Sunday, September 3, 2017

Moving Forward

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It seems life has been moving forward; TJ has resumed working, I have picked up on my hiatus from photography, Marley is now in preschool, Corbett has taken off on talking. All these things are wonderful but...this is our new norm. Things have been okay here. Until Friday.

Friday I went on a walk to our mailbox, opened it and saw the USB from our birth photographer. The emotions flooded me. What normally would be a happy occasion to get pictures back- it left me feeling such an emptiness. It also was the 1st so it signified that it had been three months since you had returned to your Heavenly Home.

Three months. Can it really only be that short of a time? And yet feel so long ago? Honestly, it almost feels like a lifetime since you were with us. I think that makes it even harder. They say that to God our lifespan is within a blink of an eye. Should feel like its been going by fast, yet it's not. So much has happened in three months and I have been chasing my tail trying to keep busy. All while being so busy that I have avoided the grief sink hole in my life. That is the place where I feel you most. In my sadness.

Marley and Corbett are so tenderhearted and notice when I am sad. This is when they add the extra snuggles, hugs, and 'I love you's'. It also is so tender on my heart when I scroll through Facebook and Corbett sees an ultrasound picture and proclaims "EVA" in screams of excitement. It is even harder because it is just posts of babies with anencephaly. He knew what she looked like and other anencephalic babies remind him of his sister.

We recently took a family trip out to Utah to visit family for a quick week. It was jam packed leaving not enough time for anything. Constantly on the go. We did have a family lake day and that was fun. But I struggled that day, as we were having fun, my heart ached wishing our Eva could experience the sand and laughter of her older siblings playing. I felt an emptiness I hadn't felt before. I always embraced the "I will never experience this stage" because I know one day it will be made right, and we will raise Eva from infancy. But that day, that cool sunny day where the kids learned the pure joy and love for water sports, the laughter of family...I felt the pang of "never get to experience".

A couple months ago (shortly after we received Eva's fatal diagnosis) TJ and I read up on ways to cope with grief. One of the things we read was getting a pet was very therapeutic. We thought about it and it wasn't the right fit for us. But it wasn't a no. Our kids haven't been sad kids, in fact they have been the happiness I need on my hard days, we recently were sitting on our patio when our children saw a puppy and we all were overcome with a happiness. TJ and I are not personally pet people but were drawn to the happiness we felt. We thought about it, looked into it and then found our sweet puppy Talia.






While taking care of a puppy has been somewhat like taking care of a baby, she has been a blessing to our hearts in filling in sadness. I know she will be a great dog for our family and will always signify a healing source in our grieving process. I'm not saying it has 'cured' anything, because gosh darn it....it is tough work and some days I really want to throw in that towel! But then its the moments where she snuggles up to me that make it worth it and not feel so sad.

So, as I sit here and slowly crawl out of this grief pit, I cant seem to help think about you. I hope you are doing wonderful things whatever they may be, and that those butterflies I see around are little reminders that you are close by and thinking of us. It's moments like this that really hit hard to think that this is our normal. Our normal doesn't include life with you right now, and quite frankly that sucks. But again I know someday this will all be made right and our life will include you with you in our arms.

As for now we will continue to climb out of the pit, juggle our life like we always have; One foot in front of the other, and keep moving forward.

                     

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Missing you

Its been over a month. A month with you gone. A month without the constant kicks and dancing of your feet inside my belly. Instead your remains sit in a corner of our house. I cling to the smell you left on your blanket. It is all I have left of a physical reminder that you indeed, existed, and weren't just a dream.

We have had our days of struggle and our days of joy. Days of constantly going somewhere and playing with friends and then the days I can barely get off the couch. I don't seem to have a pattern. Each day I awake and its a gamble of what kind of day we will have.

July 1st, 2017- This was my first babies 4th birthday. My firstborn. It also was meant to be a milestone for you. You would have been a month old. I don't sit and think about how you would have changed from a day old to a month. I cant, my heart just. can't. We did have a good day though, we celebrated Marley. The skies were so blue and I caught little glimpses that I knew you were close by. I like to think you were with us and helping me make it through the day- I needed to for Marley.

