Thursday, December 06, 2007

Celebrating your birthday

Dear Kate and Riley,

I hope you had a good first birthday in heaven. I was a little nervous for how I would feel today but I would say it has been a pretty good day of remembering for us. Dad stayed home from work which is always nice and we went to the cemetery together. We brought a balloon and some candles and flowers to put at your stone. Dad teased me because I bought such a big balloon and it was a windy day but I wanted only the best for my girls. After the cemetery we just spent the day together as a family, we had to take Zach to the doctor so I decided the donation would have to wait for tomorrow. Well, I was glad that it worked out this way because tonight some of my dear sweet friends, Barbara, Sara and Megan, brought over some more toys to add to the donation as well as a cake to celebrate your angel day. It was SO sweet and it reminded me how blessed we are to have such wonderful friends who have always been there for us in so many ways. I blew out your candles for you and we ate your cake and I like to think that you were there with us. Later when Zachary was awake we looked at the toys they had brought to donate and it made me so happy that there would be even more lives touched because of yours. I will add the toys to the ones we buy and take some pictures before we donate them.

Also, Grandma Janice surprised us and ordered a little bench that we can put in the front patio to always remember you. I think it will be so nice to have to have at the house. We have really been blessed also by our loving family who always remember you and know you are an important part of our lives.

I hope you had a wonderful day today. I miss you and love you SO much.
Love,
Mom
Megan, Barbara, Kaden and Sara with your cake and presents to donate

Picture of the top of the bench that grandma ordered

Mom and Zach at the cemetery


Happy First Birthday

Dear Kate and Riley,
Today is your birthday. On SG a lot of times we call it your Angel Day, because you were born angels. I have to be honest I have so much dreaded writing this post all week. I knew I would write one for your birthday but I wanted it to be poignant and I have nothing poignant to say. I wish I knew just the right thing to say to honor you on your birthday. I will write again later today or tomorrow to let you know what we did but our plan is to visit the cemetery and put something special there for your birthday and take Zachary there for the first time. I also want to buy a gift or two for you but donate it to a child your same age. I think that will be a good way to remember you and in the future to help your siblings be involved in your birthday. I want to buy something for you every year and then donate it.

I guess as I look back on the last year its hard to believe its been a year and yet so much has happened. I have cried a lot, learned a lot and grown a lot. I was just remembering the other day how I used to cry so hard every night and I wondered I really really wondered if there would ever be a night that I didn't cry myself to sleep. I wondered if I could ever feel happy again. I wondered if I would ever feel like a whole person again. I am glad that here, a year later, I can say that I don't cry myself to sleep any more, I still cry sometimes but not nearly as often. I have felt true joy as we have welcomed Zachary into our lives. But I still feel a hole. I still feel that there is a missing part of our family. I still wonder what if and get sad but I feel like you have become an important part of our family in your own way. I know that might sound weird but I feel that your memory and your loss inspires us to be better people. It makes us more appreciative for what we have. There has not been a night that has passed that Dad and I don't pray for you. Every night we pray that we will be worthy to live together as a family some day. You make us want to be better so that we can be an eternal family. You make us ever more grateful for the atonement of Christ and the promise we have that we will be together forever some day. You make us understand the concept of opposition. I never could have appreciated my family the same way had I not experienced loss.

I can't sit here and say that I am grateful for learning these things in this way but I think that we have taken this experience and learned everything we can. I know that your lives have touched more than just ours, so many others through this blog, through SG, and from knowing dad and I have been touched by you. I feel your presence in our lives and in our home. I try to never fail to mention you or acknowledge your important place in our family. I am proud to be your mom. I am proud that we have come so far in this past year. I feel like I can talk about you without being sad. I can happily think of the day that Zachary will be old enough to understand that he has older sisters that watch over him.

I hope that today you get to have a big big celebration in heaven. I am sure that you have so many angel friends, your grandma Linda, many of your great grandparents and other family members who will gather around with you and celebrate this special day.

I love you so much. Dad loves you too. Every time I see Zachary staring up to heaven and smiling I know he loves you too. Happy Birthday angel girls.

love,
Mom

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Firsts and Lasts

Dear Kate and Riley,

As we brought Zachary home, we got closer to the time we lost you. Every one of his "firsts" have been bitter sweet as they would have also been your firsts had you been here and they were also your lasts since this time last year you were still with us.

As we experience firsts with Zach I find myself very wistful. I wonder often what it would be like to do this with two babies, or how it would be different with girls instead of boy. I have to say as I spend sleepless nights I wonder how I could have ever done this with two babies but I am sure we would have found a way. I also think a lot about how old you would have been right now and how your first Halloween, Thanksgiving, etc. would have been different than Zach's because he is so young and you would have been much older for all the same firsts.
Here are some of Zach's firsts...



First Halloween, costume was a little big!


First BYU/U of U football Game
Sorry Grandpa Ross, Cougars won!

First trip to the beach/First Thanksgiving

First visit with Santa

Love,
Mom

Mom's Dilema

Dear Kate and Riley,

Well I have been chastised for not writing more on this blog. I have to say the reason has been that I feel very conflicted over it. I feel guilty I guess if it becomes more about Zachary than it does about you. At the same time, if I kept this blog to write you letters about what is going on in our lives or the things I wanted you to know about, your brother would certainly fall into that category. So I keep debating, write what I want on this blog, don't worry if its light hearted and not serious or sad, after all you wouldn't want me to spend the rest of my life grieving; or just have a different blog, one that is more like my friends' blogs where its more about our lives now. Neither seems "just right". But I decided that it is ok for this blog to be about our family and our lives that have had to carry on without you. I know you will always have a very strong presence in our lives so I want to write about our lives on this blog and still dedicate each post to you, even though each one may not be about you.

love,
Mom

Saturday, October 27, 2007

A Poem for your Baby Brother


Dear Kate and Riley,
A little while after we lost you dad and I decided to try to get pregnant again. We were so scared and nervous but we knew we had to try again. While we were waiting for your brother someone from SG posted this poem. I knew that it was a special poem and that it would be special to us if we were able to have a baby after losing you. I saved it on my computer so that I could put it up here when our next baby got here safely. I am so happy to be able to put the poem up finally. I feel like losing you has made us appreciate Zachary so much more and he will always be special as our baby who came after a loss. I feel like you and he will always have a special connection since he wouldn't be here if we hadn't lost you. It is a strange feeling but I do hope that someday he understands how special he is and feels a connection and a relationship to you, his big sisters. I also hope that you understand that you will never be forgotten.

A Different Child

A different child,
People notice
There's a special glow around you.
You grow
Surrounded by love,
Never doubting you are wanted;
Only look at the pride and joy
in your mother and father's eyes.
And if sometimes
Between the smiles
There's a trace of tears,
One day
You'll understand.
You'll understand
There was once another child
A different child
Who was in their hopes and dreams.
That child will never outgrow the baby clothes
That child will never keep them up at night
In fact, that child will never be any trouble at all.
Except sometimes, in a silent moment,
When mother and father miss so much
That different child.
May hope and love wrap you warmly
And may you learn the lesson forever
How infinitely precious
How infinitely fragile
Is this life on earth
One day, as a young man or woman
You may see another mother's tears
Another father's silent grief
Then you, and you alone
Will understand
And offer the greatest comfort.
When all hope seems lost,
You will tell them
With great compassion,
"I know how you feel.
I'm only here
Because my mother tried again."

Written by Pandora Diane MacMillan


Love,
Mom

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Zachary Aaron is here!!


Dear Kate and Riley,

Your baby brother is finally here! Last Friday, October 12th at 12:10 pm Zachary Aaron O'Farrell entered the world. Dad and I went to the hospital Friday morning at 6 am so I could be induced. I was so excited and scared at the same time. I just couldn't believe that we were really going to have a baby that day and part of me was still scared that something was going to go wrong.

