Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Walk with Angels

April 16, 2011
Its Alumni weekend, so I haven't seen much of your poor daddy lately. He stays really busy this time of year and it all comes down to this weekend for him. Today was a beautiful day. We've been having some pretty amazing weather. Carolina blue skies, a gorgeous breeze, I am loving my walks lately with Beatrice. They are very therapeutic for me.
My walk today was absolutely miraculous. It still brings tears to my eyes as I write. I was brainstorming more ideas about the balloon launch. I still want to do it just for you, baby boy. I can invite just family and closest friends. That's all I think I want for this year. I want it to be really special. For some reason, I still have that lingering nudge to make it public.
It was very breezy on my walk, but it certainly didn't hinder Miss Bea. As we were walking the breeze caught a flower blossom and it rolled and skipped and tossled right beside us for a long time. I immediately thought of you! Are you taking a walk with us, Charles Patrick?
One thing I've always dreamed about is walking my babies in the neighborhood. We live in the perfect place for walks and I've always looked forward to that day. And here you are walking with your momma!
I got so tickled at this little flower blossom. It kept up with my every step. Soon the petal came to a rest and I actually got a little sad. As soon as it did, a little leaf picked up in its place. Hey baby! So we walked some more. Mind you, I never had to lose my stride, you kept right up with me. As soon as the leaf came to a rest, a little stick picked up in its place and rolled and toddled along the sidewalk with us. As the stick came to a rest, nothing picked up in its place. So I stopped walking.
Charles Patrick, are you gone? Come back and walk with mommy. I turned around and faced the wind and that's when I saw them. There were hundreds of leaves and sticks and pebbles and blossoms following me on my walk.
It wasn't just a walk with my son, it was a walk with the hundreds of children and babies in Heaven. It was your testimony to me that you are not the only baby in Heaven. I knew at that moment that my balloon launch needed to honor more than just you, baby boy. It was time to swallow my fears and create a public event. I imagined all those little angelic faces saying, "Please invite my mommy and daddy! I want a love note too!"
I promise you with all my heart that this truly happened. I didn't make any part up. The veil is very thin. I love the relationship I still have with you, sweetheart. You are not gone.

Idea Day

April 5, 2011
Today I call my Idea Day! I have fallen in love with Carly's blog. She is the sweet young lady who does the "Names in the Sand" sunset pictures. She also created a day called International Bereaved Mother's Day. It is the first Sunday each May, so this year it will be on May 1st. On her blog, she encourages others to hold events, even if it is just you and a few friends.
On my walk today with Beatrice, I thought of all the love notes my sweet baby has sent me: the shooting star on our way home from the hospital, the sun coming out from behind the clouds choosing his burial plot, the ladybug on the seashell, and the apple. That's when it hit me: let's send some love notes back!
A balloon launch. We'll write notes to Charles Patrick, roll them up and stick them in the balloons, fill them with helium, and send them to Heaven.
I thought about opening this up to everyone and creating an event on Facebook, but that made my heart flutter. I don't think I'm ready to do something so public yet. I'm still struggling with so much anxiety. I know a lot of people who have lost children who would love to send their babies notes too, but again, I think I'm too scared to create an open event. I don't know. Maybe. Something in my heart says, maybe. Is that you, baby boy? I don't know if I can do it. I'm just not strong enough yet. Maybe next year. But for now, I love brainstorming all these beautiful ideas!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Kisses from Heaven

April 1, 2011
Its our final Friday before Spring Break, so the kids at school were a little wild and crazy. I guess I can't blame them, I'm ready for a break too!! But regardless, it makes a hard day for this teacher. So it wasn't the "greatest" day, yet it wasn't horrible. I was especially missing my little man.... you!
Our afternoon was all out of whack because of Awards Day, so we were just sitting around waiting to be called to the gym for the program. Suddenly, one of my sweetest teacher friends ran into my room and she holds up an apple.

I gasp.
I look at her with my mouth wide open. Inside my head I said, "Its my son!" For some reason, I didn't say it out loud. I was afraid she would think I was crazy. But when I looked back at her and we both had tears in our eyes, I didn't have to say it out loud. We knew it was you, baby boy. I see your sweet messages. This one came loud and clear. 
At our school, we receive a Fresh Fruit and Vegetable grant that gives our sweet students fresh fruit and veggie snacks every day. This apple somehow made it to Mommy's school. This apple made it to Mommy's classroom. Who else would have been so meticulous to get an apple to a teacher? My baby boy, that's who! I am amazed at your miracles. Thank you for reminding me that you are always right here!


March 27, 2011
You know sometimes it would be nice to have pleasant dreams of you. I love the idea of Carly's site. I love her dream that she had and what has come about from her dream. I believe Christian inspired her to do this great thing for all us grieving mommas.
My dreams are different though. I wish so badly that I could have such sweet and pleasant dreams. I guess I have an advantage that I feel so close to you in my day dreams. But I've been cursed with terrible night dreams of you.
I can't write about them. They are difficult to think upon, but I don't dream of you alive if that gives any inclination of what my dreams are like. I guess that's my biggest problem. I have a horrible aversion to the word "dead." I don't want to say it or even think it. I hate that word. You are not dead, you just simply are not alive. My baby was not born dead, you were born sleeping. The word dead just needs to be taken out of existence, don't you think, Bubby? I can't even say the word dead when I'm referring to flowers. This whole grieving process is weird, sweetheart. I sure do miss you.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

"Names in the Sand"

March 23, 2011
Sunday, while we were at the beach, Carly Marie Dudley, a photographer in Perth, Australia, opened name requests for "Names in the Sand." It is a memorial site for babies in Heaven. She also has a baby boy in Heaven named Christian. Nineteen months after his stillbirth, she dreamed of him playing on the beach. As she approached him, he ran off and had written his name in the sand. At that point, she created this memorial site. She writes an angel's name in the sand and takes a picture of it at sunset. She says,
"At the end of the day, all the children of Heaven come together and paint the colours of the sunset."
On Sunday, I was able to request your name and today the most beautiful sunset is posted on her site. My sweet boy. You're an artist like your mommy and a perfectionist like your daddy. So beautiful. 



Monday, November 26, 2012

The Healing Trip

March 18, 2011
Today is a Tear Soup kind of day. Daddy and I took a spontaneous weekend trip to Surfside Beach for what we call our "Healing Trip." This month has weighed heavy on my mind. March is considered Trisomy Awareness month. Ironically, today, March 18th, is Trisomy 18 Awareness Day (3/18 - 3 copies of 18th chromosome). And here we are going on a beautiful trip. At least I hope it is beautiful. I am sad to leave you baby boy. It is strange how I've become attached to your grave. I visit you every afternoon and I just stare at the little muddy outline of such a tiny grave. It just doesn't seem right to have a grave so tiny. Nobody should have to bury a baby. It has become such a special little place for me. I would have never guessed I would be spending so much time in a cemetery.
But I guess, honestly, there's no need to be sad. You are going on this trip with us. So after school today, we pack our bags and head for the beach. We take the back way, which was a bad idea! We got a little turned around and then our GPS took us to the beach on a small country road that was uninhabited for miles!! My nerves are getting the best of me. I get very nervous being on such quiet roads. You never know when something might go wrong and there's no where to turn to for help. We finally get the keys to our condo and realize there's no water. A midnight phone call to maintenance and the water gets turned on. Mommy and Daddy were so awake at this point, we went and bought our groceries for the weekend and finally hit the hay at 3:00 in the morning. Phew! What a long day. There will be plenty of time for sleep tomorrow, I suppose.

