Tuesday, May 9, 2017

With Angels From 5Ks to Marathons

Our very first Running with Angels 5K was held 13 years ago.  Becky McKnight was there, and it was her very first race.  Now she is running marathons!  She will run the St. George Marathon this October, in memory of her sweet Vivian Bluebell.  What an adorable name.  And what a journey this has been, not even three months ago, for her family.  Becky sent me many pictures.  I got through the ones up until the one I share here, when the tears came flooding through.  I think it was the expression on this beautiful mother's face as she bids an earthly farewell to her little one; one that many of us can recall, and no doubt we remember, as Mother's Day approaches.

I'm glad you were able to recover from the delivery, Becky.  Thank you for sharing your story and pictures with us.

And run a mile for me, will you?  :)

Vivian Bluebell McKnight was named after her 2 magnificent great grandmas’. She came into this world weighing only 2 lbs 3 oz at 33 weeks. She had many obstacles to overcome; she was breach with the cord around her neck and no amniotic fluid. The biggest obstacle we both had to overcome was sepsis. Without knowing I had sepsis and it was passed to Vivian. As I was going into septic shock she was whisked away to the NICU and I felt good that I would get to cuddle with her soon.  Sam was grieving this time because he already thought Vivian was gone and he thought he was losing me too. Vivian and I were both stabilized and received blood, fluids, and antibiotics. I was in so much pain I could hardly breathe. In the morning the nurses came to get me to go up to the NICU and see my sweet Vivian in person and not just on FaceTime, when Sam went up to see her. As I was struggling to get out of bed and get into a wheelchair the NICU physician came into my room and delivered some heart wrenching news about our daughter Vivian. He told us that her stats were falling and they just could not get them up. He continued to say that she would not make it through the morning. It felt like a nightmare, it wasn’t supposed to happen to me. This was our Vivian, Katherine’s sister she had prayed for every night. Katherine wanted a little sister because she was tired of playing with her 2 older brothers and younger brother. I was able to hold Vivian for 45 minutes and sing her my children’s favorite primary song “Teach me to walk in the Light”. I never heard her cry but was able to look into her big brown eyes looking up at me. When she passed in my arms I couldn’t even cry because of the amount of physical pain I was in.  
My in laws brought Katherine and Henry to the hospital and the primary president brought Tristan and Alexander to the hospital. They were not able to see their sister living but they were able to hold her sweet little body. Later that day we had many visitors come by and show their love for us. I was grateful for all the company because I was in so much pain I could not let myself cry. My midwife brought in a friend of hers to take pictures of Vivian that day so I could always have her sweet face with me. 
After all the days’ visitors had left and we handed Vivian over for the night, my husband and I tucked ourselves into bed for some sleep. I remember waking up in the middle of the night when the nurse came in to give me more pain relief and antibiotics, I was able to move a little without pain and then I felt the relief of tears sting my eyes. I spent the whole rest of the night crying. It was a healing moment for me when I was finally able to grieve for my daughter and hug my husband. 
We were continued with many great blessings in and out of the hospital during this time. Vivian had a beautiful funeral. I was able to play my violin for my sweet baby all the primary songs I would have sang to her at night while putting her to sleep. This was such a tender moment; I didn’t play for anyone at the funeral or even my family. I sat next to her sweet little bed and played just for her. I hope that day she was looking down from heaven to see and hear the love we have for her. 
Sam and I were able to later design a beautiful headstone that showed her sweet life here on earth. It has become a sweet place for us to visit. In my continuing journey of healing I find solace in making angel gowns for our local hospitals out of wedding dresses and find strength in training for the St. George Marathon and improving my abilities in Crossfit. I had planned to run the marathon and train for it after Vivian was born in April. I was encouraged to continue with my goal to run it and in memory of my sweet baby. 
I think about her often and long to hold her. I am told as time goes on the pain will lessen. I think to myself, “Do I want it to lessen?” “Will I forget her as time goes on and pain lessens?”, “Will others still want to hear me talk about her?”, and “Will she be remembered or lost?” I don’t know all these answers. I hope that one day I will. I know I will see her again and that day can’t come soon enough. I want the day where I have all off my children and I don’t feel that empty void where Vivian is supposed to be here on earth. 

