Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Sibling Grief/The Next Pregnancy

This week, we are sharing about the effect our loss(es) had on our children (sibling grief). If you did not have children at the time of your loss, we are also sharing about subsequent pregnancies (after the loss). If you have not had a pregnancy following the loss, yet, you may share your feelings about facing your next pregnancy. (You can read my original sibling grief post here.)

When Carleigh was born Kyndra was 15 months old and Hannah was 9.

Kyndra was at an age where she just really didn’t know what was going on. She didn’t realize mommy was going to have another baby or that there was anything wrong. When Carleigh was born Kyndra was a little curious about her but mostly she was sleepy since it was so early in the morning. I remember the most she really touched Carleigh was to poke at her a couple times.

I often took Kyndra to the cemetery with me when I went to visit and it was a wonderful time for both of us. She really enjoyed going and playing and running. She’d trace her fingers over the lettering in the headstone and it melted my heart when we would go to leave and she would hug and kiss the stone. We don’t visit near as often as we used to but she still enjoys going.

Hannah was older and able to grasp more of what was going on. We explained to her what was going to happen and what was wrong with Carleigh so that she wouldn’t live. It was me who helped explain it more so she could understand it better. Hannah never met Carleigh in person or held her or even went to the funeral. It was a decision that her mom and Anthony made that they thought was best at the time. Of course, we know now that she should have been there. She herself has expressed that she wish that she was. At the time Hannah was living out of state (13 hours away) and that also was part of the decision in not having her present. We did take her to the cemetery though when we had her that summer.

Anthony and I started trying again just 6 weeks after Carleigh was born. For some people, trying again so soon doesn’t feel right but it did for us. We knew before Carleigh was born that we would try again soon. However, we did not conceive until 9 months later, which was often frustrating to me because I conceived Kyndra in 3 months and Carleigh in just 1 month. I do believe it was God’s timing though because as soon as I gave it over to God I found out I was pregnant. Sometimes I need a lesson in letting go and letting God.

Pregnancy after loss is definitely a ride like no other. Pregnancy is never the same after you’ve experienced a loss. I was more anxious, fearful, and worried that something was going to go wrong and that I would lose another baby. Even in all my mixed up emotions I still had faith in God that He was there for me. Toward the end of my 1st rainbow pregnancy I began getting more anxious and emotional. My fear of something going wrong when we were so close to the end was something I tried to overcome daily. When I finally went into labor I was calm and at peace and our daughter Lainey arrived safely into the world via waterbirth (something I’ve always wanted).

I am currently 24 weeks pregnant with my 2nd rainbow, another little girl named Evanee. This time around my emotions of things going wrong aren’t as strong and I’m glad about that. It doesn’t help me or my baby to be stressed out about the what-ifs that I can’t control. I’m putting my trust in God for us to bring another little girl home.

One thing I know for sure is that I want all of my children here on earth to know about their sister Carleigh. I don’t want her to be a subject that is taboo. Kyndra is 4 years old now and I talk to her about Carleigh. She asks me about her and about her head. I’m honest with her about everything, but in words she can understand. Lainey is 17 months old and she has a cloth picture book that has pictures of family members and I included a picture of Carleigh. I feel it’s important for my girls to know about their sister. I want them to know that she is loved and never forgotten and that she’ll always be a part of our family even if she isn’t physically with us.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Visit to NMU

President’s Day weekend my friend Kelly and I (along with the girls) made a trip to Chattanooga, TN. Anthony and I didn’t get to make a trip down in October like we usually do so one was planned for February. The plan was to visit the National Memorial for the Unborn (NMU) and meet up with some BLMs. We wanted to try and meet up with some hospitals in the area to for Sufficient Grace Ministries but that didn’t end up happening. We also only ended up meeting with one BLM, our friend Cecilia. It was a little disappointing not being able to meet up with more but we certainly enjoyed our time with Cecilia. (Thank you for coming!)

On Saturday morning we went to NMU and met up with Cecilia there. We got there a little before 10 am and the girls certainly enjoyed exploring around.


After Cecilia arrived and some more time outside we all went inside the memorial where the wall of plaques are located. All of my stuff that I left for Jordan is still sitting on the wall and it’s so nice to see it still there. (Eventually they remove items that have been there for a while to make room for new items.) The poem that I wrote is on the left beside Jordan’s certificate of life. On the right of the certificate is the momma and baby bear I left. On this trip I brought a yellow silk rose for Jordan. All of the items sit below Jordan’s plaque on the wall.


