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

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Your headstone is in

Dear Avery,

     Today has been an emotional day.  Nothing quite prepares you for the sight of your daughter's headstone for the first time.  It was breathtakingly beautiful, but so very permanent.  I am so excited that your spot on earth is now marked for eternity, but it brought back a flood of emotions which took me right back to that very first day.  I still miss you with every minute that passes and think of you with every breath that I take.

     I have been battling with the insurance company on a daily basis over the same claims.  I don't understand why things can't just be simple.  You can never talk to the same person twice.  It is all resolved when you get off the phone, and then they send you a letter to tell you that nothing will change. Then the process starts all over again.  I am so tired of dealing with all of this and I pray that it is truly resolved this time.

      I just called for the second time about ordering your birth certificate.  The lady on the phone said that there is a good chance that your birth was never reported since you only lived for an hour and a half.  My response is that you LIVED. Period!!  You were born, and you died and I want for you to have what all other babies get.  I took a chance and paid the $19.00 to receive a copy knowing that I might just get a letter saying that one doesn't exist.  I won't take no for an answer though, you will have a birth certificate if I have to drive to Frankfort and type it up myself.

      Your dad and I are leaving tomorrow for a long, and much needed, weekend of rest and relaxation at Faith's Lodge.  I am so excited to get away from it all with people who understand.  I met Andrea through an internet message board shortly after we learned that you would not live.  She lost her daughter Annabelle to Anencephaly about 6 months before you were born.  She is the only other person who I have come to know through this journey that carried to term knowing that her baby would die, and she has been a huge support to me.  I am so excited to spend the weekend with her and her husband as well as 6 other couples who have been in our shoes.  I would really appreciate it if you could send us some sunshine so that we can get some beach and boating time in.

                                                        I love you baby,


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Dear Avery,
      Yesterday your dad and I celebrated two years of wedded bliss.  I love him even more today than I did the day that we said "I do."  He is my rock and I couldn't imagine spending this crazy life with anyone other than him.  You are a lucky girl to call him your dad and I am a lucky lady to call him my husband!
                                                  I love you Princess,

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day

Dear Avery,

     It is my first Mother's Day today.  I should be snuggling you and looking forward to learning your future, but instead I sit and mourn your past.  I mourn the future that I will never know and  I miss you so much.  This rainy weather seems so appropriate for the way that I feel right now.

     We went to Buckhead's for lunch today and they handed each mother a flower when they walked in the door.  They didn't hand me one and it really hurt.  It was just a stupid carnation but I wanted it.  I wanted them to tell me happy Mother's Day and acknowledge that I was a mother too, but they never did.  I wanted for your dad to stand up and tell them that they made a huge mistake and forgot to give one to me, but he can't read my mind and he never did.  I just wanted for them, all of them, to know that you lived.  I just wanted the chance to talk about you and it never came. I miss you so much Avery and I wish with every ounce of my being that you were here in my arms.
                                                               I love you baby,

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Alis Volat Propiis

Dear Avery,

       I always thought that my middle name was a mistake--that your Mimi wrote it wrong on my birth certificate and that is why no one can pronounce it.  Now, I realize that the lack of an "e" was no mistake at all.  It was destiny.  You are Alis because I am Alis.  I wanted to give you a piece of my name because you are a piece of me.  And it is only now that I realize how appropriate that name is for a beautiful angel.

        Alis Volat Propiis.  I ran across this quote today and it piqued my curiousity.  Of course I had to look it up and figure out what our middle name actually means.  Alis volat propiis is a latin phrase that  means "She flies with her own wings."  Alis means winged-just like you are sweet angel! 

      I texted Mimi earlier to tell her that Alis volat propiis means she flies with her own wings.  Mimi texted me back that, "She is only flying if Aunt Pallie will put her down," and that brought a huge smile to my face.  I love the thought of you snuggling with Aunt Pallie in heaven.  She was a huge part of my childhood and now she is a huge part of yours too!  She was never able to have children until now; now she has you.  If I can't have you with me, she is my first choice for the job until I can get to you.  Please give her a huge hug from me!

                                                         I love you and miss you,

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Dear Avery,
    I miss you so much sweet angel.  Sometimes I truly can't believe that this is my life; that you are really gone.  I desparately want you back here with us.   I want a chance to hold you again, to raise you, to get to know you better.  Sometimes I feel like if I just concentrate on it hard enough that you might come back.  I know that is crazy talk, impossible actually, but I keep on wishing and praying that my baby was in my arms.  That is where babies are supposed to be--in their mother's arms.  You shouldn't be in the ground sweet girl.  It isn't right.  Parents aren't supposed to bury their children.  It isn't natural! This just isn't fair...babies aren't supposed to die.

