Tuesday, July 31, 2012

July 31st, 2012

Trever and I enjoyed a wonderful day together.  We were able to have time alone, to hold and comfort each other.  To talk, to listen, to cry, to laugh, to be connected.  To share the happy memories that we both hold onto, to share the moment when we knew our life, Abby's life, was changing.

Our house felt so empty.  It's so rare to have all 3 kids gone.  The time together was full of healing moments, and the emptiness was a reminder that our family makes life more precious.  That each child has made the love in our home tangible, they have each given us so much.  I hope we will always be able to show them how important they are... all 4 of them.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

July 29th, 2012

We headed up to Sequim yesterday to celebrate 10 years of a beautiful marriage with our friends.  It was nice to be surrounded by so much love, and a good dose of distraction.  The kids had a great time with all of their friends too.

By the end of the evening I had hit the limit of smiling.  I just wanted to sink into a couch and stare at a wall.  And my tummy was cramping, and my boobs are ready to explode. (TMI???).  And unfortunately I forgot my Vicodin.  My pity party had visitors... as I sat down (kind of thinking that I had snuck away) my friends all starting filling in the room around me.  It was nice to just sit there relaxing.  We didn't sit around talking about me, which was nice.  There had been plenty of conversation about our life, about plans for Abby's celebration.  I really appreciate that I can share my thoughts at any moment and my friends are there to listen and engage.

This morning I woke ready to go home.  On days when the depression hits a bit harder I just want to be home.  I don't mind visitors, but I don't really want to be out and around people.  Before we could get out of the house my sweet daughter came up to me and gently lifted both of my shirts and pulled my waist band down a bit to expose my tummy. I knew what she was doing, but I asked anyway.  "I'm gonna give Abb... I'm gonna give you a hug".  I was instantly in tears.  I'm crying even writing this right now.

Natalie is so used to giving Abby a hug, I wonder how many times she will start by instinct and then remember that Abby isn't in my belly anymore.  I am so fortunate that she loves her sister and still thinks about her, that she was already used to giving her love.  I'm so sad for her that her sister isn't here anymore.

The day after we came home from the hospital Natalie asked me why my belly was still big.  Then she told me that she wished she could sing to Abby again, that she wished she was still with us.  Me too sweet girl, me too.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

I just went to my BabyCenter page and deleted Abigail.  It sounds worse writing that than it did pushing the button... and pushing the button felt horrible.  I just don't want the emails that will come about her development, but it's sad to remove her from my family list.

I'm heading up to give the kids a bath, I wish that I was bring the Moses basket with me.  That Abby was going to be propped up in the bathroom while I juggled my duties (which aren't "my" duties, they are "our" duties and Trever is currently doing them alone).

I wish I hadn't slept the last two nights, because continued sleep deprived nights would have been magical moments with Abby.

Friday, July 27, 2012

July 27th, 2012

It's so cliche to say that I don't know how to find the words... while writing.

We slept last night.  That in itself is a gift from God (and ambien).  And I awoke to the sounds of Andrew.  It's difficult for the sadness to overwhelm me when my heart is feeling so much love, and my children definitely fill my heart with love.

There are so many moments that I need to go back and capture in writing.  I'm hoping I can do it, that I can sit here as long as it takes today and walk myself through the last 4 days.  That I can remember the details, the moments and live through the emotions.

It's amazing how strong the human brain can be.  I go from feeling so detached that there is no emotion, and then a small crack starts.  Soon the damn is bursting.  Reality sets in, and I can't block the memories of our sweet little girl.  I can't pretend that she is still in my tummy, that this journey is still unknown.  I really thought we would have our doors open wide to visitors when we got home, that we would be encouraging people to drop by and meet Abby.  I believed her time would be short, but I really believed she would come home.

Instead we are trying to keep our doors open to visitors because it's a welcome distraction for us and the kids.  A distraction that helps us ignore the absence even if only for a moment.  When we can open the door and smile to see a visitor, that split second before we acknowledge why they are here.

There are moments when I feel strong, as I made breakfast this morning, cuddled with the kids, talked with my in-laws.  But the truth is, I am also strong when I let myself sit here and cry.  When I close my eyes and sob with the pain that fills my body, when I really allow myself to live this journey and accept how much it hurts.  I'm thankful for both types of strength, I'm thankful  that God has given me the ability to live and to embrace everything that comes with that gift.

Our house is filling with flowers.  Such a beautiful display of so much love...

I've never been in a situation where I've been on the receiving end of so many flowers...

This isn't a club I want to be a member of.  I'd rather have a moment with her for each beautiful petal that fills our home.

When the grief hits it's amazing.  It's crushing.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The funeral home...

Taking your loved one to the funeral home... It's not something you want to think about when you've just brought a life into the world.  It feels like the whole "circle of life" was more like a dot.

Trever could not imagine handing Abby off to someone at the hospital.  It was scary to not know where she would be, how she would be handled and cared for.

So we decided that we would take her ourselves.

It was a bit strange to wheel through the hospital with Abby in my arms, wrapped to snugly in a pink blanket.  I only heard one person mention the joy of a baby.  She was a joy, and I was proud to be holding her.  Not that I didn't wish deeply that her story was the same as my other children, that I would put her safely in the car and take her home.  That Trever and I would feel the desire to shout from the rooftops that we had a new baby, that our lives were filled with new joy.

We walked out of the hospital with my parents, Trever's brother and Beth.  I'm thankful we were surrounded by support.  And our fabulous nurse, Diana was the one to wheel us out.  She is so calming to me.

Then we went to get in the car.  I have to say, even though Abby wasn't alive, it was strange to hold her while driving.  I kidded Trever about getting pulled over... can you even imagine the conversation with the cop??? It might have been worth it, I know we would have laughed afterword.

The funeral home has been great, but the woman we met with was not my favorite, maybe she shouldn't work with families of children.  We sat in the chapel with Abby after we were done filling out paperwork.

It's amazing how easily it is to transition from "business" to pain.  I felt a bit detached as we walked into the chapel.  But one look down at our tiny angel and I crumpled.  We knew this was it, our last moment holding her.  She was gone, but we were about to say goodbye to the only part we could really hold on to.

