Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Our Three Perfect Guardian Angels



Melissa reached out to me when she recently lost yet another baby.  She has now had two miscarriages and one stillborn daughter.  My heart aches for her.  She continues to heal.  I appreciate her willingness to open her heart and share her pure, honest, raw emotions.  Her thoughts mirror those of so many who have been through this heartbreaking experience. 

Melissa is actually a wonderful family friend.  In fact, I used to babysit her.  Her smile melted my heart, and still does!  She has an angel mother who has been so supportive of her throughout her life, and who has taught me a lot about mothering.  Melissa’s father passed away five and a half years ago, and I remember how kind and gentle he was, and just how loving these parents always have been.  I absolutely adore this family!  They continue to make such a difference in my life and anyone else who knows them, too. 
Melissa begins with thoughts of this most recent miscarriage, then tells the story of angel Ruby.  Hang in there, sweet Melissa.  We empathetic mothers band together with you, we love and support you, we understand the sorrow, and we know that God does indeed heal hearts!  Although the pain may never completely go away, it does become more manageable.  It’s okay to ask for help.  There are many earthly and heavenly angels ready and willing to lend a hand and a shoulder to lean on, one step at a time!


Here is Melissa’s story:
“The English language lacks the words to mourn an absence. For the loss of a parent, grandparent, spouse, child or friend, we have all manner of words and phrases, some helpful some not. Still we are conditioned to say something, even if it is only ‘I ‘m sorry for your loss.’ But for an absence, for someone who was never there at all, we are wordless to capture that particular emptiness. For those who deeply want children and are denied them, those missing babies hover life silent ephemeral shadows over their lives. Who can describe the feel of a tiny hand that is never held?” ~ Laura Bush 

With this latest pregnancy, so much responsibility was placed on this little one even before I saw the ultrasound. But by then, it was too late. I thought that maybe this baby could help heal my heart with God and restore faith that my body can carry a healthy baby to full-term. But all I saw was a little sack and a lifeless baby who had stopped growing two weeks earlier. I was crushed. A million thoughts ran through my mind.  “Why am I going through this again? Wasn’t burying a stillborn baby and already having another miscarriage enough for me? Why was God doing this to me again? I know that I had a hard time connecting to this baby out of fear of losing him or her. Was this my fault? I can’t go through this again!”
But, here I am, living reality, and I know that I have to do things differently this time. Here is my story... 

