Thursday, April 30, 2009

Reading starts tomorrow!

For all those reading I'll Hold You In Heaven with me the reading starts tomorrow! We will begin with the Introduction of the book. It's not very long, but we'll still have a little discussion about it. I will post the questions tomorrow morning once I roll out of bed for the day.

If you already have your book you can go ahead and begin reading today if you like. There are 22 people, including myself, participating. I think that's a pretty good number! Also, if you want to get a book and participate it's not too late! We'd love for you to join us!

See you tomorrow everyone!

I've sponsored a child!

If any of you follow Angie's blog Bring The Rain then you know she is in India helping with Compassion. Her blogs of the children she is helping over there have inspired me to sponsor a child in Carleigh's memory.

So I went to the Compassion site and browsed through children. I knew I wanted to sponsor a little girl from India but I wasn't sure which one. I was trying to find a girl that shared Carleigh's birth day but there were none. So I figured I would know which girl was meant for me when I saw her. Well, I found her! I have sponsored a little girl named Shalini. She is 8 years old and is from India. She lives with her father and her mother and helps them by running errands. For fun, she enjoys playing house and playing with dolls.

Isn't she just precious!? I can't wait to get to know her and to start helping her! I urge you that if you can to sponsor a child. It's something I've always wanted to do and I'm not sure why I waited so long to do it.

It takes just $32 a month to sponsor a child. That's like $1 a day! Not much at all! This money helps provide your child with nutritional supplements, clean water, Bible teaching and learning about God's love, medical checkups, and encouragement from you (you can write to your child and even visit your child on a sponsor tour). You also have the opportunity to join the Partners for Compassion team by giving $8 extra a month (which I decided to do). This helps by providing for extra needs, such as Bibles for all Compassion children, disaster assitance for families in crisis, prenatal and early childhood care, training for church-based staff, and more.

I know times are tough with the economy how it is but if you are able to sponsor a child that would be fantastic! Imagine the difference you'd be making in their life! If you can't sponsor now then please pray for these children.

Pray for your Chum

If you want to know what this post is all about click the image above and head on over to Lynnette's blog.
Lynnette, I will be praying for you!

Here are my requests:
1) Prayer for all the mommies like you and me. Several, Celia and Karie and Jodi, are close to the birth of their little ones.
2) That the Lord works His will in my life. That He shows me what He wants me to do with what I have been given.
3) A healthy baby when we start TTC, which isn't too far off.

And, here ya go! A pic of me!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

One Month

Today it has been exactly one month since my little Carleigh was born and left us for Heaven. And I honestly didn't even realize it until someone mentioned it to me. I had wrote a fellow grieving mother, also named Holly, a message to check up on her and she had said that on April 25 it had been a month since her baby, Freja, had been born and then mentioned that it was a month for me too. My first thought was "are you serious?"

Has it been a month already? Has it been a month since I labored and gave birth to my precious little girl? Has it been a month since I held her in my arms and told her how much I loved her? Has it been a month since I kissed her sweet face and said goodbye? has.

It seems that a month has passed by so quickly and yet it also feels like it has been longer than a month if that makes any sense. I still miss her very much. My heart still aches. Oh great, now I'm crying.....but I won't try and stop the tears because I need this. Sometimes my life feels so busy that I don't have time to just stop and let out what I'm really feeling. I tell people I am ok, but am I? Am I ok?

I truly believe for the most part I am. You see, I grieve with hope. I miss Carleigh so very much but I know she is in a beautiful place and that some day I will be with her and Jesus. And, you know, I can't think of a more wonderful place to be. The lyrics to Steven Curtis Chapman's song With Hope pretty much says it all:

We can cry with hope, we can say goodbye with hope
'Cause we know our goodbye is not the end
We can grieve with hope because we believe with hope
There’s a place where we’ll see your face again

Today is a little more difficult than it has been but I will get through this day and the next....with hope. If you don't mind, please take a moment and say a prayer today for all the grieving mothers. Pray that they have hope.

Offer from MBP Blog Designs

Hello my faithful followers! Yesterday you had the opportunity to meet my friend Christina. Well, Christina has recently started a blog design business called MBP Blog Design and has offered to donate 10% of her proceeds made from designing your blog to the Neural Tube Defects Research Fund. So stop over to her design site and see what she has to offer. If you see something you like and want her to design you something just mention Carleigh's name in your order. Hope you check it out! Thank you Christina!

Monday, April 27, 2009

No more milk

I am no longer pumping anymore. My supply kept dwindling within the last week and it has finally got to the point where it's not worth pumping. I was only getting 1 ounce total during a pumping session. I am happy that I succeeded in pumping some milk for my cousin Amber and slowly decreasing my supply to avoid engorgement. I was able to pump approximately 300 ounces and I think that's a pretty decent amount. I'm still having some leaking issues so it's not completely gone. The breast pads will be sticking around for a little longer-at least when I go out in public. I don't really care if I walk around with wet spots on my boobs at home. Sorry if I just gave you a mental image. Anyway, it's nice to know that I could do this for my cousin. It always feels nice helping other people. Love you bunches, Amber!

A special gift

Today I received a special gift in the mail today from a special friend.

It's so uncanny how I met Christina. This could get kinda confusing so stick with me! Christina and I have a mutual follower, croleyc69. I know her through Cafemom. We were in the same due date group together and she, ironically, is due with a little girl named Carly. Well, one day Christina was checking who was following her blog and came across croley (Sorry to call you that but I don't think I've ever known your name! I just know your screen names. lol). She saw a link to my blog on her blog so she checked me out and read our story. It turns out Christina is also a member of Cafemom!