Vivian Bluebell was born February 16th 2017 and passed away February 17th 2017. She was able to visit us for 12 hours. Her life was short here on earth but it changed me and changed our family. Until I can hold her in my arms I will hold her in my heart. 

Friday, April 28, 2017

Little Lois Amelia

So many emotions exist when facing the delivery of a stillborn baby.  Wanting to be pregnant forever, if it means holding on to that little one.  Aching to have the ultrasounds, the lab work, and every other test bring a different outcome.  Experiencing excruciating labor pains and realizing they are not going to bring that first breath, that tiny cry of life.

And yet, life has indeed existed before the actual birth.  There comes a peace, after the delivery, when holding that beautiful little body, that is unmistakable and impossible to describe.  I've been reading this sweet story of Lois Amelia, reaching for the tissues, and thinking about our own experience with Eric.  I've not met Breanna and Scott yet, but I hear they are very wonderful people.  I feel their strength, their devotion to one another, and their hope for an eternal future with little Lois.  This faithful mother shares her story here, of her firstborn, through a letter.  I love it.  I look forward to meeting this sweet family.  What a great extended family support they have!  They will be dove releasers at our Running with Angels 5K on May 20th.


My Sweet Baby Girl,

What a beautiful experience you have given us. From the very beginning, we have felt your loving spirit and adorable personality. I absolutely loved carrying you. You were very sweet to not make me sick. You were a tiny dictator when it came to eating, drinking, and peeing :) Your amazing father was so unbelievably patient and didn't ever hesitate to give you what you wanted (even if it was actually what I wanted). We would joke about how spoiled you were and how you were running the show--the truth is that we were sublimely happy giving you everything you needed. We pictured different scenarios with you as a child and imagined your little personality handling each situation. I knew you and your dad would have a very special bond. You are named after his incredible grandma and that means everything to him. I also knew that your dad would be your comforter. When you needed advice, a shoulder to cry on, or just wanted to talk about weird music--he would be the one you go to. I pictured you being witty and sassy, and often leaving your dad and I speechless with no other choice but to laugh.

When we found out you were a girl, it just confirmed what I had already known/wanted. The doctors told us they were extremely concerned about your condition. We were devastated, but found peace and comfort through priesthood blessings and the plan of salvation. We held out hope, and even joked that you were just playing a prank on us, and you were actually perfectly healthy. Each doctor's appointment brought more sad news, but we found hope and optimism in between visits. They found that you had a couple things going on. The Hydrops was the most concerning, and the Cystic Hygroma was what led us to the genetic testing. They found that you had a genetic translocation with your 6th chromosome. They had never seen this before. We joked that you just really wanted to make a statement. Our last visit it Dr. Glenn was very difficult. He told us that he had never seen a baby this sick make it. It broke our hearts. We knew it was a strong possibility, but to have all hope taken was something I couldn't accept for the next few days.

Later in the week, I decided to tell your Grandma Lezlie what the doctor said. She was devastated. She had been so excited to meet you and had spoiled you with all sorts of clothes and things for your nursery. That weekend (Labor Day Weekend) we went to Lake Powell with Grandma and Grandpa Bennett and all your aunts and uncles from that side were there. We felt like it was a good time to tell everyone what the doctor said. It was Aunt Sicily's birthday so we felt bad, but she said she was okay. Everyone was very sad, but there was a certain peace about it. You loved Lake Powell--even when your dad tackled us in the water--I pretended you didn't like it, but I knew that was the sort of thing you would love to do with your dad. When we headed home, we stopped to get a hamburger (your choice), and i felt that you were in a different position. Your head was normally on the right side of my stomach, but I started to feel something hard toward the bottom of my stomach. Looking back, I wonder if that was you moving, or if that is what happened after your heart stopped.

The next day we went to the specialist hoping for more answers. Up until that appointment, I had been terrified for every doctor's visit--fearing they would tell me that your heart stopped. For some reason I didn't think about it for this particular appointment. I was very nervous, and we said a prayer for peace and strength. When they started the ultrasound, your dad and I could tell that the swelling had gotten a lot worse since your last appointment about 3 weeks before.

When they got to your heart, we could see that it wasn't moving. She tried to zoom in and get some heart tones, but nothing was happening. She said there wasn't a heart beat, and that the doctor would be in to talk to us about that. I started crying, but held onto a little bit of hope that the doctor would come in and do another try--and maybe she could find your heartbeat. When the doctor came in, she didn't try to find it. She just explained the next steps. I was in a weird place where I was trying to stay calm so we could know what to do, but my heart was breaking on the inside.

