Friday, April 17, 2015

Weekend Links 4/17/15

A few articles that have brought me a little extra comfort this week. . . 

Wounded Healer, My Friend
God Has Brought You to This Place - "After a time of purification in the wilderness, God will bring us into the place He has promised." Holding on to this reminder during these very hard days.
When Friendship Keeps Us from Drowning - "Life lived in relationships allows us to survive the deep end. We can test the waters alone, wade out a bit by ourselves, but if we must head to the deep places of life, we need friends to keep the ocean from swallowing us whole."  Amen.
My Pathway to Peace - "I live with a peace that I could only be living with now that I’m standing further down the path God pushed us down. " Praying this same prayer for me & Brandon as we continue to grieve the loss of Chance. 
Mom Cradles her stillborn baby and posts on Facebook
Four Lessons I Learned about God from My Miscarriage

Monday, April 13, 2015

Our son, Chance Michael

Our sweet baby boy, Chance Michael, was born at 4:49pm on April 4, 2015. Seeing his face for the first time is a moment I will never forget. A moment that will be etched in my mind forever. It is a very surreal feeling to give birth to, and then hold and embrace, your child who has already passed on from this earth. A feeling in fact I assumed I would never have to live through. One of those life experiences one just assumes "won't ever be me." But God apparently had a different plan for our family and our journey. I am trying so very hard to be ok with this plan.

As I stared at Chance's sweet face for several hours after his birth, every emotion possible was experienced . . . sorrow, pain, happiness, peace, love, joy, hurt, confusion, more love, more sadness, and so much more. Yet despite these ever changing feelings, I am so very thankful we were able to spend five hours with our son. Five hours was spent studying his adorable face, kissing his little head, and talking to him. . . telling him about our family and how we know he is safe with Jesus and that we will surely see him again very soon.

This picture captures so well all of the emotions described above. One can so clearly see the hurt, peace, sadness, and contentment displayed in our eyes. 

So blessed & thankful that the nurses were able to capture these prints.
Some of the cutest little feet and toes I have ever seen. 

In time I hope to write and share more about his birth, his beautiful celebration service, and our life and feelings now, as we adjust to life after infant loss. Thank you so much for the continual support, emails, texts, FB messages, love, hugs, food delivered, and most of all, prayers. Please continue to lift us up in prayer. We feel every single one. Beyond thankful to each and every one of you.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Saying goodbye

This is the hardest post I have ever had to write. . .

Some of you know that this past Wednesday, April 1st, our world came crashing down. Totally unexpected. No warning signs. No hints that this particular appointment would be any different.

We were scheduled for our 20 week anatomy scan this past Wednesday and arrived eager and thrilled to see our baby and learn if we were expecting another precious girl or an adorable little boy. The technician seemed equally as eager and after learning we had two girls at home, commented on how fun it was going to be to surprise us in a few moments with the news.

Yet right when she started the scan I knew something wasn't right. My eyes were flashing across the screen looking for the heartbeat and I couldn't find it.

Then the questions started slowly. . .

"When did you say your last ultrasound was?" At 10 weeks gestation.

"Ok, and when did you see your Dr last?" Two weeks ago, 18 weeks 3 days. Everything looked great at that appt. Heartbeat was in the 150's.

"Are you still feeling some pregnancy symptoms?" Yes.

"Ok. I'm just taking a few measurements and then am going to have the Dr come in." 

I knew my initial feeling was correct. I quickly asked if there was a heartbeat to which she replied she was not finding one, she was so sorry, and would have the Dr come in to speak with us.

And at that moment it was as if time stood still. All I could do was release my tears. It was as if I was in the midst of a nightmare, but couldn't wake up. The Dr came in and very appropriately but compassionately explained that based on the images she was seeing, there was no immediate reason or explanable cause for the death of our child (spine, brain, etc all looked just fine). She explained some potential causes for a 2nd trimester loss, the testing options that are available if we are interested in investigating the cause of death, and our options moving forward for delivery of the child. We were eventually moved into a counseling room to talk further with the Dr.

We left several hours later and I felt like I was walking in a fog. We sat in our car and cried and just didn't move. I kept telling Brandon "I don't even know what to do right now. What am I supposed to do? Do we keep sitting here? Do we go home? Is this really happening?"

 . . .

We are so overwhelmed with the love and kindness that has been shown to us over the last 48 hours. Phone calls, texts, surprise gifts and food drop offs, scripture reminders. . . everything. We certainly do feel the love and support from our family and friends.

We will be admitted to the hospital shortly to start the induction and delivery process. The Dr explained it could take 1-2 days. We are so thankful that we will be given the option of seeing and holding the baby if we so choose.

This is by far the hardest thing we have ever had to do. All we know to do is pray for strength and pray that God alone would be glorified by our experience and story. While we would not wish this experience on anyone, we am thankful for the reminder that on this Easter weekend, death does not have the final say. Not then. Not now. Not ever. In the coming hours we will hold our precious baby who is already being held in the arms of Jesus. And we will put our hope in Him alone and in the promise of seeing our little one again on the other side.

"Not For A Moment" - Vertical Band Church featuring Meredith Andrews 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A special day for special needs

This past Saturday our church hosted their annual Big Bunny Party, which is basically a big Easter party filled with an egg hunt, carnival games, petting zoo, food, and of course, the opportunity to take a picture with the Easter Bunny.