Here's where it gets even crazier! Christina's daughter has a rare chromosome disorder and she started her blog to share her journey with others like I have done. While we were corresponding by email she accidentally sent some of the emails that were meant for me to a different Holly. This Holly just happened to be my friend and our pastor's wife! Turns out Holly and Christina knew each other through a yahoo group for children that have the same chromosome deletion as Christina's daughter. What are the odds of all this happening, really? Seems God just wanted us to meet!

Thank you, Christina, for the gift!

Also, thank you Jen and Jenn for the books you sent me!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

My Bracelet

I received an email from Sue from My Forever Child with pictures of the bracelet that she gave me. The bracelet has Carleigh's name and birth date on one side and her actual footprints on the other side. So I thought I would share them.

I wear the bracelet whenever I go out. I don't wear it at home as I don't want to get it scratched up doing everyday things.

I know I've already shared how I received this bracelet but here is a recap. During Carleigh's visitation on Friday, Pastor Mark presented me with an envelope. I was a little puzzled at what the heck it was so I opened it up and to my surprise this bracelet was in there along with pins for my entire family. A gift from Sue. Sue had followed Carleigh's blog and was touched by our journey and had decided to send such a wonderful gift to me. I was simply blown away that someone I had never met or even talked to online before would do this. Now she had touched me! This act of kindness towards me and my family is something I will never forget. I am definitely a loyal customer of hers for life!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

4 weeks

It's been 4 weeks since Carleigh's birth and 3 weeks since we buried her. My plan was to go back to work next week but I guess I would need a doctor's note to do so since it is before the standard 6 weeks. But I've decided to go ahead and take the full 6 weeks. I was going to go back early so I could still have some time left in case I needed to use it. If I need to have a day off I'll just take it without pay.

My body is recovering extremely well and my heart, though it will always ache for her, is healing with the help of God.

Today I pulled some weeds outside. As I pulled the weeds I listened to Carleigh's songs. (My husband declared I was going to bust the speakers on our computer as I had them turned up quite a bit to hear it from outside.) So I pulled and pulled and thought of my baby. And Kyndra, too, as she was jabbering at me the whole time. There was no way you could ignore her even if you tried. I felt good. The sun was shining. The breeze was blowing. Birds were happily chirping. The soft, pink blooms on my weeping cherry tree reminded me of the color of Carleigh's fuzzy pink blanket. We received a few gifts from family that can go in our flower beds. However, we need to waterproof them first. There are a few statues, a tablet, and a bench. I'm not sure if we will stick them all outside. I know for sure we'll put the bench out.

Oh, how I miss her!

Thank you for donating!!

I just wanted to tell everyone THANK YOU for donating to the Neural Tube Defects Research Fund at the Duke Center for Human Genetics as we got a letter in the mail from Duke today letting us know of more people who donated. Words simply cannot express how much your donations mean to me.

I would like to recognize those who made a donation in Carleigh's memory:

Aaron & April
James & family
Randy & family
Harold & Annette
Jerry & Esther
Todd & Mindy
Neal & Lisa
Joe & Julie & family
Chanthong & family
Choula & Vanh
Tim & Debra & family
Rocky & Jenny & family
Jarod & Amber & family
Jeremy & Erica & family
Erik & Jenny & family
Bryan & Jayme & family
Keith & Chris
Coly & Rita
Jon & Sherri
John & Wendy & family
Dave & Missy & family
Tami & family
Don & Sherry & family
Anne & Michael
Dan & Patti
If you donated and you aren't on the list please let me know and I will add you! If you haven't made a donation and would like to then please send your donation to:

Center for Human Genetics
Barbara Due
Neural Tube Defects Research Fund
Duke University Medical Center Box 3445
Durham, NC 27710

Make sure you write you are donating in memory of Carleigh so they can let us know of your donation.


A poem from our Uncle

I thought I would share a poem/letter that was written by Anthony's Uncle John. This was shared at Carleigh's service.

Dear Mommy and Daddy,

Please don't cry and think of me as gone
God just has a better plan-with Him is where I belong

I was born your daughter and that I will always be
I gave up my human body as it was not right for me

My spirit will always be with you
At times you may even be surprised
I will come to you with many a disguise

Your inner spirit will know when I am with you or when I'm near
To a human it is hard to explain and make clear

Through your inner spirit you will see
Little unexplainable things happen
You will know-it is me

I am so grateful that I was given the chance to experience birth
All the real love and attention for me and my time on earth

As an infant I obviously couldn't communicate
But through my spirit I saw and remember everything and everyone
As a human I was able to relate

I felt no pain through this journey
For me it was an enjoyable experience
So if you have different thoughts-please don't worry

I can't explain God's new plan
I guess you really have to understand
The relationship between spirit and man

My time with you really made me appreciate true love
A love that honors God in Heaven up above

Someday, many years from now-you will see
We will all be together again in Heaven
To enjoy love and happiness-for eternity

Mommy, Daddy, and sisters too
The love you have for me
Is the love I have for you

Always with you!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Under The Tree-April

Under The Tree is a place where women who have lost a child can gather, share, and most importantly, support each other. Here is this month's questions:

How long has it been since you lost your child? Has your grief changed at all? Is your life becoming any easier or is it just harder as time passes?

