Saturday, December 22, 2007

Merry Christmas

Should you look up on Christmas Eve, and see a shining star

Think of our dear AJ, as he shines brightly from afar.

Should you sit down at the table, to eat your Christmas dinner,

Say a special little prayer, for those broken hearts this winter.

Should you find yourself without the words, to say to us this year,

Just know that a simple hug will do, as we shed another tear.

To all those families hurting this Christmas, we pray that God's love enfolds you and you find peace in the holiday season. To our families and friends, thank you for being there to laugh with, cry with and share this very difficult year with.

If AJ's life has touched your life in any way, please send us a note or message. We'd love to know how little AJ has made a difference in your life. Merry Christmas to all!!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Instant Gratification

I don't know about you, but I am all about instant gratification. When we buy something, we want it now (probably why I don't shop online often). When we make something to eat, we want to eat it now. And when you carry a baby for 39 weeks, you want to hold that baby until he/she absolutely wont let you hold them anymore. As a mother, I don't know if that feeling of never wanting to let go of your child ever goes away completely...but going to college with your mother around your leg isn't so cool...and I get that!

In two weeks, AJ will be 9 months old. I so wish I could hold him. The pain is quite unbearable actually. I went to visit with Jen and Sawyer the other night on the way home...Sawyer and AJ are only one month apart...and I just hurt for AJ not being here. Sawyer was so fun and cute - I am so blessed to have him in my life as a reminder and mile marker. But OMG it hurts so bad!! The boys should be playing together...best buds like we had planned. This is not the picture I painted in my mind. Not the class I signed up for. Not the way it's supposed to be....

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Gifts...

Tonight was the annual MEND Christmas Candle Light Ceremony. It was a beautiful service. Rebekah, the founder of MEND, spoke about gifts. I think everyone likes to receive gifts, but sometimes the gift we receive is not what we think we are getting or what we think we ought to have...but yet we wouldn't return it or exchange it for anything.

The gift of compassion is one of the greatest gifts we too have received from AJ's life. Heartfelt empathy for others going through rough times. I look back over the last 8 months and can't really tell you what I've done. So much of the time is a blur and some I can't even recall. But one thing I can recall over the last 8 months are the new friends we have met through MEND and what a true blessed gift they are to our lives. To share the hurt with others, to hurt for them as they hurt for you. A strange, yet simple, yet absolutely great gift.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

More About Thanksgiving...

I was so exhausted and emotionally depleted when I posted my Thanksgiving blog that I didn't include one of the most amazing things that happened. It SNOWED!!! For those who may just be joining our story (read early posts from April) - we feel snow is AJ visiting to remind us he is with us and God's way of reminding us He has it all under control.

video

Eli was so excited - I was crying and daddy was working the camera. Eli says, "Mommy - can we call AJ and tell him thank you for the snow?" It was the cutest thing ever!!!! In the midst of sadness and straight-up heartache for AJ not being here on Thanksgiving, God answered the cries and prayers to carry us through the day with snow!! Amazing!

I've been feeling really down for about the last two weeks...I guess it's just the holidays??? Friday AJ will be 8 months old...the past 8 months seem so blurred and unreal. I feel like at some point I will get to wake up and it will all be ok. But I won't...and it won't. Some MEND people say that the one year mark makes a difference...I suppose we will see. For now, I will appreciate the little things like snow, pray my feet will hit the floor each day, and endure moment by moment the life we have been given to live.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Today was not easy...but we survived it. We are so thankful for the short amount of time God gave you to us.

Happy Thanksgiving AJ - We love you and miss you more each day!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Thought to ponder...

I was at Target and picked up Joel Olsteen's book "Your best life now" to peruse while the boys looked at toys. I turned to a chapter titled "Find strength through adversity". I thumbed a few pages and in there something popped off the page at me.

~~Even if your sitting down, stand up inside.~~

I feel like I'm doing the exact opposite of this...I stand up daily outside, but I just can't stand up inside. God props me up daily, but if I allow myself to get too far away I just decide it's easier to sit back down than continue to stand. It is a really exhausting cycle that God uses to strength-train us in life....building our endurance. (and I'm ok with that...it's just not easy.)

I know my strength comes from the Lord not only in adversity, but always. Thank God for His promises!!!

Ok - So maybe I'll just cry for the next two months...or maybe the next 5??

Well, the impending holidays are taking their toll and haven't even arrived yet. I was in "Martha" mode - planning and such until I took the time to realize what was before me. It's been a while since my last late night musing...so here it is.


We went to our monthly MEND meeting last week and on the way home it hit me...I don't really want to be around anyone (family please don't take this personally) or be thankful for anything or hear anyone be thankful for anything this year. I really just want to stay closed up in our house - with my family - and forget that it is "Thanksgiving". --I even asked Al if we could just go camping to get away so I don't have to deal with anything.--

Don't get me wrong...I am thankful for my wonderful husband, my two beautiful sons, my family, friends, job, etc...but I just don't feel like talking about it. Words are so hard to find on a good day...they will be impossible on a holiday. I don't want to hear anyone talk about how thankful they are for anything they have or will have or wish they had. Selfish as it may be...it's just how I feel and that's that!!


My coveted Lillian Vernon catalogue came a couple of weeks ago - TEARS!! when I opened to remember that I would not be ordering another stocking to hang on the fire place...and then I decided to do just that. Order Mr. AJ a stocking to take his rightful place on the hearth with the rest of the family...Al and I discussed it and decided that we would invite friends and family to write notes to AJ every year and fill his stocking with memories for his book. Then at MEND someone recommended that people could write notes to us on how AJ's life has changed or impressed their life. They said that it is very uplifting to go back and read each year and see how our baby's life changed or helped someone else. So family and friends, feel free to start writing your notes to go in AJ's stocking...we'll need something to smile about.

For Christmas, we are going to escape the metroplex and go to South Dakota for my Granny's 97th birthday (on Christmas day). I haven't really looked at Christmas as "Christmas" because it is my Granny's birthday and we are not exchanging gifts or anything so it really hasn't "hit" me yet about the holiday...maybe I'll be blessed to escape a breakdown if I'm not at home?? (wishful thinking). I am having a really hard time with the thought of getting all of my Christmas things out...and Christmas is usually my favorite holiday. I just don't have it in me.

Pray that God can place joy in our hearts this holiday season in some way. Peace to all.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

7 Months

Today is full of VERY mixed emotions. I start my new job in 2 days - that's great! My office is once again being unbelievably wonderful with a luncheon for me today. I just got a huge beautiful bouquet of yellow flowers complete with daisy's and roses...my favorite - thanks!


