do it or not. I did it with Adrian, and probably would have with Ainslee. But, after we lost Ainslee, I have found myself questioning a lot more which alters my parenting too. I'm not sure I really feel rice cereal is necessary, can't quite see the nutritional benefits it provides. I know it has iron in it but feel that at 4 1/2 months she's getting what she needs from breast milk.
Today Hadlee's been pretty fussy but we've been patient with it. We were able to get her moved over into the bassinet, almost in time for her to outgrow it. But, it's working for the time being which I am glad. I feel she is safer in there. She is waking up frequently at night and only goes a maximum of 4 hours in between feedings. That 4 hours usually only happens right when she goes to sleep and then when she gets up for her first feeding around 1 AM, then she goes back to sleep until 4, and then until 6:30 AM. It gets to be pretty exhausting and with being up frequently, having to work full time, and still carrying grief daily, it makes for a pretty tiresome Mommy. I'm not complaining, this is all a good tired....but tired nonetheless.
All in all, we're thankful every day for our family and really looking forward to all Hadlee will be attempting in the next couples months. Hopefully we'll be watching her sit up and start to really come into her own.
Something that has been such a joy to see is watching Adrian with her. I felt so guilty when Ainslee passed away that I wasn't able to give Adrian the love of a sibling that he deserved. Hadlee has become smitten with her older brother. He makes her laugh so hard and it is the sweetest sound to hear. I love nothing more than seeing the love between them two at this age. I can't wait until she starts crawling and can follow him around everywhere. They are going to be quite the pair.
Our sweet Hadlee Hope is now 4 months old. What a big milestone! We've made it to a new month with her. I remember when Adrian was 4 months, going to his 4 month well check and the pediatrician telling me that the 4th month is the biggest SIDS month. So, I am paying close attention to her as always, and thanking God for every new day He brings us. I am so ready to get to 6 months when SIDS will decrease a bit.
This chunky monkey 4 month old baby is so funny! She started rolling over on July 27th from her back to her stomach. I was so incredibly impressed. She's by far my earliest with everything at this point. She brings her legs up to her face, gets over on her side, and then flips really quick to her tummy. And now, we can't keep her on her back for more than a couple seconds.
We've been treating cradle cap, eczema, and a neck yeast infection that is so persistent. I can't seem to get it to go away. I've taken her to our chiro for various things and he was treating her yeast infection. It would help for a couple days but then come back with a vengence. One day last week, Hadlee hadn't gone #2 for 5 days and as a Mom, I always like to see a good healthy BM. Makes me feel like they're getting their systems good and cleaned out. Well, I called the chiro to see if they could help me. He told me to bring her in and they'd adjust her tailbone. So, I did. He said I should see something in her diaper in a couple of hours. I didn't know whether to believe this or not....but sure enough, within 30 minutes, I had quite the diaper to clean up. I was impressed.
Hadlee is still in size 1 diapers, size 3-6 month clothes, and still loves her nap nanny. I can't seem to get her out of it, or out of her swaddle. I'm not sure how we're ever going to get her out of a swaddle and into her bassinet or crib (in our room). Sleeping wise, she sometimes has great nights, and then can have really awful nights. Last night was an awful night. On a good night, she may eat at 8:30 or 9, go to bed by 10 and get up at 5, go back to bed until 8. That's a great night for us. A bad night....those are pretty exhuasting. She will eat at 8:30, won't be able to be laid down until 11:30, may wake back up upon laying down, up to eat at 1, then restless in between nighttime feedings to where I have to constantly shhh her, pat her, rock her. Those nights are difficult..and the next day is even harder. :) I nurse Hadlee once a day b/c our chiro says that's how your body knows what antibodies to produce for your baby's needs. The saliva in the baby tells your milk supply what to produce. She is not a fan of actual nursing so even if I just latch her on for a bit, that's all it takes.
I have still been pumping and feeding her bottles, and putting a probiotic in her bottle to help with good bacteria, hopefully will help with the yeast as well. I can officially say she is my longest breastfeeder! I love that! Adrian was 2 1/2 months, Ainslee was 3 months and 10 days, and Hadlee is still on BM. She takes about 3-4 ounces every feeding and eats every 3 hours. We're still trying to figure out naps too during the day. She has taken an hour to two hour nap occasionally, but on average naps about 45 minutes each time. I'll be glad to see the day when sleeping gets a little better around here.
Hadlee has really found her voice and has started this new screeching squeeling sound. I think she just wants everyone to know she's here. She's started to laugh more and drools a ton! I know some pediatricians start 4 month olds on rice cereal and fruits/veggies, but I'm still weighing what to do with regards to food. I'm not sure she really is ready for food, especially rice cereal since it can be so binding on their tummies. I'll talk to our ped at her 4 month well check which is 2 weeks away. Other than that, we're all still trying to get into a routine with me back to work (working from home), and all the beautiful chaos that accompanies having a 3 year old and a 4 month old. I still need to get Adrian's birthday party and his 3 year old post up but have so much to say...need to find the right time.
A very happy 3 months to my sweet Hadlee Hope!
