Monday, November 28, 2011

Illuminate ~ Week 3 ~ Perspective

I’m a day late posting for Illuminate week 3 but my family and I were gone for the Thanksgiving holiday and I didn’t get home until today. We went to our cabin in Michigan and spent 4 days there. It’s always nice to get away and spend time there.

This week’s assignment is about perspective-in our own lives and through our eyes. The photography part was about taking 100 steps and composing an image and the writing topic is about what we are grateful for.

I’d like to share my stepping journey first. I actually did all my pictures in one day since I spent the rest of my time enjoying my family for the holiday, but I did enjoy my time out alone snapping pictures. I took all of the pictures in the area around our cabin in Michigan but had different starting and ending points. I also edited all the photos in the same way with a more vintage feel because I just liked how it looked compared to the other way I edited the photos (with more softness and brightness, which was neat too but I favored the other-maybe it was a rustic cabin thing! lol).


I think you tend to appreciate the beauty in things more when you slow down and take a look around you. This assignment gave me the opportunity to do that. So often life is busy and I’m rushing around trying to get things done. You can miss so much if you just don’t stop and take in the moment. I think sometimes you have to make a conscious effort to do that because it can be so easy to say “oh, I’ll do it later” or “there’ll always be time for that”. Nobody knows how much time that they have so you have to make the most of it while you can. Cherish the moment while it is still here.

Our lives changed forever on December 15, 2008. Before that day I don’t think I really appreciated what a miracle it is to have a healthy baby. I knew things went wrong but those things happened to other people, not me. I never wanted my daughter to have anencephaly and I sure as heck never wanted her to die. However, I am so grateful that Carleigh is my daughter and if the only way to have her was to have her die then I accept it fully. I would rather have known her this way than to never have known her at all.

One of the things I am so grateful for is knowing ahead of time that she wasn’t going to live. This gave us time to prepare for what we wanted as far as her birth and her funeral. It also gave us the opportunity to make memories we would not have made otherwise. I never imagined it to be a blessing but it certainly was. Had her death been sudden, I would not have known what my rights were regarding the death of my child or the keepsakes that I could have to remember by. I would not have known how priceless pictures would come to be and I fear that I would have taken very few.

I am grateful for the many people who loved and supported us along the way. Family and friends stepped up but we also had the support and prayers of complete strangers. So many followed our journey and offered kind words and sympathy. I’m sure many who followed then do not follow now but I am grateful for every person who has gotten a glimpse of my daughter through my own words and pictures. I like to think a little part of her remains with every person whose life she has touched.

I could go on and on about the little things I am grateful for about our journey and about our daughter. (But I think if I did that this post would never get published!) The fact is I have become more grateful because of her. She opened my eyes as if I was blind before she came. Having your life changed dramatically hasn’t always been easy. Grief is now a chain I will carry all of my life, but I thank God that He helps me carry the chains. Without Him I would have grown weary very quickly but He has given me the strength to carry on without my baby girl. He has shown me that life without my daughter is still a life worth living. He has given me precious gifts to take care of and I believe I see their sister through them.

I’ll always be grateful for this road I have traveled. Of course, that doesn’t mean I haven’t had my “this is so unfair!” moments because I certainly have. (I’m sure I still have some more of them up my sleeve too.) At the end of the day though, I am glad she was a part of some of the steps of my life. Those are some of the most cherished moments I will ever have had the privilege to experience.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Illuminate ~ Week 2 ~ Light

This week’s assignment is about light. We were to think about what the light or darkness meant to us and then we had 2 options in taking photos. I chose to take photos of a treasured object in different light scenarios.

The moment our world forever changed was the day we learned our daughter Carleigh wasn’t going to survive. Some may be surprised for me to say that even in such a difficult time I would not consider it a time of darkness. Light still shone even when it should have been impossible. God gave me the grace to accept the path we had been given even though it hurt so very much. He has kept me focused on the light even in the times when my grief felt heavy. It confounds me when I look back how well I handled everything. Could I handle it in such a manner again if another precious life was taken from me? I pray that I could but just thinking about it overwhelms me.

