Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Running for you

I'm not sure why I had so much struggle and heart ache as this third year approached. I'm not sure why grief has to be a sneaker and get you at the least 'convenient' time, but here we are.
I Have mixed emotions surrounding you, and while I miss you with everything I have, I have peace within knowing you don't need to live this pandemic, live in a place where skin color is even an issue! I have peace that you are always with me.

This wasn't the immediate reaction for me. It has taken me months to get to this 'peace'. I had gone for a run and listened to a podcast about infant loss from my friend Sarah. (she too, has lost a child and I happened to find her and her story shortly before we found out about Eva(like days)). I have thought on ways to honor Eva for her upcoming birthday- we are terrible parents and we don't do the donations to a fund or really making too much of a deal. We found Eva to be very simple and just didn't know the best way to honor her. But I knew that in all my sad times I could go clear my head when I went for a run. And it had been frequent lately.

I am part of an amazing local running group and they have shown me how supportive they can be. I reached out to them to see if they would even be interested in doing something like this -I mean, its more running so why would they say no? ;)
For majority of these people I have not met, and yet I had an overwhelming amount of running/walking friends who have shown me such love I went ahead and hosted an event for Eva's third birthday, we were going to run/walk 3 miles. I was embarrassed as my runner mind thought three miles wasn't bad, we do it all the time! But there were many who I know this was a huge thing for them and they dedicated time out of their day to help honor Eva. People everywhere were thinking about my daughter. And that was the best birthday gift I think I could have ever asked for.
I was at peace.

I decided to run on the 1st (the day her heart stopped) as my day of being sad. I wanted the 2nd to be a good day. I ran as long as I could muster with tears of sadness. I missed you, and now was my dedicated time I could be fully enraged with sadness and grief- it was solely about me and you. I got to wonder what life with a 3 yr old would be... I was okay being sad for us.

I was anxious for the next day- I knew I had incredible support and I knew the 5am-ers were already out and getting their run in. But the emotions that I felt when I logged onto Facebook and saw all the completed runs/walks- I was floored! It was 7am and it was just the motivation I needed to get out of bed and out on the pavement to get my miles in! I felt so lifted up, I felt so much support, I felt so much love! I wanted to take the time to enjoy this feeling. I felt fatigued still adjusting to elevation and yet I knew I could keep going strong, there were people literally all over the country doing something to honor Eva! And as a mother I felt it so deeply and I felt Eva with me so strongly helping push me along. This run wasn't sad. It wasn't bogged down of the current events with the world. This run was filled with peace.

We started a group walk a few hours later and again, I was flooded with love and support as I walked with family who took time out of their day to come walk with us. It was an incredible day and it felt good to honor Eva in a way that I knew! Thank you to every single person  who participated in one way or another. 3 miles is no easy task and I felt such a respect and honor from everyone who dedicated time and energy for me and my family.

Why wear blue?- When we found out we were having a baby, we knew it would be a girl and her name was to be Eva (I am named after my great grandma -Eva May-. We had a relationship like no other and knew I wanted to name my daughter after her.) When we found out about her diagnosis (anencephaly) we wanted to have a color that we felt represented her best. Without talking together TJ and I both felt the color blue best suited our precious Eva. I had told my mom we had picked the color blue, she told me blue was my great grandma Eva's favorite color! We had this little connection between my Eva and my great grandma and it brought this color blue to life with such a special meaning to us! (With help from family, we were able to use some of my great grandmas doilies she made into little boots for my Eva to wear)

I collected some screenshots of those who helped honor Eva on her birthday and I know I didn't get them all, but boy-oh-boy I am so giddy to have all these amazing people who have shown so much support for my angel!

All these people ran FOR YOU, Eva!

I know I have said it so many times-but I will say it again- Thank you all for giving me the best birthday gift for my daughter. Thank you for your good thoughts, prayers, vibes, energy, time and distance. This was a priceless gift I can never repay and I am in debt with gratitude to each and everyone of you!

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Memoirs of Eva - Jillian Hunsaker

October. I cannot believe we have already hit October. October seems to feel bitter and special all in one. Its a month I feel is important. Lots of awareness events for this month. Breast Cancer. Autism. Down Syndrome. SIDS. Liver. The list really could go on and on. Not saying that any of these are less important to me, but there are two on the list that are near to me because they are me. Spina Bifida awareness. Infant loss awareness. I am the mom of stillborn. I am the mom of a stillborn who had a form of Spina Bifida that was not viable outside of pregnancy. I am a 1 in 10,000. I am also a 1 in 4. 

