Friday, December 18, 2015

2015: The Elliott Family

I hate addressing cards and sending them. Most times I don't finish them until months later. I am horrible at it. But I am going to make myself feel better and say I am helping out the environment by sending a digital Christmas Letter this year. So here goes...

2015 was incredible year for our family.

I unfortunately had to spend a good part of the beginning of it in/out of the hospital and high risk doc's visits, but it TOTALLY was worth every second when Theodore Lee Elliott graced this earth with his presence on April 12. He was perfect in every way and has brought joy that is indescribable to our family. 

We were able to do a lot of traveling this Summer, including an epic trip when we packed up all the kids including 9 week old Teddy and my niece AKA baby whisperer, Marya, and traveled over 2000 miles total to Disneyland in July. Teddy did incredible in the car and the rest of us heard 999 of the 1000 jokes out of Henry's joke book he decided to read to us. I will be happy if I never hear another knock-knock joke again. It was a magical time and we are so happy we were lucky enough to do it.

We have committed to traveling WAY more as a family and are planning our trip for this summer. Henry wants Banff, Canada. Amelie wants Branson. The cheese making  factory on the way down was enough to inspire a life time of return visits for her.  This pretty much sums up their personalities.

In August Amelie started kindergarten at the same french immersion school Henry attends. She ADORES it and speaks and especially sings french very well already. Henry is thriving as a 1st grader and excels at math and English skills the most. As his teacher says he is an old, wise soul in the body of a seven year old.

The both get on the bus everyday except on days that I sub as the school nurse, then mommy gets to go to school with them. They love having me there.

As if our home town couldn't get better, Kansas City celebrated a  ROYAL win as WORLD SERIES CHAMPS! We joined over 3/4 a million of our closest friends and went to the parade downtown. 

Our beloved city continues to be lit up in blue and we love it!

In November just days before the third anniversary of Claudie's death, we had to put down our beloved black lab/border collie mix, Faith. It was extremely hard for all of us. Hattie (our 3 year old shih tzu dog) is taking it most hard losing her big sis.

Thankfully, the Shermans (my sister Audra's family), the Groners (my sister Allyson and her family) and my brother John and niece Renee came for Thanksgiving and were able to give our family a much needed fun distraction.

Dustin continues work very hard at his engineering job wherein he takes lead on the Gateway Project. So if you are frustrated by roadwork you can take it up with him. He diligently provides for our family while balancing home life. His company is so happy to have him...and so are we!

The holiday season has been packed with pageants and festivities. Amelie and I were able to attend The Nutcracker from the KC Ballet. It was so special. 

Santa visits were interesting this year in which Henry decided to go rogue. His original plan was to ask for a nintendo DS but once he say Santa he decided to ask for a St. Bernard puppy. (NO WE ARE GIVING HIM ONE! And if you think it's a good idea the dog can stay at your home). 

Teddy is LOVING discovering Christmas. The lights and sounds and especially the trains at Union Station are his favorite.

Overall, 2015 has been a great one. We are so blessed to have each and every one of your in our lives and hearts.

The Elliotts
Dustin, Alyvia, Henry 7, Amelie 6, and Theodore 8 months

Monday, December 14, 2015

Three years later: WE FORGOT

We made a promise to these first graders to not forget...

I told myself as I sat on my couch watching on the TV the horrific coverage weeks after burying my own daughter, I would never forget. But we have forgotten. We have forgotten the innocent faces of little first graders forced to die in fear at the hands of a coward hiding behind an assault rifle.

We have forgotten the 100s of lives that have since met similar fate and will continue to meet similar fate.
Rhetoric and political agenda has made us forget that goal for innocent lives to be saved!

Shame on us for not pouring ourselves into research to provided data on prevention like we do on other matters like drunk-driving, drug-overdosed, and SIDS.
Instead, the fear paralyzes us from doing anything that would promote any real change.
But do me a favor: look into the eyes in the picture above. Imagine they are your first grader, your brother/sister, your nephew/niece, grandchild. Imagine they are the little child's voice you hear playing outside every evening when you arrive home from work.

Here are some tweets shortly after Sandy Hook from parents:

Picking up my 9YO from school today was shockingly hard. Sadness, anger, and also reason, screaming for us to talk about

I can't believe anyone believes the solution to this problem is more guns. I'm going to enjoy my weekend w/my kid & hope common sense wins.

7yo: "It should be impossible for people to get guns." No kidding.

Please, I know several of your first reactions are going to be to dismiss those tweets for various reasons and some of those reasons might be valid. But please answer why does a human being need to own an assault rifle? Sure there might be reasons for handguns for personal protection, and rifles for hunting but an assault rifle??!! And sure people can still use any gun or a knife or a stick for that matter to kill someone. But, aside from a bomb, an assault rifle is the only other single thing used to others so quickly.

