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.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Gift of a Friend's Heart

Today was a great day! I spent the afternoon with one of my best friends. We chatted-it-up over some yummy Mexican food, a diet coke for me, a coke for her.

Mary Beth and I have been friends for about six years. We were in the same small group at our old church in Lilburn, GA. Our friendship has continued to grow closer, even though she has moved to Orlando and now Indiana in the last two years. I miss her being close but we manage to keep in touch. Email is the best thing ever (in my opinion!)

Her friendship reminds me of a quote I saw on a picture frame at Cracker Barrel the other night. At the top it said "Friends". At the bottom it said, "Friends are just like stars. They're always there even though you don't always see them".

So true.

And a funny thing that we revealed to each other at lunch today...when we started in that small group neither of us thought that we could ever be close friends. That cracks me up because she's one of my very best-est, closest friends!

On Grady's first birthday she sent me an email. The title of it was "If I had a blog...". Once I opened it, it said "...this is what I would write about today. You may want to read this by yourself." My curiosity got the best of me. I wasn't completely alone as Jessica was finishing homework at the kitchen table. But I wanted, and needed, to read what she had written. I could hardly read through the tears. It was one of the most touching gifts anyone could have given me.

As we talked about it today, she said she had asked several people who had similar losses what she could do for me on Grady's first birthday. They told her, "Just remember". And remember she did. I asked her today if she would mind if I shared some of what she wrote... (this symbol [...] denotes where I've deleted some of her letter)

November 12, 2009

A year ago...

It was a hot, balmy afternoon in Orlando. It was Wednesday and I was getting ready to take dinner to the church. Wednesday nights were choir nights. They boys loved it! Dinner with their friends, hand bells, puppets and singing. The parents rotated preparing dinner each time. This was my time.

Let’s see, it was probably before 2 because I don’t think Austin was home from school yet, but I don’t quite remember the exact hour. The phone rang. I looked at the caller id. A smile crept onto my face as I realized who was calling. “HEY THERE”, I said in a chipper voice. But the voice on the other end was different. A solemn “hey” came back. Immediately I knew something was wrong. “What’s wrong….Tonya, what is it…. Is everything alright with Grady?” As she tried to talk over the tears, in a small, painful voice...her response was, “It’s the worst possible thing that could happen.” In one second, my mind went in a million directions. Was he sick; did he have a disease of some sort; did he come early and was in the NICU?


“WHAT” was the first word out of my mouth.

Disbelief was the first thought in my mind. “Are you sure? Couldn’t the doctors be mistaken? Couldn’t they just have not seen the heart beat? Technology isn’t always right... Maybe there was still a chance.

Pain was my next feeling.

You see, this wasn’t just any friend of mine. This was one of my closest friends.

This was Tonya.

Tonya...who God had brought into my life about 5 years prior through a small group at church.

Tonya...who sat on my bed and helped me pump my breast milk after I gave birth to Jack...was at the hospital when I gave birth to Holly...dropped everything and came speeding to my house when I had to call 911 b/c Austin fell off the changing table.

Tonya...who I could spend hours with, just talking…. Just being me.

Tonya...who I could trust to have my very best intentions at heart, who I could vent to and make mistakes around, but who would forever love me through it all.

Tonya, was a TRUE friend of mine and when she hurt, I felt it.

I remember hanging up the phone in devastation. Falling to my knees, I began to cry... And to do the only thing I knew how to. PRAY. Not only did I pray, but I begged the Lord to not let this be true. I begged him for a miracle. I prayed that the ultrasound was wrong, that Grady was still alive, and that in a few hours, Tonya would have a C-section and all the doctors would be amazed and shocked that Grady was perfectly fine. I begged... I pleaded... I cried until I couldn’t cry anymore. I know I didn’t feel half of what Tonya was feeling at that point, but I hurt. My heart broke right there in my living room and I had a painful feeling for my friend that I had never, ever felt before.

[...] I asked Nick if we could go to Atlanta ASAP so I could be with Tonya. “Of course, we will leave first thing in the morning,” he said.

I’m not sure how many buckets my tears could have filled. But for the rest of the night I thought of my dear friend and the pain she was going through. I could not imagine. And I started questioning God. I don’t believe God makes bad things happen to us. I don’t necessarily believe there is a reason to everything either. I do believe that sin entered our world through Adam and Eve and that things happen directly or indirectly as a result of sin. God, in his infinite Glory, will allow bad things to happen but will ultimately work good through all of it. But WHY? Why Tonya. Hadn’t she already experienced so much ‘bad’ in her life. [...] Why couldn’t God have saved Grady? Why did this have to happen to Tonya, of all people. Didn’t she deserve a break?

And I found myself asking, “Why not me?” I gave birth to a perfectly healthy baby almost exactly 3 months prior. Why did I have a healthy baby? I hadn’t been through a fourth of what Tonya had been through. Why not me?

