Lilypie Angel and Memorial tickers

Lilypie Angel and Memorial tickers

Monday, August 29, 2011

Dear God:

My heart is broken. I feel like there is no strength left in me. The things I used to enjoy so much, now feel hollow. Nothing holds the same passion. I don't have the same passion. I hate feeling like this. I hate this pain we have to go through. People have said to me that I shouldn't ask You why... but the first thought that comes to my mind when I open my eyes in the morning and the pain starts fresh is: WHY?! When I look at my deflated tummy, the only thought I have is: WHY?! When I sit crying in my bed at night, my heart is crying out: WHY?! Help me Lord not to dwell on this because I know this can completely consume me up. This will destroy me if I let it. I want to regain my joy and my passion. I want to be able to go on and laugh and smile for my little girl who is watching me from above. I want to be able to just flip a switch and go on to be okay. I just can't though. I feel incapable of it.

God. I'm only human. At times... my strength fails me. My faith fails me. My mind is weak against the enemies' lies. I need You. I need Your strength. I need Your Grace. I need Your comfort. I need Your love. Please be more near to me than you ever have before. I beg for a comforting sign that my baby is well. That she is happy. I just wish I could see her happy. I miss her every day. I want to hold her every day. Some days I just wish I could be back in that hospital - eternally laying in that bed holding her. Please God... I beg for Your comfort and strength. I can't keep going on feeling this way. This is not honoring to my baby girl - for me to be so ruined. Help me to accept what has happened so that I can move on and heal. Help me to know You still love me deeply, even though this happened to me. Help me not to take on a victim mentality.

I thank You that I am still healthy. Thank You that I can still have babies. I pray for my future child or children. I pray for their health. I pray for their future. I pray that I can be the best parent possible. Help me as I go into future pregnancies to have faith in You. I am already terrified that something bad will happen again. Please completely eliminate those thoughts and lies from my mind.

God, most importantly - so that we can move on to our future - please show us what is next. What you have in store for us. What can we do for You with this situation? How can Annalise's life honor You and impact the world? What is my role in Your bigger picture? Please reveal this to me and help me not to be so self-consumed that I miss it.


Sunday, August 28, 2011

One Day at a Time

I think Annalise would be proud of us. Every single day it hurts, but every single day we are taking steps forward. There have been parts of this journey that I told myself I'd never be able to get through - delivering her, having her funeral service, burying her - but somehow I made it through. There are still parts of this journey that terrify me - going out to a restaurant and seeing kids, making small talk with friends, waking up everyday and facing life... but I do it. I meet each day head-on, knowing that the pain could be great, and I make it through. Each terrifying step that I conquer brings me closer to healing.

I know with all that I am that my baby girl is safe in the arms of God. She is happy and I don't have to cry for her. But, I think the hardest part to let go is - I built up in my mind a beautiful picture full of dreams and expectations of what life would look like after November 28th 2011. Now all of that is gone... and I'm left with empty hands, shattered dreams, and a broken heart. Now I have to deal with transforming that picture and accepting what my new reality is... and that... is difficult. In place of our home being filled with cries of a new baby it is filled with dozens of sympathy cards, small tokens given to us by friends, family and the hospital, and the smell of dozens of lilies. These things are beautiful, but seeing them every day only reminds me of the large void that is in my soul and the lingering pain that creeps up and becomes overwhelming at random times. Someone very dear told me to get through every difficult day by setting small goals and accomplishing these goals daily or weekly. As a personal trainer I absolutely love this and this is how I'm going to approach the next few months. 

Thank you to all of our friends and family who have supported us and loved on us during this time - you have made such a difference in our journey. It is so good to know that we are loved and prayed for. Thank you to all of you that have shared with me how Annalise has touched your lives... this means more to me than you could ever know. That is what I want to hear. I want to know that my baby girl made a difference - even if it is small - in others' lives. Thank you to those who mourned with us at her funeral. You are all now family to our little angel.  

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Life without you...Your funeral

People warned me of this... they called it the "anti-climax" and said it would happen after the hustle and bustle of delivery and funeral planning etc etc. Today the best way to describe how I feel is numb. Numb and hollow. There is a physical yearning for something more. Something is missing... someone is missing.

