Sunday, February 5, 2012

How can you measure a year?

"Would you know my name?
If I saw you in heaven?
Would it be the same
If I saw you in heaven?

Would you hold my hand
If I saw you in heaven?
Would you help me stand
If I saw you in heaven?

Time can bring you down,
Time can bend your knees.
Time can break your heart,
Have you begging please, begging please.

Beyond the door,
There's peace I'm sure,
And I know there'll be no more
Tears in heaven..."

A year ago my daughter, my Caris AnnaBelle 'graduated' and was fully healed when she reached Heaven. The past 365 days have taught me a lot about myself, my family, my friends and my faith. I am a completely different person than I was a year and a day ago... I have changed mostly for the better, but still struggle with the 'fog' of the darkest days, much like the ones that came in the first weeks following Caris' death.

While I still do not understand why she was taken from me, I have found peace in knowing she is no longer in pain. I thought, honestly, that after a year it would easier, that I would not weep as hard, scream as loud, punch pillows with the same vengeance as I did 364 days ago... But I would be lying if I said that were true.

My heart aches every day for my daughter. I think of her constantly. I cannot see an owl, the color purple, or a baby girl without feeling that pang in my stomach that shakes me to the core.

I am more than blessed to have my son, my Tobias, who was sent by God himself to help aide in my healing, Chris' healing and the healing of our family and closest friends. He is in no way a replacement for Caris. Our grief does not disappear because of his presence, however our hearts mend a little more each day as we bask in God's glory watching Toby LIVE.

If you would have told me on June 21st, 2010 that the baby I had just found out I was carrying would only live 6 days and that 2011 would be the darkest year of my life because of that, I would still choose Caris every.single.time... She changed who I was. I am less naive, less careless, more loving and forgiving and a better mom for Toby because of the compassion that my baby girl drew out of me.

For you, reading this, I thank you for being here for our family. For trudging through this rough terrain with us. For praying for our hearts, our healing, and for praying for the complete health of our Toby, who has been made PERFECT. The storm has passed, our rainbow has come, and the sun has begun to shine on our little family.

Thank you for being here for every season.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Our Rainbow Baby

Tobias Asher Tate
Born Friday, January 6th at 11:47am
Weighing 10lbs 6oz
22 inches long

I am in awe... In complete awe of our precious baby boy. He has healed my heart more than I could have ever imagined. Thank you for your continued prayers. I will write more soon!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tobias Asher Tate... our Rainbow Baby

Chris and I are expecting our "rainbow baby" due January 12th, 2012. A rainbow baby is a (miracle) baby conceived after the loss of another child.

Rainbow Baby is the understanding that the beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravages of the storm. When a rainbow appears, it does not mean that the storm never happened or that the family is not still dealing with its aftermath. What it means is that something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of the darkness and the clouds. Storm clouds may still loom over but the rainbow provides a counterbalance of color, energy, and much needed hope.

As of today, our rainbow baby has a clean bill of health. Chris and I are so excited for the opportunity to be parents again and would appreciate your love, support and prayers as we go along this journey together. ♥

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Noonan Syndrome & my baby girl...

When we got the autopsy results back in May, they stated that the most prominent analysis they could give us is Noonan Syndrome, due to Caris' symptoms. I did some research on it then, but didn't really take it too close to heart because they couldn't be certain and I didn't want to entertain some idea when it wasn't 100%. But no diagnosis would ever be 100%.

Chris and I were watching Law & Order the other night, and a character on the show had Noonan Syndrome. We had seen pictures on websites, and some of them had the same features as Caris, but this grown man with Noonan Syndrome made us both take a few moments and really discuss it.
After a bunch of tears, I started researching again. So, I have been doing a lot more research with different resources than before, and they really do make sense, that it is what Caris had.
The Mayo Clinic has the best descriptions of it... click here to read.
We don't feel any better knowing this. Neither of us have been diagnosed with it, nor have traces of it in our DNA, meaning it was a random mutation of genetic material at the time of conception. Of course, all I keep thinking over and over again is why... why did our baby girl have to have this random disease?!?!

But, after looking through everything, should we be thankful that Caris did not live her life in pain, with all of the symptoms she could have had... possibly never having children of her own... That just kills me to think of. I know how much I wanted her, how much I longed to be her mother. How would she have felt had she never had that opportunity???
None of this makes me feel any better, except to know she isn't in pain, and she never will be again. I just miss my baby girl so much. I can't believe she would have been 8 months old tomorrow. Eight. Months. Old. I just want to hold her in my arms and kiss her face and tell her how much I love her. That's what I long for every single day. It doesn't get easier as time goes on, but it isn't as gut-wrenchingly painful as it once was.

