Our Blessings

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Sisters

Earlier tonight someone asked me how Glory was understanding about her sister.  I know she understands to a point but not completely.  For years I have talked about "Kathlyn in Heaven" and I think all this time she thinks I have been saying "Kathlyn and Heaven" so she thinks Heaven is a person too. She talks about sending balloons up to Heaven, as if "Heaven" is another name for her sister, rather than a place.  I've also asked her before who her best friend is and she sometimes says Heaven.  Recently, I referred to Kathlyn as an angel and she said "but Kathlyn is a baby."  So she definitely hears what I'm saying but there has never seemed to be a deep understanding of it or any sadness about it, other than me saying how much I miss her.

So tonight we got back out the book Someone Came Before You.  It's actually been awhile since I read it to her.  More often this past year it's been books about the big sister/little brother coming after her.  So this book is about how there are two parents who love each other very much, and they decide to have a baby, and they are very happy, but then the baby dies, and they are very sad, until they have another baby: that's you!!

I was choking up as I was reading the page about how the baby dies.  Glory could tell.  She was holding her favorite stuffed puppy, and she started saying that his tail was ripping.  She started to cry and wouldn't stop talking about this tail.  I have never seen such a defense mechanism in such a young child.  I finally just said "Glory it's ok, his tail is fine, but is the book making you sad?"  And she said yes and started to cry more.  The picture of the Mommy and the Daddy hugging and crying made her very sad. I told her it was ok to be sad, that Mommy and Daddy were very sad too, but to let me finish the book.  It shows how the Mommy and Daddy are still sad, and they have tears, but their hearts grow and they have another baby.  It shows the Mommy with the baby in her belly again and there is an angel baby on her shoulder.  I showed her how the Mommy had a picture of the baby on the table, just like we have a picture of Kathlyn on the wall.  I pointed to the angel in the book and I said "who's that?" and she said with a smile "Kathlyn!"  And as the Mommy and Daddy have their new baby, she understands that that was her!  And we said how we needed to draw a new baby Alex into the book too!  It was such a sweet family moment as we all read the book together cuddled in each other's arms in our bed.







Also in the book they talk about how there's a special box that has memories about the baby.  I told Glory that we have a box like this and so of course she wanted to see it.  This was also very sweet.   She wanted to see the dress, the blankets, the little heart pillow, some cards, and this little heart stone that the hospital chaplain gave me and I held it in my hands for almost the entire rest of my hospital stay.  She loved that little stone and she said she wanted to hold it for a long time too.  She wanted to "make Kathlyn's bed"... she put the blankets out all neatly and put the pillow on top.  She put the hats together and stacked up the cards.  It was so sweet.  This is the first time I've showed her this box and I know now she's gonna wanna get it out and look at all of Kathlyn's things.  I really think after tonight, she understands a lot more about who her sister is.  And that it's sad but we can still celebrate her.

My heart is just bursting.


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

6 years ago

6 years ago today, July 28, 2009, was also a Tuesday.  I had a normal NST that day.  That means that Kathlyn was monitored for approximately 30 minutes with a strap across my belly that measures her heart rate and if there were any contractions (which there were not).  Her heart rate was having normal ups and downs for a baby at her gestation.  Every time I felt her move, I would push a little button.  Whenever a baby moves, his or her heart rate should go up, and hers did.  The doctor can see when I pushed the button and that her heart properly responded by beating faster with her movements and then going back down.  She was not in distress. Even though she was about to die.

So no one knows why that happened less than 48 hours later.  I had NSTs like that every week for the previous 8 weeks and they were all normal.  No one saw this coming.  None of the doctors could have predicted this.  No one knows why I don't have a little rising 1st grader in my house right now. I don't really care that God knew and knows why.  I need her here.  I'm never gonna be ok with her not being here.

