Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Gifts & The Tree Is Up! (no pics yet)

First of all, there are no pictures of the tree yet, but believe me, it is beautiful! Imagine a pink frosted tree with white lights and ornaments in all shades of pink with some blue accents. I was going to set it on the lovely baby afghan I bought from my friend Twyla, but I have had occasion to give that afghan as a baby gift and I used another pink, blue, and white crocheted blanket I had. Meredith has a pretty handsewn stocking bought from Etsy that is made of vintage materials - matches the tree perfectly! My daughter and I just finished it tonight. Meredith has a few cute red ornaments given to her that I have placed on our regular Christmas tree.
Most of these things above were made by BLMs for Meredith. There are two pictures of her Christmas Treasure Bean painted by Casey. There is no charge for the picture, and you can choose to buy the pebble and "bring it home", as she calls it. I have two pebbles painted by her that I have brought home.
The Name in the Stars was done by a mother named Amanda. I have had it for a while, but I saved it for Christmas because it reminds me of the Star that revealed where the Christ Child lay. The angels picture is a copy of a vintage Christmas card that was shared by a blogger.
My sweet friend Caroline made the red picture with the little Morehead angels on it. I have always loved the art of the Moreheads, especially their angels. Caroline has four children and two little children awaiting her in Heaven. she is a wonderful mother to all her children.
The cute bell was made by Trena, another sweet friend. Trena has two daughters and sadly watched her twin sons fly home to Jesus just a few months ago. Trena is making the best of the situation and is trying to look forward. I know how hard that can be.
A sweet lady on Facebook made the blue star for me. I feel so fortunate to have these gifts for Meredith and also want to thank the bloggers who have free images to share. That is a gift within itself. I hope someone takes a picture of the Christmas tree for me - soon!
Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Loving an Adult Rainbow Child

I am very proud of my three Rainbows - a boy and twin girls. They are such wonderful children. Yes, like all children and parents we may have differences of opinions on some issues, but we agree to disagree and go on with our close relationships.
Last night, we were invited to our son's house to celebrate hubby's birthday. DIL cooked a great meal and the grandchildren made Christmas crafts after dinner. The house was decorated inside and out for Christmas and a fire was roaring in the fireplace.
But when we arrived and my 32 year old son met us at the car, he reached in and hugged me, and I had to cry. It felt like I was propelled back into time and was holding his long 8 pound, 10 ounce, frame for the first time once again. It felt like his body melded into my arms like it did when he was an infant. I told him again how he had soothed my heart after Meredith died. No, he did not take her place, but he filled a huge void.
Every day, I thank God for the children He sent to me - a son and three daughters, one of whom lives with the Lord Himself. Thank you Lord for my three precious Rainbows.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

An Unexpected Depression

I was so happy in the days leading up to Meredith's birthday. The planning, the thoughts that we were doing something for her - I seemed filled with a new purpose for a while. Then the party itself was a beautiful time of commemoration of her brief life. After the party I seemed to have an inner glow for several days. Then I heard that two close family members had negative things to say about our having a celebration of life for her. That hurt, but I worked through it. Then, I started to feel extremely depressed again. Tears flowed easily and most times just out of the blue. Commercials on TV made me cry. Hallmark Channel movies that I usually love were hard to watch. A bit on the news about poor people lined up in Dallas to receive free turkeys brought me to tears and I could not be consoled by my husband. He was at a loss as to how to help me. Then, I remembered. Her due date, a date I have never really thought about a lot except the first year. I've never really mourned that day much - November 22, 1974. That first November 22, my "well-meaning" pastor had already secured me a job to help with our medical bills. I was a clerk in a discount store, my first job. I remember a pregnant woman coming through my line that day and mentioning that she was due. I don't remember if I told her about my baby - I probably didn't out of concern for her feelings. Then I checked out a woman who mentioned that her little son died of cancer that year and they were especially missing him because the holidays were approaching. I told her about Meredith and we both cried, the customer and the clerk, in the checkout line. I remember exactly what I was wearing. I don't remember anyone else mourning with us that year.
This November 22 has come and gone, and I shed thousands of tears for a little girl who left too soon during these last few weeks. My first little girl, my precious Meredith. I didn't consciously think of her due date, but my mind knew. This has happened some over the years - it's amazing what ones mind can do. Even if she couldn't stay, I am very thankful for her, our precious daughter.
*I want to thank Trena for the beautiful Thanksgiving picture. Trena has two lovely little girls and is the mother to twin angel boys.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Happy Halloween!

