Thursday, June 23, 2011

God's Little Ones

Always on the lookout for additional resources, I wanted to share with you God's Little Ones.  They beautifully sculpt life size dolls of micro-preemies, preemies and full term babies.  They also sculpt the entire gestational developmental process, so be forewarned that this site might be difficult for some to view.  This is what they say on their website about what they do......

These dolls are: medically accurate, anatomically correct as requested by hospitals for prenatal education, life size, checked by parents and doctors for accuracy in size, detail and proportions. These dolls are approved by obstetricians, used by dulas in educating their clients, used in court to show the development of an unborn child.They are also used as healing dolls, for grieving parents who have lost a baby through miscarriage, still birth and abortion. 
Parents use them to show their family how much of a Miracle their preterm baby is or was. They bring comfort to many and prove that the unborn are human beings deserving love and respect.
The dolls  are portrait dolls sculpted by request of the parents who have signed a contract allowing their child's sculpted image to be displayed here. These dolls are requested as memorial dolls or dolls that celebrate the miracle birth of real living children. The parents have supplied all medical records that validate the accuracy of these models as life size portrait sculptures. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Tragedy Quote

I love this quote and wanted to share it with you.

Feel free to share! 
 All I ask is a link back to Honoring Our Angels.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to all Dads!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Grieving on Father's Day

I saw this great article on examiner (dot) com about Father's Day and Grief.  I wanted to share it with you.  Pass it on to all the bereaved father's and let them know that you are thinking of them and haven't forgotten their pain.

Grieving on Father's Day
By Carol A Ranney
Fathers are often referred to as the hidden grievers.  When a child dies, thoughts generally go to the mothers—the agony they most certainly are suffering, their loneliness, emptiness, now that someone who was once a part of them is gone.  Women tend to grieve outwardly, talking to their friends, crying, seeking out supportive groups and friends to be with and with whom to share their burden of sorrow.
Men, on the other hand, have a much more inward grieving style.  Men are usually more factual than emotional.  They accept more readily that nothing they say or do will reverse the situation; their child is irrecoverably gone from this earth.  They may weep at times, but that is not their primary mode of mourning.  A man may throw himself into his job with fervor, perhaps to help alleviate the feeling that as the “family protector,” he has failed to keep each member safe.  He may begin or continue a project, or start a new activity, in memory of his loved one, to whom he dedicates his efforts.  
Men are more concrete in their thinking, but that does not mean they grieve less.  What it often does mean is that they get less emotional support; people see them return to work, keep busy at home, and assume “they’re over it.”  Little do others realize that men agonize through their grief and mourning fully as much as women, and appreciate just as much the caring word, the hug, a recalled memory, a shared moment of silence.
Perhaps the best gift you could ever give a grieving father on Father’s Day is the recognition of his loss, and affirming him as a father in mourning.  A book especially for men in grief; a card recognizing that he is missing one of those who made him a father, yet he is still a father;  a gift in memory of his child; or simply a hug, an arm around the shoulder, or a compassionate word will assure him that although he does not grieve outwardly much, those who truly care about him have not forgotten.

For Dads of any age or stage in life, who have suffered loss:
Books:A Grief Observed  by C.S. Lewis.  The writer’s journal following the death of his beloved wife, as he struggled to hold onto his faith.  A meaningful book after any loss.  (Bantam Doubleday Dell, 1976, $11.99)
Anna: A Daughter’s Life by William Loizeaux.  A father’s story of the loss of his infant daughter.  (Arcade Pub., New York, 1993.  $19.95)
Heaven by Randy Alcorn.  What will heaven really be like?  Picture heaven as Scripture describes it—bright, vibrant, physical, free from suffering and sin, brimming with Christ’s presence, wonderous beauty, and the richness of human culture as God intended.  (Tyndale House Publishers, 2004, $24.99)
Shattered Dreams, God’s Unexpected Pathway to Joy by Larry Crabb.  An excellent book when questions are unanswered and God “doesn’t make sense.”  (Waterbrook Press, 2002.  $13.99)

When There Are No Words: Finding Your Way to Cope with Loss and Grief by Charlie Walton.  “…a conversation between a sensitive, articulate victim of sudden, tragic loss and any person struggling to endure the numbing first hours and weeks of a life catastrophe.”  From the back cover.  Highly recommended. (Pathfinder Pub., 1996, $12.95)
When Good-Bye is Forever:  Learning to Live Again After the Loss of a Child A Bereaved Father’s Inspiring Guide to Overcoming Tragedy by John Bramblett.  Guilt, sorting out your feelings toward a responsible third party, marriage survival from a dad’s perspective.  (Ballentine Books, 1991)  Out of print; available through Amazon Used Books
A Grace Disguised  by Gerald Sittser.  On a family trip, the Sittser’s van was struck by a drunk driver, and in a moment’s time he lost his wife, four year old daughter, and mother, leaving him a single parent to his three surviving children.  This book tells of his long journey through grief to healing.  (Zondervan Press, 1998, paperback, $9.99)  Also available in Spanish.

