Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Treasure in Heaven


I have a special necklace that I wear almost every day. It is a cross necklace that Carleigh wore during her visitation and service. On the necklace I also have her baby ring and a pendant with her hand and footprints. This necklace is very special to me.


About 2 weeks ago I noticed that the cross on the necklace was gone. I searched all around our house for it hoping that I would find it but I couldn’t. I’m pretty sure it may have come off while we went to a local museum and if that’s the case then it definitely is gone forever. At first, it upset me but after some time and a conversation with my aunt I’m feeling much better about it. First, because I’m pretty sure I can get the cross replaced and while it’s not the exact one that Carleigh wore at least a replica can be a reminder. Second, this small piece of jewelry is just a “thing”. My real treasure is not on this earth, but in Heaven.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  Matthew 6:19-20

I’m so glad that one of my most precious treasures (my children) is in a place that is safe and where nothing can be destroyed or lost. While the keepsakes I have on this earth of my daughter mean a lot to me, they will never compare to my treasure that is waiting for me up in Heaven.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Meeting Our Babies

This week on Walking With You, we will be sharing about the birth of our babies and the moments we spent with our children after they were born. Feel free to join in and link up HERE. (My WWY post from 2009 on Meeting Our Babies is HERE.)

I was 36 weeks pregnant when I had an ultrasound that helped me make the decision to proceed with an induction for Carleigh. It certainly wasn’t an easy decision to make. Her growth was behind and I feared that she might not make it to my due date. After talking with my dr the date for my induction was set for March 27, 2009, when I would be 37 weeks. That next week went by so quickly.

We prepared last minute things the night before and my parents came down to go to the hospital with us in the morning. Surprisingly, I slept really well. I even remember that I ate waffles for breakfast that morning. On the ride to the hospital Carleigh gave me one last gift-hiccups! It was the last time that I felt them and it made me smile.

We arrived at the hospital and checked in. The Pitocin was started around 8am. We had a birth plan we had given the unit ahead of time so everything was well prepared for us. Our family and friends gathered throughout the day and I allowed them in and out of the room since I wasn’t in any pain. My friend and photographer, Ashley, arrived closer to noon and stayed with us the rest of the time to take pictures during labor, delivery, and the moments after. (In this post I’ll be sharing pictures I have shared before and pictures I haven’t shared on my blog.)


It was around 7 pm that I had to make a decision to either stop the Pitocin and restart it the next day or have my dr break my water. This was another hard decision to make because I knew that if my water was broken it would increase the likelihood of Carleigh not surviving the birth but stretching out my labor for several days could also not be good for her. I have never mentioned this before but one of my deciding factors was that my friend Ashley wouldn’t be able to stay and take pictures for us if we drug out my labor over several days. I knew having the pictures she would take would be very important. So I told my dr to break my water. I don’t regret my decision.

After my water was broken I finally began to make make some progress and the contractions got stronger. I ended up getting an epidural and we just waited for me to progress far enough to push. I checked Carleigh’s heart beat through the doppler at about 2 am. It was still beating in the 140’s but fainter. I prayed for her to hold on. My nurse checked it not long after I did and it was the same. That was the last time I heard her heart beating.

Around 3:30 am my dr came in to check on me and it was time to push. Things moved quickly as the nurses got things ready. Ashley got ready and Anthony called my friend Lindsey who was a few minutes away to come in to videotape. This was the moment we waited months for and it was both exciting and scary. We didn’t know what to expect. We didn’t know if she’d be born alive but we hoped that she would.


Carleigh was born at 3:49 am. Anthony cut her cord and she was placed on my chest. My beautiful baby. My nurse checked for her heart beat but she was gone. I already knew. In the moment though it didn’t matter at all. All that mattered was that she was in my arms. The peace that was in that room that day passes any understanding. I can tell you though that I have never felt closer to Heaven than in that moment.


I didn’t cry at all but Anthony did. I just gazed at her and kissed her and took as much of her in as I could in those moments. About 45 minutes after she was born Anthony went and told our families, which was an emotional moment. We had our parents come back first and then slowly everyone else came to meet our baby girl.


We weighed Carleigh (3lbs 15 oz) and then I gave Carleigh to my nurse to give her a bath right next to my bed. She took such great care of her but I wish now I would have bathed her myself as that would have been such special moments I could have experienced. After her bath I dressed her and then let family and friends take turns holding her. We got prints and impressions of her hands and feet and measured her (13 1/2 in). Our pastor dedicated Carleigh for us even though she had already passed. It was important for us to do that.


Once I got the feeling back in my legs and was able to stand and walk we moved to our postpartum room. Carleigh and I snuggled in bed and slept. Our family came back the next day to spend more time with us. My postpartum nurse helped me change Carleigh’s dressing on her head and get a lock of hair. We spent the rest of our time in the hospital just holding her and loving on her.