AJ would have been 7 months old today. Becoming the little man that I imagine him to be. The hurt is so overwhelming and consuming it is simply indescribable. I just want to sit here and cry until I have nothing left to cry.


I have a picture of pregnant me and Eli that is perfect in every way. I keep that picture on my desk because it is the only picture I have with me and both of my boys here on earth. I usually hate pictures of me, but this one was divinely planned and perfect in every way.

Monday, October 8, 2007

A Walk to Remember

October 6th was the 11th annual MEND Walk to Remember - our first year of course. The ceremony was beautiful. Eli got to wear his "I'm the BIG Brother" shirt for the first time. It was so great to be surrounded by friends and family - it sometimes feels like everyone has just forgotten and moved on and - hence expects that we have done the same.

Over 400 people attended the walk and over 150 babies were remembered - WOW. The enormity of how many families are touched by the loss of a child (or several children) is unreal.
The balloon release at the end was so peaceful and truly amazing. You know - when one balloon is released, you tend to loose sight of it rather quickly. However, on Saturday with over 400 balloons floating in the sky it seemed like we could see them forever before they disappeared. I suppose that is the same when you are touched with one baby dying...the memories for some disappear quickly, but when you lump them together and say 150 babies have died - it's huge and a little harder to forget. Each balloon is such an important part of the bigger picture and carries so much more than a special note written on the outside.
Each of the lives represented with those balloons is changing the world we live in each day. So the saying - 1 person can make a difference in this world is true - 1 person who isn't even here to create the memories or live the life we'd planned matters so much to our big picture of life - and it's up to us to be sure their lives don't lose meaning.
I ask that next time you have an opportunity to acquire a balloon, that you take it and send it up to our little AJ. Take time to watch it float into the clouds until you can't see it anymore. Take time to slow life down and appreciate all of the blessings God has bestowed upon you and you watch your balloon disappear into the clouds.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Big 6 M

Today we hit the 6 month mark. To a great extent - part of me stays numb, but God's strength or grace keeps me going....it's not me. A lot like the 5 month post, I should be writing about how AJ is crawling and pulling up, eating new things and how much he is different than his brother. About how wonderful of a big brother Eli is and how much we can't imagine our lives without our two boys.

Well at 6 months, we can't imagine our lives without our two boys. Eli is so smart and funny. Loves all the things that little boys love and he is ALL BOY!! He is such a blessing! And AJ - well he is brilliant! He is a constant reminder of how blessed we are to be human and experience life. God chose us for such a divine purpose and now holds part of our purpose in His hand. We might have lived our lives for 60 years never understanding or being enlightened with how precious life and love is. So many people around us take for granted the simplest of things.

I have found myself driving different routes to and from work just to simply find something new to appreciate each day. To see a man watering his lawn, birds flying amongst the cars at the stop light, discovering a new street I never knew existed. Without AJ - I might have never driven that road or looked up to see the birds frolicking in the morning sun. My heart may never have opened to some - and closed to others. I tend to observe more and worry less...worry for what when I really have NO control.

A day doesn't go by without a moment in which the core of my being doesn't hurt. In which the magnitude of what we are enduring doesn't present it's self in some fashion and I am reminded that I am to be still.

2007 has been a VERY hard year for so many people around me. I am thankful that I can look ahead to what 2008 might hold for us all. 6 months ago I couldn't see past the end of my nose. 6 months ago I was reminded how small I am in this world and how all things are in His control. 6 months ago our hearts were broken, but our lives were blessed.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Empty Seat

Three bald-headed babies sat before me today
in the red & white stripped cart.
The fourth seat was empty where AJ would sit,
my heart sunk as I then fell apart.

Each of the boys smiling and looking
for a friendly face to study and stare.
But all I could do was well up with tears
because AJ just wasn't there.

The seat belt was buckled perfectly straight,
on the back row with seating for four.
Brandon and Ben and Dalton
all smiled and giggled innocently more.

I did all I could to stand there and smile,
praying each moment for strength.
Wanting to run away, scream and cry,
my cross reminding me of it's weight.

Don't get me wrong, I would never trade my cross
nor lay it down on the side,
Nor pray for a shorter cross to carry
for it is why He died.

It isn't easy to keep perspective
when grief and pain come in the door.
Sometime it feels like you're buried alive
and you simply can't take any more.

That is when a good friend calls to laugh,
to remind you of your purpose on earth.
The words "it will all be ok",
the human response to give it all worth.

So for now I will carry on,
daily seeing that empty seat.
Imagining all of the fun we'd of had
and waiting until we meet.

Days pass and we exist because that is what we are "supposed" to do. God provides the rest. May you never have to see an empty seat where someone you love doesn't sit. Never ask God for a shorter cross - He knew which cross you would carry before you were born. Ask God to help you carry, to give you peace, to catch your tears. Peace and blessings to all.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Grief Projects

So many people have told us that the projects that follow grief are a way of healing, distraction, etc. I suppose we are blessed in that we have a creative gene that allows us to expel that energy. I pray that everyone has some outlet for their grief...it's not easy. So I thought I would share some pictures of our grief projects. Peace & Blessings to all!! :)



Eli helping mommy clean out the closet- note wearing daddy's shoes..."like daddy".

Eli helping daddy tile the bathroom...woo hoo!



Bridal Cake


Birthday Cake for Abbie (Tasha from Backyardigans)

High School Musical Cake for "the twins"

Groom's Cake

Thursday, August 30, 2007

5 months

So I must be a masochist, I was curious about what my little man would be doing now at all 5 months of age if he were here. So I went on to babycenter.com to read about his milestones. He would be reaching for us, know his name and interested in sounds and language. It's all just so unfair to be honest.

So August has not been such a great month. A year ago last Friday a friend from HS died unexpectedly. Friday will be one year from when my cousin Joe was killed in a car accident by a drunk driver. Today marks 5 months since AJ died. I hope the 'bad' year of our life is over now. Let's hope life runs on a fiscal year and not a calendar year. HA!!

For those who don't know, we chose AJ's name - Adrian because we had to have a name starting with "A" and we liked it, and Joseph after my cousin. I am so proud that we named AJ after such a great young man who made such a great impact in his 29 years of life. My cousin was a great guy - well rounded and loved by many.

So where are we at 5 months??? I don't know. I have a goal of sending out thank you notes before the 6 month mark...I hope I can finally do it. I sometimes start and then just fall apart at the daunting task. We are getting ready for the "Walk to Remember" in October which I think will be really nice. Eli's birthday is coming up in October as well - he is insisting on a dinosaur party so I have begun planning that as well. Life is still being endured in weeks, days and moments. Each one passing quickly - yet creeping by.