The funeral was beautiful - every aspect. The music, the flowers, the sermon, the food, the tons of people that came... just perfect.  I know my little angel was happy to see how many people were loving on and supporting us and showing love for her in so many ways.  When I walked into that sanctuary the amazing smell of lilies made me smile and think of my baby. Then I saw the tiny little casket and I felt like someone had kicked me in my stomach. I fell to my knees and wept. This is not what we planned. This is not what we envisioned for our daughter. I kept having flashes go through my mind of the mothers being wheeled out of Miami Valley Hospital on Thursday night with their beautiful babies in their laps, as I was being wheeled in to have my dead baby delivered and placed in a casket. I can't sugar coat it in anyway - THIS PAIN IS SUFFOCATING. I also hate to see my husband suffering and crying at his daughter's funeral. It's all unbearable. I don't know how we're facing all of this and still standing. I don't know how to act right now or what to think. I'm putting expectations on myself as to how I should be feeling or what I should be doing - should I be smiling with others? Should I be going out it public? Should I be sitting around the house all day? Should I be going back to work asap? I don't even know if this is something I can ever get over - can I ever function in normal society again? Right now I feel like the answer is "no."

At the burial site when they dismissed us to go back to enjoy the meal all I could think as the funeral director was talking was "I don't want to go, I want to stay here with her forever. I have to hold her again... just one more time." So I fell on my knees and put my arms around the casket, laying my head on it, leaving lipstick-kisses for my baby girl. Then I got up and I walked away with the teddy bear my brother bought for Annalise. I don't know how I stood up from that place or how I put one foot in front of the other. I don't know how I have the fortitude to be sitting here writing this right now or eating 3 meals a day. My body feels like the life and the fun are completely gone. I told my husband that my tearful prayer to God this morning on my back patio with my coffee was "Please God don't let me forget how to live, how to have joy, how to have fun and laugh. Don't let me become a depressed and destroyed person."

I can hear all the answers and the wise words playing in my head as to the smart and right things to do - they're there. I know them all. I just don't know if - right now - I have the strength to stand firm and live them. And I think that's okay... for a time. It's okay.

Annalise - You're mommy is in agony without you here. I miss you my dear sweet angel. Guide your mommy on a path of healing. I need you to guide me.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tribute to Annalise

Here is what I wrote for my Annalise.  It was beautifully read by Lisa Clay at the funeral today.  Thank you ALL for making this day so special for us.  I will post more later about the funeral, right now just a bit emotionally exhausted.


You are beautiful and you are perfect.  You are the daughter I’ve always wanted.  I will always remember you as a feisty, happy, beautiful little girl who not only had tremendous strength but also gave that tremendous strength to your mommy and daddy.  I will always remember our conversations and the stories we read together.  I will miss forever the way you would bump and nudge me at 6 am every morning to get out of bed - especially when I was having silent inner debates convincing myself to sleep just 5 more minutes. I will miss how active you would get when I would eat ice cream (that’s the one bad influence I’m going to hold you to!)  You sure loved your ice cream.  I miss our morning cup of coffee when you would bump and jump as I was trying to check my e-mail.  I always smiled at those times, picturing you saying, “Hey, pay attention to me, not FaceBook!”  Now every time I drink my morning coffee I think of you and I miss you so so much.  I know if you were here, you would bring such joy, enthusiasm, energy and life into this world.  Every time I close my eyes I see your precious and perfect tiny little face.  This always brings tears to my eyes, but a smile to my lips because even though it hurts to miss you, it’s a joy to remember you.

My angel, I thank you for the memories.  I know with every fiber of my being that you are in heaven enjoying a perfect body and perfect joy.  This is what gets me through every day.  This is the only reason I can get out of bed in the morning.  This is my motivation to push through every day of my life and run this race well, because I know now there is something extra special to look forward to at the end.  I know your daddy and I will get to hold you again one day.  One day you will be reunited with your entire family.