We decided that we wanted to keep her outfit... but we didn't want to send her off not dressed.  So Trev ran out to the car to get a different outfit.  And he came back with a beautifully hand knitted sleeper.  I so gracefully said "Really?  You picked the one heirloom quality outfit that we have?  The one she wore for pictures??" (I said it with a bit of a laugh, he knows how to take my words).  Trev said he had thought about that... but once he had it in his hands he just went with it.

So back to the car...

With more defined expectaions...

And he came back with a simple pink sleeper... perfect.  But no hat...

So back to the car...

And finally she had clothes and a hat.

What I didn't know was that each time he went back and forth to the car the lady who was helping us would say "Are you done?" (yes, she lacked verbal skills)  And he would have to say No, not yet.

He said he surely looked crazy... running back and forth to the car, digging through the luggage in the trunk.

She did bring a blanket to wrap around Abby (we're giving her credit for this since we're also giving her lots of not-so-wonderful credit).  As Trever wrapped Abby he had to ask if she should be completely covered or wrapped like a baby... there should be protocol posted somewhere.  It's easy to wonder what the "rules" are.. but really???? Who cares about that stuff at that moment.

As we drove away from the funeral home we were drained; physically and emotionally exhausted.  But we had some comedic moments to lighten our hearts, that always helps.

And when we got home we were surrounded by our kids, their smiles make our hearts smile.  Trever took a nap while I played with Andrew.  He is like a ray of sunshine, filling my heart with joy.  When Trever woke up he was in lots of pain, filled with his sadness.  After we talked and held each other we invited the kids in... they can't take away the sadness but they balance it with such intense joy.  We are so blessed.

July 26th, 2012

We woke to celebrate Abigail's birthday.  At 12:21 we sang Happy Birthday, gave her the cupcake, helped her "blow out" the candle and gave her birthday kisses.

We were awake (after all I had a 45 minute nap) so we sat and ate a snack while doing some paperwork and cuddling our sweet girl.  We had no idea these were our last moments with her.

Trever felt like she was having more trouble breathing so I held her in bed with me while reclining.  We went to sleep around 1am.  At just after 1:30 am on the 26th I woke up.  As I looked over to Abigail my heart told me she was gone.  It was a simple, sad and peaceful thought.  I laid her in front of me to watch her for a moment and then woke Trever.  He was obviously sleeping lightly, all it took was saying his name.  Then I said "she's gone".  It was true.  Her little spirit had left us.

We sat and stared at her, holding her and touching her and crying.  After a bit we called the nurse to let her know.  She came in to check on us and then called the Pediatrician. The doctor came in and was so gracious, she watched her for a moment and then let us know that she needed to listen for a heartbeat.  After a moment she confirmed her death.  The time was 2am.

Trever remembers that each time Abby had difficulty breathing she would open her eyes and look around.  My heart tells me that she opened her eyes, looked around and found that we were asleep and decided it was time to leave us.  She gave us such a gift, to leave us peacefully and not have us watch her with the painful wonderment of whether or not she was leaving.  I'm sure that God prompted me to wake, so I wouldn't wonder how long we had slept after she left.  I find comfort in knowing I was asleep for such a short time.

My heart aches just writing this.  I can talk about her, about the details, with a certain level of detachment.  But when I write, when I think about these little moments I can't hide from the vision of her. From how tiny she was in our arms, from the touch of her skin, from her beauty.  I miss her so much, I want more... more moments with her to love on her and whisper to her.  More moments to hold her tiny little hand.

I told Trever that I totally get the "crazy" people who keep their loved ones around for days and days after they pass.  I'm sure it sounded creepy to me at one time, and I'm sure it still sounds creepy to other people.  But part of me would love to be able to just pick her up and hold her, to cry my tears onto her even though she is gone.  Even though it's just a body and not her spirit.

We did stay awake with her until after 5am.  We took casts of her hands since we hadn't done that earlier, and we did footprints.

We held her and dressed her, we cried deep sobs.  My body ached with so much pain.  It's so painful to loose something so precious. It's the loss of so many hopes, so many dreams.

I feel the pain for myself and for my children.  During the last few months as I've watched Andrew learn and grow, it's been so bitter sweet.  I long for those moments with Abigail.  I yearn for more smiles, for her learning to sit up, giggle, walk.  The squat that defines a toddler as they explore and learn about bugs and flowers.  My heart hurts when I listen to Natalie's thoughts.  How badly she wants a sister, when she picks out a dress to send to Abigail in heaven.  When she asks if there are beds in heaven.  When she talks about the next time I have a baby in my belly.  I wasn't able to give her what she wants, what she thinks she needs, a sister to grow and play with.  It's a terrible feeling.

As I sat on the bed holding Abby with Trever next to us, the sobs overwhelmed every inch of my body.  I wouldn't have stopped them if I could, it was the most pure moment of pain I have ever experienced.  I was so intensely aware of what it means to have heart ache, the moment when your spirit is truly broken.  And I was so thankful to have Trever by my side.  To know that I am so safe with him, to know that we both grieve deeply for our loss while holding to our belief that this loss is temporary.  That our pain is selfish (which is okay with us), that we did the only thing that was possible for us.  We let Abby live her life, and we are so thankful that our prayers were answered.  We got to hold her, look into her eyes and share her with our friends and family.  And we were able to keep her comfortable, to fill her moments with love and then gracefully release her to a happier place. We didn't fight her body, we didn't force her to live longer for our sake, we honored her story.

We are trying to walk the tightrope between joy for her, for her life with us and her life with Jesus, while nurturing the pain that comes from not having her in our home.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

July 25th, more...

I need to write as much as possible before the story starts to fade.  There are so many moments that stand out in my mind, and so many that I remember when I'm talking to someone.  I want every one of those moments captured forever. I'm sure I'll be adding more memories for quite a while.

I can't even remember what I've written so far.  And I just can't bring myself to go back and read her story yet.

Abby was doing so well after her birth.  I'm so thankful that she was strong, that we felt like she was going to stay with us for quite a while.  We embraced the friends and family who came to visit and hoped that everyone would take a moment to hold Abby.  She was passed from person to person with love.