There is no doubt when you visit this place that you know it is sacred ground. You can feel it. I knew at some point I’d prolly get a little teary eyed and I was right. It’s hard not too in a place such as this. Every plaque you see on this wall (and there are many more that you don’t see) is a plaque placed for a baby or babies lost to abortion. This is such a healing place for so many who live with such terrible pain.


Of course before we left we had to get some pictures together!!


Kelly and I had hoped to be able to place the brick pavers that we ordered in the garden during our visit but sadly our pavers were not in yet and Katrina, who does work for NMU, wasn’t able to meet up with us that morning to do a tour either due to a family emergency. She said to go ahead and pick the place that we wanted our pavers placed and this is where I selected for mine. Kelly picked spots to the right of mine. The pavers in the garden are for children who are lost to stillbirth and miscarriage.


After our visit to NMU we went to eat lunch at a local Olive Garden. That whole meal was sort of a blur for me and I didn’t get much conversation in with having to tend to the girls, which was a bummer since I would have liked to talk to Cecilia more but we mommas know how that goes!

Kelly and I spent the rest of Saturday in the area and we went out to dinner later that night and then left Sunday morning to come back home.

Overall, the trip was really great and we had a good time. Thanks to Kelly for making the trip with me!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Ripples Flow to our Marriage

This week, we are sharing the impact our loss(es) had on our marriage. (My original post can be viewed here.)

Losing Carleigh was not our first experience in losing a child. Before Anthony and I were married and not long after we got together I found out I was pregnant. We made a very poor and hasty decision to end the pregnancy. While most couples who choose abortion don’t stay together, we did. Over the years our grief over losing Jordan took its toll, mostly on myself. We worked through it and found forgiveness and healing.

Finding out Carleigh wouldn’t live was devastating for us. We never imagined having to deal with a fatal diagnosis for our unborn child. We didn’t talk a whole lot about the whole situation. I’ve never been much of a talker of feelings. I tend to be able to write things out much better. When our dr first gave us the options of what to do I didn’t even consult Anthony. I knew that I would carry to term and there was nobody, even my husband, who was going to change my mind. I think we both knew that I could never make the choice to end the life of my child after having done so with Jordan.

The night we got the diagnosis we went to sleep holding each other. Something we hadn’t done for a long time.

We had a MFM appointment just 2 days after finding out and it was at this appointment that Anthony asked me if I would induce early, perhaps around 30 weeks. I told him no. The dr that came in the ultrasound room spoke incorrectly about what would happen and I think it scared Anthony as he was fearful for my own life. Once I told him that the dr was incorrect (and he most certainly was!) he felt much better about carrying to term. I also think suggestions he heard from people who didn’t know anything about my daughter’s diagnosis weighed on his mind when he asked me. Sometimes it was easy for me to forget that Anthony didn’t know as much as I did about anencephaly and the medical field in general.

The rest of my pregnancy with Carleigh was a planning period for her arrival. Anthony let me make most of the decisions. I think he knew it was important to me. He never objected to the things I wanted to do to make memories. He supported me and would be my sounding board when I was unsure.

I’ve kept a lot of my grief inside of me and have used my blog as an outlet for my feelings. I know Anthony at times has wished I would be more open and talk to him about what I’m feeling but it’s not easy for me to do that.

I am grateful that Anthony has let me do what I feel led to do to honor Carleigh and remember her. I’m sure at times he has thought I was a little crazy but no matter what he supports what I do.

Carleigh’s 3rd birthday is just over a month away. These days we don’t talk about her a lot but I know we both still love her and miss her. For me, I still think of her every day. I know she’ll never be forgotten by us. I still have grief moments and I’m sure Anthony does too, though I don’t think quite often as me. I believe that since I am the one that carried Carleigh for so many months and knew her in a way that no one else could that there is going to be a level of grief that no one but myself can experience or understand, not even my husband.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Sea of Grief

This week we are sharing our first steps into the sea of grief. (My original post can be viewed HERE.)

My grief journey began before Carleigh died. The grieving began the moment I found out that my daughter wasn’t going to live. Your heart starts preparing yourself for what is ahead. The days following the fatal diagnosis were tough. I cried a lot of tears and was trying to make sense of everything that was happening to us and our daughter. I did a lot of research and listened to various songs, especially the song I Will Carry You by Selah.