If there is one thing I want the world to know about you it’s that we are neither angry with God nor do we blame Him that your precious life ended so soon.  Your life on earth may have ended, but your eternity in heaven has just begun.  You will never have to suffer a broken heart, or one single physical ailment.  You will never cry a tear or worry for one day in your life, because you are safe in the arms of God.  People ask me, “How can you believe in a God that allows babies to die?”  I tell them:  My God is not the God of death, pain or suffering.  God gives life and gives it to the fullest.  God has sustained me through this entire situation.  Without Him I would be lost.  Without Him I would be hollow - I would have no life or anything to live for.  However, Satan has come to steal, kill, and destroy.  I am determined not to let Satan steal our joy from the short time we had with you.  We will hold onto that joy forever... until the day we see you again.

I love you my daughter.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Life without you...

Hey everyone. Just let me say... it has been so touching to see the amount of people from all over the world who have visited this blog. I am so happy that Annalise can be known by so many people even though her life was so short. She impacted our lives so tremendously in such a short time and I know we will never ever be the same.

Wednesday, August 17th we found out at the doctor's office that our sweet little girl had passed. Going into the appointment I had a pretty strong gut-feeling that was the case, so as soon as we got there I asked the receptionist if we could please go straight back to a room. Surprisingly, James and I sat back there making playful nervous jokes toward each other and smiling and loving each other. Dr Guy did an ultrasound and as soon as he put it on my belly and she popped up on the screen I turned my head away and said "yeah, that's not our same active little girl." Dr hung his head and said, "no...". He showed us her chest cavity where the heartbeat should be, but there was no movement at all. Tears were pouring out the corners of my eyes but I strangely felt a peace and said out loud, "She is in the arms of her heavenly Father." Dr. Guy was kind, sweet, amazing... and answered all our questions about what happens next. We sat in the room for awhile after he left, just weeping together.

We surprisingly held it together to quickly get many things in motion by phone call - the funeral, our parents' flights, photos, obituary, cemetery arrangements. We got it all done. We were given the option to go into the hospital Thursday night for them to start the process of inducing me. They said it could take 12 hours or longer (grrrreat!). As soon as we found out our moms were on planes, we made the appointment.

We arrived at Miami Valley Hospital and I was terrified and nervous. However, everyone there was simply amazing and made me feel very comfortable and made sure our family was very comfortable in the large, private room we had. James now even gets teared up talking about how perfect and special they made such an awful situation. Dr Guy was there with his calm and steady spirit and our nurse, Tracy, was a complete god-send. At about 8pm they were getting ready to give me medicine to start the process of labor but before we began Dr Guy asked if he could pray for us. I told him, "Yes Please!" and everyone gathered around my bed and prayed. I was terrified and my emotions were everywhere so about 30 mins after I got the medicine I began shaking uncontrollably. (In college, shortly after 9/11, I developed anxiety issues and this was not the first time a scenario like this has happened to me. It brought James and me back to memories of him sitting over my bed in the ER just months into our dating relationship and I had an attack on one of our dates - can you say embarrassing? :-) ) Dr Guy said it could also be due to the medicine and the effect it was having on my body. Seemed logical because the shakes came whenever they would give me a large dose of new medicine. My family and James were all there coaching me through the anxiety and nervousness. I had an amazing support system and James was the most loving, caring, attentive, and thoughtful man all night. Gradually, the process of dilation began and soon the contractions came along... woah! I had been told to be thinking about what kind of pain control I want - if any. My mom was recommending trying it without the pain meds because that's how she did it. About 10 mins later I told her she was crazy and called in for an epidural! That process was surprisingly not that bad - probably because I had my strong man there literally, physically supporting me. Once they turned that drip on and my legs started to lose feeling I felt waaaay better! I actually loved the epidural! I started becoming my usual ridiculous self and making jokes - asking for food, talking about every fattening food under the sun and after they told me they didn't want me eating much other than popsicles or jello I asked Tracy if she could liquefy a cheeseburger and just put it in my drip. Everyone liked that one. After that we all were able to sleep and I was out like a light! Tracy periodically checked my vitals and how dilation was coming along. At about 5:45am Tracy woke me up to turn me and when she did I told her I felt a lot of pressure. She checked me out and said to James, "Wake up, you're going to have a baby now."  Dr Guy got there and 3 simple pushes later our little tiny angel was here.