Friday, July 8, 2011

not strong enough

sometimes i feel so weak, like i can't go on. like this hole in my heart is going to break me. i look at pictures of my baby girl because THAT IS ALL I HAVE. i want to smell her, to hold her, to see her face. each day i feel further and further from her and it kills me. i don't know how people do this. i am not strong enough. i can't take this pain, this hurt, the regrets, the anger, the bitterness, the loneliness, the longing for my baby girl... i can't take it. how the hell do people do this?!? why does this happen?!? why couldn't caris have been healthy?!? why the hell did she have to die?!? there was no freaking reason that she had to die! i'm so freaking pissed off. i am angry. i am ANGRY. i thought i was past that. but i swear, i am so freaking angry right now. she was the BEST thing i ever did, she was the BEST thing i ever created. she was BEAUTIFUL. and LOVED. and HIGHLY FAVORED. and WANTED BEYOND COMPARISON. she was MINE.

and yet, my arms are empty. my heart is broken. and it hurts so much i can barely breathe. i'm not strong enough for this, not tonight.

Monday, May 23, 2011

We are survivors

My Mom is a Survivor
My Mom is a survivor,
or so I've heard it said.
But I can hear her crying at night
when all others are in bed.
I watch her lay awake at night
and go to hold her hand.
She doesn't know I'm with her
to help her understand.
But like the sands on the beach
that never wash away ...
I watch over my surviving Mom
who thinks of me each day.
She wears a smile for others ...
a smile of disguise!
But through Heaven's door
I see tears flowing from her eyes.
My Mom tries to cope with death;
To keep my memory alive.
But anyone who knows her knows
it is her way to survive.
as I watch over my surviving Mom
through Heaven's open door ...
I try to tell her that angels
protect me forevermore!
I know that doesn't help her,
or ease the burden she bears.
So, if you get a chance, go visit her.
Show her that you care.
for no matter what she says ...
no matter what she feels.
My surviving Mom has a broken heart
that time won't ever heal.
-Kaye Des'Ormeaux

My Dad is a Survivor
My dad is a survivor too
which is no surprise to me.
He's always been like a lighthouse
that helps you cross a stormy sea.
But, I walk with my dad each day
to lift him when he's down.
I wipe the tears he hides from others;
He cries when no one's around.
I watch him sit up late at night
with my picture in his hand.
He cries as he tries to grieve alone,
and wishes he could understand.
My dad is like a tower of strength.
He's the greatest of them all!
But, there are times when he needs to cry...
Please be there when he falls.
Hold his hand or pat his shoulder...
And tell him it's okay.
Be his strength when he's sad,
Help him mourn in his own way.
Now, as I watch over my precious dad
from the Heavens up above...
I'm so proud that he's a survivor...
And, I can still feel his love.
-Kaye Des'Ormeaux

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A break from my hiatus

I've taken quite a hiatus from writing on this thing. I have written in my 'real' journal, and there are tons of church bulletins scattered about my house with thoughts, ideas, cries to God. It hasn't been a conscience effort to not write on here- it just hasn't been something I've thought of. I have this problem with blogs... I begin them full-force and then I take breaks, I hate it and so I will try to be better.
It's been a busy month for our family and close friends. We had the March of Dimes Walk for Babies on May 1st. We had a huge team turnout and raised $4,660 for the organization.

Chris and I were presented with a plaque in appreciation for raising the most a first-time Family Team has raised. We also had shirts donated by Matthew Wallace of Fairwell Designs LLC. in Hampton.

That day was very emotional for me. The actual walk was amazing. In the end, most of the team ended up walking 6 miles (instead of the posted 5) on accident. We ended up walking one mile for each day our precious baby girl was alive.
The next weekend, two very good friends of mine, Missy and Mary, went to a memorial service held at University of Virginia Children’s Hospital. Chris and I had planned to go, along with close friends and family we had invited... but about two weeks before we just couldn't imagine being back there.
I mentioned in an earlier entry that we could handle going to Mary Immaculate and CHKD because Caris did not die there. She was treated at those places and made great strides. They did all they could. I believe UVA did all they could as well, but that is where my daughter took her last breaths... both Chris and I were not ready to go back there.
Thankfully, Mary and Missy said they wanted to go represent our family and be there for Caris. Mary posted beautiful words and pictures on her blog. We are eternally grateful for their friendship. They have really been my kleenex these past four months.
Where has the time gone? I can't believe my daughter would have been FOUR months old next week. It is hard to imagine since she isn't here with us. Every day that passes I get further and further away from her birth-day. It makes me sad, so I cry... and thankfully my husband is incredibly amazing. He and I have grown so much closer these last four months. We finish each others sentences, we miss each other more when we're apart, we worry about each other more... not that we had any different type of relationship before Caris was born, but we have definitely grown closer since she was born.