Around 7 am they started pitocen, the medicine to make me contract. About an hour later the doctor came in and broke my water. I spent a lot of time watching Zachary's heart rate on the monitor but he was doing really well the whole time. After a little bit my contractions started getting really intense so I called the nurse and asked if I could get my epidural. I was worried because when I had you my epidural didn't work so well. This time though was totally different, it worked great and I didn't feel ANY pain after that! I was so happy!

An hour after I got my epidural the nurse came in and said we were ready to push, I couldn't believe it, I was thinking it would take hours longer but here we were and it wasn't even lunch time! We had to wait for the doctor to get there and hope that Grandma Janice would make it in time, she was still on the road!

Around 11:30 the doctor arrived and we got ready to push. I still couldn't feel anything so it was kind of tough but I would have rather had it that way than have it hurt! We were getting close but Zack was sunny side up so the doctor had to get the vacuum to help get him out. Once she got the vacuum on his head it was only one more set of pushes and he was out! I couldn't believe it I just kept looking at him and his little cry was the best sound I had ever heard. I was so happy that your baby brother was here safe and sound. I really feel like you got to be in the room with us that day to watch him come into the world.

Here are some pictures of Zachary, he is so lucky to have you watching over him. I think he looks a lot like you. I would stare at him in the hospital that first night and I really felt like he looked like you. Please continue to watch over him.

Love, Mom




Zack's first bath

Zack and mommy, day 2 in the hospital


Zack and mommy meet

Monday, October 08, 2007

A few more days!


Dear Kate and Riley,
I can't believe it but in just a few short days your baby brother, Zachary, will be here! It has gone by so slow and yet so fast at the same time. I can't believe you've been gone almost a year. I can't believe I've made it through ANOTHER 38 weeks of pregnancy (that makes us at 65 total and Thursday will make 66). I honestly cannot remember what it feels like NOT to be pregnant, I am really looking forward to getting my body back, but it has been worth all the sacrifices. You girls have done a really good job of watching over Zachary while he's been inside of me and I know you will be his guardian angels once he is here. We will let him know all the time what a lucky little boy he is to have not one but two angel sisters watching over him.

Dad and I had been stumped on a name for most of my pregnancy. I had liked Zachary all along and we had thrown a few other names around a little too but I felt like I needed something significant to help me decide. I was waiting for some kind of sign or something to tell me what this special baby's name should be. One day I was watching a show and the lady on it was talking about how she had cancer and they didn't know if they'd ever be able to have kids. They decided to try and were able to have a son and they named him Zachary because it means "God Remembers". When I heard that I started crying and I knew that it was the perfect name for our baby boy too. Even though I don't think that God has ever FORGOTTEN us, I do feel like having this special blessing of a new baby has shown us that God does remember us and has found a way to answer our prayers of having a family here on earth with us. I wish we could all be together but I know that your spirits will linger near as you pass baby Zachary on to Mom and Dad. I think you will be sad to see your baby brother come down to earth, but I think you will also be very happy to look down and see your family so happy.

Zachary could get here any day but Friday is the day I'm going to be induced if he doesn't come before then. I am so nervous and excited all at the same time. I promise to write about everything as soon as he gets here!

love,
Mom

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

A Little Scare...

Dear Kate and Riley,
I've wanted to be better about writing and it turns out I think I'll have a lot more time in the coming weeks. Your baby brother has been growing well and I have to say I was getting pretty confident about the fact that he will get here safely. I had really begun to relax. My doctor (the one that delivered you) has been so wonderful about checking on him and I had started going to the hospital twice a week for extra testing. The testing was going so well I wondered if it was even something that I needed to do but I did appreciate the reassurance.

Well last week, along with starting back to work and being really busy, I went in for my appointment at the hospital and your brother's amniotic fluid was really low. I can't tell you how it felt to sit in that room and wonder if I was going to have to bury another child. I knew I wasn't possibly strong enough for that. But at the same time, I felt a peace that things were going to be ok. I was at the hospital, we were on a monitor, I could see his little heart beating away, strong as ever. I was admitted to antepartum in the hopes that giving me a bunch of fluid through an IV would help the baby's fluid go up. My doctor told me to be prepared to possibly have to stay in the hospital the rest of the pregnancy (6 weeks, yikes!). I was upset but also knew that they were being very careful. The doctor said she could not send me home again without a baby in my arms. I am so glad that she is taking such good care of us.

The hospital was no fun. It was a little difficult to be back there, a lot of sad memories, it was boring and I wanted to go back to not being worried. After two days the perinatologist came and measured the baby's fluid again and it had gone back up to a normal level. He said he felt good about letting me go home but not letting me go back to work. So, here we are back at home, drinking 4 liters of water a day, and resting a lot.

I got to see your brother a lot on ultrasounds. I think he will look like you. He is a lot bigger than you now, he's passed you up by almost 7 weeks. I'm starting to feel like I have been pregnant forever. As long as your brother keeps doing well on the tests (twice a week again), he will stay inside but the doctor said he is big enough that if he does need to come out he can. That makes me feel good. I really think he's going to get here safely. I think that he is lucky to have his sisters watching over him. I really felt your presence in the hospital, like you were there watching over us. I know you will get to be there when he is born and I'm excited for that spiritual moment when all of our family will be together at one time. Watch over us and tell your brother to stay put and to keep kicking me a lot so I know he's ok.

love,
mom

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Our "trip"

Dear Kate and Riley,
Since we lost you I have joined a few different groups for support. One is Silent Grief which I've talked about on here a lot. My friends from SG have really gotten me through the months since losing you. I don't think I could have made as much progress as I have or stayed sane at all if it hadn't been for the other women on SG. Another group that I joined is called LAMBS, it is specifically for women who have lost all of their multiples. LAMBS is different from SG, I haven't connected with as many people there but I like it because more than just losing a baby, those women know the pain and sadness of losing more than one baby at a time. The loss of multiples I think is its own kind of sadness because its something that was just so anticipated as being different and special. I know that no matter how many babies we go on to have, we will most likely never get the chance again to have two babies at one time. Sometimes I mourn that chance. I am to the point in my grief where I can hold babies, watch baby shows on tv and be pretty much normal, but I still change the channel whenever twins come on. I still get sad when I see twins at the mall or anywhere else.
Today someone on LAMBS posted this little analogy that I had read before in relation to having a child with a disability. I had never thought of it as relating to us but when I read it again today I realized that it did and it made me feel good. I think that our journey to parenthood has been very very different from what we anticipated and expected but there have been good things from this journey, I have grown, I have met people I would never have met before and I have changed but I am coming to terms more and more that this is our journey and we need to take it for what it is....

"Welcome to Holland"

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation
trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful
plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may
learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your
bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess
comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm
supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and
there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible,
disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just
a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new
language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have
met.

It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than
Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath,
you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has
windmills...

and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all
bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of
your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what
I had planned." And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away...
because the loss of that dream is a very, very significant loss.

But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to
Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely
things ... about Holland.

- Emily Pearl Kingsley

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Your stone is in....


Dear Kate and Riley,

I haven't written on here in two months. I feel bad but I think it is also good, I have been distracted with summer vacation and thinking about your brother. It doesn't mean I don't think of you, I do often. We got a call this morning that your headstone had been placed at the cemetery. Daddy and I went after church to take a look. The picture is not as clear as I'd hoped but I am very happy that there is something there now so everyone who comes to the cemetery knows that is your spot.

Dad and I chose a scripture from Moroni for your headstone. We liked what it said, "All little children are alive in Christ" I felt that it went well with the picture we had chosen and I liked that it was a Book of Mormon scripture, I wanted people who saw it to know what we believed. We know that little children are perfect, I know that you didn't have to be baptized because you are already perfect, you never got the chance to sin. I know that is why we need to work extra hard in this life so we can all be together as a family some day.