This was the point of the night I was terrified for. They wrapped all 14.8 ounces of her in a tiny blanket and handed her to me. She was so tiny she didn't even look real. Her skin was a very pinkish red color with a slight bruising coloration. Her face was perfect and all her little features were so beautiful. James and I keep saying we will never forget that face. Her eyes were closed and her sweet little mouth was hanging slightly open. Her perfect little nose was definitely her daddy's nose!! She had all her beautiful little fingers and toes - with nails!! I loved her little finger and toe nails! I couldn't believe how someone so tiny could be making those huge kicks in my belly! I just soaked her in with James at my right side. Everyone was watching me and I felt really weird for a moment but I just let myself get lost in her features. I was weeping telling her over and over how sorry I was. I just kept saying "I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry." I knew she was in a better place and "sorry" wasn't necessary but I just felt like maybe I had failed her in some way so I said "I'm sorry."

I spent hours holding her, saying prayers over her, talking to her, and watching James hold her and love on her. It was so touching to watch him. He's so gentle and loving - he's such a good dad. We both have seen each other in such a different light throughout this experience and we have gotten so much closer because of it.  The nurses dressed her in a tiny little dress and hat that another mother had made and supplied to the hospital for situations like this (amazing). They took hand and foot molds (which was very difficult because she was so fragile), hand and foot ink prints - with James snapping photos all the while. It was an amazing family time moment for everyone - completely honoring our little girl. The professional photographer arrived and got some amazing shots. Soon after the photographer finished we realized all the passing around of her tiny, fragile little body was taking its toll on her and she was starting to bleed and her skin to tear -- completely awful and heart wrenching!! I asked if we could stop it all and let her lay in her little bed because I didn't want to see her that way - basically breaking down and bleeding. Everyone agreed and we set her down in the gorgeous (but too big) outfit my mom bought for her - using it more as a blanket to wrap her in. She looked so peaceful in her little bed wrapped up in her flowery outfit and her sweet tiny mouth hanging open. I always smile when I think of that tiny mouth hanging open like she was snoring. We love our little girl. We will love her forever.

Soon the funeral director came to pick her up and brought a black leather box with a small white bed in it. He asked if I wanted to place her in it or if I wanted him to. I said I would do it but as soon as I did pain and tears came to the surface. I could hardly breathe. Everyone was there for me and we sat and cried. My heart just about fails in my chest when I think about her in that black box. My mom said, "Miranda, she's not in that box - she's in heaven." I know... I know. But it's difficult to see that when all I see is a black box with my angel in it. I miss you Annalise. Mommy and Daddy miss you and love you so so so much. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to love like we never thought possible and to learn things we never would have without you in our lives. You have changed us and so many others. Your life was so important and so amazing. We will see you again soon...

~Annalise Lilly Oldham~
Born Into Heaven: August 19th 2011
Time: 5:46 am.
Weight: 14.8 oz.
Length: 11 in.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Day You Died

My Annalise. I felt that empty hole when you left me on Tuesday. I just knew you were gone because I had a deep feeling of loneliness. You left us to go home to be with your heavenly Father, but we miss you so desperately. I know you're up there looking down on us right now and I want you to see how strong your mommy can be, but I miss you... I miss you... and I can't be strong right now. I'm sorry. My heart is broken in a way I didn't think possible. The pain is so overwhelming I feel like my will to live might spontaneously give out at any moment. We miss you baby. I miss your kicks and our conversations. Daddy and I miss talking about you and praying over you. I'm so sad we never got to meet you and know your personality and see your eyes light up at the sound of our voices. I'm so sorry you couldn't feel our touch. I'm sorry about so many things. It tears my heart out to know you are in my tummy right now but your are not alive. I am trying my hardest to picture you in heaven right now. Like your daddy said today: "Our little blonde haired, blue eyed baby girl." In the 6 months you were in my belly, you were loved so completely. I hope you felt that and I hope you know how precious you are to us. We will love you and miss you forever - until we see you again. Watch over us my angel. I love you. I miss you so much that it physically hurts. Love always, Your Mommy.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Funeral Home and Cemetery

I've been sitting here with my head in my hands thinking "what do I write about today?" The only words that come to mind are: painful, unfair, awful, horrific. I know we're not the only parents out there who have had to deal with losing a child - we can see that from all the grave stones in "baby land" - but the pain is mind numbing none the less.

