Friday, June 17, 2016

Stillbirth

Today marks 11 years since a baby boy was born into this world. He was born on June 17, 2005. His name was Nathan Levi Brown. He was my husbands baby brother. He was born still.


During our first pregnancy when we found out we were having a boy Mike mentioned to me about naming him Nathan in memory of his baby brother. Deep down I had this fear (crazy I know) that something would happen to our baby if we named him Nathan Levi after his brother - so we settled on Levi Nathan who you all know is our super rambunctious three year old. 

We couldn't have imagined when we were pregnant with our sweet daughter that she would end up passing away. You know the story well and several months shy of 11 years later Abby joined Nathan in the plot beside his. 



Nathan and Abby were on my mind all day and I just had to go to the cemetery to visit their graves. Levi tagged along to keep me company. We stopped for some flowers for the graves and balloons to release. A blue star for Nathan and a pink heart for Abby. 



Levi really had no intentions of letting the blue balloon go but it slipped from his grasp. There may have been a few tears shed. But I told him it did a good job and he really sent that balloon flying into the clouds for Nathan so that seemed to make him a little bit happy. We may be visiting the Dollar Store for a blue star balloon tomorrow. ;-)


I can't imagine a more peaceful and beautiful resting place than this. Nestled between fields near the mountains. It was just calming to sit there.


I know Cathy wishes she would have gotten a picture of Nathan because it's hard to remember all the details of how he looked so I'm sharing one we have of her holding Abby <3 


Happy Birthday in Heaven Nathan!! 





Thursday, June 16, 2016

Hagerstown City Park

I'm so sad about the lack of time in my life for blogging. I miss being able to sit down and share what's going on with me (and us). I just had to pop in quick and share some pictures. A small trip down memory lane as I share a pictures of Levi at Hagerstown park each year since he's been born. And some favorites from last Sunday when we visited the park. Levi loves going there to play at the park! 

  2013


2014


2015


2016






I love my family!! <3

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Three Months Into Our New Journey

Three months already. Three months ago we started on this journey. The journey that would bring us to where we are today. Living life without one of our children.



I love that we were able to take so many pictures of all our time with Abby. Although, I still can't look at them without all the memories rushing back. Without tears running down my face. But I treasure them so!

 I remember how much hope I had when Abby's little hand held my finger. I thought she was going to have a long road ahead of her but that everything was going to be ok. I don't think that losing her was even a possibility in my mind at this point. They said the cooling blanket had a high success rate and I didn't think for one minute that it wasn't going to work for Abby too. Between that and the power of prayer I knew everything was going to be OK.


But suddenly deep down we knew. We would walk slowly down the short hall from our room to the NICU. We wanted to spend every non-sleeping minute with Abby. But neither of us wanted to hear those dreaded words we knew were coming. The words telling us that our little baby girl wasn't going to be ok. We didn't want to face the decisions that we were going to have to face. Through these days we leaned on each other for support. And the power of those prayers were oh so crucial in helping us get through those long hard days. 


It was so difficult saying goodbye each time we left our girl for the night. We wanted to stay but got to the point where you were so physically and emotionally exhausted that you just had to get away for a little while and recharge on what little sleep we were getting. I remember this night in particular we were having trouble leaving her and ended up taking the blanket she was laying on with us back to the room. We still have the blanket and it's a special memento to us. 


I still remember how the NICU was so accommodating. Even after we knew that Abby wasn't going to survive they still did want they could to make her (and us) comfortable. They didn't rush us through any decisions or processes. They lovingly did everything possible to support us through the hardest days of our lives. These next pictures were right before bed, when we'd kiss her good bye so many times, dragging our feet when it came to leaving and thankful we were just down the hall in case something happened.




I never imagined I'd have a baby that would fit so perfectly into a newborn outfit. What a beautiful little doll she was! Mike would always kiss her and tell her how beautiful she was. I was never really able to do that - I would try but trying to get those words out would just make me bawl. I'd tell her I love you. And I would tell her that I was so sorry for what she was going through(she was always so peaceful which I was always thankful for). And I was able to show her so much love through my touch. I made sure she was always held by someone and at night time when I couldn't hold her I would snuggle her in right next to me - keeping her close because we never were quite sure when she was going to slip away from us.


Remember how I thought everything was going to be OK? Well, it is OK. We are all doing OK. Although it is not at all what we wanted we have found our new normal without Abby. Not a day goes by without thinking of her several times. Some days hurt more than others. Wednesdays I think about her being born, Thursdays I think about her passing away, Saturdays I think about her being buried. So many memories packed into 15 days. She is permanently imprinted upon our hearts. I don't believe the ache in our hearts will every completely go away. Unless God makes it clear to us we will always wonder why. Why did this have to happen to us. Why did our little girl, who was so wanted and so loved have to leave us? But we also know that God is good. And that God is in control. And that even when we don't understand we can still trust Him. God is faithful and continues to heal our broken hearts. And even though it won't be the same as an earthly relationship we have the hope of seeing Abby in heaven someday. Which I'm sure will be far greater than we can ever imagine! 