I have started a new business venture, and I plan to go to school in August. We're moving beginning next month and fully by mid-August. We started renovating our new house this month, and we will start painting next month. I'm excited about the things that are happening in our life. I wish Caris was here to experience them with us.
Our family is beautiful, Chris, Sebastion and myself. We really make a good team. Sebastion has grown a lot this year. He is such a cute little seven year old. He is doing good in school, and will hopefully get back into the excellerated programs at the elementary school in our new district. He really is a smart kid. He and I have gotten a lot closer this year.
I have enjoyed volunteering at his school every week. That started out as a way to get me out of the house and out of my wallowing. It's turned into something that I look forward to each week. All the kids in his class love me... and I love them. :) I love being surrounded by kids, I always have. Which is why my plan is to get my teaching certification. I will then volunteer at the elementary school in our district where Sebastion will be attending, and then homeschool our future children. We'd planned to homeschool Caris.
My husband is also in school. He was recently inducted into the President's List at his university and he has a 4.0 GPA. Even with everything going on in our lives, he seems to keep it all together, including working hard and providing a beautiful home for me and Sebastion. I really feel like I am one of the luckiest girls in the world.
I miss our baby girl so much. I still sit in her nursery and go through her things. I am not looking forward to packing them all up for our move. That will be a hard day, but I will do it, remembering her with each item I touch. So much has happened in four months. If you would have told me that the first half of 2011 would have been how it's been, I would have laughed in your face...believing that there is no way in hell God would put us through what He has this year. But there have been hidden blessings throughout it all. and only God knows what is in store for the second half of 2011. All I know is it better be good. :) We are hoping and praying for that much.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Hating this club I didn't ask to join...

The past few weeks have been seemingly normal. I say that with the utmost hesitation, and slight remorse. I would hate to think that Chris and I are leaving our daughter behind, as some sort of distant memory. It has been less than three months, and I have had quite a few 'good' days and unfortunately I feel really bad about it.
But, I am not going to dwell on it... so, I will write, anyway.
I have a lot of friends who ventured the 'pregnancy journey' with me. Two were due 3 weeks before me, and we all ended up having our daughters only days apart. The two friends of mine had beautiful, healthy, baby girls...and I have yet to meet them. I hate that.
One of them, M, I spoke to almost every day, went baby clothes shopping with, she was one of the first people to know I was pregnant (her boyfriend WAS the first person to know aside from Chris, as he and I were friends long before I met her, and when he told me he thought SHE was pregnant I responded with 'Yeah, I think I am too...' and, lo and behold I was!) We told each other each harrowing and enchanting detail of it all. I visited my friends, and their newborn gorgeous baby girl in the hospital just 3 days before I had Caris. I told my friend how proud of her I was, what a great job she did, how beautiful L was and we both said how we couldn't wait for Caris to be born so we could have play dates. I was so excited to see them grow up together. In being pregnant at the same time as M, we were able to build a friendship and will be closer forever because of it.
The other friend, R, and I met at a Women's Retreat my church had in October of last year. We were the two pregnant girls there, obviously showing, and glowing as much as we could. We met because of that detail, and spent the 3 days chatting about our pregnancies, about how we were excited to be having girls, about how we were scared because this was our first child. She hadn't picked a name yet, and we talked about the names her and her husband, B, were thinking about. We had a chance to write cards at the retreat and have them delivered anonymously at the end of it. I wrote R a note telling her how blessed her baby girl was to have a mom like her... I believe I may have mentioned something about her and Caris growing up together, or playing, etc. I can't remember, and as much as I want to, I can't bring myself to ask R what the note said.
I have had a few tearless days the past few weeks and I treasure those days. Every day I look at pictures of Caris, and I spend some time in her nursery. If you've ever seen it, you know it's quite full... but I pull the chair up to her crib and go through the items that were meant for her. I reread cards people wrote, medical records, trace her footprints with my finger, hold her owl pillow, look in her 'going home bag' which we never even got to unzip. I had that bag packed two months before I had her... she was so anticipated, my precious baby girl.
It is so hard to not be jealous of my two friends. It's hard to not 'covet' their lives. But their baby girls are not my baby girl. Even though they are they same size and the same age, they are not my Caris AnnaBelle.
I have 7 more friends who had their babies weeks after Caris was born, one of them was my sister. I can't write about that yet... her Colt Austin has brought a lot of healing for me, but I have a lot of healing yet to do. In time I will write about him. The other six also had beautiful, healthy babies... 4 boys and 2 girls. It's hard for me to not 'covet' their lives as well. But I know I can't- no baby could ever be my Caris AnnaBelle.
I have a total of 9 friends, all of whom have had their children. And three more who are anxiously awaiting the arrival of their children. I guess that's what happens when you have a lot of friends. I am blessed to know a lot of people- through the 2 different churches I have been affiliated with, previous jobs including my job at the shipyard, and the women's ministry I am a part of.
I need to remind myself that while I was pregnant I was more than eager to share that title with these ladies. I need to remind myself that children are a gift from God, and some women can't have kids... I had my baby, I was blessed with Caris in my womb for 8 months + 1 week and for 6 days here on this earth. I am blessed because I know that I will get to spend eternity with my baby girl in Heaven. I am also saddened because I get to spend the rest of my life here on this earth without her... visiting her at her graveside just isn't enough. I see her everywhere I look. Every.Where. Not to mention, she looked just like her daddy, so every time I look at him I think of her. Every.Time. Sometimes I find myself staring at Chris, wondering if our daughter would have ever looked anything like me. He's gotten used to it, but in the beginning he thought I was going crazy because I just sit and look at him. She even had red hair... which makes me happy and sad all at the same time, because while Chris and I prayed complete health over Caris while I was pregnant, I also prayed for red hair. So, I think it's amazing that God gave her that reddish hair I was praying for. God works things out like that on purpose, I just know He does.
Ahhhhh... What's the point of this? I guess what I am trying to say is that I am incredibly happy for my friends who have incredibly beautiful children... I just wish that my baby girl was here to grow and play with them. And even though I will forever be a part of the 'mommy club' and I have a wonderful 7 year old stepson to help raise, most times I find it hard to think of myself as being a mom. Empty womb. Empty hands. It just doesn't seem right...