We called your grandparents on our way over to Dr. Grover. They were very sad, but did their best to stay strong. Dr. Grover gave me lamanaria to induce labor and sent us home. It was a weird calm that we felt. Looking back, I think it was a mixture of wondering what labor would be like, and also trying to think through all the difficult decisions that no parent should ever have to think through. Grandma and Grandpa Bennett came over that night and we had a really sweet conversation. We went back the next morning and she gave me more lamanaria. We went home again and I slept a lot and your dad watched the Apple event--both of us trying to stay distracted. Grandma Lezlie and Aunt Sammie came over and were very supportive.

The next morning we checked into labor and delivery. The nurse gave me cytotec because I was at a 2. They said it normally takes between 3-5 doses before you would be ready to come. With 3 hours between each dose, we thought we were in for the long haul. We would soon find out that you had your own plans :) About a half hour before it was time for my second dose, I started to have really bad "cramps". I told myself to hang in there until the nurse came back, and I would ask for something to help, but maybe not the epidural. About 15 minutes later they got a lot worse so I called for the nurse at her convenience. About 10 minutes after that, I told her to please come quickly. She came in and I told her I was in  A LOT of pain. She said the anesthesiologist was in a c-section so she would give me some morphine to hold me over. She said I was in hard labor so when I was comfortable, she would check me again. I was still at a 2 when she first came in, and then after the epidural kicked in, my water broke. It shocked me. I thought for sure I had lost control of my bladder and just peed everywhere. The nurse checked me after that and I was ready. She said she felt baby parts.

Your aunts Sicily and Savanna were there and the grandmas walked in right then. Your Grandma Lezlie was so funny because she brought coloring books and Uno cards--again, we thought we had a lot of time. Your Grandma Michelle held my hand and tried to warm me up because I had the chills. And those ice chips--they were heavenly. Your dad gave me a wonderful blessing and we sent everyone out.

​When the doctor came in to deliver you, she said, "baby is trying to come out." I told her you had been a little stinker, so it didn't surprise me :) You were breech, so I saw your little foot pop out and my heart just melted. It was the most perfect, tiny foot I had ever seen. Your head had a lot of swelling so it took some work to get you all the way out. I didn't see you for  a little bit because it took some time to get all the placenta out. They wrapped you in a towel and brought you to me. You were very red and swollen, and you were the most beautiful, precious baby I had ever laid eyes on. You were born at 5:15pm and you weighed 1 pound 11 ounces, and were 11 inches long. Your dad and I spent some time alone with you and just snuggled your sweet little body. We were surprised, because it wasn't a sad time. We felt the spirit so strong, and we were just overwhelmed with joy. We were holding our baby girl!

​Your dad went to get everyone from the waiting room so we could bless you with a name. Your dad wrote you a letter explaining why your name is so important, so I won't go into that. I will say that you are a very loved little girl, and we know you will bear that name with honor. People who were there: Gma Lezlie, Gma and Gpa Bennett, Aunts Sicily, Savanna, and Ingunn, Great Gmas and Gpas Bennett and Hendry, Aunt Sammie and Uncle John,  Cousins Katelyn, Jackson, Alyssa, Abby and Madi, and of course your mom and dad. You are very loved my sweet girl.

Your dad gave you a beautiful blessing and the spirit was very strong. You were blessed to know how much you are loved by your family and your Heavenly Father, and that through the atonement, all the blessings you seek in your eternal progress will be blessed to you. He wanted you to know that your mother and father are praying for you and loving you, and that we are grateful for you and all the joy that you have brought into our lives. He then closed your blessing of gratitude. Everyone held you again and said goodbye. Gma Lezlie, Aunt Sammie, Sicily, and Savanna stayed and helped Heather from Angel Watch do your hand and feet molds.

Your Aunt Sicily started to get really sick and she felt really bad, but she had to go home. Your Aunt Savanna had some special time bonding with you and taking pictures which we are very grateful for. We got to hold you and I got some very special pictures of you holding my finger. Savanna and Heather put you in a cute diaper, bracelet, hat with a bow, and they wrapped you in the sweet blanket that Aunt Sammie got you.