Around 4am we finally took Abigail to the special care nursery to have an IV inserted.  We had decided to use an IV with saline and sugar in place of trying to feed her right away.  The nurses did a great job starting her IV, it has to be a hard job with such a little baby and a mom sitting nearby.  They were so loving to her and did what they needed to as quickly as possible.

By 5am we were back in our room getting ready to get some sleep.  Abby was a noisy little girl, due to the effort it took for her to breath.  Around 6:30am I woke Trever to see if she needed a new diaper and he ended up taking her to the special care nursery (we had a room there as well as our room in the postpartum area).  He sat up holding her and loving on her until 8am when the nurse let him know that I was awake.

I'm so thankful that Abigail spent most of her time in our arms.  Right now it is incredibly painful for me to close my eyes and picture her bundled up in my arms, or to see her cuddled up on Trever's chest, but I treasure those visions.

Abigail had trouble keeping her temp up, mostly due to how hard her body was working.  So she spent a lot of time skin to skin with Trever.  At one point the nurse came in and had a bit of a shock to see Trever in the hospital bed seemingly naked. Abigail was so tiny and hidden under a blanket that the scene no doubt seemed odd for Labor and Delivery.

After a loving stream of visitors Trever took Abigail back to the special care nursery to have a feeding tube inserted.  The nurse had difficulty with the first attempt, after listening for the tube and then trying to reinsert it they called for an x-ray to confirm placement.  When the x-ray came back we were told that it didn't end up in the right place.

During the time that we were waiting for the results the pediatrician watched Abigail stop breathing a couple of times.   Up to this point I hadn't seen one of her apnea episodes but I think Trever had.  We agreed that they would try to help her remember to breath for 1 minute but that was all.  Her heart rate had stayed steady, but that would not necessarily be true in the future.

I didn't realize at this point that her trouble breathing would continue, we were hoping it was just do to the stress of placing the feeding tubes.  But hearing about it brought me back to reality. I was so thankful to be able to collapse into my friend's embrace.  Abby, one of my dearest friends, was making a visit before she and her family headed out of town... I'm so thankful she was with me.  It was nice to not cry alone.

The second feeding tube didn't work either.  We figured out at this point, due to another x-ray that the tubes were not even visible in her body.  They were coiling up somewhere, probably in her nasal cavity.  There was no more hope for having her on a nasal feeding tube.  We weren't going to keep torturing her.  We had chosen to deliver at a hospital that could not place a g-tube (surgically implanted through the tummy).  I'm glad that we didn't have that option as I don't believe she would have been strong enough to live through the surgery but we may have been tempted to try it.

We decided to try to feed her with a syringe.  But first we just wanted to cuddle and love on her.  Trever was really shook up and wanted a moment to embrace her.

My brother and his wife were visiting.  Mike was sitting in the room with us when Abby stopped breathing again.  It was horrible, she turned a deep blue/purple, her eyes were open looking around and we could see her heart beating in her chest.  I can still feel the pain I felt in my chest, just watching her and crying, feeling so helpless, really believing she was leaving us.  And then she started breathing again.  And her color turned rosy.

We knew at that moment that her life was changing.  The nurse confirmed that this was the beginning of the end.  We didn't know if it would take hours or days, but we knew that our hopes for weeks together wouldn't come true.

I'm so thankful that she showed us so clearly that her life was limited.  We were able to call our families and invite them back to the hospital to say goodbye.  They all came.  The grandparents held her and cried, the kids held her and smiled.  They said sweet things, said their goodbye's, and sang her songs.  Andrew spent a lot of time holding Abby, squeezing her nose, and pulling her hat off only to make sure it got right back on.  We were lucky enough to get some sweet video's of the kids with their little sister.

After the family left we had very special time focused on our little angel, cherishing everything about her.  We even had the chance to take her outside for a walk.  It felt so good to be surrounded by the warmth, and to know that she got to see the greatness that God created down here before she goes to Heaven.  What a beautiful hospital campus we have!

We sat on a bench cuddling Abby, and then got the idea that she should pick a flower.  She is after all a little girl, I'm sure she would have picked lots of flowers had she had the chance.  So we picked her a flower and she held it so sweetly for an hour or so.  Held so tightly in her hand and right over her heart.  Those moments are probably the most precious of all the memories that we have.  We are so fortunate for the amazing hospital and the caring staff.

Although we had originally decided that we didn't want visitors after the family left we decided that a visit from the girls was in order.  Beth organized the troops and they showed up in force.  Our room was suddenly a celebration... wine, liquor and snacks... lots of laughter and tears.  Abigail was passed and kissed, her Aunties giving all their love to her.

While our friends were there Abby had a sad moment.  She was laying out on the bed between Trever and myself and she stopped breathing.  Her body looked so limp, it was like she was already gone.  Except she still had a heart beat.  I don't know how long it lasted, not too long, but I just remember feeling like it was such an eerie moment.  I haven't asked my friends how it affected them.  I'm guessing it was a moment they would have been happy to miss.  But there is some comfort to me in knowing we weren't alone in this experience.

After our friends left we prepared for Abby's birthday, making a sign and getting her Sweet Charley B's cupcake out.  Our wonderful nurse Chenelle looked for a candle for us, since they are against hospital policy we didn't have much hope, but thought it was wonderful that she looked.  When we couldn't locate one Trever decided to make one instead. What a great and creative dad!

Trever rested with Abby, who was breathing with too much difficulty for either of them to sleep.  I'm so glad he got that time with her, and sad that I missed out.  At this point I had only slept about 2 hours out of 40 hours, so I don't think my body gave me a lot of choice.

July 25th, 2012 visitors

After a couple hours of sleep we enjoyed a wonderful morning with Abby. We had some quiet time with her and then a steady stream of wonderful visitors.  

 Bree, Greg and Amanda
 Mark and Kristina Boyer
 Jenna Harrison
 George and Connie Ziesemer
 Jen Houk
 Uncle Justin
 Angela Maki
 Melissa Shay
Auntie Abby 
 Dawnie Mallet

Eliana and Abby, so thankful for all the time Mike and Amy were able to spend with us.
 Nana and Papa
 Gaggy and Papo
 Mr. Bud and Grammy Carol
Amy, Kaie, Jen, Marissa, Abby and Beth.  The amazing women who were by our side (almost literally) as Abigail arrived, then rallied together to come back when we knew she wouldn't be with us much longer.  They arrived in force, breaking out drinks, snacks and lots of laughter and tears.