March 19, 2011
BEAUTIFUL DAY! We woke up and got out on the beach early. It is a little breezy, but when your body has craved the sun all winter, its easier to feel the warmth through the breeze. Daddy and I sat on the beach and talked a long time. I love those kinds of conversations with your Daddy. We wished we had our 4-legged baby girl with us. There were not many people out, so I know she would have behaved.
I sat and looked at the beautiful sparkling water and wondered about how different my life would be if you were here. I definitely wouldn't be on the beach getting a "sun tan," but I'd trade it for my boy anyday. I miss you so much. I've called this our "Healing Trip." Its a trip for Mommy and Daddy to be together, away from everyday life, and heal. But no relaxing, beautiful day on the beach would compare to the life I could've had with you. I'd take a recliner in the NICU by my baby's bed over all of this. It would be a hard life, but it would be worth it...
...for you...
You have a big mission to fulfill in Heaven. That, itself, makes me feel like an honored mother. Sadly, it still doesn't change the fact that I just plain miss you. 
As lunchtime rolled around, more people came out. A rambunctious little boy threw his beach toys down right beside us and hollered, "Right here, Mom?!?!?"
His mother yelled back a frustrated, "No!" Heehee. Of all the wide open beach that surrounded us, he was ready to throw his toys down and start playing right next to us. As close as could be. Daddy and I just giggled at him. They went to a more open area and set up camp. I liked watching the kids play. The hyper little guy ran down to the water and goes, "Mom, there's starfish everywhere! There's millions!!"
I waited a little while before I went down to check out the starfish, when what I really wanted to do was jump up and go running to the little boy and say, "Let me see!!!!"
I can be as bad as the kids sometimes. I was amazed at all the starfish. There really were millions; he wasn't lying! I picked one up and held it bottom side up in my hand. Did you know that he has little feelers that line his underbody? What a neat discovery. I imagined discovering this with my curious little angel. I watched his tiny feelers on his underside as they wiggled and squirmed. His little feelers got slower and slower and then stopped. Oh dear, I just killed the starfish. I really am not sure what I was thinking. I don't know if I want to laugh or cry. Luckily, I laughed. I am on a healing trip, recovering from a tragic loss, and here I am killing starfish. Whelp, he's a goner, so I'm keeping him. A sweet little souvie for you, baby boy! Haha!
I take our starfish to Daddy and told him I was going on a walk down the beach. 
This walk on the beach was the most amazing walk I've ever taken. I felt you right by my side. I talked to you as we walked and I could just imagine you stopping and looking at all of the interesting shells, even the ones that really weren't interesting. That's when I saw it. Something I have never seen before. A ladybug was sitting on a seashell. Have you ever seen such a thing? I knew instantly who put that ladybug there for me. He's playing with mommy. I have never seen a ladybug at the beach in my life. Especially right here on the shoreline. After quite a while of marveling over this amazing thing, I told our ladybug goodbye and that's when I noticed the others. There were at least 7 or 8 more ladybugs on the wet, packed sand. My sweet angel, did you think I wouldn't see? Oh, I see you, baby. 
You've opened my eyes.
I couldn't stop smiling as I walked back to Daddy. It was the biggest, most genuine smile I've ever felt. My baby made himself known to me today. He is here, he is right here. 
I get back to our beach blanket and admire my small collection of shells and starfish. What neat discoveries. I imagined discovering these things with my curious little angel. I would have loved to teach you things and teach you how to love and appreciate the Earth. Lots of tender mercies today. And a bit of a tender bottom. I should have known better than to spend so much time in the sun. But I'm still loving every second. 
**On a sad note, back home, a group of children ages 5 to 11 from a local church near and dear to my heart went to a park in Spartanburg to ride the train for its first run of the season. The train derailed and took the life of the pastor's 5 year old son. Twenty others were hospitalized. My heart is broken. And just like that, the sick feeling is back. My heart aches for each of them. Especially that sweet momma.**

March 21, 2011
We're headed home from the beach today. Yesterday was much too chilly to get back out on the beach. We just went shopping around Broadway at the Beach. We got home today around 1:00ish. I went straight to the cemetery to visit you. It was a beautiful sunny day. I took you your starfish and placed it at your grave. It sits with your dinosaur snow globe from Aunt Summer and your secret valentine. I realized that this is not a "Healing Trip" but a "Healing Journey." I realized I will never fully heal, and I found some peace with that truth. Before, I wanted my wounds to heal because I don't like that sicky, sad feeling. I realized that I'll always have the scar from my wound. Yes, it heals, but you'll always remember and you'll always have those sicky, tear soup days. But I'm going to be okay. You are right here, baby boy. I can almost smell your sweet baby breath in the breeze. I found some healing and each day I'll find more, but the truest, complete healing will come the day we meet again. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012


February 21, 2011
One of the most thankful ideas that I received from a fellow mother of an angel was the pinwheel. You have two matching pinwheels. One is in our front yard by the tree that you like to "play" beside. The other is by your grave. It connects us. I love that feeling.
Today is a windy day. This makes me smile a big smile. I wonder if your pinwheel is blowing? Maybe you are proud of me for being brave at my first day back at school. It was a great morning with the kids. I visited your grave right after school and boy oh boy were you blowing hard! 
I wanted to cry and be sad. I don't want to cry to others, I'm certain they are tired of it. But I don't want to cry alone, it makes me feel out of control. Instead I just hold it in. Ugh, sometimes that just makes you feel worse. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

That Ugly Girl Named Grief

February 18, 2011
Last night, Daddy and I decided to go to a bereaved parents' support group. I was so excited to see what healing and love I might feel. I've never been a part of a support group before, so I was also excited to make new friends that would hopefully become lifelong friends as we remember our babies. Man, I was so wrong.
Daddy and I have felt such peace since you've been gone, Charles Patrick. Of course, we miss you, but we know this was Heavenly Father's plan. It doesn't help the sadness go away, but for now, it makes the sadness feel a little more bearable. There were 2 other couples attending the group that night. One couple had a baby that died nearly two years ago. As she would tell their story, she would tear up and look at her husband, and her sweet husband would finish the story for her. Right now, she's struggling with her friends getting pregnant. She was invited to a baby shower, and didn't know if she should attend or not. I felt so sorry for her, especially if its been two years. I know that it is extremely difficult for me to be around newborn babies right now, but I hope that I am able to handle it after two years. My sister is having my next nephew in July, I don't want to have to struggle to be around him. My heart got a little nervous thinking about it.
The other couple was what truly tore my heart apart. The mother was devastated. She had twins who died at birth, a boy and a girl. She cried throughout the duration of the group. She had them back in November. She had gone to a place, a bad place, in her head and I am frightened that she won't escape. She cried that she doesn't see reason to get up in the morning. She cried that she has nothing to live for, as her husband just sat and stared helplessly at the table. The sweet nurse that led the group talked to her about depression and how she should talk to her doctor about a medication that would help her feel better. She said that she has done that already, but she didn't want to take pills. She told us her complete birth story, and it was so tragic. My heart hurt for her. I just wanted to help her.
The support group didn't turn out how I wanted it to, but
.... it planted a seed ...
Today I decided that I couldn't let my experience from last night overwhelm me. I start back to school on Monday, so I went in today to visit my sweet and precious students. My heart was pounding. I still feel a lot of anxiety in public. I couldn't believe how nervous I was to go see all my school babies! My principal walked me down to my room. The anticipation of walking through the doorway was almost too much. I was out of breath and sweating. My principal walked in the room and said she had something for them. I took a deep breath and walked in. 
Every little eye was staring and for a whole second, they just sat there looking. It felt like an eternity and time stood still. Then it was like slow motion that surprised faces and gasps filled the room. Then all 18, yes all 18, came running! Their sweet little hugs around my middle were so precious. The change in my belly is hard to accept sometimes. I want it to be full with my baby boy! Now its just empty. Their little hugs made it feel not so empty anymore.
We all sat down on the carpet and I shared my box with them. I showed them the tiny little size of your diaper, your foot prints, and all the other little keepsakes that the nurses gave me. I shared a book with them that a dear friend gave me. Its called, Mommy, Please Don't Cry: There are No Tears in Heaven. Of course, Mommy can't read it without crying, so I just showed them the pictures so I wouldn't cry in front of them. It is very important to me that they do not see me so emotional. I told them I would be back on Monday. I'm only going to work half days at first to make sure I'm up to all the activity again, and then hopefully I'll be back full force by Wednesday. I'm so glad I went to see them today. Much needed medicine!
I was feeling so good. Then that ugly girl came right back. Her name is Grief. I can feel so good and feel so much peace inside, and then Grief comes along and takes my good days and smashes them into pieces. Tonight was a ward activity at church. Its still hard to go to things in public, even things as simple as the grocery story. But I've been making myself go because its the only way I'm going to get past the anxiety.
I was doing okay even though I felt like running away on the inside. Everyone was being very kind, not really talking about what happened. Its so weird. You worry so much that someone is going to bring it up and make me talk about it. Then when no one mentions it, you almost feel upset that no one is even acknowledging what happened. Its such a crazy thing. Grief knows just how to drive me to the end of my sanity. She's such a contradictory girl. I really don't like her.
As I was leaving, I saw one of our leaders who was visiting from Greenville. His wife and my mother are great friends, so we know each other very well. The last time I saw him was just days before we went into the hospital. Its the first time he saw me with no belly and no baby. He didn't say anything. He just gave me that understanding and sympathetic grin. I went home from the activity and just cried my eyes out. I loved that I was able to go out and see friends and smile and laugh. Yet I hated that I went out to see friends to smile and laugh. It made me feel like I was trying to forget you. I promise I'm not trying to forget you, sweet boy. I think of you every minute. I just can't cry all the time. Yet I feel guilty if I'm not crying for you. Right now, Grief is like that unwelcome "friend" whose overstayed her visit. That first time that people see me with no belly and no baby never gets easy. I'm sorry, it just doesn't.
Love, Mommy

