May 4th, 2012

Baby Sam…and how he touched my life.

About three months ago, I was contacted by a couple who had received some news at their ‘big’ ultrasound about their baby.  Not only was he a boy, but he appeared to have several conditions that the doctors deemed ‘incompatible with life’.

Rather than do what the medical team suggested, which was to terminate the pregnancy, Kaila & Jamey decided to honor Sam and his life, no matter how short it may be.  They continued on with the pregnancy, and contacted me about doing photos of him, and possible maternity photos.

The last three months has changed my life.  Sometimes, living life as a busy mom of three boys on earth, and running a business, being a wife – I forgot just how blessed I am.

Losing the girls was monumental; before having them, Nick and I were a bit aloof.  Things came easy to us, and understandably, we weren’t as appreciative as we could have been (my opinion).  We didn’t have months to prepare for our loss.  I think that was for the better, for I don’t think I could have been as strong and faithful as Kaila & Jamey have been.

Every week, they’d go up to UM and have NSTs to check on Baby Sam’s status.  And every week, the medical personnel would remind them of how bleak the outlook was.  They didn’t focus on that.  They focused on the fact that he was living.  He was surpassing all odds.  He was proving the medical staff wrong.

On Sunday, April 29, they called me to tell me that Kaila had been admitted to the hospital.  I know that I wasn’t ready to meet baby Sam and say goodbye; I couldn’t imagine what Kaila & Jamey were feeling.  I arrived there around 10pm, and found Kaila to be in great spirits.  Her epidural was working well! 😉

Just a few hours later, Baby Sam arrived.  Defying the odds, he survived for a little under an hour.  His entire lifetime was spent in his parents’ arms.  At the memorial service I attended yesterday, their pastor said, “Baby Sam didn’t open his eyes.  Can you imagine, living your entire life, seeing only Jesus Christ?”  I’m sure that brought Kaila & Jamey comfort, as in that instance I was taken back to six and a half years ago, when we said goodbye to Angelina & Gabriella.  They lived their entire lives seeing only Jesus.

My heart breaks for Kaila & Jamey, but I know that God chose them to be Sam’s parents, just as He chose us to be the girls’ parents.  We don’t know what His plan entails, but I have come to realize that part of the plan was to bring me closer to Him, and allow me to provide this ‘ministry’, if you will.  I never asked Him to do this; it was His plan for me.

Everything happens for a reason.

 What kind of place would heaven be with all its streets of gold,

if all the souls, that dwell up there like yours and mine, were old?

How strange would heaven’s music sound when harps begin to ring,

if children were not gathered ‘round to help the angels sing.

The children that God sends to us are only just a loan,

He knows we need their sunshine to make the house a home.

We need the inspiration of a baby’s blessed smile.

He doesn’t say they’ve come to stay, just lends them for a while.

Sometimes it takes them years to do the work for which they come.

Sometimes in just a month or two our Father calls them home.

I like to think some souls up there bear not one sinful scar.

I love to think of heaven as a place where children are.


March 22nd, 2012

Six months old.

So as I sit here, I am dumbfounded.  How in the world is AGK six months old?  Half a year has passed since we met him after 31 glorious hours of labor?  Sometimes, it seems like it’s been that long, especially a day like today, where I was up 3x from 12midnight to 7am, but most days…I feel like it was just yesterday that we brought him home.

In the first few weeks, I snapped a LOT of photos of him in the studio.  As time has gone on, I’ve taken to using my iPhone for snapshots, and sharing on Facebook, so here is a photo that I took today, of him:

He’s doing so many things that I didn’t think he was supposed to do yet!  He is rolling all over the place, and is on the verge of crawling.  He’s getting up onto his knees and rocking!  He still can’t really sit unsupported – I am waiting (impatiently) for that to happen so I can take him down to the studio and snap, snap away.

I realize I haven’t been sharing a lot of photos over here, so here’s one of all three boys:

I keep meaning to post more over here, so hopefully I’ll remember to do that when school’s out and I’m not being a chauffeur for 3 hours out of each day.


March 5th, 2012

I had a moment. I felt them. It was real.

