Lilypie Angel and Memorial tickers

Lilypie Angel and Memorial tickers

Our big girl!

Our big girl!
Growing so fast!

Kylie 1 day old

Kylie 1 day old
Curling up

Bryleigh Addison

Bryleigh Addison
Our youngest miracle


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Friday, August 31, 2012

Keep on keeping on...

Mrs. Ibezim, my 8th grade Science teacher, didn't teach us much about Science. Seriously. We had a folder for vocabulary, a folder for section questions, a folder for chapter questions, and a folder for end of chapter reviews. Then, we went through the book and taught ourselves and then had a test on it. However, I DID learn a lot about life. Morals. Values. Sayings to last a lifetime. (MXR peeps will remember: You need to get your ducks in a row! and... Put that in your pipe and smoke it!) Though she may have been intimidating, though she may have been unconventional, she loved her students and she taught each group that came through what agape love meant, what it meant to truly love yourself, your family, your friends, and yes, even God. She loved God with a passion, and it was okay for her to talk about it then. (Don't think anyone would have ever done anything anyway). She also taught us about respect. She sang to us. It was fun, but now looking back, it was also very important in my development before going to high school. Mrs. Ibezim probably knew what she was doing that year. I think she knew she was teaching us greater lessons that we would appreciate later on, and that we needed to hear those things to survive high school and the world beyond. I know that her life lessons have stuck with me, and they come out in the strangest situations, but always at the perfect time. For instance, as the title of this blog posts suggests, I'm just trying to: "Keep on, Keeping on."

Today I am overwhelmed with things on my plate. Between Kylie's 3rd birthday, Bryleigh's 1st birthday, October 15, and Kylie's fund, along with being a mommy, a wife, a teacher, and everything else.... I've just gotten a bit disappointed. I know people see me coming and run because they are afraid I'm going to ask them to buy another thing or participate in another fundraiser, but fundraisers are the only way to keep up with the things that mean so much to me. We are barely making ends meet ourselves, and I HATE not being able to participate in the things my friends are doing. I know people are mad at me because they think I am being selfish, that I never want to buy from them but want everyone to buy from me, but that's not it. I absolutely would help every cause possible if I had the means to do so. Unfortunately, my money situation won't allow me to even help myself. Trust me, if I could go forever without having to ask for money for the October 15 event or Kylie's birthday or the March of Dimes, I would- I would support my own things in my own way. I just don't have the means. I've put a lot of money and time in each year, and I am NOT complaining- I wouldn't have it any other way. I just wish that the funds were more readily available.

I know some people don't mean anything by it, but I get so disappointed and hurt when the SAME people over and over again refuse to support anything I do, even if it is showing up for Kylie's birthday party or coming by the Family Fun Day for the MOD. If I invite someone, it's because I think a lot of them. I don't just invite random strangers. I invite people for a few reasons- one, I think it's something you might be interested in. Two- I don't want anyone to think I was intentionally leaving them out. Three- I know that it is a cause that has affected your life as well. Four- It is important to me and I want to share it with people who are important to me. I just wish that I knew that those people WANTED to support me, because people think that it's about donating $20s and $50s and $100s... when the big thing is to help spread the word, pass along the info, support us in our endeavors, and if you can scrounge up $2 in pennies, I'm all for it! $2 more than we had to begin with...

So in closing, I guess I'm just saying that I do need lots of support. Financial, emotional, everything. Every tiny little bit helps. Every bit.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

What infant loss does to a mother...

Today started off with tears and memories, and so the whole day, those things have been at the forefront of my thoughts. And when those things are in the front of my mind instead of that whisper in the back, it affects how I think and feel about everything else. So, sometimes, I find  myself wondering if I'll ever be the same person I was before... if my grieving heart makes me harder to love, harder to befriend, harder to like. Like maybe being a bereaved mother makes me some kind of weird contagion, or some kind of walking plague. I often feel that way- and it's because I refuse to NOT talk about Kylie. I refuse to let people think I only have Jaycee and Bryleigh as my children. I refuse to keep her tucked away and out of conversations and situations.