My dear Hadlee,
You are growing bigger everyday...literally! You now weigh 12 pounds! And you have the cutest little butt rolls next to your butt. Makes it look like you have 2 butts, I love it! Your thighs are getting chunkier and it looks like all of Mommy's milk goes straight to your cheeks! The ones on your face. :)
You are smiling, talking and love to try and use your legs. You try to push straight up when I hold you on my lap so you stand. You have some mean cradle cap that I try to scrub off a bit with a brush during your baths. And you absolutely love your baths and the water so it makes it super easy to scrub. I can pour water from the wash cloth over your head and it'll trickle down the sides of your face and you don't mind it one bit. Your brother isn't too fond of water being in his face and eyes (we're currently battling swimming lessons) so I'm trying to get you more used to water in your face during bathtime. And you seem to really enjoy it.
You have really started to show an ability to try and roll over from your back to your tummy. Anytime you are in your bouncer, you're trying to spin over onto your tummy and you have to be watched constantly so you don't actually flip and get stuck! That would scare Mommy for sure.
Speaking of scares, last night your snuza alarm went off and I shook you to wake up. You were fine and breathing but it sure did scare the daylights out of me. I think it just got stuck too far to the side of your diaper and didn't register your movements. At least I hope.
You are in one of your non nursing phases so Mommy is pumping milk for you and feeding bottles. I do occasionally still nurse you but you get frustrated after eating on one side and then I have to end up pumping anyways and feeding you the rest. I took you to a SIDS support group meeting the other night though and breastfed you at the restaurant. My first time ever to breastfeed in public. I was so excited about this! I felt like a great mother.
You are taking about 4 ounces in each bottle. You still get swaddled when it's time to sleep. Your brother held you yesterday and helped to feed you some of your bottle, with us right there of course. He absolutely loved being a part of caring for you. He loves you so much. Just as we all do.
You are still in a size 1 Pampers diaper and can fit some 0-3 month clothes but are moving more into the 3-6 month clothes. You got to go to the family lakehouse 2 weekends ago and are going again this weekend. I am so thankful to have been able to take you there. I love you so so much Hadlee. I pray every day for your health, for your growth, and for Jesus to constantly breath life into you. Please don't ever leave us my dear girl, we love you too much.
So I'm posting about Hadlee's little urgent care visit when she was 2 months and 4 days old. I want to remember what we went through in case we ever have that happen with another child, I will know that we can make it through it and things will be fine. I have a much more important post later today!
So, rewind to Friday, June 15th. Travis was at work and I laid Adrian down for his nap. Soon enough, H was ready to lay down for a nap too. So, I got her swaddled up and laid her in her nap nanny. She slept for about 40 minutes, just enough time for me to fall asleep. She woke up and I was frustrated that I didn't get any nap in. I was just exhausted that day. When she woke up, she felt warm but I associated it with her swaddle. So, I got her unswaddled and took her into the living room. She still seemed warm after 30 minutes so I took her temp, temporally. It registered 99.5. I called the pediatrician because it was 4 on a Friday and I knew they were closing soon. I knew it was low grade but just wanted to see what to do if it changes at all. They did tell me to go ahead and just take her to Cook's urgent care to get her checked out.
When I would hold her, she would kind of grunt when she was breathing and I didn't like the sound of it. So, I called Travis and had him come home early. I really didn't want to take Adrian in the facility, trying to avoid getting any further illnesses.
As I arrived at the urgent care, I checked her in and they immediately got me in the check in area. They took her temp rectally and it brought back a lot of emotions. I've never taken my kid's temps rectally as I've felt it's such a little area and so private. I've always felt it's so personal. The day Ainslee passed away and was in the ER, I remember holding her hand and all of a sudden a nurse came in and undid her diaper and stuck a thermometer in her bottom. No asking, just did it. And I understand why they were just working so diligently to try and save her and monitor her temp to see what the reading was. But, I vividly remember in that moment feeling so violated for her and thinking "my God, she is so little, have mercy on her please."
The nurse at the urgent care taking Hadlee's said her temp was 102.4. I instantly fell apart. How could there be such a discrepancy in readings from just 30 minutes. And of course the flashbacks from the ER came in and I felt like we were back to surrendering to fear.
They got us back and did a series of testing. They ended up catheterizing her, drawing blood, and doing a chest x-ray. Every initial test came back normal. They gave us the option of taking her home and treating for fever, or doing a spinal tap and giving a shot of antibiotics just in case it was a bacterial infection. I barely got through a rectal temp reading so there was no way I was going to electively consent to a spinal tap. We took her home and treated for fever. They wanted me to bring her back in the next day for a recheck. I did and they still felt they were seeing a viral infection making it's way through. That Saturday night at 8 pm was the last time we had to administer tylenol. Through this process, I ended up having to pump and bottle feed Hadlee for the first time to ensure she was getting enough fluid. The last thing I wanted was dehydration. During that, she decided it was easier to feed from a bottle than from me which made me so sad. I was able to get her back to nursing the following week but we're on a no nursing phase again this week. So, I'm pumping and feeding her the bottle. I do occasionally nurse her on one side and she will eat okay on one side and then get really angry and frustrated when I switch her and then falls apart. So, I either warm up some already pumped milk or finish pumping off what she hasn't eaten and feed her that.
