Sunday, January 9, 2011

Happy Birthday Sydney Grace

I know this is two days late, but I would love to let everyone know how special Sydney Grace's 1st birthday was. In the weeks leading up to January 7th, I was not sure how I was going to react on her birthday. I really thought I would be very depressed and sad on her day. Actually, I was feeling that way for the past two weeks. Surprisingly, I thought January 7th was a pretty good day. We all focused on how wonderful the day of her birth actually was. It was a day that was supposed be a terrible day. Instead it was a day of miracles. It was the best day of me life for sure!

Joel and I decided we would have all our family over for a dinner to celebrate Sydney Grace's birthday. It was really nice having everyone over. We even had some special guests. The two nurses that delivered Sydney Grace, Bobbi and Marg, along with their daughters came for a visit. They gave me an awesome gift that Marg's daughter drew by hand. It is a picture of an angel holding an angel baby. It is beautiful. It has an inscription that says.."I have a feeling there's one more star up in the sky tonight... And even though it's far away, its brightness and warmth still reach us and make the night a little less dark." Here is a photo of the picture and of my two fabulous nurses and the artist.

At the end of our family dinner, Rafe blew out one candle on Sydney's cake in honor and memory of her. I thought it would nice for Rafe to be able to take part in the celebration of Sydney Grace's life. We also had a balloon release in honor of Sydney's first birthday. My original plan was to attach a card that had a note from everyone written to Sydney. Unfortunately, it was too heavy for the balloon to lift off the ground. On a positive note, I will now have this as one more thing to show how much we all love and miss Sydney Grace. I am know reliving those twenty days we had with her. I can almost remember something that happened on everyone of those days. I have to say I am not looking forward to the 27th, but hopefully it will bring some comfort in knowing Sydney Grace is better off than those of us left behind. She is in the arms of our creator, no other place better.

Here are two videos from our dinner on Sydney Grace's birthday.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

New Baby

It has been 4 months since the last time I have written on the blog... A lot has happened. At the end of August I found I was pregnant again!! It was unexpected, but very welcomed. Needless to say I was extremely nervous at the very beginning, just praying that this baby would be healthy. A few weeks ago, we visited the same specialist we did every month while pregnant with Sydney Grace to make sure they baby was healthy. Everything looked great! Here are some ultrasound photos from that visit.

My goal to is continue this blog, sharing about the new baby and Rafe's many adventures!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Sydney Grace's Gift

I want to share a story that was first posted, I believe on facebook, a few days after Sydney Grace was born. I am not sure who shared this, but thank you. It is so fitting to Sydney Grace's life, that I had it read at her funeral.

Once upon a special day in Heaven up above, The tiniest souls sat at God's feet, surrounded by his love. The time was coming, very soon, God said, do not be scared. Your family awaits your arrival, now let us get prepared. And so God looked upon these souls, in mute consideration. He knew the life each one would live, He weighed each situation.

The souls chatted amongst themselves, and wondered who they'd be. They knew the day grew closer; soon, they'd meet their family. How would you like to change the world? God asked each soul in fun. The chance to change a soul, a heart, is held by only one. I'm going to make the world laugh, one soul said with a smile, for laughter heals a broken heart, and helps us through each trial. Then take with you the brightest smile, and share your laughter well. The soul thanked God immensely, and down to earth he fell.

And I'll remind the world to sing, a sweet little soul told the Lord. I have the gift of a beautiful voice; I can hit every note and every chord. You’ll have the gift of music then, a voice, lovely and strong. Share your gift with others, and let them hear your song.

I will show compassion, the next little soul raised her hand. Some people only need a friend, someone to understand. Compassion is a good thing, God said with much delight. To you, I will give mercy. You'll perceive wrong from right. And so each soul shared every thought, their plans, their hopes, their dreams. And God explained that life, it is, much harder than it seems. And as each soul began to leave in a scurry of laughter and fun.

Heaven became quiet and still, for left was only one. Come sit with me my little child, God said with just a sigh. Do you know how many you will touch, in a world left wondering why? Before your life comes to an end, you will know much strife, but you'll teach those who know you, to cherish the smallest things in life. And some may only know you through a simple photograph, they'll never hold you in their arms, or memorize your laugh. Some may only know you through the words they read each day, but you'll do something wonderful, you'll make them stop and pray. The tiniest soul raised her head up, to touch God's firm, strong hand. Father, I am ready for, the life that you have planned. And I will do the best I can without a word or deed. For you Lord, are the planter, and I will be your seed. She could already hear many praying, and although they had not seen her face, they were praying for her safe arrival, they were asking for mercy and grace. What talent do I leave with Lord? What gift do you impart? All that you will need, God said, I've placed within your heart. And so God kissed this tiny child, knowing all that she would be, and whispered as he watched her go...You'll teach them . . . to love me.