These two autumn pictures made me smile! Thank you Maggie, Alexandra Grace's mommy, for the cute pumpkin. And thank you Sandie, Jessica's mommy, for the cute scarecrow picture. It makes my heart melt to see my baby's name. Happy Halloween/ Happy Fall to everyone!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Meredith's Birthday

We had a very nice time on Meredith's birthday, October 3rd. She would have been 36 years old if she were here. I miss her, but I have no doubt that she has been basking in Heaven's Glory all these years. I just feel so fortunate to have assurance in my beliefs of Heaven.
Meredith got many sweet remembrances in the form of cards, blog pictures, gifts, and several random acts of kindness. The first lovely gift here is from my friends Twyla & Lindsey, who blog at Two Crazy Crafters. They collect vintage cards. The next one is from Kathy, of Kathy's Crochet Cabin. Kathy crochets and sews infant bereavement sets for hospitals. Crystal Theresa and Louie made the cupcake in memory of their Calvin and Rainbow baby. There are others who I don't want to leave out in thanking them - I will try to do that soon.
There were 14 of us who ate at Outback Steakhouse. My family is collectively picky, but Outback always has something for everyone. Then we went to my twin daughters' house. They live across the street from us. Several years ago they decided to buy a house together and we are thrilled they are so close to us. They had the house decorated so pretty with pink silk rose petals, pink ribbon roses, pink ribbons, pink balloons, and tiny pink baby flowers arranged in one of the vintage baby planters I collect. We had punch in the punchbowl my husband bought me for Christmas in 1977. My girls used the sweet teddy bear from Heather, a pink angel from Rita, and a pretty Christmas ornament from Bree on the table. Earlier, we had picked out a cake with pink roses on it. I blew out three candles, signifying her three days of life.
Another decoration used that was significant to me was my Mother's ecru lace tablecloth. It is at least 40 years old. Mother got it from the Watkin's man, a door to door salesman, as a prize for buying so much from him. Mr. Grady Dowell was our Watkin's man for as long as I can remember. He sold spices and ointments, among other things. Mother always bought his vanilla and black pepper, as well as greeting cards from the Sunshine Line. These cards nearly always had a scripture on them.
Because I have very young grandchildren, I chose not to talk about our baby who had passed away. We adults knew why we had gathered. We just ate, had cake, and fellowshipped together as a family. I bought a princess pinata for the children, a pull string type, and I pulled the strings for them. Each child also got a bag of gifts. Later, we had a balloon release. My son got out my granddaughter Morgan's telescope and found Jupiter and its four moons for us to view.
It was a lovely night. I'm glad I had the celebration and I appreciate anyone who helped in any way. I don't have a digital camera, but someone took photos, so I hope I have some soon!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Remembering Our Children on October 15th

I'm behind on blogging. I need to post about Meredith's celebration and the other sweet pictures and gifts she has been sent, her fall pictures, and a blog award I received. However, today is the day we remember our babies who couldn't stay here on Earth. All over the world, October 15th is a Day of Remembrance for families who have had pregnancy and infant loss. I would like to add that, in my opinion, anyone who has lost a child could use this day as a special remembrance date. It hurts to lose your children, whether you are 6 weeks along in pregnancy, your babe is stillborn, your baby dies at 4 weeks of age, or your child dies at 40 years of age. He or she is STILL your baby.
I have met so many mothers who have had losses and I mourn with all of you on this day. We are sisters in grief together. And we can be sisters in hope - hope for a brighter day; hope for a Rainbow baby; hope for our bereavement to become easier; hope for the future.
Remembering my child and yours always, as long as I have breath in my body.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Happy Birthday Meredith!

Happy birthday, baby girl! Mommy had planned a long post for today but after your sisters, Dad, and I went shopping to finish getting things for your celebration, I got a bit tired so I will do that post another day. I just wanted to tell you that we love you very much and miss you, too.
Our cousin Janet put some new flowers on your grave for us. I appreciate that since you are two hours away from us. So many sweet people have been very kind this week and sent cards, pictures for your blog, donations to charity, and gifts. Franchesca sent this picture of a lovely rose in her Jenna Belle's garden. A mother named Jess made the dove for you, baby girl. Rita and her baby Krystal sent an angel, pink for you. Heather and her angel daughter Madelyn sent an angel bear with your name on it. Bree, Nora, and baby butterfly Ella sent a beautiful pink Christmas ornament. I don't know how birthdays are done in Heaven, but I hope you are celebrating with all your angel friends. We love you, we cherish you, we know you are safe with Jesus. To our darling baby, we praise the day you were born. We are thankful for your short life. We praise the One who sent you to us. Happy birthday, sweet Meredith.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

What It's Like To Miss A Baby For 36 Years

I've been thinking of this question this week and thought I would share with you what it's like to miss Meredith for so very long.

