Archive | July 2012

Vacation!

After a very emotionally challenging pregnancy and delivery, we have finally been able to book a vacation to get away!  Thanks to our fantastic family, and some wonderful friends, we were able to use their timeshare in the Bahamas for a wonderful week of relaxation and fun in the sun!  It was so nice to be able to take the time to breathe the salty sea air and feel the sand between our toes.  A week in paradise is just what the doctor ordered.  We took a tour of the island on jetskis, found giant starfish, went snorkeling, and even fed schools of fish with dog treats!  These fish were biting them right out of my hands!

Of course, there was a time or two while on vacation that our grief caught up with us and stared at us straight in the eyes.  We embraced it as we always do.  We were sitting together on the beach just listening to the waves crashing onto the sand.  That is when it hit me.  I wished Sephora were with us in that moment.  I wrote her name in the sand and watched as the waves washed it away.  The Garden of the Groves, (one of the most glorious gardens in the country of the Bahamas created by one of the earliest developers of the island of Freeport, Sir Wallace Groves), was another place that will remind us of her.  This garden is filled with beautiful flowers and animals native to the Bahamas.  We’ve somehow connected flowers, gardening, butterflies, and nature to our little Sephora.  Whenever we experience some beautiful part of God’s handiwork, we stop to take a minute to breathe and collect ourselves, praying in some way to connect with our little Sephora once again.  She has a piece of my heart, and she’s with me always.  I ache to touch her again. The Trisomy 13 took you from us too soon my little angel.  I’d do anything to have our precious angel in our arms to cuddle with again.  10 weeks without her has felt like years.  Sephora, until it is mommy and daddy’s turn to be called home, you keep on playing and singing with the other angel babies, family, and friends in Heaven.  We’ll certainly see you again one day, and until that day, your daddy and mommy will always have an open space in our hearts for you.  We adore, and miss you so much!

Psalm 34:18 ESV

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”

 

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The Right Place At The Right Time

Yesterday was Sephora’s 2 month birthday.  I was a bit down, so I met one of my girlfriends for lunch and about an hour to just socialize, which was absolutely wonderful.  Before we left and went our separate ways, she handed me a white box wrapped in a pink tulle.  Inside was a little plaque with a butterfly on it that read, “Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away.”  A great reminder of Sephora’s wonderful story.  Although her life was short, she has changed the lives of many.  My friend also gave me a necklace with charms inside the box, with an Angel’s wing and Sephora’s name.  Kimberly has been so wonderful to Chris and me.  Everything she has given to us as a memento to and for Sephora, throughout our entire pregnancy and after Sephora was born, has been so powerful for us.  I wish I possessed the spiritual gift of discernment that she does.  She just understands in her own powerful way what could be soothing and comforting to us, and she gets it right every single time.

After lunch, I had a few hours to kill before I needed to be at work, so I headed to the mall.  Thanks to Memaw, (my maternal grandma), I had many gift cards left over from Christmas to do a little bit of shopping!  I usually don’t enjoy shopping for myself, but seeing as I was in a pretty great mood, I took advantage of it!  The last place I stopped was the bookstore.  I picked up Nicholas Sparks’ newest book, and continued to walk around the store.  I passed by and then walked through the section about pregnancy.  I was drawn to one of Anne Geddes photo books, so I grabbed it and walked to the farthest corner of the store so I could thumb through it in peace.  Anyway, a few minutes after that, a woman with 2 young kids and a sales clerk walked passed me, and headed for the farthest bookshelf in the whole store.  You’ll never believe which one that was…THE SECTION ABOUT GRIEF AND LOSS.  Me, being the nosey person I am, tried to eavesdrop to see what exactly they were looking for.  I heard the woman mention something about a child.  My heart started pounding, my face turned beat red, and I started to shake.  When they walked out of the aisle, I spoke up and asked if they were looking for books about the loss of a child.  The woman said her brother and sister-in-law had just lost a baby on May 1.  I began with my story…”I lost my baby 2 months ago today.”  I quickly called Chris to get the names of some of the books we’d read that we absolutely found helpful and gave the list to her.  We continued to talk for a bit, and she had shared that this baby had a horrible diagnosis of Trisomy 13.  “That’s what my baby had!”  I think we spoke for nearly an hour about our situations, how Chris and I are coping, and how she could help her brother and sister-in-law, (from my perspective).  I gave her my information and asked her to please share it with her family.  If there is one thing I’ve learned through this whole experience, is God puts people in our lives to help us cope, learn, laugh, cry, grieve, and walk through our experiences while helping each other grow all at the same time.  I was led to look through that book in the far corner of the store, not knowing I would meet Melissa, and guide her to a great spiritual based book to give to her sister-in-law.  I walked away with the satisfaction that I had been used by the same gracious God who has been carrying my husband and me to help another grieving family going through the same exact situaltion.  I hope this woman chooses to contact me.  It has been so important for us as a couple to walk through our pain with others that understand.