- Author Unknown

The first time I read this, I cried. I could not believe how perfect this described my child. So many people did pray for her safe arrival.... so many only know of her through photos or the words they read .... so many did grow closer to God because of her....

She continues to touch so many, even complete strangers. Just today a lady, that I have never met, emailed me to say how much Sydney Grace has touched her life. I had someone come up to me a few weeks ago in Mrytle Beach because she recognized me from this blog. I am amazed of the lasting impression Sydney Grace has left on so many.

One more example of how she will continue to touch lives: I am happy to say that because of all the generous donations, over $12,000, to the Sydney Grace memorial fund, Carteret General will be sending nurses and social workers to training for pediatric hospice. Carteret County does not have a pediatric hospice. I was very fortunate that Sydney Grace really did not need these services. We had great family support, and we had some wonderful friends that were nurses. Everyone that faces what we did might not have the support system that we had. They might need hospice services and now they will!!

It has been six months and Sydney Grace is still amazing me. She truly was and still is "Amazing Sydney Grace."

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Lessons learned

What have I learned in the past six months?
1. Obviously, this is the hardest thing I have ever gone through. Yes, to most people, I am doing just fine. One of my favorite lines from "I Will Carry You" is "People say that I am brave but I’m not, Truth is I’m barely hanging on." I think I am doing a pretty good job with everyday life. I can function. I am able to carry on with normal things: work, cleaning, cooking, taking care of Rafe. Most days are pretty good. But the truth is there are lots of time that I am barely hanging on. I often wondered before Sydney Grace was born how I would deal with her death. There is a constant under current of sadness. Sometimes it overwhelms me.

This brings me to my second point:
2. It is ok to grieve. I few weeks ago I heard a sermon that was perfect for me. It was titled "Eternity and Grief: Side by Side." I KNOW Sydney Grace is in a better place. I know she will never feel pain, yet I still grieve. Lots of people would say if you are a good Christian, then you should not grieve. It is almost selfish. We are feeling sorry for ourselves. Guess what: it is ok. It does not take away the fact that Sydney Grace is in a perfect place. I still grieve for what might have been. Today Sydney Grace would have been six months old. She would be sitting up, probably eating baby food. I never got to see her laugh or crawl. These are things that upset me the most. I so wanted a baby girl. I got her and I am so thankful that I had her for those 20 wonderful days, but I still grieve for the times I will never share with her.

Now for some wonderful news. Because of all the generous people who donated money to the CGH nursery fund, over $12,000 was raised. I have talked with the hospital and they are looking to use this money as a fund to do three things. Because there is no pediatric hospice in Carteret County they plan on sending some current hospice workers to training for pediatrics. Also they plan on bringing in counselors for those families. They even may be able to have funds for families that can not afford funeral expenses. Obviously, $12,000 could not cover all of this for an extended period of time, but it is a start. The plan is to continue to raise money for this fund. Who knew Sydney Grace would continue to touch the lives of so many people? I have said it before, but I will say it again, I am so proud to be her mother. She was only here on this earth for 20 days, but she has blessed so many!

Monday, June 7, 2010

What time is she going to heaven?

Today Sydney Grace would have been five months old. As I have been remembering that day today all I can think about was how happy I was. I went into the day thinking it would be the worst day of my life, but it turned into the BEST day of my life.

I was looking at photos and videos tonight from that wonderful day. I came across this video that I want to share. If you listen closely, you will hear Rafe in the background asking,"What time is she going to heaven?" He then I asked about Jesus' hand and if we will see his hand as she goes to heaven. This is such a precious memory for me. This video is something I will treasure forever.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Sydney Grace's bath

At this very moment four months ago, Sydney Grace was taking her first and last bath in a tub. I keep thinking about that tonight. That was the night that she passed away. The whole week before, she was struggling. At first she had terrible diarrhea which caused her to be severely dehydrated. Then it turned into constipation. That was why she had the warm bath. Her tummy was so bloated and she was so uncomfortable. Just as soon as she was placed in the tub she just relaxed. We could tell she really like it, which was so unlike the first time Rafe took a bath in a tub. He screamed bloody murder.

I have never shared this photo before, but this is Sydney Grace taking her bath. She was so sick and it breaks my heart seeing her this way. For some reason I did not want people to see this photo. I guess because she looks so weak. At first I did not even think about taking a picture because we were all so concerned about her health that night, but then she did something that made me have to get my iphone. She was so relaxed that she crossed her little legs and propped them on the edge of the tub. She was in heaven. Of course, I did not get the photo fast enough with her feet on the edge, but I think you can see in the picture that she was really relaxed. This was the second to last photo ever taken of Sydney Grace. I have one more photo, her last, that I have never shared. It is of her wrapped in her towel crying after her bath. I am not ready to share that photo...not yet anyway.