We met with the funeral director and our caregiving pastor today to discuss all the details of what a funeral and burial would look like. I think through parts of it, I was just removed and robotic - answering questions like they were questions about someone else's life. Then some things are said and it all comes at you like a ton of bricks and hits you that this is about YOU. This is about YOUR BABY. James, being a pastor, was contemplating doing the funeral. Pastor Libby sweetly advised against that and said "maybe you could just do the grave side dedication of your daughter back to the hands of God." I don't know why but that was one of the things that just broke me. I'm not ready to give her back to God! I mean, I know He'll take better care of her than we could ever dream of doing but I don't wanna give her back... not yet.

We made it through that meeting and decided to take a look at the cemetery suggested by the funeral director, which is located close to the church. We went out to "baby land" and couldn't believe how grown over and neglected it looked. Small grave tiles were marking the graves and most of the tiles were grown over with weeds and grass! Old silk flowers, flags and trinkets were all around making the place look trashed! We both lost it a little out there. It's so difficult to imagine her buried and her grave stone grown over - gone and forgotten.  I know as a Christian that she will not be in that box in the ground, but in heaven. However we still want to honor her memory and nothing about that grave site was honoring to us. Like James said "this is the one act we are going to get to do for her on this earth - it has to be great." I am married to the most amazing man, and he is the most amazing father. There are things that he said today that broke my heart for him on such deep levels. He said he was wanting it to be that cemetery because he could leave church and have his lunch with his daughter - he could have the daddy-daughter dates that he's been dreaming about. I love him with my whole heart and my heart is so broken for me but it's also so broken for him. I hate that we have to hurt like this.

I pray with everything inside of me that God's will is to heal her. I pray that all of these plans we spent the day crying over will be unnecessary. Either way... I know through this situation we will be forever changed.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Living in a Nightmare

Over the next 2 weeks, as our minds tried to absorb all that we had heard, we said that it felt like we were living in a nightmare. I mean, this was really the stuff of nightmares - no doubt about it. We had times of denial, disbelief, anger, and deep, overwhelming sadness. The greatest thing is that we carried each other. It always seemed to happen that when one of us was down the other was strong and vice versa. We took turns on the emotional roller-coaster.

Later than same week, we scheduled an amniocentesis. To prepare us, the doctors told us they thought it looked like Trisomy 18 from the ultrasound, but the preliminarily results came by phone call the following Monday afternoon. Our very calm and kind genetic counselor informed us that it was Trisomy 13, which she said is "a very poor diagnosis." After receiving those results I spent 10 mins in the bathroom throwing up (my first time since being pregnant). Doctors were less kind than the counselor and told us the raw details: There is a 90% chance that she will not survive to birth and only a maximum of 7 days survival if she is born. We were told many things, one of which was to consider funeral plans. How do expectant parents deal with that information!? We are supposed to be planning the nursery or a baby shower - NOT a funeral!!! I couldn't stand to go into the doctors' office and hear all this news every time - it was like taking a beating that hurt for days afterward. So I asked them to make our appointments only as necessary. This way, I can concentrate on the happy aspects at home and enjoy our baby girl as long as I have her, instead of constantly being reminded by the medical world that she is going to die.

I thank God every day for this amazing little life kicking inside of me. I tell her all the time that she is changing my life and changing me for the better. I am becoming a stronger person, a better mother, and a better Christian - all because of her. I feel so guilty because she has given me so much already and I can't help her at all. I can just sit here, helpless, and wait for her to pass away. That feeling is unbelievably awful. I do what I can do and that is PRAY hard every day. I know from other experiences in my life that God causes all things to work out for good - He truly does. And I know he has great plans for us and for Annalise. I just have to trust... which is SO difficult in a time like this. I am used to taking the reigns and controlling (just ask my husband!) but am being broken down of many bad habits here.

I thank God for our church. They have been praying, supporting, and cooking amazing meals for us! What a family they have been - especially when our families are so far away. This is what life should look like. The way they have come around us in this time of need makes me so happy to be a Christian and to have my faith. I don't know how people can get through situations like this without faith. Without God. I just don't know.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Monday July 11th 2011

I have hesitated for weeks to start a blog, even though several friends have urged me to. I think maybe until now my mind hasn't been clear enough to articulate my emotions to the rest of the world. However, I realize now how much other women's blogs have helped me through these last few weeks and I also want to be able to have that opportunity to help other women in my situation. So here it goes... I'm about 4 weeks behind from the day we found out - so I promise I won't unload 4 weeks of emotions on you all at once.

