Our Blessings

Sunday, November 29, 2015

raw truth revisited

When I was in my deepest grief, I would write all the time.  Sometimes I would spend hours writing long entries, pouring out my broken heart, and sometimes I would just write one-liners which I called "raw truths."  Some of the really heartbreakingly memorable ones still haunt me, such as "there's a memory box in our bassinet" and "why the f**k are we planning a funeral?"  At the time I didn't block out the swear words: they were my raw, true feelings and I needed to get them out (although it was John who said that particular one).

I still have that deep grief, but it is so much more easily processed and healed by my many blessings in life, namely my two living children.  That by no means indicates that these children have replaced her; they just reminded me that there can still be joy in life amidst such a devastating loss.

I was already an anxious person before Kathlyn died.  I am a worrier by nature.  I think I was destined to worry endlessly about my children, as everyone does.  But some of my worries were going to be completely unfounded and difficult for the people around me to reassure me about them.  I believe it was already going to be this way.... and then my child died.  My first child, my healthy child, before I even got the chance to be a doting and worrying mother, I had to bear the burden of being a grieving one.  I never had a fighting chance to be a normal, easy-going kind of worrier about my children!  I know many of my worries are extreme and ridiculous... but MY CHILD DIED.  I don't really feel the need to apologize anymore.  I am going to worry.  And I've earned it.

Alex has been having a hard time sleeping lately.  He resists his naps, he resists his crib, and he's such a light sleeper.  If he falls asleep in the car, he wakes up if someone talks too loud. (Four year old sister next to him = quintessential loud person.)  He wakes if the radio turns off, if the car stops, if the car gives that annoying ding ding ding if the headlights are on or if my keys are in the ignition and the door opens.  He wakes up if the garage door opens or closes.  Transferring to or from crib/carseat/lap/absolutely anywhere --- very unlikely to go smoothly! If he's asleep in my bed with me, if I adjust my position or heaven forbid, get up to go to the bathroom.. he wakes.  All these frustrating things about parenthood I am so thankful to have the luxury of suffering.  I wanted this, I waited for this, and I welcome this.  I would much rather have this terribly light sleeper than to not have him at all.  He has earned the names "grumpy pants", "Mr. No Nap" and many others.

Last evening, after having no nap (shocking!), he fell asleep early (for him) on my lap on the couch.  I spent some time just sitting with him and letting him sleep because #1, he's my baby and I love to snuggle him :)   And #2, because I was afraid if I put him in his crib, he would simply just wake up again and I'd have to start over with the bedtime process.  Mommy wants to rest too!  As John was getting off the couch to go to bed, I asked him to move Alex to his crib, as he usually has more success with the transfer than I do.  It worked!  He was so tired, he went straight into the crib with no fuss.  When I went to bed, I didn't even check on either of my children!  Glory had gotten up once already to use the bathroom, and sometimes simply just hearing me tiptoe on the creaky floor towards his room will cause Alex to wake.  I assumed John had turned Alex's monitor on: it measures movement (including breathing) and alarms if 15 seconds passes with no movement.  Which by the way, was a safety feature, a crutch, a reassuring piece of baby equipment I purchased when I was pregnant with Kathlyn BEFORE I had even lost a child.  Worriers love reassurance.  Certainly it's not fool-proof, it's not even reccommended by the AAP to prevent SIDS, but it always helped me sleep easier knowing that I would be alerted if my baby stopped moving.

Every morning between 5 and 9, Glory comes to our bed and sleeps with us for the rest of the morning.  This has always been how it is for her: I used to come home from work and bring her to my bed to nurse her so I could sleep for a few hours after being up all night.  Usually Alex wakes up at some point during that time as well.  Usually when I've worked, he hears me come home and cries to get up.  If I'm not working, I usually hear him stir once in the night earlier than that, and usually I ignore it and he will settle back down.  Last night, he never stirred.  He never cried or made any noise.  He was so tired!  When John left to go work at the church this morning, he didn't wake then either.  It had been 9 hours straight at that point.  Great!  He's finally getting some solid sleep that he so desperately needs.  I went back to sleep in my bed and as always, Glory was next to me.  Another hour passed.  I woke up thinking, is he ok in there?  I went back to sleep, another hour passed.  11 hours... this is SO unusual, and only getting more and more unsettling for me.  At 11 and a half hours straight with absolutely no noise from my son, there was really only one answer:  he must be dead.

