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.
Here are some pictures my mother took today.


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.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Rafe loves his sister

Here is a video of Rafe loving on his sister.

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


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.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Day full of emotions

I woke today feeling the lowest I have since Sydney passed. All I wanted to do was go back to sleep. I made myself get out of the bed to cook Joel his Saturday morning breakfast. I never cook breakfast except on the weekends. Saturdays we have either french toast or pancakes, and Sundays we have cheese biscuits. Joel had to go to work today. He is under a lot of work related stress right now. So I made myself get up to cook him, Rafe, and Tyler (nephew) their breakfast. I stood frying bacon and crying. I kept looking over to where Sydney's glider used to be. The last time I cooked them breakfast, Sydney was still alive sitting in her glider.

After Joel went to work, Rafe went to a friend's house and Tyler was playing the Wii. I had the living room to myself. I was so down, I could not make myself do anything. I just stayed on the couch all morning long. Paige came over to help get Sydney's room organized. I could not bring myself to even think about it. I was stuck in this feeling of not really wanting to do anything or go anywhere.

The Hancock sisters came up with the idea of all of us going to a movie tonight. It was their mission to get me out of the house and have some fun. To tell you truth, the way I felt today, I really did not look forward to going. But once again, I made myself get ready and go. It was the best possible thing I could do. There ended up being eight of us going to the movie and we had dinner with two more friends. We saw "When in Rome." It was so funny. We all laughed so hard. Laughter really can be good medicine. The night ended with more laughter as Paige and I watched Joel pull Aly's car out of mud.

It is so funny that a day can start off so different than how it ended. I started off feeling so low and missing Sydney so much. I woke up with my sick stomach feeling (like butterflies) again and aching to hold her. I am getting ready to go to bed feeling so much better. Thank you to Paige, Emily, Joella, Aly, Ellen, Carrie, Ashley, Shanna, and Meredith for giving me a wonderful night.

Friday, February 5, 2010


Here is a poem one of my students sent to me today. Can I say, I am so lucky to have students that care so much about me and Sydney Grace. I am truly blessed.

An angel sent down from above,
to shower all with God’s pure love,
Though longer we wish she could stay,
God wanted her back, so He took her away.
We all prayed, so hard and so long,
And God just took her. Isn’t that wrong?
No, because in those 20 days spent,
none of us have been so blessed.
She made us smile, she made us cry,
but most of all, she made us realize,
Life’s for appreciating moments and people, because
Sydney taught us the lesson that is love.

Borrowed Angels

I want to share a conversation I had with Rafe today on the way to school. He wanted to listen to the song "Borrowed Angels." I asked why he wanted to listen to that song so much.

His reply, "because it is about my borrowed angel."

"Who is that?" I asked.

"My baby."


"My Cindy."

Rafe has always called Sydney Grace, Cindy. I told him that was fine with me. He then wanted to know if he was a borrowed angel. He continued to say something that melted my heart...

"When we all go to heaven we will all be borrowed angels."

Rafe is such a tender hearted and sweet boy. He loves his sister so much. He was never jealous of having a sibling. From the time we found out I was going to have a baby, Rafe has been so excited about being a big brother. He misses his baby sister so much. Sometimes Rafe stops what he is doing and just looks so sad. I ask him what is wrong and he will say, "I just want to hold my baby."

Here are the lyrics of "Borrowed Angel." Rafe is right, this song is about his "Cindy."
(It is also one of the songs on my playlist at the bottom of the blog.)

Borrowed Angels by Kristen Chenoweth

They shine a little brighter, they feel a little more
They touch your life in ways no one has ever done before
They love a little stronger, they live to give their best
They make our lives so blest, so why do they go so soon?
The ones with souls so beautiful
I heard someone say--

There must be Borrowed Angels, here in this life
They come along, into this world, and make this world bright
But they can't stay forever
Cause they're heaven sent
And sometimes, heaven needs them back again

They reach a little deeper, they see what's in your soul
And even when they leave you know, you'll never let them go
The world's a little richer, just cause they came along
Their love goes on and on, so why do they go so soon?
The ones with souls so beautiful. I heard someone say--

There must be Borrowed Angels, here in this life
They come along, into this world, and make this world bright
They can't stay forever, cause they're heaven sent
And sometimes, heaven needs them back again

How else can you explain why they're here and not here to stay?
I believe there must be, must be

Borrowed Angels, here in this life
They come along, into this world, and make this world bright
But they can't stay forever, cause there heaven sent
And sometimes heaven needs them back again.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Being Thankful

Today has been a good day. I woke up this morning to sunshine. It is amazing how weather can affect your mood. Instead of focusing on all the negatives, I started thinking about the positives.