I will have to write again and update you on our summer. Dad and I went to see Grandma O'Farrell in Virginia and had a good time. I am taking the summer off from working, just resting and trying to take really good care of your baby brother. He is doing well so far. We just made it past the point where we lost you. I was so scared for those weeks but I'm starting to feel a little better. I really am starting to believe that your brother is going to make it here safely. It will be a bittersweet day when he arrives. I think about it often. I think about going back to the same hospital where you were born. I think about how similar and how different it will be all at once. I think about what it might feel like to leave this hospital without empty arms. It is exciting and scary all at once.

Watch over us, watch over your baby brother. I know that he will be so lucky to have two sisters to always watch over him. I am working on your baby book right now so that we will have something to show him so he will grow up knowing who you are. I know that you will be wonderful big sisters even though you can't be here.

love,
Mom

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Its been six months

Dear Kate and Riley,

Today it has been six months since we said hello and goodbye. I can't believe six months has passed. It really feels like yesterday in so many ways. Yesterday on my way home from work I tried really hard to remember every detail about holding you. I tried to remember how it felt to hold you, how fragile you were in my arms and the little details of your faces. I can so vividly remember your tiny ears and your noses. I miss you every day. Not an hour goes past that I don't have a thought of you. I still get so sad when I see a baby girl. I wish that right now I was writing about the cute little things you do and all that you are learning. I am sure you are doing cute things and learning, I just don't get to be with you. It still seems so unfair sometimes. Its not one of those things that you get to look back on and think "oh that was for the best". I really don't understand how something like this can be for the best. I think the best thing would be for you to be here with us. But for some reason there was another plan for our family. For some reason you needed to be there and we needed to be here. I do have faith that some day I'll understand. Some day I think that this time I've spent without you will seem like such a small amount of time. Some day when I have a different perspective on eternity.
I do know that losing you has changed me. In some ways I have changed for the better and in some ways for the worse. I think that overall I have learned and grown in a way that I never thought I would (or never knew I would have to) since you died. These are some of the things I have learned:
I have a strong strong testimony of eternal families
I am stronger than I ever thought I could be
I love your dad more than I ever thought I could
I have a wonderful and supportive family and group of friends
I have something in common with wonderful strong women all across the world who have sadly experienced the same tragedy that I have
I have a Heavenly Father who loves me and wants me to be happy even though He sends me challenges and trials
I have a Savior, Jesus Christ who died for me and who will make it possible for me to be with my family again some day
I can never take anything in my life for granted. Nothing is guaranteed.

Some of these things I knew before but I KNOW them now. I appreciate things I never appreciated before, I understand life in such a different way than I ever have before.

Thank you girls for everything you have taught me and continue to teach me. I love you so much.

Love,
Mom

Saturday, June 02, 2007

You are Getting A....

can you guess what I am?
Dear Kate and Riley,

This week Dad and I found out that you will be getting a .... BROTHER! We went in for our 19 week ultrasound and there he was, showing his stuff to anyone who wanted to look, he certainly wasn't shy. So far everything looks good he is nice and healthy. I have had mixed reactions about having a boy next but I think it will be good. I will be so sad to pack away all of the things we bought for you but at the same time I think it will be good to have some separation between you and the new baby. I don't want him to feel like he is a replacement baby and I wouldn't want you to feel that either. It is a weird feeling to know that this baby wouldn't even exist if you hadn't died. A strange mix of emotions. I feel like I want you back so bad but at the same time I already love this new baby so I want him too but I know that it would have been impossible to have both. We are nearing the six month mark since we lost you and I think there will be a lot of emotions next week. It is a scary thing to be pregnant, I get so scared before every appointment because I think that this one might be the one where I get bad news. The doctor is very confident that this baby will get here safely so I am trying hard to have faith.

Watch over your little brother girls. Oh and if you have any name ideas whisper them in my ear at night because your dad and I are stumped!

Love,
Mom


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Mother's Day

Dear Kate and Riley,
I feel like I've been a slacker mom when it comes to this blog but pregnancy and teaching are a hard combo! Last Sunday was Mother's day and it was a rough weekend. I couldn't bear to go to church and listen to everyone talk about motherhood so I stayed in the house most of the day. Dad was really nice and made breakfast for aunt Jenny and I. He also sent me pretty flowers which were the same flowers I had picked to send to my own mom, I guess dad knows my taste pretty well by now! He is getting really good at sending flowers and writing cards that make me cry, I wish he didn't have so many reasons to.

On Saturday dad and I picked out flowers to bring to the cemetery. I found some tiny pink roses just like the ones on your casket during your service. I loved them and there was only one bunch of them, I felt like they were there just for me. I was happy to bring them to the cemetery on Sunday. I had never seen anyone else in the infant part of the cemetery when I was there even though I know other parents go there often because there are always flowers and other decorations on the babies' graves. On Sunday though we saw two other families and my heart reached out to those families on such a sad day that should have been a happy one. When we got to the cemetery there weren't any people with vases like there sometimes are so I just laid the flowers on the ground. We weren't too happy with that and as we were about to leave dad saw a vase in the bushes. It was a pink vase that I had brought to the cemetery on Valentine's day! I had come back another time to throw the flowers away and take the vase home but I had accidentally left the vase on the ground. Someone must have put it in the bushes instead of throwing it away and there it was for us to use again.

Someone on my LAMBS group which is a support group for people who have lost all of their multiples at birth, posted this poem today which I really loved but I don't know who wrote it...

Dear Mr. Hallmark,

We are writing to you from heaven, and though it must appear
A rather strange idea - we see everything from here.
We just popped in to visit your stores to find a card
A card of love for our mother, as this day for her is hard.

There must be some mistake we thought,
you had every card you could imagine
Except we could not find a card,
from a child who lives in heaven.

She is still a mother too, no matter where we reside
We had to leave, she understands, but oh the tears she's cried.

We thought that if we wrote you, that you would come to know
that though we live in heaven now, we still love my mother so.

She talks with us, and dreams with us; we still share laughter too,
Memories are our way of speaking now, would you see what you could do?

My mother carries us in her heart, her tears she hides from sight.
She writes poems to honor us, sometimes far into the night
She plants flowers in our garden, there our living memory dwells
She writes to other grieving parents, trying to ease their pain as
well.

So you see Mr. Hallmark, though we no longer live on earth
we must find a way, to remind her of her wondrous worth
She needs to be honored, and remembered too
Just as the children of earth will do.

Thank you Mr. Hallmark, we know you'll do your best
we have done all we can do; to you we'll leave the rest.
Find a way to tell her, how much she means to us
Until we can do it for ourselves, when she joins us in eternal bliss.

Friday, April 27, 2007

The MISS foundation

Dear Kate and Riley,
I was surprised after you died to find out how few people really knew about stillbirth or that it happened and how few organizations there were out there that raised money for research of stillbirth and offered support for families dealing with this horrible tragedy. Many more babies are stillborn every year than die of SIDS but I found that while everyone seems to have heard of SIDS very few knew what a stillbirth was or that it was so common.

There is a group called the MISS foundation which provides support and raises money for issues dealing with stillbirth. They are currently fighting a battle that I find so meaningful. They are trying to push through the MISSing Angels bill so that parents like your dad and I can get a birth certificate for our stillborn children. Currently, several states have passed the bill and offer a certificate of birth resulting in stillbirth to the parents of stillborn babies. Some states have not passed the bill yet. I hope that all of the states eventually pass the bill and that the parents of angels, the mothers who not only labored and gave birth but also grieved and mourned are given the validation that we are parents too.



Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Announcing...

Dear Kate and Riley,
Sorry mommy has been MIA the past few weeks! I haven't forgotten about you. On the contrary, I think about you EVERY single day. Its just that I have been SO tired and sick and hmmm, what does that sound like? Well I have a feeling YOU two already know but you are getting a brother or sister!

Dad and I are excited and scared at the same time. I got pregnant REALLY fast. I want you to know I wasn't trying to replace you. I knew that a new baby wouldn't make you come back and wouldn't make my heart hurt less for not having you in our lives. But we also knew that a new baby would bring joy into our house again. We were ready for you and we knew that you would want us to have a baby to fill our arms and our hearts since you have to be so far away from us. You will always be our firstborn. You will always be the oldest two in our family and that will never change. I have a feeling that when you got to heaven you were excited for this baby to come down because you knew that he or she would be able to make us happy when you knew we were so sad about losing you.

The new baby is due Oct. 22nd. I hope that the new baby comes early for my birthday! I think it would be a good present. Girls your job is to watch over your mom and this new baby. Keep him safe and make sure we get to take him (or her!) home with us.

Love, Mom


new baby tummy sleeping
13 weeks gestation



new baby profile 13 weeks

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter


Dear Kate and Riley,

Happy Easter! I have always loved Easter, spring, new life and the promise of a resurrection are some of the best things to celebrate. I was really sad this past week thinking about Easter because I remember shopping with Dad right before we lost you and telling him how excited I was to buy you matching Easter dresses. But Easter isn't really about dresses or eggs or bunnies or any of those things and as the week went on I realized that I should be so happy for Easter this year. What a new and special meaning this holiday has for me.

I am sure they teach you all about Easter in heaven. I am sure it is a day of much celebration because you and the other angels in heaven are reminded that, like Christ, you too will take up your bodies again one day and be resurrected. We will all live again. That gives me a reason to hope and to carry on and to be happy.

I want to share with you one of my favorite songs from when I was in primary. I hope they teach it to you in heaven, I am sure you and all of the other little angels would make such a beautiful choir singing this easter song. These are the words

Did Jesus really live again? Yes when the third day came,
He wakened and he left the tomb, he called Mary's name.
And there were nail prints in His hands and a spear wound in His side?
Did Jesus really live again, after he had died?
Oh yes! And so shall I.


That last line is my favorite and I can really picture you singing that in heaven.

There was a really good message about Easter I want to share part of, it was by President Benson, one of the former prophets of the church...


First Presidency Message
The Meaning of Easter

By President Ezra Taft Benson



Ezra Taft Benson, “The Meaning of Easter,” Ensign, Apr 1992, 2

"I cannot recall a time that I did not believe in Jesus Christ. It seems that the reality of His life, death, and resurrection has always been a part of me. I was reared in a home by faithful parents who earnestly believed in and testified of Christ, for which I am most grateful.

The greatest events of history are those that affect the greatest number of people for the longest periods. By this standard, no event could be more important to individuals or nations than the resurrection of the Master.

The literal resurrection of every soul who has lived and died on earth is a certainty, and surely one should make careful preparation for this event. A glorious resurrection should be the goal of every man and woman, for resurrection will be a reality.

Nothing is more absolutely universal than the resurrection. Every living being will be resurrected. “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Cor. 15:22.)

The scriptural record tells us that on the third day following Jesus’ crucifixion, there was a great earthquake. The stone was rolled back from the door of the tomb. Some of the women, among the most devoted of His followers, came to the place with spices “and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.”

Angels appeared and said simply, “Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen.” (Luke 24:3–6.) Nothing in history equals that dramatic announcement: “He is not here, but is risen.”


Following His ascension, He appeared to the inhabitants of America as chronicled in the Book of Mormon. Then in modern times the Prophet Joseph Smith testified of the appearance of the Redeemer of the world in these words:

“And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives! For we saw him.” (D&C 76:22–23.)

As one of His latter-day witnesses, I testify that He lives today. He is a resurrected Being. He is our Savior, our Lord, the very Son of God. I testify that He will come again as our glorified, resurrected Lord. That day is not far distant. To all who accept Him as Savior and Lord, His literal resurrection means that life does not end at death, for He promised: “Because I live, ye shall live also.” (John 14:19.)"

So, you can see what a wonderful holiday Easter really is. We are so blessed to know of Christ and His death and resurrection for us. I am so happy to know that I will be with you again some day.

I love you girls, Happy Easter!

love,
Mom

Monday, March 26, 2007

Angel Peyton


Dear Kate and Riley,
Today there is a new baby angel in heaven. Her name is Peyton. Peyton has a sister who is already in heaven named Quinn. I hope that you can find Peyton today and welcome her to heaven. I hope that Peyton and Quinn are able to find a way to comfort their mommy. Their mommy's name is Cass and she found silent grief after she lost her baby Quinn. A few weeks ago Cass told us that Peyton was not growing as fast as she should. Cass was so worried because that is the same thing that happened with Quinn. Surely, we all thought, this would never happen to her again. The boards were full of messages of hope for Cass and Peyton. We all prayed and hoped for Peyton to be ok. Today her mom went in to the doctor and found out Peyton is an angel. She will be born on Wed.
This has been such a sad day on Silent Grief. Most days we are sad but still full of hope. I feel like losing a child has to be one of the worst kinds of pain that there can be, I can't imagine going through it again. I am sending prayers for Cass and her husband. Tell all the angels in heaven to surround them with love.

Love,
Mom

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Headstone

Dear Kate and Riley,
One thing your dad and I have been procrastinating is picking out a headstone to mark your grave. It bothers me that there isn't anything there but some angel statues I put in the ground. Its hard to choose because it feels very final and like a big decision because it will be there forever. I would hate to go back years later and wish we had done something else.
I found a picture of Jesus holding twin girls on another angel mom's blog a while ago, I posted it a few posts ago. I really liked it but I couldn't read the signature on the picture and the mom who had posted it didn't know where it came from. I sent an e-mail to my LAMBS group (loss of all multiples at birth) and asked if anyone knew who had done the picture. No one responded for a few weeks and I was sad. I knew that was the picture I wanted but I couldn't use the one off of the computer, it wasn't good enough quality, plus I would have felt bad using a picture without permission from the artist.

Then, last week, a mom e-mailed me and sent me to Jean Keaton's website. The mom who e-mailed me had angel babies named Hyrum and Joseph, I knew she must be LDS. Then I went to the website and I recognized the picture on the home page right away, it was a picture of Mary holding Jesus and I knew that this artist was also LDS. I knew that must be the reason I felt so drawn to this picture, this artist had the same understanding of Christ that I do. She captured his love so well and I loved picturing the two of you safe in His arms.
I spent a while looking through her touching pictures of children with Christ, some of them had stories that I read and I cried thinking of how much comfort this artist was bringing to families.
This week I ordered some of the prints for us and our family and I also e-mailed the website to ask permission to use the picture on your headstone. They e-mailed me back and said that we can use the picture. I am happy to have found the perfect picture for your headstone. I think it will be a wonderful way to always remember you. Now dad and I have to decide on a scripture or quote we want to put on the bottom. I have a few ideas in mind. I am hoping that we get the prints soon so we can order the headstone in the next few weeks. I hope that it is something that makes you proud and that when we visit always brings a warm feeling to our hearts.