I remember as everyone was leaving that night, my sister offered to stay with me. I told her no, that I was planning on sleeping with Sydney. She called me later on that night still concerned about Sydney Grace's constipation. I remember saying I had a bad feeling that this was a sign of the end. That her body was probably shutting down. I said the constipation was not worrying me so much, as her breathing was. She was struggling even with the oxygen tank. I did not know for sure if she would pass that night, but I had a feeling it was coming soon.

It's been four months now. It feels like such a long time ago, yet I can still feel her in my arms. I can still remember how I woke up that night and felt her limp body and her heavy breathing. How she just looked at me the whole time as she was taking her last breaths...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

It's been a long time... I have been so busy with work, Rafe, life...that I have not been able to sit down long enough to write. Since the last entry Joel and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary. We started dating when we were 16 years old, so we have been together for almost 17 years. I feel old... We have had a really full life together. We have lived in three different states (California, Alabama, and North Carolina), Joel completed graduate school and got his Ph.D, we have had two wonderful children, and had to bury one of them. I just keep thinking about if someone told us back in 1993 when we started dating if in 17 years we would have to bury a child what would we say? We have had a lifetime of experiences just in our short 10 years of marriage. I can honestly say that although this past year has been difficult, Joel has amazed me. He has shown me a side of him that I have never seen before. I love him more and more each year.

Sydney Grace would have been four months old on Friday. It seems like an eternity ago. I went to visit her grave today (on Mother's Day.) I just sat there by myself and talked to her. I so wanted to hold her. For some reason, I love to listen to music while I am visiting her grave. I usually listen to two songs, "I will Carry you," and "Fly." I can not remember if I have shared this before, but as Sydney was taking her last breaths I played those two songs as I rocked her. I had not woken up Joel yet so it was just me and my baby. I will never forget how she just looked at me the whole time. It was so peaceful... That is a memory I will treasure for the rest of my life.

I have been reading the book "I Will Carry You" by Angie Smith. She is the woman that the song was written about. Her baby, Audrey Caroline, passed away after two hours. This book is really, really good. Angie tells the story of Audrey by bringing in the story of Jesus and Lazarus. I am only half way through the book but it amazes me that all our stories are so similar. We, mothers, all go through the same decisions, emotions, hurt when we are faced with having a child that will die. I am looking forward to finishing this wonderful book. I really recommend this to anyone that is going through something this terrible or to those of you that want to understand.

I had breakfast with Rafe at his school on Friday. The preschool gave a "Muffins for Mothers" breakfast in honor of Mother's Day. Rafe was so excited. For the past few weeks he has been telling me about all I was going to get. He was so funny. He would say, "I am going to sing you a song, but I can't tell you," or "I made you a picture frame, but I can't tell you." I will have to say Rafe's teachers really did do a lot of crafts with them. I got a shell picture frame, a poem, a paper rose, a bracelet, a plant and a song. Of course, I forgot my camera with the video recorder so I could not get Rafe singing his song. Here is a picture of Rafe and his future wife, Shelby. Rafe informed Shelby at the breakfast that her name was going to be Shelby Fodrie.

Please continue to pray for me. I am going through a difficult time right now with my health. My thyroid is completely out of control. If any of you know about hypothyroidism, you know that it affects a lot. The last month I have really felt the effects of this. Hopefully, my wonderful doctor will get it under control soon.

I would like to share an email I got today about mothers.

A Newborn ' s Conversation with God

A baby asked God, "They tell me you are sending me to earth tomorrow, but how am I going to live there being so small and helpless?"

God said, "Your angel will be waiting for you and will take care of you."

The child further inquired, "But tell me, here in heaven I don't have
to do anything but sing and smile to be happy."

God said, "Your angel will sing for you and will also smile for you.
And you will feel your angel's love and be very happy."

Again the small child asked, "And how am I going to be able to understand when people talk to me if I don't know the language?"

God said, "Your angel will tell you the most beautiful and sweet words
you will ever hear, and with much patience and care, your angel will
teach you how to speak."

"And what am I going to do when I want to talk to you?"

God said, "Your angel will place your hands together and will teach
you how to pray."

"Who will protect me?"

God said, "Your angel will defend you even if it means risking its life."

"But I will always be sad because I will not see you anymore."

God said, "Your angel will always talk to you about Me and will teach
you the way to come back to Me, even though I will always be next to you."

At that moment there was much peace in Heaven, but voices from Earth
could be heard and the child hurriedly asked, "God, if I am to leave
now, please tell me my angel's name."

God said, You will simply call her, "Mom."

Happy Mother's Day to all the Mothers of Angels in Heaven