Imagining who she would have resembled.
Wondering what occupation she might have had.
Because she was not breathing at birth and it took a while to resuscitate her, I have wondered if she might have been a special needs child.
Thinking of her today and EVERY day.
At first, I (irrationally) wondered if she was cold in her grave.
Knowing she is with the Lord.
Wondering what Heaven is really like.
Wanting to hold her so very badly.
Being comforted that she IS in Heaven.
Knowing that had she been a special needs child, we would have still loved her and been proud of her.
Imagining what glories she has witnessed in Heaven.
Remembering her as a part of our family even though she isn't physically with us.
Never being able to go by the flower aisle at stores without thinking, "Would that look good in the cemetery?"
Worrying if I can't get to the cemetery to replace flowers and being thankful for my cousin Janet who will take care of her grave for me if I need her to.
Being thankful for anyone over the years who has put something on her grave for us, even my brother who treated for ants there a few weeks ago.
Facing her birthday and missing her so much.
Collecting angel figurines and other things that remind me of her.
Saying goodbye to the happy-go-lucky girl I used to be.
Wishing I had stood up to Dr. D and INSISTED he let me hold my baby!
Wishing I had many true memories of that time period instead of a few memories of my own, and other memories from pictures or what I have been told.
If she were here, would she be married and would she have given me grandchildren?
Thanking the Lord that He has carried us all these years.

I could go on and on - this is just a sampling of the thoughts I've had. This year, I'm more at peace with her death than I ever have been. As your birthday approaches, remember we love you, Meredith, and you will always be our first little girl.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Meredith's Birthday Week - October 1

I should have posted this on the very first day this week, as this is Meredith's invitation that was made by Danielle, a precious mother to three Earth angels and one little boy, Wyatt Nathaniel, who went home to be with Jesus two minutes after he was born. Wyatt's toy that was purchased by his parents before he was born is an elephant. I never see an elephant without thinking of this brave little baby boy. Thank you, Danielle, for using your talents to make this lovely invitation.

These two sunset photos were taken by Carly Dudley on her angel son Christian's beach in Australia. She took the original one (on bottom) in July. When I recently ordered the jpeg for it, she sent the original one as well as a new one. She had noticed that the sun wasn't showing in the original so she took a photo that did have the sunset visible. Carly, I appreciate these pictures very much.
Emily from Stepping Stones had her sister to make this photo in Hawaii. When I ordered it, I also ordered a small bag of sand and shells from this beach.
Thank you so much for all these wonderful things done in memory of our sweet baby. Such a great collection of talent I have posted this week!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Meredith's Birth Week - September 30

Jill started Vermont Angels to honor her twins in Heaven, Emma & Chase. Thank you, Jill, for these sweet name pictures.

This is one of my favorite poems and I also have it in Meredith's scrapbook. Thank you, Emalee,
Mommy to angel Kenner.

This pretty pebble was painted by Casey at Treasure Beans. Casey is an angel's mommy, too.
Thank you, Casey.
I feel so blessed that such talented people have helped honor Meredith's memory this week. But it is not only THIS week - I have received many lovely things for her in the past year or so. A lot of them are posted in her Gallery, but not all of them. They will be posted, I promise. I really appreciate everything that has been done for Meredith or me.
I wanted to mention that a sweet friend, Debby, has donated to Sufficient Grace Ministries for Women, and that is what we did, also. Thank you, Debby, so very much.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Meredith's Birthday Week - September 29

Meredith's name by Laura, Cara Angel's Mommy

I have had this for a few months. It was made by Lindsy, sweet Mommy to three boys and an angel daughter

Tiffany from Names on the Sidewalk drew a sweet rosebud along with the name. She is Genesis' Mommy and has two children on Earth

Jen, angel Lily's Mommy made this lovely picture. Lily also has a sweet little brother.

This sweet picture is from Sara, Mommy to a little girl and her children in Heaven, Gabriel Frank, Jr., and Angel Rose.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Meredith's Birthday Week - September 28

Cathrin, Mom to Angel children Devon, Feodora, & Serenity, made these two lovely pictures for our baby girl

Caroline, Mom to four Earthly children & two darling babies in Heaven, sent both of these lovely rose pictures to Meredith

Cathrin & Caroline - thank you for using your talents to warm our hearts! We appreciate it so much!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Meredith's Birthday Week, September 27

When Meredith was born and died in October of 1974, the funeral was the only "celebration" she had, and I can't remember 95% of the funeral. I am fairly certain it was not a celebration of life, though. It was rushed, I was rushed and didn't get to take the time I wanted with her. It was just a standard funeral. No one gave us cutesy little Christmas ornaments for her that year, no one bought a soft stuffed animal in memory of her, no one but us bought a poinsietta in memory of her at church. The only Christmas ornaments I have received for her came from YOU - the BLMs I have met online. I can't really tell you how much I appreciate any memento that has ever been sent for my baby.

