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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

And now she has extra holes in her head!

Sarah has been begging me since was 8 to get her ears pierced. I told her that 8 was too young but she could get them done when she turned 10. And true to my word, last June I reminded her that she could get her ears pierced for her birthday.  But she had changed her mind and her ears have remained hole free until this past weekend.

Earlier in the week she told me that she had decided that wanted her ears pierced now and reminded me that I had said she could get them done when she was 10.  I told her that she should wait a few weeks until her birthday and that could be one of her presents.  But she was adamant that she get it done as soon as possible and she didn't mind paying for it herself.

So, on Saturday, we hoped in the car, picked up her best friend, Cheyanne, for moral support and headed to the mall.

She spent last week vacillating between excitement and fear.  She asked me at least 100 times if it hurt.  She watched numerous You Tube videos of people getting their ears pierced to gauge their pain levels.  And then she asked me a few 100 more times if it hurt.

It was raining on Saturday and the mall was packed.  And Claire's was like an ear piercing factory.  She had to wait behind two other people and then there were two other people behind Sarah.

I filled out the forms, Sarah picked out the earrings she wanted and she climbed into the chair.

She chose to have both ears done at the same time, which was probably a wise choice.  And here's a few pictures I snapped of the process:

A little nervous.

 A lot nervous.

Wait! Is that it? 

Checking herself out in the mirror.

That wasn't so bad!  (Although I think her ears were stinging just a bit here.  That smile looks pretty forced!)

Gratuitous photo of me and my girl!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

What's Dan going to do with all of his free time on Saturdays?

A couple of Saturdays ago, Dan started teaching Peter how to mow the yard.

We have an acre so we have a riding mower.  And we have lots of stuff to mow around: the garden, the swing set, the trampoline, the patio, the flower beds, trees, etc.  You know - all the normal obstacles.  And even though we have a riding mower, it's not a fancy zero turn mower so it makes navigating these obstacles ,while still ensuring that the grows gets mowed well, a little more difficult.

Dan is beginning Peter with the edges of the back yard because this is where most of the obstacles reside.  He has been going behind the mower and yelling directions to Peter.  It has been funny to watch but he's getting the hang of it, slowly but surely.

Here are a few picture:

With more practice, he'll be able to do the whole thing and that's going to leave Dan with a lot of free time on his hands on Saturdays!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Girl Scouts at the beach!

The weekend before last, Sarah went to the beach with her Girl Scout Troop.  They spent Saturday touring the aquarium and even got a behind the scenes tour.  After that, they did a service project by cleaning up the beach.  They had lots of girl time, playing in the water, braiding each other's hair and giggling. They even celebrated Cheyanne's 10th birthday.  Sarah had a fabulous time!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Sometimes you just have to do it your way....

Thanks for all of your kind words and prayers after my last two posts.

I have to admit I've been dreading Rebecca's anniversaries for about two months now.  I'm not sure why but I guess I felt like I should do something to commemorate them but I knew I didn't want to celebrate them, if that makes sense. 

I know some people like to do that sort of thing but butterfly releases, balloon releases, 5ks established and run in memory of, etc. just didn't feel right to me.  Perhaps if she had been here longer something like that may have felt more appropriate.

On her birthday, we visited her grave and took flowers.  Sarah was away on a Girl Scout beach trip so she didn't join us.  She was upset about this at first but when she remembered that Rebecca's birthday was also her BFF, Cheyanne's bithday, it made the decision to go easier.  And I don't think she regrets it and I certainly don't regret encouraging her to go. 

And yesterday after dinner, we went back to her grave.  It was a cold and rainy evening which Sarah said was very appropriate for the occasion. 

On our way home, Dan said, "Was that a car off the road back there?  Should I turn around?"

I hadn't seen anything but told him he needed to turn around just to make sure. 

So we did and sure enough, there was a car that had gone off the road and up an embankment and into the woods.

Dan pulled over and got out.  He went up the hill and opened the car door.  This lady had apparently had the presence of mind to call 911 already but I think shock was starting to set in.  Dan said she kept asking him to call her brother but couldn't remember his number.  I could hear her moaning about the pain in her leg.  Dan said she was laying in the passenger side of the car and that her leg was twisted at a very unnatural looking angle.

A few minutes later two fire trucks got there.  In a matter of seconds they had put up a giant spot light, gotten out saws to start cutting the trees down (this woman must have been going fast because she plowed up and over several trees), and were bringing out back boards.  And then the ambulance arrived. We stood in the midst of the chaos and decided we weren't adding any value so we left.

When we got home, Peter ran next door to tell my parents about our adventure.  My dad has a police scanner and always listens to the calls that come through. He heard the call on the scanner and said that at one point the call mentioned a 4 year old who was trapped in the car.

Dan was surprised to hear this because he said the woman never mentioned a child and  the car was empty as far as he could tell.