July 2nd, 2017- I woke up feeling ambitious and decided to go to church, that was my goal for the day. Make it to church. I went in with mixed emotions, I wanted to avert any attention away from me, which is hard to do when you have a rambunctious toddler. I sat there and listened to the testimonies, trying to pay attention but my mind kept drifting to thinking about you. A month ago I said goodbye for the final time. The last time I cradled you in my arms as I handed you over to the funeral home. I wanted to soak it all in. Your blue eyes. Your hair. You had the most hair out of all three of my babies, and it was such a beautiful brown color. Not at all what I thought, I thought you would have been a blonde like your sister. How did this happen? I broke.

I missed you dearly. I longed for you. I have moments where I can live life and then other moments where I have to stop and realize that even though this is our new normal, this isn't normal. I walked out of the hospital with no baby. It's weird. I am not experiencing what a new mom should be.

As sad as I am about missing you I think about how things in my life lined up prior to finding out about Eva. Back in college I was writing a paper on how we move on after a death of a loved one. I wrote this six years ago, and I never imagined that I would need this in my life. I asked a family friend how she had coped with the loss of her husband. She had spoke about how before he passed he had traded ice skates with a local for fresh cows milk, and recently changed life insurance policy. He did thinks to prepare for his family to be taken care of.

I think about this with my own life. When we found out we were pregnant, a family member just experienced a loss of her baby boy. I didn't know how to act or what to say so I reached out to other moms asking about loss and what helped. Then in November I went to a conference with many great speakers. A few stuck out to me, one of them being something so simple and profound- sometimes when we pray for a miracle and something we want so dearly...sometimes the answer is just no. Another was from Alissa Parker- the mother of sweet little Emilie who was killed in the Sandy Hook school shooting-. She mentioned something that was directed towards her specifically at the funeral; that she should not dwell on the moments we don't get to have in this life, we will have that chance one day and how glorious that will be.

I look all the way back and now know I was being prepared.

  •  We were blessed with a job that moved us cross country, and with that move came many wonderful friends who genuinely care for me and my family. 
  • I had an 'interest' about learning more about moms with loss- I wanted to better understand for my cousin who had lost her son. 
  • I had attended this specific conference with a speaker who spoke about the loss of her daughter.
I was not given this trial to go through alone. 

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All along I know that my Heavenly Father was guiding me, giving me the tools I needed to endure. He has blessed us with the knowledge of the gospel, and that I will get to be with Eva again. He has put us in this 'prairie life' of a town with incredible friends who have walked alongside holding us up. Yes, it is hard I am missing milestones and those special things with Eva; but it is only temporary. And no matter how many times I prayed for a miracle or wanted it to be my way, sometimes the answer is just no. It doesn't mean I am less worthy or less loved, just that it isn't meant for right now- and that's okay. Because I know one day, this will be made right, and I will be able to see my sweet little girl and have those special milestones and moments with her. And what joy that will be!

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I look back at everything and think how it could have been differently. If we hadn't found this job, if I didn't attend the conference, if I hadn't moved and met all these wonderful friends who are family...if it hadn't been for Eva. Everything happens for a reason, and we are not left alone during our trials. We are given the tools we need to endure: through a friendship, from a conference speaker, writing a paper years ago, etc. 

I miss Eva. So much. I would relive that day in a heartbeat just to see and hold her again in my arms. And I know I will again. 

Someday.


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Image result for enduring loss trials lds



Thursday, July 6, 2017

Now I Lay Her Down To Sleep

I am not sure where to even start. This is probably the hardest post yet.
For warning: This is very raw emotion. I wont leave any details out that I remember. Because this is what I do remember and I don't want to forget. Some will be very hard to read and I will have perspectives from others around me as well helping piece together things. I cant apologize for what you are to read because this is all that I have and as hard as it is, I want to be able to keep these memories- the good and the bad.