I got into a little arguement with my sister on Sunday about a feeding schedule for my nephew. He was whining and it was 30 minutes before his scheduled feeding time. I said "Why don't you just feed him? He can get on his own schedule later." her response, although not meant to pierce, did "I know what I'm doing, I've done this with my three other kids." -- she didn't say that out of anger or spite and I know she didn't even think about it, but reality hit me like a ton of bricks and I could only respond with "You're right, I'm sorry. I've never done it before so I wouldn't know" and I walked away from the table and threw away my lunch trash because I knew that had I not, I would start crying the really nasty looking cry where snot drips out your nose and tears soak your shirt so it looks like you've been running. I didn't want to walk around the mall like that. Sometimes I'm okay. And sometimes I'm not. It comes and goes.
I'm scared about Mother's Day. I bought cards for my friends already. I glanced them when I walked by the dresser today. I must have bought them on a 'cry-free' day because there's no way in hell I'd be able to buy them today...
Ah, random thoughts... I just know that I am still healing... and some days I go to my new mommy friend's facebook pages and smile at their new baby pictures. Other days, I don't even look at my facebook because I couldn't handle seeing them because I feel robbed. :( and I hate feeling that way!
End note- I praise God and am thankful that none of my friends had to endure the pain that Chris and I had to endure, and continue to endure. I don't know why this happened to us, but it is a 'club' I would never want ANYone to join. I need to focus more on the 'mommy club' and not so much on the 'baby loss club' -- and continue to remind myself that by not focusing on the latter club doesn't mean I don't think about Caris, it just means I think SO much of her and am SO PROUD to be her mommy, that the fact that she isn't here doesn't outweigh the fact that she WAS here, and lives forever in me and her daddy's hearts...
Yeah, I'll leave it at that.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Forever Changed

Every time I try to write something, it comes out all wrong. Every time I try to say something, it comes out all wrong. It seems the only thing I can do is text, and even then it comes out awkward, just ask my sister. Sheesh...

I guess my issue is that I have built up a wall around my heart, and although I honestly am the same loving, giving person I was before my daughter died, I have changed.