Anyway, it made for an exciting end to our day.

I think that writing about the day she died was very freeing for me.  I have wanted to write about it for a while now but I just kept putting it off knowing that I would never be able to properly or accurately describe what it was like.  However, I also felt in some odd way that I was doing Rebecca a disservice by not writing about it. 

After I got all those words out, I felt such a huge relief. 

And so in my own way, I celebrated her birthday and the anniversary of her death - not with a party, or butterflies or a memorial 5k - but with words.  And it felt right. 

I think Rebecca would be pleased.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

April 15, 2014. The longest day.

The day started like the few before it.  I was up by 5:00, I showered and dressed, and then got Dan up to do the same.

The hospital was gracious enough to allow us to stay in a tiny room right outside the doors to the NICU.  There was a small couch that converted to a small bed, just big enough for two people if they held each other tight.  There was a shower in the bathroom with a curtain that didn't quite reach the floor, so after each use, the floor was soaked.  There was a phone that luckily, once again, had not rung the previous night.

I shook Dan awake and told him to get ready and a said another silent prayer thanking God that she had made it one more night.

Just like the other days since her birth,we got ready, and took the few steps from our room to her bedside.

We always tried to get there before 7:00, usually it was around 6:45.  7:00 was when the nurses changed shifts so we liked to be there to get an update from the night nurse on our little Rebecca.

We would spend the morning sitting by her bedside rubbing her head, changing her diaper, kissing her, taking her temperature, and praying.  These were the only things we could really do for our little one.  The machines were breathing for her and were feeding her as well so rubbing her tiny little head and praying big prayers for her was how I spent most of my time in the NICU.

Around 9:00 the doctors and all their students, made their rounds and we would wait anxiously for their updates, hoping and praying for any bit of good news.

The morning of April 15th was different though.  Instead of the cadre of nurses, doctors, and med students that normally made the rounds in the NICU each morning, only Dr. Bishop and one other doctor came to Rebecca's bedside.  I can't even remember exactly what they said but it was nothing we hadn't already heard before - she was dying and there was nothing they could do.

When she left, Dan wondered why it had been just the two of them.  I told him those were "compassionate rounds".  No need to drag the whole team along to watch her tell us our baby was dying and there was nothing they could do about it. I'm sure she did it to be kind, but it just felt to me like they had given up on Rebecca and were just waiting patiently for her to die.

Several times in our stay at the NICU that week, they had asked us if we wanted to move Rebecca's crib to a different spot, perhaps over in that corner so we would have more privacy.  And each time, we adamantly said no.  I liked the spot she was in.  It was in the very center of the entire NICU.  When anyone entered or left, we could see it.  Everyone had to walk past us.  I didn't want to be moved into a corner, out of the way.  I wanted everyone to know that we were there and we were fighting for our baby.  Even if no one else was.

Rebecca's lungs would fill up with fluids because her esophagus led to a small pouch instead of to her stomach.   So periodically the nurse would use some suctioning tubes to drain the fluid that was building up and overflowing into her tubes.  We had a new nurse that day and after we got back from a quick lunch in the cafeteria, there appeared to be reddish fluid in one of her tubes.  We called the nurse over and she said it was a little blood.  She drained the tube and everything seemed to be fine.

I was pissed though. I blamed the blood on the nurse and felt that if she had been a better nurse, there wouldn't have been any blood in Rebecca's tube.  This was totally irrational as there was nothing this nurse did to cause this blood.  Rebecca was dying but it wasn't the nurse's fault. 

Someone from another department came around to help us get footprints of Rebecca's hands and feet so that we could have them as a reminder, I guess.  A keepsake, if you will, since we wouldn't be able to take our baby home.  It was a nice gesture but it annoyed me.  Plus the woman taking the footprints was horrible at it.  She couldn't get a good print no matter what she tried and that was making me mad too.  She was going to come back later in the afternoon when Peter and Sarah got there so she could get all three of the kids hand prints together. I was glad when she left.

Peter and Sarah had to stay late at school that afternoon because they were making up work they had missed while at the hospital waiting for Rebecca to be born.  My parents were bringing them straight to the hospital from school.  But before they could get them there, things started to take a turn for the worse.

Rebecca's numbers kept dropping, her lines kept filling up with fluid.  Her machines were beeping and the nurses came rushing over trying to get her stabilized. Dr.Bishop was called and many people where huddled around her crib.

Dr. Bishop looked at me kindly and said simply, "We're losing her.  I think this is it."

My heart sank.  She asked me if I wanted to hold her and of course I said yes.

Because of all the machines she was hooked to, holding her was a complicated process that required the help of two nurses, pillows propped just so, and a lot of maneuvering so that her breathing tube did not come out.  Previously we left holding Rebecca until the kids were with us in the afternoons so that we didn't risk her tube coming out.  But now, it didn't matter.