And for those of you who continually state, it's a HEART problem, not a gun problem. I urge you to think first of the logic of that. . It's also a heart problem to drink and drive. We have laws against that. Should we do away with them? It's also a heart problem to rape someone. Welp, if someone wants to rape someone they will. So let's do away with that law too. Of course it's a heart problem, OUR HEART problem. EVERY SIN IS A HEART PROBLEM. BUT THE ONLY HEART WE HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT IS OUR OWN AND FRANKLY MY HEART CAN HANDLE ANOTHER INNOCENT PERSON DYING NEEDLESSLY!

For those of you who want to create positive change there are some things you can do to support it:
This is a great group similar to M.A.D.D. on FB that does walks and lots of other great things to promote awareness and research as well on info on what politicians are doing and what they are not doing to help the cause:

This is another great site for Sandy Hook victims that helps us keep our promise:

And for all the hateful responses I have gotten on the past on this topic and the ones I am soon to get in the future, I will reiterate: It IS a heart issue...your heart and MINE and I am only responsible for mines, so I will not engage in futile debates.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Stop Saying, "I will pray for you."

Okay, so the title might be a bit misleading. I am not going to stop saying, "I will pray for you" ever again, but I am going to try to say it less and do more.

I mean I know I am not alone here. If someone post on FB a need or hurt in their lives and we say, "I will pray for you."

If you are like me you either :
1. stop what you are doing and immediately say a quick prayer.
2. Add them to a mental prayer list and hope that their status comes up in your feed later when you are less busy so you can pray then.
Or 3. Simply forget to pray completely for them after you have said you would. Too bad I am not catholic cuz I sure could use some "hail Mary's" for how many times I have done that one.

Don't get me wrong prayer is VERY important, powerful and life-changing. I am writing this as my infant son, who I believe is here directly as a result of tons of prayers from some of you and myself, lays napping next to me. Read my FB, I obviously pray and believe in prayers and think they are very important. Heck, my cousin's 6 month old son is recovering from open heart today and needs tons of prayers and I have pleaded for them from my FB praying family, because what a better platform for prayer request.

But while it is fine and GOOD to pray for one another as Christians, isn't that a given. When someone reaches us out to us, shouldn't we be the hands and feet of Christ and not just the often empty words.

Let me give you an example. My mom is deceased and I don't want to throw her under the bus but I think she changed so much as she came closer to her death bed that she would appreciate me telling this.

My mom was a super mom. Like really incredible mom of 8 kids, had a horrible case of Rheumatoid Arthritis that left her in excruciating pain most of her life but still did it all seemingly seamlessly, including make all 3 meals a day by scratch, homeschooling us kids and most of our life nannied for other children full time. Enough said.

When I was in younger another woman in our church reached out to my mom and asked for help on how she seemed to have it all together. My mom's response was to push it off in embarrassment.

My brother said, "mom, you should go to her and help her! That is what she asking!"
My mom's response back was, "Oh I can't help her. I will pray for her."

But my brother was right! Yes, my mom was right to pray for her, but what she needed and what could have answered HER prayers was to HELP her. My mom could help her. While she saw it as embarrassment to be seen as a mom who had it together when she thought she didn't, that vulnerability would have been very helpful to this other mom in crisis.

I mean it's silly if we think about it right? If we were in a boat drowning and looked at person in the big ship and said "HELP!" We want them to throw a life-jacket, not scream back to us, "I will pray for you!"

Well, friends I am here to tell you, your friends are screaming HELP! Some of these of friends may even be atheist. Saying, I will pray for you when you can do tangible things that actually help them isn't being Christ like. In fact, it feels a bit like a cop-out.
Okay, I said I was praying for you, you know I care.
Think of how loving that really is, especially to someone who doesn't believe there is anyone out there actually listening to your prayers. I am not saying to not pray, but what I am saying is to DO!

We tend to talk and quote verses and do a lot of rhetoric as Christians. But when you read the bible, there isn't that much in red when you really think about it. Maybe, I am reading my bible incorrectly, but I just don't see the verse where people struggling with sin and life are met with I will pray for you.  Of course, he does go to God on our behalf, but his tangible ACTIONS are how we see that HE is the son of GOD!

If we are striving to be like sons and daughters of God, then I urge you to think differently the next time someone says I am having a bad day. Instead of I am praying for you, maybe ask why their day bad. Or maybe buy them lunch. Or send them a card. Yes, we can even do this over FB for people we have never met in real life. I say this as someone who has recipient of such love over the last 3 years. In fact, this blog post was inspired by others who have taught me when someone's mom dies you GO to the funeral. YES, even if you didn't know her mom. And when someone says, they aren't feeling well you have pizza hut delivered to their door for the kids and husband that are feeling well. Simple things like just inboxing a friend a word of encouragement when they post publicly a struggle can CHANGE LIVES PEOPLE!

My pastor said something Sunday that keeps resonating this week, Paul would be ashamed of us for being Sunday to Sunday Christians. You know what I mean. You come to church and then you say see you next Sunday, have a nice week. Or maybe see you Wednesday if you are a really good Christian. Yes, I know life is different 2000+ years later. We all can't walk the road to Damascus and check on our brothern everyday. But, in some ways it's easier. We all have text and FB and tons of ways to communicate and regularly encourage and love on each other as a COMMUNITY OF CHRIST.