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Sweet Hauntings

February 3, 2011
My imagination has always been my best friend. I had imaginary friends as early as I can remember. As I grew older, my imagination served me well as I blossomed into writing and creating. I never realized how much my imagination would heal me as I imagined you.
You were a brand new perfect little baby when I laid eyes on you, but now as I think of you, you are a rambunctious little 4, maybe 5 year old. Each morning when I wake, I open the blinds in our living room and admire the sun rising in the east. We have a large, very aged tree in our front yard that sits just in line with the sunrise. I imagine you at that tree. I am sure you would have loved playing around it. You're always crouched down looking at a bug or picking up a stick. Then I hear little boy giggles as you run around the corner hiding from mommy.
I love to imagine you. I love talking to you. You are a short little thing with thick strawberry blonde curls. You wear a little white shirt with blue jeans rolled up to your ankles. And you're always barefoot. Silly boy.
On the day we were heading to the hospital to have you, your daddy did something so very sweet. He posted the song "Baby Mine" on Facebook to let everyone know that you were on your way. That song has always been my favorite, but its been so many years since I've heard the song that I had forgotten how much I loved it. It really touched my heart.
Today my mom and dad, your Neena and Poppy, took me to the Temple. It was cold and misty out. I wanted to go to the Temple, but the weather made me just want to be a depressed couch potato. On our way, a deer jumped out in front of us and hit the side of Neena's van. I just felt so sad. Why can they never catch a break? I really wanted to turn around and go home, but Neena and Poppy insisted that everything was okay and that we should continue our trip to Columbia. They were certain that being in such a spiritual place would help my breaking heart. I knew it too, but for some reason I just really wanted to stay on the couch today. Without my knowing, our Bishop had informed others at the Temple of our visit, so we were greeted at the door by some of my most beloved leaders from past and present. At first I didn't realize that anyone knew, so I just acted like nothing was wrong and I was there for a typical visit. I don't know why I do that. A defense mechanism, I guess. When the Temple Matron came up to me and told me she had heard of my loss, I realized they were all there for me. I cried happy tears. I felt such love in such a perfect place.
The session at the Temple that day was so powerful. I tried hard to choke back tears on many occasions. I kept seeing you, little boy. Again, I understand it was my own imaginings, but it felt real enough to feel so good. As we progressed from room to room, I could almost truly see your little scampering feet as you ran in and out of all those who were present that day. As soon as those little feet were out of sight, I could hear you giggling and your little voice saying, "Come on, Mommy!" You were always just enough ahead of me that I couldn't see your face. I never get to see your face. When we entered the Celestial room, your sweet little voice stopped and I felt you jump into my soul. I felt so close to you, not like I was chasing you anymore. My mind and my heart was so clear. Its exactly what I needed. Since you've been gone, I've felt so muddled. The most beautiful thing was that "Baby Mine" played over and over in my head as I sat in the Celestial room. I haven't had that song in my head since the day we went to the hospital. It was beautiful and it played so clearly. I don't even know all the words, yet the song played perfectly over and over.
After we left the Temple, we went to the Temple bookstore. I was looking around for something to remember my visit. There wasn't much that stood out to me today. I figured I would go look at the music CDs. Its been a while since I've bought music. One CD caught my eye,
"Baby Mine: Lullabies for Bedtime"
What are the chances? I've realized that there are no coincidences. God intends. I love Him so much. Give Him a squeeze and tell Him I said thank you from the bottom of my broken heart. I'm glad I got off the couch today. Had I not, Satan would have succeeded in keeping me from my sweet little boy and from realizing again and again that our God is so gracious.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Happy Due Date

February 2, 2011
The past few posts in my journal were not written "to" you. I am not sure why I didn't write them as if I was writing to you. Somehow my words just didn't come out that way. I didn't feel like I could write to you for some reason. It was as if you were away for a short period. I couldn't feel you near me. It was the emptiest feeling I have ever felt. It makes me wonder about the process we go through after this life as we enter into Heaven.  I'm certain you were busy being the newest angel. I wonder if that's the time that our beautiful Savior takes us by the hand and shows us how the world was created. He takes us and shows us the big picture, so we have a perfect understanding and a perfect knowledge. The kind of knowledge He has. It takes us away from everything for a few days. Its earthly days here, but perhaps its only moments there. But now you understand. You have that perfect knowledge of why this all had to happen to our family. You define beauty to me, little one. You know, our Savior disappeared from His grave for 3 days. Poor Mary Magdalene grieved greatly as she did not know where her King had been taken. Then He returned. Our resurrected Savior stood before her and asked her not to weep.
Today has been different.
Today was your actual due date. Daddy has been sick the past 3 days, and today he is finally feeling better. Was your absence what crippled him so as well?
Today I managed to find a smile. I love you, baby. Stay near me. Tell me not to weep.
Love, Mommy

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

His Service

January 30, 2011
KC and I slept in a little. It felt good to get some extra sleep and snuggle in bed a little longer than usual. I feel such a need to be close to my husband all the time. I just want him to hold me. All these feelings of grief mixed with hormones have left me feeling so insecure. It's hard to explain. But finally we got up and started getting ready. Both of our families came to our house at lunch time. I was worried it might stress me out to have so many people in our tiny little house, but honestly it was a comfort. We ate lunch together and headed to the funeral home at 1:45pm.
The family viewing was at 2:00, and the graveside service was at 3:00. They let KC and I go in first. There it was again....
Oh my sweet baby! Every time I see him, it is just as joyful and emotional as the first time they laid him in my arms. 
Charles Patrick's nursery is a Star Wars theme. KC and I love Star Wars. KC dug out all his old toys to use in decorating the nursery. Last night, as the two of us stood in his nursery, KC picked up his Han Solo and Princess Leia and said he wanted to bury them with our son. That way he'd have "Mommy and Daddy" with him. We just hugged and cried. I knew how much those little toys meant to him, ESPECIALLY Han Solo and Princess Leia. 
We each took our little figures and laid them in the tiny little casket with our son. Daddy on his left, Mommy on his right. We tucked them in to his little arms so he felt safe. 
Until we meet again, my son. 
Next, we let my Dad in to take a few pictures. When we showed Daddy his little toys, he cried. Seeing my Daddy cry is never easy. I know he hurts for me just as much as he hurts for his grandson. 
The rest of our families were invited in. It was my nephew's first time seeing his cousin. You could tell that his little face was so sad. I heard Summer say, "Doesn't he have Silvie's nose?"
You could see Jayden's eyes, his perspective, change at that very moment. He wasn't just looking at a baby who wasn't alive anymore, suddenly he was looking at Charles Patrick. In a surprised voice he says, "Yes! He does!"
Thank you, Summer.
Everyone gave me hugs and told me how beautiful he was. It was so nice to just stand there and admire my boy and watch others admire him too. It was as if I longed for people to see his beauty. As time was coming close, KC and I were just standing side by side and he said he thinks he wants to hold him one more time. So I said, "Well let's do it. No regrets."
I didn't want to leave the parlor with the regret of wishing to hold him one more time. Everyone left the room so we could be alone. KC held him first. His little head was closest to me as we sat in the chairs next to each other. I just put my hands on his head and kissed his little head over and over and over while I cried. KC cried too. Then he handed him to me. I love that feeling of him being in my arms. I cried at the thought that this was the last time I'd feel his little body. I've already experienced that ache in my arms when I just want to hold him. I just don't want to say good-bye. Its hard to let go. I kissed his little forehead and gave him back to the funeral director. His little coffin is so sweet. It is lined inside and out with white satin. Momma, Daddy, and KC's mother, Shelba, rode in the limo with us. I was so nervous. The ride there seemed to take forever. 
We pulled up to the cemetery and my breath was taken away by the amount of people....
...all for a little boy that no one met...
He touched so many hearts. Every doctor, every nurse, every person who knew him. It is still amazing to me. I'm still struggling with all the anxiety and as soon as we stepped out of the limo, I just wanted to hide behind KC's arm. He held my hand as we watched them take my sweet little boy out of the car. The pall bearers were all the males in our family including our three young nephews. 
We followed behind as he was carried to his burial place. That place he showed me just two days ago. I didn't look up much, but when I did, all I could see was tearful faces. 
KC and I took our seats and that's when I noticed the beauty of the day. It was perfectly sunny, not a cloud in the sky, and the air was so warm and comforting. It was perfect. What a tender mercy that proves Heavenly Father is merciful when we suffer (sunny, 68 degrees, in January).
The graveside service began with KC's pastor giving the opening prayer. A dear friend from my church who is friends of both of us spoke. He gave a touching message on spirits. I know Charles Patrick's spirit is with us today. 
Next, Daddy dedicated Charles Patrick's grave. It was such a beautiful prayer. He blessed it that it would be safe from weather and all other things that could defile it. After Daddy's prayer, a close friend, Chase Fowler, who I've known since birth and love dearly sang the song that is so near and dear to my heart. It is the essence of all that I have experienced. 
I Will Carry You by Selah
The song was written by a man in the group whose wife was pregnant with a child with a lethal disorder, a very similar situation to us. The second verse of the song actually speaks about their child which was a little girl, so it says "she" and "her" in a couple of places. When I asked Chase to sing, I meant to tell him to change those words to "he" and "him" but I forgot. I was so sad that I forgot to tell him something so important! 
Chase sang so beautifully and when he got to the second verse, the words were changed for my baby boy just like I wanted. Another very special tender mercy. 
Thank you, Chase.
I just cried and cried. Everything about his service was so beautiful and so perfect, just like him. I couldn't have asked for better. 
Lastly, the Bishop of my church gave the closing prayer. We all came out from under the tent and the funeral director released doves. The first three doves that were released represented Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. They were released together. He released the fourth dove separately. It represented Charles Patrick. When Charles Patrick's dove flew out of the basket, he came out really fast and flew off in the opposite direction of the other three. But the 3 doves circled around to pick him up, and the four doves flew off together. We giggled about it later saying that Charles Patrick wanted to just go play for one minute. My sweet boy! But our loving Heavenly Father said, "Charles Patrick, you can play when we get home!" 
So so silly. Such a boy, isn't he? Everyone lined up to give us hugs. There were so many people present. I'm also still amazed at the weather. It was such a beautiful day. The sun beamed. Maybe it was my baby boy's spirit beaming from Heaven. 