I can tell by the way I like to be alone now. I mostly prefer it. I'd rather sit on my couch with a good book than have a good friend sitting next to me. I'd rather drive aimlessly, alone, singing music on mixed cds from the most amazing friend, then listen to those same songs with that most amazing friend. I clean my house, all day long, then don't have people over to see how beautiful it is. It's like, my little fortress and I don't want anyone in it.

That's why yesterday was a big deal. Yesterday, my husband turned 29. I have always been big on making people feel like number ONE on their birthday. Like, last year for Chris' birthday I threw him this HUGE surprise party at our friend Staci's house, with tons of people from work. My husband doesn't like surprises, and is actually quite shy (how we ended up together is God's own miracle) so, to my dismay, when everyone yelled "SURPRISE!" as he walked out onto the deck, my husband (who was, at that time, only my boyfriend) just stood there and said "Hi." Bless his heart.

So, this year I was determined to not be let down, so, I planned a quiet dinner with us, his parents and grandpa Shuey. I wanted our friends Jim & Jolene to meet us at dinner along with their daughters, but that didn't work out. I wanted to just have dinner, then come home with my boys and play Lego Creationary or something... I wanted anything other than people in my house. BUT, I also didn't want it to be about ME because it was Chris' day. So, I invited Jim & Jolene over to the house after for cake and ice cream. I was so excited all day long to be able to see them because I honestly want to be around them so so much, and to hang out with our family and them. Towards 5 o'clock anxiety set in because I knew I wouldn't be alone that evening. My house was immaculate (well, as immaculate as it could be with a 7 year old... but honestly, it was probably eat-off-the-floor worthy) because I had been cleaning all day, every day this week. I got my love for cleaning from my mom. I never thought it would be a coping mechanism for handling my heartache.

When everyone was in the house, it was like I was myself again... perfectly content with having tons of people around me. I loved talking to Jolene & Cheryl about crafts and scents and girly things. I loved hearing Chris talk to Jim about random dude stuff, and I loved loved loved hearing Sebastion playing with Lydia in his room, beating up the 'bad guys' from their Lego castle. I loved not being alone. For the first time since Caris died.

Please don't be confused, I have done many activities with many people, gone many places, had many people over, and I loved it, because in that moment that was what I needed. What I am trying to say, and poorly I might add (I prefaced this entire blog with how I can't say anything write... now you can see what I mean) is that when I think back on the person I was before Caris... from my birth to my teens to my early twenties to before I found out I was pregnant with her... I was a totally different person.

I changed the moment I found out I was having a baby. I changed again when I felt my baby kick for the first time. I changed again when I found out we were having a girl. I changed again when we decided what her name would be, Caris meaning 'Grace' and AnnaBelle meaning 'Love' because just the sheer thought of having a baby girl with that name made me strive to be a woman, full of grace and love myself. I changed again when I felt that first contraction. When I thought for the very first time "this is it- I am about to meet my baby girl!" I changed again when they told me I needed to start pushing. Or, rather, when I told them I needed to start pushing after they'd told me several times I needed to wait. My body knew it was time. I changed again when I heard my mom, Kathy, Cheryl and Chris gasp after that last push because I knew my baby girl was born. I changed again when Chris and I were gripping each others hands so tight waiting to hear her cry. I can remember my nails digging into his palm. I changed again when we heard it. I changed again when they whisked her away to the NICU, for reasons unknown to me at that time. Chris went with the doctors, he wanted to be with his daughter.

I laid in the bed, so euphoric, knowing my baby girl was finally here. I chatted with Kathy, Cheryl and my mom. We cried a bunch cause she was finally here. We waited. 2 hours went by and finally Chris came back into the room to tell us why she was in there. I was forever changed when I found out she was on a ventilator to breathe. I changed again when at 2am in the morning the nurse came in and said she was being rushed to CHKD because of a hole they'd found in her heart and they told us she needed to have immediate surgery. I changed again when after nothing short of a miracle, my baby girl arrived at CHKD and no hole was found. My mom and Freddy tell the story that they believe there was a hole, yet God healed her on the way to CHKD due to the hundreds (and i mean, hundreds.) of people who were praying for her. Not even a day old, and she was already surrounded by so many people.

I changed again throughout her week at CHKD. I feel like I grew up a lot. Looking at my daughter laying there, so peacefully, probably dreaming about owls and reeses and chicfila sweet tea. We were surrounded by people the entire week. I wanted to be surrounded by people. I wanted my daughter to be surrounded by people. I wanted everyone to meet her. To see this beautiful baby girl that Chris and I had made together. A perfect picture of our love, joined together, half of him and half of me. A miracle from God himself. I am so grateful for the people who were able to meet her.

