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

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Great Weekend

I had such a busy and wonderful weekend. I really feel like I got lots done. There are some weekends when I ask myself, where did the time go? This was not one of those weekends.

Friday night, I graded my students geometry projects. Let me say, it is taking me forever to grade all these projects. I am almost done... I hope to have them completed by the end of the week. I am sure my students are wondering when they will get them back.

On Saturday,I was able to get groceries, clean, take a nap, play with Rafe, take Rafe to the shore, and even have a girls night out. Me, my sisters, and friends went to see "Date Night." I cannot remember the last time I laughed so hard. I highly recommend this movie.

Today, I visited Sydney Grace's grave. It is so nice just to go and sit by her grave on such a nice day. Rafe walked around and picked little wildflowers for me and Sydney Grace, while I "visited" with Sydney.

The weekend ended with both mine and Joel's family having a clam bake at our house. It was so good. I had never done a clam bake before, so my mom helped me. It is actually pretty easy. The best part was having the whole family at our house. During the month of January, we spent so much time together. While Sydney Grace was with us, there was not a day that went by that we did not eat together. The last time we all ate together was when Mr. Fodrie passed away. It was really nice to have everyone together for no particular reason. Rafe absolutely loves having everyone at our house. If it was up to him, we would eat together every night. He loves all his family so much.

It was really nice to have such a nice weekend.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I'm ok

First off, this is my second time typing this entry. Somehow what I typed earlier, which was finished, got erased. I somehow think this new entry will be shorter the second time around.

I want to thank everyone for all your concerns since my last post. I want everyone to know that I am really ok. Of course, I have my moments that I am down. It has not even been three months since Sydney Grace passed. For the most part, I think I am doing better than I ever thought I would. It does seem that when I am feeling down, it is the time that I have something that I want to blog about. This blog has really been a blessing. I have lots of family and friends that I talk to, but writing about it really does help.

For those parents that are facing the same decisions that Joel and I had to make, please know that although some of my entries seem to be really depressing, it was all worth it. The past eight months have been really hard, but I would not change my decision for anything. Our decision to keep Sydney Grace, even though we had no idea how long we would have her, before birth or after, was the best decision we ever made. She brought so much joy to not only our family, but to thousands of people who never got to meet her. Joel once asked me, before Sydney Grace was born, if I could go back and never be pregnant, would I choose to do so? My reply was that I would not change it. Although I knew Sydney Grace would not be with us long, I knew she was a gift from God. We were very fortunate to have her for twenty days, way more than we ever thought. She truly was a blessing.

I made a background link about Sydney Grace on the sidebar. For those who have not read Sydney's story before birth and after, you can read it on this link.
Sydney Grace's Story

I have a few ribbon magnets left for $10. Money will be donated to the hospital nursery in Sydney Grace's name. Thanks to all that have purchased one.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Dreams...

When Sydney Grace first passed away, and Rafe would get sad, I would tell him she was still with us. If he wanted to see her, he could dream about her. Many times when it was time for him to fall asleep we would pray for Sydney Grace and he would pray to dream about her. I asked him the other day if he has ever dreamed about her. His reply, “No.”

Every night, when I go to bed I pray to dream about Sydney Grace. I want to hold her, I want to see her little face and hear her in my dreams. I want to feel her close to me again. My reply to if I have dreamed about her, “No.” Why? Why can’t I have this one thing?

The other day, my mom said that she had dreamed about Sydney. She was a little girl, not a baby, with long blond hair. She could not remember her face, but knew that it was her. She said in the dream Sydney Grace went everywhere with us. Just as normal as if Rafe was with us. It meant to her that Sydney Grace is with us. She will always be with us.

So why can’t I have a beautiful dream about my baby. I did dream about Sydney Grace about one week after she passed. In the dream, I was running down my parent’s path with Sydney in my arms. She was turning blue and dying. I knew that she was not going to make it, so I needed to get her in the house. This has been my one and only dream. Reliving the worse thing I have ever experienced, Sydney’s apnea episodes. During these episodes Sydney would turn so blue and stop breathing. When the episodes first started, we thought Sydney was dying. I am so happy this is not how she actually passed.

I heard the song “To where you are,” by Josh Grobin the other day. It was speaking to me. Every night this is my hope, to have Sydney come back to me, if only for awhile. Maybe one night I will have this dream. I bet it will be the best dream I have ever had. I hope…..

To Where You Are

Who can say for certain
Maybe you’re still here
I feel you all around me
Your memories so clear

Deep in the stillness
I can hear you speak
You’re still an inspiration
Can it be (? )
That you are mine
Forever love
And you are watching over me from up above

Fly me up to where you are
Beyond the distant star
I wish upon tonight
To see you smile
If only for awhile to know you’re there
A breath away is not far
To where you are

Are you gently sleeping
Here inside my dream

And isn’t faith believing
All power can’t be seen
As my heart holds you
Just one beat away
I cherish all you gave me everyday
‘cause you are mine
Forever love
Watching me from up above

And I believe
That angels breathe
And that love will live on and never leave

Fly me up
To where you are
Beyond the distant star
I wish upon tonight
To see you smile
If only for awhile
To know you’re there
A breath away is not far
To where you are

I know you’re there
A breath away is not far
To where you are

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Sydney's Room

Where to begin? I have a lot of things on my mind. Some will have to wait for later posts. I know I have not been writing regularly the past month. Mostly it is due to the fact that I am back at work and I just don't have to time to write like I did before. Also, for the most part, our lives are back to some sense of normalcy. I know our lives will never be the same as before Sydney Grace, but things are back into a routine.

I am on Easter break this week. Rafe and I are actually leaving tomorrow to go to Myrtle Beach for a few days. Rafe is really looking forward to it. I hope to go to the outlets to get Rafe some new summer clothes.

I have spent the last couple of days cleaning. We finally got everything cleaned up from Rafe's birthday party. It was a really good party. I think everything went really well.

Yesterday, Paige and I painted Rafe's and Sydney Grace's rooms. When we found out about Sydney Grace having trisomy 18, we did not get her room ready for her. We did not decorate or have any furniture. For a long time we did not know what we would do with this extra room. We finally decided right before Sydney was born that it would be a den. But once we were able to bring her home it became Sydney's room again. We did get her a few basics like a bassinet to go in it.

Now that Sydney Grace is gone, it is still "her room." It will always be her room. Even if we have another child it will always be Sydney's room first. This is the room that Sydney Grace took her baths. It is were her diapers were changed and she was dressed. It is were I would rock her and a few times hold her all night. It is were Sydney Grace took her last breath in my arms.

I chose to paint her room a rose color, or as Joel would say "pink". Here is a picture of some of Sydney Grace's things with the new wall color.


With all the events of the past few days (Rafe's birthday, Easter, painting), you would think I would be so busy that I would not feel so down. I have had a pretty hard day. Not crying so much, but really feeling down. I had that sick stomach feeling all day. I have not had this feeling for a long time.