Lament for a Son  by Nicholas Wolterstorff.  A son was killed in a climbing accident in 1986.  This short book is highly recommended by almost everyone who reads it.  (Eerdmans Publishing, 1987, $12.00) 
Swallowed by a Snake:  The Gift of the Masculine Side of Healing by Thomas Golden.  Powerful ways to heal, how the genders differ in their healing, and how loss impacts the entire family.  (Golden Healing Publishers, 2000, $13.95)  

Grieving the Unexpected:  The Suicide of a Son by Dr. Gary Leblanc.
Dr. LeBlanc openly discusses his family’s struggle to survive such a dreadful event, the variables that sustained them during the initial shock and the healing process that enabled them to commence their journey towards wholeness. (Essence Publishing, 2003, $8.95)
When a Man Faces Grief/A Man You Know is Grieving  by James E. Miller, Willowgreen Publishing; 1998, $6.95.  Two books in one. One half is for men who are grieving, with 12 helpful suggestions, each a chapter by itself. The other half is for those who want to understand and help men who are grieving, also in twelve short, helpful chapters.  (Willowgreen, $6.95)
Websites for Men:Crisis, Grief and Healing  Tom Golden’s website dealing with men’s grief.  Offers a message board, chat room, articles, book excerpts, book ordering information and more.  Tom Golden is recognized as the foremost authority on men and grief.
Lamenting Sons: Fathers and Grief    
This site is full of information and links for men who have suffered the loss of a child. 
Music/DVD:Songs of Hope & Healing and Songs of Inspiration - Eric Gnezda
Two CD collections of songs of loss, comfort and solace.  The second one includes Blossoms Of Hope, an anthem of triumph and survivorship for those facing adversity and loss.  $10.00 ea. 

Getting Through It:  Music and Words to Help You with your Loss  Various artists.  Songs include Walking Through the Fire, Band of Angels, By and By, Amazing Grace, Part of My Life, and Tears in Heaven. $14.95 + s&h  
At Water’s Edge
DVD. Relax to the Peace of Nature and the Power of Music. A stress managment tool kit. A beautiful composition of real-time scenes in nature, each captured at the side of a lake, a pond, a mountain stream or the ocean. The viewer is visually drawn into the picture as though actually sitting outside along the water's edge. Experience being at the threshold of a peaceful and calming place.  $19.95.
Broken Hearts, Living Hope, free monthly newsletter published in Tigard, OR and distributed to families worldwide for families who have suffered the loss of a child.

Australian Center For Grief and Bereavement

I just wanted to share another resource for those living in Australia.  Find out more about the Australian Center for Grief and Bereavement.

About Us

The Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement is an independent, not for profit organisation which opened in January 1996 and is the largest provider of grief and bereavement education in Australia. Registered as a public benevolent institution the Centre receives operational funding through the state cancer and palliative care program of the Victorian Department of Health. A copy of the Constitution for the Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement can be downloaded here.

Its mission is to build the capacity of individuals, organisations and communities in order to enhance well-being following adverse life events. The Centre is a statewide service which is located alongside the McCulloch House Palliative Care Unit at Monash Medical Centre. In 2006 the Centre was appointed by the Victorian Department of Human Services as the statewide specialist bereavement service.

Grief and Bereavement Support

The Bereavement Counselling and Support Service (BCSS) provides a statewide specialist bereavement service for individuals, children and families who need assistance following the death of someone close to them. The BCSS offers face-to-face bereavement counselling most of which is office-based. An outreach service is available for people who cannot attend an office. BCSS also offers bereavement support programs such as support groups, meditation and creativity workshops, information evenings, massage therapy and an annual Ceremony of Remembrance. In addition the service provides advanced training for bereavement counsellors by providing is a supervised internship for experienced practitioners. Counsellors at the service come from a variety of disciplines including social work, psychology and psychotherapy.

The Bereavement Counselling and Support Service is located at McCulloch House, Monash Medical Centre, 246 Clayton Road, Clayton. For further information phone (03) 9265 2111, fax (03) 9265 2150 or

Further Information

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Trilogy of Hope

I loved this article and wanted to share it with you.  It's from Grief Digest Magazine.  Enjoy!

