Sunday, February 12, 2012

A little grief and Maternity Pictures!

I want to start this post with my grief that decided to show up today. Travis and I went to 11 o'clock Mass this morning to celebrate the baptism of one of our dear church friends. This came on the one year memorial of Ainslee's funeral.

Her funeral was held at the same church, we were sitting in the same row of pews, just 2 rows back from where we sat the day we said goodbye. I held it together pretty well this morning. Baptisms are always emotional for me. I always find myself thinking about my own children and the life we've chosen to give them. The music surrounding every baptism is the same, and it brings back fond memories of the day I baptized my two children.

As we got to communion, the two songs to be sung were On Eagles Wings and Amazing Grace. These were the very two songs that I chose to have at Ainslee's funeral. One year ago, we were sitting in the same pews, singing the same two songs, and saying goodbye to our Ainslee. I found myself in an absolute mess. I was sobbing so hard in church. It can sometimes be borderline embarrassing, and on the other hand is completely uncontrollable.

After communion our priest asked to bless all married couples. I felt Travis and I needed that today to get added strength to keep going. We typically don't go to 11 o'clock because I am in the RCIA program right now and have to attend the 9 o'clock every Sunday for our dismissal. I've been in RCIA now for 9 months and on Easter will be able to fully celebrate in the Lord's Supper. I have thoroughly enjoyed my faith journey. I have loved getting to learn about the Catholic faith. I have seen how many misinterpretations have been given to me and it has been so fulfilling to find out all the wonderful answers. This has been a journey that I decided to take this past year due to all we had been through. I felt so connected to this church as we had both children baptized there, Ainslee's funeral mass there, and it only felt natural for me to continue that faith journey in myself. The same man that did all the baptisms and Ainslee's funeral is the same man that will welcome me into the Catholic church. I love this man and think he is just amazing. He is such a humble person and I can't think of anyone else that would be more fitting for guidance in the joys and sorrows that we've faced over the last couple of years. To say I'm eager for the Easter Vigil is an understatement. This is a time of great excitement to further my faith and this community has lifted me up daily. I can't say enough about the church we have found to call home.

Anyways, I didn't expect to go on a rant about how much I love our church, it just happened. I did want to share our day yesterday and how wonderful it was. We had maternity/family pictures yesterday afternoon and I love the sneak peek that we got. I'm so excited to see the rest of them. Here is our sneak peek of some of my favorites...The rest will come soon.

The little red shoes in the pictures are Ainslee's shoes. She wore these in our family pictures when she was 3 weeks old. I absolutely love the picture of all of our shoes because there are no people in them so I feel it is the best representation of our family. It looks like there are five of us. In actual pictures of us there always seems to be a piece missing with Ainslee not in them. But when you take the people out and just leave the shoes, then it looks complete to me.

After our long afternoon of pictures, Travis and I headed out for a little date night. We went and saw The Vow and realized it was our very first time out since Ainslee had passed away. It took us a year to get to that point where we felt okay to do that. We had a great time. Thankful for a night out with my husband.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

One Year

A year has come and gone. What an exhausting day. I've been under increased stress because my brother suffers from epilepsy. He had a severe episode yesterday that ended up stopping his heart. They had to revive him and luckily his heart got started back up. I was beside myself last night talking to my Mom. I know the pain of losing a child. I pray that she doesn't feel that pain ever. I pray we don't have to lose someone else close to us but I'm not sure that his life won't be taken by this awful illness. This illness has been haunting our family for 10 years with him. There's a part of irresponsibility on his part with taking his meds adequately and another part that the meds don't entirely keep the seizures away. His seizures are so intense that they literally contort his body out of figure. I feel so incredibly sorry for him. And I feel so sad to watch our family have to live this nightmare with him. I'm not sure if prayers work all the time, but hopefully something will turn around with him. I'd really hate to lose my brother.

So, my reason for blogging about that was because it led to a lot of grief last night. It had me in hysterics that we may lose him, and it had me reflecting on my last moments with Ainslee and how precious they are to me. The fear of losing my brother took over due my loss with Ainslee and the severity of his seizures. As I was going to bed, I was sobbing thinking that that time last year Ainslee was sound asleep in her bed. We didn't have a care in the world. We never thought death awaited us.