Tonight, at the end of my training session, we did some meditation work.  We were concentrating on our breathing and I was finding it difficult to shake other thoughts from my head.  Things like…

I can’t believe Nicholas is four.  I wish I would have done <insert x, y or z here> with him.

I can’t believe Christopher is going to be 3.  I wish I would have (see above)

I can’t believe Andrew is already 5 months.

I can’t believe it’s been 5 years since I lost my girls.

That’s when it happened.  It felt like someone wrapped their and around my wrist.  And it was real.  And it was Angelina.  I know it.  I can’t explain it.  In an instant, I realized it was a sign.

Nicholas is going to be 5 this fall and with that milestone comes the thought of kindergarten enrollment, and something called “Kindergarten Roundup”.  We have his on Wednesday night.

In my meditative state,  I realized, “the girls would have been 5.  We would have already done this with them.”    People are probably reading this and thinking, “Jeesh, when does she NOT talk/think about her girls?”

The answer is NEVER.

Every day, I think of them.  Every morning when I wake up and I see the sunrise, I think how majestic it must be in heaven if it’s this beautiful down here.  Every day that I get to spend with my beautiful boys, I thank them.  For if it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t have Nicholas, Christopher, or Andrew.  If it wasn’t for my girls, I wouldn’t have Two Angels Photography.

I realized tonight that I haven’t allowed myself time to think about them.  To remember them.  To honor them.

I will.


February 24th, 2012

Life with boys. And ASD. And being a WAHM.

So…I said I’d be updating my blog – and I’ve obviously NOT gotten around to that.  It’s almost March and it’s only my second post of the year.  I think I know why.

I have three boys under 4.

I am running a successful photography biz.

I am feeding another human being.

I have a son with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

I am a mother.

I am a wife.

I am a woman.

So, let’s start with the first one.  Having three boys under 3.  If that was ALL I was doing – I think it’d be ok.  I think I’d be able to handle it all.  But alas, it is NOT all that I’m doing.  See the next one.

Two Angels Photography (http://www.twoangelsphotography.com) is getting busier and busier, thanks to my friends, family, and clients that have helped me to grow my business to where it is today.  I’m so very pleased to say that I’m booked all the way to June 2012!

I’m feeding another human being – and this time, it’s been a) easier b) interesting c) trickier.  It’s easier because I know what to do – I’ve nursed my two other boys and so I knew what to expect.  It’s interesting because I appreciate the bond I have with him so much more than I did with the older boys.  And it’s trickier because it seems like he may have a food allergy (or two) and so I’m experimenting with eating/avoiding certain foods to see what he may or may not react to.

Nicholas was diagnosed with Autism last May, and there’s been so many things that we’ve implemented in our family since then.  We use social stories, picture schedules, charts, rewards, incentives, and all different other things.  We do therapy almost daily – whether it’s sensory type stuff or fine-motor skill development.  We have a special gymnastics class that he attends on Wednesdays, and then he goes to OT (Occupational Therapy) once a week on Fridays.  He gets Speech & OT through school once per week as well.  He attends preschool and is doing very well.  Though we haven’t had him evaluated, we believe his reading to be around a 2nd grade skill level.

While I wouldn’t change my life for a second, I often wonder what life would have been like had I not created my photography business, or if we hadn’t decided to have Andrew.  It’s an interesting thing…this wonder, awe, appreciation of what we have.  We know that we are extremely blessed and would not change it for a second, but who doesn’t wonder if the life they are living is the life they were meant to have?

Nick and I try to get out for date nights at least once a month, and we usually try to go to dinner.   Sometimes we bring Andrew, and sometimes we don’t.  A lot of times, our ‘date night’ involves some sort of household chore, like going grocery shopping.  Interesting how THAT somehow turns into something FUN after you have kids.

In late November, I joined a referral team for my business.  I met a wonderful trainer through the group, and have enlisted his services to help me get back on track to a healthier me.  I’m training with him on Fridays with my friend Courtney (who has recently gone through a transformation herself) and I’m also doing yoga 2x a week right now and I’m hoping to add in a third class.