I am rambling now but my point is maybe, just maybe I can do MORE than pray next time. I know I am going to try.


Monday, October 26, 2015

Just Show UP

A few weeks ago on a daily conversation to my sister  she informed of this new plan she had to just show up for things. Like you know everyone of her three kids thirty birthday parties a year they are invited to, all the extracurricular things at her church, school and social calender while working full time AND going to school for her MBA.

I promptly told her she was crazy.

See my husband and I decided exactly the opposite after Claudie died. We were over-committed. We decided both directly and indirectly to hide from the cruel world within the comfort of our home with Netflix and take out.

But then on another call to my sister a few days later she told me an incredible story. That weekend they were incredibly busy and made a point to take their daughter to her kindergartener classmate's bday party. It was the beginning of September and they didn't even know this little girl yet. But they made every effort to go Saturday, only to find out it was the following day. Tempted to give up, my sister decided to follow through on her goal of showing up and went Sunday. Upon arriving to the park, my sister wanted to turn the car around. No other kids were there. It was mainly what appeared to be aunts and uncles and grandparents. The little girl and others were so excited about my niece's presence that there was no turning back however. My sister quickly noticed there was a solemn overtone to the event. Then the birthday girl announced I wished my daddy was here.  The grandma seeing my sister was confused said her son, the birthday girl's daddy, had been killed in a car wreck over the summer. This was there first celebration since. My sister showed up. In turn her daughter showed up. In turn it could become about a little girl turning 6 a little bit more and the sting of a missing daddy a little bit less.

Then a few days later on a rare alone time on my bike and ear buds, I heard the lyrics to this Rachel Platten song:
She dreams of where she's never been
Her story starts where it should end
And she keeps a bible close 
And folds the pages down she needs the most
The faded walls are closing in
So in her head she leaves again
And they've painted ceilings blue and green
And brilliant colors she's never seen

And nothing ever happens if you stay in your room
Nothing ever happens if you leave the party too soon
You'll never be a winner if you're not in the game
Nothing ever happens if you always play it safe
Make a little space and get out of your own way

A ticket out sits on her shelf
But gathers dust upon itself
Cause chasing chance is for the brave
Maybe soon she'll feel that way

But nothing ever happens if you stay in your room
Nothing ever happens if you leave the party too soon
Nothing ever happens if you don't get hurt
Nothing ever happens if you never get dirty
Make a little space and go on, get out
Go on, get out 

Leave what you don't need
You're free and the pieces will fall into place
You and you only
Who can make a little space and... and get out of your own way

She sees the sunlight through the cracks
It's only her who holds her back and... 
And so she takes her deepest breath
Shuts the door and walks down the steps

And nothing ever happens if you stay in your room
Nothing ever happens if you leave the party too soon 
Nothing ever happens if you're not in the game
And nothing ever happens if you always play it safe
Make a little space and get out of your own... 

Oh, get out of your own way
Get out of your own 
Oh, get out of your own way
Get out of your own way

I get it. Show up! 
...but seriously was that song written about me? Is Rachel Platten stalking me?

So tonight I knew I had to show up to this Story Teller's Event from women who had learned to trust God despite pain and loss at a local church...period pimple and all (you know, you know what I am talking about).

It was so incredible to see women speaking words of vulnerability and ugliness and watching into turn into beauty and light. 

One comment (or at least what I got from the comment) stuck with me from a women whom had struggled with infertility for years, often we pray for God to bring us THROUGH the time of suffering, when really IN the time of suffering is God's gift to us. 

So thanks sis and sistas' in Christ for the lesson. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Slow Leak

It started over 3 years ago at the precise second my mom drew her last breathe.
You could even hear me make a loud exhale.
The leak popped.
I knew in that moment life would never be the same.

A big nail was lodged right in the middle and unless I patched it quickly I would soon have a flat. At first I/we tried everything to patch it up and make the best out of a horrible situation.
Special gatherings in mom's honor. Tense, but healing.

But it is always there. You can hear it in the background. The settle buzz of air leaking at every turn. The big turns create even a louder buzz of leaking air.
Fourth of July.
I worry that one day I will wake up with a flat beyond repair.

The fact is there is a hole that can only be fixed by a mom-shaped patch. It's insidious leak effects every aspect of life. Teddy's giggles aren't the same without mom's giggles in response. The days I long to hold my Claudie is harder without mom there to understand. There is nothing that can change that.


This is my new normal.

No it is not all depressing and horrible, but now every joyous moment brings a tinge of sadness. Every hard moment makes me long for mom's wise counsel.

Although hard to swallow, this is not a bad thing. This is LOVE and evidence that I had it unconditionally in my life for 31 years by a human being who cannot be replaced. What a great gift.

Monday, May 11, 2015

A Gift From God

Everyone likes a happy ending.

A distinct start and a distinct stop to a story.

This is why we love movies and get so upset when the artsy/fartsy ones leave us hanging without a clear ending or an unhappy one.

