Monday, April 30, 2007


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.

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'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 (MEND - Mommies Enduring Neonatal Death - a wonderful support group) or to the First Baptist Chruch Daycare (Eli's school). You can visit 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 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.