Mommy misses you, baby girl.  I am so sorry.  I didn't know.  I would have done anything to change what happened to you.  I wish your heart rate had dropped right there that afternoon 6 years ago right now.  Maybe we could have saved you.  Maybe you'd be here now, begging me for your birthday presents just a little bit early. Or maybe if your heart rate had dropped that day, then today would be your birthday instead of Friday when the c-section was supposed to be.   Today would be the day we say "oh thank GOD we were at the doctor's office right then and I was rushed to the OR and we saved her!"  Maybe we'd have a big pool party planned for Saturday.

But no.  Thursday is your birthday: the day you died.  The day you died, without my knowledge or permission.  The day we became parents without a baby.  The day my world shifted off its axis into an alternate universe where babies die for absolutely no reason.  And it has never shifted back.

I love you, Katie Kat.  Sleep tight and wait for me: you are still mine.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

this week, 6 years ago

Posted this photo at 0025 (12:25am) on July 30, 2009.

The actual photo was taken on Friday, July 24, 2009, right before I left for my last shift at work.

I just worked last night too, Friday, July 24, 2015.

She was alive and kicking when I posted it. I remember feeling her as I sat at my computer desk at home. She was a typically quiet baby. I was reassured every time she moved.

I went to bed shortly after posting it. I had an appointment for a blood draw and paper work at 10 in the morning. She gave me a big kick when I got in bed. So big that I thought she was trying to turn over from her breech position.

I slept straight through to my alarm for the appointment. Strange, I thought, that I didn't wake at all to pee. I was 38 weeks and 6 days.


You know the rest.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

significance

I also wanted to add something else about today, the date I am writing these blogs, although in the other entry, when I said "today" it was referring to the other little girl's birthday which is June 27.

June 28 or 6/28 is very significant to me.  Kathlyn was born at 6:28 and I see that number almost every day of my life whether it's on the clock (either morning or evening, sometimes I catch both in the same day!)  I see it on signs, addresses, everywhere.

I got my current car on 6/28/10, the same day I found out I was pregnant with Glory.  I wanted to be pregant again before the 1 year mark, and I made it.  And she is Glorious.

So today, as I make an effort to pick writing back up, it's 6/28.  All day.

Writing helps heal

Somehow I went the entire year of 2014 without making a post.  It was a very busy year for me; I was learning how to juggle raising two children.  And I still am!  They are the biggest blessings I could have ever asked for: a boy and a girl, my little salt and pepper shaker set.  They take absolutely every ounce of my energy, and as much as I want to write, as much as it helps me heal, most of the time once I have a second to sit down, I just fall asleep.

Kathlyn is still in the very forefront of my mind most of the day.  I think of her and miss her every time our family is together, wishing it was completely full.  When I was younger, I suppose I thought the "perfect family" would have been 2 boys and 2 girls.  But now that I have it, and don't have it at the same time, 2 girls and a boy would really have been what was perfect for me.  I just always dreamed of having a daughter, a little princess to dress up and play with and laugh with.  I wanted a boy too because it would seem the manly husband I wanted, would want a boy too.  2 girls, sisters, like I never had, and a boy for the dad.  Perfection.

I suppose it was too good to be true.  Maybe someday I'll have another girl... that sister I wish Glory had, and could grow up with instead of be cheated out of.  But I was told by my high risk doctor not to have any more children.  My regular doctor seems to think it would be ok.  We're still deciding.  I would rather make the decision on my own that I'm done having children, with my heart and my mind, rather than my stupid apparently doesn't always work reproductive system.  Thanks a lot.  Thanks for housing my first two yet not allowing them to make it out alive to this side.  And thanks for the "no more for you!"  It's just infuriating.

And then on the other side, what a sacred space it was, for giving me the most perfect girl and the most perfect boy.

These constant up and down emotions I have, they are exhausting.