Well, this year I have decided to have a Celebration Of Life for her birthday on October 3. My husband and I talked and he said I could. Our immediate family is going out to eat at Outback Steak House and then we are returning to our twin daughters' home to have birthday cake. In honoring Meredith, we will also be honoring our living children who brought us tremendous joy after her passing. I wouldn't be totally honest if I said that everyone is happy about this. There are a couple of people who think I am losing my marbles. It hurts to know that, after all I have been through over the years. I am totally sane, I assure you. I am not depressed. I feel better about my loss than I ever have.

I have been requesting things that other BLMs make for our darlings. I have saved the most recent things sent to post this week. If you would like to pray for us that day, send Meredith a picture for her blog, mail her a birthday card for her scrapbook, or do a random act of kindness in her memory, I would be honored. We will be donating to Sufficient Grace Ministries for Women in her memory. All I have ever wanted for Meredith since she couldn't stay on Earth, was for her to be loved and remembered. I will love her and remember her as long as I live, and then I hope Jesus meets me with her in His arms.


Friday, September 17, 2010

Mallory, Child of Heaven

I was having a hard time going to sleep the other night and Mallory's face popped into my mind. I couldn't stop thinking about her. I was present when Mallory went to Heaven and what an impact she left on me! Mallory was the granddaughter of a friend we met in Bible study several years ago. I will call the friend "Mary." Mary was a divorced mother and she had little or no help from her ex-husband in raising her daughter, "Katie." Katie was the same age as our twin girls, and Mary raised her in church and in a Christian home. Katie married young and had 3 children by the time she was 20. Mallory was the middle child. Sadly, Katie and her husband made lots of wrong choices. They followed the wrong crowd. Abuses - physical, emotional, and chemical - began to enter the picture. Thefts occurred. The young couple went to jail, and then to prison. Mary was left to raise their three children. The baby was about a year old. He is now 10, and Katie is still in prison. So many years wasted....
In August of 2003 Mallory started pre-school and her sister started kindergarten. About a year before, Mary had taken the children for their yearly check-ups and Mallory was immediately hospitalized with severe insulin dependent juvenile onset diabetes. She was stabilized but had to go back to the hospital many times after that. Mallory had the worst diabetes that I have ever known of personally. Her grandmother measured every bite she ate, checked her sugar levels regularly, and administered her shots as needed. One Friday shortly after school started, Mallory felt bad all day and suffered a seizure that night. The ambulance was called and Mallory was stabilized and talking. That was the last time Mary saw her conscious. She was transported to the hospital, but when Mary arrived, Mallory was in a coma and on a respirator.
Because Mallory had fallen while playing days earlier and had a small bruise on her forehead, the hospital accused Mary of abusing Mallory. Her other two grandchildren were put in foster care. The lady who had kept Mallory that day while Mary worked was accused of not being vigilant and maybe letting Mallory get into her medicines, one of which was a strong painkiller. This was not the case as the toxicology tests later showed. Mallory was in a coma for 10 days. The medical staff, after ordering a multitude of tests, realized that Mallory was not abused. She had suffered brain damage from her diabetes. Mary was totally innocent of wrongdoing. However, the state child protective agency was not convinced and would not release the other two children.
The ethics committee had met and talked to Mary about letting Mallory go on to Heaven. She had no brain function and a machine was breathing for her. After consulting with her pastors and friends, Mary made the agonizing decision to turn off the respirator. A date and time were set and Mary honored us by inviting us to be there. Mallory loved us and we loved her. We had tried to help out with Mary's grandchildren by buying clothes for them and toys at Christmas. The children enjoyed going shopping to pick out Easter and Christmas clothes, especially Mallory. She was a little strawberry blonde sweetheart, always loving and kind.
The evening arrived and Amanda (our daughter), my husband, and I went to the hospital. I had visited Mallory before and she was in an open section of the PICU. That night she was in a large room with plenty of chairs. The nurses had braided her hair and put cute barrettes in her braids. Her favorite blanket covered her. Cheery balloons floated in a corner. The room was full of people who wanted to say goodbye to Mallory. The hospital chaplain was there, as well as Mallory's pastor. We hugged her and said what we had to say before the machine was disconnected. After that we could hold her, talk to her, hug her, touch her hand. It was sad that a child was dying, but the presence of God was in that room. I never got to hold and comfort my Meredith, but I could comfort Mallory and her grandmother.
Mallory didn't hold on for long. She was finally at peace. When Mary had told us of her decision earlier, we had taken her to the mall so she could pick out Mallory's funeral outfit and we could pay for it. We were sorrowful, yes, but it felt right for us to buy this outfit for a little girl who loved to dress up and look pretty. Later on, we were blessed financially with a windfall and we were able to purchase her marker. Mary's church furnished the funeral.
My daughters and I made a wreath for Mallory and Amanda took pictures at the funeral, with Mary's permission. We made photo albums for Mary and her daughter (who didn't get to come to the funeral). Over the years I have written to Katie and tried to help her with her grief. Even though she is the one who is responsible for being in prison, I cannot imagine the pain she felt, knowing her daughter was dying and she couldn't go to her.
Mary was officially cleared of any wrongdoing and the grandchildren were returned, but a distrust had grown in those small children. Their young lives had already been upturned by their parents' actions. They last saw their sister being loaded into an ambulance, then they are taken away from their grandmother, and they come home to find their sister gone. Many hours of counseling have been needed to help undo the damage.
I just like to think that our experience with Meredith helped us to minister to Mallory's family. This month she would have been 12. She has been with Jesus for 7 years. Mallory, we love you! Please hold our Meredith in Heaven for us.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Memorial Collages From Franchesca