P.S. It is late(I should be sleeping) and my proof reader is sleeping so hopefully there aren't to many typos in this post(always a concern). If so I will try to fix them later. Love to you all!! 


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Happy 3rd Birthday Levi

And suddenly, just like that we have a three year old! And a pretty cute one at that. Of course I realize as his Mommy my opinion is somewhat biased but seriously is he not the cutest?!

Taking pictures was as challenging as normal. He wasn’t at all interested in sitting still so I could get a decent picture. Moments like these are when it’s lucky he’s cute!



He’s also not a fan of having happy birthday sung to him. And really overall disliked being the center of attention. I mean, it’s ok when it’s on his terms but he didn’t even eat cake until everyone had left.




Being the little goober that he is!

I *think* he had fun opening his presents. He just jumped from one thing to another. Basically he had a 1.9 second attention span. It’s not worth getting him to many presents because it takes forever for him to open them(in turn driving me crazy!).


He got some great new toys that should hopefully keep him occupied for awhile. Hopefully he’ll grow with the train table and have hours of fun playing with it!!


Happy 3rd Birthday Little Man!! 

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Memories of Abby


Yesterday a new Mommy was added to a infant loss group I'm part of on Facebook. Today I added this Mommy as a friend and I began to scroll down her Facebook page looking at pictures of her little baby girl that just passed away last week. And in one of the pictures I saw it. Her little baby girl was swaddled up in this same swaddle Abby is wearing in the photo. So many emotions filled me when I saw that picture. So many bittersweet memories came rolling back. The night this picture was taken we wept over out little baby girl. We knew what was coming the next day. That we would begin to unhook her little body from all the machines, that she would have her first and last bath, that we would try to smile through out tears while we had our pictures taken, and then we would wait out those last days of her life. Though we trusted God in our minds we still thought how unfair it was that this little girl that we loved and wanted so much was going to be taken from us. And because I'm human even now sometimes I still think that it was unfair. But I still trust God because I know He loves me. I still trust God because I know He also loves Abby. 

I don't know if people are still wondering how we are doing or not. But I think we are doing good. It feels like we are doing good. I feel that being able to type out our feelings through all of this has been very healing. Words that otherwise would have been bottled up inside me(us) because I wouldn't have been able to get most of it out without crying. And so many people have told me that they've been so touched by our words and have appreciated being able to "in a sense" go through this journey with us. These are words I'm always blessed to hear. 


I wanted to end with this wonderful article that a friend recently shared with me. Titled "What I wish more people understood about losing a child" 

You can read the entire article here: http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-17928/what-i-wish-more-people-understood-about-losing-a-child.html And #1 is a big one for me. I just don't want people to forget. Yes, we want to have another baby but if/when that happens that baby will never replace Abby. 

1. Remember our children.
The loss of children is a pain all bereaved parents share, and it is a degree of suffering that is impossible to grasp without experiencing it first hand. Often, when we know someone else is experiencing grief, our discomfort keeps us from approaching it head on. But we want the world to remember our child or children, no matter how young or old our child was.
If you see something that reminds you of my child, tell me. If you are reminded at the holidays or on his birthday that I am missing my son, please tell me you remember him. And when I speak his name or relive memories relive them with me, don't shrink away. If you never met my son, don't be afraid to ask about him. One of my greatest joys is talking about Brandon.

2. Accept that you can't "fix" us.
An out-of-order death such as child loss breaks a person (especially a parent) in a way that is not fixable or solvable — ever! We will learn to pick up the pieces and move forward, but our lives will never be the same.
Every grieving parent must find a way to continue to live with loss, and it's a solitary journey. We appreciate your support and hope you can be patient with us as we find our way.
Please: don't tell us it's time to get back to life, that's it's been long enough, or that time heals all wounds. We welcome your support and love, and we know sometimes it hard to watch, but our sense of brokenness isn't going to go away. It is something to observe, recognize, accept. 