All the blood cultures and urine cultures came back normal so nothing bacteria wise was growing out. She sure gave us a scare. Of course 2 weeks after Ainslee had a fever, she passed away. So, the countdown began. We've passed that two weeks and she has been fine. It was such a scary time for us and I was fearful my breastfeeding days were done, but we're pushing through. I'll update with her 3 month a little later....the little stinker is waking up and ready to eat! :)
I have been in the biggest blog funk I've ever experienced. I have so many things that come up that I totally want to blog about and then the beautiful chaos of babies and life stop me. Which I am completely fine with. We had a scare with Hadlee when she was 2 months and 4 days old. She got really ill and I've wanted to blog about that and our experience. Adrian turned 3 at the end of June and I want a post for his birthday. Of course I want to update on our Hattie girl and all she's doing. But first, let me talk about the wave of grief.
Most times, since Hadlee's been born, I get so consumed with the busyness of taking care of a newborn/baby, taking care of a toddler, being a wife, trying to keep up with the house and life that it doesn't leave much emotional energy to grieve as heavy. Every day I think of Ainslee, I remember her. I think of our time together and little things I miss about her. But when I find myself falling into the depths of grief, one of my living children needs me and I quickly jump onto what it is they need me for and then get lost in life. Because of how busy we are most days I'm not allowing myself to get consumed with grief.
Today I handed off Hadlee to her Daddy so I could eat dinner and happened to glance at a picture of Ainslee, one of her most precious pictures. May be one of my favorites...This one:
I've found that when I look at her pictures now I feel the heaviness again. And just like that, as I stared at her picture...the heaviness was back. And I gave into grief. I sat at the kitchen table and just wept, mourning once again for the daughter I've lost, the daughter I miss terribly, the one I'll never get to watch grow up. As I even write this, I find myself having to remind my lungs to breath. The wave of grief has struck today but I still stand grounded, blessed, and stronger. Last night I took Hadlee to a SIDS support meeting where I met with 5 other mothers who all lost their babies to SIDS, ages 3-5 months of age. Tears were shed and I couldn't help but look at my Hadlee and feel so incredibly blessed to be given another chance. But I also feel so disheartened at the loss of Ainslee. I miss my 21 month old running around here, what she'd look like, who she'd be, the love she would give me and the love I could give to her.
Today I gave into grief and grief won. But, I will say that there are more days that I am winning the battle and allowing myself to grow in strength. It's not an easy road and I've found myself losing my patience, having more anger, and not being the normal "Channan" so to speak. I'm going to find a way to work through that and I associate it all with feeling like I need to have control over every situation yet not being able to have that control all the time. I get sad at the friendships that have changed that I hope to one day restore. I'm not sure if those friendships will ever be salvageable due to not feeling like I had those people at the time when I most needed them. Again there is way more to sort out in this head of mine then I am able to type. Maybe one day I will be able to be fully honest with my feelings to those who have hurt me, made me feel like I should be "better", and those that haven't been there the way I thought. Sorry for the tangant.
Hadlee will be 3 months old tomorrow! Just 11 days away from Ainslee's age when she passed away. Maybe that's why I'm getting more anxious, more angry, more unpredictable. While I understand that about myself, I'm not sure that anyone else does. I just keep praying my way through each day.
My Dear Hadlee Hope,
Today you are 9 weeks old. You are growing so much. You bring so much joy into all of our lives. It has been so much fun to watch you get older and with each week we reach another milestone with you. I am so thankful for each day, each week.
You have been awake more during the day. You love your little parrot that is on your car seat. You think he's your boyfriend and you smile at him and talk to him. It cracks me up. You are pretty good in the car when we take rides. I sometimes have to reach back at a stop light and give you your paci. You love your paci just like Adrian and Ainslee did. Your brother just gave up his paci's this last weekend! We were so proud.
During the day you will nurse on both sides, then stay awake for about an hour and then it's time for you to go back to sleep. So, I swaddle you with your arms in now and that tells you it's time for bed. Your colicky periods have started to ease up. You usually cry if you're needing something or just tired. Sometimes when I nurse you, you get fussy so I have to stand up and nurse you while I bounce and shhh you. It's an art! :)
You've gotten better about going right back to sleep at night after you nurse. You are still in your nap nanny in Mommy and Daddy's room with your snuze on your diaper. You love to smile and talk to me and you are still trying to master the talking. I sometimes hear a little laugh when you are sleeping. You have MASSIVE blowouts in your diapers that leak through and ruin your clothes!
Tonight I gave you a bath and you just love your baths. As I washed your face you just smiled. Our new thing we like to do is sing together. I have loved singing to you. I've never really sang before to our babies. I always try but usually no one likes it. You seem to like my singing. I've been singing songs to you that remind me of Ainslee. I feel like I'm singing to her and telling her story to you through the songs. I feel like it's my way of telling you how I feel about our loss. You are our hope Hadlee and we are so very thankful for you and for your love. I love you to the moon and back.
Yours always- Mommy
Our sweet Hadlee Hope is 2 months old today! I can't believe she is already 2 months old and I am so thrilled to take another picture of her with a new month on her onesie. Adrian calls her Hattie so we've adopted that as her new nickname and call her Hattie girl. She is such a sweet little blessing, as is her big brother. He is so incredibly sweet to her and gives her kisses all the time. Here is an updated picture of her 1 month picture and her 2 month picture for comparison. I take her to the pediatrician next Monday for her 2 month well check and I'll be looking forward to discussing any of my concerns with him. We are entering the dreaded 2-5 month SIDS peak and part of me feels anxious about this and part of me remains hopeful. I pray so hard that we won't experience loss again. And I thank God everyday for blessing us with two living children. I can't wait to share Hattie's growth updates next week!