We got the diagnosis on December 15, 2008 and we left for a family trip to Hawaii on December 19th. It was a trip that we had been planning for 3 years. I think that trip was exactly what we needed and I don’t think it was merely coincidence at the timing of it all. I resolved to leave our “problems” behind us and just enjoy the trip and that’s exactly what I did. In doing so, great memories were made and weren’t overshadowed by sadness. I got to enjoy a vacation where Carleigh was actually with us.

When we got back from the trip I started planning for the road ahead of us. We starting making pre-arrangements for her funeral and I even started this blog to document our journey and keep people updated. I really did want to enjoy as much of my pregnancy with Carleigh as I could instead of being clouded with sadness. I knew from reading stories of other parents who walked this road that I only had this time we were given and I didn’t want to look back with a lot of regret. Thankfully, I have very few regrets in the decision that we made and the regrets I do have are ones I can live with and not have them eat at me. Of course, I had moments when I was carrying Carleigh that I was sad. I didn’t want her to die and I wished I could have done anything to make it so that she didn’t have to.

The day came for Carleigh to be born and our hope all along was that we would get time with Carleigh alive. On March 28, 2009, our Carleigh was born still. We weren’t given time with her alive in our arms but I honestly ok with it and I was ok with it then too. It was more important to me to have her in my arms after waiting for her for many months. The time in the hospital with her wasn’t sad for me until it came time to leave. I cried dressing her and driving to the funeral home is not a drive I ever thought I’d have to make. The hardest moment of my whole journey was handing Carleigh over to the funeral director and walking away. Broken doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt in that moment.

Her visitations and service went well. I held her the entire time, which was a great comfort to me. I did ok during the visitations but I cried during the service. Putting her in the casket and closing it was so hard. Walking away was even harder. I never wanted to let her go but I had to.

In the days that followed I seemed to do ok. I think that is mostly in part to my daughter Kyndra. She kept my hands and mind busy and didn’t let me dwell long in grief. She allowed me to smile and laugh and feel good on days when the missing was so much. God continued to carry me and I felt Him. Around 6 months after she was born the grief became more intense and I felt farther from God but I managed to get through it and things got better.

I didn’t like to leave my house much and whenever we went out into crowds it always put me in a bad mood. Thankfully, this did get better but only after I recognized what was happening and that I wanted it to change. It was a slow process and it didn’t happen overnight. I just wanted to feel like me again even though I knew the old me was never going to come completely back.

I’m still on this grief journey and I am approaching 3 years. There are still ups and downs. The downs happen less and less as time passes but I am always missing her. I still think of her every day. I still wonder who she would be today if she had lived.

I know my grief on this earth will always be present but I am glad for the hope of Heaven. I know one day I will be reunited with my baby girl. I will get to walk with her and Jesus one day. I look forward to the day we can be together again, but until then I will continue to live this life the best that I can without her here.

Monday, February 13, 2012

When a moment hits you out of nowhere

Any of us who have lost a child knows that the grief of this loss stays with you forever. As time passes the waves of grief don’t crash as often but they still happen. One of those waves hit me yesterday and I totally wasn’t expecting it. My friend Jen shared a video on her blog. It’s a song by Daughtry and it’s one I hadn’t heard before. I was totally unprepared for this song and the effect it had on me.
While listening to the song I just started sobbing. The words pulled at my heart. I haven’t cried like that since having to hand my daughter over to the funeral director almost 3 years ago. Cries just welled up and my body was shaking. It wasn’t pretty but it felt good. People may wonder how it could possibly feel good but grief can well up inside you over time and releasing it can be both draining and refreshing. I think I needed that.
I’m sharing with you the song but I warn you that it will prolly make you cry. It still makes me cry. It’s moving and it’s so, so true. It makes me realize how much I really do miss her and how much I missed out on. I’m missing an entire lifetime. In the day to day busyness of life I sometimes forget that.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Naming Our Babies

This week, we are sharing how we chose the names for our babies and any special meaning behind them.

One of my favorite things about having a baby is picking out baby names. Call me crazy but I think it is fun!

I started looking for names not long after I found out I was pregnant with Carleigh. What I do is I go through a whole bunch of names and write down ones I like. I then take my long list to my husband Anthony and he gets rid of names he doesn't like. I take the list back and get rid of more names. When there's only a couple names left we decide together. This has been the system for all 4 of our girls.

I found out that Carleigh was a girl at 15 weeks and we decided on her name not long after we found out her gender. I didn't look up the meaning of her name at all. I just liked it. After her diagnosis though her name took on new meaning for me.

