Thank you for visiting my blog! If you are visiting because you have experienced a pregnancy or infant loss, let me say that I am so very sorry. I started this blog shortly after our Baby Grady was stillborn on November 12, 2008. Please visit the sidebar below called "Labels" to find the topic in which you are interested, or just read as your heart desires.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Running Away At Age Three

Hi friends!

It's time to take another walk down memory lane today. I have so many things I want to post on Wednesdays, but this is what I've chosen for today.

Jessica was our first miracle and blessing from above. She was a healthy, full-term baby and is such a love. She will be 10 in May and has always had such a sweet spirit. She's also kind, gentle, and very funny at times.

This is a memory that I hope to never forget, and in many ways, it feels like it happened yesterday. First, let me introduce you to her when she was three years old.....

This particular summer, I was trying to get in shape, which seems like I'm always trying to do! Aren't we all?!?! I was in my bedroom doing crunches on the exercise ball. I stopped to take a break, still sitting on the ball. This cute, sweet and innocent little girl comes to me, puts her hands on my knees, tilts her head, looks up at me and says, with much drama and emphasis.......

"I can't stay here forever and have my life lived for me".

Surely, I heard her wrong..... "Excuse me, what did you just say?"

Once again, I hear from this sweet, but sassy, little one, with just as much drama, expression, and emphasis as before.....

"I can't stay here forever and have my life lived for me".

There was no way that I could keep a straight face. Needless to say, it was a belly laugh that made everything hurt, accompanied with tears and all.

Of course, I had to know where she had heard such a thing at such a young age. When I asked her, the answer was simple,

"Jasmine on Aladdin".

Apparently we had been watching too much Princess TV!

Let's face it, we all want to be a Princess in some way, complete with glass slippers and all!

Thanks for reading and sharing this fun memory with me today!

Love and blessings,

Monday, February 23, 2009

What Kind Of Glasses Are You Wearing?

I'm not talking about your standard eye glasses. You know, bifocals, trifocals, reading glasses, contacts...


I'm talking about glasses that help you see into eternity, help you rejoice only in good times and encourage the quietness in bad, or glasses that simply help you see the world according to you.

Let me explain.

We are so blessed to have found a church where absolutely every Sunday we walk away with a deeper understanding of God's purpose in our lives, which results in us feeling closer to Him. Whether your life is going well or you're faced with some sort of trial, it always helps to be able to relate God's word to your situation. It is comforting to know that God is walking with you along your path, whatever hills, valleys, twists and turns that come along on your journey.

Yesterday's message was the second part of a series about the "Soundtrack" of God's story. I felt like the sermon was written just for me.

Louie Giglio is a powerful speaker and has such an incredible way of making the scriptures really come to life in today's world. He focused on the 'midnight hour'. He used the story of Paul and Silas in the book of Acts, chapter 16. He brought up the point that in the times when we're struggling with something, the 'midnight hours' or the darkness, is when we often feel most alone. We get through the 'midnight hours' by:

1. Believing in God
2. Believing in a bigger story than our own.

Instead of sulking and being angry with God when they were beaten and jailed, Paul and Silas began praising God "after the midnight hour", literally in the middle of the night. All of the prisoners heard them.

How in the world does this relate to me? Why am I posting about this?

Louie says we have three kinds of glasses that we wear:

1. Our "Me" glasses - where we view life all about us and nothing else.

2. "Life-colored" glasses - we praise God when things are going well and stop praising when things aren't going the way we desire. According to Louie, in the bad times, "We press pause on the story of God".

3. "God" glasses - where we accept what comes our way as part of God's bigger story that He will use for His good and His glory. We look our hardship right in the face, accept it, and praise God anyway. (Not denying that it will be hard, or accepting that it's what we want - God never said it would be easy to follow Him).

Before Grady died, I really felt like I was wearing "God" glasses. I was so thankful that I had made it past the point of prematurity. I was praising God for a healthy baby. I was praying every day for other struggles in our lives. I felt like my walk with God was good at that point.

Now, insert Grady's death.

I pressed "Pause" in a BIG way. I wish I could honestly say that I kept my "God" glasses on, but not so, my friends, not so! I snatched those things off REAL fast, threw them where the sun don't shine, and put on my "Life-colored" glasses. I didn't like the cards God dealt me and my family. I didn't want to give my baby back. I didn't want to have to tell the girls that their brother had died. I didn't want to live with empty arms that should be full of the sweetness and love of a new baby.

I hated it.

I was angry at God. I couldn't talk to Him. I couldn't think about ever talking to Him again.

But through all of that, deep down, He was the only thing I had to hold onto. I like to describe my relationship with Him in those days as "bittersweet".