In November of 2016, my family was anticipating the arrival of our first baby girl. She would be welcomed into a home with two older brothers who were eager to meet her. Let’s be honest, I was more than thrilled to have a girl to chum around with in a house full of boys  We were at “The Big” ultrasound where they check and measure the baby’s growth to see if everything is okay. We had had this ultrasound tech once before with one of our other babies. We knew she was thorough and tender hearted. As she measured and scanned our little Ruby’s heart, she could not get the images she wanted. In fact, she spent 20 minutes focusing on her heart. Finally, I said, “I cannot handle the pressure on my abdomen; can we move on and get the other measurements?” She quickly moved on and finished doing what she needed to do. I received a phone call early Monday morning asking if I could go in and see another ultra sound tech who had a machine with higher resolution. They told me not to worry, that my doctor just wanted to make sure things were okay with her heart. I proceeded to tell her that the tech spent 20 minutes looking at the heart and she had a hard time seeing what she needed to see. The nurse expressed again that is why they wanted me to go see the specialist. We got in that afternoon. My husband and I did not know what to expect. We thought it was just another routine check, and that everything was going to be okay. 
As the ultrasound tech conducted the exam, she mentioned that the baby was measuring two weeks smaller than what she should be, and then proceeded to look at the heart. Now, I am not a doctor or ultrasound tech, but I do know that a healthy heart has four chambers. As I saw our little girl’s heart beating on the screen, it was evident that there were only three, with a little flap waving with every beat. At that point, the doctor reviewed the scans and told us in a very calm voice, “When we see hearts like this, the baby either has Down’s Syndrome, will be stillborn, or will live only a few hours.” My heart sunk. I could not believe what I was hearing. I refused to believe what I was hearing. This could not be happening! Why was this happening? All I could do was have “Hope;” hope for a miracle. He proceeded to tell us he could not tell the extent of the heart damage, and that we would need to have a prenatal echo cardiogram at Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City.  
As I walked out of the doors that day, I prayed for a miracle to happen and that she would be able to have a little surgery when she was born, and she would be fine, and we would move on with our lives. There are so many babies born with holes in their hearts, and with the advancement of today’s technology, things were going to be okay, weren’t they? Miracles happen all of the time. There are a ton of stories on Facebook where the doctor tells the expectant parents that their baby is not going to live and then a miracle happens, and they give birth to a healthy baby. I was going to be one of those stories. This little girl was going to beat the odds and be a miracle baby. I was determined that would happen. I prayed for it. I put my whole trust in God that she would be okay. I trusted Him! 
The appointment was made three weeks out. My husband Brian called me and asked if I wanted to bump up the appointment. He works at the University of Utah School of Medicine and knows many of the cardiologists and schedulers. He could have arranged for an earlier appointment. I declined his offer. Ruby was measuring two weeks small. Maybe in that three weeks she would get bigger and her heart would start to heal. Inside, I was hoping for a miracle. They would go in and see that her heart was healed, and she would be truly a miracle baby! My husband also hoped for a miracle. He took the report from the ultrasound to one of the pediatric cardiologists he works with to get their opinion. The pediatric cardiologist’s comment to him was, “in other countries, when they see hearts like this, the mother would terminate the pregnancy. If this baby survives, it will have a very difficult life.” We both refused to believe this! 
Weeks went by.  We prayed.  We fasted. We pleaded with Heavenly Father for our little Ruby to be healed. I will never forget Friday, December 2, 2016. My little girl was kicking me all day long. I went throughout my day feeling her little jabs, until finally I acknowledged her. I commented, “What are you trying to tell me? Are you saying, ‘Here I am, and I am going to be strong and be healed?’ Or, are you telling me, ‘Here I am, I want you to know that I am here, because I will not be here much longer.’” The next day I did not feel her much. I figured that it was just a time within the pregnancy that I would not feel her, as she was still so little. The next day was Sunday, and I still did not feel anything. Monday was the same. I had an appointment on Tuesday with doctor. I told her what I had experienced over the weekend. She calmed my nerves and said that this is normal, based on where I was within my pregnancy. We talked about getting my own fetal heart monitor, so I could check at home. She began the ultrasound to put my fears to rest. 
There was little Ruby, lifeless on the monitor. We could not believe what we were seeing.  No heart beat! No movement! Just silence! We were all stunned!  Was this really happening? My doctor could not believe her eyes, either.  We all just broke down in tears. She said, “I honestly thought you would deliver her, and she would be able to have a little surgery, and everything would be just fine.” She proceeded to tell us what our options were and gave us her personal cell phone number. She asked us to call her when we were ready to go to the hospital to deliver the baby.  There were hugs and tears. I truly love my doctor.  She has been there for all of my babies—the births of our boys, the miscarriages, and Ruby—for the last six and half years. I know she sincerely cares about me as an individual, as well as the healthy delivery of my babies. 
That drive home was the longest of my life. I just cried. I still could not believe this was happening.  I did not know how I was going to tell my boys that they were not going to have a baby sister to play with. They had offered many prayers that Ruby’s “broken heart would be healed.” I did not know how I was going to explain that her “broken heart” had given up. We pulled up to my mom’s house. We went in, hugged the boys, and told them what had happened. They understood as much as their little heads could, and then went on their merry way. All I could do was sit with my mother and cry.
The next day, we made arrangements with the funeral home. Friends and family members were frantically looking for angel dresses, and for any other ways they could help and support us. Brian and I went to pick out an angel figurine to place on the built-in shelving in our front room. Throughout my life, my parents have given me Lladros, Hummels, and Willow Tree figurines to signify important milestones and events in my life. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would be adding angels to my collection. Nor did I think I would burying a baby at my age. But here I was, looking for burial plots. Of course, I did not want her next to strangers. She would be placed at the feet of my father, who had passed away four years earlier, so he could look after her. Over the hours and hours of therapy I have received over this past year, I have accepted the fact that my father would look after her, and it is one of the ways that I have been able to feel peace. I remember how my father raised and cared for me. I was able to let Ruby go and be cared by him, until I am able to. So, Dad, you have three of my babies to care for; be kind to them and love them, just as you did for me. 