I had hope that the phone would ring and the miracle would have come true. Tonya or Gib would be calling to tell me that everything was fine. Ultrasound was wrong. Grady was here, alive and well. But as the hours ticked on, the phone never rang and I knew the worse had indeed happened.

The next morning Nick, the kids and I piled in the car and headed for Atlanta. [...] I arrived at the hospital and went to her room. There was a cloud with some rain on her door. I later learned that they put those stickers on the doors of the rooms where parents had lost their babies. The nurse stopped me before I knocked. “Are you Mary Beth?” “Yes,” I said. Well, do you mind waiting in the waiting room for a little bit. The doctor is in with her right now. [...]

I sat in the waiting room by myself for a while. [...] Finally the nurse came in and took me to her room. [...] I sat with Tonya until really late that night. We cried, we laughed (a little), she asked “Why” and I said, “I don’t know”. I don’t remember many of the details of that night, but just remember being there. I remember Tonya holding Grady and wanting me to see all his perfectly made parts. His little feet, his tiny hands, his ears. I remember he looked like Emma Grace to me. I was honored that Tonya allowed and desired for me to see her precious little angel.

I remember the nurse came in and gave her a pill to help her sleep. After she took it, I left. I talked with God the entire way home. Still asking why, but praying for my friend. Praying that she would have comfort and peace. Praying that God would be very real to her in this time. Praying that he would reveal himself to her in ways she has never known. And as I went inside my mom and dad’s house, I went straight into my room and crawled in bed with my husband. He was already somewhat asleep, but I remember him putting his arm around me as I cried myself to sleep.

Dear Tonya,
I’m writing this because I want you to know I will never forget that time. I will never forget Grady. I will never forget where I was when I heard the news. I will never forget the pain I felt for you. I didn’t have any answers or words to make the pain go away then, and I don’t have any now. But I do know that our God is bigger than all of this. And I will not let you forget that. Our questions may never be answered here on earth, but we have hope that one day we will be reunited with our loved ones... and most importantly... we will meet our Heavenly Father face to face.

May God be real to you today. May He wrap His arms around you and hold you. May He restore joy to your heart. May He give you strength to go on each day. May He continue to work through this horrible tragedy and shine light in those dark places. May He give you wisdom to plan your next step in life. May He give you a peaceful heart. May He take away your fears. And may He continue to give us all HOPE.

I love you friend.
Mary Beth

Dear Mary Beth,
Thank you so much for sharing your heart with me on Grady's first birthday. It is a true gift. One that I cherish and don't take for granted. We've shared our hearts with each other before, but these words touched me to the core. Thank you for not listening to my request for 'no visitors'. Thank you for packing up your family and coming anyway. I needed you there. Thank you for taking the time out of your super busy day with your four little ones to write this to me. Thank you for walking with me this last year and always. Thank you for your prayers, support and listening ears. Your friendship is a gift and blessing beyond words in my life. I wish we lived closer, but I love the fact that we pick up right where we left off. It was wonderful to finally get to meet Trey today and see all of your beautiful family again. I love, love, love you sweet friend!!!


Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday and Cracker Barrel

I survived Black Friday! This year was the first time I've ever gotten up in the middle of the night to shop the day after Thanksgiving. I got up at 3am and left home, coffee in hand, by 3:30.

My first stop was the mall. Sears had down comforters, any size, for $19.99. I couldn't find them, and when I asked, I was told that only the 'bigger' stores got those in their shipment. Bummer.

So off to Kohl's I went. I found exactly what I was looking for, and even a little extra, but then stood in line for one hour. It was one of the longest hours of my life. I was sandwiched between two former coworkers(not mine, each other). The one behind me was pregnant with her first baby, due in June. The one in front of me, with good reason, was ecstatic for her. get the idea.

That was all I heard about. That and the fact that the woman in front of me had daughters, granddaughters, 13 nieces and not one nephew. She had no idea how she would shop for a boy because she had never had to. neither.

They were very nice, but I was ready to check out and move on.

I had mentioned (to the woman behind me, the pregnant one) that I really wanted to get there early to get gifts for my girls' teachers. Later in our conversation she asked me how old my girls were. Luckily she didn't ask me how many children I had, boys or girls, etc. Because I would have been really stuck with my answer. I wouldn't have wanted to deny Grady and not acknowledge him, but I also didn't want to have to tell her what happened to him out of respect for her, being pregnant and all.

Thank you Lord for that blessing today.

From Kohl's I headed to Target. I didn't spend as much time there, but I did see a man almost come out of the passenger window because another car wouldn't let his car in front of him. And this was leaving the parking lot, not coming in!

From there I struck out at Academy Sports and Old Navy. But I did buy myself some new comfy purple house slippers. Jessica is trying to steal them, but I'm not gonna let her. But I will share, you know.