I wish that I could say that I kept my "God" glasses on the whole time like Angie Smith. (She, her story, and her unwavering faith were such a testimony to me. More about how she changed my life to come....). I wish so much I could say that it was easy for me to slip those "God glasses" right back on, but it has taken me a while. I can finally say that I'm wearing them again, and my heart is at peace.

I don't like my situation, but I have to learn to live with it. I don't know why Grady's life was so short here on this earth. I don't know why God chose me and my family to endure this pain and heartache.

But, I DO believe in God.

I DO believe in a greater story. The story of God, that will live long beyond my short story is over. I know that God is going to use my experience to help someone else, and I know that He's going to use it for His glory.

That, my friends, is what is supposed to happen in the bigger and much greater "Story of God".

If you'd like to hear the entire sermon, click here. The name of the sermon is "Soundtrack, The Loudest Song".

I hope that you'll choose to wear your "God glasses" when you're faced with your next trial. Or, that you'll choose to slip them back on if you're in the middle of a trial right now. It is not always easy, but it truly is so much easier than trying to walk that dark road alone.

May God bless you today and always!


Saturday, February 21, 2009

7 Things Odd And Interesting About Me

Well, I got 'tagged' on a friend's blog to write 7 things odd and interesting (o&i) about myself.

Let's see what I can come up with....

1. If I ever eat a peanut butter and banana sandwich (or peanut butter and jelly), I really need sour cream and onion potato chips with a cold glass of milk to enjoy it to its fullest.

2. When I go to Chick-fil-A, I always get 4 BBQ sauces to put on my sandwich and dip my fries in. I must have 4 - no more, no less.

3. Without artificial hair color, I would be completely, and I do mean COMPLETELY white-headed (just NOT happening for this chick at 36 years of age!!).

4. I had my first child through natural childbirth - no medicine, no epidural - she weighed 8lb. 7oz. Some people find this very odd and strange, but I enjoyed that experience and had hoped to have all of my children that way (God had other plans, though.).

5. When I eat something sweet, it always has to be followed by something salty (to get the sweet taste out of my mouth).

6. I was an ICU nurse for a short time. I could handle blood, guts, and SO much stuff, but my stomach turned when it came to saliva and respiratory secretions.

7. I graduated Suma Cum Laude from nursing school, second in my class.

Hope you enjoyed some o&i things about me.

What are some o&i things about you???? Leave a comment and do share..........

Have a great weekend!


Friday, February 20, 2009

Missing My Boy......

This is not what I planned to write in today's post, but its where my heart is this morning, so I'm going to share. Honestly, as always...

I am missing my sweet Grady with every ounce of my being. I have good days, and I have bad days. The good days are, fortunately, starting to outnumber the bad ones. But even on the good days, as I try to make the best of my days and time with my family, a part of me is missing. Empty. It's very hard to describe, but a piece of my heart feels constantly squeezed with sadness. Not crushing or suffocating like it did in the beginning, but it's always there.

A constant reminder of what I don't have...

I haven't been able to cry for Grady in a long time. I cried a little at his service the end of January, but even then, not too many tears came. For me, at that time, it was something positive to honor him. Even though there was some finality in saying 'goodbye', it felt so good to do something for him.

I'm not sure what it was about last night, but the tears came in a flood. I'm thankful, but it has carried into today. Which doesn't surprise me at all.

As I went to bed, I was hugging his blue blanket (just like any other night), and the flood gates opened. I was sad, mad, frustrated and so confused.

I was sad because he wasn't here.

I was mad because I was holding a blanket instead of him.

I was frustrated because I did everything possible to keep him safe in my womb, but it didn't work, it wasn't enough.

I was confused as to why I wasn't allowed to keep him here with me. Instead I had to give him back to his maker, and in doing that, give up all hopes and dreams I had for him as part of our family.

His room is still the way it was the day he died. When I check on the girls before I go to bed and when I check on the girls in the middle of the night, I pass his room. The thought always comes that "I should have a baby in that room to check on, too". Some would say that I should take the room down. However, it will always be Grady's room, even if it is a room with another purpose.

I'm not ready to put his things away yet...

I feel at times that very well-meaning people try to minimize my grief for him. "Well, at least you still have two beautiful children". And THANK GOD for my two beautiful children. They are what helped pull me through those first very dark weeks after Grady died. They were my reason for literally pulling myself out of bed every day.

But what people need to understand, is that even though Grady was a baby who didn't live outside my womb, he was his own person. He lived vibrantly inside of me. Did I mention that he was his own person? The girls cannot take his place, just like Grady could never take their place.

