Friday, December 28, 2012

Growing Sprouts - Take 2



Last year, I took the kids' heights and weights to see how much they grew throughout 2012.  Here is their growth from the first of the year to the end of the year:

Keith (5 yrs 11 months)                              (6 years 11 months)
37.6 lbs - 6th percentile for weight              43.4 lbs - 12th percentile for weight
42.5" - 7th percentile for height                   46" - 19th percentile for height

Mitchell (2 years 11 months)                      (3 years 11 months)
32.6 lbs - 63rd percentile for weight            39.2 lbs - 78th percentile for weight
37" - 43rd percentile for height                    41" - 69th percentile for height

Kiersten (12 months)                                  (2 years)
20.2 lbs - 31st percentile for weight            24 lbs - 15th percentile for weight
27.5" - 6th percentile for height                   32" - 11th percentile for height (chart ages 2-20 yrs)
                                                                             - 8th percentile for height (chart birth to 36 months)


Oh, and here is our Christmas!!
I loved that we set out milk and cookies for Santa.  I love that, as we read about Christ's birth from Luke, we were able to use the nativity set to make the scene.  I love that we were able to include Taylor & Seth in our celebration through stockings, ornaments, and our Molly Bears.
I love that Kiersten enjoyed every Cinderella (tag, shirt, futon, blanket, etc) that she saw.  I love that the boys picked out gifts for each other.  I love that they could all lay down together with their new blankets to watch a movie together.  I love that we could all eat at the table together.  I love that I had most of the food prepared so I didn't have to spend half my day in the kitchen while the kids played joyfully.

Christmas was wonderful!!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Taylor & Seth continued....

Seth's due date is in 8 days.  Taylor's first angel-birthday is 4 weeks after that.  We're still working on getting their gravestone set.

There are a lot of confusing emotions that go around all of this with Taylor and Seth.  If Taylor hadn't died, I wouldn't know Seth.  I would have a 5 month old little girl instead.  If Seth hadn't died, I wouldn't know that there was a need for angel baby clothing, Taylor would be alone, but I would be very large and complaining joyfully about swollen ankles while washing all of the baby boy clothes leftover from Keith and Mitchell that hasn't been worn in nearly 4 years.

I wish I had them both, but I'm glad they're together.  I wish I had them both, but I think I've become a less selfish person because of their brief lives.  I wish I could hold them both, watch them smile, listen to them coo and laugh... but I understand that they are where they are most needed (they've got missionary work to do, after all) and because of them I have a work to do here.

Ben and I have talked, and several have asked about this conversation:  what about more kids?

Well, who knows when it will ever happen.  It doesn't matter if it's this month or 6 months, or a year from now, I will have the same emotions to go through.  After losing two in a row (both second trimester) and now being familiar with so many people's stories where they've lost anywhere from 4 weeks as they find out they're pregnant to their full term baby to a baby a few days or weeks or even months old (SIDS), I will have the same fears of losing my baby.  I am no longer naive believing it won't happen to me.  It has happened.  Twice.  Just as all those parents in Connecticut will now have children in caskets with gravestones as they miss amazing milestones in their lives, I have two of those.   In a few months, the outrage will die down and everyone, such as their friends and neighbors, will go back to their daily lives as if nothing ever happened.  That's when those parents are going to feel another wave of grief.  I know, I know... "it's not the same thing" for me as it is for them.  But I know enough about losing a child that I know what to expect for them.  I may not know what my babies' favorite colors are or what their laugh sounds like, but neither I nor those parents will get to see our angel children graduate high school, get married, have kids, etc.  Both I and those parents will always treasure the items that they touched, like blankets and outfits.

Anyway, being pregnant again will have the same emotions, no matter when it happens.  It'll all be wrapped around:  will I get to keep my child?

However, until then, I am glad I was able to carry my two angels letting them know and feel love every day of their brief lives.  I'm glad they were/are MY children.  I'm so glad to be their mommy, even if from such an incredible distance.  I hope I can continue to honor them and their memories always.  And I hope to be able to bring comfort to others as I go about honoring my angels.


Monday, December 17, 2012

Crocheting Efforts

Just wanted to share with you what I've been doing!



Several of these are in an auction that is celebrating another angel baby's birthday.  It'll be nice to have funds to pay for shipping costs, fabric, yarn, etc!