Franchesca began Abiding Hope Collages in honor of her sweet Jenna Belle who flew to Heaven too soon. She made Meredith's personal collage several months ago. For the first anniversary of this mission, Franchesca asked for names to be included for this memorial collage. I asked for Meredith's name to be added, as well as some other family members who passed away as babies:

James Calvin Barton, my Dad's brother

Janet Susan Barton, my sister

Joshua Gregory Myers, my great - nephew

Cason Ray Adams, my cousin

James Calvin died in 1921, shortly after my Dad's father was killed by lightning. I can only imagine the sorrow of my grandmother, who lost her husband and child so closely together.

My sister Janet was stillborn on October 7, 1941. She was buried on the same day, and Meredith was buried on October 7, 1974. Joshua was a preemie and Cason died at 6 weeks of age. All of these babies' deaths left big holes in their loved ones' hearts.

I was looking at the Abiding Hope site tonight, looking at new collages of babies who passed away in 2010. In a few months it will be 2011 and we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that if the Lord does not return first, there will be collages for babies made who left for Heaven in 2011. I wish it were not true, but those are the facts. We can pray, give to March of Dimes and other research groups, but there is no easy overnight fix for the infant mortality rate in this country. The county I live in has one of the highest rates in the country. I appreciate Franchesca and other BLMs who do things to ease the hearts of those who have said goodbye to children.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Roses from Danielle

Danielle sent these to Meredith. What a surprise I received when I opened that email!
She is a very talented young woman. Danielle is the mommy to three living children and a baby boy in Heaven, Wyatt Nathaniel. Her story is told on her blog "Letting Go and Letting God." Thank you so much, Danielle, for remembering my baby!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Rose For Meredith

Isn't this the prettiest rose? Lisa, Jasper's Mommy, sent this to me yesterday. Lisa, I can't thank you enough for this beautiful picture and your support. This touched my heart deeply and I so appreciate your kindness and I do thank you for reading Meredith's story.
Lisa maintains Waterfall Angels where she and her husband take photos of angel babies' names on stones surrounded by soothing waterfalls. Meredith's Waterfall Angel photos are posted in her Gallery. Lisa also has a blog for her baby boy - Jasper, Forever Our Firstborn.
Lisa, thank you again. After so many years, Meredith's being honored by others is a precious gift. Some of Meredith's other gifts are posted in her Gallery. I haven't finished putting everything there yet.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Depression, I Know Thee Well - Part 2