My grief is for him. For what he meant to me. For what he represented in our family. For what we don't get to experience with him. For my little boy who became an angel before I got to play with him.

My grief is for Emma Grace, who so badly wanted to be a big sister to a real live baby.

My grief is for Jessica, who wanted to help play mommy with me.

My grief is for Gib that he doesn't have a little football player to coach.

My grief is that a member of our family will forever be missing......

Thanks for listening to my heart today.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Walkin' on Wednesday

Wednesdays are always sad days for me. Hard as I try, sadness always creeps into my soul. That was the day that I found out that Grady was gone. I tend to relive every minute of Wednesdays, from morning to night.

I found a wonderful blog yesterday with this idea. I thought it would be a great way to try to turn my frown upside down.

Every Wednesday you take a walk down memory lane, hence the name "Wednesday Walk". You can write about anything. Go here to read how it all started and officially participate.

I give this wonderful woman full credit for coming up with this idea, but I've decided every Wednesday, I'll post a memory and try to start a memory book for my family as well.

I had a hard time thinking of what I was going to write, but I was talking about my dad this morning at the gym and this story popped into my head.

My dad, Barry, was a very funny man. He loved his beer, too! Sometimes a little too much. (Rolling Rock was his favorite - even named his band after it). Unfortunately, he died when I was 13 years old.

One summer night, my mom was watching the Braves (as in Atlanta), one of her favorite past-times. It was dusk, and as I walked from the breakfast room into the family room, I glanced out the back window. The following conversation took place.

Me: "Uh, Mom, is there a reason the backyard is on fire?"

Mom, very calmly, "What do you mean the back yard is on fire?"

Me: "I mean the backyard is on fire. Come look."

She moves faster than I think I've ever seen her move, sees the spectacle in the backyard and immediately calls 911.

When my parents bought that house, they had 42 pine trees removed from the backyard. The stumps had apparently gotten to be too much for my dad to cut around with the lawn mower. After having a few brewskies, he got the brilliant idea to burn those stumps. All at one time!

I was freaking out thinking the fire was going to come and burn our house down. The neighbors on both sides and behind us all had their water hoses pointed toward our yard to control the fire.

I hear the sirens coming to our house. My dad is no where to be found.

After the fires were extinguished, my dad slowly comes creeping out from behind the woodpiles in the far corner of the yard. My mom is furious. That's probably an understatement.

When my dad is questioned as to why he is hiding, he says, "I dropped the gas can when I lit one of those stumps, and I thought I was going to get blown up".

I need to add that my dad was terribly scared of snakes. Can't say that I blame him though - I'd take a snake bite over getting blown up, too!

I remember going back to school and having to write a story about something that happened over summer break. I'm sure there were other things to write about, but I chose that experience. I called it "Barry's Backyard Burnout".

That's definitely an experience that I'll never forget!

PS. Lynnette, my favorite game that I used to play with my dad, was TROUBLE. My girls and I love to play it now, too! I think they really just like popping the center button!!


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Family of Friends

I've wanted to post about my second family for a while. This was a thought before my blog ever came to be.

Have you ever wondered what life would be like without your friends? A friend can be anyone, maybe a spouse, mom, sister, cousin, or simply someone God has placed in our lives with whom we can walk the rocky roads and ride the roller coasters. I have always considered myself not just lucky, but extremely blessed to have the friends that I do.

I have one true life-long friend who is like a sister to me. Her name is Andrea. Our dads were best friends, and we grew up together. Not only do we share memories of childhood (good and bad), we share the exact same birthday only three years apart. The similarities between us are uncanny, almost like we are really sisters. I can share anything with her and know that she will always love me, no matter what!

I am also blessed to still be in touch with friends from preschool, elementary school, high school, college, and all of the churches we've attended (sounds like we've church-hopped all of our lives, but we really haven't). I continue to be blessed with new friends through life experiences, and I'm so thankful. Suzanne, Lori, & Nanci, that includes you!!

I can't talk about friends and not share with you about my group. When we were attending Grace Fellowship, we joined a small group. After the first day of visiting, I thought, "There is no way I can be friends with these people. I have nothing in common with them". Not being one to give up easily, we continued to go. It didn't take long before not only did I like these girls, I loved them!

Jennie invited us to her house for a casual coffee and fellowship time to get to know one another better. I will never forget (and she knows this) walking into her home seeing crumbs on her floor and hot dog in the chair from the dinner that her children had recently finished. I immediately felt at home. It was so nice to see that she was REAL! Not trying to impress, just being herself. That's what I love about each of the girls from my group.