I'm glad I ventured out because I do feel like I saved a good bit of money. Even though I'm not a shopper, it was kind of fun. I'm even considering doing it again next year!

I came home by 9am and was ready for a rest. I tried to nap and dozed off and on. I got up around 11am to find Jessica a bit puny and very glassy-eyed. She had a fever of 102. That was a bummer because we had tickets to the Nutcracker for a 2pm show. Needless to say we stayed home. She did take a short nap, but she still hasn't felt well all day.


Gib and Jessica decided to throw the football yesterday afternoon before going to dinner. It was cold! (at least to us southerners!)

We had a great time last night. The food was great, sweet tea was perfect and our waitress even let me substitute my pumpkin pie for pecan pie and the girls got chocolate pecan pie. Yummy!

We looked around the gift shop after dinner. These three decided they wanted to start their own band right there in the middle of the store. Too funny! Be sure not to miss the tambourine in Gib's hand...

We came home and enjoyed The Polar Express in our pj's in front of a fire. It was sooooo nice and relaxing! We took these pictures before getting in our pj's - I know you're glad!

I was trying to get a cute picture of me and the girls with Buddy, but he wanted to attack me instead. (If you look hard enough, you can see the top of his head between my legs. I was holding him down for the picture)


I'm looking forward to tomorrow. I'm having lunch with my friend, Mary Beth, who is in town from Indiana. I've been looking forward to seeing her for a long time. I haven't seen her in quite a while, and it's always great to spend time with her. Our visit this year will be much different from last year's Thanksgiving visit.

Instead of her visiting me with her new baby and meeting Grady, she came alone, brought a meal for my family and sat and cried with me. As I recall she also stopped by McDonald's and brought me a diet coke and some french fries. They sounded good that particular day. She knew I wasn't eating and brought me what she thought I would eat. This year (tomorrow) we're planning to have our usual, Mexican. Can't wait!

That's all for tonight!


Thursday, November 26, 2009


Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you're having a great day, however and with whomever you're spending it. Our day started by Gib bringing the Christmas tree and decorations down from the attic. Early...around 9am. I wasn't even done with my coffee. So we dove in, head first, to get the tree up and decorated.

I have to brag on my hubby for a minute. I'm the light 'putter-upper' and I'm not very fond of this job. However, Gib would simply put one strand around each branch and be done. Hence, the reason I've always had this responsibility. So, this year as Gib was putting each layer of branches on, he said, "Do you want to go ahead and put the lights on as we go?"

Well, some of you might say "DUH", and if so, go ahead. But this idea has NEVER crossed our minds before. We always put the whole tree up, then I tackle the lights. This was a great idea and was much easier, but it allowed me to place them more carefully, and I ran out of lights. So, two trips to the store later for more lights, the tree is complete. Decorations and all. Now we have to get the rest of the decorations in place. Feels good to have such an early start!

Your jaw might drop when you read this, but Thanksgiving has never been that big of a deal to me. I don't have really great memories that stand out on this family holiday. That holiday is Christmas for me. There was one Thanksgiving that I drove to Cleveland, TN to spend it with some friends. (As I recall that was the first Thanksgiving that my mom and step dad were married). And until recently, Gib and I have always spent Thanksgiving with his family and Christmas with mine. Somehow over the last few years, all of that has changed and we've spent the past couple of years with my brother and his family.

But last year, we changed it up again. We decided to do our own thing. Grady had just gone to heaven. I didn't want to be around anyone. I didn't want anyone walking on eggshells around me, not knowing what to say. I wanted to avoid the HUGE ELEPHANT in the room. Because, believe me, it was ever-present everywhere I went. So, Gib, the girls, and myself went to Cracker Barrel for dinner (GREAT deal!) and then went to Lake Lanier for their Nights of Lights. In light of how broken I was, we had an extremely good time. We played at the carnival after driving through the lights. We all rode on our first ferris wheel together and the girls had a grand time on some of the 'rides'.

As I was watching the world moving on, even though mine had stopped two weeks before, enjoying myself as much as I could, I wanted to stop everyone and tell them about Grady. I wanted to scream, "Don't you want to know about what just happened to my baby?!" I did not do either, but after all, it had only been two weeks...

Here are a few pictures of Thanksgiving last year...

Thanksgiving is not unfolding as I planned this year. We were going to go to Cracker Barrel for lunch and then head to Stone Mountain, GA for A Stone Mountain Christmas. Good thing I double-checked because they're not open today! For some reason I was thinking today was Nov. 27th. Oops!

We thought about doing the same thing we did last year, but then decided we'd rather save our money and still do A Stone Mountain Christmas soon. So, we're going to Cracker Barrel in a bit for dinner, then coming home to build a fire, make some hot chocolate, put on our pj's and watch The Polar Express. Sounds GREEEAAAT to me! And the girls think so, too!

