Sunday, March 31, 2013


This blog post includes something some will see as strange, odd or even offensive. This blog post includes pictures of a strange little thing called a...wait for it...a baby...our baby to be exact.

Her name is Claudette Elyse Elliott.
She was delivered to heaven Thursday, November 29, 2012 at 11:30am. She was a whooping 11lbs, 13oz, 20 inches (you can see all the great chub in the pics).

I place a warning because I have received more than one crazy look when I have asked people if they would like to see my daughter. Yes, I realize looking at pictures of a deceased person, let alone a baby, is strange and difficult and frankly uncomfortable at times.  I am not going to lie I was that person with the befuddled look on their face when I heard that people even took pictures of their stillborn...but then that was before I met my daughter!  See, she was ALIVE in spirit! And now we will always be able to look at her whenever we want. But I also understand one of the realities of having a baby born sleeping is most people don't expect (or want) to see the baby. But I feel like it is important to show the humanity of my daughter so that people can understand that indeed HUMANS and not "deformed fetuses" are dying needlessly!

I wish everyone had the clarity of thought and love as my grandma who when asked if she would like to see pictures said in a matter-of-fact and almost offended tone, "why would I not want to see pictures my great-granddaughter?"

BUT if you still don't want to look consider yourself WARNED because here our pictures of our daughter:

Friday, March 29, 2013

Our Story...

Everyone has a story to share. NEVER in a million years would we think our would include losing a child.

Dustin had a mad crush on me, but never let me know for years. He and I worked at V's Italiano Ristorante an intimate little joint that has been around for 50 years and whose motto is "a nice place to fall in love." Our friends all thought it was just that and lots of "couples" popped up from working there. Everyone thought we would be another PERFECT couple. We even got set up on what I thought was a big party for my birthday but instead was intimate dinner for two (thanks Jules).
It wasn't until a long email was sent to me explaining how he felt God had destined us to be together did I realize the depth of Dustin's attraction. Let's just say, I was not as inclined, so I politely said no to his email. You can imagine my surprise when the timid, shy, brown-eyed boy sent ANOTHER email INSISTING I try just one date. He practically said it would be unbiblical not to. So my fundamentalist guilt crept in and I caved!

We went on our first date and saw the dumbest Johnny Depp movie (yes he makes dumb movies) and to the Cheesecake Factory. Dustin can tell you about 1000 other details down to what I am wearing. All I really remember is him asking me how many kids I wanted and me saying you shouldn't ask that on a first date..although I was thrilled he did. The rest as they say is history.

...well not exactly as simple as that. A couple years went by and he asked me to marry him to which I replied no (I had commitment issues don't judge). He later took me back, although I will never understand why and we I officially said yes to his proposal on December 10, 2005 (Which happens to be Claudette's original due date).

We settled in a simple house in simple neighborhood and were in love! Everything was magical even grocery shopping. Things were perfect! Both of us were VERY anxious to start a family and can't tell you how excited we were when we found out we going to do just that.

August 27,2008 changed our worlds in a way that I never knew possible. Just looking at our little Henry Hudson brought me to tears.

We were good parents and did what we thought was right for our first perfect child. Sleep scheduled, breast feeding, organic baby food. We had this parenting thing figured and couldn't wait to have another. That would happen sooner than planned.

October 28, 2009 my dream of having a little girl was fulfilled in the most amazing little pink package. Amelie Cecile is more full of life than anyone I have met.

She LOVES and LIVES every second to the fullest...which is not always as fun as it may seem.  Our little miss slept in the car between errands, was started her on formula at 3 months and to this day she won't eat anything unless it is orange or filled with sugar. Perhaps, we didn't have this parenting thing as nailed as we thought we did?!

Henry and Amelie were our little version of Irish twins and we loved every minute of it (still do). They are best friends and worst enemies and miss each other even if one is gone in the other room. LIFE WAS GRAND! I adored driving around my minivan switching out CD for DVDs and breaking up little toddler disputes.

We moved to a less simple house in a less simple neighborhood to make room for our growing family.