May 31st:
 I had spent the prior few days cleaning-well having my amazing friends come over and do the cleaning- and had majority of our bags packed. I kept going through the never-ending list in my head. I wanted everything I could imagine to have ready for when Eva came. So I maybe rechecked my list a couple dozen times just to make sure over and over again. I wanted to make sure I had my outfits ready too.

I have never really cared what I wore to the hospital as long as it was comfortable because I never had pictures taken really. I looked like crap and was okay with that. This time I made sure to pick a special gown to wear while laboring, a special top to wear in the water, something blue to leave the hospital in and a special dress to go to the funeral home in. Every outfit was so thought out, because I wanted every aspect to be special.


We drove the hour and a half to get to the town our hospital is at. We had a hotel there for the night since we had such an early morning ahead of us. We had some plans to do a few things and so us girls all went to get our toes done while the guys stayed at the hotel. It was fun but I  didn't feel like myself. I was mopey and sad. This was Eva's last day here with us. The last day to feel her dancing inside of me...

We took the family out to eat and discussed our plans for the next day and how we wanted things to go. After dinner TJ, Teri, and I went to meet with the birth photographer and go over our plan as well.

Soon after this was all done, everyone was back in the hotel and winding down for the evening, TJ and I had a little time together. This was very nice because we hadn't spent any time with each other for the past 5 weeks. We went to go get some ice cream and I made sure to get something sugary for Eva; just a nice treat for her. She even got a burger as her dinner and she of course loved it.

It was hard sleeping that night. My thoughts were so jumbled and I was so anxious/nervous about what the morning would bring. I must have drifted on and off because the clock soon read 4:30 am and my alarm would be going off in an hour. I just laid there next to Teej, holding my belly as Eva was awake dancing inside as happy as could be.

June 1st:
I finally decided to get up out of bed. This was hard. everything I was doing was a 'last' thing with Eva inside of me. Last time I was putting on makeup. Last time I was doing my hair. Last shower. Last breakfast. Last car ride. I was so emotional and I just couldn't stop thinking about how I wish this weren't the 'lasts'. Again, how did we get here already?

I was grouchy trying to wake up my overly tired husband. He had just gotten off 5 weeks of work. I knew he was so tired. I was so emotional, we were going to be late if he didn't get up out of bed. Hindsight, it wouldn't have been the worst thing to be late for.

After breakfast we said goodbye to the kids and family to let them continue sleeping. After all, it was a late night we had and it was still before 7 in the morning. Teri, TJ, and I left for the hospital. It was a quiet ride. We didn't talk. My sobs and sniffles were the only noise besides the purr of the engine.

As we approached the entrance I felt my feet not wanting to move any further. Another 'last' thing. Last time Eva would hear the birds in the morning air.

Going inside the building was the scariest step. I didn't want to do this. I wasn't ready. How did we decide this would be the date? I knew that family had come in to see and help us with this, and yet I wanted to just run back and say "Sorry, you wasted your time. I'm not going to do this."

Walking into labor and delivery was hard. I avoided looking at the nursery and kept walking forward. I was greeted by my doctor and our nurse Jane. It wasn't until Jane hugged me that I fully allowed myself to just cry. This wasn't a happy occasion of seeing each other. This was hard. We walked into our room, this is the room that we would welcome Eva into the world. It was also the same room we would say our goodbyes to the precious baby we have loved so much.



My doctor was so amazing, she did not rush us into getting Pitocin started or even popping my water bag until I was ready. Teri set up music and candles to make it feel so calm and peaceful. Jane came to talk to and comfort us. TJ and I sat and held each other knowing this was the day that we would forever change. We both were not ready for this but we both wanted to meet our little Eva and hold her. Have her feel our warmth and grasp our fingers with her tiny little hands.

It was around 9 am when I was ready to start with popping the water bag. This was a bit painful but also funny experience. I had poly-hydraminos, so an over abundance of fluid. I was huge. Like a big giant water balloon walking around. It felt like a never ending spout of water and here I was laying in this bed. Every time I laughed, more fluid would come out. Every time I shifted positions, more would come out. I was just so surprised and it made us all laugh because there was just so.much.coming.out. (Okay, I know this is probably really disgusting to read, but it reminds me we had some good times. We laughed and had joyous moments. This was one of them.)