love,
Mom

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Joseph and Emma

Dear Kate and Riley,
Since losing you, I have felt such a closeness to others who have experienced this horrible tragedy of losing a child. My aunt, Linda, and her husband, Randy, lost their baby Jonathan when he was only a few months old. Jonathan was almost the exact same age as my brother Bret. I am sure that you have gotten to meet Jonathan and hopefully he has told you that just like his mother's heart has healed with time, so will your mom's.
Linda wrote me a letter after we lost you and told me about her mother's grandmother. This is what she wrote to me: "I felt my mother’s grandmother, Amelia, was at his birth and comforting me as I dressed him for burial. I’m so grateful for my mother’s books that helped me know her. She had lost 2 babies and knew what it was all about. She almost went crazy when the second child died, but then she had a dream about her husband’s 1st wife, Phoebe, who was deceased. She saw Phoebe caring for her children in heaven, just as she was caring for Phoebe’s children here on earth." After Linda told me that story, I thought about your Grandma Linda, dad's mom and how I hope that she is up in heaven loving you and taking good care of you. I never got to meet Grandma Linda but I am glad she is there to take care of you. I guess it is only fair if she has all of these grandchildren on earth that she gets two in heaven to keep her company.
I liked hearing what Linda had to say because I know that years had passed and even though she will never forget Jonathan her heart had healed and she has been able to find joy in her family and her knowledge of Heavenly Father's plan for her family. I also know that Linda had to deal with something I will have to, having a nephew the same age. I will have two nieces, Clint and Kelli's baby girls the same age. I can remember watching Linda watch Bret and I always thought about how hard it must be for her to know that whatever age Bret was, Jonathan should have been the same. I know it will be hard for me to be around Clint and Kelli's babies but I also hope that with time I can look at them and be happy instead of sad.
Another couple I have felt very close to, even though I have never known them, were Joseph and Emma Smith. Joseph and Emma lost six children, including a set of twins that died shortly after birth. I cannot imagine the pain they must have felt. There is a very touching painting by an artist named Liz Swindle, and a song by Kenneth Cope called "Tiny Hands" both of these show the pain that Joseph and Emma must have gone through. Although I can't say for sure, I would guess that even through everything that Joseph and Emma went through, losing their children must have been the hardest.
If you get to meet Joseph and Emma, you can tell them what an inspiration they are to your mom. I know Joseph Smith was the prophet who restored the gospel to the earth. I know that because we have the gospel on the earth and the ordinances of the temple that we will be together again some day.
Love,
Mom



"Tiny Hands"
by Kenneth Cope

another pair of tiny hands
to lay beneath the clay
slumbering little baby eyes
to wake another day
oh god of heav'n, come guard this bed
and let this angel sleep
'til earth is pure for tiny hands
and safe for tiny feet

a wondrous little baby smile
the hope of things to be
born to face the troubled world
for a moment and then set free
oh god of heav'n, take hate from man
'til lambs and lions feed
and make earth pure for tiny hands
and safe for tiny feet

tiny hands
angel hands
perfect hands
blamless hands
lifeless hands
resting in the night
waiting for the light
when life will follow

oh god of heav'n, send christ again
bringing his reign of peace
let earth turn pure for tiny hands
and safe for tiny feet

then give back my child to me

Monday, March 05, 2007

Your Due Date

Dear Kate and Riley,
Today, March 5th, was your due date. I really hadn't thought too much about today because we always thought you'd come early, I almost think the 38 week mark was harder for me since that is when I really thought you'd be here. I wish that today was different. I wish I had you here at home. I wish we were staying up all night trying to juggle two babies and figuring out how to get you to sleep through the night. I wish we were holding you and smelling you instead of packing up your room and giving your things away. But none of that will happen in this life. Grandma Janice, my mom, put a poem on the comments section that I thought was a good one for today. I am surprised at how many people remembered what today was. We have truly been blessed with wonderful friends and family who are watching out for us. I like to think that today you get to celebrate your "would be" birthday in heaven.

This is the poem my mom sent

What Makes a Mother

I thought of you all, I closed my eyes
and prayed to God today. I asked what makes a Mother
and I know I heard Him say,
A Mother has a baby.
This we know is true. But God can you be a Mother
when your baby's not with you?" Yes you can!", He replied
with confidence in His voice,
"I give many women babies,
when they leave is not their choice."Some I send for a lifetime
and other's for a day.
And some I send to feel your womb
but there's no need to stay.
I just don't understand this God,
I want my baby here. He took a breath and cleared His throat
and then I saw a tear.
I wish I could show you
what your child is doing today. If you could see your child smile
with other children and say,"We go to earth to learn our lessons
of love and life and fear.
My Mommy loved me oh so much
I got to come straight here.
I feel so lucky to have a Mom
who had so much love for me
I learned my lesson very quick
My Mommy set me free.
I miss my Mommy oh so much
but I visit her each day.
When she goes to sleep
on her pillow's where I lay.
I stroke her hair and kiss her cheek
and whisper in her ear,
Mommy don't be sad today
I'm your baby and I'm here."So you see
my dear sweet one,
your children are OK. Your babies are here in my home
and this is where they'll stay. They'll wait for you with me
until your lesson is through.
And on that day that you come home
they'll be at the gates for you. So now you see what makes a Mother.
It's the feeling in your heart.
It's the love you had so much of
right from the very start. Though some on earth may not realize
that you are a Mother until their time is done.
They'll be up here with me one day
and know you're the best one.

by Jennifer Wasik

Happy almost birthday Kate and Riley, mom and dad love and miss you every day with every bit our our hearts.

Love,
Mom

Friday, February 23, 2007

Your tiny footprints

Kate's



Riley's









Dear Kate and Riley,

When we were at the hospital, they told us they were making ceramic footprints of your tiny little feet that we could have. We were told they'd be sent to my doctor's office but that it would take a few weeks. I had thought about them often but hadn't heard from the doctor's office and I wondered if we'd ever get them. Then this week the office called and told me they had the footprints for us. I was excited and nervous to pick them up. They are not what I expected but are so precious and such a physical reminder of how tiny you were but how real you were at the same time. I only wish the hospital had saved the mold so we could have made more. I would have loved to have some to give to your grandparents and your aunts and uncles. But, we only got two and I will guard them with everything I have! I am already so scared of breaking them or of the puppy getting them! I think I'm going to put them in a shadow box that we can put on the wall. That way I can always think of my angel babies and everyone can know how real and tiny you were.
I love you, my precious baby girls.
love,
Mom

Sunday, February 18, 2007

A Poem

Dear Kate and Riley,
I have read a lot of poetry written by other angel moms. Some of it is touching but a lot of it is cheesy. The problem is, I love all of it. I, however, cannot express myself through poetry so I have to steal it from others. Here is a poem I like.

God's Tiniest Angels

There was a meeting up in Heaven and the angels gathered round.
God spoke, "They will soon be coming. Let the trumpets sound.
Make way for my tiniest angels," God said, for they are almost here.
Watch over them; I must go now, and help dry their mothers' tears."

And so God went to His special place to hear the mothers pray,
Tears fell from His eyes as He listened to what they had to say.
The prayers were very different yet seemed to blend into one:
"You have my tiny angel, God, but my crying has just begun."

"I'm human and I'm weak, God, and I don't know what to do,
I need your love and strength, and your help to get me through.
Please allow me one more thing before I say 'Amen' and go,
I need to speak to my babies now, so my love they will always know.

God gathered the tiniest angels in His arms so they could hear
Their earthly mothers speaking from their hearts, and through their tears.
From God's eyes as well as the angels' tears began to leak,
And the trumpets sounded in Heaven, as the mothers began to speak.

"I can't hold you, I can't see you, or count fingers and count toes,
Nor wrap you in a blanket, and kiss your little nose.
I'll never feel your heartbeat as you lie against my chest,
But to question would be wrong, for God always does know best."

"I'll never hear 'I love you,' or 'mommy read to me.'
It hurts so much to want you, knowing you weren't meant to be.
Although you were taken from me you will always feel my love.
I know God will allow that in His kingdom up above."