Well hello! It's been a long long over do post. But, I'm writing a little something since it's been so long. It doesn't matter how many kids you have, you never seem to be fully prepared for a newborn and all that comes along with it. Here's an update in our lives to catch everyone up and hopefully I'll be able to pick back up to blogging on a regular basis. I don't to ever forget what our lives were like the year we became a family of five. :)
The last few weeks have been a lot of trial and error. I started Hadlee sleeping in a bassinet next to our bed. I loved it, she didn't. I think after I nursed her she didn't like being flat on her back. She wouldn't sleep for more than 20 minutes in it. So, it was time to switch it up. So, I started having her sleep in the nap nanny. The nap nanny makes me nervous for some reason, but she will sleep in it at night. She hates for her arms to be swaddled. So, I've adapted swaddling to include it underneath her arms so they are more free. Since we moved her from the bassinet, I can't use the angel care. So, I have her on the snuza (hooked onto the front of her diaper) and swaddled under her arms, sleeping on the nap nanny in our room next to me. Last night, I tried to put her back in the bassinet because I ultimately feel she is safer in there right next to our bed.
The last few weeks, she has been more fussy. It's definitely not reflux, I've had a reflux baby and know what that consists of. She is more colicky. So, I'm reading The Happiest Baby on the Block. I'm slowly getting through the book and trying to implement various techniques to help make her happier. Instead of just nursing 7 minutes, burping and switching sides for another 7 minutes...I'm now feeding for a few minutes on one side, burping, same side for another few minutes, burping, same side again and then switching and doing the same process until she is content with eating. That seems to make her much happier and get her the necessary hind milk that fills her tummy up.
Adrian is doing fabulous! He is adjusting to having another little sister beautifully. He is loving having her around and he loves doing things for us to help me or to help Hadlee. It is so nice to have another baby added to our family. I think it has been equally as healing for him as it has for us. Granted, my heart is still hurting and there is still a bleeding wound. But my 2 living children have helped to slow the bleed.
Today I went out on a run and as I started running, had music blasting in my earphones, I started to feel guilty for enjoying a run. And the entire run I thought about Ainslee and my guilt that can seap in. I miss her terribly. All of our journeys are so different and bring on different emotions. We try to incorporate all these emotions and feelings into our life and embrace them as best as possible.
Things Hadlee loves: She loves to talk, she likes to smile and she is learning to master these two techiques. I love when I can see her little personality start to come through. She loves loves taking baths. I cover her little chest with a warm wash cloth the same way I did our other two. She hates to be cold so I have to make the drying off process a quick one and get her all wrapped up and warm. She loves being bounced and being close to me. I can see pieces of Ainslee and she loves to hear about her big sister. Anytime I try to tell her of her big sister, I get emotional. I'm sure it'll always be that way.
Adrian's birthday is this month and I have been so excited and happy to plan his birthday party. He is such a joy in my life. I love having him and hearing him tell me he loves me every day. He makes the pain of losing Ainslee more bearable. I'm so thankful for these two incredible blessings. I'm also thankful for being Ainslee's mother and knowing that I have a great welcoming when I get to Heaven. I'm so proud of her and thankful that I can say I have a daughter in Heaven. I would much rather her be here, but to know she has made it to the place we are all ultimately praying to be can be motivating. It's motivating in the fact that it keeps me going and keeps my faith. Keep praying for our family. Every day I am thankful to wake to another day with my children and I pray that I will have that same thankfulness when I am waking to them at the age of 80. Hopefully they'll have moved out, but will be very much a part of our lives.
So the day we had Hadlee was wonderful yet so nerve wracking. We left our house that morning at 6:10 to get to the hospital. My mother in law had come to stay with Adrian while he continued to sleep. I was anxious how he was going to take this whole thing. We were driving to the hospital and the song "Over You" by Miranda Lambert came on the radio. The part where it says "but you went away, how dare you, i miss you, they say I'll be okay, but I'll never get over you," really gets to me. It reminds me of Ainslee. I was having such strong emotions of missing her in that moment yet trying to fight it and not give in to the grief. I wanted that day to be about Hadlee and the joy she was going to bring us. I didn't want to muddy the water with this grief that has consumed most of our life the last year.
As we pulled into the hospital parking lot, it was all surreal. We were walking into this hospital for the 3rd time ready to have our 3rd baby. We checked in and everything moved pretty quickly. There wasn't any down time. I felt myself getting so nervous and anxious. I didn't know what in the world we were doing there. It all just seemed like a strange dream. Losing Ainslee, fighting grief, having Hadlee. What were we doing and was this right? It was so confusing.