Something amazing happened in that group. We had only been friends, literally for a few weeks, but it felt like we were friends for years. We shared our hearts and went to the deepest part of our souls with one another every Wednesday night (I think our favorite place was around Shana's coffee table with some hot bean dip!). This was a group specifically designed by God, because how often do you meet someone and feel that you can be that open in such a short time. When I was in the hospital on bed rest with Emma Grace, they came to the hospital and brought group to me. That touched my heart beyond belief!

The bond between us "Grace Girls" is indescribable, and I don't expect to ever encounter something like that again. But I'm so fortunate to have had it at least once in this lifetime. So, Mary Beth, Shana, Shannon, Val, Amy, Sunni, Jennie, Wendy, & Danielle, you are my forever heart friends. I love you so much!!! (If I had a scanner, I'd scan our picture. That's on my wish list!)

I was really worried when we moved to this small town that I wouldn't be able to build a strong friendship base like what I've had previously. Boy, was I wrong! The people here have embraced me, loved on me, and taken me in like I never could have imagined.

To all of you who have prayed over me in these dark times, thank you. To those who have brought meals when I couldn't make them myself, thank you. To those who have helped me with my children, thank you. To those who have just called, emailed or sent cards because you love me and want me to know it, thank you. I don't just know you love me, I feel it!

I hope that you are blessed with at least one good, true heart friend. Friendship really isn't about quantity, its about quality. I'm blessed to have both. If you have a special friend that you'd like to talk about, please leave me a comment and share that special someone with us.

I'm not sure who all really reads my blog, but if you are one of those true friends, please know that I love you deeply and thank God for you every day! Song number two on my play list below is for you!!!


Monday, February 16, 2009

Cooking Class

Well, I have so much that I want to write, but a lot of it is "heavy" and detailed. I'm just not in a "heavy" mood tonight, so I'm going to tell you about the cooking class that took place at my house today.

It started yesterday afternoon, when Jessica asked if her friend SD could spend the night. The kids are out of school for a mid-winter break, so there was no reason not to have a sleep-over. Emma Grace thinks she's just as big as Jessica and SD. She thinks SD is her best friend, too. They get along and play so well together!

We had a relaxing morning with chocolate chip pancakes and bacon for breakfast and some crazy dancing afterward. They curled up in their sleeping bags to watch a movie and after lunch, moved on to bigger and better things - Cooking Class!

The next thing I know, all three girls are in the kitchen taking spices out of the cabinet, bowls and spoons are everywhere. I'm asked by Emma Grace if I would like a salad. Of course I said "Yes". This is what I'm presented with.....

The big girls then asked if I wanted the main course they had prepared. I couldn't turn that down either. After much work with the tongs, and potatoes in and out and back in the dish again, here it is, sweet potato and potato casserole, with some added ingredients for extra flavor.......

Meet my two stars from the cooking class (I don't have permission from SD's mom to put her picture on here - I forgot to ask!).........

I really love these days when the kids can create and do whatever they want, within reason of course! We're trying to convince Jessica to take a real cooking class to give me a break in the kitchen (which I would love)!!!


Friday, February 13, 2009

Valentine Cutie

I've always loved having girls for Valentine's Day. I love dressing them up and taking pictures of them. Jessica is getting too big to dress up with cute bows and such (I disagree, but I'm trying to respect her choices). She's still my cutie, too, but Emma Grace will pose in a second. She's such a ham for the camera. She loves to wear comfy clothes (doesn't enjoy being so fru fru anymore), but still appeases me with the bow. I took a few pictures of her today. Thought I'd share some of them with you too.

She had her party at school this morning. Here she is waiting patiently for the yummy treat...

Here's the yummy treat that she waited for, decorated and enjoyed SO much. It was a heart chocolate chip cookie (YUM, my fave!), decorated with pink and white icing and M&Ms.....

After loading up on sugar and exchanging Valentine's with her friends, we went to the playground to enjoy the beautiful weather. Her favorite thing to do is swing. I think she would swing all day if she could.

Now you see me......

Now you see my feet!

We hardly ever have our picture made together, so I seized another adult hand and captured this moment.....

We had a wonderful day, but now, we are reaping the consequences of all that sugar. She is literally in the floor crying because she wants to wrap up construction paper for her sister for Valentine's Day. Problem is, I don't have anymore wrapping paper. Here's a clip of the drama.....

******Quickly, before I go scoop her up, an update on Gib. His heart is fine! Praise God! There was no blockage and the apparent decrease in blood flow during exercise is just "normal" for him. This is exactly the news we were hoping for. He is doing well and went to work today. Thanks for your prayers!


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Glory Baby Grady

It was just three months ago today that I delivered my Glory Baby Grady. On one hand it seems like an eternity since I held him in my arms, on another it seems like just yesterday. It is amazing how your life can be changed by knowing someone for such a short time. How such a tiny person can be taken away and your life change in an instant, literally. I want to share a few pictures of our beautiful boy and share his story, in detail, with you.

