Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Ashley's Perspective

You may have heard me mention my friend Ashley before in previous posts. I met Ashley through Cafemom. She lives in Ohio too and is less than 1 hour away from me. We met for the first time when she came and took pictures at the hospital for us and she also took pictures at Carleigh's service. I am forever grateful that she was there to capture so many moments. The pictures are something I will always cherish. (Click here to see her website.) Thank you, Ashley, for sharing your perspective with me. It was so wonderful to hear it.

This is a letter from my friend Ashley:

So I was going to write this in a little book for you to have and send it with the CD of the photos from the service, but I decided to go ahead and send it to you now while I have it all in my mind. I want to let you know how things were from my perspective and how the journey of Carleigh has affected me. I thought about giving you a card, flowers, but nothing just seemed personal enough for me. Plus you have TONS of flowers lol.

I had never heard of anencephaly until I got a message on Cafemom from Emily (Luvmylilmonkies). When she sent me that message I immediately googled anencephaly. I read every single birth story I found on a website and cried as I read each. I looked up pictures, descriptions, everything I could. My heart broke for you, Holly. I was so proud when I saw your journal that said you would carry her. Although we were only online friends at the time I wanted to do something for you and I spent weeks trying to figure out what exactly I could do.

When you asked me to photograph Carleigh's service and birth there was no doubt in my mind I would do it. So I gladly accepted the chance to do so. As the time drew near I began to worry about everything. The day before I was in this weird sort of funk. I was so worried about everything, I was worried I would cry too much, worried about all the "what ifs". I was nervous as this was something I had never done before. I prayed like crazy that everything work out and I could be there. Since we were worried about scheduling and somehow in that sense my prayers were answered and I was able to be there.

When I woke up Friday morning I thought I would still be in that weird funk I was in the day before, but somehow I was at peace. So I got up and got ready. I checked your blog all morning. I kissed my husband and kids and headed out the door. The drive down there I prayed that everything would go smoothly.

When I arrived (after getting lost of course--thank you Mapquest!) I came up to the floor, asked the nurse for you and she pointed me to your room. I worried things would be awkward at first, but when I walked in your room everything just fell into place and it seemed like we've always known each other. That was comforting to me. At one point when I finally decided to try and get some sleep I remember closing my eyes and praying that everything would go good and Carleigh would be alive... even if just for a few minutes.

When the time came when the doctor said it was time to push, I was shocked. I didn't know what to expect. The first thought that went through my head was "okay I have to pee" lol. Then I was like "oh my gosh it's time!". I was excited, nervous, and when I got back into your room to get my camera ready I had a million thoughts running through my head at once. It helped that Erin gave me something to do to keep me preoccupied, even if that something to do was hold your leg while they prepped everything! I was so excited and nervous I thought I could throw up. My stomach was full of butterflies.

Then when it came time I sat on the very edge of the chair off to the side just waiting. My hands were shaking, my camera was ready. It went so fast when I heard them tell you only a few more pushes. So I stood up and walked closer. Right as I got closer they were suctioning Carleigh's mouth and nose. So I got my camera ready (as well as your Father-in-law's). Anthony cut the cord and Carleigh was on your tummy. I knew she wouldn't cry (or in most cases it's common for babies with anencephaly not to cry). So I kept thinking "come on, Carleigh, breathe" I was watching her chest like a hawk for some sort of movement. I thought at one point I might have saw something, but I wasn't sure.

I took a couple pictures and when Erin put the stethoscope to Carleigh's chest I was waiting for her to say something. When I saw her move it to see if she could hear in a different spot I knew. Tears were rolling down my face when Erin looked up and said "I don't hear anything". I almost lost it, but somehow something made me feel like everything was okay. I moved around a lot and it took everything inside of me not to lose it when I saw Anthony cry. When I was snapping photos and you were stroking Carleigh's cheek you had this tiny little smile on your face. I don't know if you knew it, but it was such a beautiful thing for me to see. I knew from the start Carleigh was a blessing, but it was then when I truly felt inside what a blessing she is.