Gma and Gpa Bennett came back and held you. It was a very special time to spend with you and family. We were loving all your little features like your tiny fingernails and your little toes and fingers. Your little leg kept going up--we think it's the same leg from your ultrasound :) You could feel your tiny little bones--especially in your right knee. Your tiny nose was just adorable and your lips. The most kissable lips I ever laid eyes on. When we opened your little mouth, you could see your sweet tongue. Your dad and I joked that you probably slept like your momma because your mouth would stay open. Oh my sweet girl, those moments are so precious to me.

After a little while, it started to get late, so family gave you loves and said goodbye. Your dad and I had some alone time with you that I will cherish forever. Your dad read you the letter he wrote you and then we snuggled as a family. You laid on your dad's chest and I laid in his arm. I still long for that moment. When we go to bed now, I always think of that memory and it brings me to tears. Partly because I long for that experience again, but also because it was such a special time and I am extremely grateful we had that opportunity.

​About 10:30pm, we decided to say goodbye and we gave you to Heather. I kissed the top of your head and gave you squeezes. I will never forget the feeling of your sweet little body being so close to mine. Your daddy gave you some loves and then we said goodbye. We were very sad, but we could still feel your presence very strong, so we didn't feel like we were really saying goodbye. We stayed in the hospital that night and left the next morning. Maybe it was the morphine, or maybe it was a tender mercy--either way, that day was a very happy, special day to us. I am so so grateful for the time we had with you and the joy we felt holding you in our arms. I will never forget it. And I can't wait until we get to hold you in our arms again my sweet girl. 

Always and Forever,
​Your Momma

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Go Team Jayden!

Meet Team Jayden. They are a favorite family of mine.  They have participated in the Running with Angels 5K for a few years.  The better I get to know them, the more I like them!  They run for Amy's daughter, Jayden Angelyn--she even has "Angel" in her name.  And what a beautiful baby.  When a baby dies of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), there may be many unexplained questions that will never be answered in mortality.  My heart goes out to Amy and her wonderful family--who come together each year and celebrate the life of a sweet daughter, sister, granddaughter, niece, and cousin.  

Below are race pictures from 2016, and Amy's lovely story about little Jayden Angelyn Quiring.


Go Team Jayden!

On November 12, 1998 our little angel entered our lives.  Jayden Angelyn Quiring made her grand arrival a week past her due date.  Once labor started is was super quick, only 4 hours start to finish!  What a cutie she was too.  A little pug nose and a tiny little dimple right in the middle of her chin.  We were all so thrilled to have another little baby added to our family. 
Jayden was a surprise to our family, as we found out I was pregnant when Conner, her older brother, was only 6 months old.  While we were a little nervous to quickly add another member, we were also excited and happy.  Conner was excited to have a little sister.... and he loved her SO very much from the minute they met.  Conner was 18 months old when Jayden was born.  Conner could make Jayden smile when no one else could get her to stop crying.  He took extra special interest in her for someone as young as he was.  He was constantl checking on her to make sure she was ok.  He was a big helper and wanted to feed her, bathe her, and even dress her.  It was so adorable.
Jayden was a chunky little thing.  She loved being held outward so she could see what was going on in her little world.  I often wonder if she knew her life on earth would be short so she wanted to see it all, take in as much as she could.  Jayden was loved by so many!  She was the second grandchild, first girl, so she was spoiled and well attended too.  Aunt Brooke loved to paint her tiny little nails and Aunt Ang babysat often.  We lived with my parents at the time so Jayden got tons of Grandma and Grandpa time.  Aunts, Uncles, Cousins and friends were all impacted and loved by Jayden as well.  We have always been such a blessed family to have each other.
Jayden passed away in her sleep on May 17th, 1999.  She was with us for 6 short months.  We feel so grateful we were given some time to meet our beautiful angel.  Cause of death was Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, SIDS.
Many years have passed since Jayden left us.  She would have been 18 years old this past November.  It's crazy how life goes on, things change, our family has grown and changed over the years, and time has made memories fade and sad moments not feel so sad.  In many ways I am grateful for the years and the ease it has given on the pain, and in so many ways time has made me sad because I think of the young woman she would be today.  We have a few traditions to remember our little angel, but my most favorite one is the chance to take part in Running with Angels every year.  I found the race just a few years ago and we look forward to spending a day with my family and others running in memory of a special little someone we will always remember.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

. . . Just Breathe . . .