I sat down and they arranged pillows on my lap and they brought Rebecca to me.  I had just gotten her in my arms when I looked up and saw Peter and Sarah coming through the doors of the NICU.  My heart dropped.  They can't be here for this, I thought.  They can not watch their sister die.

They ran over with big smiles on their faces, excited to see Rebecca and get to hold her again.  But we told them what was going on and we all began to cry. They gathered chairs around me and we all rubbed her head and kissed her head and prayed and cried.  My parents came in and we gathered more chairs around.  The nurses brought portable room dividers over and made walls around all of our chairs so that we could have some privacy.

After a bit, Dr. Bishop asked if we wanted to go ahead and remove her breathing tube.  She told me that this was in fact the end and that if we removed the tubes we could eat least see her face while we were holding her.  She also let us know that the whole process of dying wasn't necessarily quick and that it could take a while.

So they took out her breathing tube and I felt defeated.  Without the tube, she would surely die.  But oh how nice it was to see her little face without a tube coming out of her mouth.  I had only briefly seen her in the operating room after I had her and by the time I was out of recovery and she was on her way to Brenner, she was already hooked up to other machines with tubes that covered her beautiful face.

The only time I  got to see her face unobstructed was when I first said hello and as I was saying goodbye.

I held her on my lap all afternoon and into the evening.  My brother came after he got off work and the whole family was still gathered around her.  Sweet Rebecca got so many hugs and kisses in her final hours. 

Dr. Bishop was correct when she said the process could take a while.  Rebecca's numbers would drop and then they raise back up and remain steady for a while.  And then they would drop and then they would slowly raise back up.

There was talk of dinner.  Mom and Dad took Peter and Sarah to the cafeteria.  Dan and I stayed with Rebecca.  It was evening now and all the lights in the NICU were dimmed.  There were more tears, more hugs, more kisses, more head rubs.

There was talk of whether or not they should all go home and if they went home whether or not the kids should go to school the next morning.  It was decided that they would all wait.  We would all be there when she died.

And a little before 9:00, we watched the numbers on the machine fall and stay down.  We watched them eventually drop to zero.  I heard my Dad say, "That's it."

I held her in my arms and I watched my baby take her last breath. And she was gone.


Prior to her birth, the counselors and doctors kept asking what we wanted, how we wanted it to go with Rebecca.  I thought that if one more person asked me what I wanted for Rebecca, I was going to hurt them.

What did I want for Rebecca? I wanted her to be born healthy.  I wanted her to grow up. I wanted her to live a beautiful life.   I wanted her to bury me, not the other way around.

Since that wasn't an option, and since they kept asking us, we had to consider what we wanted her life to look like.

Did we want to take her home to die immediately after she was born?  No.  We wanted her to at least have a chance so we chose surgery.

When she struggled as soon as they got her to the NICU and they almost lost her and then refused to do surgery on her, did we want to put in a breathing tube?  Yes.  Put in a breathing tube.  We want to give the Lord a chance to work a great miracle.  If she's breathing, there's still a chance for a miracle.

We were with her every minute of her life  except for a few hours to sleep each night and a few minutes to eat at mealtimes.

And that's what I wanted.  If you can't save my baby, then I just want to have some time with her. And I didn't want her to die alone.   That became my prayer to God.  Please let us have some time with her and please don't let her die in the middle of the night while we are sleeping.

And God, in His goodness, answered my prayers.  My baby died in my arms, surrounded by her family, covered in kisses and tears.  She was loved and I have no doubt that she could feel it as we loved her Home.

And the words Dan wrote in her obituary ring true, Rebecca's time on this earth was short, but no child was ever loved more.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Happy Birthday little one.

Today would have been Rebecca's first birthday.  I can't believe a whole year has passed already.

It seems like just yesterday I was hugely pregnant and ready to meet my little one.  It seems like just yesterday I was hopeful that God would grant us the miracle we had been praying fervently for over the previous nine months.  It seems like just yesterday that I was holding my sweet little baby in my arms for the first time, and mere days later, for the last time.

I am thankful for the gift of our precious baby.  I am honored that I got to carry her for 9 months and that I got to love her here on this earth for 6 days.  I am grateful that I have a tiny saint in heaven who prays for me and my intentions whenever I ask.  I am relieved that she only suffered for 6 days and didn't have to endure countless surgeries only to ultimately experience the same end.

I continue to trust God and his plan for her life.  I continue to hope and believe that her short life served a huge purpose.  And when I get to heaven, I expect that God will reveal it to me then.  Until I can get back to her, I take comfort in knowing that my little Rebecca is spending the rest of eternity worshiping Jesus. And through God's grace and mercy, I'll be joining her one day!

Happy Birthday, baby girl!  I'm looking forward to the day I get to see you again!