Abigail Ann Kissel, born July 25th

Abby was born at 12:21am on July 25th.  She was about 4 pounds 5 ounces (probably a bit less since she had a shirt and diaper on when she was weighed) 16 3/4 inches long.

We kept her laying on my tummy just loving her and giving her kisses.  The doctor (who walked in after she was born) just sat by us while we enjoyed our daughter.  We kept the cord connected until it stopped pumping blood, about 10 minutes.  I think that is longer than normal but I may have heard that wrong.  Our doctor was in the OR so he missed being there, but he dropped by later and then visited us each day in the hospital.

Our photographer was there quickly after Abby came out, we tried to have her there for the birth but it all happened too quickly.  I'm so excited to see the pictures that she was able to capture.

As soon as Abby had her first bath we invited everyone in to meet her.  Our room filled with so much love.  Our friends and family had been waiting so patiently (probably impatiently if they are like me).  Little Abby was passed from person to person, getting love and kisses.  I just sat there taking it all in, feeling so much appreciation for the gift of Abby and the love that was surrounding her.

After everyone had left we took her to the Special Care Nursery to have her blood sugar and o2 stats taken as well as getting an IV going.  Since her body was working hard to stay strong we wanted to help out with some sugar (she wasn't strong enough to try breast feeding).  We also decided that an IV was the best choice to get her stabilized and we would work on getting a feeding tube later.

 Andrew enjoyed meeting his baby sister.  The big kids were barely able to wake for a picture, then crawled back into bed... Andrew was up for a party.  He stayed up until after 3am when he went home to go to bed. The whole time he was wanting to hold Abby and touch her nose or give her kisses. So precious.
 About an hour after birth.
 Getting warm with her Daddy. During her ultrasounds we saw her with her hand up by her face a lot.  This picture reminds us of one from the ultrasound.  
She was always calm when her Daddy was holding her.  Clearly that was a happy place for both of them.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

July 24th, 2012

What a long day.  We checked into the hospital last night around 8pm.
getting ready to leave for the hospital
The nurse that touched our hearts 6 years ago found us in the parking lot.  I can't believe she waited around until she saw us drive in.  Diana came over to embrace us and encourage us.  She said she was available to us for the birth if we needed her.  She had read our birth plan and gave so many reassuring words to help me believe in what we were doing.  Her calm, confident, loving spirit just pours out, just being near her calms me.  What a angel on earth.  

The process of checking in was long and tedious, but Trever ran out to find me a milkshake giving me something to look forward to.  I also go to squeeze in watching some trash TV.  Since we don't have TV at home that was a fun treat.  Once we turned the TV off that night it never came back on... clearly a sign that it's really not that important.

We started a super low dose pitocin drip around 12:30am.  Just enough to ripen my cervix, we didn't want to risk starting labor.  Hoping for a daytime delivery.  They also gave me an ambien which helped me get a few hours of sleep and then go back to sleep for another hour or so.

Kylie was our nighttime nurse.  Love her.  She was confident and fun, and she encouraged us to make the decisions that were right for us.  She really embraced us leading this experience while giving us guidance.  By the time Kylie left we were just getting ready to increase the pitocin and hope for the start of labor.

Vivian was our next nurse.  Again, such a great fit for us.  She was calm (is there a trend for the type of personality I like as a nurse???), and again embraced us and our journey.  We increased the pit drip throughout the day and just like my induction with Andrew, my body wasn't interested in kicking in.

Around 4pm Dr. Bell dropped by and broke my water... not an easy job.  My body was in line with my heart, wanting to hold on to Abby as long as possible.  Living in a bubble might protect us but it doesn't allow us to have experiences... so we had to commit to letting her out into the world.

We thought labor would start to kick in, I was at 4cm at this point.  Dr. Bell thought she could be here in 4-5 hours, Trev put his money on 8pm.  I was voting for 7pm (quicker is better).  I was hoping for anything quick since I had decided against getting an epidural.  I didn't want anything to keep me from being able to enjoy Abby when she arrived.  If it was still light outside I was hoping we would be able to go outside for some pictures... so I had to be able to be up and about. This was going to be the first time I was determined to go the whole way naturally.  I think I was having unearned courage... but I knew for the first time it wasn't an option, and Trever and I were determined.

Around 7pm we made calls and invited family to wait it out at the hospital.  And Oona, our photographer also came to wait in the hopes of being there for delivery.  Hindsight says that maybe they would have appreciated staying home enjoying wine and conversation.
Excited to meet their baby sister

The staff was so wonderful and prepared the room across the hall incase we needed extra space for our friends/family.  At some point we asked my dad if he would take Andrew in there and cuddle him to sleep.  Andrew has never slept with either Trever or myself but he loves to cuddle his Papo.  I'm sure it took them no time at all to get cozy and fall asleep.  I was thankful for both of them having each other.
As time progressed we called friends who were local to let them know they were welcome to come also.  I was standing out in the waiting room when Marissa and Katie walked in... a bit of a shock for them.  It was about 10pm, I was finally starting to feel uncomfortable.  I think my pit drip was set at 19 units.  For anyone unfamiliar... that's high.

Around 10 or 11pm we asked Beth to bring the big kids back so they could go to sleep.  They were SO tired.  Nathan was a sight, literally finding the bed, crawling in and tucking himself under the covers.  He barely even looked up... just laid his head down and was asleep.  Natalie stumbled over to go potty, back to bed and then we cuddled both of them up under the Abby's Love Quilt.  I loved having them so close and knew that they would probably sleep through the whole experience.

Back in the delivery room Kylie did what she could to help my cervix open.  My friends were in the room... it's probably not appropriate to repeat the funny things they were thinking at this point.  Nor is it appropriate to describe the scene that Beth got as she walked into the room while I was getting "examined".  But it does make me laugh just thinking about it... and that is super good right now.  Thanks Beth for taking one for the team!!!