Plus some donations:



If you'd like to help out, LET ME KNOW!!  Or visit my facebook page - Mommy's Heart In A Box!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Patterns and a short Video

I have had several people ask me for patterns so they can help!  I am SO HAPPY that people want to help!  I now have 14 custom requested boxes in the works, plus I want to donate to hospitals, and the need just never stops.

First, I want to show you the amazing slideshow my friend, Lynnette, put together recently:


video


Next, let's start with the basic patterns:
These precious diaper patterns are found HERE.  The smaller size fits 18-23 week gestation babies.  The larger size fits 24-32 week gestation babies.  If you would like to sew some, or even just cut some out of some flannel and send them to me to sew, PLEASE contact me!  Leave me a comment and I'll get back to you.

The gown patterns can be found HERE.  If you want to make sets of diapers and matching gowns, here is the match up:
X-Small Gown with the Small Diaper with 18-20" square blanket
Small Gown with the Large Diaper with 20-22" square blanket
Md/Lg Gown can be paired with a Large Diaper OR a preemie Huggies diaper with 23-25" sq blanket
Take a look at the other patterns available on that website, too!  Utah Share is FOR angel babies and their families left behind.  And please be sure to see THIS PAGE for helpful hints such as appropriate fabrics.



Next up is for bigger babies (and by bigger, I don't necessarily mean big):
This Tea Towel Gown is found HERE, then click on the Patterns tab.  Aren't they sweet?  This site/blog is kept by the amazing NILMDTS photographer that took Seth's pictures.  This is a picture she took after a craft day she recently held where women gathered to iron, cut, sew, and finish these amazing angel clothes.



Crochet Diaper-Shirt patterns:
I absolutely ADORE this pattern!  I learned to crochet basically JUST so I could make one of these!  No, this one is not mine.  You can find this pattern HERE along with relevant information and other patterns to complement it.  There is one set of instructions that is just written out and a second set that is a complete and AWESOME photo tutorial that has really helped me as I've been trying so hard to make one.  Also, see THIS page to see it opened up and also what a dress would look like on this.  The dress photo tutorial is newly posted, too!!  Isn't Stacy just AMAZING!!


Other links:
Sizing chart - HERE
Knit Hats - HERE
Burial Pouches - HERE for tiny babies too small or too delicate to be dressed for burial

And please contact me if you're interested in donating anything.  The need is great and what a great way to spread some comfort and love.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Memory Boxes

I have been LOVING making the memory boxes!  I've had a little help and soon it will be time to deliver!!

These are the adorable outfits we put inside the boxes! There are two sizes of diapers.  The smaller size also gets an extra small gown.  All boxes get a blanket and a hat.
This is MOST everything all laid out.  There was so much that we couldn't get it all in one picture!!

Another attempt to get everything into the picture.

We've got 9 boxes ready to go, though bits and pieces for many more.  I also have 3 custom boxes almost ready to go, requested by people I've become acquainted with via the facebook page for my project: Mommy's Heart In A Box.

PLEASE consider helping out!  So far, I've purchased nearly all the supplies myself and I must say, it's definitely hurting my budget.  But I figure there are so many moms that are hurting even more that I can't ignore this need! Visit my Amazon.com Wish List to see some of the items you can purchase (or something similar elsewhere) and send for these comforting boxes.  Also, if you're gifted in the crafty sense, I have found patterns to crochet little diaper/shirt outfits and we can always use sewers to make the gowns and diapers.  Remember that the extra small gowns pair with the small diapers for babies that are 18-23 weeks gestation, while the larger diapers are paired with the small to medium gowns to fit babies 24-32 weeks gestation.

I am so pleased to be able to help others.  I love serving.  It makes my heart smile.  And I love being able to honor my sweet babies, Taylor & Seth Micah, in this way.  THANK YOU to everyone who has helped - Yvonne for sewing, Patti for helping make scrapbook pages, Lynnette for spending hours around the kitchen table making pages and stuffing boxes with me, Vicky for your burial outfit and crochet donations, and several others who have donated some fabric, scrapbook supplies, tissues, hats, journals, yarn and more.  THANK YOU!



Friday, November 2, 2012

Capture Your Grief - Days 24-31

Day 24: Siblings

Day 25: Blessing
     Taylor did not get a blessing as we never were able to see her body, and thus no burial or any formal ceremonies for her.  Seth, on the other hand, we buried.  And although it is not an "official" church blessing, it is still something that is allowed to be done for these babies gone too soon.

Day 26: Their Age

Day 27: Artwork

Day 28: Memory
     A memory, positive or negative, from along this journey...
 One of my most significant memories...