Trilogy of Hope
8 JUNE 2011
By Sheila Swedlow

The belief that things come in multiples of three appears to be true. How often have we encountered three births or three weddings or three deaths within a not-too-distant time frame? Three such extraordinary similarities have come to me at a time in my life when I deeply needed affirmation and comfort. Through the rippling effect of these experiences, I have been awakened to miraculous and inspiring possibilities!
Life became meaningless and empty when my daughter, Bari, died. Struggling to keep myself together, I navigated blindly into my new world of grief—a place I did not want to be! During that time of despair, I explored and pursued the unknown, where I learned the magical mysticism that an evolution of caterpillar and butterfly can interconnect the oneness of life. A difficult and foreign concept for the human mind to comprehend is that God can send signs and messages in such different forms, at such different times and in such different ways. The chronicled trilogy of my encounters has led me to wonder and hope and to enter a world of new meanings. Can anyone question that which has no answer?
The first of these occurrences began on Mother’s Day, 2009, only one month after Bari passed away on April 6—the exact day I became half the person I now am—the day a crater crashed through my heart, crushing my chest, leaving me without air or purpose and without meaning to life. In an unwelcome way, Mother’s Day had presented itself, rekindling my torturous wound. It smothered my soul and re-cemented my overwhelming grief.
My grandson, Benjamin, had stayed with me that “first” Mother’s Day, and he was  a witness to the beautiful, inspiring message that neither of us will ever forget.  As I opened the sliding-glass door in my kitchen, I was dumbstruck, motionless, wide-eyed, open-jawed. Pausing as closely as arm’s length for almost a full minute, was a beautiful, brightly colored Monarch butterfly, flapping its wings as if waving hello, and saying, “Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.”
Benjamin and I remained immobile and transfixed. Prior to this event, no butterfly had ever appeared (or was ever seen by us again) that entire year. It happened only on this one, special Mother’s Day. An inexplicable and powerful experience had occurred, and words can never adequately describe the power of that moment. Yet, the depth of that sensation was only the beginning of other miracles that would follow. How I needed that evidence that possibilities of the unknown do exist, and we are never far apart from those we love.
Almost a year passed before the second of the connection of threes was realized. Living two blocks from the beach, my husband and I had decided to have a bench placed on the boardwalk in memory of our daughter. Much thought had been given to the exact location, for everything had to be just perfect. We selected a place with a full view of the blue ocean, unhindered by the dunes. It was close in proximity to the beach club that Bari had enjoyed every summer, and with a view of the Atlantic Beach Bridge that she often walked as she traveled to and from her job.
Somberly and reverently, we read the touching inscription that began, “Our Beautiful Ray of Sunshine…” when we suddenly noticed a tiny, bright orange ladybug resting on the top slat of the bench, as if it had been waiting for us to arrive. With tears on his cheeks, my husband exclaimed, “I don’t believe in these things, yet it’s almost as if Bari is sending a message that she’s happy with what we have done.”
Our fingers traced the words of the plaque as we bade goodbye to our daughter, and the small, brilliant ladybug seemed to quietly fly away. As we pensively walked to our car, we were completely unaware that the ladybug was following us, and when Dick started the ignition, she flew in through the car window! We were startled and mesmerized, because never before had a ladybug entered our car! We had first noticed her on the bench and then on our dashboard; it was almost as if she wanted to stay with us just a little bit longer. Several long seconds passed before she flew away again, and all we could do was shake our heads and wonder. Could this tiny messenger possibly be another sign, triggering the possibility that, although separated from the physical world, Bari is still with us? Today I travel a new path of enlightenment, because what I saw was more to me than just a ladybug; I believe it was a strong testament to our daughter’s continued presence.
The last third of my amazing trilogy happened more recently, just several months ago. It was a warm, July day, and Dick and I were standing on our driveway. Hovering above the hood of my car was another large, Monarch butterfly. Since I had seen several over the summer I was not surprised, but this one was quite different. It flew near us, around our heads, close to our faces. And then suddenly, almost as if guided by a higher force, the fragile creature rested herself on my shoulder, not very far from my heart. Dick and I remained motionless, afraid that the slightest movement might cause her to fly away. If it had been possible, I would have preserved those seconds forever, but the butterfly eventually floated to the sky above, while I prayed that it was Bari sending me another miraculous message of her love. Sometimes ordinary mornings can lead to extraordinary days.
These three occurrences, truly profound in content, verify my belief that special events can connect, and that they can come in threes. Less skeptical than I used to be, I now am comforted to know that there is far more to heaven and earth than the human mind can comprehend. I have been given a gift that some may not have received, and I am armed with a new insight that has led to a spiritual awakening and gives evidence that cries out, “There is life after physical lives end, and we are connected in mysterious and wonderful ways.”
The butterflies and the ladybug have inspired me to wonder, and they have helped me to smile again. They have deepened the infinite power of Bari’s everlasting love. Though my heart is far from healed, and a gaping hole remains that often shields life’s beauty and sometimes stifles my joy, that which I have experienced is proof to me of a world beyond that we do not completely know.