Before I get too carried away, I wanted to share that tidbit. There are many people who are grieving as they remember those haunting memories and losses. Be kind and loving to everyone. You don't know their burdens.

I don't know if it was the month of October that was getting to me but I have thought so much about Eva lately. Not that I DON'T think of her-because I always do. To me remembering Eva, is replaying those hard times, because that was when Eva was with me and real. Its painful and hard, but its the way I feel closer to her.

I don't tire from replaying my memories, though they are hard, but it's what made it also real. I have always taken an interest in hearing others perspectives of situations. How they felt and handled things. I want to see things from their eyes. The special time with Eva is no different. This was not only for me, but for them as well, because as much as it is their story its also mine and I cherish that.

This first perspective is from my friend Jill. I actually just wrote a side to Eva's story about her. You can check it out here as well

Here is Jill's story.

One night Will got a call you for give a blessing. This happened often and I figured he wouldn't be gone long and he'd just come back and hang out with me like he normally does. This time was different. I remember he walked in and looked sad. He comes and sits down on the couch and says, "I'm not sure what's wrong, she says she's pregnant but doesn't look far along. Maybe she's having a miscarriage? But anyway, she needs help." At this point I had so many questions!
Being in ND had really helped me break out of my comfort zone to help people-mostly Because everyone is in the same boat. No family but have a descent paying job. I took Will's advice and found Sadee on Facebook. I sent her a message telling her who I was and that Will is my husband. We chatted for a bit-wanting to get to know her before I bluntly ask her, "what's wrong with the baby?" A few minutes pass and I knew I had to ask. Before I did I had a tug on my heart because I knew something was horribly wrong.
She told me about Eva. About how they just moved here and they had an ultrasound that wasn't good news. They then had to travel to Fargo (5 hours away )last night in their car, because they JUST moved here. They had nothing. I messaged her when they were just getting back into Watford. I knew I had to so something. She had her walls up. She didn't want my help. She was devastated that the ultrasound wasn't perfect. I did the only thing I thought she'd allow...dinner. it was later when I texted her so I didn't have time to make a full meal so I got a pizza. Half supreme for adults, half pepperoni for the kids. I was so relieved that she let me do that. It was so small to me. I wished I could do more.
I got a message the next day thanking me for the pizza. I shrugged it off like no big deal. I continued to message her here and there. I knew Sadee was going through tough times so I did not expect her to respond quickly. Most of the time she did. And she told me about Eva more and more. I felt connected at the very beginning because I had a grandma down my line who was Eva May. I knew I was supposed to be there for her. TJ worked long hours and she was alone with Marley and Corbi all day. FINALLY she let me "in". She said I could come over. Our kids met and it came so natural to all of us. Another confirmation I knew I was supposed to "help" her. Sadee and I instantly connected and it felt like we had been friends for YEARS. She is hilarious. Somewhat of a dirty mind, but those make the funniest people in my mind. 🤣
 Marley has mom's sense of humor and her curiosity and knowledge is like no other. I admire that Sadee shares at an early age with Marley ALL the answers. To EVERYTHING. I'm not like that. So one time I went over and she mentioned something about a vagina. Lol!
But the way Marley talked about Eva it was amazing! Sadee educated this little girl well. She knew her baby sister on a personal level. She knew she was going to be an angel. She had an incredible love for Eva already because Sadee shared things to Marley that I wouldn't even imagine telling my kids. Corbi-oh Corbi! This boy had my heart at day one. His love for Batman is REAL. He always asked me to put on his shoes. He held my hand like he knew me. I was never a stranger. He talked to me like I had been there his whole life, even though we just met!
Sadee and I became good friends. We hung out nearly every day, unless our husbands were off. Sadee always talked about Wendy's hamburgers and how Eva craved them. I thought this was so cool. All I craved was hot chocolate and popcorn. She went to Dickinson often to get Wendy's and I guess she had doctor appointments-but I never heard about this. Just how good and fresh the hamburgers were.
It got to a point where I felt I needed to being Teri in. I felt like Sadee needed her. I didn't know much about pregnancies, especially with the "complication" that she had. Teri was my doula with Charitee. I thank my Heavenly Father on a daily basis for Teri. She saved my life...AND our leased car from having residue from having a baby in it by making us call the ambulance. She was there with me while Will drove the car behind. She was with me to help me have a natural birth. Not planned and totally freaked out because I had not done it before.
Sadee was hesitant (heck, I was too) It's another stranger to tell about her "situation". I could tell she was uneasy about it but I assured her. Teri was the one to call. Teri stepped right in as soon as Sadee dropped a wall; Teri was right there. We formed a bond, the three of us. We would hang out mostly at Teri's and unannounced. I introduced Sadee to others within our Ward. She new a few people and kept it between the ones she could trust. The winter and spring came and went. It was May and Eva was coming whether Sadee, Teri or I was ready. I am not usually good in these situations. I actually avoid them because I feel like I am too awkward. But I knew I needed to stick around for Sadee. And Corbi, Marley, and TJ.