As if life couldn't get better, in May 2011 we were super surprised to find out we were having identical twins. Our dream of 5 kids was happening faster than expected but in perfect order. We would have our little identical girls and then perhaps a baby brother in...oh let's say 2014?!

July 2011 our worlds STOPPED and DEVASTATION HIT! It was the first time we heard those haunting FOUR WORDS,"There is no heartbeat." It was not to be the last.

I thought I would never breathe again! You see my mom (herself a twin) was very ill and I thought somehow having twins would at least keep her alive until they were born. I told the doc, "I can't tell her!" But I did and she was amazing and wise as always. Her health even improved. By this point she had been living with us for several months and was starting to do much better. IN FACT, she was even listed for a KIDNEY TRANSPLANT! I was so excited for her, especially since I am a transplant nurse.

Life started to get back on track. We FINALLY had a positive pregnancy test after almost 9 months of trying. (This trying thing was new for us!) Although we were very excited, we were cautiously optimistic since I had just miscarried the twins.

On Mother's Day 2012, everything turned 90 degrees. My mom was taken via ambulance to the hospital. They told us she needed to be place on a ventilator immediately and were not sure she would get off it. I asked the ER doc if she could talk to her eight children before she was intubated. So my precious mom, weary from the illness with blood gases that were incompatible with life spoke to each child in a way that I never realized before...she loved us all EQUALLY but DIFFERENTLY. We went on to have a week with mom and she died the following Sunday.

On her death bed, I told her I would name this child after her, thinking it was a boy. She immediately laughed and said no one wants a daughter named, Claudette!

A week after I lost my mom almost to the minute, I started hemorrhaging. We went to the ER thinking our baby was gone. Instead we heard, "what an active little GIRL you have in there!" My mom was right, we were having a daughter!

We decided to name her Claudette Elyse...see WHAT'S IN A NAME for details. The months were sad and long and it was hard to go thru a pregnancy without my mom, but I felt forever blessed that we would take baby Claudette home almost 6 months exactly after mom died in the same hospital.

I had 6 days to go. I was HUGE and feeling like I might go sooner. Something felt "different".
It was my last appointment before I was to have my c-section. But Claudette was not to be born in 6 days. She had already died.

THOSE HAUNTING FOUR WORDS AGAIN! "There is no heartbeat."
The next day is documented in her BIRTH STORY.

I was confused. Still am. I don't understand why we would lose both Claudettes. Especially, back to back. It will bewilder me till the day I die.

To say the grieving process has been hard would be the understatement of the year.  But we also feel blessed to have HIS GLORY MEET OUR SUFFERING. 

Now we embark on a new adventure. We always knew we wanted to adopt even before we had any children, but our journey has taken an unexpected turn. We desperately want to bring home a baby. We are ready down to the diaper liners. We know this journey could take us years and years, but we are willing to go where God leads us.

And we know this is no where near the end of our story, which honestly is scary and exciting all at the same time, but as the quote from one of my favorite Michael Card songs go:
For all those who live in the shadow of death
A glorious light has dawned
For all those who stumble in darkness
Behold your light has come.

Our God is with us.
And if God is with us who can be against us?

**Please consider liking our FB page Help the Elliotts Bring Home a Baby so that we might get the word out there about our adoption!

***a very special thank you to Amanda Eaton of Amanda Eaton Photography who took not only these pictures, but many of the pictures for this blog.

FOUR Words

Four words. Small in length, yet their power is like no other set of words placed together.

For those of us who have had baby loss, we recognize their power and the way in which they impact our lives like no other.

On July 31st 2011, I heard them spoken to me for the first time:
"There is NO heartbeat."
It stopped me in my tracts right there and the power of the them has not since been released.

One year ago today, we heard the words every mother longs to hear,

We were sitting in the ultrasound room and felt elated yet cautiously safe. I was 2 months.
I went on to have ultrasound after ultrasound...

I grew to love that sound and I think paced my own heartbeat with hers.

Four months and one day ago, I heard the haunting words again,
"There is NO heartbeat!"