Getting ready to leave the hospital was so hard. We had planned on the funeral director coming and picking up Carleigh but I wanted to leave the hospital with her and take her to the funeral home myself. With the ok from the funeral director we were able to get it arranged. I changed her outfit before we left and just cried. It was the first time since her birth I cried. I couldn’t stop the tears because I was so sad that soon I would have to hand her over.

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I was able to walk out of the hospital with my baby in my arms. I can’t tell you how glad I am that I didn’t have to walk out with empty arms. I carried Carleigh wrapped in her fuzzy pink blanket and waited with my nurse while Anthony brought the car up front. My nurse and I hugged and cried and then I walked out the door with my daughter and made the drive to the funeral home.

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The drive to the funeral home was much too short. I didn’t want to go in. I didn’t want to have to do this but I had to. When we were inside we sat on the couch and spent some last minutes with her. We kissed her and told her we loved her through our tears. Then I handed her over to the funeral director. It was hands down the most difficult moment of my entire life and it literally broke my heart. After she was out of my arms I broke down and just sobbed as Anthony held me. I’ve never cried so hard in my life as I did then. It was hard to breathe. Anthony escorted me back to our car and we drove home forever changed.

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My advice to any parent who is preparing for the birth of their baby to get as many keepsakes as you can. Take as many pictures as you can. There is no such thing as having too many keepsakes or pictures (ask about NILMDTS). These things will be all you have aside from memories to remember your baby. Even if you think you don’t want these things please get them anyway! You only have one chance and then it is gone forever. So many parents wish they would have taken at least one picture or had something tangible to remember their baby by.

Journal your experience because as time passes the small details begin to fade.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Life is sacred

Back in 1984, President Ronald Regan designated January 22, 1984 as the first National Sanctity of Human Life Day. The date was chosen to coincide with the 11th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade. (I sure wish he could be our President again!) Every year it has fallen on the third Sunday in January and has been declared since by Presidents George HW Bush and George W Bush but not Clinton or Obama.

I actually didn’t realize it was this past Sunday until my husband came home with our church bulletin (Lainey was sick so she and I stayed home) and there was a flyer about it. Seeing the flyer made me think about how precious life is. Every life matters and every life is sacred, even if some people don’t realize it or believe it.

Of course, when such a day like this exists people tend to think of abortion. As natural, people posted about the day and people commented. Some of the comments I saw were hateful toward women who chose abortion. It makes me shake my head how people can be so judgmental, but I can’t totally blame them because I used to have my own judgments. Then I had an abortion and I realized that not all women who have abortions are horrible people. Many are good people who either don’t know or feel like they have no other choice. Some are women who are forced by a loved one. Others are loving mothers who are making an impossible choice.

People think of abortion as a horrible, unthinkable act or a woman’s right to choose. It may be something they don’t even think about because they’ll never have to worry about it. You never know where your life is going to take you or the circumstances you will find yourself in. You can’t possibly predict the decisions you will make. Abortions happen in both wanted and unwanted pregnancies. They happen to babies who are loved.

I am a big advocate for educating women about abortion. The more informed a woman is then they are likely to make a better choice. We can’t necessarily depend on clinics to give women the right information. This is one of the purposes of sharing Jordan’s story. Women need to know how abortion can affect you. It isn’t an easy way out but a difficult path that is with you the rest of life.

I won’t ever tell a woman what path she needs to choose as that is a personal decision only she can make. I will gently guide her and share my own stories. I won’t ever tell a woman she is horrible for having an abortion because chances are she’s feeling the heavy chains of regret and guilt. I don’t want to be responsible for bringing her down further.

Sometimes when a baby is aborted it isn’t always just the baby that is lost. Sometimes it is the mother and even the father. Only God can restore what is lost but I pray that as a society we reach out to the hurting instead of pushing away.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

2011 ornaments

I thought I’d share the ornaments I received this year from various exchanges and BLMs. I had wanted to buy an ornament myself this year but never got around to it but that’s ok because I received many wonderful ornaments this year.


Thank you to everyone who sent me an ornament (you know who you are).

Monday, January 16, 2012


This week for Walking with You we are sharing our experience after we heard the news that changed our lives. (You can read my 1st WWY post about it here.)

If you are a mother who has heard the words incompatible with life, what happened next for you? Share about the waiting if your journey continued. How did you walk that path? What were some of your feelings? What did you do to form lasting memories? What were your struggles? Things you found comfort in?

We received our diagnosis on December 15, 2008. We left for our family vacation to Hawaii on December 19th, one we had planned for 3 years. The days in between were some of the most difficult I have faced. I cried a lot and I looked up as much information that I could about anencephaly-facts, articles, stories from other parents, and even pictures (which I would not recommend). My mom came down for those days and stayed with us to help out with my daughter. I would listen to several songs over and over and just cry. Why must this be my path? I trusted God and I had some level of acceptance about it but it still felt so unfair. I didn’t want my daughter to die.