He was one special boy and he was so, so loved. This is a special friend from my childhood who drove from Myrtle Beach to attend Charles Patrick's funeral. Her daughter is also one of God's special angels, buried only yards from Charles Patrick. I think they are going to be lovebirds in Heaven. Actually, I'm quite sure of it. Our Stake President from my church from Greenville even attended the funeral. How very special. 
We enjoyed hanging around the gravesite until everyone left and it was just family. It was such a beautiful day and such a beautiful service. We really didn't want to leave. 
Our family had dinner together at KC's church fellowship hall. KC blessed the food and was so filled with the spirit. He had a lot of strength to get up and do that in front of our families on such a hard day. But his prayer was the most touching and eternally-minded prayer I have ever heard. I love him so much. 
After dinner, we went home and I was so thankful to finally be home....alone....with my husband. We were both so exhausted that we crawled into bed and took a nap. I slept so soundly, but I jolted awake after a couple of hours in the worst panic I have ever felt in my life! My son!!! He was under all that dirt!!! I wanted to go dig him up! What is wrong with me? That is crazy!! I could not shake the panic off like you shake off a bad dream when you first wake up. I shook KC awake and cried to him. I'm going crazy. I told KC to please not let me go crazy. Why was I so panicked? My son is gone, we have to bury him. My poor baby. I guess this is the beginning. The beginning of the chaos, the grief...

Dear Lord, I love thee. I give my whole life to thee. Please fast forward the time to the point when I'm able to deal with this with a sound mind. Heavenly Father, save me. I'm drowning deep in a hole. The hole where my son lies. Remind me constantly that he is safe in thy arms. In Jesus Christ's name I pray. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Dressing My Son

January 29, 2011
It was a beautiful day today, very unlikely January weather. Sunny, 63 degrees. At 1:00pm, my sweet family met me at the funeral home. Mom, Dad, Summer, and Autumn all met me to assist me in the honor of dressing my beautiful son for his burial.
I had originally purchased a dupioni silk romper and cap for his burial clothes, but newborn sizes were just too large for his little body. Luckily, our perinatal nurse had given us a beautiful gift. The Palmetto Pleaters of Greenville, SC, made Charles Patrick a white gown with blue smocking. The bottom edge was lined with baby blue ribbon and his initials were embroidered on the front. It was the perfect size for my sweet baby boy. I'm so thankful for that gift. Had it not been so thoughtfully made, I don't know what I would have done.
We walked into the funeral home and I was so very nervous. I'd cried on the phone with my sister, Summer, all morning already because I was afraid to do this. On the day he was born, Charles Patrick's skin was so delicate. It is now two days later. Horrifying thoughts swarmed my head that are too upsetting to speak aloud. I was afraid, but this was something I wanted to do. To dress a loved one for their burial is a blessing and an honor, I know the Lord will be pleased with me if I do this. I know I will be pleased with myself if I do this.
I said a lot of prayers that morning. Prayers of strength. We go into his little room and I see my sweet baby lying on the table.
Pure joy every time I see him. Oh I love him so much. He is the most perfect thing I have ever seen. They had his skin wrapped in white cloth, and immediately all the scariness and nervousness went away. Thank you, Heavenly Father. 
The beautiful gown was a perfect fit. His newborn sized socks were a perfect fit on his big ole feet! When he was born, the hospital gave us a hand knitted cap and blanket. The baby blue cap was a perfect match for the gown. I also placed little white mittens on his hands. He was so beautiful. 
I felt so very proud of my son. He's been so strong and he did everything right. I was the one who felt so helpless. I was just so sorry. A mother should be able to help their baby! I wished so badly that there was something I could do to help him, or could've done. He still looked so beautiful laying there. My dad took a few pictures just to capture a few moments for me to remember. We all cried together. Before we left, we cut a tiny lock of hair to keep in his box of memories. 
Saying good-bye is never easy. It is so hard to just walk away from my baby boy. The only comfort at this moment is that I will see him again tomorrow. But what about after that? Saying good-bye is already excruciating, what about that last time? My stomach hurts to think about it. I just want to fast forward time to the point when I feel better. Anxiety, heartache, sadness, they just overwhelm me right now. 
As I walked out of the funeral home, once again I was enveloped by the sun and its warmth. We've had such an extreme winter. Only three weeks ago, we had a snow and ice storm that kept us out of school for an entire week. Now the sun is shining and the weather is beautiful. I spend the remainder of the day preparing for tomorrow. We've got a big day ahead of us. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Day After

January 28, 2011
Yesterday was the most amazing day of my life. It was the happiest and the saddest day all rolled into one. It was the birth and the death of our first born son, Charles Patrick. This morning, when I woke up, I was emotionally very somber. We had a lot to do today. KC and I had to plan our son's funeral and purchase burial plots. Things no one should have to do the day after the birth of their child.
I've been struggling with anxiety also. I am terrified that people are going to flood our home to visit and I just don't want to see anyone right now. Its so hard. I know they mean well, but right now I just want to be alone with my husband.
KC and I planned our sweet child's graveside service. Mark, KC's brother, came into town to help us make arrangements. KC really needed him. It was such a blessing to me also. KC had to go meet with the funeral director to make the service arrangements and discuss buying burial plots. I'm so glad I didn't have to go. There are two main cemeteries in this little ole town. KC has an emotional attachment to one. It is where his father is buried and where his mother will be buried. I, on the other hand, have an emotional attachment to the othe. It is where my family's plots are located. More so than our families plots, I feel a deep emotional connection to this cemetery because it is located only 3 blocks from our home.
I walk by this cemetery every day in the warm weather months. How amazing and beautiful it would be to be able to visit my son so easily. I need him near me. I can't read my husband very well on the matter. I know he wants the other cemetery, but I'm not sure how badly. I don't want to take away from his wants and needs for our baby. But every time I thought about burying Charles Patrick anywhere else, I cried big tears. I know deep down it does not matter where I lay his earthly body. It is not where he is. But I still could not deny the yearnings of my heart.
KC called me from the funeral home's office to tell me the price differences in the two cemeteries. My choice was considerably more expensive, but he said he wanted to go with my choice. My heart pounded fast. I knew he much preferred the opposite cemetery, and I didn't want him to make a fast decision he would regret.
No Regrets.
That was our pact in the hospital. Whatever decisions we made, we would make them together with no regrets. Most women would probably just accept the offer from their husbands and just be glad they got their way, but not me. I always feel guilty when KC sacrifices his own wants for my sake. I want to be able to sacrifice for him also, but I just couldn't shake the feelings that I needed Charles Patrick near me.  KC reassured me that it was what he wanted too. 
When I got off the phone, I just cried. How did I get blessed with such a wonderful man? I love him so much. I know this is a great sacrifice of his own feelings just to make me happy. I am so grateful.
At 3:15pm, we went to pick out our burial plots. We don't want our son to be buried alone, so we purchased our own plots for ourselves. We went to the front part of the cemetery located right on College Drive. It is a partly cloudy day and a little chilly, but the clouds weren't thick at all. They were just barely covering the sun. The man showed us the first plot. I liked it. It was under a big tree and I am always partial to trees. He pointed up the hill to the other plot and, at first glance, I figured I'd probably just choose the spot there under the tree. We walked up the hill and he showed us the second plot choice. At that very moment, the sun came out from behind the clouds and warmed my face. I didn't have to choose anymore. Charles Patrick just chose for me. 
All my life, when I am sad, confused, or really just anytime, I have found peace, comfort, and answers from Heavenly Father in a very unique way. There have been so many times when I've been outside among nature or driving in my car, and the sun will peek through the leaves of a tree or come through a cloud. I can feel the warmth on my face and I imagine it is Heavenly Father cupping His Hands around my face and saying, 
"Peace, my little one. I hear your prayers and all will be well."
I've found myself on many occasions searching for the sun to feel that warmth and feel that beautiful feeling again and again. And now here I am, picking out a place to bury my son's sweet little body, and the sun comes out as our feet reach that burial place. 
It makes me wonder....all those beautiful moments? Were they just my son's spirit leading me to the path that would bring him to this Earth? Was it him all the time? I know he has watched over me throughout my life. I've always felt him. I've always felt that my children watched over me from Heaven, leading and guiding me to the path that would bring them to Earth. 
Sweet tender mercies. I am so sad today, but I'm so thankful. My son has a great mission, but it isn't on this Earth. He has a mission beyond the veil to do for our Father in Heaven. I wonder what tasks the Lord has put him to work to do? I know he would have been a busy body and a perfectionist. Heavenly Father has great things in store for him. I know it. I'm so honored to be his mother. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Big Day

