Ella slideshow

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A long time

     It has been such a long time since I have blogged.  But God has been laying it on heart to tell part of my story that I have never told anyone.  When people have asked in the past how I made it through Ella's anencephaly diagnosis and death I always say I couldn't have done it without God.  But I don't know that they understand how much I really mean that.  I absolutely couldn't have without Him.
     This may sound crazy.  But all of this is the truth.  I have been a pediatric nurse for 14 years.  I only have one memory of a specific class or topic in nursing school, I mean the actual class that day.  It was in my maternal child class and we were learning about anencephaly.  I remember the disturbing diagram that they showed us.  I remember them saying "the baby didn't have brain."  Which I still to this day do not agree with.  They don't have every part of their brain, but they have a brain.  I have ultrasound pictures of Ella smiling and holding her umbilical cord with her hand.  She cried.  How do you do that "without a brain?"  But anyway, I remember them saying the baby absolutely could not survive but are often born alive.  I remember the empathy I felt for the mothers of those babies and the babies.  I remember where I was sitting in class.  I remember thinking "if that happened to me I would die.  There is no way I could handle that.  No way."   I remember how the thoughts about how horrific that would be stuck in my mind.  I remember how disturbed I was to learn that this actually happened to babies.
     Fast forward 10 years from that class in nursing school.  We found out I was pregnant.  We were so excited.  But from the beginning I had a nagging worry that something was wrong.  But that isn't uncommon for me.  I have been a worrier since I was a child.  I absolutely hate that about myself.  I don't know why I am like that other than the fact that my family has suffered so much loss all the way back to my very first memories.  My daddy died when I was 4 years old. That is one of my very first things that I remember in my life.  So no matter how much I try not to worry I always have those thoughts in my head that bad things do happen... a lot.  And for some reason I have a hard time letting go of worry.   I pray and I give things over to God, but I am really bad about snatching those worries right back.  So when I worried about my baby I tried to brush it off that I am just a worry wart and everything would be fine.  But the worry I had was so specific.  It was almost more like a feeling that something was wrong...specifically with my baby's head.  I had terrifying thoughts of the things that could be wrong.  Working on pediatrics with sick children makes that a little more intense, because you see first hand all of the things and illnesses that can go wrong.  I remember being 10 weeks pregnant and laying on the couch.  My dog was playing and jumped on my stomach and I  was so upset.  I was so worried that she had hurt my baby's head.  Why her head of all things?
      I remember the day of my first ultrasound.  I was almost seventeen weeks pregnant and Jon and I were sitting in the car talking about finding out if we were having a girl or a boy.  And I was so scared.  I had a bad feeling we would find out something bad and I asked Jon "are you scared of finding out something is wrong?"  And he said "No.  Stop worrying about everything."  So we went in and soon after the ultrasound tech called us back.  And I remember looking at the screen while she scanned me trying to figure out what I was looking at, and then looking at her face and I knew.  She said "I will be right back". When she came back she abruptly said "your baby doesn't have a skull.  I need to take you to talk to the doctor."   And the room felt like it was spinning and I started sobbing uncontrollably.  I didn't need to talk to the doctor.  I knew what that meant.  I knew she had anencephaly and my nightmare was coming true.  I knew my baby wouldn't survive and I didn't think I would either.
     The five remaining months of my pregnancy were some of the hardest of my life.  There were great moments.  I loved knowing Ella was safe inside of my tummy, I loved feeling her kick- she was so active.  That made it so much harder to accept that she wouldn't survive outside of my womb.  I loved seeing her face on ultrasound pics and hearing her strong heartbeat on the doppler.  But pretty much everything else was so painful.  I had a very hard time talking about it.  I am an emotional person anyway, and I could not talk about her without crying so hard.  My closest coworkers knew about her diagnosis and my family knew.  My coworkers knew that I couldn't talk about her without
breaking down, so we didn't much.  I was angry.  So angry.  I didn't understand why, I probably never will.  But I don't think we were made to understand such things.  I was so bitter when I would see
people pop child after child out and not take good care of the ones they had.  I saw that a lot at work.