                                                      I want you back Princess,

Monday, April 16, 2012

Two months and a due date

Dear Avery,
     I am missing you just a little bit more today.  Today is the day that we should be bringing you home from the hospital, but instead we will visit your tiny grave.  It's amazing to think how things can change so much in the blink of an eye.  Happy two month day sweet angel-you are always in my heart.
                                                                               I love you,

"Sometimes love is for a moment.
Sometimes love is for a lifetime.
Sometimes a moment is a lifetime"

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Numbers and good news

Dear Avery,
The number 16 holds so much significance in this journey. November 16th is the day that we learned about your condition-the day that all of our visions of what our life would be were changed forever. On February 16th we welcomed you into the world and then watched you leave much to fast. That will forever be a day that I cherish in my heart. Now, we are rounding on another significant 16-your original due date, and two month birthday, is approaching on Monday. Two loss moms who have helped me to cope on this journey of life and love have angels whose birthdays fall on April 16th. It seems too prevalent to chalk up to coincidence. Someone once told me that 7 is God's perfect number and the digits in this regularly occurring number equal just that.

13 has always been my lucky number and 3 has been your Dads. Those numbers continue to pop up as well. You were 13.3 inches long and 3lbs 13.3 oz at birth.  I arrived at the hospital at 3:00 am to find out that I was 3 cm dilated and it took me 3 pushes to get you out. 3 is the numerical sign of the Holy Trinity signifying God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It's yet another random occurrence that shouts to me that God's hand was always present throughout our time with you.

I am feeling more hopeful than ever since the moment that we said goodbye. The geneticists ran another test on your DNA and were able to confirm your diagnosis once and for all as Thanatophoric Dysplasia. The timing of the results and the fact that they even found enough DNA to run the test in the first place let me know that Our sweet guardian angel is watching out for us here on earth. Thank you for bringing peace to your daddy and I sweet baby. Knowing that we could eventually have a healthy rainbow baby to raise here on Earth gives me a greater purpose for being here. There are times when I wish that I could just come straight to you, but I know that my work here is not finished so I am patient.

Your dad and I are spending Spring Break at your Mimi and Papa's and are thoroughly enjoying the beautiful sunshine. Thanks for letting us see the beauty of this world even when you aren't here with us. I love you so much sweet girl. Keep us safe and continue to shine bright in heaven little angel.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Back to work

Dear Avery,
     Today is 7 weeks fromt your birthday and I am slowly learning to pick up the pieces and cope with this life of loss.  I still miss you with all of my being, but I am finding moments of peace and clarity through it all.  I can definitely say that I am doing better today than I was7 weeks ago, but grief is a funny thing sweet baby.  I can feel perfectly fine and then it rears its ugly head and stops me in my tracks.  All of a sudden I am right back to that moment. 
      The first day back at work went really well. My kids have all of there special area classes in one chunk on Thursdays, so I had a big chunk of the day to myself (as I do today.) Friday was tougher, but still good for the most part. Several of my kids brought me flowers and I was putting all the vases in a box to carry to my car at the end of the day. One of my little boys said "those will be beautiful at her funeral."  This incredibly sincere and selfless thought made the tears start to well up in my eyes.  When he said it, he stumbled over the word "funeral" and tried to correct himself a couple of times before saying "I can't say that word."  The little girl next to him made it her mission to help him so they kept practicing together: "funeral. Fu-ner-al. Funeral" over and over and over.

      I felt myself starting to break down immediately. I couldnt let them know they were making me sad, so I asked them to run an errand for me so that I could try and hold it together. I made it to my car before I broke down and I went straight to the cemetery to visit you. I passed pregnant women everywhere on my way to your grave, which just made me more hysterical. It just felt so unfair that I am driving to a cemetery to visit my daughter when everyone else seems to keep theirs.  The desparation that I felt to hold you at that moment was unfathomable.  At that moment, I would have given anything to touch you again. 

     This week has been a little bit better and I feel like I am getting back into the swing of being at work.  Your daddy and I are going to Florida next week for Spring Break, so I have that to look forward to.  I can't wait to see all of our Brunson family again and enjoy some time in the beautiful sunshine.  I just wish that I could be bringing you home with me to meet everyone for the first time.  But I am not.  Life isn't always fair Princess. 

                                                             I miss you Sweet Pea,

Monday, March 26, 2012

Finding my new normal

Dear Avery,

     You have been gone for 5(almost 6) weeks now.  I should be coming up on my 38th week of pregnancy and setting up the final details of your nursery.  Instead, I'm here missing you with a squishy belly and empty arms.  I hold my Molly Bear and shut my eyes almost everyday so that I can remember what it felt like to hold you.  I would give everything that I have to hold you for just a little bit longer.