In my previous post, I failed to mention the counselor I went to before Adam was born. After we moved to DFW my husband and I met a man who ran a Christian counseling center. He immediately recognized that I was not happy and asked a few leading questions that lead to us telling about our loss. The man said he would like me to see one of his counselors and it would be free of charge as the church he went to had given him funds to use for this purpose. Not having insurance to pay for such, I accepted the offer. Being Christians ourselves, I felt good about this decision. I began seeing J once a week. I felt he was helping somewhat, until about six months later. I had told J that I had pictures of Meredith's funeral and a baby book I had made for her. He asked to see these items, so I brought them in. He asked to keep the book for a week so he could look at it. I didn't want to let it go but I finally agreed. J had it with him the next week when I went in but he tried to talk me into letting him keep it, saying that having the book kept my grief fresh - that I needed to get rid of what visible memories I had of her. At one point I thought he wasn't going to let me have it back, but in the end he did. Then he started to ask me about doing an exercise where we would burn her pictures and in theory "burn" up the bad memories. I finally agreed to this, had copies made of her photos, and took them with me for the next visit. We did the exercise and he asked me how I felt. I told him I was saddened, but I had other copies of her pictures, so I would be okay. J became very angry with me and said I had cheated on the exercise - he meant for me to burn ALL of her pictures! I told him that would NEVER happen. When I left that day, he was very angry. J was very cool toward me for the next few sessions. When I found out I was pregnant with Adam a short time later, J pronounced me "cured" and I quit seeing him. He was a very well educated man but he was stupid enough to believe a new baby would totally cure my grief. I didn't trust counselors after that and didn't seek out another for nearly 19 years, even though my depression never really lifted. My life was manageable, so I struggled on. The births of our children did help me tremendously.
Over the next few years, my family doctor would prescribe antidepressants and I would take them temporarily, but then I would quit. Raising three children and working kept hubby and me busy. Often I didn't have much "me" time. As the children got older, the old sadness returned and stayed. Adam graduated from high school in 1996. I cried during the entire baccalaureate service and most of graduation. I became so depressed that I lived for the weekends, when I could come home and stay in bed all weekend. Hubby and the kids did all the chores and cooking on the weekend. In fact, they were doing most of it during the week as well. I struggled off to work on Monday, nearly too tired to put one foot in front of the other. The tissue box was my constant companion at home and in the car, I cried so much. I began to be plagued with physical ailments - pneumonia, bronchitis, asthma, and an inexplicable loss of 30% of my kidney function. When I was ill, I really didn't care if I lived or died.
I decided to try a counselor and medication again. Our regular doctor prescribed an antidepressant and I was allergic to it, as well as the second one I tried. The third one worked and I began to feel much better. I saw four different therapists and none of them was a good fit for me. Let's just say they all reminded me of J in some ways although not nearly as bad as he.
The next counselor was G and she was a jewel. Also a Christian, G was the first counselor who validated that Meredith was worthy of my grief. She helped me to walk through all I had been through with our baby and relieve myself of lots of the sadness that had weighed me down for so many years. G also saw my husband and me together and he began to understand the magnitude of my depression. She helped me to realize that the extreme sadness I felt after Adam graduated was the "empty nest syndrome" - even though he still lived at home, he was going to college and preparing to leave home in a few years. He was the baby who had brightened our lives tremendously after Meredith's death and I was already "mourning" his exit from our home. I believe firmly that God lead me to G. I believe she saved my life and I owe her a debt of gratitude for the five years she nurtured me. Dr. D was a Godsend as well, working with me to find medications that were right for me and recommending G to me.
About the same time I started to see G, Dr. D wanted me to see a psychiatrist. All those years I had feared psychiatrists because of their stigma, but since I trusted him, I did what he asked. Dr. F was a Christian man and I saw him for 11 years before he retired. His main role was to regulate my medications. I felt blessed to have these caring Christian professionals in my life. My depression improved greatly. There was a purpose in life again.
I should have predicted it, but I didn't. In 1998, the twins were preparing to graduate from high school. That spring, the old sadness started to return, even with counseling and medication. I even briefly contemplated taking my life so Dr. F suggested a wonderful day program for depressed individuals at a hospital a mile from our home. In May of that year, I took off the rest of the school year and started the program. Our girls had "senioritis" very badly, so I would drop them off at the very door each needed to enter school in the morning and go on to my program. I went for three weeks and felt a huge return of energy and purpose.
Again, I should have seen it coming. In 2001, Adam was married and left home for good, he and his wife lost their first apartment to fire, my cousin's baby boy died tragically at six weeks of age, my health deteriorated further, and 9/11 devastated our nation. I was distraught once more. Dr. F told me about another program, as the hospital close to us had closed. Hubby took me there and picked me up every day for two weeks in November of that year. Since then I have been doing fairly well, thank the Lord. I do believe God uses caring professionals to do some of His work. I see my doctors regularly. My counselor now, R, is a wonderful caring Believer. Many, many people have prayed for my healing. God saved the best for last, as in early 2009 I found the blog Caring For Carleigh and was introduced to Holly and a whole world of women who had suffered child loss. I found I was not alone. How I wish that there were no need for Carleigh's blog, that babies were all born healthy, and no one ever had to tell a baby goodbye. Sadly, that is not reality. I just cannot thank you enough, you loving women who have shared with me and helped my healing tremendously.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Depression, I Know Thee Well - Part 1