Monday, June 13, 2011

What we love deeply

"What we once enjoyed and deeply loved we can never lose, For all that we love deeply becomes a part of us." 
                                                                                                                                                                     — Helen Keller

Friday, June 10, 2011

Myths About Grief

Myths and Facts About Grief

MYTH: The pain will go away faster if you ignore it.
Fact: Trying to ignore your pain or keep it from surfacing will only make it worse in the long run. For real healing it is necessary to face your grief and actively deal with it.
MYTH: It’s important to be “be strong” in the face of loss.
Fact: Feeling sad, frightened, or lonely is a normal reaction to loss. Crying doesn’t mean you are weak. You don’t need to “protect” your family or friends by putting on a brave front. Showing your true feelings can help them and you.
MYTH: If you don’t cry, it means you aren’t sorry about the loss.
Fact: Crying is a normal response to sadness, but it’s not the only one. Those who don’t cry may feel the pain just as deeply as others. They may simply have other ways of showing it.
MYTH: Grief should last about a year.
Fact: There is no right or wrong time frame for grieving. How long it takes can differ from person to person.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Missing Our 3 Angels

I'm excited today to spotlight Priscilla and her blog Missing Olivia.  This is what she says about herself and why she started Missing Olivia.....

Our journey started 8 years ago, when I married my best friend and moved away to Europe, compliments of the US Army. We have since been many places and seen many things. This blog first started as an exciting way to document our most recent pregnancy, but when that went south, I decided to take a different route. We recently lost our third child to stillbirth. On September 4, 2003, we lost our son, Jacob Tyler, to PROM resulting in stillbirth. Then on April 21, 2006, we had a miscarriage. Most recently, we got pregnant after trying for a year and it brought a whole new hope. Everything went well up until the end when we ended up losing our daughter, Olivia Hayden, to stillbirth on December 14, 2009. Who knows what the future holds now...

Priscilla, my heart goes out to you.  She also has shared Olivia & Jacob's Stories on her blog.....

Olivia's story is not exactly how we had hoped it would be. So much happiness and hope turned south very quickly. The following is a recap after coming home from the hospital:

*Note: There is a severe lack of editing here. Upon getting home from the hospital, I thought I had better write down the events before I forgot them, so I quickly wrote this as an email to myself as I remembered it and didn't really look back.*