I think one of the best things that happened for us was going on vacation. It was so good to get away and just leave reality behind. We had decided to not worry about what we would have to face but just enjoy our time in Hawaii. Everything could wait until we got back.

We did have an appointment with a Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist before we left on our trip. It was sort of a second opinion kind of thing even though I knew it wouldn’t tell us anything different. The appointment was a waste of time. The genetic counselor was joke (I knew more about anencephaly in my few days of research that she seemed to know!) and the dr only really gave termination as an option. My decision was made after the initial diagnosis and I was carrying my daughter to term no matter what anyone said, even my husband.

When we got back from our vacation I decided to start making prearrangements for the funeral. I was able to find a funeral home that was so very nice to us. We met with them several times before Carleigh was born to finalize everything. Our pastor went with us for support (God bless him). I think the hardest part out of all the arrangements was opening up the catalog to look at baby caskets. It was the only time I cried during the planning. Caskets that small shouldn’t have to exist and just imagining my daughter in one of them was too much.

I also decided to start a blog for several reasons. I’m so thankful that I did. It has not only helped me in many ways but other people too. This blog will always remain as a testament to my daughter’s life. She lived, if only inside of me, and her life will always matter even when I am gone. Her story will be here for other families going through the same or a similar path.

I didn’t pray or read the Bible very much while I carried Carleigh. Not because I didn’t have faith or was angry, but because I felt such closeness with God that it didn’t seem necessary. It sounds weird to put it like that. I learned quickly that I had no control over the fate of my daughter. Her life was in His hands and I had to trust in that. I am a planner by nature so not knowing what was ahead of us could have been very frustrating for me but God gave me the peace even among the hurt to enjoy my daughter. I can’t put into words how thankful I am for that.

When we got Carleigh’s diagnosis I was 22 weeks pregnant. I made the decision to induce at 37 weeks. I knew for 15 weeks that my daughter would die. Would I take any of it back? Certainly not. I wish that I would have done more. Taken more photos. Created more memories. You only get one chance. I am thankful for the things I did do while she was with me.


We got a 3D/4D ultrasound, which was so amazing. I treasure the video from this session very much as it is the only footage I have of my daughter alive. I remember smiling through the entire session. I was so happy to see her move and she had such chubby cheeks!


We got maternity photos through NILMDTS. I had never had them done before but I knew it was important to get them. After I got them I wish I had done maternity photos with my first daughter because those photos we got when I was pregnant with Carleigh are so special and capture a very special time in our lives, one of both joy and sorrow.


Our pastor’s wife threw us a prayer shower. We had food and cake (so yummy!) and we had guests bring bottles of change to donate to our local women’s center in honor of Carleigh. A few songs were shared and scriptures spoken. Prayers were prayed over us and our pastor anointed me. The prayers of so many on this journey meant the world to us and we felt them!


I had a belly casting party with a few high school friends and they helped me create belly cast, which is such a wonderful keepsake. I never imagined doing one before but a friend gifted me with a casting kit. I also never thought it would come to mean as much as it does to me. It took me over 2 years to finally get it painted. My friend Stephanie at Beyond Words Designs painted it for me and did such a beautiful job, even better than I imagined. Carleigh’s prints are even positioned on the inside of the cast where she laid in my belly.


I truly believe God carried us the entire time from the moment we got the diagnosis to the time of her birth and even beyond. I can’t explain how we handled things so well and had so much joy when we should have been so sad. Of course, there were times of tears and sadness but I’m so glad those moments didn’t overshadow the time we had left with her. I never wanted my pregnancy with her to be tainted with darkness but with light. She was and continues to be a light in our lives. A blessing, a gift from God that I will always be thankful for. I have said it before but I would rather have known her this way than to have never known her at all. I can’t imagine my life without her in it.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

First Steps

For the first of this series of Walking with You we are sharing those first moments when our lives changed forever, whether you found out your baby died or that your baby wouldn't live. Please feel free to join in and link up over at the Sufficient Grace blog.

I know I will always remember the day our lives changed forever. (You can read a more in depth version HERE.) It was December 15, 2008 and I was 22 1/2 weeks pregnant. I was expecting another little girl and we had named her Carleigh McKenna. At this point we thought everything was fine and we expected nothing but a normal pregnancy. It turned out to be anything but normal.

That afternoon I had my midway ultrasound and my best friend was in the room with me like she had been for many of my ultrasounds. We chatted and smiled the entire time watching my daughter on the screen. At the time I didn't notice anything out of the ordinary both on the screen and in the demeanor of my ultrasound tech (who was also my coworker and friend) but looking back I can now see that something wasn't right. I got my ultrasound pictures and went home just as happy as can be.