With Taylor, it was realizing that I'd never see her precious body.  Even 9 months later, I still cry that I didn't get to see her.  It hurts so much.  But, when I'm having a good day, I try so hard to look at it as - in her ultrasound, she was in a praying position and perhaps that was/is a "sign" for me.  Perhaps it was important for me to always remember her in such a position.  Perhaps it's meant for me to remember to pray always, and signifies that she is now a heavenly being.  On my bad days, like last night, I cry.

With Seth, it was trying to hold myself together as I heard the news.  I asked if there was a nice, healthy heartbeat.  The ultrasound tech was stunned that I would ask, and even more so as she had to tell me that there was not.  I know she was holding herself together as best she could.  I knew that if I cried, she would too.  And I was surrounded by my kids, so I didn't want to upset them.  However, once I came outside and headed to the van, it just let loose.  I found myself curling into the outside wall, trying to let the kids go ahead of me, trying to re-group, but not doing well with the task.  It's like time just paused, things happened in slow motion, my head was empty almost like an out-of-body experience where I didn't exist in that moment; I was trying so hard to escape it.

Day 29: Music
    Music hasn't really played a role in my losses.

Day 30: Your Grief - Tell The World
"Owl" my children
Day 31: Sunset


Friday, October 26, 2012

Easter

So, I don't think I ever posted my awesome Easter pictures.  I did Valentine's but not Easter.  I was going through pictures, looking for one with all my kids, but I ran across Easter instead.  I couldn't stop laughing.  I just had to put this together and give you all something to enjoy today!  Priceless and classic, and yet my very best attempt!!

I know, I know.  It's Halloween next week and I'm posting an easter picture.  Get over it.  It's fun!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Capture Your Grief - Day 23: Their Name/Their Photo

Day 23: Their Name/Their Photo

I very much DO feel comfortable sharing my babies' photos.  I know that not everyone is comfortable seeing them, though.  So, proceed with caution.

First up is my baby girl, Taylor.  Remember, I never got to see her.  We aren't even positive Taylor was a girl, hence the androgynous name, but I strongly feel like Taylor was a girl.  This is my angel girl...

See how she's in a praying position, kneeling with her hands clasped?  What a righteous little spirit she is!  I love her so very much!  I wish so much I had seen her, but this is second best - an ultrasound photo just 3 days after she died that shows her kneeling in prayer.  It tugs at my heart strings a LOT.

As for Seth, I've shared pictures of him, kind of.  They're all wrapped in a blanket or of his feet or hand, but I've never posted his face here.  Today, that changes.  Remember, he died at 16 weeks gestation and wasn't born until 19w4d gestation, nearly a whole 4 weeks later.  So please be kind as you view him, if you choose to do so.  I think he's a handsome boy.  I try to imagine him fattened up like a full term bouncing baby boy.  Here, he's all muscle, no fat and incredibly tiny.  He was 6" long and only 3 ounces (though he would have been closer to 9 ounces if he had been born closer to when he died).  Proceed with caution and kindness...


His eyes were open when he was born, though some pictures were edited to have them closed as I know it freaks people out a bit to see them open.  I'm sharing color pictures, not black & white because I think he's beautiful like this.  See the polka dots?  This is why light blue, and to a lesser degree navy and red, are what I associate with him.  So tiny, so perfect, so handsome.  My Seth!

These are my children that don't live with me.  These are my children "with wings."  These are my children that I only get to cuddle teddy bears to represent.  These are MY CHILDREN.  Don't you just love them, too?  Oh, they are so precious and wonderful!


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Capture Your Grief - Day 21: Alter/Shrine/Sacred Space

Day 21 - Alter/Shrine/Sacred Space


These are my shelves for my babies.  I've combined them since then because neither filled a full shelf.  The top is Seth's.  It includes pictures of him, and of me holding him.  The box holds the bracelet/bow set that we were photographed with, and the box was sent by my aunt and cousin after he was born.  Then is my Seth Bear holding the hat sent my Calvin's Hats.  The yellow onesie is how I told Ben we were pregnant this time.  In front of that is the diaper set from Teeny Tears (who did a blog post about the diapers made for the memory boxes I am making in his (and Taylor's) honor).  The blue folder is from the hospital, papers and pamphlets talking about grief and the papers from the mortuary about burial.  Then is the stack of blankets I talked about already, topped with a key chain dangle from Beadiful by Jennifer Sanchez that has Seth's photo on the front, and also a tiny blue-dressed angel bear that's closer to the length Seth was.

