Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Eden's Angels: Trust

This weeks blog post was written by Jeanna O'Leary, Share Group Coordinator at the National Share Office. Jeanna is mom to twins David and Allison, who were born to early to survive. She also experienced an early pregnancy loss. Jeanna also has three living sons, 7 year old twins and an 18 month old.
Last weekend my 1 ½ year-old son and I boarded a plane with my Mom and headed to Henderson, Nevada for a special weekend with our family to celebrate the first communion of my cousin’s daughter, Lauren. We had a wonderful visit filled with lots of laughter and special memories. However, the week leading up to our visit was not without some sadness. I could not help but think about how my twin son and daughter, David and Allison, would have been celebrating their first communion this spring as well. I began to envision my little David looking so handsome in his shirt and tie and my little Allison twirling around in her pretty white dress and veil. This and so many other dreams were tucked away in my heart the day I said good-bye to our son and daughter. Many bereaved parents know all too well that bittersweet feeling deep in our hearts of watching other families live out the very hopes and dreams we may have had for our own babies.

We were sitting around the table at my cousin’s house before it was time to leave for the church when my aunt and cousin presented me with a special gift. It was a lovely glass vase containing two gorgeous white roses. Attached to the vase was the most beautiful statue I have ever seen. It was an angel in pastel colors surrounded by a little boy and girl holding hands around the bottom of her gown. This kind gesture was my family’s way of telling me that they, too, were remembering David and Allison. My cousin then told me she was given permission by their priest to place the vase of flowers and statue in the front of the altar during the mass. This way I could watch Lauren receive her first communion while seeing this beautiful gift representing my babies. I was overcome with emotion knowing that I was not the only one thinking of David and Allison or feeling their presence during the ceremony.

As I unpacked my suitcase after returning home, I examined the box containing the angel statue. Eden’s Angels is the name of the series and the statue is titled, Trust. It reads on the back of the box, “With Eden’s Angels we bring you and your loved ones the goodness and beauty that can be found within the world around us. We encourage you to share the gift of grace with all those you hold close to your heart.” I have reflected many times on these words since last weekend. Perhaps in celebrating the milestones and dreams of others and sharing with them in their happiness, I am giving gifts of grace to David and Allison. My hopes and dreams did not have to end 8 years ago after their deaths. They will continue as I celebrate with those who are loved by the same heart that carries my babies.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Our Miracle by Jill Lear

This weeks blog post was written by Jill Lear. Jill's daughter Hattie Ann was born 13 weeks to soon and lived for 39 days, from May 4, 2002-June 11, 2002. Jill is also mom to two miscarrried babies and 3 living children.

Our Miracle

For the longest time, I had a hard time praying not understanding why God didn't give us our miracle. I still have a hard time, but I have come to realize God did give us our miracle, we just didn't see it at the time. Here is what I came up with.

I spotted for the first 14 weeks of her pregnancy, she could have been a miscarriage.

We were told during labor that she only had a 50% chance of surviving the delivery. She made it through with no problem.

Two days after she was born, she was doing so well they decided to take her breathing tube out. She immediately started hemorrhaging from her lungs. It took them 2 hours to get the breathing tube back in. We were told she probably wouldn't make it through the day. She did.

That same day my dad had called Father Brad to let him know that Hattie had been born. Out of the blue, he showed up and baptized her. We started to feel like there was hope immediately.

The following day, they did a brain ultrasound. It showed a Grade 4 brain bleed. The doctor said that it was the worst he had seen in 10 years. He said her chances of surviving until the end of the week were slim. She made it.

Hattie started to improve and on day 16 we held our daughter for the first time. Her vitals improved every time she was placed on my chest. What a feeling. It had been my fear all along that she would die without me getting to hold her.

On day 38 with her kidneys already shut down for 4 days, the doctor told us we were going to have to decide on whether to continue her care or let her go. What parent could ever make that decision? Afterward a nurse who was not Hattie's nurse came up to me and started encouraging me to fight for her life not to give up until Hattie told us to. She told me stories of babies who's skin literally fell off after kidney failure and yet made it back. She said that when Hattie's heart gave out that meant she was just too tired to continue the fight. It made our decision. We would not give up.

On day 38 I spent the night at the hospital for the first time. I was able to say good night to her and kiss her good morning just like a real mom.