All I wanted was for Ella to be healthy and to watch her grow up and be her mommy.  Why couldn't I have that but they could?  I prayed all of the time.  I had accepted Jesus as my savior when I was a teenager.  Of course I prayed for a miracle, but I prayed for strength to make it through.  I needed it every single day.  Each day was so hard.  I cried every morning when I woke up and realized this wasn't a dream.  And I prayed.
      A few weeks before Ella was born, I was at work and the most amazing thing happened.  As I said, I avoided talking about what was going on, especially at work. So if people started asking too many questions, people that didn't know, I would answer quickly and take off and make myself busy.  There was a young man who was a housekeeper at the hospital.  He would come to pediatrics from time to time and get the trash.  He was very friendly.  He wore a large cross necklace everyday.  We said hi and that was about it.  One day he asked me how I was and I said fine and asked him the same.  Then I walked down the hall to the treatment room.  He followed me.  He told me that God had told him to talk to me.  He said " I don't know what is going on with you.  But I know that you try to act like you are ok and you are not.   God wants me to tell you "It will be ok". " And he hugged me and I lost it.  I have thought of that moment so many times in the last four years.  And now I can say He was right.  I am ok because He carried me through the rest of my pregnancy, through Ella's death
and the year after, which was terribly hard.  I remember being filled with an amazing peace when Ella was born.  A peace that passes understanding.  But I struggled so much after she died.  And I wouldn't have came out "ok" without my relationship with Jesus, without him carrying me when I couldn't
walk anymore.  And without the hope that I have in Him and that I know I will see my daughter again.  Without him I would still be stuck in the darkness and bitterness.  I wouldn't be ok.
      I often think of the footprints poem that my a Granny loved.   I know that when I look back on that year and a half of my life that would only be one set of footprints in the sand.  And they were not mine.  One of my favorite Bible verses is Matthew 11:28-30  28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”   
      I hope that if you are reading this blog because you found out something terrible, something you won't be able to make it through, that you know there is Someone who will help you if you let Him.  He brought me through the thing in life that I always knew I couldn't make it through.

One night a man had a dream. He dreamed He was walking along the beach with the LORD. Across the sky flashed scenes from His life. For each scene He noticed two sets of footprints in the sand. One belonging to Him and the other to the LORD.

When the last scene of His life flashed before Him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand. He noticed that many times along the path of His life there was only one set of footprints. He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times of His life.

This really bothered Him and He questioned the LORD about it. LORD you said that once I decided to follow you, you'd walk with me all the way. But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life there is only one set of footprints. I don't understand why when I needed you most you would leave me.

The LORD replied, my precious, precious child, I Love you and I would never leave you! During your times of trial and suffering when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.

Carolyn Carty, 1963

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Happy belated birthday my baby

Happy 2nd birthday to my sweet girl! I am so sorry that it took this long to write your birthday letter. But it wasn't because I wasn't thinking of you. I miss you so much and think about you all of the time. I hope you liked your flowers, pinwheel, and windchime. I wish so bad that I could have a real party for you and buy you fun birthday gifts. I can't believe it has been two years since I held you and kissed your sweet face. Somedays it seems like yesterday but mostly it seems like an eternity ago. Everyone remembered you on your birthday. You made such an impact on so many lives, more in twenty hours than many do with a lifetime. You are such an amazing little girl! Your baby brother is so sweet...just like you! I wish that you were here to play with him and teach him things. I tell him all about you. He will know all about his sweet, strong, brave big sister. I look at him and see so much of you. I am so proud to be mommy to you both. Happy birthday baby girl!! I love you so much! Mommy

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Introducing Eli

     Ella is now the big sister to her brother, Elijah.  Eli was scheduled to be born by repeat c-section on November 29th.  But he was too excited to wait.  I went in for an ultrasound and nst last friday.  I was getting them twice a week because of the gestational diabetes.  Eli had been having a high heart rate during the nst's for weeks.  But his baseline was okay and he was usually really active.  I had been to labor and delivey twice for monitoring because of his heart rate.  But it would always come back down and they would send me home.  Friday his heart rate was extremely high, going up to 220.  It was staying up even though he wasn't as active as usual during the test.  My doctor told me it was time to get him out to go straight to L&D.  So I rushed to L&D, scared to death that something was seriuosly wrong.  Three hours after my appt was scheduled that morning, Eli was born at 12:15 on 11/11/11.  He came out screaming and screamed the whole time they worked with him.  It was the biggest relief and the most amazing sound.  I was sobbing and laughing at the same time.  Eli had no problems with his heart rate after he was born and no problems breathing even though he was a few weeks early.  He weighed 6lbs 9oz and was 20 and a quarter inches long.  He looks like his daddy and his big sister.  The first time they showed him to me I couldn't believe how much he looked like Ella when they handed her to me.  Up until the moment we were able to put him in his carseat and take him home, I still had a hard time believing this was real and he was going home with us.  The last week has been crazy.  Taking care of a newborn has rocked our world!  I never imagined a little baby could keep you so busy.  But we are so thankful for each feeding, wet and dirty diaper and cry.  Everyone keeps telling me that this stage will pass soon.  And even though we are so tired, I don't want it to pass soon.  Eli is such a sweet baby.  He is very laid back for the most part- he gets that from his daddy.  We stare at him all the time and still can't believe he is here.  The only thing that could make us happier would be if his big sister were here too. 

I love you Ella and Eli!