I didn't realize how much time had passed, my doctor wanted to wait on the Pitocin and see what my body did naturally and I am so thankful she was so relaxed and not pushing us to move the process along. I was laboring as family came to visit. I was napping for a few minutes when I heard little voices in the hallway. Our kids! The walked in so happy with teddy bears under their arms. A gift from other families who had lost their babies as well. They were so full of energy! The kids were so happy and enjoying the time they had with both their grandmas, it made me so happy to see them so happy and being loved on. There was such love and joy in the room, it was nice to have their happy little spirits there for a short while.



All this time we had the contraction monitor on with the heartbeat on as well. It was something I was so grateful for, to help monitor how far apart my contractions were but I also got to listen to Eva's strong heartbeat. This was the biggest blessing I could have asked for. When I heard her heartbeat I felt joy and happiness. We had made it this far and her heart was still beating. I didn't know my progress but the contractions were more constant and increasing in intensity AND Eva still had a good strong heartbeat, things were looking pretty good.

(This next part is so very spiritual to me, it has so many raw emotions so I want to prepare you for what is to be said)

IT was a little after 5pm, I had been laboring all day and was just so tired. I tried sitting on the exercise ball and was force fed some food to help give me some energy to keep going. I remember this so vividly. TJ had left to go order some food. Teri had taken TJ's place to help me during the contractions. I was sitting there in the midst of a contraction when I suddenly felt overwhelmed. The name Madison came to my mind. I looked to Teri and I just sobbed. I told her I felt like Eva was mad at me because we had taken her comfort of a home away. I knew she was leaving. I could feel it. That little girl by the name of Madison was here to take Eva away. She was gone.

TJ had just gotten back from ordering his dinner and we had Jane and Dr. Hofland come into the room, we had discussed if I weren't progressing we would start some pitocin but I was just so tired. They wanted to check my contractions so we put the monitors back on. First the contraction monitor. Then the heartbeat monitor. Jane moved it around a few times and was picking up nothing. My fear was coming to life. The rolled the ultrasound machine to the bed and placed the wand on my belly. We checked for a heartbeat. And finally we saw it. I saw both Jane and Dr. Hofland and the sadness in their face. I looked at the heartbeat. It was beating so slow. And slower. And slower.

Dr. Hofland informed us that Eva would not survive labor. Her heart couldn't handle it. While she was still here with us, her heart was getting slower every second. The room cleared out so TJ and I could have a moment. We held each other and wept. We sobbed. We were grieving. We wanted so badly to meet Eva alive. To have her grasp on to our fingers. To have her heart beating. For her to have us hold her against our chests and for her to feel our warmth. We so badly wanted our baby.



When they came back in I had her check again, I knew she was fading but I was still hopeful maybe it would pick up. Even though I already knew she was not going to make it. We watched again. Her heart was even slower, it seemed like the entire time she was monitoring her heart only beat 2 or 3 times. It was happening. Eva was dying.

I sat up and I'm not sure what happened next. I remember my doctor hugging me and I sat there. Maybe for a few minutes or seconds I don't know.
I felt empty. I felt alone. I wanted to die. Eva was gone. She was really gone. I knew she was gone. I felt darkness.



I remember feeling paralyzed. I couldn't move. I was alone in this dark place. Feeling empty. I really felt like I was going to die.

I have been told bits and parts of how this went from other perspectives. TJ told me he feared he was loosing me. Not in the sense of me physically dieing but mentally. I wasn't there. I saw a picture of what I looked like. It doesn't look anything like me. It was almost horrifying to see myself like that in a picture. I cant even imagine how it felt to see me like this in person.




I write about this not to seem just dark and twisted. This is real. This is grief. I was so overcome with grief I went to such a dark place. I physically could not move. I knew people were around me. Holding my hands. physically touching me. And I felt so alone during this.