Sadee got to a point where she needed me less and Teri more before Eva was born. I just backed off and took the kids when she needed me to. I texted her here and there to let her know I cared for her. She let me know Eva was going to be born on June first-sooner than I was expecting because she had a later due date (like June 23 or something?) But the reason of not wanting Eva to come on her own in case of complications made complete sense.

THE Day.

 A day I will NEVER forget.

 I went to Dickinson-Will took the day off so I could be there. I was a little shocked I was asked to come. I didn't feel like I was privileged enough to be apart of this. I'm not one to intrude on personal problems especially one of this nature where grieving is involved. I was asked to get food. I grabbed Sadee an Oreo shake from DQ and Teri a triple Burger and a diet Mt. Dew. TJ needed some fast food as well and it was a good ice breaker. I got to the hospital. I walked into the room and it felt like any other "normal" induction. Until I saw Sadee's makeup smeared from the emotional day she had and was enduring. I looked over and saw the table set up for Eva. Baby white lambs with hospital wrist bands on them with Eva's name on them. The beautiful light blue Sadee picked out to represent Eva. We sat and chatted for a bit. I'm totally weird in these situations and just ramble about movies, kids and food. I made awkward jokes and talked about TJ's love for Star Wars. I was sitting there hoping that Sadee and TJ were used to me by now. Her contractions became harder and fewer in between. I knew it was hard for her. This was the last little bit for Eva. I was asked to go find blue Powerade. When I for back to the labor and delivery door Teri met me. She looked distraught, worn out and like something was about to happen. It was about 5 pm when Teri texted me and said I could go home and get some rest. I did, not knowing anything. Not knowing if I'd be coming back.

I got a call at 3 am from Teri. Sadee had delivered Eva-stillborn. I rose out of bed got dressed as fast as I could. Threw my hair in a messy bun and headed to Dickinson (which is an hour and a half away). I stopped to get gas, my Cherry Pepsi and a drink for Teri. I got to the hospital walked in and was so surprised how happy the nurses were to see me. It made me feel special. Needed. Important. I walked into the room. It was dark. Quiet. Everyone seemed to be sleeping. No one moved for awhile so I sat down in a chair and started to pray. I prayed for strength for everyone in that room. Sadee especially. I prayed for myself to not be freaked out. I had never been on a situation like this. As I was saying my prayer Sadee stands up and walked over to me. She handed me Eva. A blanket covered her head. I got the hint she didn't really want me to see Eva like this. I left her blanket over her head. I knew she wouldn't be the beautiful baby I imagined her to be and thought she was from Sadee describing her to me. I sat there. Holding a dead baby. Sobbing. Trying to not be weak. This is something I NEVER EVER imagined I would do in my lifetime-let alone it not be my own baby. I rocked Eva. I treated her like a newborn. I looked at her fingers. Looked at her toes. I looked at her skinny legs like normal people do with babies. I cared for her. I was a bit terrified but I wasn't about to show it to Sadee.