This time I wasn't so easily convinced. NO, YOU LISTEN!!! Pulling the scanner from the tech and handing it to the OB. "I'm sorry. NO." I still wasn't convinced even until the time they laid her precious body in my arms.

These four words connect us all who have lost. For those of us who have lost someone before their time they will forever have power over us.

But on this good Friday, I am choosing to allow four different words to have the ultimate power over me,

"HE is RISEN indeed!"

These words create incredible HOPE for me and YOU...and if you are like me you could use a hefty dose of hope about now!

My mother and daughter's grave.

Friday, March 22, 2013


So I have been seeing a therapist. There I said it! I can almost hear the gasp from my more "conservative" friends over the computer. My work offers 6 free sessions and I decided after a few panic attacks and some bad weeks that it was merited. Turns out they helpful. Who knew?

This week he told me that there are two kinds of people that he sees. Type A are the ones who LEARN AND GROW from their tragedy. Type B are the ones who choose more self destructive behavior to adapt to the tragedy. It is really probably how the whole world is divided:

Not gonna lie, not sure completely where I will end up...kinda teetering between the two right now, but I know which one I want to be and so I will try to continue to make HEALTHY CHOICES (yes another psychotherapy term) to become a survivor on the other end of this.

I have an enormous amount of anger. Which I don't find bad. Heck, M.A.D.D. (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers) was created out of some angry mommies using their voice for a positive change. I feel I am on the cusp of helping foster a change for better.

The week leading up to my mom's death she shared a lot of important information with me. Some of which I am remiss to admit I am already forgetting, some of which is only for her and me but the one piece of information that I will never forget and must be shared is that:
We have but one life and we must live to the height of what God intended for us. Mom whispered to me one day, "people are watching". Anyone who has gone through loss feels the eyes of many on them.

Cindy Crawford was being interviewed about loosing her little brother to leukemia. She says she feels like his death was the BOOSTER ROCKET that thrust her life in action. You know what a booster rocket is?

WIKIPEDIA: A booster rocket (or engine) is either the first stage of a multi-stage launch vehicle, or else a strap-on rocket used to augment the core launch vehicle's takeoff thrust and payload capability. Boosters are generally necessary to launch spacecraft into Earth orbit or beyond. In all cases, the booster is dropped into the ocean once its fuel is expended, a point known as booster engine cut-off (BECO). The rest of the launch vehicle continues flight with its core or upper stage engines. The booster may be recovered and reused, as in the case of the Space Shuttle.

It is the engine that propels the rocket into space but falls off as the shuttle goes of into space. While I have no intention of (or genetics) for being a supermodel, I know EXACTLY what she meant. The loss of my mom and my daughter are MY BOOSTER ROCKET! 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Maternity Leave

I took 12 weeks of maternity leave...that's right 12 weeks. It would have been longer (say forever) but I was forced to return due to a depleted bank account and some things out of our control.

Why do mothers go on maternity leave?
1. To recover from delivery
2. To bond with their baby

So why is it so difficult for me answer to question of where I have been to my co-workers. I think hard and long every time someone ask where I have been. I ultimately always come to same answer, "maternity leave," because...well...that is where I have been. Of course, that often spurs some version of the question, "how is the baby?" To which I respond, "our daughter didn't make it."  To which the other person turns white and quite as a mouse.

I was told today I shouldn't tell people I went on maternity leave, just personal leave. I understand the logic. I mean it makes the other person feel uncomfortable and people think it brings up further sadness for me.  But I did NOT go on personal leave. I went on maternity leave.

Why did I go on maternity leave?
1. To recover from delivery
2. To bond with my baby

Yes, that is correct I used the last 12 weeks to bond with my third child. A beautiful daughter. A daughter I was able to hold and love and carry. A daughter who was precious and inspires me everyday to be a the best mommy I can be. I needed that 12 weeks to look at her, think of her, get to know her, to dream about how she will affect our future and how she changed our past. I used that 12 weeks to foster my love for her.  So I am very thankful I had that time for concentrated healing and bonding!