The nursing staff was all aware of our loss and embracing it. Then it was time for me to walk to the OR. I hate the walk to the OR and having to leave Travis. Travis is my comfort and I wish he could be by my side when they did my spinal and prep me for delivery. As I waited on the table and had to get my spinal, I remember thinking Ainslee is here. She gets a front row seat at the birth of her baby sister. As the needle went in my back I kept breathing thinking, this is for Hadlee. The anestesiologist hit a nerve and my right leg went shooting out, not pleasant. As the spinal was complete, they laid me back and began to get everything ready. They got the blue screen up, had my arms out to the side on the OR table, and escorted my sweet husband in. He's always so sweet when he comes in asking if I'm okay. They started cutting on me and the pulling, tugging and pressure began. I've had this done twice before only this time was a little different. I started to feel everything. I thought I was going to vomit from the pain. The spinal didn't work as well as it should have and caused windows of feeling among my body. As they made their way down to Hadlee, they started saying they see lots of hair, and had to grab the vacuum to position her better to pull her out. Travis stands up the entire time watching his baby girl being born. I lay there trying to breath from the pain. And as she comes out, I hear my doctor say, "She's here. She's big. She's healthy." When I heard her cry, I could breath. Travis immediately was taking pictures and video taping. They cut her cord and brought her to me and placed her on my chest. I was staring at this beautiful black haired baby girl who we had desperately prayed so hard for. She was here. Our hope.
She lifted her head off my chest and took a look around. She was so curious about what she was doing here. I couldn't believe she was here. I couldn't believe we had just had our 3rd baby. I never imagined having 3 babies at my age. But, then again, we didn't plan losing Ainslee and when we lost her, it changed everything.
In recovery, I nursed Hadlee. 18 minutes on both sides. She did great. The pain was still pretty bad since my spinal hadn't worked the way it should. We were in recovery for about an hour and a half and then it was time to go to our room. Adrian was waiting on us and I couldn't wait to see him and let him see Hadlee. He was walking next to my hospital bed the entire way, holding onto the side rail. It was so cute. He had the biggest smile on his face. He was proud.
That was a memorable day. I had a cake for Hadlee and we sang her happy birthday. We had our priest come to the hospital to bless her and say prayers over our family. And we celebrated a day in our live that will be remembered for something positive, something good. We are starting to build new good memories.
Due to all the excitement of having Hadlee, our families were running around trying to gather all their belongings as I came out of recovery. One of my camera cases got left behind and it happened to have all my memory discs with every picture I own along with every video. I have all the pictures for the most part saved, but dont' have any of the videos. That means all of my Ainslee videos are gone. I don't have one. Adrian's first Christmas, the funny things he would say growing up. Our only Christmas as a family with Ainslee. It's just awful. I have felt so incredibly sad about this. I'm not sure I can get over the grief associated with losing such a special thing to me.
While we were in the hospital I was constantly feeling like my bottom was numb. I didn't sleep any in the hospital and thought that my numb bottom was due to the awful hospital bed. When I got home I noticed I was having a hard time walking and it was impossible to bear any weight. One night prior to getting in the shower, I noticed that my entire lower back surrounding my spine was swollen. I thought the swollen area was pushing on my sciatic causing the numb feeling and additional pain. It's been a difficult recovery and a hard c-section. My first two were not bad like this. But, I think I am starting to slowly get back on my feet.
I've been telling Hadlee about her sister Ainslee and every time I do I get so emotional. My emotions are at an all time high. I feel sad a lot about various things but they are getting better. I can't wait until I feel 100% and am able to lift Adrian and be more involved with his care. I miss him and he's right next to me. It's an odd feeling.
Hadlee is a great baby. She is so sweet. She is a great nurser which I am thankful for and I hope it stays that way. Sleep is slowly starting to come better. I have her on the angel care and have a snuza. she sleeps in a bassinet right next to me and so I can just reach through the slats on the bed and hold her hand or touch her in some way. It is comforting to me. I'm thankful every day for another day with her and keep begging for us to grow old together. We are so glad to have her here and a part of our family. Her presence is much needed. And it's so sweet to see Adrian with her. We are happy and blessed.
Hadlee Hope Soppe arrived safe and sound. She was born on Thursday, April 12th, 2012 at 8:28 am. She weighed 8 pounds 4 ounces, and was 20 1/4 inches long. My birth story was quite interesting and my recovery has been difficult. I will blog about it soon. But for now, I wanted to just say how wonderfully blessed we feel to have Hadlee a part of our family. She fills our hearts with joy and love. I see her sister and brother in her. The times I see her sister in her, it's bittersweet. I love nothing more than seeing Ainslee shine through her little sister. And it then reminds me of all we are missing with her. But, Hadlee has come and she fills us with more hope than we can imagine. I am so in love with this little girl. And I am beyond grateful to have her here. Here are a few pics from her Birth day. :) Enjoy!
Beginnings are scary, endings are usually sad, but it's the middle that counts the most. You need to remember that when you find yourself at the beginning. Just give hope a chance to float up...and it will too.
I've put a lot of faith in Hope and in the possibility of good things to come. Taking the leap of faith to trust that if we give hope a chance to better our lives, good things will surface.
St. Paul would write to the early Christians about their faith journeys referring to their trails, tribulations, and suffering. He encourages them by referring to faith, hope and love as armor "putting on the breastplate of faith and love and the helmet that is hope for salvation" (1 Thessalonians 5:8). It's ironic that the helmet reference is used to protect our heads, which contains some of our craziest thoughts. I've seen that my thoughts in this last year are often consumed with grief which then leads to various other thoughts that can consume the way I act, think and feel. This can beat us down. Yet, when covered with a helmet of hope we can put those often self-absorbing thoughts aside and allow the hope we have in the promises of Christ to protect us and ultimately allow us to serve others in our midst. This allows us to be a good example of Christ and His love for us in our lives.