Sadee got up to go to the bathroom with TJ and Teri and my curiosity got the best of me. I peeked. I looked at her head and face. I cried more. It was sad. It was touching. It was an amazing experience I'm grateful to been a part of. Sadee mentioned that the body "wasn't Eva". I knew exactly what she meant. It felt like holding a baby doll. Her sweet spirit wasn't there anymore. The only thing is, this wasn't a doll. It was a real baby. Who, a few short hours ago was alive and well. Sadee is so strong. And we cried and cried. Teri needed breakfast so we left and let the family have their time with Eva. Teri was exhausted. She described how the night went and it made me grateful I wasn't there but amazed and heart broken at what they all just went through. Teri and I had the privilege to take Eva's "newborn" pictures with the nurse. What a daunting experience but one I wouldn't ever trade. It was so touching. It was again, like taking pictures of a doll. But then you realize it's a real baby. I'm not sure how I wrapped my head around it all. I was calm. I think I prayed enough that Heavenly Father knew exactly how to help me be strong through this.

The next week or so I brought in all the meals so Sadee didn't have to relive the hell she just went through to everyone who walked in the door. I walked in and they were all sitting on the couch. All crying, I was just going to leave. I'm still feeling somewhat not privileged to be there. I gave Sadee a hug and she told me the molds for Eva didn't turn out. We cried.

I kept bringing the meals. Being there for Sadee. I took the kids when she needed me too. She was in deep grieving at this point and I wanted to give her her space. I would text her, not expecting replies. After awhile I stopped texting her. I figured she would let me know when I was needed. She knew I was there for her. I knew family was there for her at this time. A little later she started texting me. Here and there, making small conversation, until her dad passed away. It was sudden. This was a horrible year for Sadee. She went days, weeks and maybe even months without texting me back. I let her know I cared for her. I was still there. Finally one day she texted me. She asked if I could pack clothes for TJ. He needed to head to Utah, where Sadee was for awhile. I thought this was an interesting request but did it anyway. I cleaned the house with a friend. I knew she left in a major hurry and she was going to be gone for awhile. It felt good serving Sadee again. She sent a text thanking me when she got home.

 I didn't hear from her for a couple months again. Teri called me up one day and says, "Sadee had her baby!" (I forgot to mention Sadee got pregnant shortly after having Eva) I was shocked! She had a similar experience with Teri that I did! Yet again we were connected with another situation! "Call an ambulance" rings in both our heads in Teri's voice! We reconnected. It was like we never were apart. Now we text ALL the time like nothing happened. Our friendship is strong. It's more like we're family

I appreciate so much having this to treasure. As a parent we always love hearing about our children and Eva is no exception.

If you would like to contribute your perspective to Eva's story I would be extremely grateful. I love to hear all the perspectives on her life, whether it is just a short thought or a whole story, please feel free to share it with me so her story can live on with all of us.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

The Day A Stranger Became Family

These next few blogs are about different people in my life who shared a journey with me. A journey of Eva. This story is the journey of Jillian Hunsaker as she went from stranger to friend to family.

(I know she won't like this picture but its one of my favorites. This is Corbi's second mom. He would run to her more often for help than me! We truly love this heart of Gold named Jill!)

The day a stranger became family. We had just moved a thousand miles away. No family near. Just TJ, myself and the kids. We were excited for this new journey until one one day changed everything. That cold haunting day in February. We had learned our excitement of adding a new baby-a girl nonetheless- was short lived. I still can replay everything of that day so vividly. Did you know all the way home I played Word Cookie? And once we got home and put the kids to bed we sat and watched Netflix? We couldn't sleep, but we also didn't want to think anymore. I had been to church maybe once or twice and still didn't know a soul. I went out on a limb and tried reaching someone. Anyone. to come and give us a blessing. A blessing that this was all a fluke. That this was a glitch and it would be okay. I mean, miracles happen all the time. I had seen so many stories of babies having heart problems and then the mom got a blessing and magically the heart became okay. It could happen, right?

We mindlessly watched our show until we got a knock on the door and peer through the top of our door and see a hat. Open to find Danny and Will at our door.

I couldn't find any words to tell these men. We had a brief small talk and then we were asked what the need of the blessing was. I couldn't bring it to words. I later learned that these men were still confused at what I was saying and they thought I was having a miscarriage. They both got a bit emotional because they could sense the hurt and pain we were having. They had no clue how far along I was (I was not even showing) and didn't know the extent of what was happening. I didn't ask to have the blessing say that everything would be okay and we would have a healthy baby. I wish I did, but I know its not how it works. I was just hoping dearly that its what would come out of their mouths.