January 26, 2011
At 6:00am, the nurse came in and removed the Cervidil. She unhooked me from all the machines and said I could take a shower if I'd like. NICE! Well then she taped a rubber glove over my left hand to protect the IV ports. NOT NICE! Instead of a good clean feeling shower, the awkwardness of the rubber gloved hand made me feel like I'd just moistened all my filth. Gross. A real shower would have been top-notch!
At 8:00am, two new nurses came in for the day. One was a tiny skinny thing and the other was nice and fluffy. The two of them scooted around my room like two of Sleeping Beauty's good fairies. Had there been a third, I would have called them Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather. I told them I wanted to try and have you naturally since pain meds might interfere with your heart, and they were all on board! Thank you, Heavenly Father, for sending me these good fairies! They have delivered many babies naturally. I felt so relieved. All I needed was someone to believe in me. Someone that doesn't think I'm stupid. Because I'm not! I'm just determined to make the sacrifices I need to keep you safe. They started our pitocin right after 8:00. I was worried about the pain from the pitocin, but I really haven't felt any pain yet. You've been so good to me, sweet boy. I couldn't ask for a sweeter child. Today is 43 degrees and rainy. Yuck. But I guess if it were a beautiful day, I wouldn't feel like being cooped up in a hospital room.
A little before 10:00am, the nurse came in to check on you. She was having trouble finding your heartbeat. The two nurses left the room to get the doctor. The "Is it necessary?" doctor has left and now our doctor that we know and love is on duty. You've always been a sneaky little booger when it comes to monitoring your heartbeat, so I felt like you were hiding again.
Fauna and Merryweather came back in the room and told me that when our doctor came in, he would probably want to break my water. They were both leaning over my bed and talking to me so seriously. They said that if he breaks my water, it would be a lot more difficult to have you naturally because I wouldn't be able to get up and walk around.
Just as they describe, our doctor came in and before checking on you, he immediately sets up and says he's going to break my water. I looked over at Fauna and Merryweather standing side by side in the background. Both simultaneously just did a little head nod. So I said, "Well wait. Actually I really want the ability to be able to get up and walk, can we wait and just check on Charles Patrick first?"
He said sure and I swear I saw Fauna and Merryweather's shoulders go down in relief. They seriously make me want to laugh. I wish they had on green and blue hoopskirt dresses. They don't need the wings, they already flit and flutter around the room.
Our doctor got out the ultrasound machine and he turned on the doppler. He started sliding the doppler around on my belly and I saw you on the screen. Baby, for 39 weeks, I've looked at your sweet little body on a fuzzy black and white screen. For 39 weeks, I looked at the large blackened sphere that is your heart ... and its not beating...

Tears poured from my eyes. Daddy kissed me on the forehead. Our doctor was talking to us explaining that what we were looking at was your heart. It didn't matter. He didn't have to explain. I knew what it was. It was your heart. Your perfectly still heart. 
No, baby, no. I'm not ready for you to be gone yet! I keep thinking that maybe your heart will start beating again, but I know that's impossible. The nurses and doctor left us alone for a little while and we just hugged and cried. We talked about what to do next. My whole purpose of going natural was for your sake. I'm suffering the emotional pain of losing you, do I really want to put myself through the physical pain as well? I feel like I'm being weak, but I just don't know if I want to put myself through the agony when you're already gone. Daddy wants me to go ahead and get the epidural. He doesn't want me to hurt. I still can't decide. I don't want to have regrets. This is my first birth. I wanted it to be natural. 
We called everyone in the family to let them know you didn't make it. It was hard. Phone calls that shouldn't have needed to be made. I was still hesitant to get the epidural, but if I did get it, we could crank up that pitocin and get you here a lot quicker. Daddy looked at me through his wet eyes and said, "Let's just get the epidural. You've been amazing. I want you to get it, but I don't want you to have regrets."
At that moment, it was like we made a pact.
No Regrets. 
I promised myself or we promised ourselves, we would make the best decisions possible with no regrets. 
Around 1:00pm, they came in and gave me an epidural. I still wasn't in any pain from the contractions, but I wanted us to hurry up this labor process. 
The day ticked on and family trickled in to come give us hugs and cry a little bit. I was getting so hungry. I asked Daddy to slip me a gummy bear and he wouldn't. Just one gummy bear! I even told him that I wouldn't swallow it, I would just suck on it and he still wouldn't cave. Who knew I married such a rule follower! 
The sun started to come out a little. Was that your entrance into Heaven, little boy? Of course, I don't know the process we go through as our spirits make that transition from Earth to Heaven, but I like to think that the sun came out to let us know that you were Home and you're happy. The sun has always seemed that way to me. During the darkest, depressing hours of my life, there have been times that the sun would peek through a window, a shady tree, or the clouds. The warmth I felt on my face made me feel like it was Heavenly Father comforting me and reassuring me that everything was going to be okay. But maybe all those years, it was just you. Maybe it was you guiding me in the right direction to meet up with your Daddy, so we could bring you into this world. Since I was a little girl, I've always imagined that my future children watched over me from the spirit world. And when I'd make mistakes, I felt like y'all would say, "Oh mom, if you don't get it together, we are never going to get to Earth!"
I do a lot of imagining, don't I? I can't help it. I have dreamed of you all my life. I still can't wait to see your face. Please hurry!
Hours passed on. By 9:00pm, I was only 7 centimeters. I thought the epidural would speed things up, but it seems to have slowed us down. I'm miserable. I just want you to get here. The epidural only took on my right side, so I've been able to feel everything on my left side. With the pitocin on wide open, I still don't feel a single bit of pain. 
At 10:00pm, I really started to feel something. That something turned into a terrible pain that wouldn't subside. At 11:30p, I was finally declared 10 centimeters. Time to push! I thought the pushing process would be quick. I was wrong again. We pushed forever. I felt like I was pushing with all of my might. Suddenly I felt a release. Everything felt free and I couldn't catch my breath. I looked down at the doctor and see him holding this tiny little person. I felt the most amazing love flood through my veins. Tears fell from the corners of my eyes and I couldn't wait to hold you. Daddy was amazed by you. He hugged and kissed me over and over. There were tons and tons of nurses flitting around the room now. They whisked you away to clean you up in the corner of the room. Daddy went over to look. Then Daddy came back over to me with you in his arms. Our sweet doctor came over and said, 
"Happy Birthday, Charles Patrick."
He shook Daddy's hand and told him congratulations. Everyone is so proud of you. Daddy put you in my arms and I finally got to see you up close. I've never seen such a beautiful boy. You had the sweetest, fullest lips, so perfectly rounded and puckered for a kiss. You had a sweet little button nose that Mommy couldn't stop tracing with her finger. I loved the slope of your forehead to the tip of your nose. Its perfect for kisses too. You had tiny blonde eyelashes. Your hair was about 1/4 inch long and golden red. You had the longest arms and legs and the biggest FEET! You would've played basketball for those Clemson Tigers, I'm sure. Everything down to your toenails was completely perfect. 

