Monday, February 18, 2013

Happy First Birthday Princess!

Dear Avery,

     We have officially reached our very last first without you.  This Saturday, we celebrated your first birthday and the one year anniversary of your entrance into heaven.  The anticipation leading up to the day was fairly intense, but the day itself turned out to be peaceful and full of happy memories. 

     It is hard not to smile when looking back on that bittersweet day of your birth.  Although I lost something incredibly precious to me, I gained more than anyone could ever imagine.  For the first time, I truly understood the power of a mother's love and it was sincerely the best day of my life.  Holding you in my arms and gazing into your beautiful eyes far surpassed any pain that we would encounter through our journey of grief.  We experienced a miracle that day.  Not the miracle that we had so desperately longed for, but a miracle none the less.

     Your Mimi and Papa drove up from Florida on Friday evening to be here for your birthday.  Mimi and I got pedicures in the morning while your dad and Papa worked in the basement building a bar.  Aunt Kelly and Uncle Brian sent you some beautiful birthday flowers and Mrs. Susan and Mr. Wayne sent us some gorgeous hydrangeas to plant in your honor.  As always, you pulled through with the sunshine.  The weather channel had said that we would have a dreary winter day, but I knew that you would take care of that.  The sun shined bright all day long reminding us that you were never far away. 

     We went to the cemetery at about 3:30 to decorate, sing you happy birthday, and do a balloon release.  We all wrote special messages to you and let our balloons float off into the sky.  This provided some much needed comic relief when your dad's balloon went straight into the big magnolia tree near your grave.  Papa ended up climbing the tree while Daddy and Uncle Cone flailed around like maniacs with sticks trying to coax the balloon out of the branches.  They were finally able to set it free and we knew that you were laughing hysterically at your crazy family.  After that, we celebrated mass in your honor and went to Dundee.  Of course  it wouldn't be a birthday celebration without cake, so we delved into that after dinner.

     I am now in the final days of carrying your brother.  He is due less than two weeks from now--a fact that I can't seem to wrap my head around!  I am already off of work because Fifth's Disease was spreading through the school and I do not have the immunity, so for now I sit and wait.  I am hoping that Blake is born in March instead of February so that you each have your own special birthday month.  I was convinced that he was coming early, but now I think he might hold on until his due date.  Please continue to watch over him and keep us all safe throughout his delivery. 

     I love you so much Princess and I can not believe that an entire year has actually passed without you.  I hope that you had a wonderful birthday celebration with the angels!

Some of the teddy bears that we collected to donate to
Molly Bears in your honor and one of my favorite
pictures of you!
 Your grave decorated for your 1st birthday
The beautiful flowers from the Campbells and your Aunt Kelly and Uncle Brian 

What was left of your birthday cake by the time I remembered to take a picture :)

38 weeks with your little brother Blake Avery Ogburn


Friday, November 9, 2012

Halloween, Florida showers, and being thankful

Dear Avery,
      Hey sweet girl!  I hope that you are having fun in heaven.  I am a couple of days shy of 24 weeks along with your brother which means that I am reaching the point of viability.  It is very reassuring to know that Blake would have a great chance at life if I went into preterm labor from this point forward.  I don't think that will be an issue, but it eases some of my irrational fears none the less.

     Halloween was pretty tough for me.  I feel like my facebook newsfeed was filled with sweet babies dressing up for the first time.  It was hard to know that you should be dressing up too.  Fortunately, the monthly prayer service at your cemetery fell on Halloween.  I was grateful to spend that special time with you, all of the other Holy Innocents, and their parents, even if it wasn't the way I had always envisioned your first Halloween.

     This past Friday was the Feast of All Souls.  Our church held a special mass to remember all of the parishioners who had passed away throughout the year.  They sent out an invitation addressed to "The Family of Avery Alis Ogburn"--it always makes my heart smile to see your name in writing. 

      All of the parishioners who attended the mass were grieving over the loss of a loved one.  Some seemed very recent and raw, while others were further out.  Regardless of the types of loss, it was a place where I felt like I belonged.  There was an understood connection throughout the church.  Father Don did a beautiful homily about the afterlife and then he and Deacon Todd lit a candle to represent each loved one who had passed. Hearing your name brought tears to my eyes and joy to my heart.

     Your Aunt Lindsay and some close family and friends are throwing me a baby shower in honor of your little brother tomorrow.  I am very excited to see all of our Florida family and friends and celebrate Blake's life.  As much as I have looked forward to this day. it also tugs at my heart strings a little. Remembering that I was never able to have this experience with you takes me back to relive this point in your pregnancy.  I have not been to a baby shower since your birth--partly because it was still too painful, but partly because I was unable to attend for one reason or another--so tomorrow will be a wonderfully emotional day I am sure.

     As Thanksgiving rolls around, I realize that I am most Thankful for my children and their wonderful father.  Losing you was, and still is, excruciatingly painful. It will be a hurt that can never fully disappear. But, having you in my life--even just for a moment--outweighs every bit of heartache that we have encountered. 