I was told in this blessing that Heavenly Father loved me. Basically that over and over and over again. Nothing. Nothing about my baby being okay and that she would be healed and live. While I was grateful for the blessing I was still devastated. It was proving that life was not fair.

They offered to watch our kids as we had a 7 hour drive to go see the specialist. We didn't know these people and while we were already feeling uncomfortable with our diagnosis, we didn't feel comfortable leaving our children with complete strangers.

Will is the husband to Jillian. This is when our story starts. The day a stranger became my friend.

We came home from our long trip, feeling even more defeated than before. It was one thing after the next that kept coming up wrong. Remember that plate of crap we were dished? Yeah, we were still feeling it.

I got a ding on my phone and looked to see this Jillian person had messaged me. She mentioned Will was her husband, she didn't know what was going on but hoped I was okay. I didn't even know this person and I immediately opened up to her. I told her it was not okay and my daughter was going to die. And there was nothing I could do about it. I am not sure how she was feeling...I am sure I just put her in the most awkward position ever, dumping all that on her. Again, she didn't even know me. I was a stranger, how do you console a person you don't even know?

She offered to buy us dinner. Send a pizza over. I tried hard to tell her we didn't need it. We didn't need help. I could figure it out on my own. She knew better.

That is the most memorable pizza I have ever had. Not like it was the most delicious/divine tasting....it had the most love in it. I wept as I ate because I was so grateful for this kind stranger who wanted to help. And it was pepperoni.

Time went on and I got to know Jillian a little better. She was stubborn as all get out to wanting to be my friend. We had both come from Utah so I felt a little connected. She was persistent. Kept trying to talk to me and invite me to all things. I had a stick up my bum for a long time because I didn't want to accept help. She even offered to help me vacuum out my car because it was a warm day and "she was going to as well". She must have been super annoyed that I was so stubborn. Probably still is.

I never really displayed ultrasounds of Eva. I was scared someone would get kind of freaked out by the look of her. One day Jill came over, our kids had become really good friends. Jill was
my family, my kids loved her so much. I had an ultrasound on the fridge, she went and looked at it. I was immediately nervous, defensive even. I didn't want her to look at it because I was scared of what she would see. What she would say. And I still am shocked by what she did say.

"Look at her nose! She has the most beautiful nose!" I knew she saw Eva without her head, I knew she saw the abnormalities on that ultrasound picture. But do you know what she saw? She saw that Eva had TJ's nose. I felt such relief and happiness. Because it was true. She did have the "TJ button nose"- all of my kids have it.

Our friendship grew and blossomed into this sisterhood. I loved my new family I had. Jill introduced me to Teri. She introduced me to Sheila, to Betsy, to Nancy....all these people who became my friends when I needed them. They knew my journey was going to be tough and didn't make me feel like a charity case.

There is so much I could say about Jill, about the countless times I called/messaged her. The laughs and trips we took. The time she assembled an army of men to put up a trampoline together when we were clueless, took my kids to give me a break....if you don't have a Jill, you really need to find one.

We were nearing the end of May, I had more frequent anxiety attacks. I didn't want to be left alone. I wanted time alone. I didn't want this to be coming. I was spending darn near every day with Teri and Jill, trying to ignore the fact I was facing the end with my sweet Eva. The little tiny dancer inside of me. They helped me during all of this. I knew they had so many other things to do and families to take care of, and I am not sure how they even did it when it seemed I was always with them. I am sure it was hard for them, too. But they NEVER let me know it. They were so willing to be there in every moment I needed.

My plan was when Eva came, I didn't want anybody really seeing her. Not that I wanted to treat it like she came and had gone. I was scared. Scared of what people would see of her. What would they think in their minds. Would they look with disgust? Scared? Freaked out? I wanted to protect her.

I had already told Teri, nobody outside of the list would see her. My list was very small. I didn't even want my new friends to see her. This was......so sacred to me. My time. My vulnerability. Everything. I knew it was a long drive and to have family to take care of. I also didn't want more people to be burdened with seeing the image of a baby who was not properly formed. These were all my thoughts and pains because I knew I would forever be haunted by looking at and seeing my own flesh and blood...not alive. I wanted to spare the image of Eva. I wanted her to be remembered as the fun, sweet soul she was.