I was changed again when my mom and I drove up to UVA. I can't say I didn't expect bad news, but I can say my expectation for a miracle outweighed any expectation of bad news. I changed again when I was able to sit at my daughters bedside, caressing her head, holding her hand, singing to her. I wonder if she ever heard me. She looked at me once, at CHKD, on her 2nd day of life... but I wonder if she ever actually heard Chris or I talking to her in her short life.

I was forever. changed. when I knew my daughter had taken her last breath. When I saw the look on her doctor's faces right before they told me... that changed my life, forever.

When we buried our daughter, I think I had stopped changing. I think my emotional pain tolerance had built that wall up so high that change was impossible. I couldn't do anything different than what I had been doing. There was nothing I could do.

Chris and I spent much of the next week watching redbox movies in bed, sleeping, crying, talking, crying, sleeping. We spent a lot of time together, with no one else, and in that time I fell more in love with him than I could have every predicted.

That's why, for his 29th birthday, I knew that I had to change, again- I had to actually make myself get out of my comfort zone and push down this wall a little bit, and let our beautiful home that he provides for me and Sebastion, be seen, and filled, with people who genuinely love us.

I don't know if any of this makes much sense... I'm not going to reread or edit it. at all. I just know that my life was forever changed by our daughter, our sweet Caris AnnaBelle.

I want to make her proud of me. Chris says that all the time "She made us proud, so now it's our turn. She wouldn't want us to be sad or grumpy or miserable all the time. We can have our moments of weakness but we need to use those to glorify Caris, not wallow in our own self-pity." My husband says some pretty profound things sometimes.

Like I said, God's own miracle, putting us together. Chris and I were forever changed by our daughter. I just need to remember that we're still here, and we still need to make her proud. And I'd like to believe she'd be proud of me for knocking down this wall around my heart and be the loving and giving person I always was, just in a different way. Just because I was forever changed doesn't mean my love for people goes away... and so, I'm heading out to spend time with 5 of my favorite little people and my sister. And I'm hoping that as time progresses, and as we continue to heal, the Maggie my daughter helped create me to be will be full of grace, and full of love. Just as she would want.

Friday, April 1, 2011

March of Dimes Team Caris AnnaBelle Plug

We have more than TRIPLED our fundraising goal for Team Caris AnnaBelle and the March for Babies!!! The website is showing $1,777, which doesn't include the $120 that Lindsay Norton raised through her 31 Bags Open House, and whatever money Shanee Pigate raises at her Scentsy party tonight. Also, if you receive cash/check donations, please let me know so I can figure that into our final total.

I was also just informed by Shanee that Team Caris AnnaBelle is in SECOND place in fundraising out of ALL of the registered walking teams. SECOND PLACE!!!! :):)

To me, that is AMAZING! Every time I see the total go up on our fundraising it makes me literally cry because it means that someone was thinking of my baby girl. We are SO blessed to see so many people rallying together to help babies and families of sick babies.

I am grateful for all of you! Please make sure to sign up on the March of Dimes website if you plan on walking. If you can't walk but want to donate, please feel free!!! Link below:

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Too many shoulds, too many nevers, and too many tears

I should be holding a two month old baby girl right now. I should be visiting the doctor's office later today, seeing how much my baby girl has grown. I should be holding her hand as she gets her shots, crying more than she is from seeing her in that pain. I should be answering questions like "how is she sleeping? how often is she eating? what is her crying pattern like?" I should be dealing with diaper rash, sleepless nights, spit-up on my shirt...

What I shouldn't be doing is sitting here, alone, empty-handed, crying because I will never get to experience those things with my baby girl. I will never see her smile. I will never see her cry. I will never change her diaper. I will never feed her. I will never dress her. I will never see her crawl. I will never see her walk. I will never hear her talk. I will never read her a book. I will never give her a bath. I will never hear her say she hates me after I've grounded her. I will never chase away boys. I will never see her graduate. I will never see her get married. I will never coach her through labor and delivery, as my mother so lovingly did when I had her. I will never be able to give her advice. I will never be able to do anything with my baby girl.
All I can do is cry for her. and cry for me. and cry for my husband who is so damn strong sometimes it hurts. All I can do is go to her graveside and leave flowers. All I can do is talk to her, without response, which I do more often than I talk to anyone else, including God, these days.
Most of the time I am strong, but today- I'm letting myself be weak. Today, I am going to spend time with my stepson, and thank God that He has put Sebastion in my life. Today, I am going to remind myself that as much as I want Caris in my arms, I know that God's arms are stronger than mine, and He too knows the pain of watching His child die.
Today, I am going to be weak, and allow God to be strong for me, because I sure as hell can't do it. Not today.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Waiting for my wounds to become scars...