I forgot how much I LOVE yoga.  I find it to be challenging, physically, and mentally as well.  Sometimes, my brain can be pretty difficult to ‘shut down’ if you will and take a moment for myself, and yoga really helps me with that.

So that’s all for now…I’m hoping to post some photos soon.


January 1st, 2012

Resolutions

Happy New Year!  I can’t believe it’s 2012 and I’ve hardly blogged much over here.

So, taking a cue from my friend, Kristi, I will be making sure to document important things over here.

Stay tuned – I am planning on catching up soon!


October 2nd, 2011

Andrew Grant has arrived!

On Wednesday, September 21st at 3:05am, I woke up to a contraction, but it wasn’t the normal ‘wake me up’ contractions I’d been feeling for weeks.  This was different.  I waited a few minutes to see if another came…and it did.  And another.  At a regular 4-5 minute intervals…this could be it!

My sister had stayed the night because Nick had one of his wonky 8pm “teleconference with Japan” meetings and hadn’t gotten home until 1am, so she sat with me and timed my contractions…we decided to wake Nick up around 4am.

We went to the hospital around 7:30am, which wasn’t the best idea, since we ran into rush hour traffic on US-23 South and it took us much longer to get to UM than we had hoped.

I’ll share more of the birth story later, but the long story short is after 21 hours of labor, Andrew Grant arrived before the doctors could come into the room, and my nurse, Sarah, delivered him at 12:37am on Thursday September 22nd.  He weighed 8lbs, 5oz at birth, and was 21″ long.   Here are a couple of photos that I’ve taken of him

First studio shot – 2 days old…

 

 

 

 

Our littlest Spartan!

First bath


August 16th, 2011

Five. Warning – not an upbeat post.

Five had always been a favorite number of mine.  I would pick it to use as my number when I played sports in school, whenever I could.  This year, it’s not so much a favorite.

You see, five years ago today, at this time, I was enjoying a dinner/interview with a former coworker.  We were discussing the possibility of me going back to work for the company I had left just 3 years prior.  I will never forget what I had for dinner, and I will never eat that dinner again.  Just as I will likely never set foot in that restaurant again, which is a shame, because it’s a pretty great eatery.

I came home from dinner, excited about the prospect of moving to a SALARIED position (I was working on a commission, high-pressure phone sales job at the time) and being able to support our family as it grew from two to four.  A little before 9 pm, I went to the bathroom, and in an instant, our lives were turned upside down.  I felt a sharp pain, then heard a pop, and felt a huge gush.  I knew that nothing good could come of that, since I was only 19w6d along at the time.
I yelled for Nick to call 911, and as he did, I frantically called my sister.  I was trying to tell my sister what happened, all the while trying to stop the constant flow of amniotic fluid that just kept coming.  The 911 operator told Nick to have me lie down, so I laid down in a pool of the sweet fluid, soaking my nightgown.

The ambulance arrived in a matter of minutes, but it seemed like hours.  I remember feeling like I was in a fog.  I saw my neighbors outside, gathering around the ambulance, wondering what was wrong.  I remember my sister telling me that she was rushing to the hospital.  I remember asking Nick not to leave me.

The ambulance ride wasn’t something I’d recommend to anyone.  If you don’t have to take one, consider yourself lucky.  As if it wasn’t bad enough that I was in and out of it, I was placed into a trendelenburg position, with my feet higher than my head.  They placed an IV to administer fluids.  I remember telling them, “Please take me to UM.  PLEASE take me to UM.  I don’t want to go to St. Joe’s”

Upon arriving at St. Joe’s, we were taken through the halls to triage in Labor & Delivery.  I remember feeling as if the staff was moving at the speed of molasses.  I felt like screaming – MY WATER BROKE AND I AM ONLY 20 WEEKS.  DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT THAT MEANS???  They took me into a room and explained to me that they wanted to do an u/s and check my cervix.  They wanted to do cultures to rule out an STD.  WHAT????  Thoughts rushed through my head… I’m married…and have been with the same man since I was 19.  I don’t have an STD.  WHY AREN’T YOU DOING ANYTHING TO SAVE MY BABIES????

The doctor that came in – I’ll NEVER forget her name…proceeded to tell me that there was nothing that could be done.  Delivery was likely imminent.  We were going to lose our babies.  They recommended that I go home and ‘relax’.