Perhaps I am more drawn to light because God Himself is a light in my life. I believe if I did not have Him to help get me through the past 2 1/2 years my world would have been very dark.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.
~John 1:5

O Lord, you are my lamp. The Lord lights up my darkness.
~2 Samuel 22:29

Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.
~Psalm 119:105

No longer will you need the sun to shine by day, nor the moon to give its light by night, for the Lord your God will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.
~Isaiah 60:19

If you think about it light is amazing. All it takes is just a small amount of light to penetrate darkness. Light overcomes darkness. Darkness never overcomes light-never does it swallow the light. I often think of Heaven where there is no darkness at all. The light of God penetrates every corner. It is hard to imagine a place with no shadows and the glory of such light, but my daughter is experiencing it. How amazing it must be!

This week I looked into different kinds of lighting for my photos and I tried my hand at a bunch of different light settings. Some had lots of light and some had only a small light surrounded by darkness. Naturally, I feel drawn to more pictures with more light but it was fun to see how pictures turned out with just a small amount of light. Of course, I had to make sure the camera was very, very still to avoid blurriness when there was almost no light. I managed to take all of my pictures with no flash but also with no special settings (which is how I usually take them since I still haven’t learned hardly any of the functions on my camera even after having it for 2 years!). I also did minimal editing to all of them.

I decided to use Carleigh’s bear for my subject. This bear was given to me by the Mother Baby Unit when we went into the hospital for my induction. The unit knew ahead of time of our situation as they had our birth plan and this was something special that they did for us and our daughter.


I hope everyone who is suffering in the darkness can find hope in the light, no matter how small it may be.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Illuminate ~ Week 1 ~ Storytelling

For the next 5 weeks I have the privilege in participating in the online class for photographic healing called Illuminate. I’m very excited for this course and to see what comes out of it. I’ve decided that for this class I’m just going to focus on my daughter Carleigh. I feel my healing for Jordan is much further than it is for Carleigh and I would benefit most by focusing just on her.

This week’s assignment is about storytelling. We are to write a letter to our baby/babies and also take self portraits of our journey. Well, letters can certainly be emotional to write and it wasn’t easy getting the right picture that I felt comfortable enough with that captured what I was feeling in thinking of that pose. But I managed to do as best as I could.

So here goes.

My precious Carleigh,

I still remember the day I found out I was pregnant with you. It was August 10, 2008 and I was so excited. Your sister was only 7 months old and when I found out you were a girl I couldn’t have been happier because that was what I was hoping for. I wanted to have 2 girls close in age like me and my sister.

I never imagined that you would be diagnosed with something fatal and not be able to come home with us from the hospital. Stuff like that always happened to other people. But it was soon the reality I was facing. It hurt a lot and I cried many tears over it all. I still loved you though and I was going to cherish our time together however long it may be.

I never knew how much joy and sorrow could intertwine before. It’s like a beautiful and bittersweet dance. And you were totally worth it.

I’m thankful at least for the months we had to plan for your arrival. It gave us time to think about what we wanted and to make memories with you along the way. I don’t think we’d have as many keepsakes as we do or been as prepared if we hadn’t had that time. I consider it a blessing.

I’ll never forget seeing you on the 3D ultrasound. It was really the only time I got to meet you alive. (2D ultrasound just isn’t the same!) I don’t think I quit smiling the whole time and I fell even more in love with you. I got to see you kick and move and suck on your fists. I could really see your sister in you!

But seeing you on that screen could never compare to seeing you in my arms even though you were already gone. I didn’t see what was “wrong” with you but I saw pure perfection and beauty. I saw Heaven that day and I couldn’t take my eyes off of you.

Those moments with you are some of the most precious in my life and I cherish them so much. Some days I wish I could go back and experience you all over again. Though we got time with you it wasn’t nearly enough. But is there such thing as enough time to last a lifetime? I don’t think there is so I will be thankful for what I had.