But I was rare to get this time off. Places of employment don't offer FMLA for bereaved moms. My boss was great and choose to turn her head to my time off, but technically I would have had to go back at 6 weeks post-op and pretty much immediately if I had delivered vaginally.
This just further goes to show how LITTLE WE CARE FOR OUR LITTLES.

Please click here for how you can make FMLA count for a bereaved parent

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Belly, NO Baby

So I completed my first shift last night. It was horrible I am not going to lie. But I survived!
I survived hearing Claudette's birth date all night since my sweet patient had the same birthday. (If you have been in a hospital lately you have to give your name and date of birth for pretty much everything now.)
I survived finding out a nurse was pregnant.
I survived having to explain to my patient why the supervisor said "welcome back" to me...which may have actually worked to my advantage because the cantankerous patient said, "Oh, I guess I will be nice to you tonight then."

At about 11.25 hours in, I was feeling pretty confident in my nursing skills and happy to be back using my brain when I turned around to someone coming at me like a kid in a candy store to my belly.. .
"OHHH, OHHH congrats!!!" <grabs my chubby belly> "CONGRATS!!" <Looks in my eyes> This is the part I think ok she is going to back off. < nervous giggles> "Are you sure you are not pregnant??"

Ok, here is the point I thought I might punch her in the throat. You see this wasn't just a silly person who doesn't understand mommy has had a horrible time loosing the 11 lbs 13oz of baby chub even though she works out daily and barely has put a carb in her month for 8 weeks. This is a person who did almost the SAME EXACT thing to me after I lost the twins. I thought she got it then...but no. She also did it several months later the same day that I took a pregnancy test and had a big fat negative! So as you can imagine I was starting to get a little low on tolerance by now.
I walked away...shaking but calmly. Vented to a sweet friend and was able to leave with out crying...until I hit the car ride home.

Yes, I know what it is like to be asked if you are pregnant and not be pregnant (I have been asked pretty much weekly since I delivered Henry, so I understand people don't get it). I know people make mistakes, so I decided to just let you live in her ignorant bliss, because frankly people shouldn't have to know what a belly and no baby after loosing your child feels like. But, it still hurts and it just reminds me all the more how lonely this journey can be.
Not to self: purchase this shirt before returning to work again

Friday, March 8, 2013

Shadow of My Former Self

Former Self:
  • Confident. I was very comfortable to speaking in large crowds and being surrounded by people.
  • Self-reliant. I would NEVER dare ask for help.
  • Independent. See above. I like to be the CEO, COO and in control of everything in my little world.
  • Funny-loving. Life of the party was a common way people would refer to me.
  • Outgoing. Loved getting out the house at any chance and for anything.
  • Fearless. I was the one who checked on noises in the middle of the night.
  • Easy-going. Thought most people took life too seriously and just needed to enjoy the ride.

  • Timid. I get sweaty and fidgety just talking to two people now. 
  • Needy. I have prepared about 10 meals since it happened and have numerous people helping with childcare and housework.
  • Dependent. I follow my husband around like a sick little puppy.
  • Sappy and emotional. I cry at You Tube videos and Biggest Loser now. (I know most people do anyhow, but I never use to.)
  • Introverted. I would be perfectly content to not leave the house for weeks and have done just that on more than one occasion.
  • Scared. I made my husband put bars over the kids windows so they wouldn't roll out of them while they slept. I have nightmares that wake me up screaming like a child. I ask my husband what the noise is outside every night. "A car door," he says every time. (You would think I would pick on my neighbor's work schedule by now.) 
  • Anxious. This is a BIG one for me. I have panic attacks now. They are embarrassing, debilitating and leave me without sleep for sometime days.

Welcome to grief huh? It is the sad reality that the aftermath of trauma affects our mind and body as well as our hearts.

I have been so upset at the loss of "me" with my the death of my child.

There are incredibly wise people in my life and one of them, who has seen an overdose of loss in her own life, told me the anxiety is simply your body's way of adjusting to the mental stress. It makes sense.
We look at grief as such a spiritual journey we forget the physical aspects.
And I am finding that as difficult as it may be to walk around as a shadow it actually helps me be the person God designed me to be in more natural way. Without those physical trials I would still be the independent person who thought she control everything on her own. Now, I may be a needy, scared child at times, but..