Plus, I need to get in bed early because I'm braving Black Friday for the very first time ever! I'm planning on getting up early and hitting the stores. Gib says I should practice my boxing skills. I would if I had any! Instead I'll just go with the flow...

So, even though this particular holiday has never been *tops* on my list, I do love to take time and reflect on the many things for which I'm thankful. Here are just a few...

I'm very thankful and praise God for my beautiful children. Jessica and Emma Grace are the lights of my life. They bring joy and happiness beyond words. They make me laugh, each with their unique sense of humor. I love to hug, squeeze, kiss and cuddle them. I'm thankful that they both still let me do that. This, of course, includes my beautiful Grady, too. I'm thankful that I carried him for 9 months and felt him grow inside of me. I'm thankful that I had him with me for that time and for two days after he was born. Even though his life was much shorter than I hoped, he brought me much happiness. Thoughts of him and dreams we had for him aren't going to come true, but they still bring me happiness. I'm thankful for my "wondering thoughts". God has used Grady's life, both here and in heaven, to teach me so many things.

I'm thankful for my husband. He drives me crazy sometimes, but isn't that what spouses do? I'm thankful that he's a hard worker and good provider for our family. I'm thankful for his patience with me and his understanding of my quirkiness. I'm thankful that he's forgiving of my faults and loves me when I'm not so lovable. I'd be lost without him.

I'm thankful for time. Time has been such a gift to me, especially this last year. There is a saying that "time is the best healer". I am by no means completely healed from the loss of Grady. But I've made tremendous progress throughout this past year, and my prayer is that God will continue to heal my heart as time goes on.

I'm thankful for decisions that have been made, big and small.

I'm thankful for my friends, both old and new. They have truly been my rock and support. I'd be lost without them!

I'm thankful for our health. And I'm thankful that we can afford great supplements to help keep us healthy.

I'm thankful for our home, food, clothes, van and car.

I'm thankful for Buddy. He has brought lots of laughs and love into our home in the short time that we've had him.

I'm thankful for the conveniences in our lives that we, all too often, take for granted. Things like hot water, dishwashers, stove, washer and dryer, high-speed internet, telephones, cell phones, television, hair dryer, flat iron, etc.

But most of all, I'm thankful for Jesus. I'm thankful that God sent his son in human form to live on earth. I'm thankful for the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and what each of those represent. That he paid the debt of our sin on that cross so that we are forgiven and have eternal life. All we have to do is believe in Him.

And last but not least, I'm thankful for HOPE. The HOPE we have in Jesus and eternal life through Him in heaven. I've leaned on HIM and that HOPE super hard this last year. And I'm so thankful for it. Because without it, I'd have nothing.

Yes, I'm thankful this Thanksgiving. What are you thankful for?


Monday, November 23, 2009

Meetin' MckMama

Yep, that's right...


I heard she was coming to Atlanta, and I wasn't about to miss an opportunity to meet her in person. It was a little over an hour drive, but I didn't care. The weather didn't stop me either. It was damp, rainy, cold and the thermometer on my dashboard said it was 43 degrees. It took quite a while last night for my toes to warm up, but it was well worth it!

And to think, I almost missed it! I would have been MOST unhappy! I misread her instructions when she threw out the idea for an Atlanta meeting and just left a comment on her blog. Then, in one of her tweets, she said she was emailing people back about the Atlanta gathering. I emailed her on Friday to ask about details and when she responded, I literally said "WHAT?!" out loud to my computer screen. It was planned for two days later.

My small group was gracious enough to delay our Thanksgiving dinner by 30 minutes. It was at our house this week, and there was no way I could get to the gathering at 3pm and back home by 5:30. Everyone agreed to meet at 6 instead. Which doesn't sound like a lot of extra time, but it was just what I needed.

Gib was wonderful to help me get the house ready. I just couldn't get into the cleaning groove Saturday, so he picked up the slack for me on Sunday. Emma Grace dusted and wiped down the table. Jessica cleaned the guest bathroom. Gib vacuumed, changed the table cloth and washed dishes. And it all came together beautifully.

Back to meetin' MckMama...

My friend, Jenny, and I braved the cold weather and headed down to Grant Park, which is just outside the gates of Zoo Atlanta. (It's also where I ended the second day of my breast cancer walk in October) We got there early around 2pm. We were instructed to look for orange balloons. We circled the park and didn't see one orange balloon. I started to get a little worried. Finally, we decided to get out and just start walking. We found MckMama in a photo shoot with a family of four, and they were just starting to blow up the balloons.