The bottom one is Taylor's.  It has my Taylor Bear, the weighted heart sent by A Heart to Hold, the key chain dangle that has Taylor's ultrasound picture on the back (Seth's picture on the front) and miniature purple-dressed bear that's closer to the length she would have been, her tiny hat from Calvin's Hats, and the big red picture has the ultrasound photo where she was in a praying position and the quote I relied on so much by Joseph Smith.

So this is how I honor my babies.  This is how I remember them.  Unfortunately, I have to keep it all in my room because Ben thinks it's "gross" to display any of the photos where others can see them.  He doesn't grieve for them; he says he has nothing to grieve because he never bonded with them, despite holding Seth's tiny perfect body.  So I mourn alone.  I remember alone.  I love alone.  But I will never forget my babies.  I will never stop loving them.  And I look forward to the day that I will get to be with them again, will get to raise them, will get to hug them.

I love you both.  Taylor & Seth, you are in my heart and in my memories always.





Since I wrote all that a few weeks ago, I added all the candles from the Wave of Light on the 15th on the bottom shelf, combined the items for both my babies on the middle shelf, hung the pictures of Seth on the wall, and the top shelf holds my scrapbook of both babies, a scarf a sweet loss-mama friend made for me that looks like the awareness ribbon (half pink, half blue) once you put it on, and once I print out more pictures - they'll go into the 5 picture frame with the pictures of my other 3 babies.  

Capture Your Grief - Day 20: Charity/Organization

Day 20: Charity/Organization

This one is hard.  There have been so many places and people that have really touched my heart.  I think the two that have meant the most have been NILMDTS that I talk about often, and also Molly Bears that I've mentioned recently.

NOW I LAY ME DOWN TO SLEEP is the organization that provides free photography for bereaved parents.  Actually, I found out recently that, if you know that your baby has died while you're still pregnant, they'll do maternity photos for you before you deliver and then still do the newborn photography for you after your baby's birth.  I found out a few days before delivering both times.  Other parents lose their babies during child birth or soon thereafter.  Heidi, from NILMDTS gave me so many pictures of Seth that I treasure so very much.  I look at them often.  I continue to study him, just as I did in the hospital.  I know that not everyone can find the beauty in him, but I do.  I think he was a beautiful little boy and I love looking at his pictures.




MOLLY BEARS is a non-profit company that makes teddy bears for bereaved parents that are weighted the same as their lost baby.  They personalize each of them, not only to the RIGHT weight, but also so that each bear is as unique as each child.  I hold my Taylor Bear and Seth Bear.  I cuddle them.  My kids cuddle them.  I kiss their heads as I would my babies' heads.  They have brought me so much comfort.  Taylor Bear is weighted to 2oz, Seth Bear to 3oz.  Some are 9 lbs and more.  Find their facebook page, too.


Friday, October 19, 2012

Capture Your Grief - Day 19: Project

Day 19: Project

 I made a facebook page called MOMMY'S HEART IN A BOX that covers a few different projects I've started as a result of my losses this year.  It started with memory boxes...

The include a journal, tissues, two tiny stuffed animals (one for the casket, one for mom to keep), a Scentsy travel tin, matching Teeny Tears diaper - gown - and blanket, matching burial outfit - hat - and blanket, matching bracelets for mom and baby and a scrapbook/photo book.


Then, it kind of expanded to include memorial graphics as I had been making some for others anyway and really enjoyed it.  PLEASE feel free to request a free graphic on the facebook page!!





And then it expanded further as people began requesting the tealight candle holders I had made for the Wave of Light on the 15th.

I try to keep as busy as I can to block out as many emotions as I can and to keep things positive.  Any time I start losing sight of my mission to help others as they grieve, sadness starts to overtake me.  Someone posted an article in one of my loss groups that said that mothers who lose their children at any age or stage of pregnancy are 300% more likely to die in the first two years after their loss.  Then it drops to something like 115% more likely than mothers who have not lost a child.  They said they didn't track the difference in types of deaths, so they didn't know if the increase was due to suicide or what-have-you.  However, I don't think it matters.  Once you've lost a child, you figure you have someone you long to see waiting for you in heaven, so if you should happen to get in a wreck or something, you're less likely to fight to stay alive than you would if you hadn't lost a child.  The article said that it didn't matter if these mothers had other living children or not.  Anyway, so I just keep myself busy so that I don't have time to entertain such thoughts.  I find others to serve, even if the "others" are my angel babies.  I have no time to dwell on grief and I prefer to keep it that way.  And hey, helping others is always great, right?!