I call him our Glory Baby because of a beautiful song written by Watermark. If you've never heard it, please scroll to the bottom of the page and click on song number 2. It is such a perfect song to describe our situation.

First, let me introduce you to his beautiful baby self:

It was Tuesday, November 11, 2008. I was 36 weeks and 4 days pregnant. I had been put on bedrest because my blood pressure was up a little. Not high, but high for me. My blood work came back negative for preeclampsia, so I was taking it easy, monitoring it at home and it was fine. No swelling, headaches or anything. My wonderful friend and neighbor, Nicole, came over that afternoon to help me finish the nursery. We put all the baby clothes away, opened the diapers, packed the diaper bag and everything was set for Grady to arrive that Friday, November 14th. The bassinett was already in our room, and his car seat in the van. I was scheduled for a c-section at 37 weeks because I have the old fashioned kind of scar on my uterus. For those who might not know, Emma Grace was born VERY early at 25 weeks and VERY emergently as my cord had prolapsed (if you don't know what that is, all you really need to know is that its life threatening for the baby and baby has to be delivered super ASAP). Because of this classical incision, I was at higher risk of a uterine rupture, and my doctor (we'll call him Dr. Joe - WONDERFUL MAN!) and I agreed that we didn't want to take a chance with that happening.

I wasn't feeling great that day, but not bad. Just uncomfortable, end of pregnancy feelings. Grady was hiccuping and moving around while we were working in the nursery (well, I was actually in the rocker and Nicole was doing the work!). Around 4:30 - 5:00 that afternoon, I was in the recliner that Nicole's family had insisted I borrow while on bedrest (Thanks again!). I was on the phone with another wonderful friend and neighbor down the street. Grady gave me a really BIG kick. So big that I could feel his foot and called the girls over to feel too. They were amazed, saying "Wow, that's cool!". Little did I know that would be the last time I would feel him. I often wonder, which foot kicked me, the one with the curled toes or the one with straight toes?

I noticed that I didn't feel him kick at dinner so after, I relaxed on the bed for a few minutes. Still no movement. I was a little concerned, but not overly, as he had been "quiet" before. We got the girls ready for bed, and I was helping Jessica study for a test. I was propped up on her bed and poking my tummy. She asked what I was doing and I told her I wished he would move. She tried talking to him, but still nothing. I was a little more concerned, but again, just thought he was being "quiet". I fell asleep with her and got up around 1:30am. After going to the restroom, I still didn't feel movement so I got out my stethoscope and tried listening for his heartbeat. I had not tried this with him before, but I had with Jessica. I found my heartbeat, but not his. I think at that moment, deep inside, I knew he was gone. But, again, I justified that maybe he wasn't big enough for me to hear him because I was only 36 weeks and 5 days at that point. I stayed awake the rest of the night and knew he was gone. I contemplated waking Gib and calling Dr. Joe. Being a nurse, though, I knew the outcome would be the same if it was 3am or 9am. I didn't want to have to wake someone to come stay with the girls, so I just decided to wait until morning.

When Gib kissed me goodbye, I told him that he needed to pray that Grady would move. (He prays every morning in the car before going to work). He sat down on the bed and prayed right then. His prayer ended with, "But Lord let your will be done". He left for work, and I got up and showered. I knew even if everything happened to be okay with Grady that Dr. Joe would want to go ahead and deliver that day. Nicole had taken Jessica to school, and I was getting Emma Grace ready when the garage door opened. Gib had left work and come home. For my husband, that's HUGE! I think he knew, deep inside, that we weren't going to get good news. He took Emma Grace to school, and I called the doctor. They, of course, said to come right in.

I remember the sick feeling driving to the doctor. It was a beautiful fall day. The leaves were at the peak of their color change. Gib and I didn't talk about much on the drive, but we both commented on how beautiful the leaves were. They will always remind me of that day...

When we arrived they took me right past the waiting room full of people. The nurse, Nanci, took me to do a non-stress test. Only problem was she couldn't find a heartbeat. I looked at Gib and shook my head. Grady had never been known for hiding before. Nanci told me not to panic, that this happened a lot and we would have Dr. Joe do an ultrasound. I told her I appreciated her optimism, but I wasn't encouraged. Thankfully, Dr. Joe came in soon after I got into the room. He looked very concerned and asked when I last felt movement. When I told him the previous afternoon, he looked more concerned. He always turned the ultrasound screen towards me, so I could see too, and this day was no different. As soon as he put the wand on my tummy, I could tell Grady wasn't moving. I recognized the heart and saw that it wasn't beating. I said, "Dr. P I don't see a heartbeat". The life sucked out of that precious man and he said "I don't see a heartbeat either". My world shattered and was changed in an instant. Those words haunt me to this day. Needless to say, I lost it. I just kept saying, "How can this happen?" "What did I do wrong" "This is a nightmare" "This has to be a nightmare". Unfortunately, it was a nightmare. A real live one that I'm still living today.