I'm so glad that we got there early because we had a few minutes to chat with her before everyone else got there. She is such a genuine person and very easy to talk to. And I can honestly say that I loved her just as much in person (even more so) as I do on her blog. I was disappointed not to see Prince Charming and her MSC anywhere. But we quickly found out that he had taken the kids around the zoo while she was doing photo shoots.

Not too much later, the rest of the MckFamily arrived. It was an honor and pleasure to meet each one of them. Prince Charming was extremely nice, and I have to say that their *MSC* (many small children) are absolutely, gorgeously beautiful and sweet! But you already knew that didn't you?! I am not the expert photographer, nor do I know how to use Photoshop to enhance pictures, but here are a few pictures that I took.

Small Fry with her Mama...

And enjoying a snack...

Big Mac willingly posed, while also eating a snack...

And enjoyed a game of peek-a-boo under his Mama's shirt...

Nuggey did NOT want his picture taken...

And the highlight of the day was Stellan...

Yes. You're seeing that photo right...


He was not nearly as smitten with me as I was with him. The only thing he found interesting about me was my furry black jacket. In fact, when I hugged MckMama goodbye, he grabbed my sleeve and put it in his mouth (apparently he sleeps with a blanket of a similar texture). I cannot tell you what an honor and privilege it was to hold such a miracle in my arms. I didn't take it lightly, not for one second!

But for those of you who are new to my blog, you have to also understand what a huge step this was for me personally. I have only held one baby since I held Grady in the hospital. (You can read about it here) But the difference with Stellan is that he was born only two weeks before Grady. I always look at pictures of him and read what MckMama is writing about him, and I wonder if Grady would be that big or doing those same things? (Sara, I thought about you SO much yesterday!)

It was the first time that I've even thought about holding a baby so close in age to Grady. There was a lady holding Stellan (the blogger who gave MckMama the idea to name him Stellan in fact, which I know she will blog about!) and this overwhelming urge to have him in my arms came over me. She handed him to me and it made my heart SO happy! I really can't articulate it right now. I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to...

It was a great time overall, despite the cold wet weather. I met some new blog friends, local ones at that! I even recognized a lady, and we discovered that she works at the church where we used to attend. I am so grateful to MckMama and Prince Charming for making the time to meet some of their blogging friends here in the south. Meeting their family was a wonderful experience and definitely one that I'll never forget!


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Peace. Not Understanding.

That's what I've felt since Grady's first birthday.


I was talking to Alice, my mentor and prayer warrior, this morning and that's all I could describe. Things aren't great. Things aren't bad. But I feel like I've climbed over a huge hurdle. And now that I've made it through the first year without Grady, I feel like I'm going to be okay.

Let me clarify...there were days that I questioned if I would make it through. The heaviness and deep ache were too much at times. But deep down, I knew I was going to be okay. I knew God was big enough for my burden. He could carry my heartache. And I had to be okay for the rest of my family. In my mind, there was no other choice.

But, I'm at a place, honestly for the first time, where I have peace about Grady going to heaven so soon.

Peace. Not understanding.

There's a difference.

I'll never understand why God gave me this "cross" to bear along with the other losses in my life. I'll never understand why Grady couldn't stay here as part of our earthly family.

And I won't understand until I get to heaven myself.

But I have peace in God's plan and will for Grady's life. And I have peace in God's plan for my family's life without him here on earth. I'll never understand it, but I accept it.

And I'm at peace.

Just because I have that peace does not mean that I love him or miss him any less. It doesn't mean that I'm "magically" okay. Or completely healed. Or "over it". Because friends, I can tell you that will never happen. I'll never get "over it". I'm getting through it. But someone who loses a child never gets "over it" in my opinion.

Just because I have peace doesn't mean that I'll never cry for him again...because I will.

It doesn't mean that I won't miss and think about him every day of my life...because I will.

It doesn't mean that I won't miss him on holidays and special family events...because I will.

It doesn't mean that I won't hear a song and break into tears because it makes me think of him...because I will.


Not understanding.

I feel like I'm one more step ahead in this grief journey. Moving forward in this process is a good thing...


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

My girls are playing at a friend's house, so I thought I'd take this time to blog. However, I've sat down and don't really know what to blog about. So, I'll just ramble for a minute (or ten).

I'm in a rut. A dinner rut, that is. I feel like we eat the SAME things over and over again. I don't mind cooking. But I've gotten to where I don't like to go the grocery store without a menu for the week and a detailed list. Oh, and I MUST have my calculator, too! Since we took Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University course this summer, I hate surprises at check-out. I can have $100 to spend and only get five things, but I like to know how much those five things are going to cost before I get there. And I have pulled out my cell phone and used the calculator on it before, but it isn't nearly as easy to use as the regular one!