Truth time. I was a different person with Eva. I was goofy, funny, lighthearted, I could pound a hamburger without problem. That was Eva. Her soul was in me and I felt I was living for her, with her. My friends got to be apart of knowing what a sweet person Eva was. They could feel it. Why would I want to ruin that feeling they felt? I wanted to protect them, too.

Teri convinced me to allow Jill to be there. She told me Jill WANTED to be there. For me. For Eva. Because she IS family. I know it was Eva telling me to let her come and be there for this.

I'm sure this was awkward and hard for her, as she sat in the room, we didn't really have much to say as I was resting and grieving. You could feel the somber feeling in that room. We were all grieving what was about to come.

I don't know what time everyone left-time was not a concern and was a blur- but I labored on.
Again, I tell you about these specific people because there is more than one story to Eva. There are many, and are shared through other people. Just like every story has many points of views. So did Eva's story.

I still don't like talking about this day and I am not sure I will ever truly disclose everything that happened. Just know this was a HELL of a day. This was MY hell.

Teri needed to go, after being up for so many hours, we were all physically, emotionally spent. Jill came to rescue Teri and TJ with food, she came to comfort, she came to love. I remember sitting there, holding Eva. I didn't let Jill see her at first. I was again trying to protect us all. Me. Eva. TJ. Jill. I didn't know if she even felt comfortable, I know I would be a little panicked holding a dead baby. But here I was. Holding MY dead baby.

I still cry when I look back on my memory. As Jill came over, sanitized her hands (just like if it were any other newborn) and took her over to the rocking chair and rocked her. She looked at her. Snuggled her. She looked at her hands and feet. She burst out that "She has Corbi's feet!" Something I didn't even notice.

I have never specifically looked at or paid close attention to my sons feet. They were just like any other feet. Jill had spent countless times helping him put on shoes and socks, and noticed something special yet again. Eva had Corbi's feet. His little toes. Her little toes. How they curled and had a plump big toe.

I notice his feet now.

Jill was a reinforcement that day. She helped with so many things that day. It was a very hard, ugly day. Like I said, it was MY hell.

I am sure it looked and felt odd (even to her) that we walked out of the labor wing, trying to make jokes/laugh and not look as we passed the nursery. Trying to not think what we had just done. Leaving all physical evidence that Eva existed. Wanting more time....wishing I could go back, just a few days...see if I did something different we would have had a different outcome. If we would have had more time with her...

Jillian was a ball roller, she took care of every meal that was made and brought it over. This way I didn't have to try faking anything, get up, or do anything. She would walk right in, check on the kids, check on me and TJ. She would sit and laugh with me, cry with me, talk about shows....anything the mood struck. She was versatile to our needs. My needs.

Milk is made different and unique to each baby. When my milk came in after Eva, I grieved yet again, another reminder that I could not have saved her. My baby was gone. Jill was there to help.

They say if you and a friend can last for seven years, you will last forever. While I have not known Jill for seven years, I know we will always be friends and connected with this incredible hardship of a journey. Because Jill is more than just a friend. She is family.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Let's talk numbers

Image result for numbers

When you have a baby, you feel like you are one in a million- you have a perfect little soul that has blessed you with the happiest moments of your life! When Eva was born she was one in 10,000. A rarer number but special none the less. Now this is where our story changes:

The afterbirth with Eva was fairly easy- I basically buried myself in my bed for 2 weeks so the postpartum bleeding wasn't as bad because I barely got up. My milk came and a miserable week later it started to dry up. This was painful as yet another reminder of my baby not being here and I couldn't help her. And then a few weeks later like I had never even missed a beat I had my first postpartum period. Nothing fancy, but my body was getting back to 'normal' -whatever that was.

We had been seeing my doctor on a regular schedule after for depression and anxiety so I didn't know we weren't going to be stopping that process. Her care for me was coming to an end, she had led me through the pregnancy, the after birth, and now the beginning of moving on. I thought she was going to be my personal shoulder to cry on and my own self counselor. To me she was more than my OB.