"Don't be afraid my little ones, for you are in a special place.
And don't worry about me; God will dry the tears upon my face.
He needed more tiny angels but we are never far apart.
You're not in my arms, my little ones, but you're forever in my heart."

Then God spoke to the tiny angels and dried each little tear.
"Your mother isn't with us now, but soon she will be here.
And when you reunite with her for all of Heaven to see,
She will hold you close and love you throughout eternity."

By Millie Hutton, copyright 2003

love,
Mom

Friday, February 16, 2007

Happy Birthday Dad!


Dear Kate and Riley,
Today is daddy's birthday! He is 28 years old. I thought that today I would tell you some of the things I love about your dad.

He is smart, not just book smart but money smart and common sense smart. Sometimes he has to keep me in line. He always remembers things. If it weren't for dad, none of our bills would get paid on time.

He is a hard worker, he always does well at work and he is willing to work so hard to do a good job. I love his work ethic.

He is honest. I don't think your dad has ever lied to me.

He is brave and strong. It was hard for dad to hold my hand and be beside me when you were born. He was so brave and strong. He is brave now and always reminds me that we will be with you again some day. He is strong when I need to cry.

He is handsome! He has the prettiest blue eyes and cutest dimples I've ever seen. I wonder if you would have had dimples like your dad.

He is just a good guy. Everyone who knows him would say that your dad is a good guy. He is always doing something to help someone else out.

He is a great cook!

He is a wonderful husband. He never worries about things for himself, he worries about our future and does everything he can to make sure that we will live a good life. He encourages me to be a better person, to do my church duties and to be kind to everyone.

You have the best dad ever. I know you love him and I hope that in your own way you are wishing him a happy birthday today.

Love,
Mom

Monday, February 12, 2007

Things you heard and places you went...

Dear Kate and Riley,
Last week I went back to work. It was scary at first but once I got there I remembered that teaching is something I love to do and that there are few places I feel more comfortable than at Pacifica High School in my own classroom.
When I went back to school it made me think of you a lot since the last time I had been there I was pregnant with you. Driving to work made me remember when I would drive to work when you were still inside me and I would sing really loud to the radio hoping that when you came out you would like country music too. My guess is that country music is definitely one of the kinds of music they play in heaven! Thinking of all of that made me want to make a list of things I think you liked, things you heard and "did" while you were alive.
The first thing is that I think you must have gotten a pretty good education, at least in 9th grade English, while you were alive. While you were inside of me you got to hear many short stories and you heard the novel Lord of the Flies four times! (because I read it with four different classes). I wonder if hearing that novel traumatized you in some way. You also learned about a bunch of different literary terms and other things that I'm sure made you really smart, especially since you had a really good teacher to listen to. I was reading that a baby can recognize their mother's voice by the 6th month and I'm sure you recognized mine because you got to hear me talking all day long. I'm glad I had a job like that because I think it means you will know my voice when we meet again some day.
Besides listening to novels, there were two songs that stick out to me that I think you liked. One was a Carrie Underwood song called "Right Now" I used to sing it in the car EVERY day on the way to work and you would both kick. I sometimes wondered if it was a very good song to be singing to you, but I think you liked it. The other song is the Dixie Chicks, "Not Ready to Make Nice" one time I was singing that song so loud, I thought I should ask the doctor if I could hurt your ears. I bet my singing hurt your ears even when it WASN'T loud!
As far as going places, you didn't get to go very many places because I was so sick with you. But you did get to go to Jackson Hole, Wyoming and to Utah twice. We also spent a LOT of time at the beach over the summer. I bet you liked it when I sat in the warm sun and I remember that you did NOT like it when I got in the cold water.

Here is a picture of me, Dad and Bella the dog when I was pregnant with you. Even though these pictures make me sad, I'm glad we took them.
Love,
Mom



Monday, February 05, 2007

Dear Abby...

Dear Kate and Riley,
Today a woman on SG posted a letter written to Dear Abby about the fact the she and her co-workers are APPALLED at the picture another co-worker keeps at her desk of her stillborn baby. Unfortunately Abby made a big mistake and said that the picture was inappropriate. I wrote Abby a letter telling her how wrong she was, then I read the letters that some of my friends on SG had written and they put mine to shame. So today I want to share them with you:

This one is from Sara, her baby is Miles

I am writing in response to "Appalled" and your reply to her. As the mother of a stillborn son, I would like to share with you some of the things that have made me "uncomfortable" since his birth and death: 1.Hearing, just a few weeks after my son's death, a coworker's long and very detailed story of her daughter's happy birth experience. 2. Hearing and seeing the two newborns in our building 3. Hearing several times, and just the other day, a discussion about an upcoming birth and the things they need to buy the baby, while I cringe, and think to myself, "not all babies come home, even when all appears to be well with mom and child". These are just some of the "uncomfortable" things mothers of stillborn children have to put up with. I think Appalled can live with it. I understand her discomfort, she doesn't know this pain (lucky her) however, she doesn't have to look at the picture and I think she should try to show some sensitivity to her coworker's situation.

Perhaps her coworker has the photo on display in hopes that SOMEONE, anyone, will acknowledge her loss and her baby. It hurt (and still hurts) that no one asked what my son looked like or weighed, that I never get to tell people about his soft black hair, like his father's in color, but mine in texture, or how he got saddled with my chin and his father's nose. Maybe if someone did reach out to her coworker in this way, it would also improve her coworker's behaviour?

Appalled is wrong and you are wrong, Abby. Stillbirth happens to 26,000 women in the U.S. every year. We are mothers like any other and deserve to be proud of our photos like any other parent. I highly advise both of you to go to the website missingangels.org and see their gallery of photos of stillborn babies and then you will see how beautiful all our babies really are. And I finish with this, on Appalled's rationale, should parents of children who are "different" or "disfigured in some way also not display their pictures?

Sign me,
a loving and proud photo displaying mom


This one is from Vicki, her baby is Andrew

In reference to your "advice" about the picture of a stillborn baby at work, God gave us a wonderful thing... It's called eye lids, if we don't wish to see something we can close our eyes or even avert our gaze.
Life had been hard enough for "Madge" without her feeling ostracised by her workmates, or problems raised with her boss. I have experienced a stillbirth, and know from experience that validating my lost son is an incredibly important part of grieving.
Judging by the tone of the rest of the letter you received, these workmates have a problem with "Madge" herself, not what she keeps on her desk. Perhaps you should have addressed this problem as well.
If you had a child with a disfigurement, would you keep their photo in a drawer?!? Or would you proudly display your loved child for all the world to see?
Please feel free to email me, or one of the others I'm sure will respond to your advice. Or have a look at www.silentgrief.com one of the leading sites for people who have experienced the loss of a child, and see how deep peoples emotions for their lost child are.

Girls, I want you to know I am proud of you and I love you. I would never let someone make me feel ashamed of you and I hope that Dear Abby learns her lesson. Maybe some of our friends want to write to her too. They can write her here.

love,
Mom

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Tears in Heaven...

Dear Kate and Riley,
When I was a kid my dad had an Eric Clapton tape of his "unplugged" show on VH1. I remember that there was only one song on that tape that I thought was worth listening to. It was called "Tears in Heaven" I remember hearing that Eric Clapton wrote the song after his little boy died. I thought the song was sad then but I had no idea how much meaning it would end up having in my life. I love this song because I wonder the same things as Eric Clapton, I wonder if you know who I am, if you will recognize me. I know that when I get to heaven, there will be no more tears.



Tears In Heaven

by Eric Clapton and Will Jennings

Would you know my name
If I saw you in heaven?
Would it be the same
If I saw you in heaven?

I must be strong
And carry on,
'Cause I know I don't belong
Here in heaven.

Would you hold my hand
If I saw you in heaven?
Would you help me stand
If I saw you in heaven?