Back to the rut...when I try to think of a menu, I go blank. Tonight is our Tuesday pizza night. Thank goodness or I have no idea what we would have! But, PLEASE, if you have a favorite easy recipe to share, please leave it in the comment section or email me (email on left side bar). I am in desperate need of some new ideas. I usually cook a chicken in the crockpot once a week, so chicken recipes are very much welcomed, as are beef recipes, especially since I have a deep freezer full of that, too!

I took some pictures of my girls sleeping the other night, just because. Do you ever do that? I used to take pictures of them sleeping as babies quiet frequently, but for some reason, as they've gotten older, I don't do it as much. So, the other night, after Emma Grace had a hard night, I went to check on her and this is what I found.

The blue bear is called "Baby Grady Blue Bear". It was a bear that was given to Grady at one of my showers. Emma Grace slept with it before Grady was born and still sleeps with it now.

I decided that I should snap one of Jessica, too.

See the blue blanket? The week before Grady went to heaven, Jessica asked if she could sleep with something of her brother's too. I didn't have any more stuffed animals, so she chose this blanket. She, obviously, still sleeps with it, too.

They're growing SO fast!

I never check the girls out of school early, but I did today and will again on Thursday. As we were waiting at the dentist's office, Emma Grace got on her knees in front of the heater, clasped her hands in front of her and said, "I'm a praying mansion". Of course, I laughed first, then corrected her, "You mean a praying mantis".

On the way to our second appointment, Emma Grace breaks into the "B-I-B-L-E" song. She sings, "The B-I-B-L-E, yes that's the book for me, I stand along on the word I've got, the B-I-B-L-E". I hated to correct her because it was SO cute, but I did.

And one from a while back, driving home from shopping, I hear Jessica singing along with the radio, "Oh no, you never let go. Through the mall and through the store". It's supposed to be "through the calm and through the storm". It was hard to convince Jessica of this and took some explaining about realms of the "calm and storm" in our lives.

It's these little things that keep me going. Keep me smiling. And I just keep thanking God for His abundant blessings in my life!


Monday, November 16, 2009

Wondering Thoughts

This past weekend was absolutely beautiful! I'm so thankful for the warm weather and beautiful sunshine. It hasn't felt like November, but it's supposed to end tomorrow.

Saturday was such a mix of emotion for me. But the beautiful weather definitely helped my spirits.

Saturday morning I awoke with a heavy heart. It was my last day with Grady in the hospital, and the day I said "goodbye for now". As the day wore on, I got more sad.

I left the hospital last year around 5:45-6pm. I went outside around 5pm to check on the girls, and it was a beautiful evening. I grabbed my Grady journal and a chair and perched myself in front of my house on my walkway. As the sun set and the tears fell, I wrote to my boy. About lots of things. One being how I wished we could have had his first birthday party that day...

You see, my c-section was originally scheduled for that day, November 14th. Had Grady lived here on earth, it would have been an absolutely perfect day for a first birthday party.

Emma Grace got up Saturday morning and came to stand with me at the back windows. As we were talking, I told her what a great day it would have been for Grady's first birthday party. I told her I was thinking he might have had a Thomas the Train party. Her little dimples shone as she smiled and said, "Yeah, 'cuz his middle name was Thomas!" Gib and I had to chuckle, and I couldn't' help but give her a big squeeze.

I've never planned a boy birthday party. It has always been princesses, fairies, Build-a-Bear or Dora. Jessica did have a Littlest Pet Shop party once, but other than that, it's always been "girlie-girl" parties here, including one High School Musical bash.

So, I thought about a boy party... Blue and red balloons on the mailbox instead of pink. A cake the shape of a train. Blue or red cups, plates, napkins, etc. Lots of presents filled with boy stuff...trains, cars, bulldozers, blocks, etc.

But all I could do was wonder...

And you know what?

I'm thankful for at least that.

Because if I had not grown Grady in my womb, never given birth to him or never entertained the thought of what a boy might enjoy, I would have missed out on the smiles that those thoughts have brought to my face. While missing out on those moments and milestones are sad, I've grown to love my "wondering thoughts" about my sweet boy.

When people have living children who die, they have memories to draw upon and "remember". But when a baby dies in utero, there are only memories of kicks, hiccups, sleep-wake cycles, jabs in ribs, etc. I have dreams that I'll never know would have been fulfilled or not. So these "wondering thoughts" are my memories that I hoped to make.

I expect that they will continue every year as his birthday and holidays roll around. However, I'm sure my "wondering thoughts" will change as he would have gotten older.

After church on Sunday, we got Subway and went to the Athens Botanical Gardens. It was beautiful. There weren't too many flowers in bloom, but the trees were gorgeous. I know my pictures won't do them justice, but enjoy!


Friday, November 13, 2009

This Year - November 12, 2009, Remembering - November 12, 2008

I finally have the time (I think) to write about Baby Grady's first birthday. It was not how I pictured it when I was pregnant with him, that's for sure! But it was a peaceful day filled with lots of emotion.