We have attended in previous years, and of course had a great time, although the event was a tad overwhelming for Clara, and thus a tad overwhelming for us as a family.

Photos from last year. . . and on a completely different note, my children look so very tiny in these two pictures!

This year our church/children's minister had the most amazing and thoughtful idea, of opening up the event one hour early for a VIP admission for children with special needs and their families. When I first heard this. . . tears. And while you might argue that I cry all the time thanks to ever changing pregnancy related hormones (seriously, I started crying on the way home from Chickfila a few days ago. Don't ask for a logical explanation. No idea.), these tears were due to an overwhelming sense of gratitude and appreciation that someone took the time and effort to make this event just a little more enjoyable for kids like Clara.

And y'all. . . this year. . . she had a blast! A smaller crowd = less noise = less sensory overload = more likely that a special needs child will relax, enjoy, and engage in activities offered. Success!

The girls started off by hunting eggs. . . Camille thought she owned the place. Someone just break it to her gently, ok?

Clara found this one egg and then was perfectly content just walking around the grounds. . .

Every once in a while she would stop to inspect it, to make sure it still looked like the perfect choice. . .

We invited our friends who live nearby, who also have a daughter with Cohen Syndrome. LOVE that Clara and Kathrine have each other and can grow to be the best of buddies. Thank you God for this good gift and colliding our worlds.

Kathrine hunting for eggs. . .

And then Camille attempted to take over the petting zoo. . . "Gentle hands, Camille," was said approximately 450x.

Our family pic with the Big Bunny. . . :)

But the best part of this event (at least in my opinion) was the bounce house experience. Because of the light crowd, I was able to crawl into the bounce house with the girls and bounce for a solid 20-25 minutes. Just the four of us! This type of activity is something Clara and Kathrine would not typically be able to enjoy at such an event. The girls were laughing and smiling while I bounced them up and down on their bottoms nonstop. These two might not be able to speak, but you don't need words in these moments. All you need is the look on their faces. Such joy in those 25 minutes. Precious, precious memories. . .

And P.S. If you are in need of switching up your workout routine, just go bounce on your butt nonstop in a bounce house for a solid portion of time. I am not kidding, my thighs are still recovering. I had to take a break in the picture below and Kathrine was not amused. "Mom, she is so lame. Wanna come in and take over for her???"

So many thanks and warm thoughts goes out to the crew that made this event possible. We thank you for going the extra mile and by doing so, recognizing that kids with special needs are well, special, and sometimes just need a little extra special treatment. :)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

A fun family filled weekend

We enjoyed a nice, relaxing weekend as a family. So needed! I much prefer this type of weekend over the last few, where Brandon has been working quite a bit, and the actual weekend has felt more like an extension of our week days. Fist bump to some good quality family time!

We kicked off Saturday morning by all heading out to Clara's OT session. Clara's OT, Ms. Brittany (who started this journey with us when Clara was 7-8 months old) has agreed to see Clara on Saturdays because she is an angel straight from heaven. When we decided to pursue Clara's full time ABA school, we knew keeping her private therapy schedule would be challenging. There is no way we could expect Clara to attend school 8:30am-3:00pm and then continue with private speech/OT after an already full day. Enter Ms. Brittany who saved the day and casually offered "I am happy to see Clara on the weekend(s) and just open up my practice to your family." See. . . angel from heaven.

Both girls had an absolute BLAST. Ms. Brittany recently broke off from her former practice to open up her very own place. It. Is. Amazing. Clara (and Camille) were in OT heaven! Rock wall, crash pads, huge swing, ball pit, roller coaster, slide, trampoline and more. If any local parents are needing an OT recommendation, I can not say enough good things about Ms. Brittany.

"Do you think I can jump from here into the ball pit, mommy??" Um no, no you cannot. . .

Girlfriend is a brave one and wanted to ride the roller coaster solo. . . Please just say a prayer for us mmmmmkay?

Camille was so sweet and was trying to help swing Clara. . .

Clara has become very consistent in signing "more" spontaneously when she wants more of something and also when we give her a verbal prompt. Her version of "more" looks like a clap. Here she is mid-sign.

Her expression. . . best ever!

A little sensory input on the trampoline. . .

Camille was fully enjoying the ball pit. Does it seem as if she assumed she owned the place? :)

And later. . . bath time. The girls love bath time together. Despite having to clean half of the water off the floor after the fact, it is a really fun time of day! 

I have to tell Camille "Please sit on your bottom," approximately 455x a bath. . . 

She is still fine tuning her listening skills. . .

We also enjoyed the sunshine and played outside quite a bit. . .

I made the mistake of letting Camille swing in Clara's green swing while Clara is away at school. Not a good move, mommy. Now whenever we are all home, and Camille has to get into her blue swing, she sports some attitude. Please see below. . .

"No, I will not look at you and smile."

No attitude for Ms. Clara. . . here she is again signing "more". . .

On Sunday evening we visited our friends Matt & Jenna, who just welcomed their new baby girl. Their oldest, Parker, is SUCH a sweet friend to our Clara. He always talks to her and loves on her. He was so dear to want to swing her while they were playing outside. Melts my heart!

Parker and his cool shades. . .

Camille kept trying to crawl in baby Molly's bouncer. It may or may not be because she slept in this exact same contraception until she was far too old. :)

Camille trying to pat the baby. . . For one second I was able to get a glimpse into my life come August. Go ahead and just say a little prayer about that as well.

Wonderful weekend. . . now on to tackle this week!