I'll find my way
Through night and day,
'Cause I know I just can't stay
Here in heaven.

Time can bring you down,
Time can bend your knees.
Time can break your heart,
Have you begging please, begging please.

Beyond the door,
There's peace I'm sure,
And I know there'll be no more
Tears in heaven.

Would you know my name
If I saw you in heaven?
Would it be the same
If I saw you in heaven?

I must be strong
And carry on,
'Cause I know I don't belong
Here in heaven.


love, Mom

Friday, January 26, 2007

Your Names

Dear Kate and Riley,

I thought you might want to know how you got your names. Dad and I were surprised at how hard it was to name both of you, we thought that with two of you it would be easy since we wouldn't have to narrow it down to one, but instead it was hard to find two names that "went" together but didn't rhyme or start with the same letter (my rules). Before we knew you were girls we thought of a lot of boy names, I liked Andrew and Zachary (Drew and Zach) but after a little while I knew you would be girls and then we found out you were for sure so we were on to girl names. I thought I had decided right away, Katherine and Elizabeth. I always thought my first daughter would be named Katherine Elizabeth so it made sense to me to just split them up. But dad wasn't on board. We spent weeks searching through baby name books. I always knew I wanted a Katie so that was pretty set. The question was what would Katie be short for, we went through Katherine, Katelyn and finally settled on Kate. I liked it because it was simple and I could still have my Katie. Even though we didn't really say who would be Kate, I knew it would have to be baby A since technically, you would be my first daughter even if only by a few minutes.
Riley's name was much harder to come up with. I was still pushing for Elizabeth and use Libby for short. I still might use that for one of your sisters some day. Dad wasn't sure about that. So after many nights of me going through name books and yelling out names only to have your dad make a bad face about EVERY name, I finally told him, FINE, YOU come up with a name! So then Dad started going through the books. I was glad he was getting involved and he realized it WAS hard to pick out a name! Then one night he said, "What about Riley" I said I thought I could like it and it pretty much stuck.
We started telling people your names a few weeks before Thanksgiving. I liked calling you by name and since I knew where you were in my belly I liked knowing if Kate was moving or Riley was. Then it was time to think of middle names.
Dad came up with Riley Lynn, I thought it was cute and since Dad's Grandpa's name is Lynn it was good. With Kate we struggled. We couldn't find anything that went well with Kate for a middle name. I thought it should start with an "e" so we went through a lot of E names. Then over Thanksgiving Aunt Jill was filling out a family tree to give as a gift for Christmas. We saw that dad's grandma Chris' real name was Evelyn. We decided that would be good and since it was Grandpa Lynn's wife it only made sense.
So when they asked us in the hospital if we had named you dad and I looked at each other for a second and I think the nurse was surprised that I didn't even have to think twice before I said A is Kate Evelyn and B is Riley Lynn. I love that each of us picked one name. I wonder if you had been here if one of you would have been more of a mama's girl and one more of a daddy's girl. I know daddy wanted you BOTH to be daddy's girl and play sports. But you probably would have inherited your mother's lack of athletic talent at all. Lucky for you, I think in Heaven you get to be good at everything.
love,
Mom

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Saying Goodbye


Dear Kate and Riley,

Leaving the hospital without you was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I kept wanting to go back and get you but I knew you weren't really there. I felt like I was deserting you. Also, I didn't feel like I really got to say goodbye the last time we had held you.

I don't remember much about that first week after we got home. I remember that people from church brought dinners I remember never answering my phone. I remember our friends came over and kept us company most nights. I remember that Bella was so happy we were home. I also found the silent grief website which has been a real lifeline for me. My mom came sometime that week to help out but its all kind of a blur to me.

On Friday, the day after we got home, we went to the mortuary. What a sad job that must be. It was very strange I just kept thinking that we were too young to be in a place like that. I wondered if they had very many young couples in there. The cemetery had a special spot just for babies. I liked it because all around you would be other babies. People had left toys and other decorations on the graves. I felt like every family who had someone there had felt the same heartache that we had. There are a lot of twins and triplets buried there and that also made me feel less alone somehow. We chose a small white coffin that would fit both of you. We gave them the white blankets my grandma Wiggins had made for you so you could be wrapped in them. We got to see you one last time. You were in a beautiful white bassinet and you looked very peaceful. I was so sad in that moment. Dad and I stayed with you for a while and I got to feel like I had a chance to say goodbye.

A week later on Saturday we had a small graveside service for you. We probably could have had 100 people there, so many people had offered to mourn with us. But we wanted it to be small, just family. My parents came from Texas and my cousin Taylor and his wife, Sheri, came down from LA. On Dad's side Grandpa Frank and uncles Andrew and Austin came from Utah and uncle Adam and aunt Tracy with your cousins, Maddy, Aubrey, Ashton, Braden and Myra came up from San Diego. Our bishop also came to conduct. The day was rainy and gray and it seemed appropriate. We gathered at the cemetery at your little spot. The bishop opened up, we sang "I am a Child of God" and Grandpa Frank said a family prayer. My dad gave a little talk, I don't really remember much of it but it was good and I felt like it really made you real and it was important to me that all of those people there loved you too. My dad read a poem which I really liked. It is by Emily Dickenson:
They dropped like flakes, they dropped like stars'
Like petals from a rose, When suddenly across the June
A wind with fingers goes.

They perished in the seamless grass, -
No eye could find the place:
But God on his repealless list
Can summon every face
I do feel like you were my little snowflakes, just here for a moment. But I know that you were real and Heavenly Father knows you and there is a plan for you.

After my dad spoke he dedicated your grave. Then the bishop talked again and we were done. It was a beautiful and simple service. It was perfect for you.

So, this is kind of the end of your story but not really. I mean I don't want you to think your story is over. I think that your short lives have changed our lives forever and that your story will live on and continue to touch lives. I have a feeling that Heavenly Father has something great in mind for you and that is why he needed to take you back.

Love, Mom

Monday, January 22, 2007

Meeting You

Dear Kate and Riley,
Sorry tomorrow never ends up actually being tomorrow does it? Well its not like I have a lot going on, but writing this does end up being emotionally draining.

Sadly, the first time we got to actually meet you, we really just met your tiny bodies since you were already gone. After you were born and they had stitched me up (ouch!) and the doctor left, the nurse brought you back in. At that point I was pretty exhausted, we hadn't slept, I was tired from giving birth and my memory is fuzzy here. I remember the nurse bringing you in wrapped up and giving you both to me. Kate, you were smaller and Riley you were bigger and it was a little easier to tell what you would have looked like if you were full term. The one thing I really noticed about you were your noses and your mouths. You had these tiny mouths but they weren't just tiny because you were small, they were tiny mouths just like dad's. Even right now when dad is sleeping sometimes his mouth looks JUST like yours. It is funny. Your noses reminded me of your cousins Braden and Myra. I think you would have had the same noses as them.

Holding you was good, it made you seem very real. I have to admit though that I was sort of scared to hold you. I didn't know how I would react and once I was holding you you were SO tiny and fragile I kept worrying that I would break you or something. You seemed like tiny dolls. Kate you weighed 1 lb 3 oz and Riley you weighed 1 lb 10 oz. It was strange that there was such a growth difference because you had always measured exactly the same. The other thing that was strange is that you were the exact same length, 12 1/2 in. So I don't really understand the weight difference. Riley's face was more filled out. Both of you had long fingers, they were so tiny and perfect. Every part of you was perfect.

That early morning dad and I held you for a little while but I was so exhausted and I needed to eat and sleep. The nurses promised we could see you as much as we wanted to while we were there at the hospital. So after a little while they took you away and I ate and slept. Then in the morning they brought you back and this time I must have been more coherent because I remember I cried and cried. Dad and I both took turns holding you a lot, we held each of you individually and we held both of you together. I think that seeing you was very significant for dad because you probably weren't very real to him before he saw you, to me you had been so real for so long since you were inside of me and I felt so connected to you.