     I am going back to work on Thursday.  People keep telling me that it will be good for me or that I need to be on a schedule--and it might be-- but they don't know what it feels like to be living without you.  I have really enjoyed having this time to focus on remembering you.  I have needed this time to sort through all that comes a long with losing a baby.  I have spent hours on hold to talk to insurance companies, doctors, and geneticists.  People don't realize that after your baby dies, Enfamil still sends you formula in the mail and the insurance company still tries to add your baby to your plan. It takes time to call each place and beg to get off of their list.You have to decide how you want to receive the death certificate, fill out tons of paperwork, and set up an organization system for the medical bills that arrive in the mail on a daily basis. It takes time to shop because you still  look pregnant and it is impossible to find clothes that fit. Picking out your headstone and creating your birth announcement are some of the hardest things that I have ever had to do.  Both of those things took a lot of time.  The finality of these things is numbing and people can not possibly understand if they themselves have not walked in my shoes. I'm so tired of people assuming that they know what is best for me.  If they have not lost a child or are not a doctor or therapist, their comments hold no traction.  This blog that I came across explains it much better than I can.

    Returning to work is going to be a very emotional thing for me.  I looked about 12 months pregnant at the time that I left and now I am deflated.  I have seen some of my kids since I left, but I am so nervous about how they will react when I return.  I don't know if I am more nervous about them asking questions or acting like it never happened.  I am going to see them at the end of the day tomorrow to relieve some of this anxiety before I actually go back.  I love and miss my students, but I am scared of balancing work and my new life without you.  I feel like I will have to act like I am over it in front of my class, and the truth is that I will never get over losing you.  I know that I will eventually find my new normal, but I am still searching for what that means.  I think that I am as ready as I will ever be--I hope that it is enough. 

     At your funeral, I promised you that great things would happen because of your short time on earth.  I want to do something in your name.  I want to set up a foundation or scholarship program or SOMETHING that will help others and shout to the world that my daughter, Avery Alis Ogburn, lived.  I have racked my brain trying to come up with ideas for what we can do.  I still haven't settled on anything but I will keep praying about it and I am sure that it will come to me.  Your Mimi and Yay-yay want for me to write a book.  I don't know how it will turn out or if it will ever be published, but writing your story will be my project this summer.  I thought of the title while I was laying in bed last night: What To Expect When You Are Expecting An Angel.  We will see how it goes, but I might need for you to send me a little inspiration.


PS: Thanks for all of the sunshine on my birthday and during our cookout this past week.  The weather men said that it was going to rain, but I knew you would come through.  I love you sweet girl :)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

It's been a busy week

Dear Avery,
    So much has happened since I last wrote to you.  It's really hard to believe that it has already been 4 weeks since your birthday.  It still feels so fresh--I miss you Princess.
     Your daddy and I went to a geneticist last Friday to learn more about your diagnosis.  We still don't have any definite answers, but the doctor's best guess is that you did in fact have Thanataphoric death seeking Dysplasia.  They only had my amniotic fluid for testing since we denied an autopsy while we were at the hospital.  They didn't test the FGFR3 gene which can distinguish more efficiently between the different dysplasias.  There is a chance that there will be enough DNA left for them to figure it out for sure, but nothing they do is going to bring you back. 

     Your chest was too small sweet baby.  Nothing that they can test for will ever change that.  There is still a small chance that your condition is an inherited trait that could also be passed to your brothers and sisters.  If that is the case, there is a 1 in 4 chance that each of your siblings could have the same thing. Answers or not, I am happy with our decision to leave your body untouched. I found so much comfort in the fact that we were the last ones to dress and swaddle you at the hospital and then again before your funeral.  No amount of testing could be worth more than those precious moments that we had with you.

     On Saturday we went went to the St. Patrick's Day Parade.  It was our first time really going out since we lost you and I had a lot of anxiety about it.  What if people didn't know that we lost you?  What if I got upset and had nowhere to go?  What if I just wanted to cry in the middle of all of those people?  I was just wary of the whole experience.  In the end, I am really glad that we went.  It was nice to be out of the house with friends and it was a good day overall.

     Your Aunt Kelly went to the doctor on Monday to see your new cousin for the first time.  We found out that she and your Uncle Brian are having a healthy baby girl!  We are very excited about the new addition.  It brought back a lot of memories and some tears though since you girls won't get to grow up together.  Please watch over your Aunt Kelly and your little cousin as she continues to grow and prepares to meet us.