Just before midnight the contractions were going from uncomfortable to painful.  Our pitocin was set at 21, we had the ability to go to 30 but we were hoping to stay below 24.  My friend Jen was having fun timing my contractions and gauging them as I tried to breath and relax.  It was nice being surrounded by friends who were comfortable continuing the conversation while I checked out during the contractions.

At about 11:55pm Amy said "in 6 minutes things are really going to get going for you".  Suddenly I had a very strong contraction, definitely intense... the clock was just so slightly past 12... seriously?  As my girlfriends made their exit just a few minutes later Amy said "I think she'll be here in 12 minutes".

14 minutes later Abby came rushing into the world.  If you would like to borrow Amy for a future birth, let me know.  I'll send her over.  Girlfriend has got it. "Amazeballs"

Those 14 minutes were intense.  I quickly remembered why I enjoy ending labor with an epidural.  But I am also thrilled that I was able to experience each moment of her birth, the pain was nothing compared to the pain of missing her.

The nurse could tell that her arrival was imminent, she had called for a doctor. She asked me if I wanted pain meds or if I wanted to push.  I just remember saying "can't I do both?".  She gave me a quick injection, then turned to walk out the door to bring another nurse in... suddenly I was doing everything I could to keep Abby in... Kylie hadn't even made it out the door.  She and Trever were quickly by the bed, asking me to open my legs and push... I told her I couldn't and she gently but firmly told me I could.  As I relaxed my legs my body pushed Abby out into Trever's hands.  He tells me that the cord was around her neck but I pushed the rest of her out so quickly that it didn't matter.

In such a quick flash I went from panicking that I was going to deliver Abby onto the bed without any help to having her lay on my tummy... and then that shot took effect and my head dropped back into fuzziness. (the picture is super funny).  I felt so much relief when they told me that she was alive.  We had gone 4 hours during the evening not feeling her after my water was broken.  The only time that we had her on the monitor we saw that she was having a decreased heart rate with contractions.  For a couple of hours we really struggled with holding onto hope.  Somehow we found our hope, and soon after that she gave us a kick.  For the rest of labor I still didn't feel much, but I was able to hold onto that hope and it made all the difference.

Monday, July 23, 2012

July 23rd, 2012

We're about to head into the hospital.  As I called to confirm I was torn between wanting to head in and wanting them to tell me to wait until tomorrow.  My heart skipped a beat... with excitement/terror... and now I'm sticking with excitement.

I can't believe our fourth (kind of fifth) and final pregnancy is almost over.  I can't believe we are almost going to meet Abby (within 24 hours or so????).  She just wiggled... she must be excited too.

I was telling Trever, she has no idea we're about to pull her out of her warm and comfortable home.  And we have no idea how she is about to impact our lives.  I hope she likes us ;)

My emotions have run the gamut today.  I was great this morning, staying fairly detached.  Then as I walked through the grocery store a wave of anxiety swept over me.  I could feel the heat and the tingling.  As the day has continued I've had tears in my eyes as well as lots of excitement.

Right now I'm feeling the sadness of being away from my children for an unknown amount of time.  I'm already missing them.  Even when they visit in the hospital it won't be the same.  But we'll be home soon, and we'll make time to share "normal" moments with each of them.

We've had an outpouring of love from so many different people today and yesterday... clearly little Abby is in the thoughts of many people.  And we're so thankful for all the loving thoughts and prayers.  Abigail is so loved, and we are so blessed by all of that love.

Friday, July 20, 2012


I'm thinking there must be so many prayers coming our way.  I've been anxious lately about waiting too long to induce, what if her strength fails between now and her birth?  Today I laid quietly, not feeling much movement and trying not to feel stressed.  A wave of peace suddenly washed over me.  I realized that if she is born straight to heaven then that is her story.  And it would probably be the most peaceful transition for her.

I'm still hoping to see her beautiful eyes looking up at us.  But I feel calm about facing these next few days of uncertainty.  This is her story and we are just here to love and support her.

For now I will try to hold on to this calm, and cherish her movements.

July 20th, 2012

We're scheduled for Monday night.  Hoping to help my body enjoy a slow labor and deliver on Tuesday during the day.

We talked with the hospital about our "favorite" nurse.  She helped deliver Nathan.  I just remember her loving and kind demeanor as she guided me through labor.  I guess they have already told her that we're coming in and they are working on doing some schedule changes so she can hopefully deliver us again.  Amazing.  This hospital is so wonderful.  Diana Z (the nurse) has some experience with similar deliveries so she feels comfortable and confident assisting us.  She also has good ideas for photography and keepsakes.  What a blessing.  Even if we don't get to spend time with Diana I feel so blessed that the hospital is working to make this experience so positive for us.

I'm ready to meet Abby.  I know this weekend will go quickly, and I'm thankful for that.  I feel like I'm "staying strong" but the cracks are showing.  My doctor asked me if I was ready and unexpected tears sprung into my eyes.  I'm ready.  And I hope she comes before I start to get too scared.

We also talked about how small she is.  At this point we are thinking she's probably in the 4 pound range.  My belly is so small, and even then it's squishy.  Sometimes I wonder where she is hiding.  If she's not moving around my mind starts to play tricks on me, like maybe she's gone.  Maybe this was all a weird dream.

So soon we will touch her and hold her.  And hopefully bring her home with us.  I know it will be a difficult and very different experience but I am really looking forward to whatever this next stage holds for us.  Just trying to focus on the blessings that fill our life, the joy that fills my belly and the hope for what is ahead.  Whatever it is, it will be a change.  And change is good.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

July 19th, 2012

I have a doctors appointment in the morning.  At the appointment we will decide whether I will go in for my induction at night on  Monday the 23rd, or in the morning on the 24th.

I started making a list of things to pack for the hospital.  It's a long list, I feel like I'm heading out on a big trip.  There really isn't much for me, at this point I know how little I need.  But I think Abby might have her own bag!  I have the beautiful quilt to bring, some clothes for her, some props for photos since our photographer will be (hopefully) at the birth, and a box of keepsake collecting items.  Then I decided since we might be there during the night, I should have some movies, books, etc.  I am very doubtful I'll be able to sleep much.