“In the same way, let your light shine before people in such a way that they will see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 (International Standard Version @2008)

Our Angel – 2 Months Later

It’s hard to believe Sephora’s due date was only last week, but she was born 2 months ago today.  Sometimes, I feel like my body betrayed me.  Preeclampsia?  HELLP Syndrome?  Really?!  Because I got sick at 32 weeks 3 days, our precious Sephora was born earlier than we had planned for.  As I am reminded of the sound of her heart beat from the bear that plays it across the room, I’m taken back to the memories of the hospital that day.  Since I wasn’t going to be put through the labor process, there was no concern for Sephora’s tiny heart and body to be stressed.  The Trisomy 13 affected every single cell in her body, making all parts of her organs “abnormal.”  We didn’t know how she would do once the umbilical cord was cut and she was separated from me.  Therefore, we listened to the sound of her heart beat for the 9 hours we were in my room, before they had taken me back for a c-section.

From the second Chris brought her over to me, I was in love.  This tiny little person, who we created, who we got to know for 8 short months, had completely stolen a piece of my heart.  Although she never opened her eyes to see me, she knew who I was.  When the doctors said she’d only survive a few minutes, I mustered up the courage to sing our song, “You Are My Sunshine.”  She came to life as I sang to her.  She wasn’t so blue anymore.  She started to cry a little bit more.  Each time I sang, she would quiet herself to listen.  Yes.  She knew me.  She knew love.  She’ll open her eyes to see me when I meet her again in Heaven.  Our precious baby.  Our tiny angel.  Our Sephora Angeline. I can almost hear my little angel whispering one of the most powerful biblical quotes my husband and I have read since going through our situation….through the apostle John, Sephora tells me,

“So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” John 16:22 (NIV)

Because I Knew You

I was teaching one of my voice students this weekend, and was reminded of a beautiful song that absolutely touched my heart.  “For Good” from Wicked.  I have come to realize this song actually embodies Sephora’s life and story, from the moment she was created, through the 4 1/2 hours she lived due to Trisomy 13.  Her story of life and love has touched the hearts of many, and inspired so many more.  We each were created for a specific purpose.  Each of us has this innate desire to discover our life’s purpose and to share it with others.  Sephora has forever left an imprint on my heart not because she was my daughter, but because she has inspired me to help others.  She’s taught me that I am in no way in control of every aspect of my life, or can I ever be.  Her life has challenged me to be better.  She has challenged me to sing again.  She has challenged me to be humble and compassionate.  She has challenged me to be vulnerable enough to share her story to serve God’s life purpose for her–To live life.  To know, share, and experience love.  To have hope, faith, and experience the peace that passes all understanding.

I’ve heard it said that people come into our lives for a reason, bringing something we must learn.  And we are led to those who help us most to grow, if we let them, and we help them in return.  Well, I don’t know if I believe that’s true.  But I know I’m who I am today because I knew you… Like a comet pulled from orbit as it passes the sun.  Like a stream that meets a boulder halfway through the wood.  Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?  But because I knew you, I have been changed for good.  It well may be that we will never meet again in this lifetime.  So let me say before we part.  So much of me is made from what I learned from you.  You’ll be with me like a hand print on my heart.  And now whatever way our stories end, I know you have re-written mine by being my friend… Like a ship blown from its mooring by a wind off the sea.  Like a seed dropped by a sky bird in a distant wood.  Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?  But because I knew you, I have been changed for good.

Sephora’s story has forever changed my life, and will continue to shape me forever.

“For whatever was written was given to us for our learning, that through patience and comfort of the scriptures we might have hope. ” (Romans 15:4)

Sephora’s Due Date

I woke up this morning knowing that today was the day Sephora was “supposed” to be born.  Instead, she was born 7 1/2 weeks ago, due to me developing a severe case of preeclampsia and HELLP Syndrome.  Had she been the “typical healthy” child, she would have survived.  Her heart wasn’t strong enough.  Her lungs weren’t ready.  Her tiny but perfect head was filled with fluid.  Trisomy 13 had completely taken over her body.  Despite all of these abnormalities, the extra 13th chromosome in every cell in her body, and 2 extra fingers…she was perfect.  Our beautiful little girl had curly, dark brown hair.  She weighed 3 pound 9 ounces, and was 16 inches long.  She had the tiniest cry, and would stop crying to listen to me sing the song I’d sung to her every day since we found out we were pregnant…”You Are My Sunshine.”  She lived 4 1/2 hours and passed in my arms at 2:50am.  I held her in my arms and kept her warm through the night as I slept, until I returned her to her bassinet at 8am to eat breakfast.  She stayed with us almost the entire time we were in the hospital.  As the sun shines and the butterflies fly through her garden, I know she is at peace.  I know she knew love.  I know she smiles down from Heaven at us and laughs with her other angel baby friends.  She was our first born.  Our first daughter.  Our “Beautiful Angel.”  Our Sephora Angeline.