If hope keeps man from discouragement, it sustains him from times of abandonment. Often when you are experiencing hardships, it's easy to feel lost and alone. I love the portrayel of hope being a comfort and shield for us in times of despair keeping us afloat in times of trail, despair, sadness, parting with loved ones. Our trials truly can open our hearts to the hope of being rescued from our trials, if we only give hope a chance to float up and "preserve" us in our faith. It's the middle that counts the most, the story of our lives so to speak. If you look at it like a life preserver, you can put yourself in the middle, allow Christ's love to encircle you, and promises of hope surround you which don't let you sink.
Our Hope will be here tomorrow. She will be placed in my arms and I will look into the face of another daughter of mine, sent to fill our hearts, mend some aches, and provide the promise that hope does exist. It's okay to be scared, unsure, and falter in faith. But if we cling to hope, we have the promise that good things are to come. And that is what will keep us afloat.
Lots of prayers for a safe and healthy delivery followed by filled arms of our sweet baby girl Hadlee Hope. I know that the coming days will resurface many emotions and even bring out some new ones. I'm praying to embrace each one with care, remind myself this is a joyous time, and that Ainslee is with us every step of the way. Tomorrow we become a family of five!
Happy Easter! It was such a blessed Easter for me. It amazes me what one simple year can do. While I still feel incredibly sad and miss Ainslee, I am much more content with where we are this year versus last Easter. I was in a fog last Easter and I do not miss it. I will share more about my evening at the Easter Vigil and all it meant to me. But, for now I wanted to simply share my faith statement that was read at the Easter Vigil.
My faith statement was read during my confirmation. My name was called and I walked to the altar and stood face to face with our Priest. The same Priest I absolutely adore. To my left, our sweet Deacon who also lost a child when she was 2 years old. I was in great company. As the head of our RCIA read my faith statement, I started to tremble, I was shaking. Our Priest closed his eyes, fighting back tears. Our Deacon was so careful with me, escorting me down the altar. He didn't do this for anyone else. The words that were read still moved me to hear. They were my journey. They were my life. It was my faith. And it was because of my daughter.
My faith journey started about 8 years ago upon meeting my husband, but it really took off when we started having children. I had always prayed for a Christian man, but didn’t know that my prayer that would be answered could also be challenging. I decided that the prayer I had prayed for, that I would let it be used for good in my life and embrace what was given to me. A strong Catholic man.
Life was blissful with the birth of our first child and then expecting our second. Our second wasn’t planned for us, but she instantly had a purpose. A purpose that would seem muddied at times, but is crystal clear now. After the birth of our second born, we wouldn’t be a family of four for long. She would pass away of SIDS at 3 ½ months old. And the day she was born into Heaven, I was given the light of her purpose in my life. I was shown that the prayer I had been praying for so long, for God to lead me in the right direction with faith, would be sent to me by Him, through my daughter. We baptized her at 2 months and the day she passed away, I knew it was then my job to continue not just my journey, but hers as well. The day of her funeral, I was already wanting the Eucharist to be a part of me and knew it was nothing I could receive at any church.
The last year has not only provided me with the faith I needed to continue on my faith journey, but my personal journey as well. The support was needed and God led me to the Catholic Church at just the right time. He sent His sweet little messenger, my daughter, to teach her mother her place in the church.
As I partake in the Eucharist, I know that all of Heaven will come down to celebrate such a Holy moment. As Jesus comes down as the heavenly host, and heaven surrounds us, I know that I will be as close to my daughter as I could be in this life.
Each step I take in this faith journey is done for me, for my family, and for my daughter. As I partake in the Lord’s Supper, in a heavenly host, I also am one with my daughter and help to continue her journey as well. Although her life was short, she lead her mother to the Catholic church at a time when I so needed it. Usually we as parents are teaching our children. It’s not often you receive the most valuable life lesson and faith opportunity through a 3 month old. I couldn’t be more thankful for her purpose, for my Catholic faith, and for the life given through the Eucharist.
What is so good about Good Friday? This is the day that is celebrated amongst Christian faiths worldwide, remembering the death and suffering our Jesus Christ. The good in all this suffering, is to remember that Jesus did this for our sins. And because of that act, we are able to celebrate with Him eternally. That is not just good, it's wonderful.
When I think about the cross we bear as humans, I've come to see that there are many people which carry such a heavy burden. I've come to see that we are not the only family that has been faced with tragedy and loss. I've come to see that there are so many families, individuals, that carry their own burdens and that have so many hardships. Some more than ours.
Last year when we lost Ainslee, I thought "Why us?" But, why not us? We are no exception here. We are just as human as anyone else. And we all have our individual crosses to bear. While there are times when I feel my cross is too heavy for me to carry, that's when I let Him do the heavy lifting for me. I know with pain and suffering that it will come and go. But through it, I have really tried to allow Jesus to help me and turn over some of my anguish to Him. He of all people understands what it is like to suffer. To have pain. Anguish. Turmoil.
"My God, My God, Why have You forsaken me?"
Even He in His human nature cries out why. God has not promised us a calm passage, but a safe landing. If we believe in Him.