Here he is!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Fall again

     It is fall again.  This was always one of my most favorite times of the year.  But now, when the air changes to cooler and wind starts blowing, my mood seems to change some too.  The new crisp air and the cloudy days bring me straight back to fall two years ago, and make me think so much of Ella.  That was the time when life changed forever and we went from so excited to devastated in an instant.  It boggles my mind that was almost two years ago. The last two days have been the cloudy cool days- the same exact way I remember the weather the day we found out about the anencephaly.  I guess those feelings will always come back with the change of the season.
      Today was my growth ultrasound.  I love seeing Eli again, but I still have some anxiety everytime we go in for an ultrasound.  I found out about a month ago that I have gestational diabetes and have since started insulin.  We were worried that he may be too big, but he is actually measuring on the smaller side.  He is now 3lbs 15oz.  He has hair:)  He gave us a smile.  I think he knew that we needed to see that today.  It melted my heart.  We scheduled the c-section today.  I can't believe if all goes as planned, we will meet our little man in seven weeks.

I love you Ella!  I miss you so much.

I love you Eli!  Can't wait to meet you.


Saturday, August 6, 2011

An emotional week

I haven't posted much lately.  I am just in a place where it is hard to put into words how I am feeling.  This week has been an emotional one for me.  Wednesday was the due date of the baby we miscarried in December.  It was a strange day, full of mixed emotions.  Of course, I still grieve the baby we lost and love that little one.  I know that I will see him or her one day, just like I will be reunited with Ella.  At the same time, I know that if everything had gone fine with that pregnancy I wouldn't be carrying Eli right now.  I had a terrible nightmare tuesday night about a tornado chasing me and my baby.  It was the kind of nightmare that you wake up sweating with your heart pounding.  I think that started my day off weird.  I thought I would be okay, but I was really emotional and cried in front of a lady at work for the first time in awhile.  Since I am obviously showing now, I often get the question "is this your first?"  I have gotten strong enough to answer that question truthfully without having a breakdown now.  I usually just say no....and hope the conversation ends there.  But it almost always turns into how old is your other child?  Is is a boy or girl? ect.  That is what happened wednesday.  When I told the lady no, it is not my first.  She went on with the questions and I had to tell her that I have a daughter who passed away.  I held it together until she told me that was a pain she couldn't imagine and that no baby would ever replace her.  I know that of course, but I just started crying.

I wish I could have all of my babies. We are so excited to be preparing for Eli.  But it is always in the front of your mind.  It is hard undoing what we did for Ella or doing things that we were never able to do for her.  Like repainting the nursery we painted for Ella before we found out, or packing all of her clothes into her chest to make room for all of his things.   He is going to be a well dressed little man.  Between us, my mom, my sister, and Jon's mom...he has a closet full already.   And to end on a positive note, I am to the fun point in my pregnancy.  Eli is very active and I feel him moving around all the time.   I couldn't sleep the other night, so I got up and drank some apple juice.  Well at about 3:00 am, he became the karate kid and was moving like crazy:)  Jon has felt him move three times this week.  He loves it too.   It is so bittersweet at times.

I love you Ella!

Monday, July 11, 2011


      We went on our summer vacation last week.  We spent the week at Mexico Beach, Fl. with Jon's family.  It was just what we needed.  It felt so good to relax, especially after the good news we received earlier in the week (the good ultra sound results).  I enjoyed it so much more than last year.  I can still remember how miserable I was at that point.  It was around six weeks after we lost Ella.  I thought getting away would help some, but it really didn't.
      Vacation was great this year.  But I still miss her so much.  I don't think I will ever go on a vacation or enjoy things with family and not think that someone is missing.  There were families all around us again with their little girls.  That always gets me.  I guess it always will.  The second I see a Dad and a little girl, I think I wish I could see Jon with Ella playing on the beach, and the same with mom's and their baby girls. I will never not think about Ella at those times.  Oh, and once again we saw a dragonfly on the beach almost everyday. 

I love you Ella!  I miss you so much!


Thursday, June 30, 2011

An update

     We had our big ultrasound yesterday.  I have to say that I was so nervous that I was sick before my appointment.  Being at the same point in the my pregnancy when I was told we wouldn't get to keep Ella was so difficult.  But, I am so happy to report that our baby boy looks wonderful!  I think he was asleep when we started the ultrasound.  But he woke up a few minutes into the scan and was moving like crazy.  I am already feeling a little movement almost daily, which I love.  He had his little feet crossed like he was sitting indian style...too cute:)  We saw a beautiful skull, his spine, a four chambered heart, a stomach, a bladder, and two kidneys.  And he is still a boy.  He is in the 62% growth wise and weighs in at 7oz.  My doctor said everything looks great and he is right where he should be.  I did have the blood work to tests my risks for spina bifida and down's syndrome and they told me those results won't be back for a few days.  But the scan looked good.  It felt like a million pounds was lifted off of my shoulders after we heard that.  Praise be to God!  I want to thank all of you who had been praying for our baby.  Jon and I have decided on a name for our baby boy.  It is Elijah Harley.  I know I have already posted his picture, but I had to add an updated one.

I know that Ella is looking out for her baby brother.  I love you Ella! I miss you so much.