Monday, July 26, 2010

A Terrible Month

Yesterday Keith and I received news that sent us both into shock. We have a couple that we are friends with, Jenny and Josh, that we grew up and went to school with in Omaha. They moved to the Kansas City area just over a year ago, and it was comforting to know that we had friends nearby us when we moved here. This weekend they had gone back to Omaha for a wedding, and had decided to head back home right afterwards. They were in a horrible car accident early Sunday morning, just north of St. Joseph. Josh was seriously injured and taken by lifeflight to the nearest hospital. Jenny didn’t make it. I can’t even begin to describe the sadness and shock that has filled my heart. When something like this happens, you forget about your own grief. Yesterday was the first day that I hardly thought about Ethan at all, because I couldn’t get my mind off of Jenny and Josh. They had sent us a card right after our loss, and just last weekend I had gotten a beautiful floral arrangement from Jenny. I never got the chance to thank her for that, or just talk with her one more time. She was a beautiful, caring person, and will be deeply missed by everyone who knew her.

Friends have told us that right now Josh is stable, but hasn’t yet been able to verbally communicate. I pray that his physical recovery will be swift, and that he will be healed 100%. I know that will be a long road for him and his family, and I also pray that God stays close to them and gives them comfort. When we were in high school Jenny’s mom passed away suddenly. For this kind of tragedy to happen not once, but twice, to a family is unimaginable. I pray that her dad and sister are able to find peace and healing, and I know that she is now safe with her mom in Heaven.

Please keep Jenny, Josh, their families, and friends in your prayers. It’s really hard to take this in right now, and I’m just trying to remember all of the great memories we have with them.

Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal
-Author Unknown

You are loved, Jenny, and will never be forgotten.


Saturday, July 24, 2010


Well, it happened. That uncomfortable situation that no woman (especially myself) wants to find herself in post-partum. Keith and I went out to dinner tonight. As she was clearing the table, our waitress smiled at me and asked, “So when are you due?” Ouch. In her defense I will say that I do still have a bit of a belly on me, and the dress I was wearing had an empire-waist (which when sitting down, I’ve learned, clearly accentuates that). She definitely caught me off guard, though, and before I could think I blurted out, “Actually I just had a baby a few weeks ago.” It was definitely an insert-foot-in-mouth moment and she proceeded to tell me I looked great for just having a baby and she actually thought I was just a few months pregnant. Super. And of course the obvious question then followed: Where’s your baby?
I felt a wave of panic building up. Crap! Why did I tell her that? I thought. “He’s at home. Someone’s watching him,” I lied.
“Oh, well how nice for you guys to get out!” she exclaimed.
I managed to maintain my composure as we paid and left before crying in the car. Not just because I feel fat and have a constant reminder of my pregnancy still looming on my mid-section. I cried because I so badly wanted what I had said to be true. I wish we did have a baby and someone was watching him at home. But we don’t. I know that this situation could present itself again in the next few weeks or months until I lose the last of the remaining baby bump, and I just hope I can handle it as well as I did tonight.


Friday, July 16, 2010


Back in April I decided that I wanted to start writing letters to Ethan. I thought this would be a good way for me to “talk” to him through the womb, as well as have a keepsake of my pregnancy that I could look back at and reflect on. I didn’t have a journal, so on my lunch break one day I stopped into Hallmark to see what they had. After browsing the shelves for a few minutes, I noticed one that caught my eye. I knew I had to get it. The front of it had a beach scene, with the word Footprints across the top. Underneath was this story, which you might have heard before:

One night a man dreamed he was walking along the beach with the Lord.
As scenes of his life flashed before him, he noticed that there were two sets
of footprints in the sand.
He also noticed at his saddest, lowest times there was but one set of footprints.

This bothered the man.

He asked the Lord, “Did you not promise that if I gave my heart to you that you’d
be with me all the way?
Then why is there but one set of footprints during my most troublesome times?

The Lord replied, “My precious child. I love you and I would never forsake you. During those times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then I carried you.

This really resonated with me. There were times when I had felt angry with God that He would put us through such an awful experience. I felt like I was being punished for something bad I’d done in the past, some sin I’d committed. I felt abandoned. Reading this helped me to realize that I wasn’t alone. God was still with me, He hadn’t left me. He had brought me to this challenge and He would carry me through it. I think it’s hard for all of us to remember that God is with us in times of despair. We want to believe that God is only there to bring good things to us, that He would never put us through pain or sorrow. When bad things happen to us, we naturally tend to think it’s because God has left us. But the truth is, He’s right there with us. Carrying us.