Baby girl, I miss you a lot and I wish you were here to grow up with your sisters. I promise they will always know who you are and how special you are to us. People will undoubtedly begin to forget about you as more and more time passes but I will never forget. I still think about you every day even 2 1/2 years later. It is impossible for me to forget you because you are as essential to me as breathing. For the time you lived on this earth you were a part of me and death cannot break that bond.

I love you always and without limits.

Until I see you again,

Here are the self-portraits I took.

039This picture is me holding the necklace I wear almost every day. It is Carleigh’s cross necklace with her hand/footprint pendant and her baby ring. I often slip her baby ring on my finger like in this picture and rub it. Sometimes I don’t even realize I’m doing it.

045One of the first pictures I knew I wanted to take was of Carleigh’s belly cast. I created it just a week before her birth and it was painted by Stephanie at Beyond Words Designs over 2 years later. This cast to me captures all the moments she was alive.

046Another picture of Carleigh’s necklace only on my chest close to my heart.

055The sculpture sitting on my belly is Carleigh’s angel sculpture from The Midnight Orange. It seemed fitting to rest it on my belly since that was were she lived and died.

056The butterfly on this flower is from Carleigh’s 2nd birthday cake.

057I knew including Carleigh’s memory chest in a picture was important as it holds all of her precious keepsakes. The chest itself is a treasure as it was handmade by my aunt and uncle epically for this purpose. I included my I Love You hand sculpture from MoonlighAura.

061This last picture is me holding my Carleigh Bear-weighted to the same weight she was at birth, which was 3 lbs 15 oz. To me, this picture is looking into the light of the future. The hope of seeing her again one day.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Christmas exchanges

Just thought I’d remind everyone of a few exchanges for Christmas. They involve gifts, cards, and/or ornaments.

2011 Faces of Loss Holiday Gift Exchange – sign-up ends Nov. 25th

Nevaeh’s Hope Exchange – sign-up ends Nov. 18th

Remembering Together Swap 2011 Holiday Edition – sign-up ends Nov. 18th

Christmas Ornament Exchange – sign-up ends Nov. 19th

Christmas Card Exchange – sign-up ends Nov. 20th

Feel free to take part in one, several, or all of them like me!! It’s always nice to get something special in the mail. And a reminder…..only participate if you can actually send something out because you don’t want to disappoint your exchange partner(s).

If anyone knows of any more exchanges feel free to leave in a comment below!

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

November Babies

Thinking of all the special November babies! Sending their mommies and families lots of love!

Ella ~ November 1, 2010
Aiden ~ November 2, 2010
Faith & Grace ~ November 3, 1996
Aiden ~ November 6, 2009
Chaya ~ November 6, 2008
Nicholas ~ November 7, 2008
Hannah ~ November 7, 2008
Zach ~ November 7, 2009
Jack ~ November 7, 2009
Calvin ~ November 10, 2008
Madeline ~ November 11, 2009
Baby Boy A & Baby Girl B ~ November 12, 2008
Lillian ~ November 13, 2009
Madeline ~ November 13, 2009
Kenner ~ November 13, 2008
TanaLee ~ November 13, 2009
Faith ~ November 14, 2009
Carly ~ November 15, 2007
Kasey ~ November 16, 2008
Alexandra ~ November 16, 2009
Cara ~ November 17, 2009
Olivia ~ November 20, 2009
Carley ~ November 20, 2010
Trevor ~ November 22, 2004
Alexander ~ November 23, 2008
Kolton ~ November 23, 2010
Jakin ~ November 24, 2010
Xavien ~ November 26, 2009
Matthew ~ November 28, 2009
Logan ~ November 28, 2005
Alyssa-Joy ~ November 29, 2008

If your baby is not on this list I am sorry. Please leave a comment to have them added.
Remembrance Jewelry, Memorial Keepsakes
My Forever Child - Remembrance Jewelry, Memorial Keepsakes, Sympathy and Decorative Gifts to comfort those touched by the loss of a Child. Personalized, Engraved & Handcrafted Miscarriage-Pregnancy Loss Bracelets, Baby-Infant Footprints Charms, Custom Necklace Pendants with your child's Footprint, Handprint image or photograph.