Imagine you are expecting a much loved, much wanted baby. Imagine the baby is born early, and she is the little girl you were wishing for. Then imagine she dies, and you never get to hold her, be in the nursery with her, or comfort her as she passes away to Heaven. Your view of her was always through a nursery window. You are sent home from the hospital with nothing of hers, not even the little numbered hospital bracelet that matches yours. No lock of hair, no crib card, no footprints. She is buried and the only touch she has ever had of yours is the brief kiss you gave her at her funeral.
That is what happened to me. I am unable to write this without crying even though this happened nearly 36 years ago. What I am going to share with you is very personal. However, it is a story I want to share - I feel a longing to share to let people who have suffered depression know they are not alone.
After Meredith was buried, the rest of the world went back to regular routines. The cards stopped coming, the food deliveries stopped arriving, no more flowers arrived. (Let me say here that we were very thankful for all the kindnesses shown us. No gift, however small, went unnoticed.) No one in the family wanted to hear me cry or talk about her outside of my husband. Even my mother, who had a stillborn daughter herself, didn't want to see me upset and often shushed me if I started to cry about my baby. In later years, Mother changed her tune and grieved with me. Maybe at the time it brought up sad feelings for her - I will never know. My mother in law refused to look at the photos of Meredith that my father in law took at the funeral ( the only photos we have of her). I made an appointment with the pediatrician to go over the autopsy report and needed a ride to the office. MIL refused to take me and my husband couldn't take off work to go as he had already missed so much when the baby died. A church friend was going to take me, but she became ill with her pregnancy and had to keep canceling. So many people we knew worked during the day, so I just finally gave up. I gave up much too easily in those days. One day about two weeks after the birth and death of our baby I was very upset and crying so MIL arranged for me to go and visit my parents, as she said this had gone on for too long, and I should be getting better. She said I needed to be with my parents. Like a good son, my husband took me to my parents for a week, without him, but I really didn't want to be away from him. He was grieving, too, but we did as we were told.
Hubby's grandmother wanted me to take a job less than six weeks postpartum. The "helpful" minister at our church had found it for me. I didn't feel like working, physically or emotionally, but GM became angry with me and said I needed to help out now that I wasn't pregnant. She said I would get pregnant again and she couldn't help me out anymore. I was shocked - she had always been so nice to me. She was my husband's beloved grandmother. We lived with her, so hubby and I felt like we didn't have a choice but for me to take the job. We moved out as soon as we could.
My job turned out to be just a Christmas job and it was the first job I ever had in my life. I tried hard but many days I cried as I worked, trying to hide it from customers. I felt bad physically as I went to work less than five weeks after the birth. The blood loss I had after birth pulled my health down greatly. I did not have any closure over Meredith's death. There was just not much support for me. No one wanted to help me grieve.
I started to sink into a deep depression. When my job ended, I started sleeping a lot. Hubby would go to work in the morning leaving me in bed. Somedays I would wake up at 4:oo or later and realize I just had enough time to shower, dress and straighten up the apartment before he came home. I didn't want him to know of my fatigue. I got several more temporary jobs so I could pay off our hospital bills (we didn't have any health insurance) and save for Meredith's tombstone. When these jobs ended, I would start sleeping all day again. No matter how late I slept, I was always tired when our regular bedtime came. I also started gaining weight. I was slender when we married and wore junior petite sizes, but that began to change. The doctor had given me birth control pills when I went for my postpartum visit and had warned me against getting pregnant for at least six months, preferably a year. So I mourned our loss, but also the fact that it would be a while before I could try again.
Nothing seemed to give me pleasure except shopping for flowers for Meredith's grave. Every store in Texarkana that sold artificial flowers saw me as a customer very often. Hubby was beside himself with the changes in me. He didn't know how to help, even though he was a counselor himself - he mostly worked with substance abusers.
Gas was fairly inexpensive then, so we visited my parents nearly every weekend so we could also visit the cemetery. I sometimes had irrational thoughts, such as when we still lived with his grandmother, I wanted desperately to have Meredith exhumed and buried in GM's yard so I could look out the window and see her grave whenever I wanted to do so. I didn't mention this to my doctor, as I felt I was alone in this journey. I felt he had not given me adequate physical or emotional care when I was in the hospital, so why should I seek further help from him?
The first counselor I ever saw, at my husband's urgings, was the director of the place where he worked. This man was a minister, and I soon found out all he wanted to hear from me was about our sexual life. I felt victimized by him, so I only went a couple of times, not even telling hubby how bad it was. I don't even know if I really understood what I had as depression, but I did know in the 1970's one didn't really talk freely about emotional issues.
One bright spot in all of this was the purchase of Meredith's tombstone. I worked as a summer temp for the Texas Employment Commission (as it was called then) and made enough money to pay for the hospital bill and her tombstone. We chose a lovely pink granite stone with a white vase from Ken Stewart Memorials, who still has a business in Texarkana. Mr. Stewart treated us superbly and we will never forget his kindness and understanding. We took the tombstone with us and Daddy set it for us on the weekend before her first birthday.
I struggled with extreme fatigue and depression for two years and we moved to the DFW Metroplex in 1976. I started feeling a bit better, and a much wanted rainbow came into our world in June of 1978, fullterm after an eventful pregnancy. There are no words to describe the feeling when he was born, our red-haired Adam. I wanted a girl so badly, but it only took me a few seconds to get over the fact that he was a boy. We were afraid to buy much when I was pregnant, but MIL and GM bought the crib and bedding after he was born, and church friends gave us a shower, plus we got lots of gifts from family, friends, and neighbors. The church in Texarkana even sent us a huge shower in a box! We were so grateful for all the help. MIL said something at the time that was prophetic, and it rang in my head for years afterwards. She mentioned that she was buying things for us because we lived a few hours away, and she wouldn't get to be in his life much. The truth of the matter is that we visited them very much over the years and she never paid much attention to our children. She paid for a crib and served her time, I suppose. Even though she acted this way toward us, I still loved her very much. That is why I was so hurt that she treated our children that way.
The depression seemed to leave after Adam was born. He made us so happy and I had a purpose in life again. The Lord had blessed us and taken away lots of the pain, but Meredith was still gone, she was still missed and loved. Two years, two weeks, and three days after Adam came our twin girls were born! Amanda and Angelique were preemies and I started having those old dark feelings again. I was afraid they would die. I made sure we had pictures, footprints, and other memories of them. When Amanda lost down to 3lbs, 15ozs, I was devastated. I knew she was dying. But she didn't. They came home after two weeks in the hospital. We were in a mad rush to keep everyone fed, clean, happy, and rested. Every 2.5 hours around the clock, we fed babies, even after school started and I returned to work. After about three or so months of that, one night I enlarged two nipples and added cereal to their formula. They were so surprised at the taste and we got the first full night's rest we'd had in months!
But I was suffering from what I now know as postpartum depression. I was anxious all the time, afraid someone I loved was going to die. I called my family all the time to see if they were okay. I was told I had a perpetually worried look on my face. Hubby had bought a microwave for us to warm bottles in. I had a deep-seated fear that I would accidentally put one of the babies in there instead of a bottle. Even now, this memory is nearly too horrible to write. Added to this was the loss of my fertility. My doctor had strongly suggested that I not have any more pregnancies, so I had a tubal ligation six weeks after the twins were born. It was a medically sound decision, but it broke my heart. At the surgery check-up, I did tell my doctor about my anxious feelings. he gave me a prescription and said if it didn't help, I would have to talk to "someone else" and I knew that someone must be a psychiatrist. I DID NOT want to see a psychiatrist, so I stuffed it all in and kept on going the only way I knew how. The Lord was there, even though I didn't ask Him to heal me. I was used to praying for the needs of other people, and I hated to ask for something for myself. He had sent us three exceptionally loving children, and I thought I should be happy. He was there, and would be there through a very long journey.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Baby's Christmas Tree