I have no choice but to lean on others.

I have no choice but to cry out for God.

These are lessons I am thankful that God loves me enough to teach me.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Why I "LIKE" Facebook

WHY I Facebook:

1. I  LIKE venting. I mean who doesn't like posting about the bratty kids next to them at Chic-fil-a.(Oh no, that means someone has posted about my kids too...oops.)

2. I  LIKE telling people I am pregnant with twins and getting 98 notes of congratulations and equal if not more likes.

3. I LIKE telling those same 98 people I miscarried my twins at one time. It was hard enough to type the words out. I can't imagine having to relive my story dozens and dozens of times via the phone or face to face conversations.

4. I LIKE seeing my nieces and nephews that live in a bunch of different states and hearing stories about them at a whim. (BTW you can HIDE the person who post a bizzion pics of their kids...see now you have no excuse to be annoyed with me!)

5. I LIKE birthdays! I mean who doesn't like pretty much EVERY one of their friends remembering the day of their birth, let alone wishing them a happy birthday on the actual day? Makes a person feel special, I tell ya.

6. I LIKE getting to know people better. Yes, I know social media is a poor replacement for in person but it still helps me to understand a lot of people on a deeper level than I would of otherwise.

7. I LIKE that I don't have to go to my HS reunion now...or at least if  I do it will be for the right reasons, not just to see who got fat.

8. I LIKE that I can create an illusion. I have taken a picture of me in my house at 5pm wherein I didn't look bloated and you couldn't see the tornado the toddlers had created all day. GENIUS.

9. I LIKE reality TV. Enough said.

10. I LIKE hearing about what social and political views matter to my friends (seriously!) and seeing post about how ignorant I would be if I don't agree with said social and political post (not seriously!).

11. I LIKE sharing my own social and political views and shoving those views down my friends throat.

12. I LIKE sharing and creating pages about things I think need to change and reaching 100s if not 1000s in one quick swoop. Pages such as this CLICK HERE. (Told you I shoved!)

13. I LIKE you. I get to call all 651 of you my "friends" whether we have met or not. Isn't that why we are all on Facebook?

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Hi Ho Hi Ho It's Off to Work I Go...

Hey Sweet Cheeks,

So mommy's "maternity leave" ends this week. My first official shift will be on daylight's savings time. Kinda lucked out there since I will only have to work 11 hours instead of 12 hours. Who am I kidding? It will still be 12 hours!

I am a bit anxious about it. Instead of spending my first shift showing off pictures of you and having extra breaks to pump, it will just be a "normal" shift back after three months off and almost six long months from working on the unit.  I don't know if I am more concerned about those who don't know about what happened or those who do. I am trying to prepare myself for both.

I am different person now. Returning seems so odd. Unnatural in a way. As you know I attempted to quit, but that didn't work out. But I am also a bit excited about it. It will be nice to have adult conversations (no offense) despite the fact they happen at usually around 3 am. It will also be nice to get back a large part of who I am.

I am nurse in my soul and it is hard to be away from bedside care for so long. The excitement of the hospital is unparalleled. As any nurse will tell you it is a love/hate relationship.

Let's be real though, the real reason I am returning is to get some DOUGH! Mommy and daddy are worn thin by now, so we are anxious to start earning some money to pay back hospital bills and hopefully get you a headstone soon. But the real DRIVE to earn money is to start raising money for adopting a sister or brother for you. I know you approve!  Heck, I feel like you are pushing me the hardest for this.

Everyone is being so wonderful to help, Claudie! IT IS AMAZING!! Only God could ordain such an outpouring of love!

I want you to know something, hunny: just as I did when I returned after your siblings were born, I will think of you EVERY SECOND of my first shift back! No I won't be wondering if daddy is feeding you on time or if you are sleeping ok, but I will be thinking of you just the same.

See ya soon!