I will be glad to see the month of August go away to be honest. I have dreaded it for all the anniversaries it carried with it...the anniversary of finding out we were expecting AJ (Aug 15), telling everyone "Eli was going to be a big brother" (Aug 17), death of a friend (Aug 24), death of a cousin (Aug 31). And now August 30 - enduring life without AJ at 5 months.




Amazing what a
difference a year makes -
he looks so young!!

Monday, August 27, 2007

don't even have enough in me for a title...

I thought this process was supposed to get easier as time passes. The saying, "Time heals all wounds" isn't so true.

This weekend has beat me...out of the last 48 hours, I think I have cried 40. I can't even blame it on hormones. I have to be at work in 5 hours for the first day of school...I am so exhausted I can't sleep. I pray this week gets better...

You all know my famous desk calendar that I have posted about in the past. Well...it speaks again. Today's prayer is... 'Thank You, Father, for the gift of memory that allows me to hold close the ones I love even after they are with You. Amen' That couldn't be more fitting coming off of this weekend. I'm going to bed...praying for sleep...peace...and strength to get up tomorrow.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Circus

Today we went to the circus. Eli had a great time, but kept asking "is it over now?" every time the lights went out. He absolutely loved the motorcycles in the ball...and the elephants!! It seems the circus has changed 10 fold since we were children. It's no longer the 3 rings, no cannon man, no traditional acrobats. Instead there was a jumbo tron, bad acting, and it was about 1/2 the size it used to be. Everything evolves I suppose.


So we are coming up on 5 months...I have improved in some areas, in some areas I think I have improved and then find that I'm still pretty stuck, and other areas I'm still in the ditch. For the most part I stay so busy that I don't fall apart too often. But when I do - it's horrible.


I find it unreal that God somehow feels it is necessary for me to continue breathing. Don't get me wrong - I don't want to die, but it's just so hard. Life is going on around us and sometimes I just want it all to quit so I can be sad...so I can just sit and cry...so i can just be. However, something every day reminds me to "Be still and know..." and that is often how I make it through the day...I KNOW He has a great plan.


I hate that we will never get to experience AJ's reactions to the circus. Never see his eyes light up or hear him tell us of his favorite part. Today I couldn't help but think of the million times in my life that I have said I want to run off and join the circus. Despite the fact the circus was considerably smaller and "different" this year, I still welled up with tears as it began just like a little girl. Oh to be a kid again...

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Phone Call

A few weeks ago, I was driving to work listening to KLTY as I normally do and they were taking calls to win Women of Faith concert tickets. They asked you to call in and tell of a time that seemed completely hopless and how God restored your hope. I heard one phone call and the next thing I knew I was dialing the phone.



It rang twice - I couldn’t believe the phone answered and I was put through to Frank (the DJ). I knew at that moment that it was time for our story to be told. I was so excited. I didn’t win the tickets, but our story was told - that was all the prize I needed. I emailed the station to see if it would be possible to get a copy of the call emailed to me and they did. Now I will have it forever – that moment in time when our story reached hundreds or maybe even thousands and maybe touched someone’s life. – What an honor!

PS - if you'd like me to email you a copy of the phone call - I can...I'm just not smart enough to upload it to my blog...hummm...

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Perhaps...

An interesting event occurred today. As I was leaving the office for a meeting, a student innocently asked me "how's that baby?". I know she is in the office often, so I questioned her by saying, which baby (I assumed she knew AJ died and was referring to Eli)? She of course replied confused, "the baby you just had" and my response shocked me.

With a strange pride I replied, "I'm so sorry you didn't hear, AJ died. But he is doing great - he is playing with Jesus and just perfect." Of course, she is falling apart apologizing for not knowing and offering sympathies, but I was ok with the question...it didn't totally rock my world as it usually might. Perhaps today was just a good day - had lunch with a dear friend and so mentally I was in a good spot. Perhaps my mind was too busy to be anything but blunt. Perhaps it was just the divine grace that God has provided to respond to that question.

We get through moments in the day - that is called enduring. Each day is different - and for that matter - each moment is different. I am not a fool - I know that is common sense for anyone alive, but you get my point. It is very difficult to endure life. Just because we survive or endure one moment, doesn't mean that we don't completely fall apart later...I am falling apart now. But perhaps that is all part of the plan. God needs us to be mush in order to mold us into what He needs us to be...and hard playdoh is not very moldable.

So many people just don't get it, and it's hard to explain what it is I expect them to get. People get uncomfortable when we talk about AJ, but to us it is no different than if he had been here for 30 years...we just don't have the stories of the life he lived, but rather the dreams we had for him, for us and for our family. We are enduring each day and that is alone exhausting...perhaps someday enduring will trun back into living?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Sad

Today I woke up sad. Like I'm carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders...can't see the sun...SAD. Besides it being Thursday, besides the fact it's 17 weeks, almost 4 months...I don't know why -- I'm just sad. I miss my baby. I wonder. I hurt. I cry. I'm sad...

Monday, July 16, 2007

Silent Grief

Two more babies died last week - that I know of at least. I know that babies die all the time, but until you live it - it is not spoken of. People don't usually offer this type of information unless they know you have a similar experience. Why? People - children - have died - why is it taboo to talk about? When some one's husband, grandparent, sibling or parent dies - we don't suddenly stop talking about them as if they never existed! Our babies are real people that died...each had their own personality...each one sent to fulfill a purpose.

People often say things to imply that we should be over AJ's death by now. These people feel the need to point out that we should be moving on or finding joy in other things. We do have joy in other things. We find joy in the fact our feet hit the floor this morning and we have yet another day here on earth to watch Eli grow up and family and friends to share life with. We have JOY in God and the perfect plan He has for us.

But while the average friend or family member has gone back to living their life, our life to live is that our son died. He is not here. We can't escape that for even an hour of our day. Others may only remember our pain when they see or talk to us, but we breathe our pain every minute of every day. Occasionally, if we are lucky - something might distract us long enough to smile and have a good laugh. But for as long as we live, we will always hurt. We will never be the same people we were before - but that may not be a bad thing.

Don't make us be silent in our grief. We talk about AJ all the time at home and intend to for the rest of our lives honor his life. Don't belittle our pain. Don't shun us because we may not have something "happy" to talk about. Just let us be - but please - just be there with us!!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Keyboard is working again...woo hoo!!

Well, we had a slight computer glitch over the past few weeks, so now I am back in business.