How does someone go home and relax after they were just told their babies were going to die?  How does someone go home and relax when they were told they would likely be delivering within 24-48 hours.  How does someone relax when someone tells you that there’s no MFM/Perinatologist (AKA, High Risk OB) on call, and was refused a consult with the neonatologist?  Yes, you read that right.  We were lied to (there is ALWAYS an MFM/Peri on call) and there is ALWAYS a neonatologist in the hospital.

Basically, we were told, in a nutshell, that our babies’ lives weren’t important enough because I hadn’t yet reached 24 weeks gestation.  Just 4 weeks shy of ‘viability’ and my children’s existence was already being dismissed.

We contemplated going to UM, but thought (incorrectly) that we would be treated the same way.  We know now that they would have admitted me ASAP, started IV fluids, and IV antibiotics to try to prevent any infection.  Doing this MIGHT have saved our girls.  We have NO way of knowing that.  I carry that guilt every day of my life.  The ‘what-if’ situation.  What if we had gone to UM?  What if we had met Dr. VDV that night and not 3 months later?  What if the ambulance would have taken me to UM?  It is something that I will live with forever.  Never knowing the answer.  I plan to ask God that when I meet my girls in Heaven.  Not why they were taken, but could things have been different?

The next day, my horrible @$$ of a doctor refused to see me as his first patient of the day.  Obviously, he rebuked that refusal when I showed up at his office bright and early.  He then proceeded to tell me that the outcome wasn’t good.  If the babies survived, they would likely be very physically impaired/having special needs.  Nick and I didn’t care.  We wanted to hear what we could to do SAVE them.  NOT the other stuff.  When our doc told us, “in cases like this, we recommend termination of the pregnancy, but we can’t do that for you, since we’re a Catholic-affiliated hospital.  You’ll have to go to UM for that.”  We decided to pack up and leave.

Immediately, my sister got on the phone.  She called her contacts at Hurley, from when she was a patient and also experienced a pPROM (though hers was a small leak and not a complete rupture like mine).  They said to come in right away.

The staff at Hurley was amazing.  They did EVERYTHING in their power to try to save our babies.  We had an U/S right away to measure my fluid levels and the prognosis was bleak.  Baby A had little to no fluid.  Baby B was happy as a clam, and we learned right away that she was indeed a girl.

The next day, baby A’s cord prolapsed.  The staff did everything they could to get it back in, but it wasn’t working.  We lost her a little while later.  I listened to her heart beat slow with a doppler until it was quiet.  Just the sound of swooshing fluid (what was left).  They checked baby B – she was still alive and well.  I delivered Angelina stillborn two days later.

Extra precautions were taken to try to keep Baby B safe and sound inside, but an infection was quickly setting in.  Called chorioamnionitis, there is no cure for it except delivery.  Despite being on 3 different types of major IV antibiotics, I was getting septic. My white count was in the hundreds of thousands, and my temp was over 104F.  The doctor spoke with us about terminating.  We explained that we didn’t want to do that since we already had Angelina – we felt like this baby needed to be laid to rest with her sister.  They lived together – they would rest together.  I tried to hold them off and Nick had to make the most difficult decision any person has to make.  Choose your wife, or your child.  Possibly lose both.

The induction started a few hours later.  Gabriella was born in the early hours of the morning – the chief perinatologist had just arrived and barely had time to change into ‘protective gear’.  She was born alive and looked just like Nick.  I gasped when I first saw her.  Everything about her was perfect.  She had my lips, Nick’s nose, my chin, and we think she would have looked like Christopher.

The hospital took photos of her for us, and of course we treasure those as they are the only ones we have of her alive.

And so…here we are.  Five years later.  On the anniversary of the day that started our roller coaster ride.  We had just registered for our baby shower the weekend before.  The next weekend was  their funeral and within weeks we were trying to explain WHY we wanted to cancel our registry and were picking out the type of granite we wanted for their headstone.