I haven't blogged in a while. A long while. It's been hard for me. Not because I don't have anything to say. I just felt pressure to write a final chapter of some sort. My mind and heart were so confused on what to say and how to say it.

But I am ready to try. Tomorrow marks a month since Theodore Lee Elliott came into our lives. He came out screaming and I couldn't stop laughing hearing his screams. See I had prayed and asked many others to pray we would hear a cry upon his arrival. It was the hardest thing for us not hearing Claudie's cries and I just needed to hear his as soon as he arrived. Well,  I think I prayed too hard or asked to many people to pray because his cries turned to screams and he didn't stop. I kept giggling uncontrollably through the tears even when his cries stopped and contentment set in the moment he came close to my face and I could smell him and take in his incredible beauty.

We named him Theodore because it meant gift from God.  (Get it now? As in in Teddy Bear, hence Baby Bear. See I told you I already told you all his name.)

It was a magical day. The day started off stormy and i noted the clouds parting from the large window in my labor room right as I was being wheeled off to my c-section.

I remember thinking if there is a rainbow in the sky I am going to totally eat my words. For those who don't know there is a term called rainbow baby. It is for a child that is born after the loss of the previous baby. I have been vocal about my distaste for the term because first off not everyone gets their rainbow. Secondly, I feel it makes children interchangeable. As if one baby heartbeat negates the one that didn't.

The statement that goes along with rainbow baby is:

After every storm there is a rainbow.
The rainbow does not negate the storm, but is a promise of God's blessing to us.

 (this is one definition, there are variations)

But this statement simply isn't accurate. First off, Claudie was our rainbow and she died. Also, there are tons of people who simply will not have another child after their loss. Secondly, it is taken scripture a bit out of context. A rainbow is God's promise but he never says if I take a child, I will replace it.

I still feel this way but I have to say as the months went on with my pregnancy with Theodore I started to understand the rainbow term a bit more. The pain and suffering of our loss was being replaced with the promise of a newborn and a future with another child. The immediate moments after Theodore was born I felt like an idiot for ever thinking rainbow was a bad term. I was elated. I felt peace that had been missing since our first miscarriage in 2011.  I held him in our arms and I thought this is it! It was all worth it for this.
I began to believe it for the next few days. Theodore filled a void in our world. Big brother Henry and big sis Amelie were happier than I have ever seen them. Friends and family rejoiced in a way I didn't realize how deeply they had been affected by our losses.

Then as the days went on, something felt wrong. It hit softly at first. I would sob quietly as I fed my newborn in my arms in the overnight hours. I attributed it to hormone shifts. Then Mother's Day came and it hit me, HARD.  It was NOT all worth it. Teddy's life wasn't worth Claudie's life. They are two distinct human beings. Two separate souls. I felt guilty. Guilty for trying to replace our daughter. Guilty for not being able to give others our happy ever after they all wanted so deeply for us. I want so badly to have the happy ending, the final chapter to a long, pain-ridden story. This is not the way life actually happens though. Life is not a straight path with some ups and downs in between.

My mom knew she would die for one week before she passed. She knew this reality on Mother's Day three years ago and she had until Thursday evening to say things most of us will never get the chance to. Something that has struck me about that time with her is there was no final grand statement to summarize her life. Sure there were lots of profound statements to each of us and tons of intimate moments but no dramatic quote at the end of her book. Instead her last remarks were about the life that was to come.

I see it! The light. Do you see it? I am ready- my mom said faintly in her last few breathes.

It seemed to us as earth-dwellers that her book was on its last page, but as a Christian she realized her life was not ending but she was transitioning into something everlasting and beautiful.

I guess what I am trying to say is while Theodore is an incredible answer to prayer, he isn't an answer to our daughter's death. I wouldn't want that incredible burden for my a child to carry anyhow. He is another chapter in a book, another chapter in a beautiful, rollercoastered, loopied-looped, upside down, backwards, sideways book that will last forever and will reach its perfection only after we die--THIS is ever-lasting promise is that God gives in the form a rainbow!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Prayers Answered

So after my last blog entry, you might have a clue to the anxiety that has crept in and continues to get worse and worse with each passing week.

It became clear to Dustin and I that going past 38 weeks would be very hard for us since it was the week we lost Claudette. Actually, her autopsy put her time of death sometime within 48 hours of her 37 week biophysical profile.

This is what terrifies the most. That we can perform all the test available but still lose her so quickly after they are normal.

We decided we would ask very direct questions and try to have the docs understand the need to take the baby some where before 38 weeks, even if nothing was showing up wrong. We came up with a script of sorts we would take to our docs at today's 34 week scan. I was anxious about doing this because I didn't really know if it was best to take him sooner. Was I letting my anxiety get in the way of rational thinking?

I grew more anxious thinking about this and decided to bring very direct prayers to God. I prayed all night that it would be clear. That we wouldn't have to make a decision, but it would be made for us. I walked to my car praying out loud like a mad person, not even realizing what I was doing until I got a strange look from the guy walking next to me. I prayed things like, "make her [our doc] answer the questions we don't even know we have."