On Sunday, I got really upset. I was in church listening to a song the pastor was playing during his sermon, when I just started crying really hard. Joel looked at me and wanted to know what was wrong. What was wrong was that I was not holding Sydney Grace on that beautiful Easter Sunday! I was looking around at all the little kids. Looking at the pretty dresses, looking at the little babies. The whole time I was thinking Sydney should be in my arms with her Easter dress like all the other babies were in their mother's arms. Instead I had to leave church and go visit my baby at her grave. I was really angry. It felt really unfair. I know that my baby is definitely in a better place. She is not suffering, but I am suffering. I miss all the things that I will never get to do with her. Things that mothers and daughters do together. When will this anger and feeling sorry for myself end?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Raffle Winner

Thank you everyone for buying raffle tickets. We raised over $10,000!!!! Watch the video to see Rafe draw the winner.



Mr. Brulet is being very generous. He is donating the computer to the CGH Foundation in Sydney Grace's name.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Happy Birthday, Rafe!

Rafe's birthday is tomorrow. He will turn four years old. Today we had a wonderful birthday party for him. He was able to invite all his friends. We had a bouncy house, cotton candy machine, icee machine, easter egg hunt and more. It was a beautiful day. The weather was spectacular.

Joel and I have been blessed to have two wonderful children. As I tell Rafe, we have two angels. One in heaven and one on earth. Rafe has been such a blessing to our family. He, like the rest of our family, has had a pretty rough 8 months. We wanted to give Rafe a party that he would remember forever. I know he had a great day. He was so tired that he fell asleep by 8 tonight. Here is a picture of him sleeping after a long day.

I decided to make a video in honor of Rafe's first four years. It is set to the song "My Wish." I pray that Rafe will have a wonderful life. He has already experienced such heart ache at a very early age. I will never forget the day that he told be that he felt bad. After questioning where he hurt, he replied, "my heart, because I miss Sydney Grace."

I hope you enjoy this slideshow as much as Rafe does. He loves watching himself as he gets older. I plan on adding photos and videos of Rafe's birthday soon. I just need the usb cable from Joel's work.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Last week of computer raffle

Today, it has been two months since Sydney Grace passed. It seems just like yesterday since I had her in my arms. At the same time it seems like a long time. A lot has happened in the past two months. Mr. Fodrie passed away. I have been back to work for four weeks. Joel has been really busy with work. We had a party in honor of all the people who helped our family and Sydney Grace. We have been busy.

I am currently planning Rafe's birthday party for next weekend. His birthday falls on Easter Sunday this year. We are having a party for him on Saturday. He is so excited. He will be drawing a winning ticket for the computer raffle next weekend. So many have bought tickets. There is still time to buy. Here is the information:

HERE IS WHAT YOU WILL WIN:
Dell Vostro 1520 Laptop Computer LOADED
Pentium T6670
2.2 GHz
4GB DDR2
800 MHz
320 GB Hard Drive
Windows 7 Professional
Cherry Red
Bluetooth Mod
8x DVD RW
Wireless card
9 cell battery
15.4" Anti glare screen

Chances are $20 each
OR 3 for $50
OR 7 for $100


If you want to have a chance to win the laptop, mail your check (made payable to Carteret General Hospital Foundation-Nursery, memo: Sydney Grace) to:

Glenn Lowe
P. O. Box 391
Harkers Island, NC 28531

Rafe will draw the winner on his birthday (April 4th) and I will notify the winner personally and make arrangements for delivery.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sydney Grace's story part 3

As promised here is the final part of Sydney's story before and after birth.

When I reached week 28, I was still pregnant. I just knew I would deliver very soon. I had that range of week 28-32 in my head. I was ready as far as having everything planned but not ready emotionally (I don’t think I was ever ready for that.) When we first found out, I went into action. I wanted everything planned out. I wanted Sydney Grace to have a christening gown, some jewelry, and other things I would have of hers once she was gone. We talked to the doctors and expressed our wishes of doing a perinatal hospice for Sydney Grace. We talked to the funeral home and had her service planned. I knew once Sydney Grace was born, I would not be able to make many decisions.

Week 28 went by, then 29, 30, 31, and 32. Still no labor. At this point I starting to have what I believe to be panic attacks. I had one at school one day. My heart started beating fast. I felt light headed. My arms and legs felt like jelly. I did not know what was wrong. I called my doctor’s office and was told to go directly to the hospital. Nothing was wrong with Sydney or me. While at the hospital, I had a small breakdown. I just could not handle this anymore. I was so ready for this pain to be over. I was at the point in my pregnancy that I thought Sydney would have been born. I never imagined she would make it this long.

Since I had made it this far, I was given the option to be induced at 37 weeks. The problem, 37 weeks was December 23. I definitely did not want to be induced two days before Christmas. After having my small breakdown in November, I wanted to go ahead and be induced as soon as possible. At 34 weeks, if the doctors would have allowed it, I would have done it then, or so I thought. They would not for a number of reasons. The soonest would be 36 weeks. I actually went to the hospital on Dec. 14 with false labor. I was so upset during this, that the doctor offered to induce me that night, a few days before 36 weeks.

Now it was decision time. Just days before, I had decided to let go and let God be in control. My biggest fear was that Sydney Grace would be born and die during Christmas. I did not want that for Rafe. I wanted his Christmas to be the best. When the doctor offered to induce me I was back to wanting it to be over. I just knew that if I was induced the outcome would not be any different than if Sydney came on her own time. I was so wrong. I struggled that night. I wanted someone to tell me what to do. No one would. They said it was my decision. Then Joel said something that made me realize I could never decide to induce just for the sake of wanting it to be over. He said, “He wanted Sydney Grace with us as long as possible, if that meant two hours, two days, or two weeks.” He was not ready to give her up. I was not either. I wanted the pain to be over, not realizing if I decided to induce, the pain would probably be worse down the road. I would always have the “what ifs.” I went home that night content with my decision. I was blessed to have Sydney as long as possible.

I went back to the hospital again on December 30 thinking I could be in labor again. I was not. I had so many Braxton hicks contractions during this pregnancy. Once again, it was offered for me to be induced. Once again, I said no.

When I went to the doctor on January 5, the doctor strongly suggested that I get induced. This time it was because my blood pressure was too high. I was at 39 weeks and because of my blood pressure they did not want to take any risk to my health. I was admitted on the night of January 6. They started softening my cervix and were to give me drugs to induce labor the next morning. That did not have to happen.