I walked in the door after picking up my other daughter from the sitter and the phone is ringing. I answered it and it was my doctor. There was something concerning on the ultrasound and she needed me to come into the office today no matter what time it was. I knew immediately that it wasn't good and my mind concocted all sorts of scenarios of what could be wrong. I called my husband and told him what had happened and to see if he could meet me at the office as he was still at work. I called my best friend to see if she was still at work to check on my ultrasound report but she had already left. I packed up a bag and my daughter and I were out the door.

I arrived at the hospital where the doctor's office was. It is also the place where I work. My husband hadn't arrived yet so I looked up my ultrasound report. I skimmed the report until I saw the world 'anencephalic'. I knew immediately what it meant. Our daughter was going to die and there was nothing we could do about it. In that moment several emotions were all bombarding each other. Amidst the shock and the devastation there was a calm and I know it came from God. In that moment when I saw that word I think time stood still for a fraction of a second. Kinda like in the movies when they make all those horrible scenes happen really slow. It's kinda like that. I honestly didn't know what to do next.

I made my way to meet my husband but I didn't tell him what I knew. I still had a small hope that it was all wrong and that everything would be ok. That hope was soon dashed when it was confirmed by my doctor that our daughter had anencephaly.

It's hard for me to convey in words the reality of that day and what it was like to experience it in my shoes. It is a lot to take in and it hurt but I am amazed at the covering of God's grace that day. I don't know how I just didn't break down into one big mess. I did cry and in the days that followed. They were tears of sadness and broken dreams. I wanted my girls to be close and age and I was given that and now it was being taken away from me. I never imagined that this would happen to me. I never wanted it to but I am so glad that she happened.

There are many resources on my Helpful Links page that I have compiled for various situations-fatal/poor prenatal diagnosis, pregnancy and infant loss, medical termination, and much more.


Pray for the many ministries out there helping grieving parents get through tough times and allowing them to find healing.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Walking with You coming up!

Next Monday starts up Walking with You hosted by Sufficient Grace Ministries. We last participated in this in 2009 and I will be participating again. To learn more about it please CLICK HERE.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Dear Carleigh

I don’t often write letters to you anymore mostly because time is a thing it seems I keep having less and less of. It’s a busy world that’s for sure. But Faces of Loss encouraged us to write a letter this month. I figured why not just do it today?

We just entered another year and it’s hard to believe sometimes that in just a couple months you would be 3 years old. I’d love to know what a 3 year old you would look and act like. Lord knows I’ve been missing you every day since you left us. My eyes long to see your face again. My arms ache to feel your touch. If only I could kiss those sweet cheeks just one more time…

This past year I have come to accept that not everyone will remember you like I do and that’s ok. I’ll always hold you in my heart. The whole world could forget about you but I never would and that’s all that matters. I held you the closest while you lived and I will hold you the closest until I die.

I have also accepted that it’s ok that I don’t visit the cemetery as often as I did. It used to bring me so much comfort to go and while it still does, it isn’t as important as it once was. I do still like to bring you pretty things though and give you new flowers. I want to always do that, even if I live to 90. If I can’t walk I’ll get me one of those power chairs. Wouldn’t that be a sight!?

My heart has healed some more over the past year but no amount of time will ever make it completely better. I know that it is ok to be happy and go on without you. I don’t feel like it’s leaving you behind because that is impossible for me to do. You can never be completely in my past because you continue to be my present and you are my future.

I know in my heart you are ok up in Heaven but I still wonder how you are. What do you do up there? Can you see me down here? Can you feel my love? Do you know how much I miss you? I hope you do.

Love always,

Sunday, January 01, 2012

January Babies

♥ Remembering those babies with special days in January ♥

Luisa ~ January 1, 2011
Snowflake ~ January 2, 2011
Little Bean ~ January 3, 2008
Zoelle ~ January 4, 2009
Erin ~ January 6, 2009
Sweetpea ~ January 6, 2011
Harvey ~ January 6, 2009
Lukas ~ January 7, 2009
Eli & Jett ~ January 10 , 2009
Elisha ~ January 13, 2009
Levi ~ January 14, 2009
Claudia ~ January 15, 1985
Harley ~ January 15, 2008
Emma ~ January 15, 2009
Grace ~ January 15, 2010
Hudson ~ January 16, 2009
Cameron ~ January 17, 2009
Ethan ~ January 24, 2005
Johnathan ~ January 24, 2012
Timothy ~ January 25, 2011
Asher ~ January 25, 2012
Christian ~ January 26, 2007
Ethan ~ January 27, 2007
Terry ~ January 27, 2007
Isabella ~ January 30, 2010
Heidi ~ January 31, 2009
Logan & Brody ~ January 31, 2009

I'm sorry if you're baby is not on this list. Please leave a comment to have your baby added.
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