We went into my weekly BPP not expecting much from him, since he failed last week's for practice breathes. He exceeded our expectations and then some. He was showing offsomething fierce. The sonographer kept saying things like, "you don't want to do a NST today little boy! Wow, you are so active!" It was such a relief. He kept licking his fingers...odd... and opening his eyes...more odd. He was cracking us up and couldn't believe how much he looks like his daddy.

After getting lots of great pics we waited for the doc. Both of us still thinking we need to talk to the doc
about what to do with the next few weeks of this pregnancy. As we were discussing the door knocks, in walks our high risk OB and says, "I need to ask you something. Because of your erratic blood sugars and your history are you open to doing an amnio and taking the baby if lungs are okay at 37 weeks? This would be April 10."

I almost fell out of my chair. I had envisioned this baby being born on April 10th since the day I found out I was pregnant. I knew 38 weeks was too scary, 36 weeks was too early. 37 was what I hoped for. We discussed risk/benefit of the amniocentesis versus steriods ect and agreed this was a good game plan.
So in 17 days we will hopefully meet our son!!

We are still in a bit of shock, in fact Dustin said that is too soon for me. I laughed thinking he was joking. He wasn't! He said no I think that is too soon, I have a lot to get done before that date at work and I don't think I can do it. I ever so kindly, restrained my pregnant-hormonal self and said, "I want you to think about what you just said and then speak to me."

He nervously smiled, kissed me and said, "I have to get to office and get 2 months of work done in 2 weeks."

Daddy's nerves are setting in. I get it, but this momma feels more at  peace and  confident in the first time since we found out I was pregnant. Everything seems to be falling into place. In fact, when I was getting my EKG, the EKG tech and I started speaking and she is a volunteer at Alexandra House, a place for baby hospice and fetal/baby loss, and she helped make the care package I got when we lost Claudie! I mean really?? What are the chances.

So now mommy and nervous daddy have a plan, a date, and serious dose of HOPE!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Ramblings of a Pregnant Woman with Dead Babies...and other thoughts on pregnancy after loss

It's 3:30am.
We have maternity pictures in the morning, something I never got to do with the other babies.
I need to sleep, but I am still too anxious.
At 1:30am but was awaken by the lack of moment within my 34 week preggo belly.
It dawns on me I haven't felt any movement since the day before.
This is rare. I am usually awoken with kicks and rolls and stretches within.
I try not to panic and call my husband who is sleeping in the guest room (his turn) since he has been snoring so much it keeps me up at night.
He hesitantly comes to my bedside.
I am glad for his hesitancy. It means I am just over-reacting...again.
He places a hand on my belly.
"I feel a kick," he says tiredly.
I don't.
Get the Doppler from the top drawer of the baby room, I say.
He is getting more grouchy.
If the baby is dead, I will blame this on his lack of attention.
If the baby is alive, I will be thankful for his lack of acting alarmed.
I start to wonder off to when I knew something was wrong with Amelie's leg and he didn't think anything was wrong. He was mad I went to the doctor.
She had two broken leg bones.
I should have trusted my mommy gut then.
Was I ignoring it now?
I am so tired I want to go to sleep. Surely, I wouldn't be this sleepy if my mommy radar was alarming.
We both struggle to find a heartbeat over 80BPM for a long time.
Dustin changes the frequency. 153, 158, 164, 157. Lub dub, lub dub, lub dub.
I breathe for the first time in over an hour.
Wait, what if it is just okay for the minute. We can't tell accels and decels on a home Doppler.
The baby does a big flip within me.
I try to relax.
I look into my husband eyes and ask do you think he is okay?
This will make it his fault this time if he is isn't. I can't handle the guilt of a fourth baby dying within me.
He blankly states, "I think so."
He seems honest. It's not much but it will have to do.
"Goodnight. Want me to stay with you?"
No, I need to sleep, I state through the tears.
He hugs me and goes back downstairs.
But I don't sleep. I lay there and wonder.
Time for another blood sugar.
It's a little low.
Maybe that's why he won't move much.
I drink some juice.
Another 1/2 hour ticks by.
He likes the juice and kicks and kicks within like a little Thumper kicking his hind bunny legs.
I am grateful. But I still can't sleep.

When I miscarried the twins, each week my hope and faith grew. Then at full term when all my faith had returned, bam there were those horrible words again, "There is no heartbeat."
It happened quickly. We were told it could happen quickly again.

Each week gets harder and harder. Each day feels as if I am walking further into a fire within my own house, but I must go because my child is within it's suffocating walls. It's my job to save him.

I tell my living children all the time that courage is not the absence of fear, but acknowledging the fear and still doing the task at hand anyway.
My kids have inspired me day after day with their courage.
I need to inspire them, but really what I WANT to do is hide under my blankets and cry until he is born dead or alive.

I read a blog a few days ago that said being a mom is a choice, so basically stop calling it a job or anything else and go about your business.
I agreed with this sentiment in the beginning, but I have changed a bit of my thinking as I lay here now almost 4am.