In the middle of the night, I woke up with contractions, but they were not registering on the monitor, so they kept me on the medicine to soften by cervix. They continued for a few hours. Then my water broke and I was 3 cm. Forty-five minutes later I was 4 cm and ten minutes later Sydney Grace was born at 5:11am. Sydney Grace came so fast that the doctor did not even make it in on time. Two nurses finished delivering her. She was Frank Breach, which means her butt came out first, then her feet. I was trying not to push as the nurses were trying to get everything ready, but I could not help it. She basically just fell out. The nurses did help get her head out last. The first thing I asked was if she was alive. One nurse said, “I am sorry, but no.” I just started crying. I knew this was a very likely possibility, but I so badly want to see her alive if for only minutes. It seemed like an eternity, but probably only 15 seconds later, the nurse said she believed she heard a faint heartbeat. It was very week and irregular, but continued to get stronger and stronger as the hours went on.

On that first day, I remember counting the hours that she was alive. We never imagined she would live more than a few minutes with her heart condition. She kept getting stronger and stronger. She continued until day five. I really believe up until this point in my life, I had never experienced a day any worse than that day. We took her to Greenville to a pediatric cardiologist to determine if her fetal diagnosis was correct. Images of her heart would be greatly improved from those of when she was inside me. The doctor was very wonderful, but he confirmed that Sydney Grace’s original diagnosis was correct. One thing we found out was that along with her fatal heart defect, she had another defect that was keeping her alive. A ductus that closes after babies are born had not yet closed. This usually closes after a few hours or at most, a few days after birth. Sydney’s was extra large. This was what was keeping her heart from having to take over getting blood to the lungs. The ductus (PDA) was basically doing the heart’s job. We really did not have any idea as to when Sydney would pass. It could be on the car ride home or six months from now. After meeting with the doctor, we met with a genetic counselor. It was then that Sydney had her first apnea episode. I looked down and she was completely blue and stopped breathing. The doctor rushed back in and said her heart rate was down drastically. He could no longer hear the murmur (which indicated the ductus was closing or closed). He took another look at her heart with an ultrasound and it was back open. I had never been so scared in my life. The rest of the day I was so down. I was in this deep depression and had no idea how to get out of it. I believe Joel was really scared for me. I did not know how we could move forward. Knowing that she could die at any second or be with us for months.

The next day Sydney Grace had another episode, this time about 20 minutes. We thought it was the end. We called everyone to the hospital thinking she could not last much longer. That night the episodes continued to get worse and worse. Once again we called everyone in the middle of the night, thinking she would not make it to the morning. Once again she fooled us. Without being too graphic, let me just say, no one should ever have to witness their child go through these episodes, with some lasting more than 30 minutes. This was the first time, Joel and I, really started questioning God. We had accepted that we would not have Sydney Grace long. We were just so thankful to have her for any amount of time. We were now starting to understand why Sydney Grace had been placed on this earth. We were amazed at the number of people being brought to their knees in prayer because of Sydney. For the life of us though, we could not understand why Sydney had to suffer so much. Watching her struggle for a breath was heartbreaking. Why did she have to go through so much? I am not sure I will ever know.

Once again, it was time to pray for strength to be there for Sydney Grace during these times. As Joel said, “this was our new normal.” Having to deal with these episodes was sadly something we got used to. Obviously, it was not fun, but we were not so scared every time thinking she was about to die. Sydney Grace lived for 15 more days after her very first episode. We were able to bring her home. We were able to share her with probably close to 200 people. She was truly a blessing to so many people.

When Sydney Grace passed away, I am so thankful that she did not struggle. As I held her, and we looked at each other, her breathing just starting slowing down until she took her last breath at 2:07 am on January 27, 2010. It was just Sydney Grace, Joel and I in the room. It was so peaceful. I know this is going to sound weird, but it was a beautiful experience. I was privileged to be this child’s mother. God chose me. What an honor! She was inside me for 9 months. She came into this world with just Joel and me and two nurses. She left this world with just Joel and me with her.

Sydney Grace has taught me so much. One, I am much stronger than I, or anyone else, thought I would ever be. Because of her, I have seen Joel in a whole new light. He is such a good man. I am lucky to have him. She taught all of us what a miracle really is. It is the love of God.

Thank you, Sydney Grace, for being my daughter.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Ordinary Miracle

I heard the song "Ordinary Miracle" the other day. I instantly thought about Sydney Grace and the miracle that she was. On her first day, we counted the minutes then the hours that she was still with us. We knew that when she survived that first day that she was a miracle.

I decided to make a slideshow of just Sydney Grace's first day set to this song. I hope you enjoy. (Please remember to turn off the music at the bottom of the blog before you watch the video.)

Photography by Aly Dart.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Trisomy Awareness Month

March is Trisomy Awareness Month. Please visit www.trisomy.org to see how Trisomy abnormalities have affected so many families. Everyone knows about Trisomy 21, Down Syndrome, and now Trisomy 18, Edwards Syndrome, but there are many other Trisomy abnormalities. There are more families dealing with trisomies than I ever knew about. I never thought anything like this would happen to our family. I was wrong. Please pray for all the families who are living with this new reality, just as we are.

As I was looking at articles about Trisomy 18, I came across this video. I have tried to write about our experience and the choices we have made. This video shows two families that had to make the same decisions as us. When I looked at this video, it was like these families were taking the words out of my mouth. Please watch this to see how when faced with the terrible news, the same that we received 7 months ago, these families faced it with love and grace. As I have said before, when people say how strong they think I am, I say "I am no stronger than the rest." When you are faced with a situation like ours, you find the strength to get through it. I found my strength in God and my family. My nightly prayer has always been, "Thy will be done." I have always prayed for the strength to get through anything that life brings me. I truly believe that through the grace of God, I am getting through it. Some days are easier than others, but I know I will be ok.

I want to share a poem someone sent me a while back. It speaks to everything I am trying to say.

God’s Lent Child
I'll lend you for a little while
A child of mine, God said
For you to love the while she lives
And mourn for when she's dead.
It may be six or seven years
or forty-two or three;
But will you, till I call her back
Take care of her for me?
She'll bring her charm to gladden you
And -should her stay be brief-
You'll have her lovely memories
As a solace for your grief.
I cannot promise she will stay
Since all from Earth return;
But there are lessons taught below
I want this child to learn.
I've looked the whole world over
In my search for teachers true;
And from the things that crowd life's lane
I have chosen you.
Now will you give her all your love?
Nor think the labor in vain?
Nor hate me when I come to take
This lent child home again?
I fancied that I heard them say
"Dear Lord, Thy will be done"
For all the joys Thy child will bring
The risk of grief we'll run.
We will shelter her with tenderness
We'll love her while we may,
And for the happiness we've known
Forever grateful stay.
But should the angels call for her
Much sooner than we've planned,
We'll brave the bitter grief that comes
And try to understand.
~Author Unknown

Friday, March 12, 2010

Better Week

I have had a better week. Last week was my first week back at work. The teachers and students were wonderful, but I was having a hard time moving on and starting a new chapter after Sydney Grace. This week I think I have come to terms with my new reality. I still have moments that it hits me like a ton of bricks that Sydney Grace is gone. Just this afternoon I was pumping gas, and I almost starting crying. Who knows why? Nothing had happened. No one had said anything, but Sydney Grace popped in my mind and I so desperately wanted her.