First I am thankful for all the wonderful video I do have of Sydney Grace. We took a lot of video the first two days we were at the hospital. For some reason, when I looked at my computer a few days ago I only had about half the videos. The others were on our external harddrive. Those were the ones that really focus in on Sydney. I did have videos of all those things that I mentioned in my blog entitled "Regrets." I do have video of her taking a bath, making her little noises and cries, opening her eyes, and making all her little expressions. Things I thought I would never see again, I did this morning!

I am thankful for Aly Hancock Dart and all her family. My mom and I went to Mrs. Susan's this morning to return a few things. Aly was there also. She has done such an amazing job. When we asked her to take photos of Sydney's birth a few month ago, I think we all thought she would only have to be there for an hour or two. Instead Aly, unselfishly, spent more hours than can be counted taking thousands of photos. She made a beautiful slide show of Sydney Grace for her wake. She even wrote Sydney's obituary. I will never be able to repay her. Aly comes from the best family. Mrs. Susan, Emily, and Joella all helped our family. From providing meals and the best homemade yeast rolls you could ever eat, to providing the music for the service, to getting the programs, the Hancocks really have shown me and my family the best kind of support: love.

I am thankful for all the labor and delivery nurses at Carteret General. I could get in trouble if I try to name them all so I won't. I am too afraid I will forget someone. Sydney was actually delivered by two of the best nurses. Sydney was so anxious to arrive that my doctor did not make it to the room in time. One of those nurses was actually here at my house several times just to check on me and Sydney. She was even here in the middle of night after Sydney passed. I had other nurses also visit with us once we got home and even provided us with a meal. One nurse made Sydney and I a mother/daughter matching bracelet. I never took it off Sydney and she was actually buried with it. I can never say enough about all the nurses. They took such great care of Sydney, me and my family. I don't know how we will ever repay them.

I am thankful for the best peditrician I could ever ask for Sydney Grace. This man showed so much love for our family. He only wanted what was best for Sydney's comfort. I could call him at any hour and he would drop what he was doing just to talk to me about any of my concerns. If I did not call him, then he would call just to check in. As I said at Sydney's funeral, my heart wants to burst when I think about Dr. Rule. He is the BEST!

I am thankful for Hilary. She has so unselfishly done so much for me and my family. The morning Sydney was born, she so graciously started updating facebook and made a fan page for her. As the days have gone by we have seen Sydney's fans increase daily. Hilary also started this blog for us. At the time of Sydney's birth until her death, I didn't have much time to update, but because of Hilary, so many people were able to share in our miracle. I am grateful for that.

I am thankful for our family. Joel and I have been so supported. From staying to the hospital with us, to helping with Rafe, to cleaning and cooking, they have all been here for us. We have grown closer as family through all of this. I am thankful for Joel and Rafe. Joel has allowed me to go through all the emotions over the past five months. He has been there for me as I have cried, yelled, or just been silent in my grief. I love him so much. Rafe... he is what has kept me going. As I tell him he is the best little Rafe that I know.

Today is a day of thanks, no regrets.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Bad Day

It has been one week. One week since I held my baby. One week since I gave her kisses. One week since I had to hand her over to Joel to take to the funeral home. It is hard to believe it has been that long. My arms still ache to hold her.

It seems my days are getting harder instead of easier. When Sydney Grace first passed away, I had a mission. I had to make preparations for her wake and funeral. I did not have time to stop and think about anything else. Everyone said how strong I was during this time. I don't think they would say that about me now.

Today, my mom and I went to Sydney's grave to clean it up. We got all the dead flowers away and rearranged the remaining. The whole time I was thinking "I can't believe I am having to do this." I never imagined I would have to bury a child. It is the worst feeling ever. I have this constant sick stomach feeling. It has not gone away since Sydney left us. I never thought losing her would bring such physical pain.

After cleaning up the grave, mom treated me to a pedicure. During it a Josh Grobin song, "Where You Are" came on. I just sat there as the lady was painting my toes and cried. That is how my day has been. On the verge of tears. I am looking forward to better days, but I don't know when they will be.