3. Know that there are at least two days a year we need a time out.
We still count birthdays and fantasize what our child would be like if he/she were still living. Birthdays are especially hard for us. Our hearts ache to celebrate our child's arrival into this world, but we are left becoming intensely aware of the hole in our hearts instead. Some parents create rituals or have parties while others prefer solitude. Either way, we are likely going to need time to process the marking of another year without our child.
Then there's the anniversary of the date our child became an angel. This is a remarkable process similar to a parent of a newborn, first counting the days, then months then the one year anniversary, marking the time on the other side of that crevasse in our lives.
No matter how many years go by, the anniversary date of when our child died brings back deeply emotional memories and painful feelings (particularly if there is trauma associated with the child's death). The days leading up to that day can feel like impending doom or like it's hard to breathe. We may or may not share with you what's happening.
This is where the process of remembrance will help. If you have heard me speak of my child or supported me in remembering him/her, you will be able to put the pieces together and know when these tough days are approaching.

4. Realize that we struggle every day with happiness.
It's an ongoing battle to balance the pain and guilt of outliving your child with the desire to live in a way that honors them and their time on this earth.
I remember going on a family cruise eighteen months after Brandon died. On the first day, I stood at the back of the ship and bawled that I wasn't sharing this experience with him. Then I had to steady myself, and recognize that I was also creating memories with my surviving sons, and enjoying the time with them in the present moment.
As bereaved parents, we are constantly balancing holding grief in one hand and a happy life after loss in the other. You might observe this when you are with us at a wedding, graduation or other milestone celebration. Don't walk away — witness it with us and be part of our process.

5. Accept the fact that our loss might make you uncomfortable.
Our loss is unnatural, out-of-order; it challenges your sense of safety. You may not know what to say or do, and you're afraid you might make us lose it. We've learned all of this as part of what we're learning about grief.
We will never forget our child. And in fact, our loss is always right under the surface of other emotions, even happiness. We would rather lose it because you spoke his/her name and remembered our child, than try and shield ourselves from the pain and live in denial.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Remembering the Labor and Delivery of Levi

Mike keeps saying I should post Levi's birth story since it's his birthday. So here we go(don't think I remember all this -  I already had it written).

March 21st – Currently a week and one day past my estimated due date. Saw the midwife and she didn’t think I’d make it through the weekend. Just in case I scheduled a biophysical profile for the following Monday.

March 25th – Went for the biophysical profile the baby looked great. Still on for the homebirth. Went and saw the midwife, she checked and I was 2cm dilated. At almost 42 weeks that was not all that encouraging to me. Should be soon!

March 26th – Still no baby and only one more day until I was 42 weeks. A normal gestation period is 38-42 weeks. The average is 40 weeks. I was ok with going up to 42 weeks but didn’t feel comfortable going past that. So I got in touch with an OBGYN in case an induction was needed. I made an appointment for the morning of the 27th. I was told they don’t let their expectant Mom’s go past 41 weeks and that I would more than likely be sent right to the hospital(which I expected). After the phone call as a last resort I attempted to get contractions started with nipple stimulation. And it was actually working. I was having contractions about 10 minutes apart all day. And then toward late afternoon they started getting closer together. About supper time they picked up to 5 minutes apart and I no longer needed to do any stimulation. After supper I wanted ice cream so we went to Meadows for custard. :) As the evening progressed the contractions started to slow down to 6-8 minutes apart which was discouraging. I attempted to rest that night but the contractions kept coming and got closer together again so there was no rest for the weary. Early Wednesday morning I found myself leaning over the bathroom sink(a favorite spot) with contractions coming 3/4 minutes apart and getting more intense. I decided it was time to call the midwife and Mike filled the birth pool while we waited for her. She arrived around 3:30 and her assistant soon after. I was thinking we were getting closer to Levi’s birth. If only I had known…

Since I was in labor my appointment with the OBGYN was cancelled and most of Wednesday was spent like this and in other various positions. I knew labor would be hard and painful but I never could imagined how bad it would be. I won’t even talk about all the the moaning/groaning I did.



I think my love for my husband quadrupled over those few days. He was awesome and wonderful and barely left my side. My heart swells with love every time I look at these pictures.



By that evening the contractions were slowing. Not at all what I wanted. We sent the midwife and assistant home and I tried to rest hoping that the next day would bring Levi. I labored through the night. Contractions 8/15 minutes apart making it impossible to sleep. I got a little rest but not what I had hoped for.

March 28th -  By Thursday afternoon the contractions were back to 4/6 minutes apart and lasting a minute and a half long. Then they went from that to being back to back. Yup, awful and I think this is the only time I shed a few tears. When checked I was only 5/6 centimeters dilated. Yup, all that work and only half way there. Oh and lying on my back was pretty much the worst position to be in!!

At around 9:20 my water broke. I was thinking finally! Now we can really make some process!