A lot happens in a short amount of time. First, I was finally able to hold a baby. Jen my prego buddy (Sawyer who is a little over a month older than AJ) has been a trooper through all of this with me. It has been so hard for me to see Sawyer for the longing of what should be with AJ. The last week of June, I saw Sawyer for a few brief moments. I was able to touch his back and say "hi" but was devastated for HOURS afterwards. A week later on the 4th, Jen grabbed my hand and took me to the back bedroom to hold Sawyer. She had warned me that it was coming, but I still didn't know how I would do.

I took Sawyer into my arms. For a moment, I felt like I stopped breathing. I held him out and began to talk to him. He laughed and giggled and cooed and talked. Jen stood there in amazement at how much he talked and our instant connection. It was if AJ was talking to me through Sawyer..."don't cry mommy, I'm happy and safe".

Peace and sadness and comfort all at once. Sawyer will always be our reminder of our little man that isn't here. We are blessed to have great friends like Jen and Sean that will be patient with us as we cry and love on Sawyer over the coming years. He may never really understand how much seeing him grow up will be of the utmost importance to us, but someday we will tell him how much strength, peace and courage he provided at just 5 months of age.

Eli is just growing like a weed and talking up a storm. He is SO big in all he says and does. I think we both take in every word and every day so much differently now. Dr Peters has given us the green light to start trying again when we are ready. God is in control, all we can do is pray He trusts us in His time with another miracle.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Thursday's

It's weird, but everyone I know who has died in the last year has died on a Thursday. Last summer a young man from the church died on a Thursday. The following Thursday a friend from HS died. The following Thursday my cousin Joseph was killed in a car accident by a drunk driver.

AJ although officially was born on Friday morning, the whole process began on a Thursday night. My "work dad's" mother died on my birthday - a Thursday - a couple of weeks ago. And now - today - Thursday - my sweet dear grandpa B died in his sleep last night. It's just weird...

While he had been suffering from short term memory dementia for a while, he still knew who we were and could still tell the best stories of old. He loved to sing to Eli over the phone - always coming up with a new song to sing. He would tell Eli about the trains he used to drive and although Eli might not have quite understood it all, he told the stories so gentle and fun. He always said "I love you" before hanging up the phone. And like son like father, you could always catch him checking the back of his eyelids. I love to think of him singing to AJ all the sweet songs he has sung to Eli. My heart is broken for my dad - he loved him so. I am so tired of people dying, but I suppose it is part of life right? xoxo

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Family

Growing up, my mom taught me everything I needed to know about family. My "biological sperm donor" left when I was just 4, my brother a newborn baby and my sister was 10. Family was the MOST important thing.

  • She taught me to love unconditionally.
  • She taught me you don't say things that can hurt your family because they are all you have.
  • She taught me that just because the same blood doesn't run through our veins, friends are family and you should always treat them that way.
  • She taught me there is always room for one more head at the table and one more body for rest in our house.
  • She taught me that there isn't any'thing' in this world that can ever replace someone you love.
We didn't have much growing up - single mother with 3 mouths to feed. My mother gave up so much to provide for us and always had just a little bit more to provide to someone in need. She taught me how to be selfless.

When I think about all that God has blessed us with in life I don't think about our possessions. Instead I focus on the friends God has laid in our path, the love that we share and the family - the family of God that we are in. Without God - without Jesus - our lives would be so dark. My mother taught me that too.

My family in this world is SO huge!! Thank you all for coming to us, thinking of us, and above all else - loving us unconditionally.

My most prized 'things' in life are my family and friends and now a small box of ashes on my dresser that reminds me everyday how precious life is and how blessed we are to know Jesus. Pick your battles and love one another...that's what MY mother taught me!!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Congratulations

"I'm sorry for your loss"...what does that mean really?

Instead of being sad, we should be rejoicing in God's trust in us. When someone dies there is a peace that they are in a better place. We are selfish-sad and then we find peace. But when we lose our child, our outlook is so different. Why?

It can't be because we never got to know our child? Any mother can tell you that from the day you knew your were pregnant, you know the mannerisms of your child...troublemaker, gentle, easy going, active, smart, likes music, likes being read to, sleeper. AJ was a smart, gentle, easy going, music lover. He never caused any trouble, but he was a kinda picky eater...loved his fruits and veggies and limeades!!

All creatures of God are beautiful - He made man in His image. Even if we were never blessed to lay eyes on AJ, we knew he was beautiful (the Bible tells us so).

God allowed us to see our fully formed perfect son to show us what perfection is. Perfection that will last our lifetime - he will never get in trouble, he will never hurt our feelings, he will never break our hearts. While we are selfish and human, and would prefer to see all of AJ's firsts and even live through his disappointments in life, he fulfilled his purpose without the daily struggles and pain that we go through in this world.

With the loss of our child, God knows that a part of us is gone too. We cry. We hurt. We are sad. We lost, but look what we gain...an angel watching us each day, deeper understanding and appreciation for life, urgency to live life to the fullest, peace that can only come from God and above all God's trust that we will not fail Him to carry out His purpose.

Instead of saying "I'm sorry for your loss" to other families going through the loss of their child, I think I will now say, "Congratulations - I am sad for your loss. However, God has blessed you in a way that is incomprehensible to you or me. Believe in His greatness, surrender and let Him show you the way."

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Comments

Thank you for your comments and support...please leave your email address with you comment or at least your name so we know who it is from...We are so happy to see that our precious AJ's life is able to help and comfort others through our experience.

We praise God for our blessings!!

My piece of cake...

Today I continue to feel abused and dejected about work. Well, good prevailed today through a random act of kindness.

A chocolate piece of cake appeared from a dear friend across campus. Through all of this, for a time, chocolate couldn't even make me feel better. But today...all of the hurt and pain delivered during my transition back to work was suspended while I sat and ate my cake.

Kindness from someone that I feel like I have known for years and could call for anything, but in reality barely know this person. Tears fell, but my heart was lifted and the chocolate infused. I am pretty sure it was the only smile I had today. Thank you DH for the smile... :)

Monday, June 18, 2007

Eleanor Roosevelt Wisdom

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' You must do the thing you think you cannot do.

Tailspin

I imagine that when a pilot enters a tailspin the G-force and downward pressure on the body is terrifying and intense. It takes years of training to be able to endure this type of pressure and G-force action. Initially, I'm sure there is an amount of time in which the pilot feels this is the end, how can I recover? That is when the training kicks in and they begin using the tools in which they learned to help them recover and ultimately save the aircraft.