     I went back to Dr, Link on Tuesday for my postnatal checkup.  It was hard to be in the office knowing that I wasn't going to hear your heartbeat on the doppler.  Everyone there was so kind and they all wanted to see your pictures.  I am healing really well, so Dr. Link released me to start exercising again.  I am definitely ready to get rid of this squishy stomach, but I am strangely attached to my newly acquired "tiger stripes."  I am sure I am the only woman in America to actually smile because of stretch marks, but they make me think of you and the time that you were in my tummy and that makes me happy.  There is something comforting about the fact that I will always be a physically different person because of you.  (However, I might need to graduate to a tankini this year!)

     It has really been bothering me that your grave is still unmarked.  I went to look at headstones a couple of weeks ago, and none of them were special enough for you.  I am going back to try again tomorrow, but even then it will take up to 3 months to come in and be placed.  I decided to make you a temporary marker so that people who pass by will know that you are there.  I'm pretty sure that it is against cemetery regulations, but I painted a colorful sign and wooden tulips and placed them out at your grave on Wednesday--hopefully the grounds crew will let them stay there for awhile.

     While I was sitting at your grave crying, another lady showed up at the cemetery.  She walked around to a couple of graves and placed flowers on them and then came over and sat down with us.  She asked about your story and then she shared her story as well.  Her son was in a bad accident when he was 17.  The driver of the car was trying to make it fishtail and ended up flipping off a cliff into a small pond.  Two kids, including the driver, made it out, and two kids, including her son Matthew, drowned.  As I did the math, I realized that Matthew and I would have been the same age.

    The lady's name is Judy.  She lives in Mt. Washington, but she works in Louisville on Wednesdays.  Every Wednesday, she stops by the cemetery to bring flowers to the graves that look like they have no visitors.  I know that she will be coming to visit you now too sweet baby.  We sat and talked for hours before I left to come home.  Thank you for bringing her into my life sweet girl--I needed to talk to her yesterday. 

                                                  I love you Sunshine,

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

What makes a mother

Dear Avery,
    A couple of different people have shared this poem with me and it always makes me smile.  I am so happy that I get to be your mother sweet girl.  I love you so much!

What Makes a Mother

I thought of you and closed my eyes.
And prayed to God today.
I asked what makes a mother and
I know I heard him say,

A mother has a baby.
This we know is true.
But God, can you be a mother
when your baby's not with you?

Yes, you can, He replied
with confidence in His voice.
I give many women babies.
When they leave is not their choice.

Some I send for a lifetime
and others for a day.
And some I send to feel your womb
but there's no need to stay.

I just don't understand this. God,
I want my baby here.
He took a breath and cleared His throat
and then I saw a tear.

I wish I could show you
what your child is doing today.
If you could see your child smile
with other children and say,

"We go to earth to learn our lessons
of life and love and fear.
My Mommy loved me, Oh so much,
I got to come straight here.

I feel so lucky to have a Mom
who had so much love for me,
I learned my lesson very quickly.
My Mommy set me free.

I miss my Mommy, Oh so much,
but I visit her each day.
When she goes to sleep,
on her pillow's where I lay.

I stroke her hair and kiss her cheek
and whisper in her ear,
'Mommy don't be sad today,
I'm your baby and I'm here.'"

So you see, my dear sweet one,
your children are okay.
Your babies are here in MY home
and this is where they'll stay.

They'll wait for you with ME
until your lesson is through.
And on the day that you come home,
they'll be at the gates for you.

So now you see what makes a Mother—
It's the feeling in your heart.
It's the love you had so much of,
right from the very start.

Though some on earth may not realize you are a Mother,
until their time is done.
They'll be up here with ME one day,
and know you're the best one.