I've had to take a little time out lately. . . to breathe.  To regroup.  To step back just a bit.  I've really missed writing about my angels, though.  Which is why today, in welcoming myself back, I am naming Ashleigh the Angel of the Day.    She trained Karen and me in our second 100-Day Heart Challenge.  I'm one who needs to experience some things quite a few times before they really sink in.

Ashleigh was one of my trainers.  She encouraged me to "Breathe!" quite often.  Probably because I wasn't doing it very well or often enough.  To effectively sustain the energy needed to do the exercise, it is important to not forget to breathe.  I find myself still thinking about her advice--even when I'm not working out.  When days are rough.  When I am trying to keep my head above the floodwaters of life.  And particularly when I am encouraging others to also take time to breathe when they are facing tough times.

Just like in the airline instructions, where we are told to put on our own oxygen mask before putting one on our child,  we need to be able to breathe sufficiently before we can be of help to anyone else.  It is so easy to forget to do that.  By simply taking adequate time to ponder, to meditate, to pray, to do the things which sustain our energy (why don't I ever have to be reminded to eat?), we can live life much more mindfully, and be of greater service to those we love.

So, dear Ashleigh, I will breathe.  Thank you for the reminder.  It is one I have needed more than a few times.  And I wish you the best in your new life with your handsome Perry and pursuing your Doctorate degree.

Keep a smile on that pretty face. . . And don't forget to breathe!


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

My Marathon Angel

Yesterday my good friend Joni ran the Boston Marathon.  It was her 41st marathon!  She's pretty much my marathon idol.  I volunteered with Joni and Marie way back in high school at the Deseret News 24th of July Marathon, and my dream of running a marathon was born that day.

I loved hanging out with her in high school, when, on the day of some big dance, I would wear curlers in my hair and drive down to her house and we'd listen to Barry Manilow while we talked about our dates.  Nothing seemed more important!  And now we've both grown up and discovered the really important things in life.  Joni just seems to keep getting younger and more vivacious with each passing year.  I now run my marathons vicariously through her.  I simply smile when I reflect on our memories from high school and how much I adore this girl.  Joni, you truly are an inspiring angel.  Keep running!


Thursday, April 13, 2017

You'll Be in My Heart

This bond between us can't be broken, I will be here don't you cry
'Cause you'll be in my heart, yes, you'll be in my heart
From this day on, now and forevermore.
You'll be in my heart, no matter what they say
You'll be in my heart always . . .     (Phil Collins)

We buried little Eric, born still, 16 years ago today.  I can't help but think about what it would be like to have a teenage son around this somewhat empty house.  Driving.  Dating.  Playing soccer?  Maybe in the school plays?  Singing in the Choir?   At times I miss what could have been.  

But Easter has new meaning for me.  I am forever grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who gave His Son so that we could return to Him.  And for a Savior who willingly suffered and died for my sins, for my hurts, for my pain.   I am coming to more fully understand that the Atonement of our Savior is the very heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  

I love you, Eric.  You'll be in my heart always.

Monday, April 10, 2017

What the Trainer Taught Me

Jared said it first.  He and his big buff biceps trained Karen and me in the gym while we did the 100-Day Heart Challenge.  He worked us hard!  There were days when I realized I had muscles I never knew existed before his training.  He also taught me something I hadn't thought about before.  If I remember correctly, he explained that in trying to lose weight, the time I spend each day working out is only about 20 - 30% of the whole package.  The other 70 - 80%?  It's the food choices I make.  I have thought about that a lot in my quest for better health.  The time I spend each day getting proper exercise is important--a very critical part.  But it is only a part. 

I have also realized that it is the same with attending church, or going to the temple.  It is just a few hours of each week.  A very important, very critical part.  But how am I spending the rest of my week?  Am I serving?  Am I being kind?  Am I reading my scriptures?  Do I begin and end my days in prayer?  Am I staying true to what I believe?  

Why does physical exercise seem to have so many answers?  . . . Sigh. . . Wouldn't it be much nicer if it were chocolate that had all the answers?

Jared, thanks for all you taught me.  Even though I may not have felt it much at the time, you really are an angel.