Things are just as clear to me today as they were 5 years ago.  The sounds, the smells, the sights. I’ve been told that’s because I suffer from PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  I wasn’t diagnosed with it until I was pregnant with Christopher.  It explains everything.  The flashbacks.  The anxiety.  The irritability.

So please, tread lightly with your words.

We are NOT happy that we have angels watching over us in heaven.  We’d rather that they be here with us.  We don’t consider it a blessing – raising multiples would have been difficult, but having to bury your children is likely much much worse.  We don’t like to hear about other parents that have lost children and have gone on to have families, like us.  It makes us sad for those parents, not happy to know that there are others that have suffered.

Child loss seems to be such a taboo subject, even in the year 2011.  People don’t seem to realize how prevalent pregnancy loss, especially late pregnancy loss, from the 2nd trimester on, is in the year 2011.  Either they don’t realize it, or they just ignore it.  It’s an awful club to join.  I remember reading this early on in our grieving journey.

A child that has lost a parent is called an orphan; a spouse that has lost their partner is called a widow(er); and yet, there is NO one word in the English language that says “Bereaved Parent”.

 

 


August 15th, 2011

33 weeks, maternity & family photos!

If you’re a friend of mine on facebook, you’ve likely already seen these photos, but I know that not everyone is on there.  These photos were done by my friend, and fellow photographer, Cynthia Craine of Cynthia Craine Photography. http://www.cynthiacrainephotography.com

I have seven weeks to go as of today, and I have 2 weeks and 4 days until my cerclage is removed.  From that point on, I’ll be free to deliver!


August 8th, 2011

Eight more weeks!

Eight more weeks to go!  I’m officially 32w today and am having maternity photos done by my talented friend, Cynthia Craine.  I will be sure to share after she’s finished with them.

Normalcy for me now includes something called Pelvic Girdle Pain.  Google it.  It’s NOT fun.  Not.at.all.  Basically, I have pain any time I stand up, sit down, lay down, change positions, walk, etc.  So it’s unfortunate but my boys are having a LOT of fun with babysitters during these last few weeks.  Thank you ALL for helping!

I’ll post again soon…but wanted to share!  Cerclage comes out on September 2, so less than 30 days!


July 20th, 2011

And I’ve now reached ‘normalcy’…for a high-risk pregnancy

I’m 29w2d pregnant today, and this pregnancy has DEFINITELY taken its toll on me, physically and emotionally.  Maybe that ‘Advanced Maternal Age’ on my file isn’t all bad.

Having 90F+ temps and high humidity makes people a bit grouchy.  And if you’re pregnant, in this weather…then you’re probably grouchier than Walter Matthau in “Grumpy Old Men”

My trip to UM today in the 90F+ heat took place in a well air-conditioned vehicle, with all of the vents blowing on me.  I had an ultrasound (u/s) to recheck baby’s growth and fluid levels, along with my cervical length, and then proceeded down to the clinic for my normal appointment.

Much to my surprise, my favorite doctor, Dr. VDV, was in clinic today!  So I had a fantastic appointment!  Some highlights:

  • Baby Boy K#3 is right on track with his growth, and is measuring about a week ahead (much like the boys did)
  • Fluid levels are NORMAL
  • My blood sugar levels are within acceptable ranges – meaning NO Gestational Diabetes (GD) for this momma!
  • My cervical length is the highest it’s ever been at this stage in a pregnancy
  • I have my cerclage removal date scheduled (the Friday before Labor Day – let the jokes begin)
  • I don’t have to go back to the office for another 4 weeks (FANTASTIC news for someone who has to go in every 2 weeks starting at 14w)

So…I have less than 11 weeks left to get the house in order, including washing all the baby clothes and cleaning/re-organizing the nursery closet.  The boys’ room needs to be straightened up, but the baby’s room is priority right now.

We have to decide when to have Nicholas’ birthday party…right now it’s tentatively scheduled for the day after his birthday…not sure if that’s a good idea or not.

I have to schedule a maternity photo session for myself (with a photographer friend) and get family photos done.

I have to inform my clients of whom they need to contact while I’m on my maternity leave – getting the details of this all worked out.

And finally…I need to enjoy these last 11 weeks as they may be my last 11 weeks of pregnancy that I’ll get to experience.