Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Walk Down Memory Lane

Well, my son, turned 5 a few weeks ago.  I can't believe how much progress he has made this year.  I was recently going through pictures and videos and was truly amazed at how his speech has improved.  I know that every child is special to his parents, yet Corban is beyond special.  After losing Callie the doctors had encouraged us to wait around 3-6 months before trying to have another baby.  We didn't want to wait and be pregnant at the same calendar time as we had been before.  It had taken a long time to get pregnant with Callie and we figured it would take a long time again, so we decided to begin trying.  I can't begin to express the joy and fear that surrounded us when we found out we were expecting again.  It was a long pregnancy and I felt as if I were holding my breath during the entire thing.  I saw my doctor weekly and had ultrasounds at each visit.  I remember the first ultrasound that revealed we were having a boy.  To be completely honest, for a second I was disappointed.  I desperately wanted to have another little girl.  But after the words came out of the tech's mouth, she showed us a 3D picture of his little face, and I fell in love.  The pregnancy was fairly routine and we scheduled a c-section for 37 weeks.  Since Callie died at 33 weeks, they didn't want to push me too far in the pregnancy and lose this baby.  Everything looked good on his ultrasounds and we were ready to have this little guy!
The morning he was born was one of the most bittersweet days of my life.  I remember laughing and joking with the doctor through his delivery, hearing him cry and breathing a deep sigh of relief.  He was here and breathing.  The next 8 hours or so are a blur to me.  A blur without a baby.  He needed to be observed...he needed this....he needed that.......and there I was stuck in my bed waiting for the spinal to wear off.  Finally, a doctor came in followed by our family and said a bunch of stuff that I honestly didn't understand.  What I did understand was that he would need to stay in the NICU for 24-48 hours.  They brought me a picture of him and I waited until late that night to have my bed wheeled into the NICU to see him.  Not hold him.  Just to look at him.  It just plain stunk.  No way around it.  It didn't look much better the next day.  We were able to go in-2 at a time--to see him but every time we talked to him his numbers dropped and his oxygen levels went down.  If you are a NICU parent, you understand that night time is often a bad time and when you awake you learn bad news.  I woke up on Mother's Day with very bad news that they were going to have to hook him up to a ventilator because he was not improving.  We made the first executive decision as his parents.  We decided that we wouldn't allow any visitors.  We knew our family and friends wanted to see him, but he was so sick and as I mentioned, he declined whenever there was any stimulation.  We agonized and second guessed ourselves, but it was what we had to do.  I didn't think about it at the time, but as I look back, I realize that this was only the beginning of the "tough calls" we would have to make. 
As time has continued and he has grown older, we continue to have to make those tough parental decisions. I mentioned that he just turned 5, which means he is old enough to go to Kindergarten next year.  However, we are choosing to keep him in preschool for one more year.  We feel that one more year to receive speech and occupational therapy both in school and through a private practice will benefit him tremendously.  It has not been an easy decision.  But we have made the decision we feel is best, after praying about it and talking about it.  So as I have gone through these past few weeks, reflecting on the life and accomplishments of my son, it has been a good reminder to me.  The things that are so big and weigh so heavy on us, will be a mere memory as we look back on their life.  I don't say this to make light of things, for I know how hard we love!  But what I am saying is this:  My prayer is that one day my children will trust us and our discernment with the decisions we made and if they don't, that they extend us grace in our short comings and recognize our love and heart above all.
Today was Corban's last day of school.  I am so proud of him and how much he has overcome!  I can't wait to see what one more year brings.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Bereaved Mother's Day

Our hearts have been heavy this week.  We had been praying for a baby boy named Hezekiah and he didn’t make it.  I don’t honestly know much of his story and it isn’t mine to share, but his Dad went to school with my husband, both high school and college.  He is also a youth pastor in our former city.  My husband called to ask me to be praying because Hezekiah was in the NICU (at the same hospital all my kiddos were born).  I don’t even know the number of people praying and interceding on his behalf.  In faith, his parents called special prayer vigils and Hezekiah did surpass some of the odds against him.  Yet in spite of these things, he is now in the presence of Jesus in Heaven.
Even as I write this I am drawn to tears for this family, whom I have never met.  My heart aches so deeply for them.  I grieve for them as someone who has experienced loss.   As I have gone to bed at night, I surround them in prayer because I know that night time is the worst.  During the day you can busy yourself with so many things, but at night, when the darkness surrounds you, all you can see is your baby and memories haunt you.
I want to share something with you that maybe no one has shared before or maybe you haven’t really given it much thought.  I want to share with you a few things to do and not to do if you encounter someone who is grieving. 

  • Be there for your friend if she wants you around.  Some women want to be alone and some women want company.
  • Be a listening and sympathetic ear.  You don’t have to speak.  You don’t have to have the answers. 
  • Don’t rush her to get back to normal or get rid of things if she isn’t ready. 
  • Ask her how you can help-maybe give her specific examples like a meal, cleaning, etc.
  • Make something or donate something in honor of her loved one.
  • Don’t use clich├ęs.  Most often they will end up in hurt.
  • Understand that she may be unpredictable (especially in the first few weeks). 
  • Allow her to grieve however she sees fit; there is no right or wrong way to grieve. 

I have “met” some beautiful women, thanks to Callie Grace.  We probably will never meet on earth, but I know that one day we will stand together with our children.  I am thankful for their lives and their stories.  I hurt for them and ache for their children too.  Yet I am honored to walk alongside them through their grief journey.  I want to allow you the opportunity to pass along my information to anyone who you feel would benefit.  You never need to ask for my permission or anything of that nature.  I love talking about Callie and I am blessed to be able to come alongside women who have suffered loss. If you have any additional advice, please post it as a comment! Blessings to you, my friends.