I have this belief that if I don't get the bags packed tonight I am going to show up tomorrow and the doctor is going to decide that we should just induce right away.  I guess I have some work to do tonight.  Then it'll work out that we'll be on par tomorrow for induction next week.

If there is one thing (and there are so many more than that) that I have learned during this pregnancy it's that you can't plan for anything, so you might as well prepare for everything.  And then just relax and enjoy the ride.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

July 17th, 2012

There is a chance that I'm holding some stress internally.  Haha.  I went to the Chiropractor today.  My body is a wreck.  My hips hurt, causing me to have trouble sleeping.  And the tenderness in my shoulders/neck/hips was a little extreme.  I could probably use daily adjustments and massage.  Somehow I know that isn't going to happen.  It was nice to have a few moments to take care of myself today.

As I drove home the song Easy Silence by the Dixie Chicks was on.  When this song first came out a friend called me to tell me she found a song that reminder her of what Trever offers me.  She is so right.  And it's definitely obvious during this stage of our life.

"And I come to find a refuge in the

Easy silence that you make for me
It's okay when there's nothing more to say to me
And the peaceful quiet you create for me
And the way you keep the world at bay for me"

I'm so fortunate to have Trever as my partner in life.  Sometime I think I couldn't go through this without him, I know that isn't entirely true.  But I also know that I could not walk this journey without him and feel as... well, I don't know the word, but it just wouldn't be the same.  Not even close.

It's amazing to have someone in my life who cares so deeply for me.  He balances me, validates me, protects me (from myself and the world around me), encourages me and intensely loves me.  I am so blessed, in so many ways.

When I think of the path we've shared all I can think is how blessed our life is.  I look back with rose colored glasses.  It's not that we haven't had difficult times: During our first 5 years of marraige we lived in 5 different houses (including living temporarily with my parents), we moved over an hour away from Trever's work causing him to have to commute which was not an easy/happy transition, we've endured/enjoyed 5 pregnancies (one ending in miscarriage) and with that 3 newborn stages, we built a house which resulted in Trever being gone from the family for about 6 - 6 1/2 days each week (not to mention the stress that goes along with learning to build a house and manage the building process), and there have been a fair number of injuries (all Trever, never me... I know it really wouldn't pay off but someday I think it would be nice to be the person laid up in bed reading and watching movies while my meals are brought to me... in truth I really wouldn't like that, and neither does he).

Anyway... I'm just so thankful.  I know that our life will continue to have challenges and I couldn't be more excited to face them with anyone else.  I hope that each of our children are as blesses as we are in their futures, with their partners in life.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

July 14th, 2012

I remember when this journey started I felt like we were on a roller coaster.  The roller coaster was more regarding the learning process and less the emotional side.  Well, things are full circle on some level.

Lately I'm back on the roller coaster but this one is emotional.  I wish I had sat down and wrote throughout the day yesterday.  Someone reading it may have thought I needed a psychiatric evaluation. I went between the emotions with the swiftness of flipping a switch.  The upside of that is that the sadness and depression can be quickly replaced with laughter.

Today I'm feeling a bit more steady.  Which is good, and a bit unexpected because Trever is gone for a couple of days and sometimes that just makes life less fun.  It helps that my mom took the big kids for a bit and I got to nap while Andrew was sleeping.

What I really want lately is to lay in my dark bedroom watching movies all afternoon.  But I'm a mom of three kids (that I actually enjoy spending time with) so that isn't going to happen.

And I'm thankful to be remembering, and trying to apply some learning I received years ago (Thanks to my time with Arbonne!).  I think it was Shad Helmsteader who talked about mental programming.  How we have to replace our mental dialog with something new.  To give a physical example... If one day I decide that I want to go to my parents house, but I don't want to take the path through the woods (like I always do) then I need to give myself a new path.  I can't just stand there saying that I don't want to go through the woods.  Instead I need to turn and walk down the driveway.

So... sometimes during the day my brain flashes a message "my baby is going to die".  It's a bit of a pity party.  Today I decided that what I want to be focused on is that "my baby is going to be born".  Much happier.  Yes, she will die.  We all will.  As that is inevitable there doesn't seem much point in making it my focus.  And the truth is, she is destined to be born, and that is super exciting.  Even if she is born into Heaven, she will be born.  I will touch her and kiss her and hold her.

So I'm working on my new mantra... "my baby is going to be born".  And that makes me smile.  Smiling is good.  Only 10 more days, possibly 9 until we head into the hospital.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

July 12, 2012

I wonder why when I read inspirational stories about babies/children/adults living with Trisomy 18 (or a different Trisomy) I feel sad and overwhelmed, not inspired and hopeful.

My heart aches with so many conflicting emotions.  I can't believe how soon we will meet Abby.  I

I just wrote to our dear friends from Canada that we will see them in about a week.  Our children are so blessed with 3 sets of Grandparents.  Grammy Carol and Mr. Bud could not stay away for this wonderful occasion.  I'm so thankful they will be here for the week.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

July 10th, 2012

Two weeks from today I will be holding my darling girl.  Two weeks.  How has time gone so quickly?

It occurred to me today that the end of this pregnancy hasn't been as tough as I thought it would.  I thought I would be anxious when I was out in public.  I'm not.  I've been able to find a balance between honesty and privacy.  What a relief.

The good definitely outweighs the challenges.  My emotional pain lies shallowly under the surface and always surprises me when rises up.  The glimpses I get can be intense, my chest aches so deeply.  It's amazing how emotional pain comes with physical discomfort.  But I still welcome the pain... I welcome the ability to experience life.  And especially to experience this journey with Abby.

My favorite moments are the kicks and wiggles I feel before I go to sleep.  She's always there, I can depend on her to wiggle as I relax.  It's a nice way to end days that are usually full of busyness and focusing on the other kids.

Natalie talked to me again today about wanting Abby's heart to work better.  She wants a little sister so badly.  I hope she gets some time with her little sis, to love on her and cuddle her.  To create some memories that we can treasure during our nighttime talks.  She wants to trade her little brother for her little sister... I know she doesn't understand what she's asking.  I told her I'd just like to have all four of my lovelies with me.