Tomorrow it will be 4 weeks since Carleigh was born still. Wow. 4 weeks! It honestly feels a lot longer than that since I said goodbye. I would have to say my grief has gotten easier. My burden lighter. You see, I was grieving for my daughter before she was even born because I knew she wouldn't live. Sometimes I honestly don't know how I keep myself so together. The strength that I have been given can only come from God. There really is no other explanation. Don't get me wrong, I've had my difficult times. I've had days where she's all I think about and I cry and long for her to be in my arms. But the Lord picks me back up and I move forward.

At times I find it difficult to accept that life is going back to normal. I guess I fear that normal equals forgotten and I never want that to happen. I know that with time it will get even easier but there will always be an ache in my heart for her that will never be filled until we are reunited in Heaven.

How do you feel when you see pregnant women when you are out and about?

It doesn't bother me at all. It didn't bother me while I was pregnant with Carleigh and I knew that she would die. In fact, several family members and some friends of mine were or are still pregnant. I am sincerely happy for them. I don't want them to feel guilty for having healthy babies and I hope they don't. Like I have said before, I would travel this road a thousand times just for her.

When I see strangers who are pregnant I do feel a longing to feel those little kicks in my tummy. I love being pregnant. I love having a little life inside me growing. I do miss that. I felt empty not long after Carleigh was born. Literally. It felt so weird. I felt a void in my tummy and I longed for her to fill it again.

What's your therapy in the aftermath of losing your child? Do you go to counseling? Do you do artwork or some kind of exercise or do you simply just let yourself be? What helps you?

My therapy is my blog-sharing our journey with others. It encourages me so much to know that we have made a difference in the lives of others. Writing out my thoughts and feelings is very therapeutic. I do belong to 2 groups on yahoo-Anencephaly Support and Anencephaly Blessings From Above. These groups have been so very important to me. I know these groups are a safe place for me to go. I can vent or talk about my feelings and I know the moms in these groups "get" me.

One thing I plan on doing in the near future is writing a poem for Carleigh. I've always liked writing poems and I think I'm pretty decent at it. Once I write it I do want to share it with others and maybe it can help them. I like listening to music. There were quite a few songs I listened to a lot during the journey. Most of them are on Carleigh's playlist below.

For those reading with me

I just want to give some information to those who have said they would like to join me in reading I'll Hold You In Heaven.

First of all, thank you for joining me! What a great experience this will be and I hope to get a lot out of it and I hope you do too.

If you are interested in joining you still have time! Just leave a comment saying you will be reading with us. So far we have 15 people reading, including myself. The book is available online and you should be able to find it at a bookstore. I know that my local Christian store carries the book. Your local library may also have it available to check out.

We will start off reading the Introduction of the book beginning next Friday. Once you obtain your book please send me an email (listed on sidebar) and let me know. I would like to keep track of who has their books already so that if everyone has theirs before Friday we can start earlier. On Friday (or whatever day if we start earlier) I will make a post to start the discussion.

We will spend 3 days on each section of the book, giving plenty of time for everyone to read it and then discuss. We should complete the whole book in about a month. If you think we should spend more or less time on each section please let me know. I want everyone to be comfortable with the pace that is set.

Once we move on to the next section of the book the previous sections are still open for discussion so you can go back to any of the old posts and comment.

If you have any questions please let me know! Also, if you have an idea that would be beneficial in making the discussions better I would love to hear it.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I'll Hold You In Heaven

I'll Hold You In Heaven is a book by Jack Hayford. The book is for "healing and hope for the parent who has lost a child through miscarriage, stillbirth, abortion, or early infant death." It's a small book-only 117 pages long-but it can make a big impact.

I read this book about a year ago-before we had even conceived Carleigh. Now, I would like to read it again with a different perspective. I went ahead and read the introduction and then I stopped and thought to myself, "This would be a good book to read with others and discuss." So, I am asking my readers. Would you like to join me in reading this book?

Why this book? It encompasses all kinds of loss and I think it can help us all understand each one. I think that this book will bring a lot of comfort. Even if you haven't personally experienced a loss I think this book will be very helpful.

Amazon has the book available starting at $2.95 plus shipping. Local libraries and book stores may also carry this book.

If you would like to join me reading it please leave a comment. Reading will start next Friday so everyone has time to get access to a book. If all those interested in reading get their books sooner we can start earlier (so please let me know if you are joining in!). After each chapter I'll ask questions and we can all give our thoughts. I hope you will join me!


Well, I don't know if that's exactly what you would call this but it's the best word I could come up with to describe it. This was written and shared by my Uncle Buck (the man with a gift for words) at Carleigh's service. Just wanted to share it.

Holly, Anthony, I would like to thank you for giving me this opportunity to speak today. It is a humbling experience to be part of this most incredible journey.

I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what to say today. I think I ended up with 5 different versions of this talk. I wish I could share stories of the life Carleigh lived. I wish we could wrap our hearts in warm memories of her first steps, her first time saying Mama, the first teen tantrum when she looked at Anthony and said, "Dad, you are sooo not cool!" I wish we had these shared experiences so I could talk about them and let the winds of laughter fill the room to carry this tiny spirit to Heaven.

But those things are denied us. This journey did not end the way we all wanted. Sadness threatens to overwhelm us. And I guess it could remain that way if we let it. We can mourn our loss forever. We can question the wisdom of a God who denied Carleigh even a single breath of the air we breathe. We can fill the garden of our life with bitter roots and hide behind a wall of self-pity. But this day, no matter how sad, is a gift to each of us. We are witness to so many positive things. And at least for me, Carleigh being denied a chance at life has reminded me just how special and precious our time on earth is. It just seems the best way to remember Carleigh is to talk about the journey that brought us to this celebration of the life we have.