                                               
That evening, my husband called the doctor and told her we thought we were ready to deliver the baby.  We went on Thursday, December 8, 2016 to deliver our little Ruby. I even had my doctor do one last ultra sound just to make sure that nothing had changed. For the next 12 hours, while we waited for her to come, we watched Christmas movies and stayed in contact with our doula and family members. At 9:45 pm our little Ruby was delivered. Our doula arrived shortly after and assisted me with the rest of the horrid process. I will be honest, it was hard for me to look at our little girl. It did not know what to expect. She was 22 weeks’ gestation, and I was not familiar with all the developmental stages. Pregnancy apps do not prepare you for that. But I do remember she fit in my hand. She had eyebrows, and her little foot was the size of my
thumb. Her hands were barely big enough to wrap around my pointer finger. I could see that her eyes were open. My doctor said, “she wanted to make sure you knew that she saw you.” Moments later, a representative from Utah Share came in and dressed her in a tiny diaper and a little dress.  She took pictures of her tiny features, and with my husband and me. When our boys arrived, they were eager to see and hold their baby sister. 
My husband and I were led by their innocence, and how they embraced her with love. We hesitated at first to have the boys see her, but they quickly put our minds at ease. It was as if they already knew what to expect and how to handle the situation. We continued taking photos of this precious moment with our little family.                                                           

That night, I had the most spiritual and sacred moment I have ever had with my dad.  I know the veil is thin; and I was reminded that night that he has been there for me through every part of my life, even since he passed away. That is why I felt comforted in relinquishing my parental care of the babies I have lost to him. 
My friends and family put on a wonderful little funeral to honor our little Ruby Sue Davis. The casket was so small that it fit on a table. The photos from the hospital were framed and displayed 
throughout the room, so those who attended could see and feel of love of this sweet little spirit. We laid her to rest next to my dad. 
Six weeks after Ruby’s birth, I began to hemorrhage. I had to go back to the hospital for an emergency D&C.  It was very traumatic—physically as well as emotionally.  I remember thinking, ‘is this really how I am going to die?’ Then, after my recovery, I enrolled into therapy! 

My husband and I learned how men and women grieve differently.  Where I was outwardly grieving, Brian was grieving inside on his own. I learned that since he was unable to feel the kicks of his daughter, the place he felt more connected to her was at her grave. He made weekly visits to her where she was buried, where he could outwardly express his feelings, and then he would ask my Dad to look after her until he was able to do so. I had no idea he made these weekly visits to her grave.  It just seemed to me that he did not care.  However, once we got on the same page, we learned ways to help us rebuild a new foundation to help strengthen our relationship. It is not perfect; we still have our spats, but we do know that we are in this for the long haul. 
And, as many do, I ate my emotions. I gained so much weight that I found myself in the ER on Thanksgiving with my blood pressure through the roof! I thought I was having a heart attack. But instead, I was having an anxiety attack, and my weight was a major contributor to my high blood pressure. I realized just why I was experiencing the anxiety attack—I was a week away from the first anniversary of Ruby’s death. That ER visit was a needed wakeup call for me to change my lifestyle. I had two little boys who still depended on me. I got a plan for healthy eating and exercise to help get me off my high blood pressure medication. 
In an effort to redirect my emptiness, my husband and I even started a new business. My sister opened up a co-op boutique called Salt Washed Co. in Holladay, Utah. I wanted to create something to honor Ruby and to try and fill the hole in my heart. My space in her company is called Ruby & Rose Collection. All of the red tags represent my daughter. You can take a piece of her home with you. Although this does not replace the loss of my baby, this has helped provide meaning and has been a welcome distraction. 
                                                                        
With this most recent loss, I knew things had to change. I needed to handle this loss differently. I had put too much responsibility on this little soul to help fix my problems. But in reality, this little one has changed my heart. I realize I now have three perfect spirits—too perfect to come to this earth. They did not need to prove themselves to God. I saved them from coming into this world, which can be awful at times.  I do not have to worry about whether or not they are going to make the right choices. My walls and barriers started to come down at the end of February. My heart started to open up to how my trials have shaped my life.  I am searching to find the meaning of “enduring to the end.” I have had the ‘experienced’ ladies within my ward as well as close family friends embrace me as I share my pain and the thoughts that accompany them. With the wisdom they have learned through the years, they have helped me to see what God has been trying to teach me during this past year of hell. I knew that I have needed to reach out to people who truly understand the pain I have been feeling in my soul. 
This is why I am participating in Running with the Angels. Each of our stories are unique, but we do have one thing in common. We each understand the feeling of emptiness from the tiny hand we cannot hold.





l

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

A Warrior in Heaven, an Angel on Earth


 I continue to be amazed at the effect that an angel baby has on the lives of the rest of us. Little Ares' family knew that he wouldn't be here on earth for very long.  Receiving that news is impossible toadequately describe.  I am so grateful that Angel Watch was there to help.  