The weather was frigid. Winter was ever present and there were reminents of ice and snow. The week before Ainslee passed away we were all snowed in together. It was a huge ice/snow storm in Dallas and we couldn't leave. We got cabin fever quick. I'd give anything to go back to the days where we were snowed in. We had no choice but to just be a family. No work. No outside factors. Just us.

The day Ainslee passed flashes vividly in my mind. I relived it all today. Every moment of what we were going through. And finally when I got to the point of her time of death, Travis looked at me and said, "11:17." I said, I know, rotten 11:17.

We left our house after that and headed up to the cemetery. We were meeting my in laws, sister in law and nephew up there with Adrian to have a cold picnic with our daughter. We released pink and blue balloons as they are SIDS colors. We ate sandwiches, we put out beautiful flowers, and we prayed.

We left the cemetery and came home. Flowers kept arriving at our house in sweet memory of Ainslee. My mother in law came over and as Adrian took his nap, Travis, my mothers in law and I watched Ainslee's video we played at her funeral. That's when my weakness really set in and I just wept. How could she be gone? How can we still be standing? How can such a beautiful little girl not be around to be in any more of our pictures or be part of our family function? How were we going to do this without her?

So many thoughts and emotions quickly flood in and life once again is dark. The life we had the day before we lost Ainslee is a distant memory. We will never have that life of blissful happiness again. Smiling comes differently now. Sometimes it's a little harder. Sometimes it doesn't feel natural. But we do it anyway.

Grief one year later isn't much different than the week we lost her. There may be longer moments in our break downs, but the pain and grief are still very much painful. It is something that doesn't leave, it's now part of us. While I feel so incredibly relieved to have this day behind me, I know that I won't wake tomorrow with a new outlook and huge weight off my shoulders just because it is the 366th day. There's nothing magical that happens tonight as we go to sleep.

But, I will say that through this year I've learned a lot. I've seen just how much I need Travis. I've developed a new love for him that may not have been capable of achieving without the grief we've experienced together. He's a safety for me. I feel so safe with him and can be vulnerable in any situation. I feel our marriage has grown in so many ways this year and I owe that to our daughter. I've developed an appreciation and attachment to Adrian that far exceeds our prior relationship. When you lose a child, you really cling to those you have or your future children. I feel that he is a comfort to me as well and the satisfaction I get from simply seeing him breath is undescribable. For that, I owe to my daughter. I've developed a trust and a faith that surpasses anything I've experienced before. When my trust and my faith has been ripped out of my hands and I felt that life wasn't worth living anymore, I still turned to God. And I continue to do so. I've made long life friendships through my church community and the support I received from them is amazing. They are there for me day and night. They've seen me in my worst times and they are always there to catch me when I fall. They pick me right back up and motivate me to keep going. Ainslee lead me to my faith. I've always had a faith, I've always been a Christian, but she lead me to my church home. It's a wonderful feeling.

While there are a lot of broken pieces still shattered, most in which may stay that way, I can say that some have been pieced back together. We will welcome our sweet baby Hadlee in just 9 weeks. Ainslee paved a way for Hadlee. If Ainslee did not go to Heaven the day she did, everything would be different. There would be no Hadlee. So, I have to believe that good things are coming. Hope is on the way. And life and love will be restored.

It's been a long year. A painful journey. Yet it snuck up on me at the same time. It's too long since I've held her. Yet, how can it already be a year that she's been gone?

In closing, my hope for this year is that we will begin to fit more pieces back together and that we will see brighter days ahead. I pray we will find joy in the simple things in life and learn to see Ainslee in every part of it. My biggest wish is that our children, Adrian, Hadlee and any future children will see how much they are loved, how much they are prayed for, and what healing they have brought to our lives. I pray they know what they mean to our family and can use the things I write to know and always remember their sweet sister Ainslee. Although Ainslee may be gone, she is never forgotten. She is very much a part of our family. And she is very much alive.