The weeks leading up to her passing I noticed less movement, but was reaffirmed by Olivia's strong heartbeat that all was okay. Also the fact that towards the end, they have less space, hence less movement. On December 8th, I went in for my 36 week check up. Her heartbeat was in the 140s and strong, so even with minimal movement, Dr. Herman said things look fine. However, come December 9th (36 week mark) in the evening, I started to get worried because she wasn't really moving at all. I ate ice cream, drank ice cold water, etc. with no response. I thought, okay I'll call in the morning because they say to wait a certain amount of time before getting worried. I tried to just go to bed, and pray that everything was okay. In hindsight, I should've gone to L&D that night, but would things be any different? Was she already gone? On December 10th, I called and they scheduled me for a non-stress test at 1:30pm. They didn't seem concerned, but wanted to make sure she was okay. The nurse had a hard time finding a heartbeat, but said there was one. However, it kept going away, so she went to get Dr. Herman. He came and couldn't find one, but didn't tell me that. He said in a calm relaxed voice, "Why don't we go ahead and do an ultrasound?" So we went to the other room, and I waited patiently as he focused on the ultrasound for what felt like forever. He didn't look anything but focused as he stared at the monitor. He turned it off, helped me sit up, then paused and said, "I'm sorry, but unfortunately there is no heartbeat." I asked if he was sure and he reassured me that with the ultrasound it's 100%. He said it could be a cord problem, but we wouldn't know until she was born. He asked how I wanted to handle things and if I wanted to be induced immediately. Sitting there in COMPLETE shock, I said, "yes, right now, let's do it right now." Well, I went to make a red cross message to James as he was in Afghanistan. I then called my sister, Jen, to have her relay the news. I was going to just have my friend, Sarah, get Oba while I went straight to the hospital, but figured it would be easier to go home and get him myself, etc. On my way home, I realized I should wait for James to get home so that he could hold his baby girl. So I called the doctor and they said we could wait until he gets home to induce, but to come to L&D to be checked for infection. All the while, I got home to get Obadiah's stuff together, as well as my stuff for the hospital. I spent the next 30 minutes or so crying/screaming/yelling out to God asking why this happened? Oba tried so hard to comfort me. So much so that while I was going to the bathroom, he ran in and tried to sit on my lap. He wanted to comfort me, and knew something wasn't right. He started crying while pacing the house and running to his hiding spots. He was obviously just as stressed out as I was. After about 30 minutes, Sarah got to my house to get Oba. He went with Sarah's ex-husband, who was in town visiting CJ (their son), back to their house. Once they left, Sarah and I headed off to L&D that night. By my request, we did another ultrasound just to make sure there truly was no heartbeat. Unfortunately, Dr. VuShan, came in. She wanted to be there to comfort me, but the drive from Puyallup kept her longer than planned. After I finished up all the paperwork, as to not have to worry about it when I came back, we went back to Sarah's. We hung out for the evening as I just sat in shock. I had been having contractions for days, and continued to have them, as I sat there knowing that my baby girl had already passed away. I just wanted to be home and be alone with Obadiah and cry my eyes out. After about midnight, I did that. However, after talking to James for an hour and having strong contractions, we agreed I should go to the hospital. So I went back to drop Oba off at Sarah's. I called the hospital and was told to stay put until I had contractions 2 minutes apart and couldn't breathe through them. Fine. So I stayed the night on Sarah's couch. I think I got no more than an hour of sleep that night. It was such a living nightmare. I still couldn't believe we were going through this. We were so close. 36 weeks. Why did this happen? Luckily, my sister, Deb, booked a flight and was on her way out to be with me until James got home. She got there at noon that next day (Dec. 11) and we headed home. She cooked, cleaned, and just tried to keep me company while we anxiously awaited James' arrival. We soon found out that James made a flight out on Saturday, and luckily was arriving Sunday (Dec 13th) at 11am. So we tried to keep busy until then, just hanging out on the couch, on the laptops, and with the tv on. We headed to SeaTac to pick James up Sunday afternoon, and it was such a relief to see his face and hug him. He was home, so now we could deliver our baby girl. I had worried that with all of the contractions, Liv would come before her dad got home. However, she waited for him. We tried to relax that evening, but we really couldn't. It was just too much to handle. Just walking into Livy's room with James was unbearable. We both broke down. We were completely ready for her. We had everything. Her bed was ready, clothes washed, diapers stocked up, etc. Deb left to give us space (we didn't know until we went downstairs and couldn't find her), and ended up getting a flight out that night so we could have time alone. We tried to get some sleep that night, but as with the rest of the weekend, that didn't really happen. We got up early enough for showers, and headed to the hospital. We were supposed to be there at 7:30am for the induction. We got there, got set up in our room, and the doctor came in to start the process. I had blood drawn, vitals taken, and an internal exam to figure what approach to take. After doing so, they decided to start the process with a dose of Misoprostol to soften the cervix at around 9:30am. By 1pm, they gave me another dose as I was 2cm dilated. About an hour later, we had them order the epidural. It wasn't long until the anesthesiologist came in to administer the epidural. Let's just say he liked to talk and was incredibly goofy. Even with all of the pain I felt, the sadness that surrounded the situation, and the shock behind it all, James and I couldn't hold back the laughter. He was definitely a blessing, as it brought probably the only smile to our faces that day. It wasn't more than maybe 12 minutes before I was nice and numb, which was great. So we continued to just hang out and wait to see if things were progressing. By around 4:45pm, I started to feel more, but forgot that I was in charge of the button to re-up the epidural. So I started to go through the contractions and we had them come in. About 15 minutes later, I was back to being on a cloud. All the while, I knew I felt Liv progressing. I wasn't sure if it was me, or if she was