This beautiful mother, Summer, is the daughter of my cousin, Jay.  Not only does this story hit close to home, but it touches my heart, as I think about my dear cousin mourning the loss of a grandson as well as comforting his grieving daughter.  I also discovered how selfless this mother is, as I learned the reason why Summer and Eldis opted to allow him to grow to full-term, and even the sweet acts of love from Summer for months after his birth.  It is humbling to see the love this father has for his child, as well as his wife.  There is a very evident reverence for life with Summer and Eldis.  This Saturday, they will join us at the Running with Angels 5K.

This beautiful family is very close, and Summer's sister, Oakely, wrote the following account of sweet baby Ares.  You may need to have some tissues handy.  
(For more pictures and heart-warming stories, visit Oakley's blog:  http://nothingdownaboutit.com/blog/warrior-in-heaven-angel-on-earth)

Over a month later and I still struggle to write this post without tears flooding my face, not just tears of grief and sadness, but also tears of joy and gratitude. I didn’t anticipate missing such tragic days or long to relive them the way that I do. How could something so sad and difficult be one of the most precious and beloved memories of my life? Nothing could possibly have bonded our already “tight-knit” family the way baby Ares did.


I’ll never forget the day we all found out. My sister Summer sent the text in our family thread-- “something looks wrong with the baby’s brain, please pray” and we did. After my quick but fervent prayer, I rushed my kids out the door to go to tumbling all while knowing everything would be just fine. I called our older sister... we talked about possibilities and I was sure it would be something that would resolve itself. Within the hour we got the diagnosis… Summer sent out what the doctors were most sure of... Anencephaly. A brainstem with no brain growing on top of it and no skull to protect what little was there. I couldn’t even process what my sister was calmly telling us. I called her hoping for more possibilities and answers and she sounded so calm and collected as she sat there waiting for her husband and more doctors. I had to get off the phone before I changed her disposition with my need to cry out in sadness. Then I did just that, cried and cried with every tear in my body… I pulled the car over due to blurry vision and buried my head in the steering wheel begging the Lord above to be with my sister. And He was. 
When the doctors were sure of the diagnosis and that the outcome would be no more than a few hours of life, they offered to deliver the baby right then so that she could start the healing process. Without even a second to think, she declined insisting she carry out the next twenty weeks to get to know the son inside of her. She wanted to feel every kick and flutter and have all the time she could with him. She wanted to donate all viable organs to another baby and the rest to research. My warrior little sister insisted on giving her boy more time and needed to feel more purpose.

Months followed with sadness lingering over all of our heads. I know very few families who are as close as us Clark sisters, in turn forcing our husbands to be close as well as super involved parents. Therefore, when one of us is experiencing a trial, we all feel it very deeply and this situation felt like a huge, shared, painful load. No one could ever feel the immense pain that my sister and brother-in-law have felt but we couldn’t even imagine it with the heaviness that we have all felt together. We tried to say the right things (often times doing the opposite), we took food and treats over regularly, we helped with their other two kids so they could have lots of time to cry and we prayed like we’ve never prayed before. It was a slow five months for us siblings and our parents as we were anxious for them to begin healing. For my sister the time flew too quickly and she experienced panic attacks, fearing he would come early and her time with him would be cut short. She says she has never felt like she has known anyone as well as she knew the special soul inside her belly. She spent little time complaining about her pregnancy discomfort, lack of sleep, weight gain or swollen body (which at one point needed a large needle poke inside of her to drain extra fluid). She spent lots of time rubbing her belly, gazing at ultrasound pictures and feeling proud to be this angel's mommy.

The day came and none of us could sleep the night before. We were nervous, stressed and so sad as we walked into that hospital. Then we got to the room just before they wheeled her out for surgery and little sister was calm and beautiful. She was ready to meet her son and let the heavens open to take him home. As ready as you can ever be… She and her sweet husband held hands and we all cried as they left the room. As a family, we waited anxiously for them to return. I don’t remember ever being this nervous in my entire life. What if he didn’t make it through the surgery and we don’t get the couple of hours we have been expecting? What if he is already gone? I ached for my sister and brother-in-law as I anticipated what was to come.
Just under an hour passed before they came back. We all pushed up against the walls trying to be reverent and quiet as they brought sweet Ares in to meet his parents (whisked away after the c-section).  All of his aunts, uncles and grandparents were anxious to greet him as well. Tears dampened every face in that room as we saw our huge, chunky angel-boy get handed to his mommy and she pulled him into her chest. 