I wish I could find the words that Holly had posted on her blog initially. As I recall, she welcomed people to the journey she and Anthony had undertaken and I believe she made a statement along the lines "only God can sustain us". That was touching to me. I have to believe the news that Carleigh had little chance to survive would have tested the faith of even the most devout Christian. But Holly and Anthony surrounded themselves with others who shared their belief that this was part of a supreme plan. That community of support carried them to this day. I told Holly her blog was a way to sow cyber seeds of love. But it was also a pretty effective way to share their faith. Their faith is strong. Their faith is inspiring. I know it will carry them in the months and years to come.

I was talking with my son the other day about the difference between right and wrong choices. Lucas said the one thing that stood out to him was the choices Holly and Anthony made. He talked about how often he has attended a funeral and overheard someone wish they had spent more time with the deceased or expressed regrets about the choices they made in their interactions with the deceased. Then he said something profound. He said Holly and Anthony can live the rest of their lives without regrets about their time with Carleigh.

He is right. Can you imagine, after the incredible trials they have faced, they can live the rest of their lives without any regrets? They are heartbroken now, yet they guaranteed themselves a guilt-free life by seizing the moment, making the moral choice, and taking the difficult path. At any point during this journey they could have looked for an easier answer. But they knew nothing would spare them the pain and anguish they have today. The other choices were unacceptable because it would have denied them time with Carleigh. I think Grandpa John said it best when he told me, "It was tough but I wouldn't have missed a minute of it." Neither would anyone else who knew Carleigh's story.

I have to be honest, when I first hear that Holly was going to use the internet to share their story I was pretty skeptical. Maybe it is my age or maybe it is just my very private nature, but I could not imagine being so open about something like this. I could have recited dozens of arguments against the idea.

Fortunately, Holly never asked my opinion. Sharing Carleigh's story directly helped several people who are facing the same difficult journey. Sharing their story educated hundreds of people about anencephaly and helped removed some of the stigmas. Sharing their story triggered a desire in others to share in kind. And share they did. Anyone who followed the blog knows Holly was constantly surprised by the generosity of people she will never meet in person. There was an outpouring of support that no one saw coming. And in a small way it restored my faith in the good of mankind.

If I could ask the many people who sent things for Carleigh why they did it I would receive a multitude of answers. But in the end they would all be saying the same thing: they gave because they wanted to. They gave because it made them feel good. That was eye-opening to me. You see, a friend of mine spent some time in Panama among the Kuna Yala people. He told me they have no words that translate into thank you as we know it. It is just not part of their culture because they believe if someone needs help we all have an obligation to help. You just do it. In their world there is no reason to express gratitude for something that everyone does. I have always thought those gifts and acts of kindness were the purest kind. Until I read Holly's blog I thought the Kuna Yala people were alone in the world. But there is actually a whole web of others who share this belief. Maybe we all have more in common than we think.

Viktor Frankl is a well-known psychiatrist who spent a lot of time researching the meaning of life and the role of man in the life we share. He said, "The salvation of man is through love and in love. I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved. In a position of utter desolation, when man cannot express himself in positive action, when his only achievement may consist in enduring his sufferings in the right way-an honorable way-in such a position man can, through loving contemplation of the image he carries of his beloved, achieve fulfillment."

Love is our salvation. Love can provide us with boundless joy. Remembering those we love can bring a sense of fulfillment no matter what our circumstances. When we can do absolutely nothing else, the memory of a loved one will always be there to comfort us. There is an undeniable comfort in knowing this.

Holly, Anthony, I am certain I can speak for everyone gathered here when I say thank you for sharing your faith. Thank you for showing us that no matter how busy our lives are the moral choice will always be the right choice. Thank you for sharing Carleigh and your journey.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Keepsakes and Memories

While Kyndra was down for a nap I decided to work some more on Carleigh's scrapbook. I must admit that Kyndra's bedroom is a mess right now with all of Carleigh's things. All her keepsakes and gifts are lying about and I have pictures and scrapbooking materials all over the floor. Some day it will be clean again in there. I took a time-out from scrapbooking to sort through some of her keepsakes to set aside the ones that would go in her scrapbook apart from the ones that will go in her memory box. There's so much stuff but I am very glad that I have it all.

Her outfit she left the hospital in still has embalming fluid on it. Her outfit she wore in the hospital still has a little of her blood on it from her head. I haven't decided yet whether I want to wash them or not. The cute little outfit she wore in the hospital still smells like her and I don't know if I can wash that smell away. So they are still lying on the floor amongst the other things. Her fuzzy pink blanket is nearby and it also still has her scent. I know I will never wash that blanket. I will probably put these things in bags to keep her scent on them before going in the memory box. My Aunt Becky told me they will be lining it with cedar and I know if I don't put them bags they will smell like cedar instead of her. I like the smell of cedar but I'd rather keep her scent on her things.

I look at each little thing I have of hers and it brings back a memory.

I have a clamp for the umbilical cord. It isn't the exact one she had as that one was still on her and she was buried with it. The one I have is from the umbilical cord kit from the Duke study. It was an extra one. So when I see it I think of how we took part in a great cause. A picture also flashes in my mind of her little belly and her small umbilical cord. She would've had a small belly button and it would've been cute.