I love to write, I have always loved to write. I write everything down; little quotes or phrases I hear other people say, my random thoughts... I always have a small notepad and pen in my purse. So, I always take my writing as a privilege... as a gift God has given me... something that no one can take away from me. Except, myself.
I haven't allowed myself to write the past two weeks as some sort of punishment. Punishment for what I would like to call 'ruining my baby's life' - now, before you go on reading please know that I am not looking for any type of sympathy nor do I want a bunch of comments explaining how her death was not my fault. Deep down in my spirit I know her death was not my fault. Deep down in my spirit I know God has the ability to heal the sick. Deep down in my spirit I know there is a reason why he didn't heal my baby girl. I also know, deep down in my spirit, that I am pretty pissed off that He didn't.
I've spent the last two weeks on many different question stepping stones.
The first was: What did you do from conception to when you found out you were pregnant?
Answer: We found out at 5 weeks that I was pregnant. The first 5 weeks after conception I was a cigarette smoker, I had a few beers and I also was on an antibiotic for an infection.
The second was: What causes congenital heart defects?
Answer: Use of antibiotics around the time of conception, particularly sulfonamides and nitrofurantoin, are associated with major birth defects.
After answering the second question, I proceeded to throw the remaining stepping stones at the glass house I have been living in...
It hit me: Not only was I on an antibiotic around the time of conception, I was on both types listed above. The first, a sulfonamide, I was prescribed and then found to be allergic to. So, my doctor prescribed me a nitrofurantoin, along with steroids, Flexiril and Phenergan for nausea that was caused by taking the sulfonamide. I didn't take the Flexiril or Phenergan. I did, however, take the antibiotic which I now know causes major birth defects when taken around the time of conception.
It is believed that I conceived May 24th, 2010. I was prescribed all of the above beginning May 5th, 2010... meaning I took it around the time of conception.
I know that we don't have the autopsy results back, and even if we did it is still unknown if they would even be able to attribute my antibiotic usage to the cause of Caris' congenital heart disease. As I stated before, I know her death was not my fault.
But after reading stuff  like that, how am I supposed to feel??? What if the antibiotics did cause Caris to have a heart condition? What if I did unknowingly harm my unborn baby? What if, what if, what if?
I have no grand exit from these thoughts... I just know that for the past 2 weeks I have been punishing myself for even the slim possibility that my daughter had a 6-day life span because of a choice I made.
Even though it wasn't necessarily a bad choice, I had to make the choice to get my body well.
It also explains why I got pregnant in the first place, as I was on birth control. I have also since learned that antibiotics weaken the potency of such 'control.' 
I wouldn't wish a moment of it away for anything, however I just feel so damn bad believing this could in some way be my fault.
So, by ignoring God for the past two weeks, for floating around aimlessly, outside of myself sometimes it seems, by leaving my notepad and pen out of my purse, I have been punishing myself. I justified it by saying that God just wasn't talking to me. He wasn't trying to let me hear Him. He was ignoring me.
These lies made it easier to face the day.
Until, he spoke to me through someone I don't know. I know his sisters, and love them both dearly. But I couldn't tell you his middle name, or what he does for a living. What I can tell you is that God used a dark moment of his life years ago to speak to me in my darkest hour, to sing me a song when I felt God had turned His back on me. I had been, for two weeks, literally begging God to speak to me, all the while I was punishing  myself for what I thought I'd done to Caris. I kept telling Him that He wasn't speaking. That I couldn't hear Him. I kept asking WHY He was leaving me alone when I needed Him the most. And, this is what He allowed me to hear while I pleaded with Him to speak: 
The world is deep and I am drowning
The weights become too much to bear
Inside my heart there is a longing
To be set free from my despair
In a world consumed by passion
And driven by the thing's I hate
I find myself longing for your presence
I find myself longing to escape
And so I ask
Sing me a song
Sing me a song
When I'm broken and I'm alone
I pray you'll sing me a song
Daddy won't you sing me a song
Peter walked upon the water
Isaiah spoke the words of God
Is there such grace for me a child
Who has made you to bear his cross
Because I have taken all you've given me
And I have thrown it to the ground
I have squandered all your mercy
I have thrown away my crown
But still I ask
Sing me a song
Sing me a song
When I'm broken and I'm alone
I pray you'll sing me a song
Daddy won't you sing me a song
Because I have run
So far from you
And I have hidden
From your truth
With all I've done
So little... So little remains
But all I am, while broken
Is still all that you've created...
While this music is my soul
Your voice is the melody that defines it
Sing me a song
Sing me a song
When I'm broken and I'm alone
I pray you'll sing me a song
Daddy won't you sing me a song
And He did... He sang me a song through the voice of Ben Rothwell.
I seriously felt so many walls crash down Friday night when I heard Ben sing that song. Then, more walls crashed when I heard my pastor preach Saturday night, and even more walls crashed down when I heard my mom preach on Sunday morning. She was speaking directly to me, everyone there told me so. If they can see and hear God speaking to me, why can't I??? I need to learn to listen.
I can't say that I won't sometimes still feel burdened by these thoughts that I may have in some way caused my daughter's death... but what I can say is that I can live believing that He will continue to speak to me. And He will continue to hold my broken heart in one hand, as He cradles my baby girl with His other hand.