 The love was the strongest kind of love and the room was full of it. The tears turned from sad tears to happy tears as we gazed at his precious face. A hat covered his sunken-in head where his brain was not. With the misformation of his face, he was one of the most beautiful babies I have ever seen. He was perfect.


Summer and Eldis generously shared about a half-hour of their precious time with him and then we all said good-bye to our family angel and waited down the hall. Soon after we left, they took him off life support to allow him to return to heaven. To all of our surprise, he fought for an extra five hours of life with his parents, sister and brother, aunts, uncles and grandparents. Since his heart beat stayed strong for hours, we got more chances to go in to kiss and hold him. As his heart started slow down, they invited us into the room to watch him slip back to heaven.  That time was too precious to even type about.

Once he was pronounced gone, my surprising calm sister finally broke down with the rest of us. I can’t relive that moment without feeling the same deep pain in my chest that was felt that day. A pain so emotional that it became physical. I cannot even begin to describe the anguish upon watching the donor team take her baby from her arms… it was too much for even the strongest men in our family.

The next ten days passed with constant family time. We would go to my sisters, take their kids, let she and Eldis cry together and then return to distract them in the evenings. It was like a new routine. We talked, and still talk often about his birthday and how perfectly such an imperfect situation went. We speak of how well he knows his parents and how he fought to give them those extra hours that they were so desperate to have. We talk about how proud we are that his organs have been put to great use. We joke about how big he was and that it represented his huge spirit. We cry when we miss him.









The funeral was equally as perfect of a day. Again, every possible emotion was felt but the strongest, was love. It was amazing to see the impact his tiny life had on so many dear friends and family. The support was beautiful and truly unbelievable. The spirit of love and family was stronger than ever and you couldn't help but feel joy with the pain. 

Fast forward a month and a half later and my sister is pumping breast milk for a baby she found online. He is allergic to formula and his mom cannot produce milk of her own. Summer and Eldis are quick to hold the newborns at church and new babies born into our extended family. Yesterday Summer took a meal to a friend who just had a baby boy of her own and was anxious to hold him. 
I could not be an ounce more proud of Summer and Eldis. Their strength and attitude through this trial has been so beautiful and inspiring. They are so thankful to have this angel watching over him and look forward to the day they rejoin him in heaven. We all do. 




Friday, May 4, 2018

Paetyn's Journey


As expectant parents of a baby with a fatal diagnosis before birth, Jaelyn and Tim heard those three words that are a parent's nightmare--"incompatible with life."  Even after many years, I can still recall the surreality of hearing our doctor speak those same words about our baby, Emily's heart defect.  

I admire Jaelyn and Tim's willingness to share their family's story.  It has only been five months since Paetyn arrived and then made her way back home.  But, as Jaelyn explains below, they certainly did make the best of each moment they had with her during the pregnancy, and for the few short precious hours of her life.  We will join with them in celebrating Paetyn's journey at the Running with Angels 5K on May 19th.



Paetyn’s Journey


As first-time parents, we were thrilled to find out that we were expecting. We had a handful of names that we liked, but our dreams of what we would name our first child became real when we found out that we were expecting. We never thought that we would be the ones to name our baby before it was born, but looking back now we realize what a blessing in disguise this decision was. Daddy(Tim) is a big Bronco’s fan and has always admired Peyton Manning as a quarterback, and also as a person. Mommy (Jaelyn) also liked the name, and not knowing the gender of our baby yet, we decided that Peyton would be a good name that could go either way and we would figure out the spelling after that.. We had lists of a dozen ways to spell it, but after finding out that we were expecting a little girl, we settled on “Paetyn” because it was spelled like Mommy’s name, “Jaelyn”.
We excitedly looked forward to our “Big Dr’s Appointment” where we would get to see a longer, more in depth ultrasound of our baby girl and how she was growing and developing. A few short minutes into the ultrasound, the radiology tech put down the transducer, told us there was a problem, and that she was going to go get our Dr. Our minds swirled and our hearts broke in that moment, and later as we met with the specialists, told our family, and tried to cope with the news that our baby had a condition that was considered “incompatible with life”.
Paetyn was diagnosed with a condition called Acrania, related to the more commonly known diagnosis of Anencephaly. This meant that the top part of her skull did not form around her brain. We were told that as she moved and grew while in the womb that her brain would likely deteriorate and it was unknown if she would survive her birth. If she did, there was no way of knowing if she would live a few minutes, a few hours, or possibly even a few days.
As hard as this news was to accept, we recognized quickly that the time we had to spend with her would be short, so we decided to make the best of every moment that we had with her, starting right then. We had many family get-togethers, dressed Paetyn up as a Pumpkin for Halloween, a Turkey for Thanksgiving, and even took her to see Santa. We made every day count in the things that we did together as a family of 3, and we cherished every little kick and squirm.