A few weeks later I ran into Walmart while the kids were sleeping and grabbed a few items to get me through the next few days- the usual thing of ice cream and candy. I was grieving, not worried about my waistline. But boy oh boy was I in-taking a lot of sugar lately. I even tried stopping cold turkey and I craved that sugar so badly. This was not normal for me. So I checked my app to see if my period was due soon since I was all hyped on sugar- a pretty common factor for women on their period. Sure enough I was due to have my period any day. I went for it.

I grabbed that special test off the shelf and braced myself for both options. IF it had one line, it wasn't a big ordeal- in fact we just had a baby and were not planning on even trying until the new year, my body was still healing! IF it had two lines....we would be happy and embrace this new journey we were about to embark on again.

I am so glad the lined tests don't take as long as the digital but it was still a long wait. I was even doing this in a public bathroom so I felt weird just sitting there and waiting around. I covered the test with toilet paper and decided to clean my purse while sitting there, it was getting a bit full of candy wrappers and other junk from not cleaning it out for months. It was not on my top priority list before.

I braved it up, took the toilet paper off. Two lines. "Okay, wow....oh my goodness." "Are you serious?" "I'm pregnant....again" "I'm gonna have a baby" "My rainbow!" "I just got done being pregnant" "This is going to be fun, I am so excited!" These were the emotions flooding my head. I was excited/panicked/nervous/ full of anxiety....you name it. All from peeing on a little stick. Crazy how that all works out.

I got in the car and I called the person I always told first (if you are thinking TJ, ha!) We cried together, laughed together....it was so sudden, but maybe Eva was sending this baby so soon for a reason to help us heal. I had no clue how to even tell Teej. What a shock!

I went home and didn't really say much but put the pee stick on his lap. Took him awhile to notice but when he did we both laughed about how it all happened, freaked out a bit, and then were overwhelmed with joy. I had a strong feeling everything was going to be perfectly okay with this baby.

A few days go by and after we told a few other people, my emotions started to get mixed. I had some REALLY great responses and some that were shocked and I didn't feel I had much of a 'perfect' reaction to saying we were having a baby. Yes, I know it was so sudden and soon (You don't think we knew that? We got pregnant on the first time back in the swing, we were still coping with getting to a new normalcy) . My emotions got the best of me and I felt we weren't getting the happy responses I thought we would get. I know these people were just very concerned because the risks of getting pregnant so soon after.

But I got to go see my favorite OB again and it was like I never had left (literally, I have seen here every month since February with no breaks....she is making bank off me) and we got the tests to start rolling in. We wanted to take precautions and still celebrate this new life as well as remember Eva. (She is so wonderful to still include Eva and know that she is so important to us). We had our first ultrasound and got the due date of April 16, 2018. This is exactly two months difference of Eva's due date, it was bittersweet seeing that due date but I wanted it changed.

It might seem silly to all of you but I have a weird thing with numbers. Eva was my number baby. We found out about her diagnosis on February 2, 2017 (A day we will never forget) and she left us on June 2, 2017. 'Start' to 'finish' was a total of 4 months even. And here we were having the same date for a due date but 2 months before hers. Weird, I know but lets roll with the punches. It gets weirder but only those super close to me know why and I don't want to freak people with my weird number thing.

Anyways, so we order a bunch of tests....things come back looking low risk. Great! Second round of tests, no sign of any neural tube defects. YES!!!! I remember getting that call and just crying into TJ with joy, we were having a healthy baby that would live!!!! We already knew the gender but we were trying to think of a perfect name for this little rainbow.

A few weeks went by and it was time for our anatomy scan to check out everything else. This date is also a date I will never forget. November 20, 2017. It was 8:30 a.m.

We went in the ultrasound like pros since we had so many before. We had a new tech so she didn't know we were so experienced and knew what we were looking at. I kept asking questions like" "how is the placenta? Does it look normal?" "Is there a 3 vessel cord or 2 vessels? 3? Okay, great" "how is the brain? and spine? Those look good too" " what about the heart, that looks good too". Everything was adding to look like a normal healthy baby. Then I  saw it, and TJ stepped out of the room.

TJ got a call. The worst call on what was to be a happy day. My dad died. My dad suffered from a heart attack on Saturday, and was doing so much better and was to be released that Monday. Except he didn't. He suffered from a Myocardial Infarction and passed away that Monday morning. Same time I was going in for my ultrasound. The reason I couldn't be in Utah with him, because I had an appointment that Monday to check on the baby.