Dr. Joe stayed in the room with us for a while, trying to control his emotion but not very well. He was clearly upset. He was, and is, one of the most compassionate doctors I've ever met. I am so blessed to have gone through this with someone like him. He had a waiting room full of patients to see, so he left us for a while and checked on us a couple of times. I remember that I couldn't move. I was paralyzed on that table. I layed there for almost an hour. Finally, something inside of me snapped. I sat up and told Gib that I was ready to move to the next step. I knew I was going to deliver a dead baby.

We scheduled a c-section for that day, November 12, at 5:30pm. We made the long drive back home and checked Jessica out of school so we could tell the girls together. I dreaded that so much. It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. They both knew something was wrong. I told them that sometimes things happen in life that we just don't understand. That I had gone to the doctor and Grady's heart was not beating anymore. Jessica looked at me and said, "He died?" When I said yes, Emma Grace immediately started crying, saying "I didn't want Baby Grady to die". I just scooped her up in my arms and said that I didn't want that either. The next thing out of her mouth was, "Baby Grady can just be Granny's baby in heaven". That really made me cry. Granny is my mom who died in April, 2007 from lung cancer. Jessica didn't show much emotion at the time, but Emma Grace let it all out. Once I was able to get Emma Grace settled down, we took the girls next door and headed to the hospital. The sick feeling I had felt earlier, on the same drive, was magnified by 1000. I was numb. In shock. Still wishing I would wake up from this horrible nightmare.

I have two wonderful friends at the hospital who took exceptional care of Emma Grace in the NICU. One of them is a nurse practitioner, Suzanne, and the other is a nurse, Lori. They had planned to come in for my c-section that Friday. God love them, they came that afternoon for his delivery. I don't know what I would have done without them. Without Suzanne, we would not have these beautiful pictures of Grady. She approached me about Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep photographs. I had never heard of this organization, but I couldn't think of taking professional pictures of him. It just seemed wrong, for some reason. I initially said no, that we were just going to take pictures with our camera. She gently approached me again and told me that I wasn't going to get this chance again. If I never wanted to see the pictures I didn't have to, but I would have them if I did. I agreed, but only to pictures of him. Now, I'd give ANYTHING to go back and have pictures of me and Gib with him. But, when you're in that kind of situation, you do the best that you can do and you do what you think is right at that time. I do wish I had thought differently.

The silence in the operating room was deafening. No one said a word, only the sound of machines, sniffles and Dr. Joe asking for instruments. I had an intense urge to know when Grady was out. The sweet nurse anesthetist let me know. I think I was inwardly hoping that I would hear him cry. That everyone was wrong. That didn't happen. The silence grew even louder.

Gib and I agreed that we wouldn't see him until I was in the recovery room. Suzanne and Lori took him to bathe him and dress him for his pictures. When I got there, the photographer was almost done with his pictures. Suzanne told me he was beautiful. Gib held him for a few minutes and brought him to me. I remember seeing him for the first time. He was SO beautiful. He looked just like a sleeping angel. He was still warm from my body. His skin softer than the finest silk. Chubby cheeks. Dark hair like his sisters. LONG fingers and BIG feet! The only problem was that he wouldn't wake up. God I wish he would have..... He was big for his gestation. Dr. Joe said he was the size of an average 38 week baby. He weighed 6 lbs. 11oz. and was 20 1/2 inches long.

The obvious question is, "What caused his death?" We don't know the reason for his death. We chose not to do an autopsy because we were told that even if we did, most of the time a cause would not be found. All of my pregnancy blood work was great, five ultrasounds showed a healthy baby, and pathology reports on my placenta and umbilical cord came back normal.

I was fortunate enough to keep him in the room with me until I left that Friday evening. If you've never been through something like this, it might seem crazy and weird to hold a baby who has died and want him close. I didn't want to let him go. Alive or dead, he was my baby. The baby that had grown inside of me for 36 weeks and 5 days. I knew him like no one else. It was the shortest two days of my life, and I vividly remember my moments with him. I hope I don't ever forget. I don't remember some of the conversations I had with people, but I know that I remember every second with him. I snuggled him on my chest with a blanket over us, just like you would any normal baby. That's my favorite memory. It was a beautiful blue and white crochet blanket that someone made just for an angel baby like him. I still sleep with that blanket every night. It helps me feel close to him.