God is our trainer and ever since I was a young child I have been in training. It has been 10 days since I was trapped in a tailspin. It took 3 days for me to start to recover and 7 to land the plane.
The morning of the day I was verbally assaulted, I was so prayerful. A dear family in Arkansas had read our story and gained something out of it. To me, AJ had traveled to Arkansas in just 10 short weeks. I was thankful that God had used our story to help another family hurting. I was praying for peace for that family as they approached the one month anniversary of their child's death. Each time I connect with another family, I feel as though God is bringing us together because our children are playing together in heaven. We are honored to know the families of AJ's friends.

All my glory and praise had been to God that morning. The devil just couldn't stand it anymore, so he crept in and attacked. This wasn't just an attack that grazed the aircraft, it was a mortal attack that sent me into a tailspin. I spiraled down so quickly, I lost sight of the ground and the clouds. In retrospect, I wasn't prepared for an attack assuming I was in friendly territory. I had my guard down assuming I was in a safe place surrounded by friends. I was WRONG!!!

Devastated, hurt and mortally wounded, I didn't know what to do, where to go, or what to say. I was hurt more than when I first heard that AJ was not coming home with us. I was instantly in defense mode...no one attacks my child and gets away with it. I had forgotten all of my training and lost my focus.

Sunday morning service was written just for me I believe. Pastor Bill began his sermon asking the question, - 'how many of you have pictures on your refrigerator? If your house was on fire, what would you do your best to salvage and get out? Your pictures. They remind us of happy times, sad times, good times and bad. They are our memories and sometimes that's all we have. One of the things we find most important when taking a picture is that it is in focus...are you living your life in focus with God?' I sat there and cried, God knows my hurt caused by this person. He knew my focus was lost during my tailspin caused by her words. He knew I was struggling to remember and focus on my training to bring me out. He was talking directly to me...'focus Amber'.

Pastor Bill touched on many things that morning. Wounded, I hung on every word desperately seeking to understand how someone could act this way knowing I was defenseless to her attack. At one point, Bill said, "It's not about me, it's all about Jesus." It was if the clouds had parted and the sun began to shine on me again. Duh...I was focused on the wrong things.

I recounted this story to several people of the next few days, each time gaining new perspective on the situation. All were shocked someone could say something like that to me. All reinforced to me that I am in "survival" mode and I need to do anything and everything to survive. All lifted me up in prayer.

On Thursday (one week from the attack), my final perspective came while talking to another mother from MEND. I trembled as I recounted the events to her fearing that I would mortally wound her just by hearing the words that were said to me. I told her about how God had blessed me through the sermon on Sunday and that I was praying for direction and to regain my focus. As I told her about how the devil had captured my soul for those few days and attempted to bring me down and control me, she stopped me and in essence handed me the final piece to this puzzle. She said, "Amber - God allowed this attack on you for a reason. He needed you to be broken and in the place you were to receive His message on Sunday." My plane was landed at that moment.

For the first 10 weeks following AJ's death, it has been all about me...all about Al...all about our family. God is ready for us to now focus on Him. Remember His training. Mount up on eagles and fly. Go and do the work He has for us. Perhaps He is strengthening me because of the great plans He has for me. Or perhaps this storm has just begun?

Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

I will not pretend to be brave. I will not pretend to have all the answers. I will not guarantee there will not be another tailspin. But I will be better prepared to deal with it.

Philipians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

God moves mountains - I have seen it in the past. Lord move this mountain or move me. Guard my heart Lord. Hold my tongue. Repair my wounded spirit and bleeding heart.

Once again I am ready to close this post and I find myself on http://www.bible.com/ . Today's devotional is Proverbs 19. Wow...He knows - Lord Move!!!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A Picture of Grace


If I was not to know my son,
God would not have given him.
Though short amount of time I had,
it leads me now to grin.

A tiny life so given to me,
to help me through my days.
Days sometimes dark and sunless,
He helps to guide my ways.

Jesus holds him tight I'm sure, as he now would roll the world.
Oh how I long to hold him, instead into life I'm hurled.

Like learning how to breathe, to walk again we're learning.
Each breath, each step, painful and yet, to see Him is a yearning.

You can't get much closer to God, than when He calls your child.
Come home and make a place, my son, in the heavens you run wild.

I imagine him with many friends, life of the cloud on which he sits.
With the sweetest smile of all, and as loving as it gets.

Each day brings me closer, to the promise of His land.
For when I stand before Jesus, I know AJ's in his hand.

He will hand me back my baby, who just might be a man.
For in his prime I will know my son, I will hold his perfect hand.

The process is quite simple, yet painful here on the earth.
Jesus is the purpose, as we each await our birth.

Our new life in heaven, where there is no pain or fears.
Reunited for eternity, void of all sadness and tears.

A picture now I carry, to remind me of his face.
The precious life God gave me, to remind me of His grace.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Sticks and Stones...

I thought it would be impossible to hurt as badly again as I did the weeks after AJ's death. I thought I had felt every emotion, been asked every question, hurt as deeply as I could hurt.

At work yesterday though words were said to me that placed a dagger through my already constantly bleeding heart. I felt like dying the moments following these hateful words. Words that came from someone that I thought had an ounce of humility and a christian heart. It was just as if AJ died all over again as that dagger entered my heart and I was left alone to bleed to death.

All the progress that I have made to this point seems gone. I can't sleep, I feel like throwing up all the time, I can't quit crying, I have that hopeless empty feeling and constant thoughts of "what am I supposed to do now?" She is not loosing sleep...she is not crying...she is too busy making it all about her. What about me? MY baby died. MY heart is broken. MY world is devastated because of her words all over again.

It is 5:18 in the morning. In 10 minutes it will be exactly 10 weeks ago that I held my baby for the first time and was told that it would be the last. I don't know what to do...I don't know where to go... I just don't know.... the numbness has set back in...how can anyone be so cruel?

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Breathe...

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil. 4:6-7

Back at work

The night before I returned I was devastated. I cried and cried at the thought of having to go and socialize. Return to the chaos. I laid down thinking Eli was already asleep and he heard my cry. He ran his fingers through my hair repeatedly saying, "I love you mommy, why are you sad? Do you miss your baby angel mommy, you miss AJ? I'm so sorry mommy." He was so sweet and so pure, the honesty of his words touched me so deeply. I fell asleep somewhere in prayer around 2:30.

Eli was awake at 5:30 in the morning - that NEVER happens. We are usually lucky to drag him out of bed at 10:00 in the morning. He returned to running his fingers through my hair and say "I love you mommy. It's wake time mommy." I woke up to a peace that only God could place in my soul. As I started getting ready to leave, I fell apart!

Day one was HARD!! Getting there and in the building was the hardest part. Everyone so loving and supportive - Except HR. My one source of frustration this entire time has been getting letters, emails and messages from HR. In the grief process - my anger was directed at that. I just kept thinking - LEAVE ME ALONE...!!!