Baby loss is a taboo subject. It really is. People do not want to think that baby loss really happens. If you hear about it, then you have to accept it, right? Well, no matter what you want to think, believe, or feel, every single day, a mother says goodbye to her baby. Every single day, a father comforts his wife as she kisses her baby for the last time. Every single day, a brother or a sister has to let go of their dreams of what it will be like to have another baby in the house. Every single day, grandparents lose a grandchild. Every single day, a baby in the world takes his or her last breath.

This is reality. Just concerning NEC, the condition that Kylie had, over 10,000 babies die per year because of it. 10,000 babies. That averages to just over 27 deaths PER DAY. That is so heartbreaking, because so many babies die every day from OTHER causes, so you can only imagine where the number can go.

So many people think that what they say is helpful or heartfelt or sincere, and it may very well be said with the most innocent and sweetest of intentions, but that doesn't mean it is the RIGHT thing to say (or do). Here is a list of things NOT to say to a bereaved mother, no matter HOW many years it has been:

1.) You are young, and can have more children...
2.) Don't you think it's time to move on?
3.) She/he wouldn't want you to dwell on it your entire life. Your child would want you to be happy...
4.) Well, at least you know you can have kids...
5.) Are you STILL crying over it?
6.) You need to control your emotions.
7.) God doesn't make mistakes.
8.) There's a reason for everything.
9.) You wouldn't want her to suffer in life anyway...
10.) Aren't you glad you don't have to deal with this when she was older?
11.) I don't understand why you're still so upset.
12.) I'm sorry. I know how you feel. I lost my: pet/uncle/grandma/dad/brother/neighbor/etc...
13.) "It" isn't suffering anymore (resorting to "it" instead of her/him, etc)

I could go on and on. And yes, I've heard many of those things. But let me tell you... just as you never forget your loved ones who have passed on before you, such as a grandparent, a parent, a friend, an uncle, an aunt,  a sibling... we never forget our babies. The loss is with us for eternity. The loss goes with us wherever and whenever we do anything. The loss is there and an empty space is always in our heart... every family gathering. Every family photo. Every birthday, every angelversary. Every holiday. Every dinner. It's always there.

The loss changes and alters who you are, because you cannot ever be the same as you were. Grieving changes you, but specifically, losing a child takes something out of you that you didn't ever expect to let go of. It takes a piece of your heart and soul... and that piece will never be replaced, healed, repaired, or mended. It will be gone forever, just as the life that you created will be. Reality is so difficult sometimes, because it is more painful than pretending that things will be okay one day...

Be kind to the grieving mother. Be there for her, but don't force her to move on. Be a shoulder to lean on, pat her back, and offer support, but don't make her feel she is wrong for how she feels, acts, or responds. A grieving mother has a lot to go through already, and really can't be made to feel "guilty" and "bad" for missing her child.

All for her...

I have not cried like this in a very, very long time. I have not had uncontrollable sobs in months. But today, in a house that is quiet while the kids sleep and the husband is at work, and after my first week back to teaching and all the events of the week... all of the pain, the hurt, and the brokenness has found me once more.

Twice this week, TWICE in one week, we were told in two different ways by two different people that they talked with or saw someone who received one of our memory boxes at the hospital. How ironic, don't you think? Twice in one week.

The first message touched my heart so deeply. It was so unexpected, and yet, it was like Kylie was standing there beside me, and that she was in a way, trying to hold my hand to tell me that we ARE making a difference. The words that my "little sister" used to describe the situation took my breath away... that box in that woman's arms will be her most priceless physical possession, I am sure, just like mine is. But then the thought also slammed me... that I HATE the fact that there is still a need for the boxes, that I am so glad we can help provide these boxes, but broken in pieces that families still have to walk out of the hospital with a box instead of their little miracles.

The second message came from my mom last night. Jennifer told her about a family that had lost a baby, and they had told her about the box they received, and in turn Jennifer told her about us and what we have done with the boxes and for parents concerning bereavement groups and such. And when I sat in my mom's living room and she told me last night, it took everything I had to hold back the tears, because again, Kylie is living through these boxes, through me, and through all that we do for others, and I was taken aback at the impact that I just now realized she had.