Saying goodbye was the hardest thing. The funeral home was wonderful. They came with a basket with a soft cushion to put him in. I live in a small town, and I knew the man who came to get him. He was so compassionate and respected Grady so much. The nurse gave us a regular hospital blanket to wrap him in, so I could keep the beautiful blue one. Gib and I swaddled him, kissed him, told him we loved him, and I placed him in the basket. I knew I would have to wait until heaven to see him again. Gib and I hugged and cried for what seemed like an eternity, but I'm sure it wasn't long.

I remember walking out the back of the hospital, angry and sad beyond belief. It was the second time I had left that hospital with empty arms. The first was when Emma Grace was born - at least she joined us 4 months later. But this time, I had empty arms for good. The ironic thing is that I said goodbye to him the very day that we were supposed to say hello. I couldn't stop thinking of what I should be doing rather than what I was doing.

We made the VERY difficult decision to cremate him. We have his ashes at home with us in his "memory box" as we call it. It is a wooden urn with baby blocks on top with his initials.

I'm not sure what, if anything, we will do with his ashes in the future, but for now, I'm happy having him here with us. We waited to have a service for him. We had a small one at our home on January 24, 2009. I will have a series of posts, telling about that amazingly wonderful day of honoring him.

I know this was a really long post. Thanks for reading about our Glory Baby Grady. He truly is our angel. I'll leave you with this......

"An angel in the book of life wrote down my baby's birth. Then she whispered as she closed the book, too beautiful for earth." Author unknown


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Hubby's Heart

Please say a prayer for Gib as he is having a heart cath tomorrow morning at 7:30am. We have to be at the hospital at 6:45 - way too early!

He had a "heart attack" in May of 2007. I put it in quotes because it wasn't your typical heart attack caused by blockage, but rather lack of oxygen to his heart muscle from vasospasms of one of his arteries. He spent a few days in the hospital, had a clear heart cath and was sent home on medicine. These vasospasms can be induced by stress. My hubby internalizes a lot of stuff, as most men do. In January, he started having chest pain again and went to the doctor. The doctor was not overly concerned as Gib's EKG looked great. Just to be safe, they scheduled a nuclear stress test. This is when they get you on a treadmill and inject dye to see how the blood is flowing through your heart. Gib did great, EKG was fine, but the test showed decreased blood flow to the front of his heart. To be safe, they've scheduled a heart cath for tomorrow morning.

We are hoping and praying that this is just "normal" for his heart. That maybe its been this way forever, just how his heart is designed. This test was not done when he was in the hospital previously. If you know Gib, he is extremely fit, healthy and exercises regularly. This is just so mind-boggling and stressful. I'll update sometime tomorrow afternoon or evening to let you know how he's doing.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Summer Sledding in February

I'm not sure where you live and what your weather is like, but we've had some exceptional days lately. The last three days have been such a tease, with temperatures in the 70's. Just beautiful! Makes me sad because I know its not here to stay! We sure are enjoying it though. We spent Sunday afternoon outside washing cars, the girls rode their bikes and even pulled out the Barbie jeep for a spin.

Yesterday, my oldest, Jessica, came in and said, "Mom, we're playing the coolest game!". I went outside to see what was going on. At the neighbor's house (my kids think its their second home!), the children had found a left-over piece of linoleum from their house. They put a throw rug over it and have been sliding down the hill in the front yard. They've named it "Summer Sledding".

How cute is this?

These pictures were taken just a few minutes ago. As I am typing right now, I am looking out my back windows watching them with sticks as big as Emma Grace is tall, wandering happily back into the woods. I am so thankful that we live in a neighborhood where my kids can truly be kids!

I hope that all of you are having a great day today!


Sunday, February 8, 2009

My Heart Will Choose To Say........

Most of you following this blog, so far, know what tragedy we've recently had in our lives. Our precious baby boy was stillborn on November 12, 2008. He was full-term, just two days away from being happily welcomed into this world via c-section. I will have a post, with details, devoted completely to him soon. However, the past almost three months have been the most difficult and trying of my life. Even more so than when Emma Grace was born 15 weeks early at 25 weeks gestation, weighing only 1 lb. 13 oz. Maybe not more difficult, just "different" difficult. Babies just aren't supposed to be born dead! I know that sounds harsh, but that's been the reality of my world since that beautiful fall day when my world fell apart.