Holy Thursday. What is Holy Thursday? It's the day marking the leading up to of the Easter Vigil. It is a day where Catholics celebrate not only the Eucharist, but Christ's priesthood, His last supper with His disciples, along with celebration of the Passover. The Last Supper was also Christ's farewell to His assembled disciples, some of whom would betray, desert or deny Him before the sun rose again.
John 13:14-17 14 "If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. 15 "For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. 16 "Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. 17 "If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.
The Catholic faith still practices this on Holy Thursday. The Priest has 12 individuals in which he washes their feet, just as Jesus told us to do. After, we are all invited to do the same and do for others as Jesus does for us. At this 'Chrism Mass' the Priest also blesses the oil of the Chrism used for Baptism and Confirmation.
"The action of the Church on this night also witnesses to the Church's esteem for Christ's Body present in the consecrated Host in the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, carried in solemn procession to the flower-bedecked Altar of Repose, where it will remain 'entombed' until the communion service on Good Friday. No Mass will be celebrated again in the Church until the Easter Vigil proclaims the Resurrection.
And finally, there is the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament by the people during the night, just as the disciples stayed with the Lord during His agony on the Mount of Olives before the betrayal by Judas."
The above information is so profound to me. As our Priest wrapped up the body of Christ, and processed out of the church tonight, holding it almost like a casket, I wept. The procession followed, the church sang a solemn song, flowers were carried out following the procession. So many emotions overcame me. There's the emotional side for obvious reasons of being pregnant. There's emotions for the sheer thought of what Jesus has done for us and how we all strive to be Christ like. There's the hunger of wanting to partake in the Eucharist so badly to have that little piece of Heaven a part of my life. And then there's the utter sad side of me. That remembers Ainslee's procession, the way our Priest was so reverent to her body. How he blessed her with holy water. How he used incense to show his respect for her. He did this just in the way he would for Jesus. I love our Priest so much. He is the most reverent man, so caring, and I absolutely love him. He means a lot to me. He baptized Adrian, Ainslee, and soon to be Hadlee. He did Ainslee's funeral mass. And he will be welcoming me into the Catholic church on Saturday night, giving me my first Eucharist. He was there when Ainslee died. He blessed her as she laid lifeless in my arms and prayed over her. He means a lot to me.
I left church tonight overwhelmed with emotion for many reasons. What a holy night and what a start to this Easter weekend.
Tonight we hit 100,000 page views. That means 100,000 times Ainslee and our family were welcomed into the homes of others. I am so thankful to share Ainslee's story and hopefully help other families who struggle with some of the very same issues know that there is always hope to come. I am so proud of our dear Ainslee and what a big voice she has for being such a little person. God bless her sweet heart. I miss her and love her dearly. Thank you all for your support and checking in on us constantly. We do this blog in memory of our precious daughter and hope to let her little light shine as much as possible.
Yesterday was quite the adventure here in North Texas. It all started for me at about 1, just as our appliance repairman was arriving. He was taking a look at our stove and I was on my work laptop working. I started to get a funny feeling and knew that storms were a possibility for the afternoon. I pulled up my WAPP application and saw that our area was covered in red, there were various tornado warning alerts, and I thought I'd turn on the tv. Just as I turn it on, my Mom calls to ask if I'm paying attention to the weather.
Just as the picture comes on the tv I hear that all of Tarrant County is under a tornado warning. I instantly panic. It started to pour and in my panic all I could think of was Adrian. He was at his preschool that day. Naturally I left the two men at my house to fix the stove, asked my father in law to meet them at my house, and I was heading straight to Adrian's school. I had to get to him and know he was safe.
I drove like a crazy lady with my Mom on the phone the entire time. Everything around me was a greenish black. And then all of a sudden, the sirens start blasting all around me. I just knew this was going to be it for me. I thought I was either going to vomit, or go into labor. Neither happened. :) But I was the most panicked I've been. I finally got to the school, one door was locked and had to run around the building to the other office doors. I was drenched when I got in there and trying to run and find Adrian. They had evacuated his classroom and the panic got worse. I had no idea where he was. I knew they had taken cover but my anxiety was taking over. I ran into the girl's bathroom and there was his class, covered by safety mats, and he was in his teacher's lap. I threw my arms around him and have never felt more relief in all my life. I didn't care if we died together, as long as I was with him to protect him in any possible way. It took me a little bit to calm down, I was shaking so bad. But, having him in my arms was all I needed. We had to stay there and take cover for an hour and 45 minutes. I am so thankful that we are alive, that he was safe, that God got me to the church/school safely, and that our home wasn't touched. Those tornadoes really wreacked havoc on North Texas yesterday. But just like every storm, it has passed and today is a new day. You can absolutely go to the site of the storm and see how much damage it caused and how much it took away from some families. It's just like grief. There's always a new day, but the storm does it's job of leaving it's mark.
On a different note, I am so thankful for Hadlee. Today I saw my dr and of course am measuring 41 weeks at 38 1/2 weeks. I've now gained a total of 22 pounds but that's my last weigh in before I have her! Today was my last appt. I go in next Wednesday for my pre-op and then Thursday we will have her! I've been having a lot of pain so he did a cervix check, and of course nothing. My cervix is very soft, showing favorable signs of dilation but nothing at this point. I was for sure I was going to be dilated. I never dilate to anything. Most women can go in at like 38-40 weeks and be at least a cm dilated, oh but not me. He could feel her head though and was pushing on her head, which caused her to kick me in my ribs.