January 27, 2011
Charles Patrick Barnhill
Born January 27, 2011 at 12:26am
4 lbs. 7 oz.   17.5 inches
The nurses just fluttered around the room. They kept calling you Charlie. Daddy and I had to tell them, "His name is Charles Patrick, not Charlie." 
And they would say, "Oh okay, Charlie," and just smile and continue to flit from here to there doing whatever they were doing. My whole pregnancy, I've cringed at the thought of people calling you Charlie. Now I just couldn't stop laughing! What the heck. Why were they calling you Charlie? Why weren't they listening to the Mother here? And why did I think it was so funny? Those nurses were not nurses that day. They were angels. They flew around the room. I never saw their feet on the ground. They carried you from here to there creating keepsakes for us to take home. They made us laugh and kept calling you Charlie all throughout the late night.
The entire nine months that I carried you in my belly, I worried about stillbirth. I prayed, begged, and pleaded with Heavenly Father to keep you alive until you got to Earth. I just couldn't bear the thought of having to push out a lifeless baby. I just knew that I couldn't do that. I have looked forward to giving birth to my first child for the past 33 years, the thought of this sickened me. But now here I am. Somehow, some way, our Gracious Lord has made it possible for me to do this difficult task and still be so proud. I am the happiest momma alive. You were born into this world with such a sweet silence. I adored your purplish skin and your tiny cold fingers. I've never been so happy in my life. I want you to know that even thought I was terrified of this happening, I am still so proud of the way you came to this Earth. You fought so hard. You were so strong for so long. I love you so much, sweet boy.

A very special photographer was here. She takes photos for an organization called Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. She took some beautiful photos of us to keep forever. 
After our pictures, we invited the whole family back. There's only supposed to be 3 visitors at a time, but we had everyone come back at once to see you. Nobody could get over your sweet, round lips and your gigantic feet. I have never felt so happy and proud. 
We oohed and ahhed over you. Everyone thinks you're perfect too. After everyone left, Daddy and I took turns holding you. You fit so sweetly in our arms. We are so proud of you. You are such a fighter. The doctors told us you wouldn't live past 31 weeks gestation, but you lived 39 weeks and you fought hard during two whole hours of labor. Only a couple of weeks ago, I looked up the meaning of your names. Charles means strong and Patrick means noble. You are exactly that. You are a strong and noble son of God. You are such a noble spirit that you did not need to be tested with an Earthly life. You came to Earth just to receive your body and return to Heaven just as perfect as you left, unscathed by this sinful world. You never knew sadness, pain, or hate, only love. Immeasurable love. I am so proud and honored to be your Momma. 
The nurse asked if we'd like for you to stay in our room. Yes! We swaddled you up tight and laid you in your bassinet. You slept in the middle. Right where you needed to be. 
We slept a few hours until morning. Our nurse helped me get you dressed. She was so sweet. She was a different nurse with a different personality, but so kind and gentle, the perfect thing I needed this morning. She would talk to you and call you Pumpkin. I liked that because I was afraid to let her hear me talk to you. I thought she might think I was crazy. But I'm not crazy and she showed me that I can talk to my son. We laughed as we dressed you because you are too little for newborn clothes, but too big for preemie clothes. Luckily I had a preemie gown that seemed to fit perfectly. Our day in the hospital was up and down. We would cry, we would hold you, we would talk, we would cry, and we would hold you again. Your Daddy was so sweet to me. He kept telling me how amazing I was. Baby, I'm not that amazing, but it made my heart swell up when Daddy would say it to me. 
At about 5:00pm, we decided it was time to go home. I knew they were going to take you soon and I did NOT want to be left in that hospital room without you. While Daddy pulled the car around, the nurse helped me undress you again. Then it was time to tell you good-bye. I was just so sorry. I wanted to fix you, but there was nothing I could do. I'm just so, so sorry. We held you one more time and I kissed your sweet face. Then the nurse came in and whisked you away.... out of our room ... out of sight. 
A young man came in with a wheelchair. He and Daddy loaded up our bags and I sat down in the wheelchair. On my lap sat a blue box the nurses gave us. It was full of the sweetest keepsakes for us to have of you. As the young man wheeled me down the hallway, I thought of the excitement I felt as I came through those halls just two short days ago. We seemed to wind through the halls for an eternity and all I could think about was running back to that room to be with you, even though you weren't there. 
We got to the elevator and it took forever. While we were waiting, a nurse wheeled a little newborn in its bassinet over to the elevator to take upstairs to the nursery. I leaned up to look at him/her because I had such a fear that something was wrong with that baby too. I could barely see his little pink nose and I knew that he was okay. The nurse wheeled him around the corner and gave the young man the go ahead to take me on downstairs without her. That's when I realized that she noticed my blue box and didn't want to put the baby on the elevator with me. My blue box suddenly became like the Red A from The Scarlet Letter. Everyone knew what happened to me because of my blue box. Aww. I didn't need her to hide the baby from me. I just wanted him to be okay. We finally got on the elevator and as the doors opened on the bottom floor, the new shift of nurses all stood there waiting to go up to work. Tears flooded my eyes. I felt their glares. I felt their pity and I didn't want it. I wanted to pull my face inside my sweatshirt and get the heck out of there. Mothers leave hospitals with a baby, not a blue box!
On our way home, I talked to Daddy and told him I wouldn't stay sad forever, but please bear with me as I grieved. You have been a part of me for the past 39 weeks. Now I just feel so empty. Every decision I made, I made it with you in mind. 
My dearest baby boy, 
You were born with a hole in your heart. And when you left, there was a hole in mine.
You will always have a piece of my heart with you. Always! You are my first born son and you were absolutely and completely perfect. Every single chromosome!
As Daddy exited off the interstate towards home, I happened to look up at the sky and I saw a shooting star. Was that you, baby boy? Were you letting Mommy know that you are in Heaven now and you are safe in our Heavenly Father's arms? I think it was just a little note to Mommy that said, 
"Its okay, Mom. Don't be sad. You have all the reasons in the sky to smile!"
Good-bye, my sweet little boy. I will see you so very soon. I promise this isn't the end. It is only the beginning of something very beautiful. One day soon, I'll spend eternity with you. 
Forever and Ever, 

Click link above!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

"It's Time!"

January 25, 2011
Daddy and I woke up early for our 8:30am appointment at the doctor's office. First they did an ultrasound and then we went into the exam room to wait for our doctor. Daddy and I have been talking over the past 2 days. We know that the high-risk doctor was urgent to get you out two days ago, and our regular doctor is hesitant about that idea. We figured we can come to a happy medium. We decided that if our doctor decides to still postpone the induction, we are going to go ahead and schedule it ourselves. We are too worried that something is going to go wrong. I sat there nervous as could be. I have a feeling he is going to want to wait longer.
Finally, he comes in. He shakes both of our hands and leans against the counter and says,
"Well, its time!"
What? In all my years of imagining being pregnant with my first child, I was supposed to say those words. I was supposed to be at home timing my contractions, then walking into the living room and looking at Daddy and saying, "Its time!" Those were my words. But I didn't say them. 
My heart sank and was on fire all at once. He asked if we could come back at 5:45 tonight. Oh my goodness, sweetheart, this is it! I'm so excited and so nervous. I started shaking again uncontrollably. I looked at Daddy in a panic again. I wonder how many times I've given him that look lately? :)
Our doctor called Labor and Delivery and told them I'd be there at 5:45. Yikes! We drove home, and Daddy went in to work to finish up a few things. I needed to run a few errands including going to get a mani/pedi. It was an overcast, cold day, so I really wanted to just snuggle up on the couch until time to go back to the hospital. Daddy made me promise to go get my mani/pedi. He wants me to take a little time for myself before you get here. I just wanted pretty manicured toes before my feet are in a bunch of nurses and doctors faces. :-/
I forced myself into the car. I'm glad I made myself go. I made dinner for me and Daddy. Its the last I'll get to eat until after you get here. My meal: plain spaghetti noodles with butter and salt. I'm so nervous, its all I can stomach. I just don't know what to expect and that scares Mommy. I like to know exactly what's going to happen. I just hope and pray we are making the right decision. 
This entire pregnancy, I've prayed for you to be born alive. I cannot bear the thought of giving birth to a lifeless baby. It is too much to comprehend. I can't do that. I just can't.
We arrive at the hospital and we're greeted by a quiet, little nurse and the "Is it necessary?" doctor. My stomach knots became stomach rocks. We walked through the winding halls of Labor and Delivery for what seemed and eternity. She took us to the very last room at the end of the last hallway. Room 210. Its a HUGE room. I get in my gown and Daddy laughs every time he sees my bare bottom sticking out of the back of my gown when I go to the bathroom. 
At 7:00pm, they start me on a medicine called Cervidil. It is supposed to help soften my cervix so my body will cooperate when they induce me tomorrow. The nurse that's assigned to my room that even is a loud, brisk nurse. She isn't very soft in tone or demeanor. She kept trying to persuade me to take pain medicine. She even said they might go ahead and give me an epidural now. NO WAY! She was a nice nurse, but I didn't know how she wanted me to take medicine so badly. I told her that I was trying to have you without pain meds since they might interfere with your heart rate. She was not supportive of that at all. She said that its usually not possible to do that when you are induced. Thanks. I wish I had a little more support with having you natural. I know its going to be difficult, please support me. 
I tried to get some sleep, but it was all in vain. When the clock struck 6:00am the next morning with still not a single wink, I figured it was going to be a long day. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Flip - Flop