Day 39, her vitals started to go down. They decided to try putting in a bigger breathing tube (she had outgrown her original one) . Once again, they were unable to intubate her. We watched as her heart rate continued to drop until it was in the 10's. We told them to let her go. My husband and I were both there to say good-bye.

What amazes me is that fact that they had such major problems intubating her (getting her breathing tube in) twice, yet in that first minute of life, it went in with no problem. God was definitely there giving us a gift.

Although the experience was a total rollercoaster, I would not have traded it for anything. We watched as her skin grow thick like a newborn. We watched as she developed cartilage in her ears. I got to be her mom. I got to change her diapers, give her my milk, hold her and sing to her. I was able to share all my hopes and dreams with her. I was given the time to show her how much I loved her. That is just so important. I know that she died knowing how much her mommy and daddy loved her.

Hattie Ann did some amazing things in her short 39 days. I know she touched so many lives from ours, our friends and families, to her doctors and nurses. We may not know what her purpose in life was, but it was great and we should feel blessed that we were the ones chosen to be her parents.

Looking back at her days, God was with us every step of the way giving us the chance to be her parents. Her life might have been short but we definitely got our little miracle.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

When we decided to create this Share blog, I knew that I did not want to be the only one writing posts on it. While I do love to write, it's not my blog...I want it to share the perspectives and thoughts of guest bloggers, others out in the blogging world who already have blogs dealing with pregnancy and infant loss issues. There are so many out there, and so many really wonderful writers. I have found several blogs over the past few months that I enjoy reading, and we have them linked here. If you know of any others, please email me a link to them so I can check them out.

One of the blogs I discovered recently is Cara Tyrell's...Building Heavenly Bridges. Cara is the founder of Share Southern Vermont, and I had the pleasure of meeting her in March when she came to our Sharing and Caring training workshop for Share group leaders. Cara's first child, Emma Grace Tyrell, was born still at full term eight years ago. Since then, Cara has been blessed with two living children, and she has kept her love and memories of Emma close at heart and started Share Southern Vermont as well as her blog in Emma's memory. She not only writes her blog...she is a columnist for Exhale, an online magazine for those grieving the death of a baby (http://www.exhalezine.com/.) She is also is in the final days of planning her first remembrance walk, being held this coming Saturday in Springfield, Vermont. Cara will be writing for Share your Thoughts the first week of each month, and I hope you enjoy her touching, thought-provoking posts as much as I do.

In these days leading to Mother's Day, know that you will be in the hearts and thoughts of all of us at Share.
I Am

I am so many things; so very many that listing them for you would be an extensive project, sure to bore both of us. So, I tell you only three things about me, as a start.

1) I am Emma’s mother. She is not part of this world, but she is my daughter –my first born, and I – her mother, always.
2) I am a trained Share group leader working with families as they walk their grief roads.
3) I will be posting here the first Monday of every month.

Truly, that’s all we need to know – for now. The rest will come in time, through words and back-story, emotion and conversation. It matters little what I do with my days, because my sole purpose both as a Share blog contributor and a group leader, is to be a source of hope, comfort and inspiration. In other words: Emma’s mother.

There are very few parts of my real life where I am afforded this title. I have to fight for it, remind others that she existed, still exists – because I love her, because we talk about her and keep her alive within our home.

It is for this reason that I crave our monthly support meetings as much as the parents in active grief do. I walk into the library, slowly pushing open the heavy door, taking in every inch of our space. Breathing deeply, I reach into my bags to set up: the lending library, the new parent folders, our snack, our chairs, our tissues. I can feel the shift. Emma’s time is at hand.

“I’ll begin”, I say, a broad smile spreading across my face as the familiar words slip off my tongue. “I am Cara, mother to Emma Grace, with us for forty weeks and one day, born still on September 8th, 2000.”

These words were not always so easy to say. There was a time when they felt like a lie, when the mere idea of speaking them caused me to become mute. There was a time when I choked them out, syllable by rebellious syllable, aware that I had to accept the truth, only to end with a cascade of tears, near hyperventilation. There was a time when they became weapons, my tools laced with righteous indignation to prove to the world that I had a daughter. There was a time they became a tired refrain to, “Is this your first?”, the constant inquiry with lilted inflection that followed a glance at my bulging belly. Only now, eight years later, do these words fill me with a sense of bittersweet peace and purpose.

Thank you, for allowing me this space to share Emma with you. I look forward to reading each of your stories.

Whose parent are you?