       I am thankful that your brother, Blake, is healthy and fully formed inside of me.  I am so grateful for the chance to raise a child here on earth and to have the ability to protect him.  It also brings me so much peace to know that he has a special guardian angel who will be protecting him when I can not.

      I am thankful for your dad and our unwavering relationship as husband and wife.  I knew that I he was my soul mate from the moment we started dating and I am so thankful to share this roller coaster of a life with him.  I love that I can bare my soul to him and that he is always there to pick me up when I fall.  I am thankful for his positivity through tough times and his humor when I am feeling down.  I am most thankful that he has allowed me the opportunity to be a mother and that he is an amazing father.

                               I love you so much Princess,

                                                                 20 weeks with Blake
                                                                    21 weeks with Blake
                                                                    22 weeks with Blake
                                                                      23 weeks with Blake
                                                        Just shy of 24 weeks with Blake

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Memory Lane

Dear Avery,
     Your dad is away in St. Louis for Tyler's 30th birthday party and I am home alone taking a walk down memory lane.  Sometimes it still feels like a dream when I think about this past year.  How could this possibly be my life? And then I then I walk back through our journey in my mind, and it is all so very real. 

     I have been working on your book throughout the weekend and reliving each aspect of your life in the process.  So far, I have about 50 pages written and I am only up to December 2011.  There is just so much to say, so many emotions, so much uncertainty throughout that time that it is almost impossible to convey it all in words.  I will continue to try so that your brother, and any future siblings, will be able to know everything about their big sister.

     Your brother has just started kicking me hard enough that I can feel it through my belly.  I am hoping that your dad will be able to feel it soon too.  All of this movement from Blake brings me back to your pregnancy.  I'll never forget how much excitement I felt at your first little flutters.  I'll always remember how excited you would get when you heard loud music, and the first time that your dad was able to feel you at Christmas Eve mass.  All of these little reminders bring a smile to my face and tears to my eyes--so very bittersweet.  I miss you sweet girl.


                                                      I still love you to the moon and back,

Friday, October 19, 2012

It's a boy!

Dear Avery,

       YOU ARE HAVING A BABY BROTHER!!! His name will be Blake Avery Ogburn and he is perfectly formed inside of me. We want for him to have part of your name as a tribute to his special guardian angel (that's you!)

        It is very surreal to think of just how much our lives are impacted because of your existence. If we hadn't lost you, we most likely would not be expecting Blake right now--you are the reason that he exists. It is all very thought provoking and you have touched our lives in more ways that we could ever imagine.

        I can honestly say that, for the first time in this pregnancy, I am more excited than terrified. I am slowly letting go of my fears and starting to enjoy my time with your little brother. I will be the first to admit that it is not easy being pregnant after losing you.  Sometimes I feel guilty for loving another baby and it has been much harder to form that initial connection.  However, I am getting there and I know that there is enough love to go around.

        It is amazing to me how different this pregnancy is compared to yours.  I am definitely less swollen so far and I haven’t really been into sweets.  Blake is still breech, so his kicks feel really different too.  He mostly kicks straight down and right into my bladder—thanks for never doing that sweet girl!  I’m really hoping that he flips over soon so that I can get a break from the bladder kicks J. 


                                I love you so much Princess,


Sunday, September 30, 2012

Dear Avery, 
      We have been very busy since the last time that I posted. It's hard to believe how quickly time is passing and that I am already 18 weeks pregnant with your little brother or sister. 

     This is the point in your pregnancy that we learned about your condition.  We had two solid days of believing you would live with no other issues than being little.  We researched everything that goes along with raising a little person.  We discussed how we could adapt our house, found a boutique to buy you clothing, and vowed that you would have an amazing childhood with nothing to hold you back.  Two days later your diagnosis turned grim, and we first entertained the idea that you would most likely not be coming home with us from the hospital.

     My anatomy scan for your little brother or sister is coming up in 10 short days and it is weighing very heavily on me.  I know in my head that your little sibling should be healthy, but I feel like we are just counting down the hours until we are handed another death sentence.  I don't think that I could survive that again.  I have been working on organizing all of your things into a memory box this weekend which has been an emotional task.  Your little pink and purple blanket that we wrapped you in after your bath still smells just like you did.  I hope that smell never fades. 

     Your dad and I registered today at Babies R Us.  I haven't been able to go in that store since you died. I had set up our registry online before we went in, and there was a box asking if this is your first child.  I checked and unchecked it several times, but ended up leaving it checked when I submitted.  That has been bothering me a lot.  I never deny you under any circumstances, and this didn't give me the option to explain.  I needed another box to tell them that we actually have another child, but this is our first time registering for baby stuff so we might need help. It was an overwhelming experience to say the least, but I am so glad that we went.