Monday, March 5, 2012

It's really hard without you

Dear Avery,
     I miss you so much.  Those words don't even come close to explaining the magnitude of the emptiness that I am feeling right now.  I knew that I would not be able to bring you home from the hospital and I knew that I would have to go on living without you, but I could have never imagined that it would hurt this much.  I long to have you in my arms more and more with each day that passes since the last time I held you.
    I can't help wondering about what could have been. What if your chest was just a little bit bigger? What if we could have saved you?  Before we found out that your condition was fatal, I researched everything I could about little people so that I would know how to care for you.  I found boutiques that made special clothes for little girls and ideas for making our home more accessible.  I vowed to never let you feel like your differences made you anything other than perfect. I want you here so badly.  I know that I was meant to be your mom.  I know that no amount of wishing or praying is going to bring you back to me, but I do it anyway.  I just want my baby. 
     After your funeral, your dad and I got out of town for a couple of days to just have some time to ourselves.  I talked your daddy into getting his first pedicure with me while we were away.  There was a mom and daughter getting pedicures together right across from us.  The little girl was probably about 5 and her little legs wouldn't touch the water.  All I could think was that your legs wouldn't be able to touch the water either and I wished that we could have that experience together.  There are so many things that I wanted to do with you sweet baby. 
     The only thing that makes this bearable is that you are with Jesus.  I have prayed for a sign to let me know that you are okay and you have given me that sign.  Last Wednesday there was terrible weather and tornado warnings all around us.  It was the last Wednesday of the month which meant it was the graveside prayer service for all of the infants in your cemetery.  It was the first one since you had passed and I prayed for sunshine during your service to show me that you were alright.  The sky was black all day long.  When we got in the car at about 1:15 to start driving the clouds started to part.  By the time we arrived at your grave, the sun was so bright and warm that I had to squint.  I feel guilty for feeling this sad when I know that you are safe and happy. My warm belly, our hour and a half of love on Earth, and heaven is all that you will ever know.  You are completely innocent sweet angel and that is a beautiful thing.
     We meet with the geneticist on Friday to hopefully find out your actual diagnosis.  I want to know, but I am scared of what they will tell me.  I need you to give me a tiny bit of your strength for that appointment. 

                                             I love you Avery,

Monday, February 27, 2012

I visited you today

Dear Avery,
     I went to the cemetery to see you today.  It was the first time that I have been since your funeral one week ago.  Your dad went back to work today, so he was not home to go with me.  I was nervous to go by myself, but I felt really guilty that I have not been to see you yet.  I really enjoyed our time alone today and I am so glad that I decided to go.
    Your tiny grave it still covered in red clay.  It will be a long time before grass can grow over the spot where you lay.  It feels like it has been so long since I had you--since I held you in my arms and heard your tiny cry.  It seems so distant that we watched them lower your little casket in the ground.  The fresh red clay is such a concrete reminder of how fresh this wound really is.  A week and a half ago I was in the hospital giving birth to you and now you are gone.  It is still hard to wrap my head around the fact that you are no longer with me.  It is like time is flying by and standing still all at the same time.  I miss you so much.
     Every time the sun is out it makes me think of you.  Everything makes me think of you, but something about the warmth of the sun makes me feel like you are with me.  The sun was shining directly on your grave today sweet baby.  It was warm and beautiful outside while I visited with you.  I laid down beside your grave and soaked up the rays while I talked to you.  I really felt like you were there in the in the brightness letting me know that you are okay.  Thank you for watching over me Princess. 

                                                      I love you so very much,

Thursday, February 23, 2012

One week

Dear Avery,
      Today marks one week since we said hello and goodbye. It has been three days since we laid you to rest and I miss you more than ever.
     The day of your funeral was perfect. The sun was shining bright in the sky and the weather was warm.  Your daddy and I went to get you dressed early that morning and you truly looked like a tiny sleeping princess. I didn't want to let you go. We studied your fingers and toes and  ran our fingers through your velvety soft hair. I am so glad that we had that special time with you. 
      I did alright until they had to close your casket. It was so definite and so gut wrenching that I would never have the opportunity to stare at your sweet face again. I love that precious face so much. Your daddy and I kissed your little forehead and drenched you with our tears. We had to say goodbye and we walked out of the chapel so that we didn't have to watch. 
     Your funeral was beautiful. It was so special that Deacon Todd was able to do your service. He knew you during your short life and was there to baptize you right after your birth. I truly believe that he and his wife Elizabeth love you and it meant so much to have them there to celebrate your life. I wrote you a letter that I read during the service. It was really, really hard to get through, but I had to do it for you. Your daddy stood with me while I read and held me up. I couldn't have done it without him. 
     You rode with us on the way to the cemetery. It took everything I had (and your dad's much more rational voice) to not open the casket and see you again. We congregated around the Holy Innocents monument for your graveside blessing. Deacon said some beautiful words and blessed you one last time. Everyone left but our immediate family and we walked over to your grave. I wanted to stay with you until the very end.  That was the hardest walk that I have ever made. I felt like my legs didn't work. Everything was a blur. I will never forget the image of them lowering you into the ground or how deep the hole looked. I will never forget the way the red clay looked on top of your tiny white casket. I will never forget how helpless I felt when I had to walk away and leave you there. 
     I wish you could tell me what you are doing now. I wish that I could just get a little glimpse of what your life is like in heaven.   I know you are well taken care of baby girl, but I want to see it with my own eyes. 
     Jenni said she was a little jealous that Kyle got to meet you before her. I am sure you two have found each other by now. I wonder what you guys are doing. Whatever it is, I hope that you are happy and that you both know how much I love you. 
     I think I have watched the video of your birth everyday since we have been home. I love listening to your cry. They told us that you would probably never take a breath. That cry meant the world to me. 
     I stare at your pictures constantly to help me remember every detail. I know I'll never forget, but I love to look at your beautiful face. 
     Every night, I snuggle with one of your blankets. I can still smell you and it feels like you are right there with me. I desperately want you to be right here with me.  
     We went to church last night and Deacon Todd had lit a candle on the altar for you. It was beautiful just like you. He told me when I walked up to get ashes and I started to lose it on my way back to my pew. I had to walk out and regain my composure. When I came back, they started playing a song from your funeral and I almost lost it again. I miss you so much Avery. 
   I love you more than anything,