Tomorrow is my last day of work and then we have a busy weekend! I've felt emotional today. I know there's a lot of emotions coming out due to Easter, my faith journey, and preparing for Hadlee. But one week from tomorrow, some joy will be restored, and I'll be seeing the face of another sweet daughter of mine. I can not wait.
Today I am 38 weeks pregnant! Every day I feel Hadlee moving is another day closer to having her in my arms. I still get paranoid all the time if I don't feel her that we're going to have another loss. I'm sure that's normal to feel and I try not to let it consume me. We have 11 days to go!
I have put on a total of 19 pounds thus far. I had a sinus infection for 10 days that made me not want to eat anything and it took off 6 pounds so I had to gain it all back. Hadlee keeps gaining weight and growing but I've kind of plateaued. I've been measuring 3 weeks ahead, I do with all the babies. :) So, I'm now measuring 41 weeks.
I've got Hadlee's bag packed, some of my stuff packed, her car seat together, her bassinet assembled. Now we just need her here. I go back to the doctor on Wednesday of this week and it may be my last appt.
Today after our Easter Egg hunt at church, we were driving home and Adrian was asking about Ainslee. He questioned if she was still in Heaven and we said yes. He then asked if she could come back from Heaven. It completely shatters me when I have to look at my innocent 2 year old and explain that she is so happy in Heaven and that one day we'll all be there together. But for now, we just have to keep remembering her and doing kind things for her and in her honor. It gets me emotional every time he asks about her. Or at night when he is saying his prayers and he looks up at the ceiling and says Goodnight Ainslee, Miss you Ainslee, Love you Ainslee. It tears me apart and gets me choked up. He is just the most amazing big brother for such a little guy. I've never seen so much love from a 2 year old. He loves his sisters. He already loves Hadlee and plays with her in my stomach. It's just the sweetest thing. He is so deserving of being a big brother to a living sibling.
We are really anticipating Hadlee's arrival and having her a part of our family.
This week is Holy week, the holiest time of the year. We are celebrating the resurrection of Jesus and our Hope for eternal life. I can't wait to share my Holy week through Easter with everyone. I wrote my faith statement last night that is to be shared at the Easter Vigil and I will share it on Easter. I hope everyone has a blessed week full of prayer, love and many memories with loved ones.
I'd say this is a much long overdo post. For some reason, after we passed Ainslee's 1 year anniversary in Heaven, I felt like a big weight was lifted. I felt like I could breath. And yet, I was exhausted and didn't want to do anything. I focused on work, on Adrian and our family, and of course on our Hadlee. I've had so many things come up that I've thought about writing about and then just decided not to. So, today I thought, I just need to get back into the swing of things.
This weekend has been so busy. Friday Adrian had a birthday party to go to in the afternoon for a little girl at his preschool. All his kids from class were there and it was so fun to see them all together outside of the school setting. It was at a gym and he had so much fun. I had so much fun just watching him and letting him do gym activities that we normally don't get the chance to do. After we went to Travis' parents for dinner, and then caught a baseball game at Travis' high school. Adrian had a lot of fun running around chasing baseballs.
This morning we were up bright and early to go to our nephew and niece's soccer games. The first game started at 8 and they won! We then spent some time at Travis' sister's house until the next game at 10:30. Then my niece played her game and did a great job scoring 2 goals. Adrian loves to go watch them play and have fun with his cousins. We barely made it out of the parking lot and Adrian was passed out.
After we got him home, he took a much needed 3 hour nap, and I had to still wake him up. We then went out to eat with the neighbors and their little girl. Their little girl was born 2 weeks after Ainslee. I love being around her and Adrian together to just for a minute imagine what life would be like. It's hard to imagine since Ainslee isn't here, but I can pretend for a minute. Our neighbors are great people and have been so supportive through our loss. It's great when you have people your age with children that live across the street. And especially when you get along with them! :)
We just got Adrian in bed for the night and tomorrow marks another busy day. We have church at 9 and it's Palm Sunday! I love Palm Sunday. I always grew up with the story of Jesus riding into the crowds of people singing Hosanna and fanning Him with palm leaves. I love the story. I love this time of year. I love everything that this time stands for. It gives me hope for the future. Hope of being with Ainslee again. I miss her.
After church we have an Easter egg hunt at noon at church and then naps! And I'll probably be joining in on those.
This next week is my last week of work. My last day is Thursday. I will be 38 weeks pregnant tomorrow. We have 1 week and 5 days until she is here. I can not wait to have Hadlee in my arms and look in the face of her and Adrian. I can not wait to have them both on either side of me and feel the love amongst our family. I'm still praying everyday that she arrives safely, that she is a fabulous nurser and most importantly, that we get to grow old together. That is my prayer for our little family. That we all grow old together.
Easter is quickly approaching and there is a lot to be thankful for and a lot to rejoice about. We are healthy, Hadlee is coming soon, and I will be partaking in the Lord's Supper. How fulfilling will my life be in just two weeks. We already have so much to be thankful for with our marriage, our sweet son, and our little angel in Heaven. But the next two weeks shows me that there are still good things to come. There is beauty amidst a storm. There is always hope.