I have the measuring tape that we measured her with. Erin, my nurse at Carleigh's birth, measured her. At first Carleigh was measured at 11 1/2 inches but we did it again and got the right measurement of 13 1/2 inches. I remember first hearing how long she was and thinking of how tiny my little girl is. Then I wondered how long she would've been if the rest of her head was there. We had a hard time stretching out her leg to measure her as her joints were starting to stiffen up at this point. I was afraid to stretch out her leg in fear of hurting her so I let Erin do it. I know I wouldn't have hurt her at all but I just couldn't do it.

I have some of the leftover gauze we used to cover her head. At first, we didn't use any gauze but her head was seeping a little and it was getting on her hats so I asked if we could dress her head. Erin was so helpful with that and so was our postpartum nurse, Michaella, when I wanted to change it later. They brought me anything I needed to do it. Erin actually had it set out ahead of time in preparation of Carleigh being born alive. Myah had shared how she dressed Faith's head and I had brought those instructions with me to use. I found the best way was to wrap it around her chin to hold it on. Otherwise, it didn't stay on very well. I was so very careful with her little head.

I have our hospital bands. I cut off the 2 that I wore but I also have the ones that we would've wore had Carleigh been born alive and survived for a little while. They were never used and are still in perfect condition. There is a band for me, one for Anthony, and 2 for Carleigh-one that was for her wrist and another for her ankle.

I have the bands used to hold on the monitors during labor and delivery. One band is blue and the other is pink. They were used to monitor my contractions from the Pitocin and for Carleigh's heart rate. I only used both of them together just a couple of times. Carleigh didn't stay on the monitor very well as she was moving around too much. The times we did watch her heart rate it was good and strong. Later we used the hand-held doppler to check her heart rate. We used it twice. The first time I had such a hard time finding Carleigh's heart rate and I was so worried but I finally found it. It was faint but it was there. Later I had Erin check it. She found it sooner than I had and it was still faint but at a good rate. The sound of it was so comforting.

I have 3 bassinet cards. Each has been filled out and has either her foot or hand prints on the back. The nurses filled out the cards for us. Anthony, our nurse Erin, and I put her prints on the cards. It was a little tricky trying to fit her big hands and feet on those small cards. I chuckle at that because in reality her hands and feet weren't that big but compared to how small she was her long and skinny fingers and toes seemed big. Definitely the opposite of her sister Kyndra-she had short and stubby fingers and toes. The prints are in the bright pink ink.

I have a Huggies disposable diaper. Just a leftover one like the one she wore. It's a size newborn and it was too big on my little girl but not bad enough to request a preemie size. I don't even know if they would've had that size for us to use. It probably helped her fill out her little diaper cover of her outfit better anyway. I was going to bring a cloth diaper to the hospital to put on her but I decided not to. When I found out I was pregnant with Carleigh I started buying newborn cloth diapers for her. I had my stash complete before we even found out about her anencephaly. I was crushed to know that I would never use a single one of them on her. I bought her 19 Kissaluv size 0's. I had stalked Diaperswappers for months getting good deals on them. I bought some covers to go over them and I had some fleece covers made too. I have them tucked away in a cabinet now. They will be waiting for a baby in the future.

There's a little brown bear. It wears a little necklace that says Carleigh. I am not sure where this bear came from or who gave it to me. I'm sure I was told but I just don't remember. There was so much going on that morning at the hospital. Anyhow, Ashley took a few pictures of the bear while she was at the hospital. There's one I like in particular. It's very sweet and makes me smile when I see it.

I have all the hats that Carleigh wore. Of course, my favorite being the white crochet one with the small ties. It's the one she wore almost the whole time because it fit her so perfectly. She wore the one that matched her hospital outfit for a little bit and then the multicolored crochet one. That one looked very pretty on her. The soft colors against her skin was very nice. The white one stayed on her until it was time to close her casket. I finally took it off of her and put on the hat that matched her burial outfit. It was way too big but it didn't matter. I wanted to keep the hat that she wore the most. It's such a tiny little hat!

I have her outfits. I love her little hospital outfit. She was so beautiful in it and it fit her wonderfully (except the hat). It was like it was made for her. The pink bows accented it perfectly. I loved dressing her in it. I took my time while I did it to savor the moment. I knew I wouldn't get to dress her very much. I was upset when her head seeped onto her clothing. It wasn't because it had gotten on her clothes. I just didn't like the idea of her head seeping at all. I wish I could've made it better. Before we left the hospital with her I changed her into a plain white outfit. Again, I took my time in dressing her. It kinda looked like a little jogging suit. It was cute. The sweater I tried on her once is lying on the floor in Kyndra's room. It is a beautiful, hand-made sweater from Europe-a gift from Pam at the Preemie store. It looked too bulky on my tiny girl so she didn't wear it for her services or burial. I haven't decided what to do with it yet.

I have her jewelry. My girl had so much jewelry! I have the pink bracelet she wore in the hospital. The bracelet was too big for her little wrist so I had to put it on her ankle. Her gold ring was too big for her finger too, so I put the ring on the bracelet I put on her ankle. I took these off of her before we left the hospital with her. During her visitations and service she wore a little pearl bracelet on her wrist. The bracelet was so tiny and it fit her wrist well. I have a matching bracelet just like it. I tried to remember to wear my bracelet to the visitations and service but I forgot. I wish I would've but that's okay. She wore a white bracelet on her ankle since it was too big for her wrist. It was similar to the pink one she wore in the hospital. She also wore a gold cross necklace. I took the necklace and pearl bracelet off before we closed the casket. She was buried with the other bracelet. Most of her jewelry is awaiting to be placed in her memory box. However, I placed her baby ring on the gold cross necklace and I wear this every single day. I only take it off when I take a shower.