Sunday, February 19, 2012

I miss you so much

Dear Avery,
     The days since your birth have been really hard.  I miss you so, so very much.  I feel like we had to cram a lifetime of love into a tiny amount of time and it wasn't enough for me.  No amount of time with you would have ever been enough.  I will never forget the time that we had.

     When I lay down to sleep I relive every aspect of your life.  I can see your precious face again and all is right for awhile.  Then I wake up and remember that you aren't here and I feel sick to my stomach all over again.  I can't sleep for very long.  My mind is constantly racing.  I think about every detail over and over in my head.  I didn't know whether you were alive or not when you let out your first cry.  I keep playing that sound in my head on repeat.  It was the most beautiful music that my ears have ever heard.

     My milk came in this morning.  It seems like a cruel joke when I have no baby with me to feed.  I imagine what it would be like if I had you here with me.  I would give anything to comfort you in the middle of the night.  I want to hold you and rock you and feed you so badly, but I can't.

     We planned your funeral yesterday.  I want for everything to be perfect, just like you.  Your daddy and I went to the cemetery to pick out your grave first.  You will be buried under a beautiful evergreen next to many other babies that have passed before you.  I wonder if you have already met them all in heaven.  It was really hard to see all of the tiny graves, knowing that one of them would soon be yours.

     We met with a man named Marty at the funeral home to make your arrangements.  I talked to him about a month ago and we cried together on the phone.  He lost his twins many years ago.  If you see them, tell them that their daddy loves them very much and still misses them everyday.

     Your daddy and I asked to see you again yesterday.  I couldn't stand the thought of you being in the same building but not right there with me.  They brought you out so we could hold you again.  You were still swaddled up in your blankets and looked like a beautiful sleeping angel.  We sat there and cried while we told you how much we loved you.  I know you weren't in that body anymore, but I know that you could hear us in heaven.

    Your funeral will be at 10:30 on Monday morning at Ratterman Funeral Home on Bardstown Road.  Your daddy and I are going at 8:00 so that we can dress you one last time.  You will be wearing a beautiful satin gown with pearls and lace and dainty pink ribbon.  There is a group that makes these gowns and donates them for babies like you.  They are made out of donated wedding dresses because a wedding is the most important day in a girls life--your most important day just came early.  I have been trying to sew you a bonnet to match your dress, but I haven't been able to get it perfect yet.  I will keep trying.

                                                         I miss you princess,


Friday, February 17, 2012

Rest in peace my sweet angel Avery Alis

Dear Avery,

     Yesterday was simultaneously the best and worst day of my life.  Bittersweet is the only word that I can think of that could describe the feelings that your daddy and I are experiencing. 

     I had my procedure done on Wednesday and they removed close to a gallon of amniotic fluid.  They kept me in monitoring for a short while, but nothing seemed to change so they released me in time for dinner.  That night, long after the procedure, I started to feel crampy.  I called the on call doctor around 1:00 in the morning because something just didn't feel right.  She basically talked me down and told me to go back to bed.  At about 2:45 I woke your dad up because the cramping was becoming very intense.  He humored me, and we left for the hospital to get checked even though we both expected to turn around and come back home.

    We arrived at the hospital at 3:00 am on Thursday morning.  The nurse checked me and confirmed that I was already 3cm dilated and 90% effaced-I was in labor.  They moved me down to a special room in labor and delivery that is away from all of the other rooms.  I was having very strong and consistent contractions by this point and my water had partially broken, but resealed itself.  I labored for about 3 more hours and then requested my epidural to ease the pain.