On Monday July 11th we were scheduled for our 20 week ultrasound - all I could think was "Today we find out if we're having a boy or a girl!" I was excited, nervous, and anxious while waiting to be called back for our appointment. On the screen we saw an energetic and beautiful baby - moving and squirming like crazy! I think we had both been expecting (or maybe just hoping) for a boy, so when the nurse told us it was a girl - it took a couple minutes for that news to sink in - but after it did we were thrilled! The nurse left the room and we immediately called our parents to tell them it was a girl! We sat there talking about all the amazing things having a baby girl in our lives would mean - James already planning for her future wedding.. haha! About 15 minutes later the nurse and the doctor walked back into the room. They were very quiet and had very grave looks on their faces. I think I was still on cloud 9 so I didn't really pay much mind to it, but James was immediately concerned. The doctor told me she just wanted to take another look. After about 10 mins she turned to me and said the words that shattered my world: "There's no easy way to say this, but I see some genetic abnormalities which I'm very concerned about." She said a few other things but all I remember was it felt like time froze and like someone had just slapped me across the face. I was in shock. My mind was blank. I didn't know what to think. I put my arm over my face as her words replayed over in my mind and the nurse wiped the gel off my belly. I remember everyone looking at me for a response. I stood up and walked to the corner of the room where James was sitting and just started weeping. James' face was filled with the same shock, but also concern for me as he hugged me. The nurse and the doctor left the room to "give us a minute" and I ran to the sink and started dry heaving. I felt completely hopeless and terrified. I think at that point 1,000 thoughts and questions started going through my head. The doctor sat us down in her office and began to explain what she saw: lagging development of several parts of the brain, and kidneys; 2 large holes in the heart; a herniated diaphragm, causing the stomach to crowd the lungs; poor lung development; and developmental issues with the hands and feet. She said with all that is wrong, there are most likely deeper cellular issues that they can't even see. She told us termination of the pregnancy was an option. We both immediately and fervently declined that option. This is our child and we are not going to murder this precious life! I couldn't believe everything I was hearing. I never dreamed anything like this could ever touch us - we are young, healthy and have no family history of genetic abnormalities! Of course I tried to blame myself - searching for things I must have done wrong, but the doctor reassured us there was nothing we did or could have done differently. Genetic abnormalities occur because of a "random and incorrect shuffling of genes that happens at conception." This explanation was some comfort, but not much. For weeks I continued to blame myself in any way I could think of. I told myself over and over that I was broken in some way - that I was an inferior woman because I can't carry a healthy, whole life inside of me. I have dealt with a lot of self-blame in the last 4 weeks. It is wrong, but it is a personality flaw of mine and Satan always uses our weak areas to attack us and bring us down. He hasn't brought me down yet! I know that the One who is in me is greater than the one who is in the world (1 Jn 4:4).  I am learning to accept that God is in control, no matter what.

We left the doctor's office after about 2 1/2 hours of questions and tears. We were exhausted. When we made it home all we could do is lay in bed, pray, cry, hold each other, and fall to sleep. That day, the most insane summer storm rose up out of a gorgeous sunny day - thunder storms, wind, hail, and torrential rain. We said we will never forget that storm because it was like God was hurting and crying right along with us. Over the next few entries, I hope to show how God has been (and continues to be) so close to us in this situation. Our church family has truly been the arms of God, coming around us in such an awful time. We are learning to love our sweet precious baby girl more and more every day - honoring this time we have with her. There is pain every day, but there are beautiful moments as well - we just have to choose to see them and choose to enjoy them. James said that to him, Monday July 11th was the day our baby girl was born. That day we named her Annalise Lilly. Annalise means - God's favor and grace. Lilly is my middle name and also the name of my great grandmother who everyone said was as close to an angel as a human could be. She passed away early in life. We love and treasure our Annalise Lilly... Our Precious Miracle.