And with these two instances, I am reminded of that day... the day that I had cried so much I didn't know if I could ever cry again... a day that made me numb and that changed me forever. A day that no parent ever would want to, or should, have to experience. That day, I held my daughter in my arms and watched her slip away to be with our Lord... the day my heart broke beyond healing.

I remember the box being placed in my arms when we left, and being wheeled out of the hospital with a box in my lap, while my daughter was being placed in a beautiful basket, and was taken away from the hospital in a hearse from the funeral home. I remember the searing pain, the desire to be anywhere but in that situation, to turn back time, to fix whatever happened... I remember the agony inside my body as my heart, mind, and soul were at war with each other.

I remember getting home and opening the box, and going through each item as tears poured down my face, wondering why God would ever put me in this position, why He would take away a child who was loved more than any words could ever say, and why He was punishing me by taking her away.

I remember the next night, while sharing her box with some family, reaching in the bottom and finding a little baggie that I didn't realize was in there, and at that moment, losing all self-control, because I had a physical piece of my child that I didn't know I had... a baggie with the tiniest locks of beautiful, perfect brown hair, that Miss Carolyn had taken from the back of her neck and saved for me... and at that moment, the importance of the box became ten times more than I thought, because this box held the last physical piece of my daughter... my only true physical connection. That hair was on her beautiful, round head... that hair was created by me, her daddy, and God. Her hair was proof that she did exist, that she did live, that she was ours.

And then today, her box is still my most priceless physical possession. If anything were to happen to it, I don't know what I would do. And that is why we continue to make boxes for the hospital. This box means so much to me, and I know the comfort and feelings these boxes give to other families. In the end, Kylie lives through these boxes, in giving back to others. Her legacy, her memory, is still alive and strong, and in giving to others, they get a piece of her spirit.

So, that is why we do it. We do it because we know how important these boxes are to families, because we are a recipient of one ourselves. We do it because Kylie would want us to keep on helping others. My life's mission, in her memory, is to help parents who have suffered a loss of a baby through infant loss, pregnancy loss, etc.

This week, Kylie showed me, through two special instances, that she is proud of us and what we are doing in her memory. She reminded me that it doesn't go unnoticed, and that it means more than we remember sometimes.

Thank you, sweet angel, for being mine. Thank you for showing me your kind heart and loving spirit in everything that we do. Thank you for reminding me to keep going, even if it is hard, and thank you for showing yourself to me when I need it most. You are truly a beautiful child, and I could not be more proud to be your mommy. God definitely broke the mold when He made you, and there will never be another YOU ever, ever again. You are perfection, as are my other girls, and I am forever BLESSED because I carried you within my womb, birthed you, loved you on Earth for two weeks, and love you across Heaven and Earth for eternity. You are my own special guardian angel, and for that, I am grateful. I love you more than I could ever tell you, and I miss you just as much. <3 are="are" being="being" brielle="brielle" for="for" girl.="girl." keith="keith" kylie="kylie" little="little" mine.="mine." nbsp="nbsp" one="one" p="p" special="special" thank="thank" very="very" you="you">

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Our big girl!

It is so hard to believe that 4 1/2 years ago, God blessed us beyond measure by bringing Jaycee into our home and our lives. At 8 months old, Jaycee was the cutest, pudgiest, sweetest little girl we had ever met. What was intended to be just a few weeks' stay became the most wonderful 4 1/2 years I could ever imagine. Jaycee Elisabeth stole our hearts the minute she came into our home, and we are so grateful for the opportunity to have her in our lives. With Kindergarten fast approaching, I have been reflecting on her sweet little life, and how blessed we are to have her as a part of our family.

In 4 1/2  years, we have held 5 birthday parties, 4 Christmases, 4 Thanksgivings, 4 Easters, 4 Halloweens, 4 Independence Days... We've had 2 full years of dance, 4 years of daycare, a preschool graduation, 2 dance recitals, and more love and happiness than we ever imagined. We have experienced the birth of two beautiful, perfect daughters to add to the family, and we have had our share of struggles and problems. We have moved once, to a new, bigger home. We have lost our first born, and we have buried my "first" baby, my precious Murphy. We have experienced money struggles, grief struggles, and life struggles. We have gone through family changes with family members in and out of hospitals, life-altering diseases and conditions, and multiple surgeries. We have seen weddings, and births of many precious babies in our family and circle of friends.