Monday - upon my return, in an attempt to understand what was done with my time, my anger and frustration was a monster in my day. On the phone with someone from HR - with little mental capacity to even be at work - I was barked at and snapped at and broken down to complete devastation again. This person was talking so fast, so short and curt with no compassion at all - I just wanted to go home never to return for fear of dealing with people that don't get it. This person knows me, I thought to myself, knows my baby died...how could they act this way? How could they be so cold and cruel? Just because I am physically here doesn't mean I am "here".

I left feeling defeated and broken. All of the kindness shown by my coworkers will be the only thing that brings me back every day.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Work...

I have to return to work on Monday...I am not ready.


At home I can limit my social interaction. I don't have to talk if I don't want to. I don't have to open the door if I don't want to. I don't have to go anywhere if I don't want to. I can choose who and when to see - when I'm ready to see them.


But I have to go back to work and I'm scared. The Amber that was...is no more. The confident, outgoing, outspoken, OCD Amber - is now quiet, broken and hurting. What if all I can do is cry? What if I say the wrong thing to the wrong person at the wrong time? I am not strong enough to be strong for anyone else. I can't remember to do simple things, how am I supposed to be able to run an office and be the problem solver? What if people don't trust me to do my duties or ignore me and the fact I had AJ? What if????


So many people tell me that they admire my strength and faith. I am not strong...it is Christ giving me the strength to get through each moment of each day. He carries me through each emotion and each moment.


I know that He will be guiding me through my days back at work. Lord, give me strength when I have none. Restore my light, my confidence, my focus. Guide others when approaching me, give them words of peace and hearts of help and understanding.


AJ - we miss you so much. Our hearts physically ache and so do our arms to hold you. Shine bright my little star so that we may see you through the clouds at night. We love you always!!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Our Angel in Waiting...



Our Angel in Waiting

Your hands so tiny,
yet so strong just like your dad.
He holds me so tight,
we are both ever so sad.
Someday we will tell your brother,
of the miracle that you are.
We will look up in the heavens
and see your shining star.
We know that Jesus cradles you
and sees your beautiful eyes.
We will find comfort in that,
when we look up to the skies .
Our precious angel in waiting,
watching us each day.
Giving us the strength to live,
and peace each night we pray.

We love you AJ!
Mommy & Daddy

Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Ultimate Dedication

As I start this, it's 5 minutes to Mother's Day. A day in which I should be showing off my new 6 week old baby boy. A day we are dedicating Eli at church...we should be dedicating both of our boys at church tomorrow. A day in which I should be celebrating being a mother. Instead I am filled with so many other emotions it's hard to sort through them...

I called my best friend to help. She lost her mother several years ago and I knew she would be an inspiration to me at this time. She empathized with me that tomorrow will be VERY hard, but it is a celebration. Not only for Eli's dedication, but she gave me the perspective that we have already made the "ultimate" dedication to God through AJ. While I am eXtremely selfish and want AJ here, she is right. God gave him to us for those beautiful 9 months and we should spend the years ahead thanking Him for that time and for saving him from this broken world.

It will be an honor to stand in the front of the church tomorrow - Mother's Day- and dedicate Eli...but I physically ache for AJ. The celebration in my broken heart for Eli will be coupled with the pain of my empty arms. My tears full of mixed emotion. It wasn't supposed to be this way.

God I pray for peace, comfort, help, strength, and above all HOPE. It's so hard to hope right now. I want so badly to be strong again - but I'm not. My emotions are running in so many directions - I need peace. I pray - in our lives Your will be done - but we cannot do it alone. God please continue to carry us...

As I get ready to close this, I look over at my daily calendar for May 13th. The inspiration reads:
Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow; the same everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow, and every day. Either He will shield you from suffering, or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace, then, and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations. ~ St. Francis de Sales

It's amazing...I prayed the prayer above as I typed it...I was ready to post this and looked over at that calendar which I hadn't flipped since January. May 13th read that. I am in AWE once again as He answers prayers - sometimes instantly.

Happy Mother's Day to ALL! Mommy & Daddy Love you AJ and I'm so proud to me your Mother!!!!!!!!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Support Group - MEND

I have to give kudos for our support group MEND. It is so helpful to have a place to go to talk and relate to others who are living what we are living. It's the one place we can talk without the other people feeling uncomfortable about our loss (which is a whole other issue - why do people feel uncomfortable??? Is it because people fear death??? Fear making us cry???). It's the one place we are not alone in our thoughts and emotions.

One thing that was said at this past meeting by a wonderful woman who lost her son in January is this...we are all part of an elite group chosen by God to endure what He endured...the loss of His child. That has really stuck with me and will carry me through some of my most difficult times ahead. He does know our pain and He holds our tears in His hands. Thank you Norma for your words of wisdom...I will cherish them forever!!

Saturday, May 5, 2007

5 weeks and I'm still numb

I am having another sleepless night...

It amazes me how exhausting it is to grieve. I think I am doing better and then BAM - tears. I think I can make a decision and then BAM - nothing. I can barely hold my eyes open at the end of the day and then BAM - I'm wide awake as soon as my head hits the pillow.

I have a hard time remembering me. For the last 9 months I was "us". I feel like "me" is missing... How to explain this feeling??? When I make one of my cakes - that is "me" before it was "us" so there I find peace in who "I" was. When I think about work though - all I can think about is "us" because that is where "we" were for the last 9 months - anxiously awaiting the day.

It is also weird because some people don't see AJ as real. So many people refer to this as a miscarriage. We have 4 family members - one just died. We have 2 children - one on earth and one in heaven. I suppose it is because to some since they never saw or held AJ - he wasn't "real". I did not have a miscarriage...he was born still at 39 weeks. He is real...and this pain is real...and I'm still numb.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Control

Most of you know that I am OCD. I strive for perfection in anything I do. I try to control outcomes by planning and organizing the world around me. On March 26th when I went to see Dr Peters for my normal visit, I told him I liked the control that I seemed to have when Eli was born. I went to the hospital, they gave me drugs, I didn't feel anything, we had a baby and the world was good. We knew what to expect. I didn't like the not knowing when I would go into labor with AJ. Was this pain or that ache the moment I had waited for? When contractions started, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that these were the real deal. How quickly the reality hit that we are NOT in control.

I have never felt more out of control in my life. I have lost a month of my life trying to regain control of my emotions, my surroundings, my life. A million things race through my mind...I constantly ask "what is Your plan for my life" - this is certainly not the plan I had.