I had just talked to my dad on Saturday, I told him that we were expecting a______ and he was really excited. I was going to surprise him with the name when I saw him in person which was to be the next day or two. But I never got that chance.

My face was black from mascara and was so red from my endless tears and tantrums because I didn't want my dad to be dead. I just said goodbye to my daughter, and now my dad? This wasn't real. My doctor again was my shoulder to cry on and told me that baby was looking good with a small exception (what I saw on the ultrasound) but they weren't sure. She would send the information over to the MFM and get me in and go from there. I wasn't even thinking much about what it could be...  we heard 'viable' and 'looks good'. I was out the door and ready to get my bags to head to Utah, I couldn't sleep or eat or do much but I needed to get out.

I spent the next two weeks in Utah taking care of matters and saying goodbye to my dad, I felt and still feel numb. I mean how can you expect to feel? I just started moving forward from the loss of my daughter and now I have to restart the grief process with my dad?

After a stressful trip home we made our way to the MFM doctor (Which is now 3 hours away instead of 6 1/2! Bonus for us!). We got a sitter for the day and we sat there waiting for the ultrasound to begin. It was forever and no game or Facebook could distract my brain from the long wait. I wasn't nervous. I was basically saying okay, if this baby has _______ then so be it, we can't change that fact. I guess we continue to move forward.

We spent lots of time looking at the heart- very detailed ultrasound of each chamber and blood flow. I thought it was a bit cool/ boring because that wasn't the reason we were in there. We knew the heart was good. And next the brain. Again, we knew that was a fully formed head and good. So....why all the detailed half hour look at them?

We met our Doctor and she told us the news. What we had suspected was true. Our baby had a cleft lip and palate but we didn't know the extent of it- nor do we still. She explained sometimes having a cleft could affect the heart and brain, and also some genetic repetitions/deletions/etc., but we did not cause this to happen. It was luck of the draw....again. We wouldn't know the severity unless we got more testing done. We would meet back in a month to take more in depth looks at the heart to check and make sure it still looked good. We discussed the long road ahead of us and the special care a baby with a cleft requires.

We have had some time to process this news and adjust to what our new life will entail. While it be long and hard and scary, we are going to do what is best for this baby. We love this baby but we are still scared.

Scared of the surgeries ahead, scared the baby might not be able to nurse and require special feedings, the possible dental work needed, the speech therapy, the sleep apnea, asphyxiation, the struggles with food and milk/choking, decided the team to go to- do we pick the ones closest to us or do we go with the best? Teams that require weekly visits until the first surgery at 3 months....needless to say our heads are still spinning trying to figure out information and what we should do. We are sitting ducks until we know more from the next months of ultrasounds and waiting to hear back from teams of surgeons.

When I was 19 weeks along with Eva we found out she would not live. This was hard. At our 19 week anatomy scan with this baby was the day my dad died. I am still processing this hard concept. We come home from burying my dad to the difficult news of our baby having a cleft lip and palate but we don't know the extent of it all. And I wanted so badly to call my dad so he could tell me "well, this sucks" just like he did when I told him about Eva. Yes dad, this does suck, but it sucks more that you aren't here to tell me that.

During both ultrasounds we have pictures of our baby signing "I love you" or "Rock on" I am not sure which one but we like to think "rock on" it makes us laugh and to me I believe it. We will rock on, and rock this hard part to give our baby the best we know how. Our baby is one in 700.

While we do not have all the answers ahead of us we are learning as we go. We will 'rock on' and be/do the best we can.

So, without further ado we would like to introduce our Rainbow baby after this incredibly difficult and sucky storm:

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Dexter Daniel Carney. Daniel after my dad. He will rock the name.

We have a rough journey ahead of us. We appreciate all your love and support.

P.s. Eva also had a cleft lip and palate (we don't remember which side or how far back it affected) but in a sense I feel like this is a little 'piece' of Eva we get to have as a reminder of her. Our little piece of Heaven.

P.P.S We took this video knowing full blown well how the reaction would go and I am glad I got it on video. Dont worry all is good now. Listen to the very end, I am so glad we got this AFV worthy video to capture the hilariousness it is. #atleastyougotacupcake


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. 


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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.