I have her fuzzy pink blanket. Oh, how I love this blanket! It is so soft and she was always wrapped in it. The color of the blanket was perfect and fit my little girl like a charm. I am comforted that she had such a soft material against her skin. When I think of the blanket I think of heavenly pink clouds. That's what my daughter was wrapped in-a piece of Heaven. During her first visitation I had forgot to grab her blanket and I was a little distraught that I did not have it to wrap her in. I had my dad go back to our house and get it for me. I felt more at ease when I finally placed her in it. It felt so right. It is her blanket and always will be. I still cuddle with it on occasion. When I miss her I smell it because it reminds me of her. It has soaked up the tears that have fallen from my face. I just feel better when I hug it.

I have the impressions of her tiny hands and feet. I'll forever have a physical reminder of just how small her "big" hands and feet were. Ten little fingers and ten little toes. So perfect and beautiful. I loved holding her little hands and kissing them. I miss those little hands and feet.

My belly cast is on the floor waiting to be finished. It will always be a reminder of the belly that was the home of my little girl. A safe haven where she thrived and grew until it was time to meet her mommy and daddy. I will remember those little kicks and those precious hiccups. I will remember how complete I felt with my baby inside me and how my heart was filled with joy and love for the little girl I had not yet met. One day I will paint it and hang it up.

There's the box that has all the letters, notes, and cards we received. I saved them all. It has the notes people wrote us for our prayer shower. It contains every card we received after the diagnosis and every sympathy card after Carleigh's birth. I even have all the little cards from all the flowers. It will be a good reminder of all the people who supported us through a difficult time.

Then there are the many gifts we have so generously received from many people. They are so special and I will always be reminded of how many people showed they cared for us.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Prayers needed!

Lately there have been a few moms with anencephalic babies that have been under attack. They are receiving not very nice emails and comments. I don't know why people have chosen to attack us but we need to pray for these people. Nicole, Myah, and Misty and their babies, Logan, Faith, and Isaac, have all been targeted for whatever reason. (I pray no one else has been!) Myah and baby Faith have been getting lots of hate mail and it is horrible! I guess I consider myself lucky that I have only received one inappropriate comment and it wasn't as bad as these wonderful mommies have received because it was just targeted at me and not my daughter, but I still didn't appreciate it. (That's why I moderate my comments now.)

I find it especially heinous to target an innocent child. I've seen a lot that was written about these precious babies and it just makes me sick how anyone could be so mean and hateful. It hurts my heart tremendously. Please pray that these attacks stop and that whoever are making these attacks have a change of heart. Also pray that no one else receives such awful comments. If you have time please encourage these mommies.

1 Peter 1:6-9

I was reading Kelly's latest post on her blog, The Beauty of Sufficient Grace, and she had this verse posted and I just felt I had to share it.
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith - the salvation of your souls.  1 Peter 1:6-9
What a wonderful verse! Thank you for sharing it, Kelly!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Benefit Calender

There are some benefits coming up on our behalf. Anthony's Aunt Jeanna has pretty much done everything to put it all together (Thanks!). All proceeds will be allocated to help with Carleigh’s medical bills, funeral expenses, and to the Neural Tube Defects Research Fund. I just thought I'd let everyone know about these events in case you wanted to participate in any of them. I have a flyer available for the benefits. If you would like a copy please email me.

The first benefit is Happy Hour located at Nino's, 331 N Main St in Findlay, OH. Tony Iriti will be a guest bartender and all tips he receives he is donating to us. We are very thankful for his kindness to do so! The first happy hour is to take place April 22 at 5 pm. The second is on May 6 at 5 pm.
The second benefit is a Bike Run on May 16. Registration is at Whiskey Venue, 1101 W Main Cross in Findlay, OH, from 11 am-1 pm. The first bike out will be at 1 pm and Anthony and I will be leading the run. The run is $15 per person and $10 per passenger. The run will end with a hog roast and the Rock 'N Roll Outlaws at Taylorpalooza.
The third benefit is a Pancake Breakfast at Max & Erma's, 1107 Trenton Avenue in Findlay, OH, on May 30 from 8-10 am. It is an All-you-can-eat breakfast for $5.
For additional information, tickets, or registration contact:
Coffee Amici
328 S Main St.
Findlay, OH 45840

The fact that we are sharing Carleigh's story with more people is far more important to me than any money raised. I hope we can reach a lot of people!

New Look!

As you can see, Caring for Carleigh has a new look! I, personally, think it is awesome! Julie, from Julie's Blog Designs, created it for me and she did such a wonderful job! Thank you, Julie! Let me know what you think of it! Also, I now have a blog button (located on the left). Feel free to add it to your blog and share Carleigh's story with others!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

First visit

This morning at church was a little tough. In all fairness though, we had a heads up. Pastor Mark let us know that there would be a baby dedication at church today in case we didn't think we could handle it. I figured I would be fine since the baby was more around Kyndra's age. It wasn't really the dedication itself that got to me at first. The pianist was playing Jesus Loves Me during the dedication and that's what made me cry. It's a song I used to sing to Kyndra when she a little baby and it's one that I should be singing to Carleigh. I seriously thought I might have to leave church but I stuck it out.