We held you that morning and again later that afternoon. I think it was so good for us to get to hold you because it made it real. It was hard for me to "get" that you were gone, that I wasn't pregnant any more, that you weren't waking up, that this wasn't a dream or something like that. Seeing you and holding you helped me to "get it". But it was hard and sad. No one should ever have to do that. No one should give birth and have their own crying be the only crying. No one should have to have silent babies. I don't know why Heavenly Father took you back. I don't know why we didn't get even a minute with you outside of me, were you just too precious to ever even have to leave the safety of my body? Too pure and perfect? I think you needed bodies, we gave you those bodies and that is all that you had to be here for.

The nurses at the hospital were wonderful. They took you away and took pictures of you. They took pictures of us holding you. I am so glad we have those pictures. Of course, now, I wish I had other pictures too but we are lucky because other people I have talked to don't have any or many pictures and we have quite a few.

I slept most of the day and dad went home to take care of Bella and shower. That afternoon we had the nurses bring you back so we could hold you one last time. I didn't want to have bad memories of you and your little bodies were changing the more time you spent outside of me plus you were cold and that made me sad, babies aren't supposed to be cold. So we decided that would be our last time to hold you. But we would say our official goodbyes later at the mortuary.

That night our friends all came again to see us and to bring us food. We decided not to have our friends see you, I knew it would be upsetting and I didn't want to watch my friends upset over you. Instead we showed them the pictures. They were great and let us tell them all about your birth. I was glad we could talk about you and your birth and not feel uncomfortable. We have been blessed with good friends. Our 1st and 2nd counselor from the bishopric came to see us that night too. They were concerned and caring and cried with us too. It was sweet. I felt uplifted by everyone in our ward.

Honestly, I have to say that I thought that I would have some amazing spiritual experience while we were at the hospital. I thought maybe when I was giving birth that I would see your spirits or that I would have all pain taken away. I thought that I would have this huge spiritual experience somehow. But I never did. I just hurt and I was sad and I felt alone. I realize now that this experience was a trial. It was something to test me and try me and I think the spiritual growth will come with time as I push forward and endure through this. And I realize that even if I had some amazing experience it wouldn't make this hurt any less. It hurt so bad. But I was glad that I gave birth to you. I am your mom, I suffered for you, I brought you into this world. I pray for you every night. I pray that you will know who we are. You were made from the love that your dad and I share and you will always be our babies.

Love,
Mom

Riley and Kate (retouched to help Riley's bruising)

You with dad

You with Mom

Friday, January 19, 2007

Your Birth

the view from our hospital room

Dear Kate and Riley,
You were born on December 6th, 2006.
Once we decided we weren't going to go to LA, my doctor told us to come to the hospital right away so I could be induced to give birth to you, this was Tuesday, the 5th. She warned me that since my body wasn't ready to give birth it could be a long process. I was very scared since I didn't know what to expect at all and I was afraid the people at the hospital wouldn't know how to handle us. I was also scared of seeing other mothers with their babies, I knew that would make me very sad.
I was admitted to the hospital around noon. Everyone at Hoag (the hospital) was wonderful. They knew we were coming and were very prepared for our situation. The room was very nice and big and I was sad that this wasn't a happy time for us. It didn't seem real at all. They got me changed and put an IV in then the doctor came in to put some pills inside of me to soften my cervix to get ready for birth. They put a monitor on my belly to see my contractions. Dad and I were very nervous and just kind of sat around in the room.
The hospital sent in a social worker to talk to us about your burial and other things. It was so hard for me to be in the hospital to give birth but also to make plans to bury you. Dad called uncle Adam and had him take care of finding a place. The afternoon is a blur, the medicine started my contractions, they were pretty regular but not too painful for a while. Later in the afternoon it started getting a little painful and they gave me medicine in my IV that made me feel REALLY good but also made me throw up. In the afternoon my friends Crystal and Elizabeth came to visit which was good because dad and I were having a hard time just sitting around and staring at each other. Crystal brought me treats and she and Elizabeth and Elizabeth's baby Jack stayed and hung out for a while. It was really good to have company. Later that night Megan, Clarke, Meghan, Cameron, Barbara and Jared came. We are so lucky to have such good friends who came to be by our side and support us. They were wonderful, they took care of Bella and cheered us up.
The nurses at the hospital were great. They were all so sensitive, they cried with us, they took such good care of me. We made a plan for when you were born. I knew it would be too hard for me to see you right away so they were going to take you after you were born, clean you up and wrap you up a little and then bring you in when I was ready. I didn't want dad to watch you born because I knew it would make him too sad. They were very good about helping me to make a plan so I would feel as comfortable as possible. Around 8 they gave me some more medicine to help open my cervix. My contractions started getting stronger.
Our friends left around 10 which was good because it helped pass a lot of the time. We tried to get some sleep but my contractions were getting stronger and they hurt more and more. The nurses checked me and I had progressed a little and they started thinking I would deliver that night (which was good because before we thought it might take a few days for my body to be ready). Around midnight the doctor came in to give me my epidural. That was bad, I did NOT like having a giant needle in my back and it almost made dad pass out! The doctor messed up and had to do it over again! It was no fun. For a while I felt better after the epidural and slept for a little bit but I had this weird reaction where my legs were aching and aching and I wasn't going numb everywhere like I should.
At that point things started going pretty fast. I would say around 2 or 3 am things started getting intense. I was in a LOT of pain, they gave me another dose in my epidural but that didn't seem to help at all! It wasn't fair! I was trying not to freak out because it hurt so bad. The nurse, Kim, was great and dad was trying his best to make me feel better but there wasn't much he could do. I dialated quickly and the pain got even worse. At one point they said they were going to call the doctor and that wait was the worst. I wanted to push but the nurses needed me to wait for the doctor, but it hurt so bad! The waiting was the awful, I felt like it took about 2 hours but dad said it was only about 15 min. I felt like I wasn't even in my body, it was just really weird. My doctor finally arrived, it was very nice of her to come and do the delivery herself instead of having some doctor there that I didn't know. I know it must have been hard and sad for her too.
Once the doctor got there they got me ready to push. It hurt really bad but I knew that if I pushed I could be done. Kate came out fast. You were low in position and always had been. The doctor was surprised that my epidural wasn't working well, I pretty much felt everything. After only a few pushes Kate arrived. I didn't see you, the nurses whisked you off but I think daddy saw you though and that must have really hit him because he started crying. I think that everyone in the room was crying, me, dad, the nurses and doctor. They said Kate was pretty wrapped up in her cord but that can also happen after you die so they weren't sure. Kate you were born at 4 am on December 6th.
They let me rest for a few minutes but I just wanted to be done. Riley was up really high so that was hard. They had to leave your water in tact so I could push you down. I pushed hard for a half hour, at one point your water finally broke and it went everywhere, I screamed! It seemed like it was all out of a movie. I felt for a moment very alone, like this just couldn't possibly be happening AND hurt so bad. I'm not sure about this but Riley had always been transverse and I think I actually delivered you that way so it was a lot harder, plus you were bigger than Kate. You were really bruised and red the doctor said that might have meant that you actually died first so the mystery only deepened. Riley you were born at 4: 30 am on December 6th.
After you were both born I delivered your placenta. When it came out the doctor saw right away that it wasn't right. I only saw it for a second but I could see it was much bigger on one side than the other. So probably Kate was smaller because she wasn't getting enough nutrients and Riley may have gotten too much. We won't really ever know for sure but at least it gave us a few answers.
This is getting really long so I will talk about seeing you and holding you tomorrow.

Love, Mom