Thank you to everyone who has shared this grief journey with us. It hasn't been easy by a long stretch. But it has been comforting to get the love, support, prayers, and encouragement that each person has provided to us. Although I have a ton of weak days and continue to have those regularly, more often than not, I do feel in some odd way that I maybe...just maybe be getting a little bit stronger. One day at a time.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

February 7th, 2011

Our last day as a family of four. I remember the night of February 7th vividly. I left work at 4 to go get Adrian and Ainslee from our daycare provider's home. When I got there I was so happy to see my smiley boy and sweet baby girl. I got them loaded up into my car and thought I would run through Chick-Fil-A for dinner. Travis was working late that night until 7 and wouldn't be home until about 7:30. We picked up dinner and headed home just the three of us. I was talking to one of my friends telling her how busy but wonderful life was with these two.

As we got home and situated, I had Adrian in his high chair eating. And I had Ainslee in my arms feeding her a bottle. She seemed a little cranky and I figured she was sleepy. At 7 I rocked her briefly to get her to sleep and laid her down in her crib. I then tended to Adrian and got him ready for bed while Travis was on his way home. We put Adrian to bed and sat on the couch to watch our shows. I always would check the monitor and go look in on Ainslee when she was sleeping. She was peaceful. It got time for us to go to bed and I thought Ainslee was sleeping a long time. I didn't expect her to go to sleep so early. Travis didn't get to spend any time with her that night. I decided to go sleep in our bed while she kept sleeping in her own bed. She ended up waking up at 1 am ready to eat. I got her up and changed her diaper, fed her and got her back to bed. After she went back to bed, she must have fussed and Travis went in there and ended up sleeping in the guest bed that was next to her crib.

That was our last night together. The last night she slept in her crib. The last time I fed her because Travis would feed her the next morning. It was the last time I sat in the darkness with her watching her drink her bottle and the last time I would feel complete.

The next day would change everything...

Ainslee's Ministry

Two days ago I learned about the passing of another sweet little baby. As I saw the update on facebook come through, my heart sank. Someone else in this world was feeling the grief of losing a child. The day I found out, it would be that mother's first night without her baby. I remember that first night. It was awful. I remember briefly falling asleep to wake up frantically searching for my baby. I would try to see if I could grab Ainslee out of her bouncer only to find out she's really not there. I remember it all like it was just yesterday.

The girl that lost her baby is the sister of one of my sorority sisters from college. I reached out to my sorority sister to tell here I'm here should she need anything or any advice on what did or didn't work for us. All grief is different but I'm more than happy to share Ainslee and our lives. As I reached out to her, she reached out to me simultaneously. It was sadly "meant to be." Through a few messages on facebook and into the next day, I had offered my help once again and the mother who lost her baby told her sister, my sorority sister, that she wanted to see me immediately. I was over to their house within the hour. They oddly only live 5 minutes from my house.

I didn't know what I was going to say. I knew I couldn't fix it. I knew that nothing I could say was magical. But I knew she could look at another baby loss mother and see me still standing. I decided to bring some books that I found helpful including Heaven Is For Real, SIDS book, and a couple other helpful ones.

As I walked in the house I immediately knew who the mother was without being introduced and I engulfed her with my arms. We both sobbed. We sat on her bed and talked about her sweet baby Nico. We talked about his naps, changing his diapers, his smile, how he loves hearing his mother sing to him. She sobbed and kept saying she wants her baby. I remember saying that over and over. I told her things that helped me. I told her there's no magical method to this grief life. I told her not to reject any feelings, that they're all abnormally normal and part of grief. Guilt is normal. We all feel as mothers there was more we should have done or maybe in some way this was our fault. We fear divorce with our husbands, that they will leave us if they see how absolutely broken we are. We fear a lifetime of grief without our child. I validated all her feelings and told her they were all normal.

She talked about her faith in God and how it has been altered and that she can't believe He would take a child. I confirmed that He didn't take Nico or Ainslee but he did allow it. We live in a fallen world where things are allowed and it is then that faith steps in and carries us. Again, all normal. I gave her ideas for the funeral or things to contemplate that I wished I would have done. It would have been nice to have a "mentor" through this to tell me what to do.