really starting to come out. Well, we finally told the nurse and she called the doctor in. He came to check my progression and sure enough, her head was right there. They immediately called for Dr. Herman to get in there, because it was time. I knew I could push right then and there, but waited for them to get in and prep for her delivery. They set up the bed, got their gowns on, etc. and prepped the room for Liv's delivery. It wasn't but 2 pushes and she was completely out. It was like reliving the same nightmare that we went through with Jake, as it was silent when she came out. It's the most awful sound, as you know little Olivia had already passed away and her poor little body was limp. After she was delivered, they announced the time. Our daughter was born on December 14th at 5:34pm. They cut the cord, etc. and took her off to the monitoring table to clean her off while Dr. Herman instructed Dr. Larson (resident who actually delivered Liv) how to stitch me up. I had a 2nd degree perineal tear. I suppose it could've been worse. So I laid there and just closed my eyes trying to keep myself calm as I waited for them to finish, knowing our baby girl was over to the side of my bed being cleaned off and getting her footprints taken, etc. After everything was cleaned up, Dr. Herman said that unfortunately (if that's the right word), there was nothing wrong with the umbilical cord or the placenta, but that they would send it off to pathology for testing. Before he headed out, he went and just stared at little Olivia on the table, and just shook his head with a look of complete sadness on his face, then left. They finally handed her off to James once they were done cleaning her up and dressing her in a little outfit provided by the hospital. Seeing James hold our baby girl was a sight I'll never forget. It was so sweet, but so incredibly sad. She was 5 lbs. 10 oz., 19 inches long, absolutely perfect. James soon handed her off to me. I laid there holding our baby girl, and couldn't help but just stare and cry. All I could think was "Why?!" Why did our baby girl pass away? Why us? Why after losing Jake and Jordan, we're now going through it AGAIN? Why did her heart just stop? After the nurses finished things up, they all left so that James and I could be alone with our baby girl. We sat there on the bed together while holding sweet little Livy and just broke down in tears. Our hopes and dreams for Liv were crushed and gone. We, once again, were going to have to say good bye to our child. After a little while of being alone, we called my mom in so she could meet her newest granddaughter. She held her and just said how sweet she looked and how she looked like she was sleeping. We spent a little while together while they ordered my dinner and just sat and stared at Liv. Mom was going to go back to our place to sleep before her flight out, and while figuring out how she was going to get there, our wonderful nurse, Kendra, offered to drive her there. So then James and I were able to continue having time alone with our little Liv'ster. Not long after that, the professional photographer linked with Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep called to let us know she was on her way. We had our nurse help clean Liv off a little more and dress her in her homecoming outfit that we had picked out months ago. The photographer got there soon after that to take pictures of Liv for us. We really appreciated that service, as this will be all we have left of our daughter. Soon after she left, mom called and said that Deb was able to find her a super cheap flight going out that night, so James went to pick her up and take her to the airport. While I didn't want James to leave, this worked out best. I was able to spend the next two hours alone with my sweet little Olivia. Holding her, talking with her about all the things we had hoped and planned for her, and just staring at her. It was so hard knowing that later that night we would have to say good bye. James got back, and we spent the rest of the evening together as a family, loving on our baby girl, and just hugging her as much as we could. Rubbing her soft little cheeks, staring at her hands and feet, and just realizing how much of a clone she was of me. James said I must've asexually reproduced, because there was absolutely nothing of James in her physical features, and I mean nothing. She looked JUST like her momma. Even in the womb, she was calm, cool, and collected. Jake was psychotic and couldn't sit still in the womb, and arrived looking just like his dad, while Liv looked just like me. I never thought a baby girl would tug at my heart as much as little Olivia did. I want her back so badly. Well, at around 3am, we decided it was time to say good bye. Unfortunately, her little body was only going to continue to decay, and James hated seeing that happen. So we said our final goodbyes. Our overnight nurse, Zorada, took her little outfit off so that we could keep that with her stuff, and she bundled her up in her blanket and took her away. We then attempted to get some sleep, but that was hopeless for me. I woke up every hour on the hour sweating profusely, and just thinking about Liv. By 7am, I decided to get breakfast and just stay up. We just sat and hung out in shock. Dr. Herman came to check on me, and by that time, I think the oxycodone took a little TOO much effect. I wasn't all there and the room didn't look right. I couldn't really focus when Dr. Herman asked if I had any questions, etc. He said that I could go home that day if I was ready. I wanted to stay as long as I needed to be monitored, and said we'll see how I'm feeling. Well, we spent the rest of the day just trying to relax as I laid in bed, continually being monitored. Luckily, unlike with Jake, I didn't lose much blood at all, so my healing process was going much better. By around 2pm, we decided we'd go ahead and go home that day. We told our nurse that we were ready. Well, we thought she was going to go get the discharge paperwork and come back, so we just waited for her. Before long, James and I both fell asleep. We woke up around 5pm and called for her since she never came back. Little did we know, she was waiting on our final go. So she got the paperwork, we packed our stuff up, and headed out. James went to get the car while Beth (our nurse) wheeled me out in the wheel chair. As we were leaving the L&D area, she had them play the lullaby that plays every time a baby is born. Well, that was sweet, but it sure didn't help my emotions. It only led to me breaking down as we took that silent ride to the car. We headed home, and came home to an empty, quiet house. We were back where we were after Jake and Jordan. Grieving the loss of another child. Coming home to a house that only days earlier had so much happiness and hope. Only now it was full of sadness and despair...