In the first few months that we had Jaycee in our home, I finally learned what it was like to love someone with a mother's love. I knew that I would give my life for her the minute I met her. In many ways, we needed Jaycee just as much as she needed us. She came to us when we were hopeless, lost, and broken- we were so broken from failed fertility treatments and the inability to become pregnant. When we received the blessing of Jaycee coming to our home, she gave us hope, laughter, love. I can't even begin to tell you how much her life brought me joy.

Jaycee's first birthday was a 1st birthday princess party- and we were blessed to celebrate with family and friends who had fallen in love with her just as much as we had. Her second birthday was a Disney Princess party, and her third birthday was a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse party- and each year, we were overwhelmed with joy as we realized just how special she had become to everyone around us. No one cared that she wasn't "blood" related- Jaycee was a part of us, and a part of them. Her fourth birthday party was Tinkerbell themed at Jump Zone, and this past year, we had a carnival in our own backyard. Looking at the pictures from each party makes me speechless- I am just overwhelmed with pride and happiness as I see how much this little girl has changed me and everyone who meets her.

Jaycee has always been a happy, smiling little girl- she is one of the most loving children I have ever met. She will hug just about anyone, even if she doesn't know you. She hugs waitresses at restaurants, family members she meets for the first time, and other kids her age that she meets at dance class, playgrounds, etc. She wants to love everyone, and it just melts my heart with pride to see how she always wants to love on everyone.

And oh, she makes the cutest little "model" for Halloween! She has been a pumpkin, a witch, Tinkerbell, and Hannah Montana! This year, she asked to be all 4 of those again, so we're having a bit of a time getting her to change her mind. =)

And recently, my heart has been warmed to listen and talk with Jaycee about the love of God. We listen to WAY FM in the car, and one of my favorite things to do is sing some of our favorite songs together. There is nothing in this world more innocent, pure, and special than a 5 year old singing "My hope is... in you Lord..." or "All I know is I'm not home yet, this is not where I belong..." - melts me into a puddle of Mommy happiness. And she tells me: "Jesus died for us so we can all go to Heaven" and my favorite is "God lives in our hearts. All the time. And we live in God's heart." This child has a pure love for God that inspires me, awes me, and brings me to my knees. It is such a beautiful relationship, and I am so excited to watch her grow in her love for Christ and mature into a strong Christian young woman one day!

So many people say that they commend us for loving Jaycee and for treating her as our own child for all this time. I tell them thank you, but they really don't understand that it wasn't even a choice- she is such a special little girl, and our lives are better because of her. I really see it as we are the lucky ones- she is a joy to have in our home and family, and we couldn't imagine where we would be if we didn't have her here. When we lost Kylie, I got up every day for Jaycee. She kept me going. If we had not had Jaycee in our lives, I know my life and the way I dealt with Kylie's loss would be completely different, and it could have ruined me. Jaycee was the first person to give me an even greater purpose in this world- she showed me what being a mother is about, and she showed me that blood doesn't mean anything when it comes to family.

I remember holding her in my arms, cradling her while she held her bottle... and I remember thinking that I never wanted that moment to end. Even now, as big as she is, I sometimes have the urge to hold her close, and I can almost imagine her as that sweet, chunky little baby girl with the cutest dimples in her smile, and my heart just leaps with love and overwhelming emotions.

And now, at 5 years old, she is witty, intelligent, kind, loving, clumsy, silly, goofy, sweet, stubborn, hard-headed, strong-willed, confident, cautious, precious, amazing... I mean, i could really go on all night. She has become such a big girl, and I wonder where all that time went. Where did my sweet baby girl go? Really, she's still there, just buried deep with in. Over this summer, I really feel we have gotten closer in our relationship with the time we have spent together- and it just makes my day for her to run to me and tell me how much she missed me while I was away. I know I may baby her some, but kids don't stay little forever, and by golly, I will spoil her and love her every moment of every day if I can! =)

I know it rambled, but it's so hard to organize your thoughts when you are fighting off tears that you have a sweet girl going to Kindergarten!!!!!!!! It just doesn't seem fair!