     After getting my epidural, the nurse asked if I wanted her to go ahead and check me again or if I would rather her wait until later.  I told her to go ahead and check since she was already in there.  I was already 10 cm and fully effaced.  They decided to check me again around 9:30 to see if I was ready to push, my water broke the rest of the way, and we could already see your hair.  They called in Dr. Link to begin the delivery. He told me to hold my breath and push in 10 second intervals.  I pushed for two sets of 10 on the first contraction and then rested.  On the second contraction, they counted to 10 but I was determined to get you out so I kept pushing until 13.  You literally shot out and Dr. Link had to catch you in mid air. 

    They immediately cut your cord and laid you on my chest.  You opened your beautiful blue eyes and you cried.  Yes, my perfect baby with the imperfect lungs, you were able to cry out to us.  It was the most beautiful sound that I have ever heard.

     I have been stressing and worrying over all of the unknown details of your birth for the past months that we have known about your condition.  I have prayed and prayed for you to be strong enough to meet us while you were alive.  I was so scared that you would be born still, that you would suffer pain, that we would make the wrong decisions for you--I have literally spent hours going over every possible scenario in my head.  I know that God was watching over us because your birth and life were perfectly peaceful and serene. 

     You were absolutely beautiful.  Every feature was sheer perfection.  I must have kissed your curly black hair, your tiny fingers, and your adorable belly a thousand times.  I held you as close to me as I possibly could and buried my face in the nape of your neck.  I wanted to feel you, touch you, and drink in absolutely everything about you.  I stared at your perfect face for hours and ran my finger over your soft and delicate skin.  I studied your tiny toes, the elegant curve of your lips, and your perfect little bubble butt.  I committed every tiny detail to memory. 

    Your time with us was short lived, but everything that we prayed for happened.  All of your grandparents were able to meet you while you were still alive.  Your birth did not compromise your life-you were so strong sweet baby. You passed peacefully in my arms about an hour after your birth.  You never struggled and were never in distress.  Your dad and I were there with you holding you close as you became the most beautiful angel that God has ever created. 

     I only find comfort in the fact that you are in the loving arms of Jesus.  I know that Aunt Pallie, Papa A., and Kyle were there waiting for your arrival as were many other loved ones from mine and daddy's families.  I don't understand why God had to take you, I probably never will, but I am so blessed for every second that I have had you in my life.  From the moment you were conceived you have been my strong and beautiful daughter--the baby that I have always dreamed of and was lucky enough to carry.  You are worth every second of sadness and grief and I would do it all over again for 5 more minutes with you.

     I promise that you will never be forgotten.  Great things will happen on this earth because of your short presence here.  Your brothers and sisters will always know about their big sister Avery--their special guardian angel.  You will always be my baby, my sweet precious Avery Alis.  You will always be the first granddaughter on both side of our family and you will always be mine.

My heart is broken into a thousand pieces today.  Handing your body over to the nurse was the hardest thing that I have ever had to do.  My empty arms feel so heavy without you in them.  Please watch over us as we plan your funeral and lay you to rest.  Send us a tiny piece of your strength so that we can make it through this without you. I love you more than I have ever loved anything.  I would give everything I have to bring you back, but I know I have to wait patiently until God is ready to bring me to you.

     "An Angel in the book of life wrote down our babies birth, and whispered as she close the book....."Too beautiful for earth."
                                           Rest in peace my sweet beautiful angel,

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

You are my Valentine

Dear Avery,
   I just left Dr. Link's office and it is looking like you will be coming to meet us soon.  I am in the very beginning stages of labor, so it does not necessarily mean that we will meet you today.  Dr. Link wants me to get the procedure done as soon as possible, so I am just waiting for him to call me with an appointment time.

     Since labor has already begun, there is a good chance that the procedure will just make my contractions more efficient. As I wait to check into the hospital, I realize that I could hold you in my arms today.  That would make today the best day of my life. 

     Your heartbeat was very strong this morning and I think that you are tough enough to survive labor.  I can not wait to see your beautiful face in person, but feel free to stay in and bake a little bit longer if you are not ready.  I am praying for every second of your life outside of me to be peaceful and comfortable for you.  I pray that you will feel no pain, but only the love of your family surrounding you.
                                                          I love you so much sweet valentine,

Monday, February 13, 2012

So much love

Dear Avery,
  I have never felt more love in my life then I did this past weekend.  I knew that some friends were planning on joining us at mass and taking us to brunch to show their love and support for you.  What I did not know was that our church would be filled with people who were there just for you.  It was amazing and so humbling.  We are so incredibly blessed to have such amazing people in our lives. 

     The most precious gift that I have ever recieved (other than the oppurtunity to be your mom of course) was a beautiful scrapbook that our friends put together.  They all wrote us heartfelt letters, poems, and bible verses and compiled it into a book that we can keep forever.  It is so special to us because it is a testament to the love and compassion that we have felt throughout this journey.  You are the reason for all of this Princess!  You are so unconditionally loved.


