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.


Stephanie said...

It's so wonderful that you have all of these things to keep her with you always.

Sarah (Lovemy918-CM) said...

I think its awesome that you have all of these things to keep forever on hand. I know not a day will pass that you will forget precious Carleigh. May these things and your faith in God continue to keep you strong!

Christina said...

What you wrote is so beautiful - I hope you print this post and add it to your scrap book or something. It's great that you write down these memories (not leaving out a detail) because sometimes those little details slip our minds later. Love & Hugs!

The Martin Family said...

I am so happy that you have all these memories to cherish.

Krystal said...

How awesome that you got to have so many things to remember your Angel Carleigh.

She is just darling and her Mommy sounds like a wonderful lady.

Take your time remembering her, you had nine months with her in your belly and the rest of your life to keep her spirit alive within you.

Anonymous said...

This made me tear up! I believe Erin said the bear came from the nurses. That's what I remembered at least. I wouldn't wash her outfit, I would want to keep the smell too! She's a perfect girl... did you get the photos from her service? If not I will send you a new cd on Friday! Let me know!


Nicole said...

I still have Logan's clothes in a large ziplock bag. I never washed them and I smell them from time to time.
I was also like you and kept EVERYTHING from the hospital!lol

Anonymous said...

So sweet, even the way you write is gentle like a mother caresses her baby's cheek. I love you, sweetie. ~Dawn

Anonymous said...

I have been folling your blog since Denise from cranio kids showed us....I wanted to write and tell you how sorry I am, but I couldn't find the right words...I'm in tears when I read your blog, and when I read about how some people are leaving inappropriate and hurtful messages, I was so angry. Please know that I think you are an amazing and strong woman to keep this blog going and that you will be helping other families that are going through the same thing. God Bless....I hope your heart feels better and heals soon xoxo

Anonymous said...

I think it is wonderful that you have all these things to help you remember. Take your time treasuring these things before putting them away. The room can be cleaned up at any time. You might want to put the clothes in the bag soon though to keep the smell as it might disapear over time. Take care of yourself and your family.

HappyascanB said...

Wow. . . you are amazing! I think I said that last time I commented, but you are! All of your keepsakes are treasures that I pray will help sustain you until you see your precious Carleigh again. Ah to think of her playing and laughing in her Abba Father's arms in Heaven. . . . Prayers to you.

Celia said...

You have so many wonderful things to remember Carleigh by...Quite a collection. Things I would have not thought of and things that I have. I agree with should NEVER wash Carleigh's outfits so that they always have her smell on them (or at least for as long as possible) The stuff that is on them is part of the whole experience.

You wrote so beautifully your memories from each of Carleigh's things that you have. I was in tears all over again.

You know that I hold a special place in my heart for you. Just know that.

I can never say it enough of how amazed I am by your strength and your faith. They help as a guide for me, especially when I am at my lowest moments.

Reading these words that you have written about your precious daughter gives me hope that I will handle our situation with Noah with even half of the grace, beauty and faith that you have.

Tanya said...

I'm sure you will treasure Carleigh's keepsakes forever. Thank you for sharing today.

Sally-Ann said...

What special keepsakes. Thank you for sharing. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Jake and Stephanie Perrin said...

You have some wonderful keepsakes!! Thanks for sharing those precious things with us. It will be a great reminder for you, Anthony, and Kyndra (and future siblings). Take care!!


Jake and Stephanie Perrin said...

Oh Holly, By the way.. i was reading your comment on Celia's Blog and you had mentioned you wish you could have kept those montior strips of her HB. You can actually call the hospital and get a copy if your interested :) Once agian, Thanks for sharing..

Andi Soergel said...

You have such a beautiful way with words! We kept every little thing from the hospital as well. I wholeheartedly agree with what a couple other people said-I didn't wash anything, I just put each thing in a plastic resealable bag. Someone mentioned something to me about washing some of the things that had blood on them, but it was part of him and I didn't want to! We also were able to cut some of his hair. I am so thankful he had some in the very back! It was like a special little blessing because our other 3 babies were bald!
Still praying for you! Thanks for the link to "My Forever Child". I am getting a pendant with Haven's footprints on it for my birthday! I never heard of anything like that and I am so very excited!
Andi Soergel

Tonya said...

You have wonderful, beautiful keepsakes that I know you will treasure forever. Thank you for sharing them with us! I don't know what I'd do without my little boy's crochet blanket! He was wrapped in it and I still sleep with it - it makes me feel close to him. By the way, I LOVED the picture of you cuddling Carleigh on your shoulder, such a sweet simple picture that depicts deep, deep love!


Lynnette Kraft said...

Oh Holly....I'm deeply moved by this post. It brings back personal memories and it gives me such compassion for you.

This is such a difficult time, but I'm so glad that you have all the things you have.

I remember the smell of my children that I didn't want to wash off of anything. Don't wash anything. Hang on to that as long as you can.

These pictures are just precious and touched my heart. I'm so so sorry for your loss Holly.

With Tenderness,

Kristin said...


I can just feel the deep love for your sweet daughter jumping off of the page. What precious photos of her and the one of you holding her is so beautiful. You are in my prayers. Thank you for sharing your little girl with us. I absolutely love her name.


Racheal1977 said...

I have never met you & yet you are still such an inspiration to me, You are such a strong & GREAT mom, Carleigh is so so so so lucky to have you as a mom. & I think it is great that you have all of these things to remember her with.. She is an absolutely beautiful angel, who has touched so many people.
Thank you for being such an amazing person & mother. The world needs more people like you...

Katie said...

What a beautiful post, I just stumbled onto your blog and I'm in tears. Carleigh was so beautiful and delicate. I wish you could have had more time with her. *hug*

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