I am anxious for the day when these wounds turn into scars. Until then, I just gotta keep listening. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My favorite thing to talk about is my baby girl...

This has been a difficult week for me. It began with my six-week post-birth checkup. I will be honest and say I almost rescheduled it about a dozen times. I almost dialed the number and pushed it back because I didn't know if I was ready for that or not. Well, actually, I just thought I wasn't ready and so I needed some more time. But really, would I ever be ready?
So, I braved it. My appointment was at 10:15am. My nerves were shot, which elevated my BP a little bit. I had lost some more weight since I last checked, so that was nice. It is probably attributed to the fact that my diet is wishy-washy, which I am also still working on. I peed in the cup, and went back to the room and sat on the uncomfy bed waiting for the physician to come see me.

Let me just say: my physician is amazing. Her name is Tammy, and she was amazing throughout my entire pregnancy. She was always direct, and straight-forward. She spoke to me like a peer, and was very honest regarding everything with my health and Caris' health during my pregnancy. I had thought about how my conversation would go with her at my appointment. In all honestly, I agonized about it. I couldn't decide if I wanted to say as little as possible to be able to hold it together, or if I wanted to dish it all to share the brief life of Caris with the woman who helped me along the way to her birth.
I chose the latter. Tammy walked in and said she was so sorry about what happened, but she didn't know too much. I spent the next hour and a half talking about my baby girl. I told her everything- from the moment I felt contractions to the moment she took her last breath. I talked about how beautiful she was and how loved she was. I LOVED telling Tammy all about her. I wish she could have met her.
I didn't cry, at all. I know that's because God and my little girl gave me the courage to talk about her. I don't want to become a puddle on the floor every time I talk or think about her. I want to be able to share her life openly, anytime. I really believe God is doing a work in me to allow that to happen. I feel peaceful when I think about her. I don't feel bitter anymore... It may come in waves, but I am not in the constant state anymore, which is nice. I am sure my husband appreciates that as well.
Chris and I were talking yesterday about her and I got upset because it hit me that I never saw her butt. I don't know where the thought came from, I just said aloud to him last night "You know, I'm upset. I never even got to see her butt! Or her back!" The only reason I got to see the back of her head was because she was always on one side or the other. Chris did get to see her whole body. He opted to watch them bathe her after she'd passed at UVA. I declined, and sat in the room with my mom, both of us staring at the wall. Not really sure what to say- knowing that our lives were, again, forever changed.
I am still struggling with why she was sick... the autopsy results should come in by May 2nd. I know I've said that before but they are so highly anticipated I think about it at least once a day.
I can look at our pictures of her, and the stuff in her crib, and her clothes and her nursery without crying. When I close my eyes I can see her eyes, the one time she ever looked at me, the one time she ever opened her eyes (that I know of) while she was alive... Of course, as I type this, I am crying...but I haven't been crying that much this week, just reflecting, so I guess it was bound to happen.
I am looking forward to the March of Dimes walk in her honor, team Caris AnnaBelle. We've almost raised $1000 in her honor to go towards helping moms have full-term pregnancies and babies begin healthy lives.
I'm proud of my baby girl... she has touched a lot of people. She has made a lot of people fall deeper in love with their little ones. Her own doctor at UVA updated her status on facebook the night Caris passed and said "On nights like this I thank god for my healthy baby girl!" -- I hope that doesn't look stalkerish, but I did look her up to send her an email and thank her for what she did for us and our baby girl.
So, parents, thank God everyday for your miracles. I know I do.