After church, Anthony and I made our first trip out to the cemetery to see Carleigh's grave. I wasn't sure how I was going to be but I was relatively fine. Her plot was actually difficult to find because there wasn't a pile of dirt just lying there. The had removed the top chunk of ground and placed that back on top so there was grass and everything. It doesn't look right not having a marker so I probably won't go back again until it is up. Then I will be able to put some flowers in her vase.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

3 weeks

Today it is 3 weeks since we said hello and goodbye to our little Carleigh. It's so hard to believe that it has been that long already even though we are still so fresh in our loss. I still miss her very much but this weekend has been much better for me emotionally than last weekend. Today was the Walk for Life put together by the Clinton County Women's Center, which I have close ties to. I would've liked to walk in it for Carleigh but I procrastinated and never got around to getting the stuff for it. Then when I remembered this morning that the walk was today it was already after 10 am. There's always next year! I'll have to stop by next week and drop off a few donations and visit with the ladies there.

I worked on Carleigh's scrapbook today and got a few pages done during Kyndra's nap. It's coming along but there's still quite a bit to do yet. I am hoping to finish it before I go back to work.

March for Babies

I wanted to let everyone know that I will be walking in September for the March for Babies sponsored by the March of Dimes. I have created a team named Caring for Carleigh and would love for you to walk with me if you are able. We will be walking in honor of Carleigh and all babies who have been born with anencephaly. More than 120,000 babies (1 in 33) in the US are born each year with birth defects. The March of Dimes is investing millions of dollars in Nobel Prize-winning research offering hope for preventions and solutions for babies born with birth defects. I would greatly appreciate if you would help to support these efforts by supporting us! For information you can visit either my team page or personal page or you can email me. You can register online and join my team.

My team page is

My personal page is

Email me at

Today there are 161 days left until the walk!

I know it may seem kinda early to start a team already but I would like to have plenty of time to raise a good amount of money. The more the better! I have set up a widget at the bottom of the blog to track the progress of my goal. Right now I have set it at $300 but I would love to raise more than that. I have set the team goal at $1000. You know what would be great!? Raising enough money to increase those goals to something higher! Join the team and spread the word!

Friday, April 17, 2009

My thoughts on choice

When you're told that your child has anencephaly you are given a choice. Do you continue the pregnancy to term or do you interrupt the pregnancy? No one should have to make a choice like that. For some people they choose to carry their child to term. Other people choose to go ahead and deliver. Now I have seen those who choose to go ahead and deliver say that it was such a hard decision to make and I don't doubt that it was. For me, the decision was very easy. I chose to carry Carleigh to term.

I honestly hate that such a choice even exists. I'm sure I'm not the only one that feels that way. Now, I can't speak for every parent of a child with anencephaly but I believe that most of us, no matter what choice we made, love our child very much and that we made whatever decision based on what we thought was best for us, our family, and the child we were carrying. There are many different reasons to make certain choices. Some may choose to carry to term based on spiritual, religious, or moral reasons. Some do it simply out of love. Some may choose to deliver immediately based on their own emotional well-being and that of their family's. There can be many more reasons either way. Every person has their own reason for their choice and each is uniquely different.

We should never judge a person who makes a decision different than what we would've chosen. God tells us not to judge others and He's pretty smart. And really, you shouldn't if you haven't walked in that person's shoes. (Well, you shouldn't even if you have!) I must say that after finding out about Carleigh I struggled to understand how anyone would choose to go ahead and terminate. I knew that I loved Carleigh so much already and the thought of ending everything right then and there was more devastating than the diagnosis. But I have come to know that when I have continued out of love some choose to end out of love. It's not a love I completely understand because I haven't been there and I didn't make that choice.

I truly hope that those who face this situation make the choice that they can live with for the rest of their lives. You can never take it back. I hope that they do their own research and not just listen to a doctor when they say to terminate. Doctors don't know everything! The fact is that only 5% of babies with anencephaly are carried to term. That is a staggering figure and very shocking. It may seem like I'm picking on people who choose not to carry to term but that's not what I'm trying to do at all. I'm just trying to get people to think. I know all of you have read my story and the stories of the other moms on blogger. None of us regret carrying to term. I haven't come across a family yet who has had such a regret. I have come across those who have regretted ending their pregnancies early and my heart goes out to them. I truly hope they are getting the support they need. I'd like to get people to reflect before making a truly life-altering decision.

To see how the Catholic church stands on this issue click here. I, myself, am not Catholic but I know that many people are so I thought it would be good to include this.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Pray for PJ & baby Seth!!

PJ was set to give birth to her baby, Seth, today by C-section. Seth has anencephaly like Carleigh. I just checked Celia's blog and she updated us all at 11 am that Seth is here! She was told by PJ's mom that he weighs 5 lbs 9 oz and is 17 3/4 inches. He has lots of hair! Both PJ and Seth are doing well. Mommy is spending precious time with him and enjoying the little sounds he makes.

Celia will post more on her blog when she has more updates! (Thanks Celia!) In the meantime, please pray for both mommy and baby that they can spend as much time together as possible. I'm so happy for PJ!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Memories of Pregnancy

I just wanted to take this Wednesday to remember a little about my pregnancy with Carleigh.

I found out on August 10, 2008 that I was pregnant. I was quite excited as we only had been trying a month and it took us about 3 months to get pregnant with Kyndra. I had taken a test on that Friday but it was negative so I thought I'd wait a few days and retake it. I had planned on waiting until Monday but impatience got the best of me and I took it Sunday afternoon. It was faint, but it was positive!