And I felt the love of many throughout the day.

First of all, let me show you what accompanied my day of remembering and baking. Call it a shrine, or whatever you like. I don't really care. I lit Grady's special candle and it burned all day. (except for when I went to get Emma Grace from school) I went through four tealights! I put his urn, his picture and the two beautiful flower arrangements on the corner of the island. I loved having them nearby, so I could see them all day.

I made the decision not to talk to anyone on the phone yesterday. I decided only to talk to those I had to see in person. I didn't answer the phone, texts or emails.

So, if you called and left me a message, thank you! Thanks for not putting pressure on me to call you back. Thanks for just letting me know you were thinking of me, praying for me and remembering Baby Grady.

If you texted me, thank you for taking the time to do so!

If you emailed me, thank you for taking the time to write me!

If you sent cards in the mail or came by and put them in my box, thank you!

If you left gifts on my door or gave them to me in person, thank you!

If you sent me flowers, Sally, thank you!

If you simply thought of and prayed for me, thank you! I definitely felt your prayers.

You will never know how loved I felt. It was a really hard day emotionally. My 'tear switch' turned off and on many times, some stronger than others, especially last night.

It was an odd sort of day. I woke up very sad knowing what was ahead.


Remembering and reliving memories can be emotionally exhausting.

But I also woke up knowing that I had already lived through the worst of it. The worst was when I found out there was no heartbeat. The worst was seeing him so perfect but silent. The worst was handing him over to the funeral home, knowing I wouldn't see him again until heaven. And if I lived through that, and the intense grief and heartache that followed, I knew I would get through his first birthday.

And I did.

When Gib kissed me goodbye at 4:45am, I remembered how, one year ago at that time, I told him that he needed to pray for the baby because he hadn't moved. He sat down on the bed and prayed with me while I cried. This year, he simply left the room and headed to work.

Around 8am, I remembered that it was about the time, one year ago, that Gib came home from work because he knew something was wrong. This year, I was starting to make Grady's cake.

While the cakes were baking, I straightened the house. I picked up, cleaned off the island in the kitchen and vacuumed.

I was then overcome with sadness around 10am. It was that time, one year ago, that we learned there was no heartbeat. I will never forget the conversation..."Dr. [Joe], I don't see a heartbeat" Dr. Joe's reply, as the life sucked out of him, "I don't see a heartbeat either". This year, I sat down and wrote him an email, thanking him for the wonderful doctor he is and letting him know that the long hours, hard work and many sacrifices he makes have a huge impact on the lives of his patients.

Around 11:20, I remembered that, one year ago, as we were driving home from the hospital, my friend, Annette, texted me to ask if I wanted her to bring lunch to me after she left work. I simply replied, "Not today". She asked if everything was okay and I couldn't reply... This year, I was trying to level the six layers of Grady's cake.

One year ago, at 1pm, Gib went to check Jessica out of school and Emma Grace came home from Lunch Bunch. I remembered how hard it was to tell them. I remembered how Jessica was in shock and said, "You mean Baby Grady died? Inside of you?" And I remembered how heartbroken Emma Grace was, crying, "I didn't want Baby Grady to die". Oh, how I didn't want him to die either... But, this year, I was mixing my first batch of homemade butter cream frosting. First batch, first time EVER!

A little after 2pm, I remembered how, one year ago, we took the girls next door. I was late leaving for the hospital but I didn't care. Emma Grace was too upset for me to leave any sooner. I comforted her until she was calm enough for me to leave her. I didn't want to leave her, but I had to go do the hardest thing I've ever done in my life...

We had no cash for parking and needed gas, so we stopped by Kroger. Gib dropped me off to go buy him a bottled water and get cash back. He went to get gas. I walked out of Kroger, literally, in a daze. A state of shock. I was trying to absorb what was about to happen and what had already taken place. I remembered that as I started walking to the gas pumps, I saw my friend, Annette, who texted me earlier in the day. She stopped, very cheery...I was a zombie. She asked what was wrong, and all I could say was, "It's the worst that you could imagine". (Her) "What?" (Me) "He died." (Her) "Who?" (Me) "The baby." She jerked her van into park, got out and gave me a huge hug. Just then Gib pulled up to get me. I know that my small town heard the news within five minutes of me seeing her. The prayers started, and I sure needed them.

This year, at that time, I was sitting in the car pool line, bawling my eyes out, waiting for Emma Grace to get out of school. I was writing in my Baby Grady journal. Remembering. Pouring out my heart to him. And God.

This year, once we were home, I made my second batch of icing and started on the side of the cake. Emma Grace had a great time watching, and licking one of the beaters! One year ago, we had just gotten to the hospital and I was hearing about Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep (NILMDTS) for the first time...