I still write letters to Ethan, and it's been a very soothing activity for me. Each time I get out the journal, I am reminded of God's presence in my life. There have been many times in this journey that I only saw one set of footprints.

But now I know they weren’t mine.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Meet Baby Ethan

I've finally managed to get all of the pictures together from various cameras. My sister-in-law took a majority of our pictures for us, and she did an amazing job. She managed to get some candid shots, as well as photos of family members holding him. Now I just feel bad that I don't have a picture of her with Ethan, since she was taking them. I think my favorite pictures are the ones of his little hands- they were so soft and look absolutely perfect.
Here are some of our photos:


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Few More Angels

For the last couple of months I've been corresponding with some other moms who were also carrying babies with Trisomy 13. Oddly enough, they were due within just a few days of me, in early August. Together we shared the same hopes, dreams, fears, and anxieties of our babies' arrivals. One mom had informed me 2 weeks ago that she was going to have to be induced on Monday, July 5th. I felt such heartache for her, knowing that she must be dreading that day, and would probably not be enjoying the holiday weekend leading up to it. It just seemed so soon. Little did I know that I would also end up delivering that quickly. Her angel Caleb arrived at 5:22am on Tuesday, just 3 hours after Ethan. He was alive at birth, and his parents actually got to bring him home with them on Thursday. They went to bed with him nestled between them. He passed away peacefully that evening in his sleep, literally surrounded by love.

Another mom texted me while I was in the hospital on Tuesday to tell me that she had gone in to the doctor's office and they were not able to find a heartbeat. I was devastated when I heard that news. She was induced and delivered her angel Owen on Wednesday, July 7th at 6pm. Like Ethan, he felt no pain and didn't have to suffer. He was loved unconditionally by his family.

How ironic it is that the three of us were all carrying our boys, due around the same time, and ended up delivering them within one day of each other. I can’t help but believe that God had special plans for our sons, and that is why He took them together so early. I like to think that they’ve already met each other, and are playing together in Heaven.

If you would, please keep angel Caleb, angel Owen, and their families in your thoughts and prayers. Pray that their families are able to find hope and comfort during their time of grief. Like us, they have a long road of healing ahead, and hopefully God will hold them close and fill their hearts with peace.


Monday, July 12, 2010

A Beautiful Memorial

On Saturday morning we had Ethan’s memorial service. It was heartbreaking for me, but I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful way to honor his life. I was overwhelmed by how many people attended. The outpouring of love and support shown to us was amazing. The priest who married Keith and I officiated the service, and he did a wonderful job. We concluded with a balloon release. We had balloons that represented the love that we were sending up to Ethan in heaven. On the count of three we released them together. The balloons slowly made their way up to the sky together in one large bunch, never separating. It was breathtaking.

We headed back to Independence this morning, and it was surreal to think that exactly a week ago we were doing the same thing. So much has changed in that time. One Saturday I am home for a baby shower, and the next I’m there for a funeral service. It’s so strange to think about. I find myself going back and forth between emotions. The first, of course, is sadness. And to be honest, I feel like I miss my pregnancy almost more than the baby himself. I think it’s because I had eight months with him inside of me, verses just one day with him after he was born. I miss feeling his movements, and knowing that I was taking care of him. My pregnancy also represents a time of hopefulness for me, and now I no longer have that. I find myself forgetting at times that I’m not still pregnant. It will probably take some time for me to adjust to that.

On the other hand, I also feel a sense of relief. No longer do we have the fear and anxiety that has plagued us at various points during my pregnancy. I was supposed to have another ultrasound this Thursday, and I know that I would have dreaded it. Who knows what negative or scary things we might have heard. I also don’t have to fear labor and delivery or what was going to happen afterwards. Now there is a sense of closure, that God’s will has been done. We can finally begin traveling the road to healing.

I’m going to end this post with a picture from the balloon release. It’s such a peaceful and beautiful image.

Sending lots of love up to Ethan.


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Service Planned

Tomorrow Keith and I will be heading back to Omaha. We are having a service there for Ethan on Saturday morning at 11:00am. It will be held at Braman Mortuary (for those from the area, it is the 144th St. location), and we welcome anyone who would like to attend. There will also be an obituary in the Omaha World-Herald tomorrow with more details. We picked up Ethan's ashes this afternoon. It was a very difficult thing to do, but the urn we chose is beautiful. We decided on a box made of walnut wood with a cherry finish. It has a teddy bear engraved on it, along with Ethan's name and birthdate. It almost reminds me of a baby block, which is very appropriate. We knew we didn't want a traditional vase-like urn because we wouldn't be able to engrave it and it just didn't seem right for a child. The one we have is perfect for him and is a beautiful representation of his life.