I was avoiding getting up to check on him because I really did not want this news.  I did not want to have to grieve like that again.  I did not want to have to call my husband AGAIN to tell him our child has died.   Yes, it's true.  It's the raw truth: this is where the brain of a chronic lifetime worrier who has already lost a child goes:  they must be dead.  It happens when someone we love goes any length of time not answering their phone or is later arriving home than usual.  And I'm not even going to scratch the surface to what it's like being married to a police officer on top of all this.

I got out of bed (the whole two feet of the king sized bed left for me after my daughter has snuggled in "the middle" next to me).  I walked halfway down our long hall, and it creaked.  Back to regular form, Alex heard this very low decibel of noise.  He popped immediately up in his crib and as I rounded the corner into his doorway, he reached up high and said "Mama!"  What music to my ears, what a sight for sore eyes.  I wonder how much longer he would have slept if he had a different, non-worrying mother or didn't have a dead older sibling.  I would like to believe that he wouldn't trade me, HIS MAMA, for the world.  Or for another hour of sleep.

So it all turned out ok.  He wasn't dead.  My heart can relax for the moment, but I will continue to worry.  I have read too many blogs detailing the first part of this story: the normal daily process for someone's children, how their day was going business as usual but that one day, something is slightly amiss, and it turns out, the child was found dead under a pillow, or tangled in the bumpers of their crib, hanging in the window blinds, or face down in a puddle in the backyard.  These worst nightmares are reality for some parents.

I do my best not to live life just assuming all these worse-case scenarios are happening right under my feet.  They certainly do happen, perhaps more often than people even want to imagine, and with just one-too-many unexpected losses, I can't seem to help myself.  I know the best solution is just to lay my burden down in prayer, and to find comfort in other places like writing it out and with the support of family and friends.

Thank you for reading.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

County Fair

The kids had an absolute blast today at the fair and so did I! The weather was perfect. The clouds kept some of the bigger crowds away it seems. We rode lots of rides, ate delicious chicken and potatoes, refilled our fresh lemonade as much as we wanted, had flavored ice cream, watched the dog and horse shows twice each, and walked until we couldn't anymore! Can't wait to do it again in a few weeks at Denver Days!

Family days like this are my favorite.... but they are always laced with the sadness of who is missing... Glory pretty much isn't afraid of anything... she will ride every ride and even asks to ride the really high and fast ones meant for older kids... There are some of the kiddie rides that Alex can't ride yet... I would let him if I could, but legally he is too short, even if he's strapped in next to Glory...so she has to ride many of these rides alone. As we are smiling and waving at our brave girl riding all by herself and enjoying it none the less, our hearts break a little sharper as the sister pairs pass us in the cars all around her.

It's just the hand we have been dealt. We walk around looking like the perfect family of 4 and are expected to just feel blessed with what we have.. and we do. Next year Alex will be big enough and they can ride together on all on the rides. And we will laugh and smile and wave at them happily like we always do.. then late at night, when everyone is asleep but me, I will write about the open space, the empty swing, the one less person in line, the unbuckled, unused seatbelt, and the person who I know was meant to fill it, but never got the chance.

riding the ferris wheel as a family

sweet girl still all smiles even riding alone, I can't help but see the seat next to her and feel sad.

Alex is allowed to ride the rides that an adult can go on, too!

We rode this mini ferris wheel together, just Mommy and Daughter.  I still see the empty seatbelts and imagine what should have been...

Sunday, August 16, 2015


Sometimes we get little unexpected greetings from our baby girl... the other day randomly in our travels we passed Hartsell Funeral Home in Midland... the place where our baby was cremated. By that point in 2009 we were in such a daze, I can't even remember if it was Sunday August 9, Monday August 10, or Tuesday August 11. Our pastor drove us there. So we really paid no attention to where it was on the way there or the way back. But somehow we found ourselves there again, almost 6 years to the day. Later that very same day (this year), we passed Hartsell Funeral Home in Concord too... where her services were held. Neither of these routes were planned at all that day, they were just happenstance. Sometimes coincidences are nice even though they are associated with such painful memories. I wish I had held my baby at that funeral home. And I wish I had peeked at her beautiful face one last time at the crematorium. Missing her always... thanks for the little "Hello" sweet baby girl... we love you. Sleep tight and wait for us. You are still ours..

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


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


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.