     I am off work for Fall Break at the end of this week, so I am going home to see all of your Florida Family over the weekend.  I am soooooo excited to  see everyone--it has been a long time since I have been able to get home!  It worked out perfectly that this is the weekend of Granny's family reunion, so I will get to see the whole crew.

      I love you so much Princess.  Thank you for continuing to watch over and protect our growing family.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Dear Avery,
     I really miss you sweet girl.  I always miss you, but it hurts a little bit more today.  I just can't wrap my head around the fact that it has already been 6 months.  Somehow we have survived it, and I would even dare to say that we are happy the majority of the time, but it will never feel natural to live in this world without you in it. 

      So much has happened these past 6 months.  Weddings,births,trips,pregnancies--things are constantly changing.  Amidst all of the changes, the only constant in my life is the knowledge that you will never be coming back.  That is the hardest truth that any mother will ever have to come to terms with. 

     I am excited for the new baby, but that excitement is exclusive of the fact that I am still mourning your death.  No other child will ever take your place and our family will always feel incomplete without you. 

    We got to see your little sibling again last week and they are looking as healthy as can be.  I have a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that this child may actually make it home.  You looked healthy at this point in pregnancy too.

     One thing that brought me a little bit of peace, is that the doctor moved the new baby's due date up.  He moved it to March 3, 2013 or 3-3-13.  Those numbers brought me so much comfort and I know that you are protecting us.

                                                          I love you so much angel,

Friday, July 13, 2012

Wisconsin, Florida, and a Beautiful Rainbow

Dear Avery,
       Wow!  It has been a busy summer.  We have been travelling a lot and enjoys lots of sunshine.  You are never far from our hearts and minds, and I love telling people your story.
      Faith's Lodge was AMAZING!!!  I am SO incredibly glad that I was able to talk your dad into going.  He was very apprehensive, but loved every minute we were there.  We met some really amazing people and did a lot of healing.  There were loosely scheduled activities to get everyone together, but they never forced you to do anything. We shared pictures and stories and stayed up late playing games in the great room.  There was a memorial table with all of our babies' pictures set up right when you enter the lodge.  We took trips to the dairy farm, the beach, and to watch music in the park.  It was a beautiful and relaxing weekend!  We made a lot of new friends, so I am sure that you did too.  I want you to have a big play date in heaven with Annabelle, Patricia, Sierra, Sienna, Isaiah, Colin, and Avery.  We really loved all of their parents, so I am sure that they will be a ton of fun too!

     After we left Wisconsin, we headed down to Florida for two whole weeks.  We brought back plenty of cheese curds to share!   I came in town with a bucket list of sorts.  I had a slew of water activities that I wanted to complete on the trip, and I am proud to say that we did them all!  We went to Big Kahunas' Water park, Vortex Springs, and of course the beautiful gulf.  We even took the boat out to Crab Island one day. 

      We headed to Clearwater Beach the second weekend that we were in Florida for my friend Lauren's beautiful wedding.  The weather didn't quite cooperate, but the wedding was perfect none the less.  That weekend proved to be a pretty memorable one for us as well.  We found out that you were going to be a big sister!

      On the morning of Lauren's wedding, I took a pregnancy test in our hotel room and got an incredibly faint positive result.  It was so light that I thought I was inventing the line.  Your dad thought he saw it too, but we both had to stare REALLY hard, so we decided that we would wait until we got a darker result before spilling the beans. I grabbed two more tests from my suitcase as soon as we got back to Mimi and Papa's house on Sunday evening.  This time the pink line was a little bit darker.  I took a digital test because I was still in disbelief, and the word "pregnant" immediately flashed on the screen.  I just left the tests on the bathroom counter for Mimi and Papa to find and went about my business.  Needless to say, they were very excited!

      We are extremely excited and terrified at the same time.  I can't bare the thought of losing another child and it is really hard not to think that way after already burying my first baby.  I fully believe that you are looking out for your little sibling, and that brings me a peaceful feeling.  I associate the number 3 and 13 with you, (You were 13 pounds 13.3 ounces, 13.3 inches long, I got to the hospital at 3:00am, I was 3 cm, it took 3 pushes, I pushed for 13 seconds, etc.) so I was comforted when I found out that this baby would be due in March (03) of 2013.  I also saw two rainbows in the month of June that led me to believe that we would be bringing home a rainbow baby soon.  Please continue to watch over us as we push through this difficult journey of pregnancy after loss.  We love you  and miss you so incredibly much sweet girl.

A rainbow baby is a baby born after the loss of an older child. The beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravages of the storm. When a rainbow appears, it doesn't mean 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 cloud. Storm clouds may still hover but the rainbow provides a counterbalance of color, energy, and hope.
                                                           I love you princess,
                                                   Aerial view of our camp fire at the lodge
The whole crew at Faith's Lodge
    Heartstones by the Bridge of Hope.  Yours is the purple one with green writing, Annabelle's is pink, and Sierra and Siennas are the other purple ones.
                                             Your little sibling at 6 weeks.
                                                                    6 week belly