I remember there was crying all around me. I remember my brother and mom stopped by. They cried. I know they were sad for so many reasons, but I didn't understand why they were crying- I was numb to feeling for them. They lost a family member too. But I didn't care. I didn't care about anything, I just wanted to fade away further into my darkness. My brother came to help give me a blessing, he was advised to hurry to the hospital. I was not well.

TJ and Jake gave me a blessing. I am not sure what was said in the blessing, if it were long or short, nothing. I wasn't there to remember. I was in my darkness. As much as I didn't want to be there, I felt as if it were the only place I could be, I was a prisoner to the darkness.

After the blessing, my mom and brother left. (Again, I can't imagine their perspective on how they saw things, I am almost fearful to ask because I know it was bad) I drifted into a sleep, where there was nothingness. I didn't feel peace or fear. It was just nothing. All around me.

When I woke up I came back from that dark place I was in. I wasn't feeling any better but I wasn't imprisoned in darkness. They started me up on Pitocin and we started getting into the laboring patterns we needed to progress. I don't know the time but it was getting late. Jane had already left and our new nurse Tammy came in (so it was after 7pm).

I tried sitting on the ball during the contractions just to get into a new position. But I couldn't sit. There was just so much pressure I started shaking. I was checked and still dilated to the same I was that morning, but Eva had dropped so much. That pressure was Eva coming further and further down. I was still so tired. Even after resting for quite some time.

I wanted to get into the tub and labor in there but I just felt so defeated. I was tired. Tired of hurting, and being in pain. How much more pain could I endure? I had just lost my baby. I knew this would happen but didn't want it to happen this way. I wanted to hold her as she drifted into her final slumber. Instead she was alone. That pain was undeniable. That guilt was overwhelming. Eva didn't have warm arms embracing her as she left this Earth, she was alone.

I know when you read that last part you may say 'she wasn't alone' and 'you have nothing to feel guilty for'. Crazy thing is I still felt that way, and still do. I still feel like I let TJ down, not bringing her into this world with a heartbeat. I still feel like I let her down and she died alone. Nothing anybody can say can change that. Only I can. And it will take time.

Finally a decision was made to call in the big guns with the big needles to give me some pain relief. I was already so numb from my grief and pain that I didn't care for the pain of the epidural. Nothing was phasing me. TJ held me and I let him know with simple taps when a contraction was coming so they wouldn't stick me in the middle of it. This was the most tender feeling of love I had felt. Probably ever in our almost 5 years of marriage. We sat there as grieving parents, TJ holding me so tenderly and was my voice when I couldn't speak. Break into the Celine Dion song "Because you Loved Me" because I felt all those emotions towards my husband at that moment. He kept encouraging me that I could do this, to finish this marathon and bring Eva into this world. Even though she was gone, I still had work to do. And he wasn't going to leave me to do it alone. I am so incredibly lucky to have been blessed with such a wonderful man. In my moment of darkness and feeling alone, he was and is my light.


After the epidural was placed in, I knew my body would progress fast. The nurse didn't believe how fast. She said she would check on me in thirty minutes but I kept telling her to check me sooner than that. Before she left she checked and I jumped from a 3 to a 6-7. She left to go grab Dr. Hofland. I dont know times on any of this but I did know the anesthesiologist did come from home so it was way after hours.

Dr. Hofland was once again so amazing. She sat there with me, no rushing, no pressure to push. I knew it was getting close to time. She sat so patiently with us. I don't remember if music was still playing softly in the background or if any lights were on or off. I don't remember. This was so different. I remember shaking so badly after the epidural probably from my grief. I was shaking so badly my neck and jaw clenched up. I physically could not push because it hurt my jaw so badly.





I am not sure how long I was pushing for but it was very weak pushes, like I wasn't really trying at all. I was scared. I knew each push brought me closer to the end of our journey. Even though Eva had already been gone for many hours. I still didn't want this to end. But at the same time I needed to. I needed to bring her home so TJ could meet her, along with our families.