I cried and snapped lots of pictures. I would stop every so often to admire Carleigh's beauty. Those perfect little feet, perfect little hands, legs, everything-she was perfect. When I saw your family come in the look on your Mom and Mother-in-law's face just shattered my heart into a million pieces. When I saw your Mom get on her knees, look up and ask "why?" and she asked "why not me?", I wished there was something I could say or do to make her pain, everyone's pain, go away.

After things settled down and everyone went to go eat you asked me if I wanted to hold Carleigh. I was so nervous, but it wasn't nervous because she wasn't there anymore. I got the same nervous feeling I always get before I hold any newborn baby. When I came and sat on the edge of your bed to hold her I thought "wow, what a perfect angel". I couldn't stop obsessing over how perfect she was. Rubbing her little legs, hands, and face I just thought what a perfect baby. It was all I could think. I felt such joy.

When Kim got there and I went out to my car, I sat there after I started it. I prayed for a safe trip home. I prayed for peace for your family. I thanked God for giving me the chance to meet such great people, and most of all, Carleigh. I thought before Carleigh was born I was going to be an emotional wreck afterwards. I thought I would cry the whole way home, but I was at such a state of peace that I can't describe it. I was sad for the loss of Carleigh and I always will be. Knowing the true blessing behind your journey, Carleigh, everything made sense to me.

I will forever treasure being able to share that small moment with Carleigh and being able to share in her birth. Even though I don't attend church (although I do believe in God and Christianity), Carleigh made me feel closer to God and that is a wonderful thing. She helped me to understand how my Step-mom (who is a NICU nurse) does and gets through her job. She helped me to cherish and hold onto my kids that much tighter. She helped me to understand your journey as her wonderful, amazing, and strong mother, so much more clearly. Carleigh will never be forgotten. I look at the photos I took of her everyday. I think I'm going to print one off to keep just for me. She has a place in my heart. I feel like I gained a great friend in you and I don't regret any of this!

Love, Ashley


Nicole said...

Wow, that had me in tears! What a wonderful connection and friendship you were able to find in Ashley. Isn't the internet a wonderful thing? Just think 20 years ago mothers like us had to go through things like this all alone....there were no support groups, blogs, or other social networking type things so that we could all reach out to & help one another...

Sailor and Co said...

wow. thats beautiful....every moment you will realize a NEW way Carleigh is leaving her footprint on the world. HALLELUJAH....

Celia said...

Holly, that is beautiful! Ashley did a wonderful job writing about her experience. Tears are falling as I read it.

Emily said...

Wow! You and Carleigh have touched so many lives in such a big way Holly. This letter proves that. You have set an example to so many of the type of wife, mommy and follower that Christ calls us to be!


Anonymous said...

:) These comments are making me cry! I hope we can find the time to visit with each other! I had a lot of people, as well as you, thank me for doing the photos for you and Anthony. What they don't realize is I gained so much from this experience and Carleigh's small footprint on the world left a huge impact on a lot of people.


The Woollard Family said...

That is absolutely beautiful!!! God sent Ashley to you. It's wonderful that there are people out there like her that are amazing friends, even if you only just met. The letter she wrote to you is beautiful and it brought tears to my eyes! God bless her, you, and your family...and everyone else!

♥Heather (Mom2BaileyAlyse on Cafemom)

Kate said...

God has truly blessed you with great friends. You and Carleigh have witnessed to so many! There is lots of love out there for the Haas family.

Brooks said...

i wish I were so eloquent.

Anonymous said...

This was such an amazing letter that you recieved! I am still in tears. I am so, so, so sorry that Carleigh had to go so quickley but she sure did make a HUGE impact on so many people. Thanks for sharing your journey.~ Monica from CM

The Martin Family said...

Holly, I was in tears as I read Ashley's words. Thank you so much for sharing.

Bree said...

I am in tears just reading this. What an amazingly wonderful woman. It's as if God sent Ashley to be your angel through all of this. Thanks for sharing.

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