I have several talents and passions in life - am I supposed to be following them? Am I wasting time that has been given to me because I too afraid to take a leap of faith? hummmm... God is using this time to make me surrender to His will - I just hope I am brave enough to follow.

It snowed in April in Texas

The morning of the memorial service Al and I were getting ready. It was an overcast day with rain predicted. We turned on the news to hear a story about a woman who took police on a high speed chase in Dallas - she crashed the car ejecting her 9 month old baby (who was in the front seat without a car seat) killing her. I said a prayer for that baby and the family.

Once I was ready I sat down on the couch in the living room and I prayed that God would allow us to see AJ that day. Allow us to know that he is there with You safe from all harm of this fallen world. As we were preparing for the service at the church my sister walked in and said, "it's snowing. It's April in Texas and it's snowing!" Al and I rushed outside - I looked up as the snow fell on my face and said thank you to God for allowing us to see AJ. Snow took on a whole new meaning that day. The funeral home director asked me if "I ordered this" and I replied, "actually I did". It was a very special order.

As we got in the car to go to the church that morning, I again prayed that as I turned on the radio the song would be a song of comfort and reassurance that God was with us. The song on the radio was Casting Crowns - "Praise you in this storm". We had never heard this song before and it spoke volumes to us that morning.

Lyrics:
I was sure by now, That You would have reached down, and wiped our tears away, Stepped in and saved the day. But once again I say Amen and it's still raining.

As the thunder rolls, I barely hear You whisper through the rain, "I'm with you", and as Your mercy falls, I raise my hands and praise the God who gives and takes away.

I'll praise you in this storm, and I will lift my hands, for You are who You are, no matter where I am, Every tear I've cried, You hold in Your hand, You never left my side, and though my heart is torn, I will praise You in this storm.

I remember when, I stumbled in the wind, You heard my cry, You raised me up again. My strength is almost gone, how can I carry on, If I can't find You.

I life my eyes unto the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of Heaven and Earth.


Looking back at that day and the hurt and pain we were going through, we know that God was with us every step of the way. He never leaves our side and He holds our tears in His hands...

Don't ask why

So many people have said they just keep asking God - Why? My response to that is this...

Don't ask God why...this was part of his plan from the beginning. God is not doing this "to" us - He is doing it "with" us. He knows how much this hurts. He holds all of our tears in His hands. He is our strength. God protected us in so many ways over the last 9 months knowing that this was His plan. I look back at those 9 months and am amazed that God is that good. We would have never stopped to fully appreciate His work had the outcome been different. But that is His plan.

So far, AJ's life has shown us the abundance of love of our family and friends. We know that broken relationships have been mended. We have had the opportunity to visit with people we would never know and those we may have lost touch with. We hope to be able to help others going through a similar situation in the future. We have grown closer as a husband and wife and as a family. We are growing closer to God daily.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Do's and Don'ts

I'm kinda ripping this one off of another family's blog from support group...great idea!

Friends and family want to help. The support we have received has been amazing and we are awe of everyone's generosity and prayers. Unfortunately, we are not the best at making decisions in life right now (well - Al is doing pretty good - me not so much) so when someone asks what we need - I don't know what to say. Here are some ideas on how to help.

First of all - DO pray for us. DO hug your children, grandchildren or someone else. Life is short and we are NOT in control.

Don't leave personal relationships torn or tattered. Say what you need to NOW...and tell people you Love them.

Do continue to call, email, send cards and come by. We need to know you are still thinking of us. It's only been 4 weeks and we are still on an emotional and physical roller coaster. Any contact is better than no contact.

Don't be offended if we don't call you back or don't want to talk when you call. Please call again and be ready when we do need to talk, cry or get out.

Do continue to send meals - again we can hardly make a decision about if we are going to eat - making the decision of what is a real "humdinger". If Eli didn't have to eat, we might not even eat at all some days. Common sense tells us we have to keep our strength up - but grief can sometimes override common sense.

Don't say "at least you have/haven't". A very painful mistake to make is to say something along of the lines well at least you still have Eli, health, one another, God, etc. In our painful and sometimes irrational state we might respond in a not so nice way. We would trade anything to have AJ back, but we don't and the "at leasts" don't help.

Do talk about AJ. Ask questions - if we can't or are not ready to talk about something, we will tell you. We are proud of AJ. His life was precious and his birth cherished.

Don't pretend that nothing happened or tell us when we should be back to "normal". Life will never be normal again. We will never be the same as we were before. Don't be surprised if we aren't "ourselves" - God changed us for the better.

Do help. Sometimes instead of "let me know what I can do to help" say "let me take care of this for you". Remember - decisions are not a strong point in a situation like this. Sometimes we don't know what we need help with...it's ok to be bossy if you feel we need it. But be ok if we don't accept right away - we may be having an ok day and have things in order at the moment. Be ready to jump in when we need you.

Do offer to take Eli for an evening so we can be alone. We need time to help heal one another and spend time talking, crying or just being together. Eli doesn't understand why mommy and daddy are sad or crying. We try to be strong for him, but we have to have time to let it out as well.

Please continue to be prayerful, supportive and willing to help if we need you. We love all of our friends and family and will continue to need you in the weeks, months and years ahead.

If you wish to make a contribution to a charity in AJ's name we are requesting that you donate to www.mend.org (MEND - Mommies Enduring Neonatal Death - a wonderful support group) or to the First Baptist Chruch Daycare (Eli's school). You can visit http://www.ultimatetributes.com/tributes/intro.asp?ID=2404 to sign his memory book if you wish.

An Epiphany...

Today at church we discussed the fact that if you listen and pay attention to the things God is doing in your life - then you begin to see how much He is actually doing. I have to believe that all of the babies and pregnant women we see everywhere we go is part of His plan.

This is one of those situations in life in which friends who have recently had a baby or are pregnant have a sobering reality check - appreciate every day you have with your children (in the womb and out)!!!. We want those of you who have had a baby or are pregnant to talk to us...don't avoid us...but understand that it will be HARD for us. We are happy and excited for you. We might cry...we might not be ready to hold your baby...not because we don't necessarily want to, but our arms ache to hold AJ (Yes they physically ache). It's not fair to your baby for us to hold them and burst into tears...