1 Samuel 1:27–28
“I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of Him. So now I give him [her] to the LORD. For his [her] whole life he [she] will be given over to the LORD.” (NIV)

A Major Life Adjustment

After a very difficult 1st week back to work, I feel like I am finally adjusting to my life without Sephora.  Losing her so quickly after birth to Trisomy 13, has been the most challenging and difficult adjustment I’ve ever lived through.  I never thought going back to work would be as depressing as it was.  I thought working would bring back a sense of normalcy.  It’s been 7 weeks since she was born, and unfortunately, most people have moved on and aren’t grieving for her anymore.   Sephora just wasn’t part of their reality.  She will always be a part of my reality.  She’ll always be my first born.  She’ll always be my first daughter.  She has my heart, and a piece has been broken for her.  While many have moved on, I unfortunately, don’t believe I’ll ever stop grieving for her.  I’ve read most of a parents grief begins to fizzle a little bit after 2 years has passed!  I can’t imagine continuing this grieving cycle for two years!  I’ve discovered grief is all part of the process, but Sephora would really want us to continue life without her and to be happy.  She knows how much we love her, and she’ll never be forgotten.  We gave her love every day of her life from the moment she was beginning to grow.  I believe when we laugh, she laughs as well.  Sephora will always be a part of us, and I’m sure we will see aspects of her in our other children.

Chris and I have decided after living all of Sephora’s life, carrying her for as long as we were able, feeling her move in my belly, listening to her heart beat, singing to her every day, and then having to kiss her and send her up to Heaven, we are in desperate need of a vacation!  We need a place to go to get away for a little while to reconnect and relax.  I know we won’t be able to escape from our grief, but leaving our home to go to paradise will definitely be a wonderful change of scenery.  We are hoping to go somewhere in the Carribbean within the next few weeks.  Fingers crossed a wonderful vacation makes its way to us!

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 ESV

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.


Time Doesn’t Heal All Wounds

Last week was my first day back to work since I’d been cleared by my doctor earlier this week since becoming ill while pregnant, and losing our little angel baby, Sephora.  I have to say, at first, I was pretty excited to be able to get back to see my coworkers and get out of the house for a few hours.  When I pulled into the parking lot, my heart started to race.  I said a little prayer to myself to keep me calm, and walked inside.  I slowly made my way through the front doors and said hello to the few people I first saw.  I answered the “How are you” questions with a very brief, “Ok,” and kept moving.  As more and more people started entering the building, I was greeted by the hugs, the “You look amazing” responses, and the same “How are you” questions that I discovered I wasn’t really prepared to answer.  It was quite overwhelming at first.  The last time I was in that building, my ankles were so swollen and I had a definite pregnant belly with my precious little Sephora safely curled up inside.  As I inspected my uniform and looked down at my now flat belly, I was reminded that she wasn’t there.  I did my best not to make eye contact with anyone unless I absolutely had to.  I didn’t want nor did I need any more attention than I was already getting, whether it be negative or positive.  I fought back tears for what felt like hours as I worked.  I said another prayer to myself asking for the peace that eventually came when I exited the building.  If I could have gone into a far corner and cried to myself, I think I would have felt much better.

When the work day ended, I headed home to my husband.  As I spoke to him over the phone on the drive home, I heard in his voice that he was doing just about as well as I was, unfortunately.  I said another prayer to prepare myself for a very emotional evening at home.  Neither of us were in the mood to eat because we were feeling incredibly depressed.  Sleep eventually came, but was interrupted by many tears.  The cry of an infant in the house behind us filled our bedroom throughout the night.  We miss her.  We miss our precious little baby.  She would have been 6 weeks old on June 29.

The saying, “Time heals all wounds,” is a bunch of crap!  I thought time would make this whole process easier.  Our time with Sephora was stripped away when I got sick with the preeclampsia and HELLP Syndrome.  We lost her 8 weeks before her due date…8 weeks sooner than we would have liked.  Her story strengthens me, but I wish we could have had more time.  Now that we’ve had 6 weeks without her, it feels like time is going no where, fast!  I can’t say I feel like I had her yesterday.  I feel like we’ve already spent an eternity without her.  I go through her pictures every day.  I listen to the recording of her tiny little cry.  I talk about her birth and the feeling of the doctor lifting her out of my body.  I long to stroke her hair and sing to her again.  I wish I could kiss her perfect little face again.  Instead, I have just little memories.  Her blankets, hats, one outfit, locks of hair, hand and foot prints, hospital bracelets are all tucked away in the closet.  I have all of that, but I don’t have her.  Time.  Time doesn’t do anything!  Time won’t bring her back.  Time won’t make me forget her, and I pray I never do forget!

So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold — though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” 1 Peter 1:6 – 7