March 29th – A few very painful hours later no more process had really been made and after days of contractions I was finally starting to lose control from the pain. When the midwives said it could still be hours until he came I made the call to head to the hospital for an epidural… I had endured all that I could. I was pretty worried about the trip to the hospital. Even though it’s only a 5/10 minute ride. I’m pretty sure my contractions once again slowed down while we were throwing a bag together for the hospital/during the ride over.

I believe my midwife called ahead to let them know we were coming but I can’t even remember. We arrived at the hospital around 3:30am. Mike dropped me off at the ER and a nurse wheeled me up to the the maternity floor. A nurse checked me and again said 5/6 cm dilated. Mike came in around then and said she was saying I was going to end up with a c-section because something didn’t feel right. Then the Doctor came in to also check me and do a sonogram. She said everything looked fine and they were going to let me continue to labor with an epidural and see what happened.

The epidural wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. Maybe my senses were just dulled for all the pain I had experienced but it didn’t really hurt that much when they put it in. The bad thing was that once I was all hooked up I was finally getting relief from the contractions on the right side of my body but they were still awful on the left side. So everything was ripped out and inserted a second time. Probably getting the tape ripped of my back hurt more than the insertion of the epidural. But the second time worked and I was FINALLY pain free, the lights were dimmed and I was ready for some sleep(as much as you can get in a hospital).

A few hours later a midwife was in to see us. She said my contractions had spaced out to 8 minutes apart and weren’t picking up. I was still around 5 cm dilated and they were going to start me on pitocin to try and get them closer together. I’m not sure what time it was at this point. probably 8:30 or so. A few hours later there still wasn’t any change. I can’t remember if they had upped the pitocin level but I think they did. Levi’s heart decals were starting to flatten a little bit so they were keeping an eye on that. A few more hours later and the on call Doctor was brought in to check on me. I was still no more dilated than when I had arrived at the Doctors and while I had the option to continue to labor his recommendation was a c-section. Because of how long I had been in labor, the lack of any progress, and Levi’s heart decals we decided to go that route before it ended up becoming a emergency c-section. Plus I was just so ready to meet by baby and relieved that it was finally going to happen.

At one point I had eaten a blue raspberry popsicle(that didn’t stay down) and it had made my lips/tongue VERY blue. I can’t tell you how many times I was asked if I was ok and why were my lips blue. Haha! Even the anesthesiologist was asking.

They rolled me into the operating room and started prepping me for surgery. The guys in there were hilarious. Asking me if I could get myself from the bed to the operating table (umm nope I have no feeling in my legs). Telling me that they were doing to do what they called the “log roll” to get me onto the operating table. And that they only drop people on Fridays. Haha! They did know how to lighten the mood. Once Mike came in I told him the first thing I wanted to do when it was all over was eat something. He thought I was loopy from the drugs but I was seriously HUNGRY and hadn’t had a real meal in forever! ;-)

And then it happened, at 2:44pm we heard a little (very little) cry and Levi was here!! Once they had me cut Mike got to peek around the sheet while they pulled him out. And then they brought him around so I could see him for a second before they took him away. Mike went with them and was able to cut his cord(for the second time). Weighted in at 9lbs 7 ounces and was 23 inches long. And he was also posterior which is why my labor wasn’t progressing the way it should have been.





I ended up staying in the hospital from Friday until Monday because I had been running a high temperature and they were worried about a uterine infection. All was good though and I couldn’t have been happier to get home with our new little bundle.

No it wasn’t at all the homebirth I had envisioned but we were all healthy and that was the most important thing of all!!


I was so thankful to finally have him home and to be able to look over and see him in the pack n' play. It sat there empty waiting for a month!!


Such a sweet little man!! 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Happy 3rd Birthday Levi!!


Handsome little man of mine, tonight's writing takes me from tears to smiles. You bring so much joy into my life. Although it's 10:30 and you just started crying. And of course I have no idea why you are crying and I'm pretty sure you don't either. So you are in your room bawling and I am sitting out in the hallway typing. Maybe I'm a mean Mom but sometimes you just can't be reasoned with. It seems like you want to read Llama Llama Nighty Night but then again you really don't. Ahh, toddlers! And then just like that I lay down with you, you have some water and fall back to sleep. I guess you just want to remind me what it's like to not get much sleep. 

Three years ago bringing you into this world wasn't all that easy either. You were very over due and labor dragged on forever until we ended up having a c-section. Totally unplanned and totally worth it. Our little bundle of joy! I will share a few favorite photos... Or will try too. It's so hard to just pick a couple.












Just how did you get so big so fast buddy?! Mommy is glad you still let her rock you at night. And your I love you's are so sweet and the way you like to hold my hand if I'm sitting beside you. You are head strong but a great kid and I can't wait to have 3 year old adventures with you!! 

Love ya kiddo!! Happy 3rd Birthday!! <3