I was reading my favorite blog (www.kellehampton.com) tonight.  I know some people look at her and feel bad that she has a child with special needs.  I love that she is showing the world what a blessing Nella is in her life.  What I wouldn't do at this point for a little Nella.  I know there would be so much work, and extra pain... but there would be so much joy as well.

I don't think I've ever written this down but I have thought often about the blessings of our journey with Abby.  There are many.  One that stands out to me is the chance to have a fourth child.  Maybe God had reasons for me to not raise fourth child, maybe it was just a fluke of nature.  I am so thankful that I was able to carry this child with love, that I was able to enjoy another pregnancy.  I think it would have been so much more painful for me to have wanted one more child and then not been successful at conceiving another.  As much as loosing Abby will bring sadness to my heart, having the chance to love her is so much more important to me.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

July 8th, 2012

We're just finishing up a crazy holiday week/weekend.  I love all the distractions, especially when it's time with my family and friends.

We got news that we are scheduled for an induction on the 24th.  I'm full of all sorts of emotions.  Mostly feeling hesitant and sad that my last pregnancy will be over, nervous about what the next stage will be like, and super excited to finally hold our darling girl.

I can't believe in just over two weeks we will touch her sweet little face and hold her hands.  I am so overwhelmed with the idea of actually having her in my arms.  Whether she is alive or gone I know it will be such a beautiful and emotional experience.

I hear myself talking to people and I still sound so detached from the emotional side of this journey.  People probably think I'm either "doing so great", or that I'm weird and callus.  Neither of those observations is actually true.  It's all just too overwhelming to focus on or acknowledge during most moments of my day.

Right now I just want to remember to smile every time I feel a wiggle or a kick.  I want to slow down and appreciate this big belly with this tiny little girl.  I want to do what I can to enjoy each day with my other kids before our life gets turned upside down by the arrival of their little sister, while trying to make time go as slowly as possible.

And if it's not too much to ask of myself... I'd like to start cooking healthy meals for the family like I used to do.  I know it will be temporary, but I can at least hope to fill the next two weeks with great food.  Our kids are going to be in shock when their Mommy is back someday... cooking a variety of nutritious meals instead of whatever I think they will happily eat.  Meal times have been fairly sad around here (as far as meeting their nutritional needs and my normal desire to enjoy a meal)... although I will say that I made a delicious halibut recipe recently and Nathan said "Mommy, you are a really good cook, you use good ingredients."  Bless his little heart.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

July 4th, 2012

What an amazing day!!!  My dear friend, Jen, surprised me and flew up from Texas for a visit.  I am such a blessed woman!!!  She knows I've felt alone, that I desire to be surrounded by friends.  What an amazing gesture!

We'll be enjoying our time together for the next two days.  I'm so excited for every moment.

Little Abigirl is sending me so many special moments.  She is already my Angel.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The kids

Natalie talks about Abby fairly often.  She must think of her often.

She randomly gives Abby a hug and a kiss.  She recently told an almost stranger that Abby wouldn't be with us for very long, that her heart doesn't work right.  She will also talk about what she wants to do with Abby if/when Abby gets bigger.

Last night she asked me how big Abby is.  I grabbed one of her dolls and said she was probably about that big.  Then I showed her how she is curled up in my belly.  Natalie asked if she would get to hold Abby.  Then she held the doll and showed me the ways that she would hold her and cuddle her.  It was so beautiful.

Today, Natalie watched a baby sleeping in her car seat as she got dressed after swim class.  Then she leaned in close to my ear and said "I wish Abby's heart would work better."  Heartbreak, total heartbreak.  I do too.  As much for myself as for Natalie.  So she could have the sister she so desperately wants. (She told Trever recently that she wanted to be the brother and Nathan and Andrew could become girls so she could have sisters.)

Does anyone know of a baby girl that is in need of a loving home, a loving sister????


I was shopping with Nathan recently.  He picked up a dress (size 7) and told me it could be for Abby when she was as big as him.  I told him I thought that would be wonderful.  He wants a house full of siblings.  And he has told me that Abby "doesn't count" because she won't be with us very long.  He's not being mean, he shows his love for her all the time.  He tapes her ultrasound pictures on the wall in his room, as well as around my office.

As he is the oldest, I am so curious how this will affect him.  How my emotions will affect him.  When he knows I am crying he always comes up and holds me, just patiently sits with his arms around me and his head leaning against me while he tells me how much he loves me.  He is so sensitive and in tune with emotions.


Andrew gets super jealous if we hold another baby.   He's actually okay with us holding a baby as long as we are holding him too.  He is also really interested in babies.  Wants to sit by them, touch them, look at them.  Today he walked around my friends house carrying a little baby.  Just carrying her and pushing her in the stroller.  It was so cute.  I'm so curious to see how he reacts to little Abby when he meets her.

Monday, July 2, 2012

July 2nd, 2012

AHHH... July already???  Can't believe we already here.

I know I've mentioned it before.  It's so nice to stay a bit detached, to focus on enjoying the wonderful blessings that surround this pregnancy and completely devoid of emotion regarding the painful parts.

At times the emotions sneak up on me.  Not so fun.  I can feel my heart ache, my eyes start to water, I feel weak and exhausted.  I let myself stay there for a few moments, to be honest I almost welcome the emotion. Then I quickly try to close the box and put my smile back on.  It's not for anyone else's benefit, it's mostly for mine.

As Trever and I drove home from meeting with Dr. McMahon today I listened to him talk about Abby.  It feels so different to hear the words come from someone else, so much more real.  My heart ached, the tears started, I wanted to shut the door to the world and just curl up.

I had an epiphany (one that could not be considered a moment of genius, but important clarity none the less).  Nothing that I do can or will prepare me for the emotions ahead.  I can prepare for the events and the decisions, or at least I can try.  But emotions are their own beast, you can't prepare for them and you really can't hide from them when the time comes.  (I'm sure you can stuff them down, I've seen lots of people close to me do that, but I am convinced is not a winning solution.  At least not for me.)

I've truly though that maybe since we've been preparing for this for so long that I would actually feel less pain.  Don't judge.  It's true.  I thought that we would maybe get lucky, that the emotions have dripped into our lives for 4 months, so maybe some of them had been used up.  I still think the emotions might be different because of the journey we've been on, but I also realize that I'm kidding myself to think I have any idea how this is going to feel.  How this is going to affect me.