We like to think we choose and decide all the outcomes of our lives. We decided when we will get married and to whom and how many child we will or won't have. This simply isn't the case. Just ask the woman who has been trying to conceive for years, despite her best efforts.
We use words like we "lost a baby" as if it was game we didn't win but better luck next time. As if the outcome of these children's lives are in our hands. Ask the woman who did everything perfectly during her pregnancy and still has a dead baby with no answers as to the why.
Sure we can use contraception to try to plan our futures, but this is not a guarantee. Ask the mom who finds herself pregnant after a tubal ligation.

The fact is that EACH birth whether planned or not, whether wanted or not IS A GIFT, an enormous miracle of a gift that only happens when a thousand factors align.
We don't have control of whether we win or lose. Not ultimately. This is scary. But this is what ultimately will help me fall asleep.

God is holding my son in his arms as he nestles me to rest. He is has the first, middle and final say on what is and isn't to be. This isn't to say I can't or shouldn't do my part in being a responsible mom and human being, but for now it means I don't have to worry if about whether or not we will meet this baby on this side of eternity.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Dead Babies Everywhere

Sorry about the morbid title.
The sad truth is, it is the truth.

When I lost Claudette a little over two years ago, I remember wondering how I could post it to social media. No one could possibly handle that in their newsfeed. But I knew I had to. I was getting text of people thinking I went into labor and I need one broad statement to inform.

My sister, Audra helped me come up with the words to say. I quickly pushed "send" and jumped into the shower. By the time I got out of the shower messages and words of encouragement were pouring in from people close and some I have never met before. It took my breathe away for months and the years that followed I go back to those words for hope and refuge regularly.

I did not realize was the total number of babies that actually die EVERY. SINGLE. MINUTE in this country.  It blew me away when I quickly learned of friends of friends who had a stillborn or infant loss, people I walked next to every day walking a similar journey.

In the beginning stages it was helpful to reach out to those who had walked a similar path and hear what helped them. I soon became an unwanted veteran of sorts and the was the go to person for others who had lost a child.  Part of me felt this was my calling. I am a vocal person and felt I could do a lot to help give the voiceless a voice, I still feel this way. But as I go past my two years on this journey, 7 plus months pregnant with an extremely high risk pregnancy I don't think I can hear EVERY SINGLE MINUTE of my life about other baby dying. My newsfeed is filled with support groups of those walking the same journey as us. But it's not just social media. If you have lost a child, then you learn of every other child that dies it seems.

True story:
Me: Hey friend! I haven't seen you in a while.
Friend: Oh man, I am glad I ran into you. I just had a neighbor loose their baby last week.

I get it. I can relate. You need tips and suggestions on what to say. You want me to understand I am not alone. I don't want people to stop coming to me with stories of loss, but it just feels like loss is all there is you know?  It's impossible to not offer some insight or encouragement to heartbroken, but it is wearying on me heavily.

Don't get me wrong I want more than anything as my life's goal to decrease the amount of unnecessary deaths of babies, but I can feel myself going numb to the thousands of deaths that surround me. I feel myself cocooning inside myself as a defense mechanism. I do NOT want to become desensitized to each and every of a human being, but it is just a lot you know?

I think I just need some time. I need some positivity that there are living babies everywhere as well and to hang on with all the limited hope I have to muster.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Trial Period

As most of you know, we have been on a trial period home from the hospital since Monday evening. The hope was I would be able to continue the same regimen without IV insulin at home and stay home.
Well, this simply has not been the case.

The good news is my blood sugars are short of perfect for the entire day and night...until 6am.
What happens at 6am, you ask? Am I getting up and eating a snickers?

Well in keeping my blood sugars between 55-110 all the time, the body gets nervous when you fall asleep so you don't pass out and die. Good right? Well yes if you're not pregnant. See there is this thing called the dawn affect. Basically, your liver has stored forms of sugar and fat called glucagen. This is only released when your body is in crisis like hypoglycemia.

Well since I am having what my body percieves as hypoglycemia, even though the range is okay during pregnancy, at or around 3am my body releases lots of glucagen or an "internal snickers bar" to compensate and keep me safe. So I get all of the calories and fat and none of the fun. What it is really doing is rebounding my blood sugar back up to a way too high number. This fasting blood sugar when higher than 100 has been proven to cause problems with diabetic babies. Mine is often in the 200s, even though just 3 hours previous it was 60-80s.

So just give me more insulin at that time right? Traditionally, this has worked. But for some reason my body bottoms out on any insulin I get overnight and refuses to go down after 5-6am. This is what put me in the hospital last time, because I need IV insulin quickly to get it down in a safe range.

We decided over the course of the hospital stay we turn off the pump. It was contradictory to everything I know about diabetes, but I was having absorption issues and it was leaking a lot because of the demand I was putting on it, requiring so much insulin. I am now on old school injections 6 times a day and wearing a sensor (which is horrible!) to quickly detect highs or lows. The sensor reads sugars every 2-5minutes and alarms when unstable. The problem is they are very unreliable in pregnancy. However, it has helped us look at trends a bit and we have come to the conclusion, well..that is just HARD! Really HARD.  The docs are stumped. I am stumped. And we are running out of options.