So on to my epiphany for today. God is placing all of the babies and pregnant women in our path as a part of His plan to restore our hope. Seriously - at lunch today there were 6 tables in a small place - crowed restaurant - and one table had a pregnant woman, 2 had newborn babies and another with a probably 6 month old. There was no where else to sit in the entire place and so we sat there. I tried so hard to to cry all the way through lunch. A couple of times I welled up - but I resisted breaking down. I left and began thinking about the situation. At the time I sat there feeling somewhat sorry for myself that AJ wasn't with us at that moment. How badly I want to hold a baby again without bursting into tears. But as I began looking to God for "why can't we go anywhere without being surrounded by that which is a constant reminder of our loss" - I realized that maybe He is using these situations to restore our hope. Hope that we may go on to have another child in the future. Hope that we will be able to help others going through (or who will go through) this same situation in life. Hope that we will again be able to hold a baby without crying. Hope IS part of His plan.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Our Story - Let Go and Let God

Let go and let God - some of the best advise we have ever been given. God is in control and we are desperately looking to Him now for hope. We know that this is one of those situations in which one is curious about the details - but afraid to ask. We cherish the precious birth of our baby and want to share the details just as we would had he survived. The following is an account of the events of AJ's birth and the day God called him home.

March 29th
The day was just as any other to this point...Al and Eli went off to work and school and I went off to the office to start the day with a staff meeting. I wish I could tell you anything that was discussed, but by the time I got to the office I was more focused on could today be the day? I had gone home not feeling "great" the previous day and continuing to have minor contractions. About half way through the staff meeting, I got a waive of nausea and hot flash. I quickly got a cool rag and laid down in the hall trying to be tough and not alarm anyone. I asked one of the nurses to take my blood pressure - it was good. Went to the bathroom and was spotting a little so I called the doctor and made an appointment to go in at 11:15. I made all final arrangements at the office - I was certain that I wasn't coming back - it was time!

I went in to see the doctor and was dilated to a 2 and the cervix was "changing". The heartbeat we heard was strong (of course we know now it was my heartbeat) so I went home to rest some more. Ate a sandwich, watched soaps and took a nap. Around 4:30 I woke up with contractions coming about every 15-18 minutes. Said a prayer that they wouldn't stop - I was ready for AJ to come. Al & Eli got home around 6:00 and we ate some cereal (I wasn't very hungry) but needed to eat a little something. Contractions continued to get closer and stronger - yea this is it. Al took Eli to mom's house and I finished packing the bags. It was raining. The contractions got to be about every 6 minutes around 11:00 so we decided to load and go.

March 30 (12:47am)
We got to the hospital with contractions about every 3-4 minutes. Got off of the elevator to see the nursery right in front of us. One of the nurses was holding up a baby as she wrapped him up...holding Al's hand - I said, "Oh my gosh - we are having another baby". Reality hit at that moment for some reason. We walked around to the nurses station and told the group of nurses that we were ready to have a baby...and I want a good room this time - last time I had the smallest room on the floor (laughing and teasing of course). They admitted me and put us in a nice big room and asked me to put the gown on and they would hook me up to the monitor. I did as they asked and got in the bed. Heidi was our nurse and she began looking for AJ's heartbeat with the monitor. After several minutes she said she was going to go get a different monitor. The batteries were dead in that monitor. She went for another. Again after listening for a few minutes, she said let me go get another nurse - maybe I'm just in the wrong place. Angela came in and began listening. Small talk was going on - I kept saying the heartbeat was good in her office at 11:15 this morning. Maybe he is just laying in an odd spot. Then Angela said the first of what would be thousands of "I'm so sorries". It took me a minute for what she said to register and I replied, "What do you mean you are sorry - you think the baby is dead?" she looked back at me with elephant tears and said, "I'm afraid so".

I began shaking - Al and I holding hands as tightly as we could hold - he looked at me and trying to keep me calm - said, "wait until they get the sono up here - wait until Dr B gets here." I looked at Heidi and said get Dr B here now - she assured me she was on her way. This can't be happening - 30 minutes ago we were having a baby - Eli is expecting a brother...This can't be happening...

Numbness set in quickly as the sono tech arrived and began setting up her machine - she said it would take 4 minutes and I think those 4 minutes were the longest - confirmation that our baby is gone before we even had a chance to look into his eyes. The tech, Heidi and Al could see the sono screen and they all stood there in silence. I broke the silence and said, "someone has to say something". The tech said she didn't know what the protocols were in L&D - I looked at Heidi and said Heidi - "tell me". She asked the tech if there was any movement - her reply was "no movement - no heartbeat - no fluid." He was gone...I laid my head on the pillow and said, "God - you are in control - deal with this". I can't imagine ever forgetting that moment in time...I pray I never do. We had 38 weeks (almost a full 39) with AJ. His little life has and will continue to change the world around us.

Dr B arrived trying to be strong with elephant tears being held back as best as she could. She held my hand and cried with us - she said she thinks the heartbeat we heard at noon was mine - not his. The questions began - do I want to be awake? - sedated/fuzzy? - out? - do we want an autopsy? - do we want to hold him? - do we want they to take him away to give him his bath or do it in the room? - do we want to see the chaplain before we deliver? - do we want them to take pictures?

We answered the questions without the slightest comprehension of what we were answering. NO - I don't want to miss a minute of this - don't give me anything that might compromise my memory. Do we need an autopsy? (Wait to see if there are any obvious causes.) Of course we want to hold him - (I remember thinking are you crazy?) he's our baby. Keep him in the room with us - I don't want him out of my sight. Yes we want to see the chaplain. Yes please take pictures.

They started my epidural. I was shaking so badly - they gave me some Demerol. Then they left us alone in a dim room with our tears. God's plan - we don't understand how this could be part of God's plan...but it is. We talked about what to tell Eli - we were both very focused on Eli and our families...how do we tell our families? Mostly we cried and held each other. I called work around 3:00 so the phone wouldn't start ringing when I didn't show up at 8:00. Al called and tried to reach his boss as well. We had no idea what to expect in the hours ahead.

At 3:30 the chaplain came in and spoke with us - prayed with us and for us.

At 4:28 they came in and started the ptosin. With a deep breath I realized I still had to deliver the child I would never know. They checked me and I was at about a 5. I asked for a bolus in the epidural and more Demerol as I had begun shaking again. Dr B said she wanted me to labor the baby down as low as possible so I wouldn't have to push for a long time. At 4:55 I told Heidi I thought it was time. Just as she was about to check me, she was called out of the room. Heidi and Dr B came in about 5:10 and it was time. I pushed 2 times (with several breaths to each "bear down") and he was here. As AJ came out I could see a perfect knot in the cord in the reflection of Dr B's glasses. At about that time, she said, "it was the cord - it's around his neck and there is a knot." 5:28 am - She looked up at me and asked me if I wanted him on my stomach. I said yes...and there he was...our perfect - 10 finger (hands just like daddy's) - 10 toes (feet just like Eli) - brown hair (just like mine) - 6 lbs 6 oz - 19 1/2" long - ANGEL.