I know I am feeling sorry for myself. I know my precious angel is in a better place. Sydney had to go through a lot in her twenty days here. More than most of you can ever imagine. Her apnea episodes were the worst thing most of my family have ever witnessed. I know she is not feeling anymore pain. She is not struggling to get a breath. This is what I have to keep reminding myself.

Thanks to all the wonderful people leaving me such amazing comments. They are a great help to me. I have never loved to write, but my sister suggested I write on the blog as a form of therapy. I believe she is right. It is a great outlet for me.

Thank you for your continued prayers. Tomorrow will hopefully be a brighter day.

Love to all,

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


When we found about Sydney Grace having Trisomy 18 at my 19 week ultrasound and about her severe heart defects, we started planning. We did not want to have any regrets. We talked to all the doctors about our wishes. We talked to the funeral home about the service. We planned for our friend, a professional photographer, to take pictures at the hospital. We bought Sydney a christening gown to be buried in, and we even had a few other outfits for her to wear just in case she survived a few hours. We thought we had everything planned and ready to go whenever Sydney decided to be born.

However, Sydney decided to surprise us all. She was not ready to leave us right when she was born as we thought. We never imagined we would actually be able to take her home with us. Most of the plans we had made before she was born were now changed. And we were so happy to change all our preparations. We had to buy clothes, diapers, wipes, a bassinet, and all the things we never thought we would need. Let me just say, Sydney Grace had every preemie outfit from all the stores in this county.

When we did bring her home, I think my head went out the window. We all were so excited to have Sydney Grace home, all we did was hold her. She was rarely put down. As a matter of fact, the last few days of her life, she would get so upset if she was put in her bassinet or glider. We spoiled her rotten, but she deserved it.

Here is my big regret... We never took video of Sydney once we got home from the hospital. What was I thinking??

I was looking at the videos from the hospital this morning on my computer for the first time. It occurred to me that there was no video of her at home, at all. I physically felt ill. I was so upset with myself. When Rafe was born, we have so much video of him the first few weeks. From his first bath, to changing diapers, to laying in his bassinet, to just being held. Why did we not do this with Sydney? We knew that we probably would not have her for long, yet I never once thought about videoing. Sydney took her first and last bath in a little tub about six hours before she passed away. The only thing I have is a picture from my phone camera. She was so cute in it too. She did not cry, like her big brother Rafe did with his first bath. She was so relaxed. She had her little legs crossed and propped up on the side of the tub.

I guess the reason why I am so upset is that we only had her for 20 days, which I realize is a wonderful gift from God, but I am really afraid I will forget things. All her little sounds and cries, her expressions, the way she would do her mouth when she was hungry, the way she would put her hands to her face, the way she would move her arms and legs... Basically everything that photos will not pick.

I realize that some people will say that I should be thankful for all the memories I do have. Aly took approximately 3000 wonderful photos. I have all her clothes and blankets to smell. I have her foot prints, some of her hair and many other things. Most importantly I had twenty days more that most T18 parents have with their babies. And I am extremely thankful and grateful to God for letting me have all these memories. That being said, when I found out about Sydney, from the very beginning I would say over and over, "I do not want to have any regrets," but unfortunately I do.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Daughter's Angel

I took Rafe to preschool this morning. He had not been to school since last Monday. He did not want to go as usual (of course, he loves it once he gets there), but I convinced him by letting him take a rose to his little girlfriend. We have so many bouquets of flowers from Sydney's funeral. Rafe loves to pick at the flowers and give them to me. I suggested he give one to Shelby, his girlfriend. When we got to school we found out it was her birthday today. His teacher said she wished she videoed him giving her the rose. It was just precious.

While Rafe was at school, I decided to go buy him his Valentine's Day gifts. While I was shopping for cards, I saw a card for a baby girl's first Valentine's day. I could not help myself, I had to buy it. Some might say that was a silly thing to do, but I want her to have a card and gift just like Rafe. I started thinking about what I could get her. I thought of stuffed animals, but I knew they would not last long at her grave. I decided to buy a little angel for her. It is entitled "Daughter's Angel". The tag says "A daughter fills our hearts with joy, and spreads love everywhere." I thought that was so appropriate for Sydney Grace. She spread so much love to everyone that knew of her. As someone told me while shopping, "She was our little girl." This lady had never met Sydney Grace, but that is how she felt about her. That is how everyone felt about her.