I have been inspired by others who have made Christmas trees for their babies, and I want to try to make one for Meredith this year. She has never had one before. I would like to have a pink and blue theme since I love those colors together, but the tree itself MUST be pink! My dear friends Twyla and her daughter Lindsey have a blog called Two Crazy Crafters. They aren't crazy, but they are exceptionally talented. Lindsey does a lot of papercrafts and does designs for scrapbook companies. She also works at a scrapbooking store. Twyla is a whiz with crocheting. These are some beautiful baby blankets that Twyla has made, and I ordered the pink and blue one from her. I originally wanted it for a baby gift, but then I got to thinking about how pretty it would be on the table under the pink and blue Christmas tree. So, I'm keeping it myself! I have ordered things from Twyla and Lindsey, and they always include more than I order. They are just dear sweet women. Their shop of handmade things on Etsy is called Fancy That Shoppe. Their blog if filled with photos of lovely antique cards and things from yesteryear, along with their crafts and tutorials for lots of the crafts.

I ordered these beautiful Keepsake Booties from my friend Lynn in Georgia. She has a wonderful Etsy shop of handmade things, Lynn's Lovelies. These booties are made for ornamental purposes only and they are absolutely beautiful. They will go on the Christmas tree. Lynn is a romantic and her orders always include dried rose petals from her own garden. Thank you Lynn for making these sweet booties for my baby. And thank you for the cute flower girl picture that you know I would love.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Baby Angel

This picture by Joyce Birkenstock has always reminded me of my baby Meredith. There is something about the look on her face, the wonderment in her eyes, that makes me think there are beautiful places in Heaven just like this and my baby is seeing them. How beautiful Heaven must be! We can only imagine right now, but my faith in God lets me know I will one day see for myself, and get to hold the darling girl who never felt my arms around her, in life or in death.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

August 19 - Day of Hope

I have been feeling badly for several weeks and I didn't feel like getting out in this heat to shop for things for a memory box for August 19. So, in honor of our babes gone too soon, I wanted to donate to someone who has lifted my spirits. There are so many of you who have given to me in honor of Meredith and I eventually want to do something for these organizations who have shared with me. This time I decided to donate to Triplet Butterfly Wings. Rachel has raised and released many butterflies for bereaved parents in memory of her Jaxon, Colin, and Courtney. There are costs involved with raising the butterflies and she needs a new camera to take photos of the releases. I hope my little donation helps to soothe someone else's heart.