Carleigh means 'freeholder'. If you are unsure what freeholder means, basically it is one who holds title to real property. While the earthly definition of freeholder can be pretty darn confusing (look it up, it seriously is), I like to think of it as my daughter holds title to a piece of Heaven. Her middle name McKenna means 'ascend'. Of course I like this because I imagine her rising into Heaven to meet Jesus.

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I'd thought I'd let you know the meanings of my other children's names:

Hannah's name means 'grace' and her middle name Nicole means 'victory of the people'. (Hannah is my step-daughter.)

Jordan's name means 'flowing down' and his middle name Leigh means 'meadow'. (Jordan is my first sweet baby I lost.)

Kyndra's name means 'greatest champion' and her middle name Renee means 'reborn'. (Kyndra is my 1st daughter I gave birth to.)

Lainey’s name means ‘bright, shining light’ and her middle name Iris means ‘rainbow’. (Lainey is my 1st rainbow baby, meaning my baby I had after I lost Carleigh. She’s actually our only child whose names were specifically picked for their meaning.)

Evanee’s name means ‘young warrior’ and her middle name Graycen means ‘grace of God’. (Evanee is my 2nd rainbow baby and due to be in our arms in June.)

Saturday, February 04, 2012

February Babies

♥ Remembering February babies ♥

Nicholas ~ February 1, 2008
Corinne ~ February 4, 2010
Cayden ~ February 4, 2010
Riley ~ February 10, 2006
Gabrielle ~ February 10, 2010
Sydney ~ February 10, 2009
Leah ~ February 10, 2009
Riley ~ February 11, 2010
Ethan ~ February 13, 2008
Akul ~ February 13, 2009
Sophia ~ February 16, 2008
Faith ~ February 19, 2009
Elijah ~ February 21, 2010
Lilly ~ February 22, 2010
Aubree ~ February 22, 2010
Asher ~ February 22, 2008
Alyssa ~ February 23, 2010
Audrey ~ February 23, 2009
Lily, Paige, & Rylan ~ February 23, 2009
Brenham ~ February 29, 2008

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

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

A Precious Goodbye

This week on Walking With You, we are sharing about saying good-bye and experiencing the memorial service or funeral if applicable.

Since we knew about 4 months ahead of time that Carleigh wouldn’t live, we had time to plan for her arrival and for her funeral. We met with the funeral home several times for pre-arrangements. The only thing we did not prepare for ahead of time was her service. It wasn’t until after her birth that our pastor came to our house and we went over how we wanted the service to go. I really didn’t know what I wanted, which made me wish I had looked into some things beforehand but we still had in my opinion a beautiful service.

Carleigh was born on March 28th and we delivered her to the funeral home on March 29th. On March 30th we returned to the funeral home so that I could dress Carleigh in her burial outfit.


We arrived at the funeral home and we went over some last minute things with one of the directors before I dressed Carleigh. The room she was in was already set up for her first visitation and her casket was at the front of the room and she was lying in it. Just seeing her in a casket brought tears to my eyes. Even with her small casket she was still so tiny in it. It was very obvious she had been embalmed. She was cold and swollen and didn’t look quite like ‘her’, but she was still my baby no matter what she looked like. I picked her up and Anthony and I spent some time holding her while we waited for his dad and brother to arrive. We had to keep tissues on us to wipe her nose as the embalming fluid was leaking out.

Once his dad and brother came we moved to a different room with a sofa so that I could dress her on it. Anthony and his dad took pictures while I dressed Carleigh. I took my time dressing her because I wanted to be with her as long as I could, even if it was just her body. Her outfit was a little big, which I expected, but she still looked so precious to me.


It was so good to see Carleigh and spend time with her on that day. I only wish that I would have went and saw her through the rest of the week before her service. The funeral director said that we could but I didn’t. I wish I would’ve taken advantage of that time.

Our first visitation was held the evening of Friday, April 3rd, at the funeral home. I arrived at the funeral home well before the visitation was set to start so that I could spend time with Carleigh alone. Once I got there I realized I forgot Carleigh’s fuzzy pink blanket at our house so my dad went back to get it for me. I didn’t want to hold her the whole evening without it, but I didn’t wait for him to come back to pick her up. Once I got her out of her casket she didn’t go back in it until it was time for us to leave.

Many people sent us beautiful flowers and we even got stone monuments from family members (that now sit in our flower bed). It was sea of purple and that was such a nice sight since the color purple is the color that makes me think of her (even though she never even wore the color purple-perhaps I should have gotten her a purple outfit!).