Gib came home from work early this year, too. He went to get Jessica from her service organization meeting at school while I had my friend next door, Nicole, come show me how to attach a coupler and tip to a frosting bag because I was getting VERY, VERY frustrated! She showed me that and also taught me how to make starbursts around the cake.

Jessica came home and made a few starbursts around the bottom of the cake. She had commented on how cool she thought the icing bags were, and I just had to let her help. The girls, together, made a rainbow out of Skittles on top of the cake. (I think the same amount that went on the cake also went into their mouths!)

I got brave and wrote his name and a heart.

Gib blew up some balloons and we wrote messages to Grady on them.

One year ago, from 3:20 - 5:30, I was doing admission paperwork and being "prepped" for my c-section. I made the decision with the anesthesiologist to have a spinal instead of an epidural. I also made the decision to remain awake for the was the least I could do. My friend, Suzanne (from the NICU), approached me again about NILMDTS photos, which I thankfully agreed to, with the stipulation that they were to be of just him (HUGE REGRET!). Lori (my other friend from NICU) came in to visit me before heading to the OR, and so did Dr. Joe.

Promptly at 5:30, one year ago, I made the long, dreaded walk to the OR. It was the coldest room that I ever remember being in. I got my spinal and started having a VERY fast heart rate. I was nauseous and felt miserable. The surgery started. I remember just apologizing to Gib over and over. Hearing nothing but instruments clanking, machines beeping and sniffles, lots of sniffles.

Around 5:30, this year, my friend and mentor, Alice, brought dinner for our family. My friend and neighbor, Jenny, brought over a gift.

And she took this family picture before we released our balloons. It was a cool, crisp, sunny fall day this year, just as it was one year ago.

I remember during my c-section wanting so badly to know when Dr. Joe had the baby out. The nurse anesthetist told me she would let me know. At 6:14pm, one year ago, she gently put her hand on my shoulder and said, "Dr. [Joe] has the baby out." The silence was deafening. I didn't know it could be so. Suzanne asked if we wanted to see him then or wait until recovery. We agreed to wait until recovery.

This year, at 6:14pm, we acknowledged his birth at the dinner table. I lost my appetite and suddenly became EXTREMELY sad. I remembered the hope I had that the ultrasound was wrong. That the stillness inside of me was a mistake... Shortly after, we put Grady's cake on the table with a bowl of Skittles.

We took turns putting a Skittle into the side of the cake while telling something we missed about Baby Grady or wished that we could have done with him, as a baby or as he would have gotten older. We didn't make it all the way around the cake which was okay. The girls were just ready to eat some. And I was anxious to see what the inside looked like!

We put one candle on the cake and sang "Happy Birthday" to him. The girls stood in their chairs and made a big production of it. I was so glad they did!

We blew out the candle together and cut the cake. It turned out beautifully!

My orange layer looked a little peach and my red wasn't as vibrant as I wanted, but I don't think it turned out too bad. Especially considering the extent of my cake baking until now was in a 9x13 glass dish with icing just on the top! It was so good to have something to do for him. I'll be honest...there were a few times that I wanted to stop and give up. But I didn't. I couldn't give up on the only thing that I could actually *do* for my baby, besides remember.

As we were finishing the cake around 7:30, I remembered, one year ago, that was about the time that I first laid my eyes on my angel on earth. I held him for the first time and asked him what happened...why he had to leave so soon? Gib left for home around 9pm. Suzanne was on-call for the NICU that night so she stayed with me until around 11pm. I asked if the midwife who delivered Jessica was there and she was...she came in for a short visit, too. I couldn't sleep. I stared at his bassinet all night. Wishing he wasn't so quiet...

This year, during that time, I read a bedtime story with Emma Grace and got her in bed. I then read one of the sweetest, kindest letters from my friend, Mary Beth. She wrote four pages of her perspective of what happened 'one year ago'. It was so interesting to read, and I cried at the heart of a true friend...the sadness and brokenness that she felt. And if she felt that, she could only imagine what I was feeling. Honestly, no one has EVER said or written anything so kind and touching to me before. Thank you, MB! I love you so much!

I had planned for us to watch Grady's NILMDTS dvd and read the book "Tear Soup" that my sweet blog friend, Sara, sent me. But the girls were tired and Jessica still had homework to finish and two tests to study for. I was disappointed at first but realized we had spent some beautiful time remembering and honoring him. We can watch the dvd and read the book any time. It's all about putting things into perspective...

I went to bed completely exhausted and emotionally spent. I wanted to spend time in his room, just me and him. But I just couldn't. I couldn't remember anymore. I was drained and simply needed to go to sleep. I grabbed his blue crochet blanket that I still sleep with and held it as close to me as I could.

His first birthday was a day of peace. A day of remembering. A day filled with love and tears. It was a day I'll never forget. Another day where God carried me through.

Thanks for remembering with me.