Part of my good week was being able to take Rafe to see the high school musical of Willy Wonka. Rafe absolutely LOVES this movie. He was so excited seeing all the characters. There were little kids who played squirrels. He is now saying he wants to be in the play next year. Those of you who knows Rafe, knows that he loves to act. He will act out entire scenes from movies, word for word. He has always been like this. Of course, I am his mother and biased, but I really think he is very talented. I know, I know! All mothers probably think the same thing about their kids.

We are actually in Wilmington tonight. Joel has a conference down here, so Rafe and I drove down after school today. Rafe is so excited because he got to go swimming with his daddy in the pool. That is definitely their favorite thing to do when we stay at a hotel. Tomorrow we are going to probably see the USS North Carolina. I hope Rafe likes it.

Finally, thanks to everyone who has bought raffle tickets for the computer. We are raising lots of money for the hospital.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Raffle

As everyone knows by now, we are trying to raise money for the nursery and labor/delivery departments at Carteret General. There has been some things mentioned as to what to do with the money. One being possibly having a pediatric division of the Carteret County Hospice. Luckily, pediatric hospice is something that is not needed often here, but when it is, it is not available. We were trying to get services for Sydney, but never did before she passed due to insurance not wanting to pay for out of network services. Our family was lucky, we had a great support system where Sydney always had at least two adults with her at all times. There may be some families in the county that might not be so lucky.

Because of this we are trying to raise more money. My parents have purchased and donated a laptop computer to be raffled.

HERE IS WHAT YOU WILL WIN:
Dell Vostro 1520 Laptop Computer LOADED
Pentium T6670
2.2 GHz
4GB DDR2
800 MHz
320 GB Hard Drive
Windows 7 Professional
Cherry Red
Bluetooth Mod
8x DVD RW
Wireless card
9 cell battery
15.4" Anti glare screen

Chances are $20 each
OR 3 for $50
OR 7 for $100


If you want to have a chance to win the laptop, mail your check (made payable to Carteret General Hospital Foundation-Nursery, memo: Sydney Grace) to:

Glenn Lowe
P. O. Box 391
Harkers Island, NC 28531

Rafe will draw the winner on his birthday (April 4th) and I will notify the winner personally and make arrangements for delivery.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Two Months

Sydney Grace would have been two months old today. I wonder how big she would have been. She was so little when she was born (4 lbs 3.8 oz) and had gotten down to 3 lbs 12 oz. I wonder if she would have hit the 5 lb mark. I wonder if she would have been drinking from a bottle and not having to use the feeding tube. There are a lot of "I wonders..."

We had a pretty good weekend. It started off Friday with me visiting my cousin in the hospital after she had a beautiful baby boy. His name is Kenan Gage and was born 9 lbs 4oz. He has blond hair and I think looks like his uncle, Kenneth. Savannah, his older sister absolutely adores him. I did not know how I would feel visiting. I was really nervous I would breakdown walking up to the labor and delivery. I have to admit when I found out he was born, I did cry. I was wanting to have Sydney Grace back so badly. Gage being born brought back all the memories of Sydney's birth and our stay at the hospital. As I got off the elevator one of my favorite nurses was at the nurses station. When she saw me she got up and gave me a big hug. She made me feel so good. As I walked in the room I saw Gage, and I instantly wanted to hold him. There was no sadness for Sydney. I was holding another miracle of God.


Last night we had a party in honor of all the wonderful people that helped us with Sydney Grace. We honored the nurses and friends that made Sydney Grace's 20 days the best. I have talked before about how much I love the nurses at Carteret General. Last night three of those nurses were able to attend our party. I was so happy to see them again. We also had Hilary, Karen, Alan and Yvette, AnMarie, and all the Hancocks. These friends were so wonderful to our family during those twenty days and beyond. I have always heard the saying "you find out your true friends when times get tough.." Well we had so many friends support us through Sydney Grace's life. I don't know how we can ever thank them enough.

Today, within an hour of waking up our doorbell rang. Joel answered to find a flower delivery. We thought, "Who would be sending me flowers on a Sunday." It was my team at school, The Starfish. They knew today would have been Sydney Grace's two month birthday and sent me flowers. My team is the best. I was so blessed to be placed on the Starfish team when I was hired at the beginning of the year. My cup runneth over....


This afternoon I went to visit Sydney Grace's grave. When I got there I was surprised to see that her footstone had been placed. I was also surprised that I was actually not upset to see it there. I know some people might see their child's grave marker and be very upset. Upset to see their child's name on a grave. Of course I would give anything to have Sydney Grace back, but I saw her marker as another way to show this world that she lived. That she will never been forgotten. As others walk through the cemetery, they will see her name and know that there was a little girl that graced our presence for twenty wonderful days. They might never know what a miracle she was, but they will know that she was "our borrowed angel."

Friday, March 5, 2010

Aly's Photos

This week has been interesting. Getting back to work has been great. I LOVE my school. My coworkers are great. They are so supportive. The students are wonderful. They have been so good. They are amazing kids. With school being so good, it is weird to say that this has been one of my hardest weeks since losing Sydney Grace. I have cried more this week than in the past couple of weeks. I am really missing her.

Yesterday I got a treat. Aly came over to my house to share all the photos she took of Sydney. ALMOST 3000! I loved looking at them. Now I have to decide what pictures to buy. There are so many, I don't know how I will ever be able to make a decision.

Speaking of Aly, I finally got the slide show she made for Sydney Grace's wake on youtube. They are also on the sidebar under "Videos." Remember to turn off the music on my playlist at the bottom of the blog before you watch the videos on the side bar.

Here are the links to the slide show. They are in two parts.

Tribute to Sydney Grace part 1 of 2

Tribute to Sydney Grace part 2 of 2

Monday, March 1, 2010

First Day Back

I went to work today for the first time in 10 weeks. I cried all the way to work today. Not because I was not wanting to work, but because the last time I worked Sydney Grace was still with me. I also think by going to work today I was starting a new phase of my life without Sydney. For the past few weeks I have been at home consumed with things to do with Sydney Grace. I have been working on the blog, writing thank you notes, sending out announcements, organizing her clothes and gifts, and starting her scrapbook. It has all been about Sydney Grace. It made me sad today because it occurred to me that Sydney Grace was not going to be my daily focus anymore. It was like I was losing her all over again.

When I got to school, I was welcomed so warmly. The teachers had a welcome back breakfast in my honor. It was so nice to feel so loved and supported by so many people. I think most of my students were really excited to see me (that makes me feel so good.) I had students give me cards and presents. Two student went together and gave me another Willow Tree statue called "Surrounded by Love." Once again, Willow Tree has a statue to fit every situation. I was surrounded by love today and I really felt it.