We've had so many touching comments and prayers sent to us through the blog, email, and phone calls. They bring me to tears each time I read or hear them. We're hanging in there, and I am so lucky to have such a supportive husband and family. Keith has been taking very good care of me, getting me whatever I need whenever I need it. Our parents have been handling the arrangements for the service. I don't know what I'd do without all of their help.

Today has again brought its share of ups and downs for me, but the continuous love and support you’ve all been giving me has helped to ease the pain a bit. Thank you for that.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Ethan's Birth Story

This weekend, as I detailed in one of my last posts, Keith and I made a trip to Omaha. On Saturday my best friend and sister-in-law threw a small shower for me. I didn’t want anything too big, just family and a few close friends. It was wonderful to get a chance celebrate Ethan’s life and my pregnancy. We spent the rest of the holiday weekend with family, celebrating Independence Day.

On Monday morning I woke up and used the restroom, only to discover that I seemed to be passing more of my mucus plug. This kind of alarmed me, but I remembered that it is possible to lose it in parts. Still, I felt kind of nervous. Keith and I were still at my parents’ house, and were getting ready to head back home soon. I began feeling a crampy feeling in my stomach that would come and go. It seemed to be more noticeable on our drive home. I watched the clock each time it happened and noticed that it would be anywhere from 6 to 10 minutes apart or so, lasting about 20-30 seconds each time. When we got home I immediately grabbed my pregnancy books to see if what I was experiencing was pre-labor or false labor symptoms. From what I read, it appeared to be the latter. This continued into the rest of the afternoon. I spoke with my best friend on the phone and told her what I was experiencing. She was somewhat concerned, and suggested I call the doctor for reassurance. I took her advice and made a call around 6:30pm. My doctor had gone out of town for the week, so I spoke with the one who was on-call. She seemed to believe it was indeed false labor, and told me to drink lots of water and lie down to see if they subsided. If it got worse, I was to call back.

As the night wore on, I started to feel more pain in my lower back. The contractions were still not regular. I could go 5 minutes in between one and 12 minutes between another. Around 10:30 I tried to go to sleep, hoping that they would diminish in that time. But each time I was about to doze off, I’d have another one. By now the back pain felt pretty intense, though it still only lasted half a minute. I kept debating whether or not I wanted to call back to the doctor. Our hospital is a good 40 minute drive from us, and I really didn’t want to go there and then turn around and come home. By 11:45 I knew I had to call. The doctor told me to come in and they would check me, and maybe keep me monitored for the night. Keith and I got up and dressed, and rounded up our overnight bag just in case. As we drove to the hospital the pain seemed to get worse and closer together. I kind of thought it might be because I was feeling a lot of anxiety. We arrived at the hospital around 1am, and went up to the ante-partum area. A nurse was ready for us and took me into the room to hook me up and check me. She put a monitor on me for the baby’s heartbeat, and one to measure contractions. I felt relieved when the baby’s monitor displayed a heartbeat.

She had me lie back and checked my cervix. We were shocked to hear, “You are 6 cm dilated. We need to get you into a delivery room right now.” She got a wheelchair for me and told me they would get an IV started for me, and then an epidural. Two more nurses came in, and they called for the doctor. Meanwhile, another nurse started my IV. Keith made some quick phone calls to our parents in Omaha, who said they’d be there as soon as they could. The nurses all left the room for a moment to get the epidural and make sure they had everything in place. Literally a minute after they left the room, I felt an enormous pressure in my pelvic bone and my water broke in one huge gush. I panicked and told Keith to get someone quickly. The nurse came in and said she needed to check me again. By that time, only a matter of 15 or 20 minutes from the first check, I was fully dilated. This meant I no longer could have the epidural. A feeling of dread swept over me, knowing I was going to have to give birth naturally, not knowing how long or painful it might be. I continued to feel harsh contractions, and was told the doctor was a few minutes away. When she arrived they got me into position to push. I was told that with each contraction, I would have to push 3 times, for 10 counts each. I only ended up doing this for 3 contractions, what seemed like 10 or 15 minutes, before he was born. Ethan arrived at 2:31am, only an hour and a half after we’d gotten there. There was a team present in our room from the NICU, who immediately took Ethan. I knew things weren’t good because I didn’t hear any sound from him after he was born. They tried some compressions and a breathing tube, but after a few minutes with no heartbeat, they had to stop. They gently wrapped him up and gave him to Keith. I think I was in a state of such shock from the entire experience that it didn’t really register to me what was happening. I felt numb. “Does he look okay?” I asked him. Knowing all of the anomalies he had and potentially could have, I had been fearful that my baby wouldn’t look like a baby. “He’s beautiful,” Keith told me. He brought him over and I was in awe of his little face. No cleft lip or palate, and he even had some light brown hair. They measured him and told us he was 3 pounds, 1 ounce and 15 inches long. He was bigger than I thought he was at this point, which was wonderful. I held him and touched his tiny little hands. He was perfect.