I wish I could say that my faith never wavered, but that's not the case. My faith has been shaken beyond belief. However, I have finally "come around" in the last few weeks. That's also going to be a blog coming soon..... We were in church this morning, though, singing a song that many of you probably know. Its called "Blessed Be Your Name" by Tree63. Several of the lyrics popped out at me and really spoke to my heart this morning. I'm not sure if I will be able to put into words exactly what this means to me, but I'm going to give it my best shot.

There is a verse that says "And blessed be your name on the road marked with suffering, though there's pain in the offering, blessed be your name". The song goes on to say (and this is really what caught my attention), "You give and take away, you give and take away, my heart will choose to say, Lord, blessed be your name". This may come as a surprise to some of you (and you will learn quickly that I'm a raw, honest person, don't usually hold anything back), that I really do have to CHOOSE to say to the Lord, "Blessed be Your name". It doesn't always come easy to me these days, as often happens when you are going through a dark time in your life, walking on a "road marked with suffering". God gave to me a beautiful, perfect baby boy, who He quickly took away. It would be so easy to continue being mad at God, wondering why He didn't prevent Grady from dying. Questioning "Why God?", "Why us?", "Why him?". "Why me?". And if I'm completely honest (which I always am), I do still ask those questions. I'm only human and can't help but wonder. But I'm not dwelling on it anymore. I have CHOSEN to praise the Lord for all the He has done and continues to bless me with in my life. I will never understand the "whys" of this situation (at least not until heaven), but it just feels so good, warms my heart, soothes my soul to say, "My heart will choose to say, Lord, blessed be your name......"


Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Beginning of the Story.....

It all started in high school. I was a junior, Gib was a senior. We knew each other but not well. We had a fire drill one afternoon and found ourselves talking to one another. I thought nothing of it until a couple of days later. I got a phone call. It was him, asking me on a date. I was shocked! Stunned, in fact, because I'd had the BIGGEST zit on my nose the day we were talking. You know the kind that hurts days before you can actually see it - yeah, that kind. Felt like Rudolph and was mortified! I agreed to go on a date that Saturday night.

There was a football game the night before. I was on Drill Team (do they even have those anymore?). We were doing our routine before the game began. Gib happened to be a team captain that week, so he was already on the sidelines. When I did my little twirly thing and brought my head up, there he was. Staring at me with the most beautiful green eyes I'd ever seen. He saw me and gave me the biggest smile. It melted my heart, and I knew I was in trouble.

Our first date was September 9, 1989, the night before my 17th birthday. I can still tell you exactly what we both wore. I had on a red shirt, jeans and red espodrilles (I have no idea how to spell that correctly!). He was wearing a pink striped button-down Polo shirt, jeans and brown shoes. We went to Chili's, which was and still is one of my favorite restaurants. We were both so nervous, and I think it fair to mention that we had both just gotten out of long relationships (yes, crazy for high school, but oh well). Gib was so nervous that he almost knocked his plate off of the table. It was REALLY loud because of the ceramic tiles on the table. He was so embarrassed but we both laughed until we almost cried. Here's the really funny part of the date. The movie we went to see......Parenthood! Fast forward 19 years and here we are experiencing parenthood together. After the movie we went to a party and then to his house. This is when I was really impressed. I sat at an island in his kitchen with him and his dad for two hours, just talking. I felt welcomed by all of his family the minute I stepped into their home. I fell in love with his dad-such a wonderful man. I still love him to this day. He has been a great father to me, super special since my own died when I was 13.

Gib was the first one to wish me a Happy Birthday that year because I didn't go home until about 1am, so technically it was already my birthday. He was very much the gentleman, opening the car door for me, walking me to the door and NOT kissing me on the first date.

He broke my heart the following August when he left to go to college. He was going to Auburn and didn't want a long distance relationship. I was crushed! It didn't take long, though, before he was stopping in where I worked when he was in town. I would get a call every now and then wanting to know if I wanted to go out to dinner. Of course, I always went. He only went to Auburn for one year and then transferred to Georgia State. I tease him all the time that he just couldn't stand to be away from me!

We continued dating off and on for the next few years. I finally had enough of his "wishy-washiness", told him so and went out with someone else - just once to a Christmas Party - but he didn't like it at all! That Christmas is when I got a promise ring and we've been together since. The following Christmas Eve, 1994, he proposed to me on the 50 yard line of our high school football field (same place I'd gotten the promise ring the year before). We were married July 8, 1995 and the rest, as they say, is history!

I am so blessed to have such a wonderful man to call my husband. My friends all thought I was crazy for hanging on to the idea of something big with him, but I'm so glad I didn't give up. He is such a gentle man, a man of integrity, a man of God and a wonderful Daddy to our girls. (I say Daddy instead of father because anyone can be a father, but it takes someone REALLY special to be a great Daddy). So, Gib, thanks for asking....... I love you!