I decided to show my students a slide show of Sydney Grace. I wanted to share this with them so they could see what a miracle she was. I never talked about my pregnancy while I was teaching, because I did not want to upset the students and I did not want to get upset myself. I told the students today I never shared with them because I never knew when Sydney would pass away. It was too painful to talk about it with them. I showed them the slide show because I really wanted them to share in my love for Sydney Grace. I wanted them to see who they all had been praying for during those 20 days. I told them I did not want them to be sad but, happy. Happy because we did get a miracle. Something we never thought we would have.

It is good to be back at work. I can't wait for tomorrow!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Choice I never thought I would have to consider…

Today it has been one month since Sydney Grace became an angel. It seems like it was just yesterday I was holding her in my arms. Days are getting easier. I plan on starting back to work on Monday. I really have missed my friends and students.

As promised here is the next part of Sydney Grace's story before she was born. I hope to finish her story in a few days.....

We went to a specialist in Jacksonville on August 20, 2009. While we were waiting to see the doctor, I noticed a sign they had posted in the waiting room. It asked for patience while waiting reminding us that some women may be getting bad news even the death of their child. For some reason it did not occur to me that the sign was talking about us.

When we were finally called back, we saw a technician that took measurements and told us we were having a girl. When she left, a genetic counselor came in. She was extremely nice and caring, but she started talking about Trisomy 18. I had absolutely no clue what she was talking about. I had never heard of it before. I did know that trisomy 21 was Down syndrome, so I thought it might be something very similar. Then she said the words that I was not prepared for, “Trisomy 18 is Fatal in the majority of cases.” I was completely shocked. I did not even cry. It was like she was talking about someone else. Not me and my baby. Then the doctor came in. He did another ultrasound and starting pointing out why he thought Sydney Grace had T18. He talked about the cysts on her brain and how her brain was not formed right in the front. He talked about her heart and how the only thing that would fix it was a transplant. He talked about her fingers and how her pinky and index fingers overlap the others. He talked about my placenta and how it was shaped different. He said normal placentas were shaped kind of like a sheet cake and my placenta was like a cupcake shape. Still this whole time I did not cry.

Next the doctor told me my choices. The reason I got to see the doctor so fast was because he wanted me to have the choice to terminate if I wanted to. In North Carolina, I believe he said I had until 20 weeks and 6 days to have a late term abortion. I was 19 weeks and 1 day. Of course he did not try to persuade me, he was very caring. He just wanted me to have the option if that was what we decided. He recommended an amino to be sure. We decided to have the amino. Let me say it HURT. They told me it would feel like cramps. I was thinking menstrual cramps. I thought no big deal. Not so. After it was over, I told them it felt like someone was tying my intestines in knots. Of course I could not move and all I wanted to do was to jump off the table. This is when I started crying. Crying from physical pain and crying that I was going through this. I was looking at the ceiling during the amnio thinking, I can’t believe this is happening. I can’t believe it was happening to me. I hear about other women with difficult pregnancies or miscarriages, but I never thought I would be one of them. We found out a week later that Sydney Grace had full Trisomy 18, meaning she had it in every cell of her body. It is possible to have mosaic trisomy 18 were it is not present in every cell.

I could not believe having an abortion was even an option for me. That was something I definitely never thought I would ever have to think about. Of course, it was not something I thought about long. How could I ever decide to kill my child? It was not my decision when Sydney Grace would die. It was God’s only.

Now I am going to share something that I am ashamed to say. When we did the amnio the doctor told me that they bring a small risk of a miscarriage. I could not make the decision to abort my child but I was hoping I would have a miscarriage. That first day, I could not imagine how I was going to get through this pregnancy. I just wanted it to be over. The doctor went through what could happen through the rest of my pregnancy. There was a good chance I could still miscarry. If I did not miscarry, I had a good chance of going into preterm labor, probably between 28-32 weeks. If Sydney was still alive during labor she would probably die during childbirth. And if she actually made it through the delivery she would only live for minutes, not even hours.

Knowing all this, probably for the first week I wanted to miscarry. I was really feeling sorry for myself. I was the one that had to carry this baby that was not going to survive. I had to feel her move inside me. I had to be the one that would be approached by strangers and answer questions about the sex of the baby or when I was due. I was the one that had to live with this 24/7, without a break. All I had to do was look down at my growing belly to be reminded. I never could escape from the pain of it all. I wanted it over.

Probably about a week later it occurred to me. I was the lucky one. I was lucky because I was the one that got to feel her move inside me. I was the one that got to feel her grow inside me. I was the one that got to be with her 24/7. I was definitely the lucky one. Others in my family would only be able to experience Sydney Grace for minutes (so we thought) but I would be able to experience her for months. What a blessing!

Throughout the rest of my pregnancy, I had my ups and downs. It was still very hard. One thing that really helped me get through it was my work. When I first found out about Sydney having T18, I was really close to calling my principal and saying I was sorry but I would not be able to work this year. I just did not see how I would do it. I was so afraid I would have a breakdown in front of my students. When the first day of school came, I made myself get up and go. I cried all the way to school, but when I got there and met my students, I knew I had made the right choice. Being at school was an escape from my pain. For those 8 hours a day I was able to focus on my kids and math.

The last 10 weeks of my pregnancy were the hardest….

Friday, February 26, 2010

A Celebration of the life of Jimmie Fodrie

Mr. Fodrie's service will be tomorrow at 11am at Carteret Memorial Gardens.



James Edward Fodrie Jr. was born December 12, 1931 to Grace and James Fodrie Sr. in Beaufort. He was watched over by his beloved sister, Jean. While he was not running the streets from Beaufort to Core Creek, he attended Beaufort Graded School where he made many friendships that would last a lifetime. After graduation he attended Atlantic Christian College, attaining a teaching degree in math (he also claimed to have attended Duke, Chapel Hill, and East Carolina). Jimmie’s career began with his first job working as a delivery boy for James Potter. He served in the United States Army and was a principal, teacher, coach, and restaurant manager/investor.

One of Jimmie’s most outstanding qualities was his generosity. Christmas at the Fodrie house put Santa Claus’ workshop to shame. He was a generous contributor to many charities and enjoyed raising funds to enable students to participate in school events. Jimmie was always willing to give his last dollar to anyone in need. He also greatly enjoyed donating to the “Domino Club” kitty each week.

Jimmie was well-known for his wit and sense of humor. Never one to let the truth get in the way of a good story, he loved nothing better than spinning tall tales about his childhood. Stories about his adventures growing up rivaled any told by Mark Twain. He captivated many students with his “Ooga-Ooga” story and tales of camping on Shackelford and exploits in the Beaufort gym.