We go today to talk to the doctor in the office and decide the next game plan. It may mean turning my pump back on overnight and using it in conjuction with the shots, but we tried that before and it didn't work any better. Also, that plan means another hospital stay to regulate the numbers.

There is also some things we can do to normally "trick" the body, like give a bigger snack at night to prevent the lows from happening in the first place or time the insulin differently. We have tried IT ALL!

As you can imagine we are growing weary and nervous. I am 27 weeks tomorrow and we just need this baby be okay. I am not sure we handle the loss of another child. Keep in mind delivering a diabetic baby, especially a boy, early causes lots of breathing issues. But we feel very confident in our NICU and docs to perform the correct treatment plan if that needed to happen. We don't forsee an early delivery, but when exactly to deliver will be tricky. I am trying every moment to do my part. In fact, I have barely slept in days between the 25-30 finger sticks and injections and alarms and treatments of lows and highs. It is actually a little nicer being in the hospital on the that front because I can at least sleep a little easier through the nights and know someone will come recheck my blood sugar so I don't have to stay awake the whole time.

I am sorry for this detailed and probably over medical post, but I am hearing from lots of people tips and suggestions on how to control my diabetes. I love all care people are giving us, but the fact is ultimately I am doing my best with the teams of incredibly educated docs and it still isn't enough. That is the sad fact. Diabetes is a killer. We know it killed our last child, despite the best control I had with any pregnancy. We are trying to give our son the best chance of survival and also keep me from having the least impacts on my body we can. It is a delicate balance with often no rhythm or reason.

We appreciate your support and kind words more than we can say. Please don't interpret this message as negative. We still have tons of hope for this child, but this is our reality and want you all to be aware of it.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Expect the Unexpected

If there is one thing Dustin and I have learned through the last few years is that the only thing you can expect to happen is exactly what you didn't expect to happen.

Today was an extensive doctor appointment and fetal echo. My diabetes is causing little reason for concern right now...unexpected and exciting.

After a look at every crevice and cranny of Mr. Man's ticker, we got to see his face. OH MAN! They should warn you when they turn on the  3D screens that is like looking at your baby for the first time.

I can't even say he is cute, because he is GORGEOUS!

After the almost 90 minute sono was complete the sonographer stated she need to review some things and would be back in ten minutes. What seems like over an 1/2 hour later, she returned with very unexpected news.

In one of the chambers of baby bear's heart is a spot called Echogenic intracardiac foci (EIF) or basically a calcium deposit on the the heart. This is a soft marker for Down's Syndrome. It does NOT mean our child has Down's Syndrome. As most people know Down's Syndrome has many soft (unclear) and some hard (clear) markers for diagnosis. We opted to do a DNA blood test that would confirm with 90% accuracy if he does indeed have Down's.  While, we would be crazy to not be anxious about the results, we feel at peace with whatever results. Dustin and I researched extensively adopting a baby with Down's and know how sick they can be physically and are emotional to think about any trials could face him, which leads us to our second point of concern.

One of his valves (tricuspid) does not have blood flowing through like other's babies flow. We have no clue if this is an issue or will ever be an issue. It could mean absolutely nothing. But of the two things we just learned today it concerns me the most. 

A child with an designer chromosome who doesn't know how to hate?!??! Sure, I will take that.

A child with an designer chromosome who doesn't know how to hate, but has to endure pain and suffering, regardless? This mommy's heart can't even bear to think of that.

So for now we anxiously wait 10 days for the results to come back, but Dustin and I and are surprisingly at peace with any least for now. Instead we are focusing on our GORGEOUS little man.

How could we not with this face? 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Yesterday All My Troubles Seemed So Far Away

"Yesterday all my troubles seemed so far away, no it looks as if their here to stay.
Oh, I believe in yesterday." I used to play this song over and over on repeat on my grandparents keyboard when I was younger.
I thought it was the most depressing song with a horribly catchy tune.
I can't get the stupid song out of my head today. And it seems fitting.
Everyday seems to gain new challenges and trials.
It weighs so heavily on me at times I can't breathe.
I fill I am on the verge of a panic attack most hours and alleviated it by the distractions of the kids.

Something they don't tell you in Grief Class 101:
Those who you love you most won't understand.
Those who should understand don't.

It's a horrible reality. Probably one of the worst. To sit in the same room with someone when your child dies and know they will think differently than you come one day.