Tonight we had a good family night.  We went to a movie, came home and got everybody settled in bed.  I signed onto facebook while nursing Alex like I usually do, and something popped up that made me so sad.  I am not typing this out to upset that person's family or to begrudge them in any way, because that's not what this is about.  I would not trade this family's friendship or the support they have given us the past 6 years.  But it was a picture of a little girl who turned 6 today (although it was really yesterday by date, because it's past midnight now).  I knew it was today; I had already thought about it.  I already bought her a gift for the party that's next week.  I know July is coming, Kathlyn's month.  I still cry for her all the time, but not every day.  It's usually in my quiet moments alone, in bed, looking at her picture or praying about her.  But there she was, the other little girl, with a sweet post from her mom about the wonderful girl that she is, with her beautiful smile and beautiful curly hair.  I remember the day they brought her home and stopped by our bible study group to say hello.  She was strapped in her carseat and I was largely pregnant.  I cried that night, gave them a hug and said I was so happy for them and that "I'm next!!!"  And a month and 3 days later, I was certainly next.  They were born in the same room at the same hospital, into the same doctor's hands, at the same height and same weight.  This little girl is my true shadow baby and I have honestly and wholeheartedly enjoyed watching her grow up, although there were many, many more tears of sorrow during and after seeing her for the first few years and especially first few months.

Kathlyn, I am so, so sorry.  I want to sit you at the table with a pretty bow in your hair and take your 6th birthday picture.  I bet we would have trouble deciding which party theme to have... because I bet we've already used Ponies, Frozen, Minnie, Hello Kitty, and all the popular ones.  I wish I knew which one you'd pick.  I wish I knew if you'd want a nail polish party or American Girl, rollerskating or swimming, horses or puppies.  I miss you with all my heart, sweet girl.  I long for the relationship you'd have with your sister and brother.  I wanted to watch YOU grow, not just those other amazing two, and not just all your little friends around you who get 6 candles and a kindergarten graduation this year.   I am surrounded by blessings, Kathlyn, but tonight, I cry for you, for what might have been.  You are still my baby.  Sleep tight and wait for Mommy.

Thank you for reading.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

missing her

I spent part of tonight cleaning out an old "catch-all" drawer. (some might like to call that a junk drawer, but it's not junk to me, as you will see.)  It's in Kathlyn/Glory's room, the top drawer of one of her dressers.  And let's face it, I need the room for all her clothes.  I started putting instruction manuals to the baby equipment, spare parts, spare buttons, warranty information, recall information, cards, letters, a few old picture frames, stuff from my baby shower like an extra paper plate and a napkin, the invitation, the deck of cards from the shower game we played.  I knew all that stuff was in there.  But what I'd forgotten about was this large file envelope of receipts.

I still need the instructions to most of that stuff and the warranty info because Glory is either still using it or we're gonna use it for the next baby, so it's good to have that stuff around.  It's not really as heartwrenching to see those manuals because we have been using the equipment itself for so long.  It's all Glory's now, but it was Kathlyn's first and whether she is here or not, I know she wouldn't mind sharing.

The thing that gets me about the receipts is that they are all dated.  Most of them dated in April 2009.  I was 6 months pregnant, knew it was a girl, and about to have my baby shower so I got a lot of gifts in the mail.  The stroller system from my mom.  Giraffe bouncer from my SIL Jessica.  Baby Monitor and a little bath toy from John's cousins.  Some yellow and white neutral onesies I ordered myself.  I remember getting all of that stuff and being so excited.  I had no idea.  No idea what was ahead.  I was a lovefool and I was DEEPLY in love, and yet DEEPLY fooled.

I threw those receipts away because I have no use for them now.  No reason to return and way past the limit of time to return anyway.  I got my rainbow baby and I got to use all my baby stuff.  The receipts just take up space in a drawer or box now. But it still stings.  It's still hard to throw away something that represents part of her life.  Part of her life where she was ALIVE.

I never got a receipt for Kathlyn.  I want to return that part of my life and get a new one, one where she lives instead of dies.  Apparently I saved every receipt "just in case" something was wrong.  I never thought there'd be something wrong with the baby.  Except there wasn't.. there was NOTHING wrong with her and yet she slipped away from me... slipped through more than my fingers, she slipped away from my whole body, and took the majority of me with her.