When our family arrived later in the morning, we arranged for a Chaplin to come and say a blessing for Ethan. That was the first time that I cried. The reality of what was happening was starting to sink in. They took Ethan for a little bit to get his footprints and such. Two nurses from the NICU came up to talk to us about what they’d noticed about him at birth. They saw that his skin was beginning to peel in some places and that some of the organs in his abdominal wall defect had begun to almost liquefy. This indicated that he had likely passed away in utero days earlier. I was confused by this because I distinctly saw a heartbeat on the monitor prior to delivery. I was told that this was likely my heartbeat, not his. It didn’t quite make sense to me, but I believe it because I hadn’t really noticed definite fetal movements over the weekend. They said that I probably did truly hear his heartbeat at the doctor’s office last week, which meant it might have happened anywhere after Thursday morning. Therefore, it was determined that he was a stillbirth.

Though this wasn’t the outcome that Keith and I had ever wanted, I still feel like God was looking out for us. For one thing, I had an incredibly fast and painless delivery. Amazingly I didn’t have any cuts or tears whatsoever. I had fretted about labor for weeks prior to this, wondering how on earth I would get through it, and it ended up being so smooth. I think God knew we’d been through enough pain in the pregnancy. I also feel it was a blessing that the monitor picked up my heartbeat. I think if I hadn’t heard anything before delivery, it would have been so much worse. At least in my mind I could believe he was still alive and there was hope. It’s really amazing how God works.

Today has been a rough one. We had kept Ethan with us all day and overnight, so this morning Keith and I held him and took some last pictures with him. We left the hospital later in the morning, and leaving without a baby is the most gut-wrenching feeling I’ve ever felt. I’ve cried a lot. I feel like I’m mourning not only the loss of my son, but also the loss of my pregnancy, of time itself. I should really have had 4 more weeks with him inside of me. I already miss him so much.
We’ve made plans to have Ethan cremated, and his remains will stay with us. Since we don’t currently live in Omaha, and move around with Keith’s job, I didn’t want to bury him. It would be too hard not to be able to regularly visit his grave. We will be getting his remains sometime tomorrow, and then will be driving to Omaha to have a service. I’ll share more details about this later.

Thank you all for sharing in this journey with us. I plan to continue to blog, as a way to keep Ethan’s memory alive and help me heal. This is not the end of our journey, just a new chapter. I hope that you will continue to stay with us.
I will be posting some pictures of Ethan soon.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010


It is with a heavy heart that I inform you all that I went into labor last night unexpectedly and delivered Ethan at 2:31am. Unfortunately, he did not show signs of life at birth and after an attempt to resuscitate him, there was nothing more the doctors could do. I was blessed to have a short labor and delivery before meeting our beautiful son. We are still at the hospital right now, and physically I am feeling very good. Of course I can't say the same emotionally. I will be posting a more detailed birth story for Ethan soon, when I'm feeling more up to it. And I will also share pictures. Thank you for your continued prayers and support. They mean the world to us during this time of grief and healing.


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Nothing Big To Report!

I met with my doctor this morning, and he told me he would start checking my cervix at my next appointment, July 15th (he's out of town next week). I was both relieved and a little annoyed by this, only because I had been feeling kind of nervous about being "checked" for the first time and now I'll have to go through that again next time! But what can you do? I wasn't about to insist on it anyway, since I still feel fine. Keith came with me and I think he was kind of disappointed that I didn't get checked because he's now on slight alert since I passed the mucus plug! The doctor reassured him that this could still mean there are several weeks left (fingers crossed that's the case).

Other than that it was a routine visit. He measured my belly and we again listened to the heartbeat-still 144 bpm. My blood pressure was a little bit higher today, but I'm hoping maybe that's because I was so nervous. My doctor didn't think it was anything to be concerned about, so I'm okay with that!

I'm sorry that I didn't have any climactic details to share with you all...I guess we might just have to wait until the 15th! Of course, I will keep posting updates until then, especially if anything changs. Tomorrow Keith and I are heading up to Omaha for the weekend, and I am looking forward to it. And yes, I got the okay from the doctor. He just told me I should probably stop and get out of the car every hour or so to avoid the risk of blood clots. Which is fine since my bladder pretty much has the same time limit these days.

I guess that's all I have to share for today...I hope that everyone has a safe and fun holiday weekend!