Jimmie’s contemporaries remember him as a naturally gifted athlete who excelled in basketball, baseball, football, softball, and golf. Highlights of his athletic career included playing semi-pro basketball and baseball, competing in the barehanded softball world series, and scoring two holes in one. He was well-known for shooting half-court hook shots through the rafters of the Beaufort gym. He shared his passion for sports with countless young people as a coach. He demanded the best from his players and led them to achieve record successes. His dedication to his players extended beyond the court as he provided his time and energy to helping them receive scholarships and career opportunities. Jimmie maintained life-long friendships with many of his players and considered them to be his “boys.”

He is survived by his children, Jamison Fodrie Ipock, James Edward Fodrie III, and Fredrick Joel Fodrie; and three grandchildren, Jessica Grace Robinson, William Jesse Ipock IV, and Hubert Glenn Rafe Fodrie. He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Freda Kay Fodrie; his sister, Jean Fodrie Musselwhite; and his granddaughter, Sydney Grace Fodrie.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sydney Grace Welcomes her Granddaddy to Heaven

Thank you everyone for your continued prayers for our family. Joel's dad passed away today. I would like to share a comment someone made today on facebook that made me feel good.

I can see Sydney taking Jimmie's hand and showing him all over Heaven..."look over here, Grandpa!"

Because of Mr. Fodrie's illness, he only got to meet Sydney Grace one time. Now Sydney Grace has her Nana Kay and her Granddaddy to hold her in heaven.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Ribbon Magnet

Several people have shown interest in purchasing a Ribbon Magnet in honor of Sydney Grace. I have been playing around with the design. It has to be light blue since that color represents Trisomy 18 awareness. Which one do you like better? Please let me know if you are willing to buy one. I have not ordered any yet. I want to get an idea on how many I should order and what they should cost to be able to make money to send to the hospital.

I have placed two polls on the side bar for you to vote.
Thank you so much for all the ideas for fundraising. I will definitely be looking into it.

Here are the ribbons.



Saturday, February 20, 2010

CGH-Nursery & Labor/Delivery Nurses

When Sydney Grace passed, we asked for donations to the hospital in lieu of flowers. Here is the reason why...

Carteret General Hospital Nursery and Labor/Delivery nurses are the best ever. We were at the hospital for 10 days and they were so good to us. Not just to Sydney and I, but my entire family.

Two nurses actually delivered Sydney Grace. At 5:00am I was 4cm, and Sydney was born about 10 minutes later. Everything happened so fast that the doctor did not make it in time. These nurses were so wonderful to me during the whole night of labor. They are my heroes.

After going to Sydney Grace's cardiologist and receiving news we did not want to hear and witnessing Sydney's first apnea episode, I felt the worst I had ever felt in my life. I was in a deep depression. The next day, I still felt terrible until a another nurse walked in. She did something that no other could do. She made me smile. Just by her walking in, she made me laugh. She had the best sense of humor.

Another instance, was one night in the hospital Sydney was having terrible apnea episodes every 1-2 hours lasting sometimes 30 minutes. Our nurses that night would sit in the room with us and pray silently during Sydney Grace's episodes. One nurse even made me and Sydney a mother/daughter bracelet that night.

Two nurses brought food to our house after we left the hospital. We could not ask for better people.

As of today, the CGH Foundation has received many donations in Sydney Grace's name. They deserve so much recognition. If anyone would still like to make a donation in her name you can. Please send it to: Carteret General Hospital Foundation – Nursery, 3500 Arendell St., Morehead City, N.C. 28557.

I was actually trying to think of a fundraiser we could do in Sydney Grace's name. The proceeds would be given to the hospital. Does anyone have any ideas?? If you do, please leave a comment.

Lastly, my sister and I made a Trisomy 18 awareness ribbon. We were thinking of getting car magnets. Here it is.

Friday, February 19, 2010

UNC visit

First let me thank everyone for your encouraging comments on my last post. I hope to finish our story in a few days...

Yesterday, Rafe and I went with Joel to Chapel Hill. Joel has to go once a week to teach his class. He thought it would be good for us to get away. He was right. Rafe and I went to the plantarium. He loved the show "Earth, Moon, and Sun." It was nice walking around the campus showing Rafe where Joel and I went to school and lived for four years.

Of course, we had to shop for our Carolina gear. Rafe and I loaded up on tshirts and other Carolina items. I could not leave Sydney Grace out. I found a cute picture frame to put a picture of her in.

As well as yesterday went, it still hits me sometimes like a ton of bricks that Sydney is gone. As we were eating dinner last night, I was looking across at Joel and Rafe sharing their meal and it hit me that I was by myself. It was supposed to be Sydney and me(the girls) on the other side.

I have been really selfish lately thinking about all I am going to miss with Sydney. I am going to miss dance classes, clothes shopping, pedicures and all the girly things I was looking forward to doing with her. I don't know how to get over those feelings. I guess I need to focus more on the positive, but it is really hard three weeks out of Sydney passing. Anyway....

Here are some pictures of our trip to Chapel Hill yesterday and a picture of Sydney Grace in the Carolina picture frame. Sydney's picture is the only one I have of her in her Carolina toboggan. Sorry for the poor quality. I forgot my camera and had to use my iphone.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Day Our Lives Changed Forever

Back when we first found out about Sydney Grace, my sister said I should start a blog. I have never been into blogging, facebook, or anything like it before. I never started the blog and it was not until after Sydney was born did our friend Hilary start this one. Since Sydney passed, I have found it very good for me to write down what I am going through. I decided to go back from the very beginning and write down Sydney Grace's story. I plan on writing down all the events before Sydney's birth. I would like to share with you what I have so far.

Day 1
The day our lives changed forever….
It was August 19, 2009, and I was 19 weeks pregnant. I had my ultrasound scheduled for 9:00am. Joel met me at the doctor’s office. I remember waiting and the only thing on my mind was whether or not we would find out the sex of the baby. I so wanted a girl. We already had Rafe and two nephews, so everyone was ready for a girl again. I had myself convinced it was going to be a boy.

They called us back after not having to wait very long. When we walked into the room I recognized the technician as a lady from the island and my church. She started the ultrasound. At first everything seemed fine. She was doing all the measurements and said she was a little small. Sydney was measuring two weeks too small. She did not seem concerned about it. When I had my 8 week ultrasound, Sydney measured 4 days too small. I questioned the doctor about this. He said it was perfectly normal and he was not going to change my due date. We later found out that one of the signs, of Trisomy 18, is the baby measuring small.

The technician had asked at the beginning of the ultrasound if Rafe was excited and what he wanted, a sister or a brother. From the time we found out I was pregnant, Rafe wanted a sister. She could not tell for sure if Sydney was a girl, but said Rafe may have gotten his wish.

