Saturday, March 26, 2011

Peace of My Heart

One mom's journey from burying a piece of her heart with her infant daughter to finding the true peace of her heart with her Savior.

I'm excited today to spotlight Kim from Peace of My Heart.  Kim has dedicated her blog to her sweet angel  Kristen.  Meet Kim....

I'm married to an amazing man and am blessed to home school two sweet daughters. Our littlest one waits for us in Heaven, and I thank God for the 3 months we had her here. His grace is truly amazing.

"Blessed be the Lord, Who bears our burdens and carries
us day by day."
-Psalm 68:19
Kim's sweet Kristen and background for her story....

 Kristen's story is best told through the journal entries of the CaringBridge site we set up in early 2009.  It started before she was even born and chronicles the ups and downs of my pregnancy, her delivery, the day in August that forever changed my life, and the weeks that followed.  Peace of My Heart (this blog) picks up where the CaringBridge site left off.

Click here to access a static copy of our CaringBridge site. You can maneuver through it and read all the journal and guestbook entries, if you like. There are also a few pictures.  You can no longer leave messages on it, however, as it has been deactivated (well, it will be soon, but please leave messages or comments on this blog NOT on the CaringBridge site!).  The journal entries themselves (February through November 2009) have been copied over to the home page of this blog, as well.  The archives down the right side of the home page will lay out all the entries for you.

A friend of mine wrote the following poem the night that Kristen died. It summarizes Kristen's short time with us so beautifully, and I am grateful to Colleen for sharing it: 


In October 2008 we were blessed with news that we were expecting. The morning sickness (such a misnomer!) was pretty much all day every day for weeks. About the time I started to feel better, my doctor told us he found "soft indicators" for Down's Syndrome on an ultrasound. We had earlier opted not to do the screening for Down's, but after this news from the ultrasound, we went ahead with an amnio in early December. (This decision was based on the fact that any associated complications would best be handled in Wichita vs. Great Bend. No result would have ever changed our minds about having this baby!) Thankfully, we found out right before Christmas that our little one was as "normal" as an Eckels can be! In early February, I went in for a regular appointment and another sonogram. The doctor came in and told me that he found something he had never seen before (in 20 years of delivering babies)...our baby's right lung was significantly smaller than her left. He made an appointment to see a subspecialist in Wichita. We waited an agonizing 2 weeks to get in to see her. On a very early Thursday morning we trekked to Wichita, leaving the girls off at Will's sister's house near Little River. She had a full day of fun planned for them, leaving us to concentrate on what we needed to. Dr. O'Hara explained to us that our little one had a CCAM (congenital cystic adenomatoid malformation). Basically, it is non-functioning lung tissue that is displacing her right lung, therefore not allowing it to form as it should. This mass could resolve itself (which is the best outcome and what we continue to pray for) or it could grow and cause hydrops (abnormal fluid build-up that is very serious and would require immediate intervention) in the baby. If the CCAM doesn't cause her heart or other organs any problems, it would be removed after birth and her right lung would be just fine. So as of late February, I'm going in for weekly sonograms at my doctor's office in GB. They are faxing the results to the specialist's office in Wichita, and I'll see her again in April. I'll most likely be delivering in Wichita, possibly Kansas City, but exactly when will have to be determined. The waiting causes some anxious moments at times, but we know that God loves our little Kristen even more than we do and will bring us through whatever we will be facing. We so appreciate all the many prayers that have been and continue to be lifted up for Kristen and for us.

You can continue Kristen's Story by clicking on Journal Entries

Kim has also found a way to give back to others through The Bear Project.  This is what she has to say about it....
My Great-Aunt Pearl tried to teach me how to knit when I was 8 or 9 years old.  It didn't go very well at that time, which was no reflection on Aunt Pearl (she was an AMAZING lady and avid knitter, crocheter and quilter).  I just didn't have the patience at that age to stick with it long enough to figure it out.  As a way of dealing with the death of not only my infant daughter, but my mother as well, I took a knitting class with a friend through our local recreation commission.  It gave my mind something else to focus on for a time, and it gave my fingers something to do.  I can't tell you how many days I just felt restless and out of sorts.  Being able to sit down and knit for a while seemed to at least give me a small break from the reels of "movies" that seemed to play endlessly in my head.

I made a lot of dishcloths and a couple of scarves...and then I found a pattern for a little stuffed bear.  As I read in Psalm 68:19 about God bearing our burdens, I knew that a bear would be just the right reminder.

The journey we began in August 2009 was certainly never in our plans.  It was a detour we didn't expect, one we definitely didn't want to take, but it was only a detour in our eyes.  It's part of a greater story that will only unfold fully for us when we get to heaven.  I wanted to dosomething for other parents who find themselves on a journey like ours.

In February 2010, I spoke with one of the chaplains at Children's Mercy Hospital, the same hospital where Kristen had her surgery. She said they would be glad to distribute the bears to families who had lost a child.(They do an amazing job of staying in contact with bereaved families every few months. We've received beautiful notes from some of the nursing staff and priceless memory items as well.)

My dear sister, Melody, (okay, she was Will's sister first, but she's been mine for nearly 20 years now!) started her own graphics design business and graciously worked with me to create a logo. As we were brainstorming ideas for names one afternoon at my kitchen table, I said, "Piece of my Heart." Mel was writing as I was talking and said, "P-E-A-C-E, right?" I said, "Actually, I was thinking P-I-E-C-E, but I like that it could be both!" When Kristen died, a piece of my heart went with her. I know that piece will be put back one day, but in the meantime, God has granted me a peace that only He can.

What can anyone do to ease a parent's pain of losing a child?  In my experience, not much.  There are no words that are adequate.  Being present in their lives to lend whatever support they do need is very helpful, but the pain can only be soothed by the love of our Heavenly Father.  If I could, however, use a little bear to reach out to a hurting family and let them know that someone cares, I would.  More importantly, I would let them know that God cares.  That was the point at which this blog became so very important to me.  Prior to that, it was just a place where I could express my thoughts and chronicle my very personal journey.  I was the only one who had access, so the thought of opening it up to the world was a little overwhelming at first.  However, if sharing myself and what I've experienced through my relationship with Jesus Christ will further God's kingdom in any way, I'll do it.  The address of this blog is included in a note that accompanies each bear.

What began as "The Bear Project" later grew into "Peace of my Heart."

I have to say, I just love doing these spotlights because I always come away inspired by everyone and what good they do.  Thank you so much Kim for allowing us into your world and for sharing your precious Kristen with us!  


Kim @ Peace of my Heart said...

Thank you so much, Monica, for sharing Kristen's story here. You've gathered such wonderful resources, stories and projects on your blog. I'm honored to have Kristen's story included among them.

Blessings to you,

Monica said...

Awww thanks!

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