We had quite a few visitors that evening…family, friends, coworkers, church members, neighbors. Many people traveled a few hours to be there since most of our loved ones lived back where we both grew up. I was so appreciative of those who took the time to come. I held Carleigh the entire visitation except for the few times Anthony held her and when 2 family members held her. There were tears, but for the most part the atmosphere was light. My mood was generally good because I was so happy to see my little girl again. Leaving though was difficult because again I had to leave her behind.


Saturday, April 4th, we had a morning visitation followed by a service, which were both at our church. I got there early again so that I could spend more time with her alone before people arrived. I also brought some keepsakes and set up a table to share with those who came. After I got the table set up then I went and got Carleigh out of her casket and kept her with me the entire time.

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So many people came that morning and I was glad to see everyone who came. I was able to smile throughout the visitation but the service was harder.


We had the actual service both videotaped and photographed. I’m so glad that we did both. The service began with our pastor praying and reading Carleigh’s obituary. I wish now I would have made it more personal but at the time I didn’t really know. I had never written an obituary before and didn’t know you could write it however you wanted. Next, a slideshow of pictures and music was shown. The pictures included ultrasound pics, maternity pics, and pics from labor, delivery, and after. My uncle gave the eulogy and a couple friend and family members shared their hearts. Our pastor gave a message and read Psalm 23. The song He Will Carry Me was then played. The service ended in prayer and everyone was dismissed by row to greet us. I cried a lot during the service and I held Carleigh so close.

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After everyone came through to see us it was time to put Carleigh in her casket. Our family said their goodbyes and Anthony and I walked our daughter to her casket. We both kissed her and then I changed her crochet hat to a little bonnet that matched her outfit. I didn’t put it on her before because it was big for her head. I laid her in the casket and then took off her pearl bracelet and the cross necklace she was wearing to keep. We placed a small heart in her casket that fit with a larger heart that we kept. I covered her up with the delicate crochet blanket Anthony’s grandma made. We gave her even more kisses. I couldn’t give her enough. I cried.

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It finally came time to close the casket. I didn’t want to do it and not be able to see my baby girl again on this earth and hold her. With difficulty, I closed the lid and sealed the casket. Anthony and I stood there for a few moments before turning around and walking out of the church. We stood outside and waited for her to come out.

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We were blessed with a beautiful day on the day of her service and burial. The sun was shining where the day before was rainy. My brothers-in-law were the ones chosen to carry Carleigh’s casket. They brought her out of the church and she was put into the back of the hearse.

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We were provided with a limo to ride to the cemetery. Anthony, Kyndra, and I rode in it along with our parents. Kyndra was so happy on the ride out to the cemetery and that helped me not get too emotional at that time. We arrived at the cemetery and waited for my brothers-in-law to carry Carleigh over to her plot.

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We followed them inside the tent that was sent up and I sat down with Anthony on one side of me and my mom on the other. Our pastor prayed and read some scripture and as soon as it had begun it seemed to be over.

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Everyone was invited to attend the dinner at the church after prayer but no one moved. Everyone just stood there and it was silent aside from tears and the horses beside the cemetery. (The horses stood by the fence the entire time at the cemetery like they were paying their respects.) I just stared at her casket. Finally people came up to give us hugs. Then after sitting for a while I stood up and told Anthony that it was time. We went back to the limo and left for the church.

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The meal was good and the cake was just delicious (especially the frosting!). We had quite a few people gather with us and it was lighthearted, which was nice. After pretty much everyone was gone we packed up and went home.

♥ Sweet baby girl……we love and miss you. ♥

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I think it is important for parents to realize that they have a right to do whatever they want in regards to funeral/burial planning. Don’t be afraid to speak up for what you want. Don’t be afraid of what people might think. What is most important is what you want and fulfilling that desire so you don’t have regrets later. I'm sure some people questioned why I would hold my daughter the entire time. I loved it. I knew I would never get those moments back and I wanted to spend them with her in my arms. Before long they would be empty forever. Some people may have even thought I was a crazy, bereaved mother. Yeah, I’m crazy alright-crazy over my daughter.

Something I never considered before was a home funeral. If I had known that was an option at the time I definitely would have looked into it and possibly even planned it that way. I would have taken my daughter home with me for several days like some families have. I think it is a great honor caring for the body of your loved one and I think I would have liked that opportunity instead of her being with strangers, even if they were so kind to us.

No matter what route you choose, if it feels right to you then that’s what you should do.


But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.  Philippians 3:20-21

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