Things started getting worrisome when the technician started looking at Sydney Grace’s brain. She said Sydney had two cysts on her brain. She said more babies have these than you realize and they were more than likely harmless, but we would probably be sent to a specialist just to make sure. The rest of the ultrasound went ok until the very end. She could never get good images of Sydney’s heart. She tried for several minutes, trying from several angles and trying to get Sydney to turn around. Finally she stopped, but never said anything was wrong. She went to go get the doctor like normal to go over everything with us. She said we might have to wait awhile for the doctor since she was seeing another patient.

Surprisingly, the doctor came in quick. She was very nice and caring. She started going over the ultrasound pictures. At first everything seemed fine, then everything went wrong. She got to the pictures of my placenta. She said it had things called placental lakes in them. They showed up on the ultrasound as dark spots on my placenta. Next she started looking at the shots of her heart. She stopped and starting pointing at the screen. She said Sydney had a hypoplastic right ventricle. What does that mean? Her right ventricle is not formed. At this point I started crying. I don’t think it hit Joel yet. She continued to talk about her brain and the cysts. I knew it was bad. The doctor said she was very concerned. Joel asked what that meant. She said it was more than likely some chromosomal defect. Like Down Syndrome, we asked. She said yes, but there were other chromosomal problems that were possible. She referred us to a specialist who would be able to help us.

I was upset, but Joel was very positive. He knew something was wrong, but he knew we could handle it. He said God would not give us anything we could not handle. If Sydney had Down Syndrome, then it was our job to help her reach her full potential. He was looking forward to having this special child. That night as we talked to our family, my sister told me about a lady that she worked with. This lady has a special needs child. The lady says a lot of people ask “Why us” to God, but she realized one day, “Why not us.” When she said this to me, I realized God chose us for a reason. We did not know the reason, but we trusted in God. Why not us?

The next day we had an appointment with the specialist. They called me at 9 am in the morning and asked that we come in that day. I remember thinking they were being so nice because they knew school started in a few days and I needed to be seen before I started teaching. I was wrong. They needed me to come in that day because something was really wrong and I had choices to make…

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Living with Grace

I visited another T18 baby's blogspot today. Her name is Gracie and she passed away in December. I saw this quote that I thought was once again very true to what I am feeling and going through.

.......To live with the conscious knowledge of the shadow of uncertainty, with the knowledge that disaster or tragedy could strike at any time; to be afraid and to know and acknowledge your fear, and still to live creatively and with unstinting love: that is to live with Grace. Peter Henry Abrahams

Thank you all for your prayers and comments. I am feeling a little better this afternoon. One day at a time....

Not So Good Days

When I started writing on Sydney Grace's blog I wanted it to be positive. I want it to focus on the Miracle of Sydney Grace and how she has affected our lives. I know I have had some not so positive posts. Today would be one of those. I have decided not to elaborate, but only to say yesterday and today I have been feeling sorry for myself. I will ask for your continued prayers and hope for a better day.


Note: I did add on the sidebar a link to Aly Dart's Photos of Sydney Grace. They are so beautiful. I could look at them all day.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Angel of Mine

Sorry in advance. This post is all over the place. I have a lot of things to talk about and pictures to share.


I love Willow Tree. Since Sydney Grace's birth, I have received "Angel of Grace," "New Parents," and "Miss You" figurines. Joel gave me a new one today for Valentine's Day. When I saw the name of it, I wanted to cry. It is called "Angel of Mine." It could not be anymore perfect. It is a mother holding an infant child.

When Rafe saw it, he asked what it was. He loves to ask a million questions. He wanted to know who the woman was supposed to be. I said me. Then he asked about the baby. He wanted to know if it was him. I said it could be him or Sydney Grace. When Rafe and I talk about Sydney Grace being in heaven, we talk about her being an angel, our borrowed angel. I tell Rafe I am so lucky because I have two angels. Sydney Grace, my angel in heaven, and Rafe, my angel on earth.

I have said often in the past few weeks how lucky I am to be the mother of Sydney Grace. I am also lucky to be the mother of Rafe. He is so smart and curious. I don't want people to think he is perfect, he is not. He can be like any normal child; sassy, stubborn, wild...but, he can also be the most loving and caring child. He is genuinely concerned about my feelings. If I am sad, then he will be sad. He wants me to be happy. He wants to take care of me. If I am feeling bad, then he wants to rub my back or get me a drink. He is definitely a mama's boy. He is definitely my angel.



We visited Sydney Grace's grave today. It was so gorgeous. The snow was still covering the ground and her pink and white flowers just look beautiful against the snow. I bought her a Valentine's Day present a week after she passed away. It is an angel entitled "Daughter's Angel." I wanted Sydney to have a present from her mommy and daddy.

I so miss her. I still have the aching in my heart. I want to hold her. I can still feel her against my chest or her cheek against mine. She absolutely loved to be held like that.

As I was downloading pictures from my camera of the snow, I came across two pictures that I took of Sydney Grace the third night she was home. She looked so good. This was before she became dehydrated. Her cheeks were so fat and her color was so good. This is how I want to remember her by.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Rafe's Favorite Part of the Day

I asked Rafe what his favorite part of today was. He replied,"When the blue boat broke." It actually was not a boat, but a little baby swimming pool. Here is a video of the "blue boat" breaking.
video
Here are some pictures my mother took today.

Snow!!!!

As most of you know, we rarely get snow here in Smyrna, NC. We thought we might get 1-2 inches, if any. Imagine our surprise when we woke this morning to 8-9 inches. Rafe has never seen snow before, so he was really excited. Here are a few pictures and video from our morning in the snow. The snow angel is in memory of Sydney Grace.


video

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Rafe loves his sister

Here is a video of Rafe loving on his sister.
video

Broken Heart



Today, Rafe said one of the most heart breaking, yet special and touching things ever. I had to meet Joel at the funeral home to finish all the paper work from Sydney’s funeral. I had my mom pick up Rafe at preschool, so I could meet Joel. She got Rafe out of school, but I had to meet them to give my mom something. When I got there Rafe was hysterical. He was crying so hard for me. He usually loves being with my mom, but today he wanted me really bad. I got him in my car, and my mom followed me in hers. On the way to the funeral home, Rafe finally calmed down enough to talk to me. I asked him if he was feeling bad (he does have a cold.) He said yes. I was expecting him to say his throat hurts, his head hurts, or maybe even his tummy. What he said caught me off guard. He pointed to his chest and said his heart hurts. His heart? Why? Then he said the thing that broke my heart. He said his heart hurts because he wanted his baby, Sydney Grace. Then he started to cry again.

I know I have said this before, but Rafe LOVES his sister. He is such a wonderful big brother. He called Sydney Grace, his baby. He was constantly asking everyone, “Isn’t my baby pretty?” He loved to hold her and give her kisses.