Well, today marks the 7th Angelversary of our son, Jacob Tyler. It was at 12:54pm on Sept. 4th 2003 that we delivered our sweet baby boy, stillborn, at 21 1/2 weeks. I remember that day all too well -- as well as the week leading up to it...

Waking up to severe back pain -- dismissing it after my OB didn't seem concerned -- at 21 weeks, only to witness my water breaking a few minutes later...Not exactly the way I had expected to spend my morning on September 2nd 2003. In complete shock, we raced to the Army hospital knowing that this couldn't be good. They immediately took me into an exam room to see what the diagnosis was...

We had only had one other quick ultrasound before this, so while it was in the midst of a horrible situation, it was comforting seeing him on the screen with a strong heartbeat.

After completing the exam, they determined that there was a premature rupture of the membranes (PROM). The doctor basically said that there was nothing we could do but sit and wait to see if my body heals itself...So we were admitted and I stayed on bed rest waiting, hoping and praying for a good outcome. At the end of each hour, a nurse would come in to check Jake's heart rate. Starting out, it was very strong, but it began to slow down after time.

We knew this wasn't good, but we held strong. The nurses continued to check Jake's heart rate, and on the second day, we were all excited to see that it got a little better. The nurses were hopeful, we were hopeful...Unfortunately, it still wasn't high enough to be out of the danger zone...

We continued to wait. During this entire time, there was nothing to do but sit and stare at each other. There was no TV and we didn't come prepared with books or magazines, etc. so time just crawled by. Luckily, at some point during the second day, a nurse brought in a little TV cart with a VCR and a few random movies. They had to share this one TV between all of the patients in the maternity ward, but they finally just let us have it due to our circumstances. I was very thankful for that, as we kept hearing newborns crying and women screaming during their deliveries, etc. Any distraction was going to be a plus at this point! So we sat and watched the movies, and tried as hard as we could to keep our minds off of the nightmare that we were living in. To this day, those specific movies stand out to me because of that week in the hospital with Jake, and I can't help but watch them anytime they come on TV (Austin Powers and Independence Day).

While we were hanging out watching the movies, a new doctor came in -- one that we had not talked to before. He must not have gotten the memo as to how our doctor was approaching the situation, as he gave us a whole new plan of action -- one that completely threw us off. He came in (without any kind of bedside manner), and flat out told us, "Ok, so I assume Dr. Herman told you what we plan to do, right?" **I know...we had a Dr. Herman with Jake, too!! Weird, huh?** We looked confused, so he continued to explain. He basically told us in a matter of words that they were going to induce me immediately. He warned me that Jake would be born alive, but because his lungs were not developed, he would die in our arms a few minutes later. Wow. Way to be blunt! We told him that was far from what our doctor (Dr. Herman) had told us, and that his plan was to take the wait-and-see hopes that we would be among the 20% that heal from this situation and continue on to a normal delivery down the road. After talking, he went to verify that with our doctor. We never saw that guy again, but our doctor came in to apologize and reassure us that the induction was not going to happen like that -- that if there was any hope of survival, we were going to hang on a little longer.

So we continued to wait. Jake's heartbeat remained steady between 75-90bpm into that night, but it didn't stay like that for long. When the nurse woke me up the next morning (September 4th) to check Jake's heart rate, she couldn't find a heartbeat at all. She brought in another nurse to verify it, and it was then determined that at that point, Jake had passed away. At this point in time, there was no option but to induce and deliver him stillborn.

Once they got everything prepared, they started the induction. I had no plans of getting an epidural, because I foolishly thought that since I was only 21 1/2 weeks along, a quick shot of Demerol would do the trick. HA! Once those contractions started, we called the nurse immediately for that heavenly epidural. I mean, at this point, Jake was gone...there was no reason to have endure any more pain. As luck may have it, the anesthesiologist was severely backed up so it took awhile before she could get to me. However, once she did, I was living on a cloud. It was such a relief to get that set up!