Thursday, October 18, 2012

Testing Continued...

Remember my post back in August, 2 Week Follow-Up & Testing?  In it, I told you about how I was having some blood tests done, then a sonohystogram (SHG), and then if needed, we'd consider genetic testing.  Well, it's time to follow up with all that...

As expected, the initial blood work came back clean and clear.  No antibodies attacking "pregnancy products."  No clotting disorders.  So we did the SHG this week.  When I realized that both Taylor & Seth had anterior placentas, whereas my other 3 had posterior placentas, I told my midwife about it.  She said it sounded like perhaps I had a uterine septum.  My family history suggested that I prepare to hear that I had uterine fibroids.  I considered hearing that whatever problems were found would be fixable.  I considered hearing that any problems would not be fixable.  I started working through the emotions so that I wouldn't freak out too badly.  I never considered preparing myself for what I heard - nothing.

Yep, my uterus is about as healthy, clean, and clear as they come.  No problems at all.  No scarring.  No fibroids.  No septum.  No size problems.  It's slightly tilted to the front, but that's not an issue.  My ovaries are fine.  He even showed me the egg I am going to release from my left ovary this month, perfect, happy, and healthy.  I halted in disbelief and asked "now what?"  He said that women who miscarry have a 70% chance of carrying a healthy, full-term baby next time.  Well, my "next time" also ended in a loss.  He said (and this is not Dr. Silver, but someone else who will be sending a report to Dr. Silver) that, if it happens again, I should have the "pregnancy products" tested for abnormalities.  I wanted to do that, except insurance doesn't cover it and it's expensive.  So he went back to how 70% of following pregnancies are just fine.  Odds of losing a baby between 13-19 weeks gestation are approx 1% to 5% chance.  That 70% is about recurrent miscarriage, as in 4-19 weeks, both first and second trimester.  When you've lost two babies in the second trimester in a row, that "only 30% chance of miscarrying again" feels horrible.  When you've been in that 30% already, you feel as though your chances of being in that 30% again are much higher.  And the thing is, I can't seem to find the odds of loss after two second trimester losses in a row.  Has anyone out there in the blog-reader's world had a background like mine and decided to try again?  How did it go?  I REALLY want to hear responses on this one.

In the mean time, emotionally, I'm not ready for another pregnancy now.  I had anticipated answers this week.  I anticipated hearing that something was causing my losses and I'd be able to have another baby.  I anticipated that I might have to wait so I could fix things, or that I'd be able to have early ultrasounds done to see what my chances in keeping each pregnancy would be.  I didn't anticipate being told "well, you just happened to receive two flukes in a row, but try again and you never know what'll happen, hahahahaha!"  Yes, I got to my car and cried my eyes out because there was nothing wrong with me.  My babies were perfect (as far as ultrasounds could tell) and their home in my body was perfect.  There was no obvious reason for either of them to die.  But they did.  And I have no answers.  If you've never been through this, I'm sure you're thinking I'm some kind of nutcase for crying over having no problems.  But remember, it also means no answers.  Can you tell I'm still working through the emotions of this?

To say "this sucks" is an understatement.  I get so angry and sad and confused and afraid that it makes me want to puke.  It's like I can feel my emotions working their way up from my tummy to my throat and they stay logged there, haunting me, hurting me.  This sucks.

Capture Your Grief - Day 18: Family Portrait

Day 18: Family Portrait

We are re-taking our family pictures soon.  I think we're going to stick with red, so I'm having a red jacket made for Seth's bear and Taylor already has a red bow.  That way, we can add our baby bears to our picture. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Capture Your Grief - Day 16: Release

Day 16: Release



I tied Taylor & Seth's balloons together.  Like I said a few days ago, I didn't want to let go of my balloons, as though I were letting go of my babies again.  So keeping the balloons together was like keeping my babies together.  I need them to stay together, my two babies.  Plus, I didn't want to lose them in the sky.  I wanted to be able to find them easily.  It was amazing how many people were there, how many babies' names were read, how many balloons were released.  Sad, really.  But it was nice to be surrounded by people who "get it."  I love speaking my children's names.  I love making sure they are not forgotten.  And everyone there was doing the same thing, speaking names and remembering them.