Anthony was out mowing the lawn so I quickly went outside on our back porch and yelled for him. He stopped the mower and came over and I whipped the test out from behind my back and proudly exclaimed "We're gonna have a baby!" Of course, he was excited too! And so began our journey....

My pregnancy with Carleigh started off much easier than Kyndra. I wasn't dead tired, my breasts weren't sore at all, and I only had a couple episodes of nausea instead of a few weeks. I thought I was getting off pretty darn easy! Little did I know....

Days were filled with relishing on thoughts of our new baby, monthly doctor's appointments, ultrasounds at work, and thinking of baby names. Anthony was hoping for his boy and I said it didn't matter to me (all the while secretly hoping for another girl). My due date was originally April 17, but then changed to April 24 when I had my first ultrasound on Sept 2. We later learned near the end of my pregnancy that the original due date was correct. On Sept 17 I heard my baby's heart beat for the first time. What a beautiful sound!

I declined all screening tests offered to me by my doctor. I knew results of any test wouldn't make any difference to us, so why bother? Had I accepted those tests we would've had an abnormal one and found out sooner about our baby. I haven't decided if finding out sooner would've been a good thing or not. I'm sure it would've made me cherish the earlier months in my pregnancy more than I did.

We found out October 30, when I was 15 weeks, that we were having a little girl. It wasn't a scheduled ultrasound. Just had my friend scan me at work. We could've detected something was wrong at this point but we never looked at her head-just the other end. After learning we were having a girl we decided her name on Nov 13-Carleigh McKenna. Carleigh means "freeholder" and McKenna means "ascend". We didn't know how appropriate her name would really be at that time.

I felt my little girl kicking at 18 1/2 weeks and daddy felt her at 21 weeks, a little earlier this time around. Time was getting closer to our trip to Hawaii over Christmas. My whole family was excited to go. We had been planning this trip for about 3 years.

On Monday, Dec 15, I had my midway ultrasound at 22 1/2 weeks. This was the dreadful day we found out that Carleigh had anencephaly. We found out our daughter, whom we loved so much, was not going to live. We got the classic "second opinion" and it was such a waste of time. We pretty much shelled out a couple hundred bucks for some "doctor" to tell us what he thinks we should do, which was to end our daughter's life. Luckily, I knew more about anencephaly than what he realized and he couldn't fool me with his bullcrap. I will never go back to that place as long as I live.

We got Carleigh's diagnosis just a few days before we were to leave on our trip to Hawaii. We still went and had a great time as a family. It was honestly good to get away and to take our minds off of things-or at least try to (plus it wasn't a cheap vacation!). We went to a luau near the end of our trip and got a picture of all of us. When I see it, I see our whole family. You may not see Carleigh physically but I know she's there. I felt her.

Our trip soon ended and we had to face reality again. During the trip we let Hannah know about Carleigh. We tried to explain it as best we could without confusing her. We told her that there was something wrong with Carleigh's head and that when she was born she wasn't going to live. I think it was a little difficult for her to grasp but she understood the gist of what was going to happen and you could tell it upset her. We comforted her.

Not long after our trip we started (mostly me I should say) planning for the future that awaited us. I started this blog to document our journey. We contacted a funeral home to begin making arrangements. So many things were happening all at once. That's why I'm so glad I wrote everything down as it was happening because now when I don't exactly remember I can look back and see. One of the big things, besides the pre-arrangements, that I did was create Carleigh's birth plan. It took me quite a bit of time to compile all of our wishes and I even updated it later right before her birth. I'm very glad I wrote it and that our caregivers took the time to read it and follow it when the time came.

After finding out, the remainder of my pregnancy was different than the first half, as you can imagine. It was bittersweet. I cherished my time with her more. I felt joy with every kick and rejoiced with her first hiccup on Feb 27. What a day that was! They were very faint but they were there! The bigger she got the stronger and more frequent her kicks and hiccups became. I didn't develop poly and I was extremely grateful for that. I had a lot of hope for Carleigh being born alive. She showed so many good signs. We got a 3D ultrasound and maternity pictures. These are things I treasure now. Seeing Carleigh on the 3D ultrasound was such an experience. The first thing I noticed when I saw her was her chubby cheeks! She had chubby cheeks just like Kyndra! She squirmed and wiggled. She opened her mouth and stuck out her tongue. She even sucked on her fist several times.

Carleigh always had certain times when she was more active. The morning and evening were the times of the day when she liked to kick around. Usually it was during the morning when I ate breakfast at work and during my bath in the evening. It was fun at bath time. Kyndra was usually in the tub with me. She'd play around and I'd lay back and relax and splash water over my tummy and I'd see my belly pop up from Carleigh's foot and I'd put my hand over it. She'd promptly move and kick somewhere else. One of the things I noticed was that when Carleigh was very active if I would sing she would calm down. I like to think that she heard me and my singing soothed her. I always sang. I did a lot of singing in the car on the way to work and home again so she heard me quite a bit. She would hear me at church too.

I had an ultrasound done and Carleigh's growth was lagging behind. At this point, I was measuring around 7 weeks behind and Carleigh's growth was almost as far behind. I made the difficult decision to get induced. I knew if Carleigh kept falling behind she was at that much more risk for being stillborn. So I set up to go in on March 27. That day came soon enough!

Things didn't turn out exactly how I wanted them to, but you can't have everything the way you want it all the time. Carleigh was born still on March 28 at 3:49 am. She was 3 lbs 15 oz and 13 1/2 inches long. My perfect daughter.
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