Doctors Appointment

We're still trying to decide what hospital to choose for welcoming Abby.  We're leaning towards St Pete's, and we'll be meeting with some of the staff on Thursday to help make the decision.  I'm hoping I walk away from that meeting with a peace of mind to help make the decision.

Today we met with Dr. McMahon and discussed a bit of our birth plan.  She helped to clarify some of our thoughts and to reassure the decisions we've made.  It's so nice that she is super supportive of us making this decision.

We also talked a bit more about Abby's heart.  I think there may be an additional problem with her heart, or maybe it's just a symptom of her AV canal defect.  Anyway, we learned that she will hopefully be born looking like a typical newborn.  But it might not take very long for her color to change.  She will start to loose her rosy complexion as her O2 levels drop.  I'm thankful for the warning.  I figured that would happen as she was closer to leaving us, but now I'm prepared that it may happen sooner.  I was definitely not prepared for that.  Even though we will most likely have her on oxygen, she will still always remain deficient.

Eventually, if this is the cause of her death, she will slowly become hypoxic (decreased oxygen level).  It should be a peaceful process of her essentially going to sleep.  That's not to say that there aren't unknown variables that could cause her death.  But I find peace and hope in this being the process of her leaving us.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Quilt of Love

This project has been so wonderful.  I can't believe how many people took the time to send Abigail a piece of love.  Each moment that I worked on putting it together I was able to think of the person who sent the fabric I was working on.  That's a lot of wonderful time spent while I ironed, then cut, then sewed, then ironed, then sewed, then ironed, then cut some more... repeat process.  ;)

My favorite moments were receiving the fabric.  It felt a bit like Christmas with the excitement of checking the mailbox and the anticipation of seeing what choice someone had made.  The moment was made even more special when we received a note with a reason for the fabric choice, or kind words for Abby.  I want to share those thoughts and some pictures, even though I'll be keeping the cards I want to have everything saved here as well.

I'll spare everyone (mostly myself as I look back at this in the future) the pain of the "during" pictures that Trever took.  You don't want to see the trashy version of me as I stay in PJ's all day working on a project.  I promise it doesn't sound nearly as bad as it actually is, much less as it looks in photos.  My brother got a glimpse a few days ago... he didn't even hide his horror or his laughter.  Love him for that, honestly, I do.

The "almost finished" quilt:

A close up of some of the pieces with the names embroidered:

*** When we dropped the quilt off with the person who will be quilting it, she had already seen a picture of it on Facebook.  She must know someone who contributed... but we couldn't make the connection.  Hopefully by the time we get it back she will know who it was.

Notes from friends: (There were others, but these are the ones that were brief, or focused on Abby.  We loved hearing why a fabric was chosen!)

"Even the number of stars in the sky could never outdo the amount of love that my heart holds for you" - Unknown.  From Jen Houk, with star fabric.

"while we try to teach our children all about LIFE, our children teach us what life is all about"
Little Abby is already teaching us what life and love are all about.  Jaci Schiffern (a woman who has taught me so much about love for family and a beautiful marriage).

Much love and so much more.  you are truly inspiring. Thank you for teaching me a better meaning to life. Love you and your beautiful family. Abby girl is so blessed.  Melissa Haberman

"The mind determines what is possible.  The heart surpasses it." Pilar Coolinta
Abigail - Can't wait for your arrival! The quilt will be beautiful, just like you! Ali Schiffern and Matt

"If I could I'd find a fairy Godmother with a magical wand and combat boots so that she could grant your wishes and kick the crap outta anything that tried to get in the way of your happiness"
To Abigirl - you are being welcomed into a wonderful and special family.  If your time is short, know that it was and is impactful for many.  We give these pieces of fabric to your quilt to bring love and warmth.  For all the stories your mom and dad will read "once upon a time", and for all the personalities you will share "diva to princess" - The Mairs

"Legends say that hummingbirds float free of time, carrying our hopes for love, joy and celebration.  Like a hummingbird, we aspire to hover and savor each moment as it passes, ebrace all that life has to offer and to celebrate the joy of everyday.  The hummingbird's delicate grace reminds us that life is rich, beauty is everywhere, every personal connection has meaning and that laughter is life's sweetest creation." - Unknown
From Heather Kapust

"In truth I agonized about my fabric selection for you.  I actually bought 3, unable to decide - want it to be perfect.  The piece I settled on seems like a timeless pattern.  Much like I know your AbbyGirl will always be."  Jennifer Schreck

Baby Abby - We love you so much, even though we haven't met you.  You have touched our hearts in ways you cannot imagine.  You are loved!  Meghan (McDonald) Lewis

Emily and I just picked out an adorable pink "golden books" fabric from the online store.(Jack approved too)
Jenny Champoux

Hi Petey,
I have sent some fabric your way  with carnations on it " to symbolize my love, pure and deep" ;-).
I love you so much and I can't wait to see Abby.
Hugs, Jen Reiss

I sorted through many fabric designs and shades of pink to get the right thing.  To me, this design/color says passion, determination, boldness, and joy.  The things that you are, and that Abby represents.
Much love ;)

So butterflies... "Butterfly Power" is based on the idea of subtle influence and suggests that when a butterfly flaps it's wings in S. America, there is a tornado in Texas. I've always been drawn to this idea and the perspective that something so small can create such significant impact. There are two reasons I think of butterflies when I think of Abigail. One, she has had such an influence on so many people and so many lives all before she weighs even 3 lbs! Like the little butterfly who flapped it's wings, the impact of her existence has made ripples within your family and in the lives of numerous others in BIG ways. 

The second reason I think of butterflies and subtle influence is the reason Abigail has Edwards Syndrome in the first place. One chromosomal difference in her system led to the T18, which led to the many things that have happened during the last 12 weeks and your life, along with your family and all the people who love you being forever changed.

Lastly, I like butterflies because they are something we are blessed to see as we go about our days. My hope would be that when you see a butterfly, whether Abigail is here with us or otherwise, you'll be reminded of what a blessing she is and how she gifted you with a new perspective and had such significant subtle influence. 

I hope all that made sense and you, like me, will see the relevance of butterflies. :)