But it's the reality of being a mom for anyone. You can't expect others to feel the same way about your kids even if they spend more time with your kids than you do. They are yours; ingrained

Post Funeral

Two years ago today we buried our little girl. I could go on and on about the sadness of the day, but what's the use?
It happened.
It's two years later and life has gone on.
I am a different person. A piece of me broken and I was always walk around with this silent limp.
Today, I am pregnant.
I'm gonna let you in on a little secret. I don't care. I'm not particularly excited about it. I am not particularly sad about it. It just is. Maybe we find out the sex Tuesday some magic will spark within me and I will be excited.
This pregnancy's excited has been replaced with drama and un-needed stress, directly from the places I hoped to find solace.
It is what is. There is no magic potion or positive thought that could change that fact. I am the common denominator within all this. I have for attracted this to me and I must in some way muddle my way to some breathable light.
I let you know when I find out how to do just that. Until then I am in gear survival mode.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015


I have come to understand for many, including myself ignorance is bliss. But it is also something very much else hurtful. So I feel clarifications need to be made.

Clarification #1:
I have said this so many times but I guess it bears repeating Dustin and I did NOT pursue adoption because of infertility. Of course there are millions with inferitility that do pursue it for that reason. But being a part of adoption groups, one the most hurtful things a mommy can hear who can't carry a child to term is, "just stop trying and it will happen."

So you can imagine how many comments I get DAILY from people saying, "isn't that how it always happens, you were about to adopt and BAM pregnant. See you just needed to relax." While yes this is true, it is NOT because we were about to adopt we became became pregnant. We felt it was very unsafe for me to concieve more children and were trying to prevent pregnancy. Seeing the cause of death as your diabetes on your child's autopsy will change your conception patterns quickly. I hate that in some way I continuing the stupid stigma that if infertile couples just "relax" a baby will come. I also hate that I am continuing the stigma that pregnancy is the goal and adoption is the alternative. We WANTED to adopt whether we had biological children or not and still see adopted children in our future.

The fact is I am VERY fertile and this little guy is destined to be born into our family as the gift he is from God. That may mean he goes straight to heaven like three of his siblings but regardless God let me be his mommy, Dustin be his daddy, and Henry, Amelie and Claudie be his brother and sisters. So for that we are extremely grateful.

Clarification #2:
As most of you might know I spent the better part of the holiday break in the hospital on two seperate occasions. Most of you probably assume because I have had a loss that the baby is at risk right now for dying. But the fact is this baby is as the same amount of risk of dying at this point in the pregnancy than any baby. We are exposed to the same risk factors as a healthy baby, no more. The risk factors for this baby lie with MY health. And frankly the risk factors at this point are for me. I don't mean to diminish my child's well being over my own, but I felt some clarification needed to be made as most assume I need to spend every waking second in the hospital to have a healthy baby. This is not the case, at least at this point. And in fact, the opposite would be better for baby and my well-being.

To help you understand, Type 1 diabetes affects pregnancy at pretty much every turn. Heard of gestational diabetes? Yep, the placenta likes to make you so resistant to insulin even the healthiest of mommies can get diabetes in pregnancy. Well, I have diabetes for 27 years this week. I have had five pregnancies and  this will be my sixth baby. Each baby causes the body to become more resistant to the insulin you are giving yourself via injection or in my case through an insulin pump. This has kicked me into a type 2 diabetes in addition to a type 1, so I have to take pills to make my body recgonize the insulin I am giving myself through the pump. Well it is easy for many to say (especially doctors) that it is a simple as what you eat, it just isn't.

People often ask me what effects my blood sugar. The answer: EVERYTHING. One of the reason I switched to another high risk OB group is because of how they treat diabetics during pregnancy.  It would never be conducive to every day life, but for these nine months they expect me to eat the same thing at the same time every day. This produces little room for variability, because we know life especially with jobs and small child has enough variablility. Ok, so put me in the hospital right? That would provide the same thing everyday. Well yes this works to some degree, but perhaps the BIGGEST affect on blood sugars is stress and for anyone who has spent anytime in the hospital, you know, you will be stressed.

There will most likely come a time wherein I just can't do it at home and will need to be taken in. But the baby is at no real risk at this point. I am. Why you ask? Well, because my blood sugars have to be extremely close to critically low levels to achieve the goals of a healthy baby that won't be affected by my sugars. So that is why I have spent so much time for close monitoring in the a hospital setting. We have set up safety parameters to make sure I don't pass out at home, and I wasn't allowed to leave until the risk was low enough. Acheiving this tight control should prevent the amount of glucose the baby is exposed to. Both Henry and Amelie needed IV glucose shortly after birth because they were exposed to so much of my glucose it was hard them to compensate after delivery. Claudie's heart enlarged because those glucose levels essentially put her into congestive heart failure and that was despite the best control  I had in all the pregnancies.

Clarification #3:
Why in the heck are you pregnant again if I am so high risk. Good question. I ask myself it way too much and have horrible guilt. But the fact is the guilt will contribute to stress which, as you now know, will only make this baby more at risk. And as my diabetes doctor told me, "this baby is a gift and will be treated as such. End of story."

I would also like to say a HUGE thank you for those who reach out to me via FB, texts, and visits. Those who offer to help with kids or other tangible ways. I am VERY aware of the taxing behavior I have placed on each and every person in my life through this pregnancy and feel so blessed beyond measure to have you all in our lives. We simply could NOT do it without you.