Today I was having a pretty good day, even though I had to go to the funeral home. When Rafe said his heart hurts, it made me remember I was not the only one in pain. Of course, I realize I am not the only person that loves and misses Sydney, but sometimes I am consumed with my own grief that I don’t think about how others are dealing with the loss of Sydney Grace. Rafe is a normal three year old. Most of the time he is playing or watching his movies, but at any given moment he will stop and start talking about how much he wants his "Cindy" back.

We all are hurting. We all love Sydney and miss her. I know it has only been two weeks, but I am looking forward to the time when our grief is overtaken by all the wonderful memories we have of Sydney.


Last week I shared a poem that one of my students wrote. Another student sent me a poem yesterday. I want to share her poem so everyone can see what wonderful students I have.

Little Angel
Little angel sent from above,
Sydney Grace is so loved.
Tears have been shed,
but eyes have been opened
to see the beauty that God brings.
This little Miracle baby that you got to hold,
but God had to let her come back.
He couldn’t let you have her forever,
because heaven just wasn’t right without her.
Sydney Grace Fodrie will stay with us forever,
and I know she is looking down on you, smiling
and being proud she gets to call you her Mother.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I Will Carry You

Back in September, my sister shared a song with me, “I Will Carry You” by Selah. She said, “This song is about you, Lindsey.” It was written about a group member’s family experience. The Smith family lost a child, Audrey Caroline, after a few hours of life. They, too, found out at their ultrasound that there was something wrong with their little girl. They had the same choices presented to them as we did. Like us, they chose life for their baby, however long it may be. That was God’s decision, not theirs or ours. When I heard the song back in the fall, I listened one time and could not bring myself to listen to it again. It brought too much emotion for me that I could not handle at the time.

I did not hear it again until after Sydney was born. When I listened to the words again, they just spoke to me. This was our song. I would play that song a lot as I would hold Sydney at night when everyone else had gone home and Joel and Rafe were asleep. As a matter of fact, we listened to that song as I rocked Sydney while her last breaths were slowing the night she passed. As I rocked Sydney and she was looking at me with her wide open eyes and the song was playing in the back, I just told Sydney that I loved her and it was ok to stop fighting. I said Rafe, daddy and me would be ok. A few minutes later Sydney took her last breath.

After Sydney was born and so many people were able to experience this Miracle from God, it occurred to me that God had actually chosen me to be her mother. What an honor! Of all the people in this world I was actually this child’s mother. It is a privilege to say that I am a mother of a child that touched so many and brought them closer to God. For that reason, I chose to have this song at Sydney’s funeral. The line that speaks the most to me is…

I will carry you
All your life
And I will praise the One Who’s chosen Me
To carry you


During church this past Sunday, the pastor asked different ones to share a story about an experience in their life and how a song defines that event. As they were sharing stories about songs, "Love Lifted Me," "Victory in Jesus," and "Blessed Assurance," I started thinking about what song would define me and my life. It was really clear. “I Will Carry You” is that song. This song is about so many who chose life for their children when they were given other options. We all left the decision in the hands of God. I know my prayer at night over the past months has been “Thy will be done” and for God to give me the strength to be able to handle whatever happens.

Thank you Selah and the Smith family for sharing this beautiful song with the world and allowing it to not only be Audrey Caroline’s song but Sydney Grace’s and all the other babies that left us too soon.

In 1 Chronicles 16:9, the verse says “sing to Him; yes, sing His praises. Tell everyone about His wonderful deeds.”

I Will Carry You by Selah (This is the song that the blog opens with)

There were photographs I wanted to take
Things I wanted to show you
Sing sweet lullabies, wipe your teary eyes
Who could love you like this?
People say that I am brave but I’m not
Truth is I’m barely hanging on
But there’s a greater story
Written long before me
Because He loves you like this

So I will carry you
While your heart beats here
Long beyond the empty cradle
Through the coming years
I will carry you
All my life
And I will praise the One Who’s chosen me
To carry you

Such a short time
Such a long road
All this madness
But I know
That the silence
Has brought me to His voice
And He says…

I’ve shown her photographs of time beginning
Walked her through the parted seas
Angel lullabies, no more teary eyes
Who could love her like this?

I will carry you
While your heart beats here
Long beyond the empty cradle
Through the coming years
I will carry you
All your life
And I will praise the One Who’s chosen Me
To carry you

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Grace

Today, Sydney Grace would have been one month old. We have all been through a roller coaster of emotions over this past month. I can say it has been the best and worst month of my life. The best, because we had Sydney Grace twenty more days than we ever thought we would have. The worst, because I have had to bury a child.

When I first found out about Sydney Grace having Trisomy 18, I really did not want to look online about the disorder or even about other T18 babies. I just could not bring myself to do it. My sister found lots of information and would share it with me, but I was not ready to look for myself. Even up until Sydney was born, I did not view many things online. Now that Sydney has passed, I feel like my purpose is to find out more about Trisomy 18 and read about other families experiences. This is what fills my days. I spend countless hours looking at other blogs and working on Sydney’s. My new goal is to make as many people aware about Trisomy 18 as possible. I know when I found out about Sydney, I had never heard of T18. I had no clue what it meant.

Now that I have been spending so much time working on Sydney Grace’s blog, I have noticed something. It is no great discovery, but it is interesting. There is a large number of T18 girls with their first or middle name being Grace. Why is that? I know that we decided on Sydney Grace’s name before we even found about her having T18. We named her Grace in honor of her great grandmother, Grace Fodrie. I have always loved the name. Joel and I have been married for almost ten years, and we always have said if we ever have a girl, Grace will be part of her name. So why are there so many other girls with the name, Grace. I know it is a popular name, but I think there is more to it.

In Sydney Grace’s obituary, Aly Dart wrote this:
Sydney Grace's life has been a true testament of the power of prayer and the grace of a loving Father in Heaven. "Grace" has been defined as, "A divine means of help or strength given through the love and mercy of Jesus Christ." How fitting for this angel who has certainly allowed all within her reach to feel the love and mercy of Jesus Christ, to be named Sydney Grace. In times of weakness, she has given strength to her family. Because of her life, thousands have been brought to their knees in prayer. She has reminded us all of the words of our Savior in Matthew 19:14, "But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven."

These special children do have a purpose. I know before Sydney was born, we really did not know what the reason was for her having Trisomy 18. Through Sydney Grace’s twenty days she touched thousands of people all over the world. She brought people closer to God through prayer. So many have shared with me how they have never prayed more than now, because of Sydney. My cousin, Corey, shared something with me at Sydney’s wake. He said “Sydney has made me want to be a better person.” That is the reason for Sydney Grace coming into this world.

It is no mistake that so many of these T18 babies have the name Grace. They have shown so many how to feel the love and mercy of Jesus Christ.


Thank you to Melanie, Noah, and Stephen from Chesapeake, VA. Joel, Rafe, and I went to Sydney's grave today. We found a little cherub at her grave from these wonderful people that we have never met. Sydney truly has touched so many.