While all of this was taking place, the nurses kept asking if we wanted the Chaplain to come and talk with us. We kept turning the offer down, because we didn't know what faith he was with, and we knew what we believed and were content being alone. Well, one of the nurses refused to leave it at that and just as we were nearly ready to deliver Jake, the Chaplain walked in. The nurses left to give us a minute with him, and let's just say that was an awkward five minutes! We didn't have anything to say. We knew what was happening, and we knew what we believed. He didn't have much to say so he just made small talk. I think he finally got the hint that we just wanted to be alone, so he dismissed himself soon after that.

By this point, I knew it was time. We called the midwife in, and we immediately delivered our son, Jacob Tyler, at 12:54pm. They cleaned him up and handed him over for us to hold. He was perfect. Absolutely perfect. There was not a thing wrong with him -- he just didn't stand a chance when all of the amniotic fluid was missing.

While spending time with our son, a nurse came in and asked if we wanted to take a picture of him. She said they only had a Polaroid camera, but that we might want a picture to remember him by. I immediately turned her down. All I could think about was my friend that lost her son at 6 months. She received only a Polaroid, and 6 months later it wasn't even visible -- it totally faded out. What a tease! Plus, we felt that at 21 1/2 weeks, we didn't want to remember him that way. Looking back, I totally regret that decision -- even if the Polaroid would have faded out to nothing. Now, I wish so badly that we had a picture of our sweet baby boy. Instead, all we have are these xerox'ed ultrasound pictures from my hospital records and a few pictures that were taken while I was pregnant...

Here's one of them -- taken a couple of weeks before we lost Jake, while two of our best friends were visiting us...

Unfortunately, we don't have much beyond those few pictures. The hospital didn't offer to take his hand or foot prints, nor did we think to ask for them. They just gave us a bereavement memory box and pamphlet, but nothing more -- not even a death certificate. We found out later on that after 20 weeks, you should receive one of those. We just didn't know that when we were there with Jake. We were in such shock, we didn't even think to do anything or ask for anything. We just sat there and held him, kissed him, and told him how much we loved him. We knew this was the last time we were going to see him. They told us that at his size, there is no funeral or burial done where we were stationed. Not knowing anything different, we just took their word for it and they took care of things. Looking back, things could have been so different had we been more knowledgeable on what our options were. Jake probably would be buried next to his sister, Olivia, had we been stateside and been given that option. It's insane to think about that kind of stuff though!

Since we chose not to get a Polaroid, we made a note of what he looked like. Jacob Tyler had my bone structure and muscle in thighs (he had massive thighs!), but everything else was definitely just like his daddy. He clearly had James' nose (there was no denying this characteristic!), collarbone and feet (incredibly high arches!). Jake looked very healthy and strong, and we knew from his ultrasounds that he was feisty. To this day, we laugh about the fact that Jake couldn't sit still in his little home -- just like his dad -- while Liv was incredibly calm and relaxed -- just like her mom. The hospital didn't record Jake's length, but if you put your hands together, he could fit in the cup of you hands -- from thumb to thumb. Our sweet little guy was only 400g. He was so tiny, but left the biggest imprint on our hearts.

With all that happened, we really hoped for some kind of answer as to why this happened. After many tests on both Jacob and myself, we never got an answer. There were no infections (supposedly the standard reason for PROM) and Jake was as healthy as could be. We could only hope that any future pregnancies would not end like this, and that extra monitoring would be in order...

Since we don't have our son with us today and we don't have that much to remember him by, we hold on to the few gifts that we received back in 2003. Among them were an embroidered pillow with his name and date, flowers received while we were in the hospital that I later dried, as well as a Tiffany & Co. star with his information engraved in it.

While in Poland, we also bought a handmade wooden box that we later had his name and date engraved in. This memory box holds all of the cards we received upon getting home from the hospital.

It's hard to believe that it has been 7 years now since we said goodbye. Labor Day weekend will never be the same again, as to us, it's Jake's weekend. It's nice that, assuming that James isn't deployed, we always have a long holiday weekend to spend together in remembrance of our son. This year, we plan to head up to Seattle and do dinner at Morton's. Then tomorrow, assuming the weather's nice, we'll be heading to the beach for the evening. I suppose I can't ask for a better way to spend time thinking about our sweet baby boy.

We love you and will never forget you, Jake...

Read Jacob's Story from James' (Jacob's Dad) perspective 

Thank you Priscilla for sharing your precious angels with us.  My heart breaks for you! I also wish for you a healthy and happy delivery with this baby soon to arrive.

Honoring Our Angels Service Project

Honoring Our Angels Service Project
Click on the card to read more about the project.
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