January 21, 2011
Today's my last day of school. I left at 11:00am. It was so hard to say good-bye to those precious babies. I love them so much. They all hugged me over and over. When it was finally time to go, they all hugged me at once. I thought they might squeeze you out of me. Heehee. One of my little girls held me an extra long time, then she looked up at me and said, "But I don't want you to leave!"
It tore my heart in two. I waved as I walked away. A little tear welled up for you and for them. I'm not so sure I'll be back like I promised them. But its time to go meet Daddy.
We get to the doctor's office and our doctor took a look at you on ultrasound. He sounded hesitant to induce us tomorrow. He said my body has a 50/50 chance to accept the induction and he's afraid we'd end up with a C-section. I certainly wanted to avoid a C-section, but I'll do what I have to do for you, little boy. I teared up as he discouraged the induction. I mean, yesterday, I was crying because you were coming on Saturday and now I'm crying because you're not coming on Saturday. Don't they realize I'm hormonal here? So it looks like I'm waiting a few more days.
He said he wanted to see us again on Tuesday, and since he's on call on Wednesday, we'll probably schedule the induction then. Maybe I should be relieved that I'm getting a few more days to get ready for you.
Now Daddy and I are worried about you. The high-risk doctor had urgency about him for a reason, he wanted to get you out NOW! But our regular doctor wants to leave you be for a while longer. I'm not sure which way I need to be leaning, so I'm just trusting what our doctor wants to do. Hang in there, okay sweet boy?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Sense of Urgency

January 20, 2011
Another appointment today! Its our last appointment at the high-risk doctor until you get here. I'm so excited to see you on your ultrasound today. The nurse did her thing, and then it was back to the little room with the brick wall out the window. I sat there with a little pep in my seat. I was excited to hear about you and how well you are doing. I was excited to hear what good things the doctor was going to tell us today.
Well listen here, you little hefty, you are now at a whopping 4 pounds and 8 ounces! Goodness gracious, big boy. You gained a whole pound and 4 ounces in just 3 weeks. The doctor came in and he had a lot to tell us. He was very anxious and had a lot of urgency in his voice. The pep I felt started to melt away and I could feel my body start to shake. It was like I had cold chills, but I couldn't control the shivers. I was scared.
He said that you have an intermittent absence of blood flow in the cord. That means that sometimes your heart will pump, but there's no blood flowing. He said that sometimes the blood would even back-flow. He said the longer we left you in my belly, the more we risked stillbirth. I looked at Daddy in a panic. He knew I didn't want to induce our labor.
He said he was sending us to see my regular doctor tomorrow and we could hopefully induce on Saturday.
What was two more weeks until I get to meet you, just turned in to two more days. I couldn't stop myself from shaking, and I was embarrassed that the doctor would notice. I rubbed my hands tightly between my knees as I sat on the chair to pretend that I was just cold and trying to warm up. A million thoughts ran through my head. I'm not ready! 
The doctor's urgency and worry was enough to scare me, and I knew we needed to listen to him. He wouldn't let us leave his office until he had set up an appointment with my regular doctor for tomorrow. My regular doctor who I know well and love so much is also on call this weekend, so he would be there for the delivery. The high-risk doctor thought we had the perfect scenario to go ahead and schedule the induction for Saturday. 
Daddy and I walked out of the hospital so silently. I called my momma, your Neena, in tears. I'm not ready to have you on Saturday and things aren't going the way that I wanted them to. I said many, many prayers. Actually I think my mind was saying a constant prayer that just kept going. At night, usually Mommy goes to bed really early and Daddy is a night owl. Well tonight, Daddy went to bed at 8:30 and I stayed up half the night. I couldn't help it; I couldn't sleep! I did laundry, I cleaned, I mopped. I mean, after all, I have to have a clean house if you are coming on Saturday!! I finally came to terms with the idea that I'm going to be induced and I'm meeting you this weekend. Oh my gosh, I'm meeting you this weekend!!!!!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Snow, Snow, and More Snow

January 18, 2010
Eight days ago on January 10th, it snowed!!! We were supposed to start back to school on that day from our Christmas break, but it was a snow day. A teacher LOVES a snow day. It was so beautiful and powdery. We never get snow like that. Our temperatures are usually cold enough to snow at night, then you wake up the next day to the wet, hard, crunchy stuff because its already 50 degrees and melting. You could almost go out and play without a coat on. But this time was real snow. I loved it so much. Me and you walked outside (very carefully) through the back door. We went down the back of the house to the sidewalk and then walked the long way around to the front yard. I wanted a pretty picture of our sweet little house with the beautiful snow without Mommy's footprints.
All week, the temperatures were forecasted in the 20s during the day and in the teens at night. Hmm, this snow might be here for a while, little boy. Not a good time to decide to come to Earth, okay? I prefer to birth you in a hospital. Not in a car on the icy highway or in my living room, deal?
Well I was right about the snow. We got about 6 beautiful inches of the powder soft snow where we are and within a day the snow melted a good bit and turned into about 4 inches of solid, slick ICE!
I'd been forbidden by Daddy to step foot outside. I guess he's right. I could slip and hurt you, baby, but cabin fever is the pits!
I had to miss my doctor's appointment on the 11th due to the ice. We ended up being out of school all week long. I felt like we lived in the colonial days. Every morning, I packed Daddy a lunch and he walked to work while I stayed home. I enjoyed snuggling up on the couch all day long. I worked on my lesson plans for my maternity leave day in and day out. There's no telling how long I will be out with you. I told my sweet principal that I didn't know what our lives would hold once you got here, but that I may not return this year depending on your health. It was hard to make that decision, but from the sounds of things, you are going to live for a short while. I refuse to let you die in someone else's care. You are going to be with your Mommy every step of the way. I will hold you tight when its time to say good-bye. I can't stand the thought, but it would hurt worse if you passed while I was away from you.
On January 13th, it was finally melty enough on the roads that we rescheduled our doctor's appointment for the Beta Strep test. It was with my favorite doctor. I told him what happened at our last appointment and he was saddened also. He's such a good doctor. He did our test and it actually came back negative, so we are in the clear! :)
That's been the past week, and today was finally our first day back at school. The children were amazing. We had so much fun today, and they had a zillion questions about you. I made them laugh when I told them how much you ate during Christmas. Each time I'd say something about you, I'd pat my big belly and say, "I'm proud of my big boy!" They'd get so tickled.
Right after school, I had another appointment with the "Is it necessary?" doctor. I worried about seeing him again. I wondered if he was offended that I went and had the test done anyway. I know I should care less if he's offended, but I can't stand knowing I've offended someone regardless of the circumstance. I wondered if he was going to say something. What if he was ugly to me? What if he told me what he really thought of you?
Just like always, I worried for nothing. He didn't say anything or even act differently. I guess I should have known that. It turns out that I'm one centimeter dilated, 70% effaced, and you are -3 (that just means you haven't dropped down any). He said that I've progressed enough that we could induce next Thursday or Friday. INDUCE?? What? No! I do not want to be induced. I want you to cook as long as you want to. I also know that if we induce, that nasty, sneaky drug called pitosin will make my contractions unbearable. I'm afraid I would not be able to handle the labor without pain medication if we induce. I have another appointment in two days at the high-risk doctor. I will tell him we can't induce. Its just not what I want. Keep cooking, baby!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Blow to the Gut