I miss her so much.  I never even got to know a fraction of who she was gonna be, but I miss her more than any human has the capacity to do.  My grief is part of my every day life.  I ache for her and her abscense still affects our marriage.  I miss Kathlyn in everything I do with Glory, too.  It's not fair to her either.  They would have been such a sweet pair.  At the park today there was another little girl who liked Glory's little push car.  She told us she just turned 4 years old, which means she was born about the time I was getting all those receipts collected.  She wanted to get in the car, but her grandma told her she was too big (I would have let her). so instead she pushed the car while Glory was in it.  Her grandma said, "you're going to be such a good big sister when you're new baby gets here!" and I was thinking, Glory would have been such a great little sister.  She doesn't know what she's missing yet.  I can miss her enough for the both of us.

I packed away the rest of the contents of the drawer.. the instructions, the cards, the baby shower stuff.  Some day I can look through and read the cards from her shower again.  With messages and sweet cliches about congratulations and how they can't wait to meet her and how I'm gonna be a great mommy and she's gonna be so cute.

She would have.  And I would have.  It would have been wonderful.  I know because it's what I have with Glory.  I know what I missed with Kathlyn, and I know how very blessed I am to have Glory.  I hope she gets to have a sister on this side some day, that she gets to grow up with.  But then I'm sure I will still be upset that they didn't get to be a group of three.  Is having 66% of your children here with you, better than having 50% ?  Or is having 75% of them better?

I want 100% of them.  And I can't ever have that.

It would have been wonderful.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Once upon a time..

Once upon a time I had a daughter.  Even on ultrasound, she was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.  Her face was already just so cute and precious.  The first time I saw her little thigh and knee-cap and shin and calf so perfectly formed, I just adored every little piece of her.  I couldn't wait to photograph that face myself and bend those little legs into my arms.  All I ever wanted in life was a daughter, and I was about to get one. She was my dream come true.

You all know the story.  The dream come true that never came true.  Losing a child is the worst thing that can happen to anyone.  When you lose your only child, you lose your parenthood too.  For me, it was my entire identity completely flushed down the drain in one foul swoop.  You know the story.  You don't have to read about it again, even though I still live with it every day.


Once upon a now... I have a daughter.  And oh my goodness gracious, she is my dream come true.  She lives up to her name and more.  You all know the story! I photograph her face every day and I carry her around in my arms.  It is wonderful to carry a baby in your actual arms, and not just your heart.


Once upon a time in between, I had another daughter.  I only got to physically be connected to her for less than two months. I never even got official medical confirmation that she was a daughter... but I don't need that.  She was my daughter too.  I saw her body on the screen and I saw her little heart beating.  Hope.  Motherhood.  My baby.

On April 5, 2010, I turned 30 years old.  It was a beautiful day spent in the mountains with my husband after having a homemade pancake breakfast with my best friend and her little girl.  I was pregnant with that little daughter in between.  We stopped at our favorite overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway and took a picture.  I burned my leg on the side of the motorcycle.  I was pregnant and happy.  Still grieving, but filled with hope and promise of another little dream come true.

The next day, I had an ultrasound and heard the words no one should ever have to hear "I'm sorry, I'm afraid I don't see a heartbeat."  That sentence again.  It was a different ultrasound technician than the first time.  A different room.  A different machine.  A different doctor.  The same heartbreak.  The same devastation.  The same loss of hope.  The same loss of motherhood.

I don't have an uplifting end to this.  Even in my worst of days and rawest and most painful blog entries, I tried to end on some kind of positive note or hope for better times.  But I don't have one here (unless you want me to talk about Glory again).  My husband and I suffered tremendous losses, and nothing can fill them up or make it better.  What happened to us is not ok and never will be.  There are only two things we wouldn't trade to have those babies back.

I'm sorry we didn't get to know you better my 2nd little love.  I'm sorry if you feel like you aren't mentioned or honored as much as your big sister.  But you will always hold a special place in Mommy's heart, just for you.  You were just as wanted and wished for as the others.  Kisses to the sky for you my little cherry.  Sleep tight and wait for me.  You are still my baby.