Friday, February 10, 2012

Update from MFM appointment 2/10/12

Dear Avery,
       We went back to meet with Dr. Weeks today and to see your beautiful face again.  You were very active throughout the whole scan.  You are getting so big sweet girl!  Dr. Weeks guessed that you are about two and a half pounds.  You yawned, arched your back, and stuck your tongue out.  We were even able to see that you already have a head full of hair!

    All of the information that we have already gathered still seems to hold true.  We are praying for the maximum amount of time with you after you are born.  I am hoping to carry you as long as I possibly can.  I am still holding onto hope that we might be able to bring you home--even if it is only for a day.

     You, my dear, have an olympic size swimming pool compared to most babies' little bath tubs.  A 9 cm barrier around you would be considered an excessive amount of amniotic fluid.  There are nearly 16 cm of excess fluid surrounding you and it is increasing every day.  I has become very hard to feel you move because there is so much room for you to float.   I am between 30 and 31 weeks right now and I am measuring past full term from all of the extra fluid.  It is becoming very painful and will only get worse from here. 

     Fortunately, Dr. Weeks has a solution to this issue.  I will be getting an amniotic reduction sometime in the next couple of weeks.  They will remove one to two gallons (possibly more) of fluid in order to shrink the size of my uterus and give me a better chance of carrying you to term.  This does come with some risks, but I think the benefits outweigh those possibilities.  There is about a 5% (or less) chance that the procedure could send me into immediate labor or cause a placental abruption.  If there is hemorrhaging from a placental abruption, I would have to deliver via c-section which is not ideal for our situation.  The procedure is relatively simple and would take less than an hour.  I will have to stay overnight in the hospital for observation to monitor for signs of labor of hemorrhaging, but I will most likely be back to normal the next day.
                                                              I love you sweet pea,

Look at all of that hair!!
 Sleepy yawn!
 Some face shots:

Friday, February 3, 2012

Fun day with a few tears

Dear Avery,

     Overall, today was a good day.  It was student appreciation day at work, so we got to be silly and have fun all day.  The sun is out again and it feels like a beautiful spring day, even though it is the third day of February.  I had a little breakdown later on, but I didn't let it ruin my day.

     My class got all of their tests out of the way first thing this morning and we spent the rest of our time watching movies, going to magic shows, and playing in volleyball games.  I had to sit this years volleyball game out since I am not quite agile enough to pull my weight on the faculty team these days.  I did, however, join the faculty cheerleading squad. The fourth grade hairstylists fixed us all up for the game and I came sporting a high side ponytail with a green and white polka dot bow (Ann's crimped hair took the cake!)  I didn't last through many cheers and ended up sitting to take in the rest of the game, but it was fun nonetheless   

     I talked to Mimi on my way home from school, and she told me that she was getting a pedicure after work.  I thought that sounded like a wonderful idea, so I pulled into a nail salon in Plainview on a whim.  The ladies there were really nice and it may have been the best pedicure that I have had in Louisville.  She massaged my swollen feet for a REALLY long time and it was amazing! 

     My little breakdown came while I was at the nail salon.  I have gotten really good at talking to strangers about you without getting upset, but there is one question that keeps popping up that I simply can't handle.  Now that I am so big, people have started to ask if I am just ready to "get it over with and be done."   There is no way to answer this without either lying or getting into a deep conversation.  The answer is no, I am not ready at all.  I would carry you forever if I knew that you would be safe and happy.  No because even though I am getting uncomfortable, "getting it over with" means that I would be wishing away my time with you.  No because as much I want to see your beautiful face and hold you in my arms, I am not ready to say goodbye. No because I want my time with you to last forever. 

     The ladies were extremely compassionate and I knew that they meant no harm, but some things just sting a little more than others.   Even though I got upset, I love having the oppurtunity to share your story.  Every new person to know you is another person to lift you up in their thoughts and prayers, and that makes the tears worthwhile. 

      I am still sticking to my resolution to show you happy times while you are with us.  I refuse to dwell on the sadness when there is so much that we have to be thankful for.  Your dad and I are going to dinner and bowling (I will stick to keeping score) with some friends from his old job tonight.  We are getting maternity pictures done in the morning and I am ecstatic!  I am so thankful that Courtney Ellis (of Courtney Ellis Photography) made the selfless decision to volunteer for the Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep organization.  I am so grateful for this opportunity to document your time with us.  I love you so much sweet girl and I want to remember absolutely everything about your life.  You are so special sweet pea and I am honored to be your mom.

                                                                          All of my love,