January 5, 2011
I had a doctor's appointment at the regular office today. I was seeing a different doctor in the office that I have not seen yet. I will have a test done called the Group B Strep. It is a bacteria that a mommy can carry that isn't harmful for her, but it can be very harmful, even deadly, for baby. If I test positive for this test, I will need to take an antibiotic during labor to keep you safe.
He did his usual check-up, we talked for a minute, and then he started to leave the room. I said, "Oh wait, I think we were supposed to do the Group B Strep today."
He paused and turned back toward me. His response was unexpected. He said, "The question in this case is....
Is it necessary?
Throughout this whole journey, I've done my best to trust the doctors. That's all I can do, really. I have to trust them. They are the experts. I'm just the one carrying the baby. I'm going to need their help to get you here. So I didn't say anything. 
I left the doctor's office heartbroken, but also completely flabbergasted. Is it necessary? Is it necessary? By the time I get to my car, the tears are flowing freely 
Baby, there is not much I can do for you in your condition, but one thing I CAN do is provide you with a healthy delivery! I was so sad all day. I know that the odds are against us, baby, but there's still hope that you will be born alive. I've gotten so much positive news lately that I truly believe I'm going to be able to smell your sweet breath on that special day and look into your sleepy eyes and introduce myself to you as your momma. Face to face. I can feel it. Well, what if you get here safe and sound, you are sustaining life like we all hope, then you die because of a bacteria that I did not prevent! I couldn't live with myself. I would be the reason you were gone, not your condition. As I have grown into this whole suit called Mommyhood, I have realized that while you have no voice, I must be your voice! I've never been one to speak up. I'm too trusting. I can't just let this go. I can't just not have this test because one doctor thinks its not necessary. 
I called our Perinatal Support Nurse from Perinatal Comfort Care. She is the most beautiful angel that's been sent to me on this journey. She's the one we met in Greenville that day that gave me the notebook and so much hope. I keep in touch with her often just because she's such a good source of information and basically, a friend who understands. She felt just like I did. It is so necessary. I was relieved that someone with medical expertise also shared my sadness in today's happenings. She made me promise her that I would make an appointment with a doctor I trusted to do the test. So I did. January 11th. One thing she said to me that really stood out and touched my heart was...
"Together - we can change the culture of how doctors feel about babies like Charles Patrick."
I loved that. I would love to help other mommies who have babies like you. You have completely changed me. I see life and motherhood so differently now. Thank you, son. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Nursing You To Health

January 4, 2011
Tonight I took a breastfeeding class. I am not sure if you will be able to nurse when you are born, but I would sure hope so. I know that my breastmilk is perfectly designed for your body. Isn't that amazing? For nine whole months, a baby grows inside of its momma. During that nine months, my body gets to know you so well that it designs the perfect milk. Whatever your little body needs, my body will produce. Even when you're outside of me, our bodies are so in tune that my milk will change to fit your needs. I just think that is such a beautiful part of God's creation. I want you to have my milk. I know that even if you can't suckle, I want you to be given my milk through a feeding tube. I know it will help you. If there is any medicine that is perfectly designed for you, it is the milk that we produced together.
So I went to the class. It was very informative, but I still had so many questions. Our adventure in feeding will be much different than how she was teaching. I stayed after class to talk with the lactation consultant. I told her my feelings about breastmilk. MY breastmilk. I told her your condition and I told her exactly my wishes when you get here. I am afraid that the doctors and nurses won't allow me to give you my milk. I'm so afraid they will just do what they always do with sick babies. Maybe I'm being naive about the whole topic, but its what I want to try.
As I talked to her, tears welled up in her eyes. She was speechless to hear me speak of you. You are such a little missionary, Charles Patrick. You touch everyone's heart so deeply, and you don't even have a voice. I will be your voice, little boy. I am your mommy and I will take care of your needs. When I say she was speechless, she was truly speechless. She told me that your story is so touching and she couldn't agree with me more. She hopes she's on duty when you are born. I hope so too.

A New Year

December 31, 2010
I cried because in just a few short moments it will be 2011. 2011 is the year you will be born. It may be the year we say good-bye. Either way, I know it will be the end of you inside of me. It makes me sad. I love having you an actual "part" of me.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Dynamic Duo

December 30, 2010
Today's a big day. We had a doctor's appointment at the high-risk doctor, and then we had a meeting with to very special, very important people at the hospital. Our appointment was at 7:30 again this morning. The last time we saw you, you weighed 2 pounds and 14 ounces. You are now 3 pounds and 4 ounces. Way to go, bubby! The doctor said that you are looking good and I didn't have to come to their office anymore if I didn't want to. In 3 more weeks, I'll be 38 weeks. As much as I'd like to say good-bye to 7:30am appointments, I think I want one more report card from you, buster, before you get here! So we made our last appointment in 3 weeks. Our last appointment. I'm so excited to meet you!
After we finished up at the doctor's office, we went and got some breakfast and then headed back to the hospital. We are meeting a fantastic husband and wife team. The husband is the Neonatologist in the NICU and the wife is the hospital chaplain. At some point after your birth, one of these fine people will be at our side. We got to talk to them for about an hour. They were so impressed with you. The doctor asked us if we had any questions and I told him that I didn't really know what to ask. He said the NICU doctors had a meeting last week and they talked about you, Charles Patrick! You're so popular. I can't believe it is still weeks before you get here and the doctors already know you and are preparing for you. I am so impressed. The doctor told us that you have a hole in your heart just between the two chambers. He said this isn't immediately fatal and a baby can sometimes live up to 2 months. Two whole months?? I would be in Heaven. I would give anything for just 2 minutes with you. Two whole months would be a gift from God. Mommy and Daddy told them about our wishes for you. They both thought our decisions were very courageous. You could see in their eyes how much they were touched by our love for you. I loved learning just a little bit more about you today. I am so happy that everyone is on board for you. Everyone is ready to get you here safely. You are amazing and everybody knows it!

Merry Christmas

December 25, 2010
Merry Christmas, baby boy! I woke up early this morning before Daddy woke up. I'm always so excited to see what Santa left us in our stockings. I couldn't help but think of you this morning. I cried, of course. I wonder if I'll get to spend a Christmas with you. They are calling for snow today. Snow is rare in this little ole town of ours, especially at Christmas. This would be the first white Christmas since 1963 if we get some snow today. That was 47 years ago! Phew!
Daddy finally woke up and we headed down to Neena and Poppy's house for Christmas breakfast. We always drive to their house to see what Santa brought your cousin, JayJay. After a little rest, we head to Grandma's house. Uncle Mark, Aunt Jane, Aunt Lisa, Nancy Hunter, Preston, and Will were all there. We played games, ate tons of food, and opened presents. Then guess what?? It started snowing! A beautiful white Christmas all for you! What a special Christmas. I'm so glad you were with me to experience it. Another 47 years may pass before we see it again, but me, you, and Daddy got to enjoy this special event together. I love you so much, baby boy. You are my beautiful gift this Christmas.
When we got home, there was one last gift left under the tree. It was all for you. Daddy and I opened it together. It was a white Dupioni silk romper with matching cap and knit socks. If I have to bury my son, he will be in the finest. I love you, little boy.
Merry Christmas.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Rallying the Troops

December 11, 2010
The community has really come together and supported you, Charles Patrick. I have been so impressed and humbled with all that has been done for you. It just amazes me day by day. You have touched so many hearts. I have to back up a little bit to tell you how.
On November 13th, we had a yard sale on your behalf in our little front yard. It was your Neena's idea. She called her two sisters: Gunkie and Mimi and all of mommy's cousins. She asked them for donations for a yard sale to benefit you. See, we just don't know what to expect when you get here. You may live and you will live in the hospital for a long time. If you get to come home, we will need to turn our house into a hospital too. It will be hard, but I will do whatever I need to help you.
Our sweet family all pitched in. Even your cousins that live 3 hours away drove to our house to deliver some donations for the yard sale. Your Aunt Summer said our yard looked like a Wal-Mart! :)
We woke up early on that Saturday morning and got everything set out. You and me sat in a comfy rocking chair with my Clemson snuggie and rocked and rocked all morning. It was a blast and a huge success! I was blown away. You have an awesome family, sweet boy.
Well when my principal heard about the idea of a yard sale, she wanted to do the same thing. She rallied all the teachers and organized a terrific yard sale today. This time we had it at our school in the gym. The gym was full of stuff. The sale lasted from 8:00am to 1:00pm. In addition to our yard sale, the sweet lunch ladies made 20 cakes to sell. They looked so delicious, I wanted them all. We had a 50/50 raffle. Whatever we raised today, 50% would go to the lucky winner and 50% would go to you! Since it is so close to Christmas time, we had an ornament decorating station where people could buy and decorate a Christmas ornament.
I was very nervous for today for some reason. Its always my biggest fear that no one will show up. It was also a Saturday, I'm sure my teacher friends don't want to spend their Saturday at school. Mommy is so silly, always worrying for nothing. It was a great day. We had a steady flow of customers all day today. One of my sweetest friends stayed such a long time to help out. She always keeps us laughing. She was hiding and throwing things at us when we weren't looking. She also found a giant horse head lamp and galloped around the gym all morning with that silly lamp. I don't know what I'd do without her keeping me smiling. You will love her. We raised so much money for you. The sweet lady that won the 50/50 raffle even said to give all the money to you. So many people love you so much.
There is a sweet little lady at church that always asks about you. No matter our conversation, she always ends by saying, "He is going to be our miracle baby." She is so precious and her faith is so strong. Each time I go to do regular doctor's office, the nurses can't get over us. They are always bragging about how we look and how happy I am. The nurses at the high-risk doctor say that I'm the prettiest momma in their office. Everyone is so kind. It makes me feel good, but I can't help but be happy about you. You are my first child. You are perfect to me! You've got a whole community behind you, Charles Patrick. I get chills just thinking of it.
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