Again, time was uncertain and didn't phase anyone in that room, the nurse helped me know when I was contracting to help me know when to push (I was shaking so badly I couldn't tell when my body really wanted to). There was an issue that resulted in some major discomfort for me and I am glad (as everyone else was) that I got the epidural. When Eva was coming out her hand decided to go first. My doctor tried putting her arm back in to make it so it didn't come out first. We wanted to avoid breaking any of her fragile bones. I know it might make others squeamish, no matter how much our doctor tried, Eva was stubborn and that hand came out first and soon the rest of her body. I cant tell you how many pushes it took. I cant tell you how many minutes. I can tell you it was an overpowering feeling knowing it was done. She was gone. Out of my belly. I had completed this portion of the journey. Immense sadness and relief and guilt and peace flooded me.




Her cord was so short that I didn't get to see TJ cut it. I'm not sure how he felt. Normally its a pretty cool thing to do (at least from my standpoint) to cut the cord. I wanted to see that moment, but there was no moment to really be had. She wasn't there. There was no cry of a newborn in our room. Just the tears of a mother silently weeping the loss of her baby.



We had made the decision to have her cleaned up and dressed while I rested for a few minutes. When TJ brought her over it was ever so bittersweet. This simply resembled the body that was just inside of me. Eva wasn't there anymore. She clung on to the very end but this wasn't the same little girl that danced around inside of my belly, who caused a hankering craving for hamburgers, who loved listening to her siblings sing "Twinkle Twinkle little Star". This was simply a body that she needed to gain something bigger than life itself.



I looked at her tiny little hands and toes, so soft and delicate. Eva had five fingers on each hand. No thumbs. Just five fingers. I ran my fingers over hers. So long and delicate. She could have played the piano. Her tiny little feet. I knew they had danced hard while she was alive.





It was time to bring our kids in to meet Eva. I was so worried they would be scared seeing me in that bed. I was so worried they wouldn't understand why she looked this way. Eva had been head down so long that the blood rush had stained her face so dark. Mind you, this was in the middle of the night, after already sleeping for awhile. Corbett was very timid and kept asking if Eva was hurt. He was very gentle and sad asking this. He touched her little fingers. We showed them her fingers and toes and how beautiful they were. Marley loved seeing her fingers and wanted to look more and hold her.







This scared me as a mom, not for me but for Marley to see Eva in that state. Motherly instincts of protecting Marley, but also protecting Eva as well. She lifted up her bonnet and the most loving gesture just looked at her. This was a tender moment. They knew her. They knew she was hurt and we didn't have to explain further. They loved her still, even though she was no longer here
The rest of our family came in and each got to hold her little body. I was reminded to stay in the moment and stay here, this is where I needed to be.





There was peace in the room. TJ and my brother, Jake, then gave her a name and a blessing. She was blessed with the name of Eva Carolyn Carney.







Because it was the middle of the night we were all so tired, we said goodbye to our family and Eva was placed in my arms to hold as I slept. She was so little compared to my other two. I bundled her up close to my heart and covered us both with so many blankets. I just wanted her to stay warm. To stay with us a little longer. It was peaceful as our room was left alone to let us all sleep.











Eva Carolyn Carney
Born sleeping on June 2, 2017
12:47 am
4 pounds 9 oz
16 in




While early on in labor, I kept mentioning my go-to song for during a contraction. It would take my mind to another place and it was oddly the ONLY song I could come up with. The lyrics being 'If I go crazy then will you still call me Superman'. Yes. My song that I kept singing in my head was "Kryptonite". Yes. We all laughed. I needed something a little more peaceful. Then we heard the song that I now call Eva's song.

(exchange word boy for girl)
As many of you know I love Celine Dion. With every kid I have a special song for them sung by Celine. I was sad because I couldn't find a song that spoke to me for Eva. So I knew this song was picked out for her. She sent me this sweet song. It brings me the biggest comfort and now she is close by.

I miss her. So much. But there is also joy in our life. So much to be grateful for. Because I have such a deep understanding that this is not the end for us. I know we will see her again and I can feel her all around us.