I don't know if I helped her sweet soul or not, and I know that she's headed down a long grief journey, one in which I know all too well. But, I felt if she could simply see me still alive and breathing and rebuilding, then maybe, just maybe she'd get the hope she needs to keep going on this journey. It is easy to feel defeated and my hope was that she would feel a friend through the grief. If anything, I understand. It's that simple.

I've been praying for God to show me a way to get something good out of our grief with losing Ainslee. And He brought me to another mother. Ainslee's ministry is only just beginning. I know in this life that infant/child loss isn't done. More mothers will lose children and I hope that through Ainslee's ministry of love and hope, I will be able to show others that there will be a time when we can all just breathe.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

29 1/2 weeks pregnant

How far along? 29 1/2 weeks
Total weight gain: 18 lbs
Maternity clothes? Yep
Stretch marks? No new ones yet
Sleep: Not sleeping well at all. Sometimes I throw up in my sleep which is just awesome!
Best moment this week: Seeing Hadlee on the big screen
Miss Anything? Not really
Movement: She is a busy bee. She is moving a lot and has noticeable wake/sleep cycles.
Food cravings: Anything chocolate and always McDonalds
Anything making you queasy or sick: I sometimes get super grossed out with certain meats, sometimes chicken sometimes beef. If it's beef, it's mostly steak.
Gender: Confirmed girl!
Labor Signs: I've had an increase in Braxton hicks everyday, probably about 4 a day but Hadlee can stay put for now.
Symptoms: Exhaustion!
Belly Button in or out? Out-it's just lovely
Wedding rings on or off? I can still wear my wedding band, but my engagement ring has taken the back seat for now.
Happy or Moody most of the time: So Happy about Hadlee, just living in a world of sadness that I'm trying to overcome.
Looking forward to: having my bundle of Hope in my arms!

Today marks the beginning of February-what an awfully stupid month it has now become. I'm glad to have had Hadlee's sonogram to look forward to today and be joyful about this rainbow baby we've been blessed with. This time last year, we only had one week left with Ainslee and I never would have thought a year later, I'd be at a 30 week sono for our baby girl that would be bringing us hope. Hadlee looked great!

Her tummy, legs and arms were all measuring 29 weeks. Her big ole' head was measuring at 31 weeks. Travis isn't lacking in the head department so I'm assuming that's where she gets it. Hopefully her body will catch up. She looks just perfect and is weighing in at 3 pounds 2 ounces. Even though I don't have gestational diabetes, I decided that starting today, I would follow my gestational diabetes diet I did previously to help should I be borderline. I don't want for any reason to think she could have blood sugar problems at birth because of anything I did so I'm hoping to help start a healthy life for her. It also really helps to manage my weight gain. With Adrian I only put on 19 pounds and it was a healthy weight for both him and I.

Today I also got the rotten Rhogam shot since my blood is A-. Adrian's blood was A- at birth and Ainslee's was AB+ so I had to get the follow up Rhogam after Ainslee.

The sweetest thing happened today just before Travis and I left for my appt. My father in law had come over to watch Adrian while we were gone and I asked Adrian to give me a hug kiss before we left. He ran over, hugged me tight, gave me a big kiss and said I love you Momma. Then he bent down and said, "I love you Hadlee" and kissed my tummy. Oh what a good big brother he is. He loved having Ainslee around. He would seriously kiss her probably 20-30 times a day out of nowhere without anyone having to tell him. And I have a feeling it's going to be the same way with Hadlee.

I am 29 1/2 weeks pregnant, and my tummy is measuring 32 weeks pregnant. I always measure ahead so it's all normal for me. I'm now on the 2 week schedule for seeing my OB. We're getting closer. I can't wait to have her in my arms. I can only imagine how emotional it will be to see her and hold her, but I also have hope that she will restore some joy and bring more love to our hearts. 10 weeks from tomorrow is the day!

Enjoy our Hadlee....

Some goodies I bought for Hadlee after our sono today.