Paetyn J Allen decided to make her entrance into the world at 32 weeks on Sunday, December 17, 2018. She was 2lbs 10 oz, 14 inches long. We were blessed to spend a wonderful 11 hours with her. During that time, she made sure to let us know what a dainty little princess she was. That morning after getting in her beautiful blessing dress that Mom made from her wedding dress, a bracelet from her Grandma that she was wearing around her wrist began to fall off, but she caught it with two of her long fingers, saving her princess bracelet from falling to the ground. Later, we tried to move the sweet little lamb Paetyn was snuggling with so we could take other pictures. As we did, Paetyn tightened her grip on it and pulled it in to her. Of course, we couldn’t resist her request and let our little princess hold onto it a little longer. That evening after Daddy painted her fingernails, she picked up her hand off of Mommy’s and turned it to admire her nails. When being held by family members and told that they loved her, she would respond by raising her strong little neck and nodding her head, or giving one of her perfect little Paetyn squeals to show she agreed and loved us too. She even picked up her hand and waved to her cousins while Skyping them which was the most she moved at one time all day.




Paetyn truly is our little angel. We feel so blessed to be her parents and to have her as a part of our forever family. It hasn’t been an easy journey, but we sure love our Paetyn. We’re so grateful for the love she brought and shared with us for those 11 hours, and all she continues to bless us with. We love knowing our Paetyn “runs” with us daily.



As a way for us to share our story and updates with family, we started a website with our story, things we did to celebrate her life,  information about Paetyn’s condition, the miracles we saw, weekly blogs, and lots and lots of pictures. We would love to share more of the details of Paetyn’s journey with you. That website is www.paetynsjourney.com


Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Ella . . . Back with the Angels


This beautiful family has quite the story.  Their sweet angel baby Ella, who was only here for five and a half precious hours, has already been working miracles for her family.  I look forward to meeting them this year at the Running with Angels 5K on May 19th. Read their story below, in Nikki's words.

And thank you, Angel Watch, including Heather Walker and Jacque Burks, for taking such good care of these precious families!



"In December of 2015 while 18 weeks pregnant, we got devastating diagnosis of Trisomy 13. Our daughter Ella would be born with an extra 13th chromosome. Throughout the pregnancy, there were so many unknowns. There was a high possibility of still birth and if not, once she was born we didn't know how much time we would have with her once she was here.





On April 6th, 2016, we induced labor at 36 weeks. Ella was born and able to meet all the family. Grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles were there to greet her. She was a slice of heaven on earth. Her 2 older brothers (5 and 6 at the time) were able to hold and love her. They truly adore their little sister Ella.  




After 5 1/2 hours she went back to heaven. While we are heart broken, we feel blessed to have had the short time we did with our angel. We know she is still close, constantly sending us miracles. One of those came last October (2017) when we suddenly received a call that there was a baby being born that day and being placed for adoption and still needed a home. With a series of events we were able to adopt our 2nd daughter. We recognize the miracles we have experienced with each one of our kids. We have experienced the greatest joy and greatest heartbreak. We think of Ella daily and look forward to the day we reunite as a family."











Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Angels Watching Over Us

Cameron is our nephew, and we got to celebrate with this wonderful couple when they got married.    He has always been a delightful young man, and he became even more so when he brought Natalie into the family!  Their heartbreak hits close to home.  As I read their story below, written by Natalie, I feel their pain, perhaps even more keenly, because I love these two and their extended family, and am aware of their experience.  I also realize that 'getting pregnant and having a healthy baby' seems so easy to take for granted.  Cameron and Natalie have hope for the future.  We look forward to having them with us on May 19th at our Running with Angels 5K!

"Since I can remember, I have loved babies.  I have always felt that my most important job in life will be my role as a mother.  When Cameron and I decided to start our family, I was blissfully unprepared for the trials ahead.  We have been trying to add a little one to our family for two years, and have experienced two heart-breaking miscarriages, thousands of dollars of medical bills, and numerous tests with seemingly normal results.  While our path to parenthood has been less than ideal, I still hold hope that my time to be a mother will come.  But for now, I'm glad to have my best friend by my side and our two perfect angels watching over us."


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

"Beautiful Heartbreaks"



Meet the Sarah and Josh Haroldsen Family.  I have a special place in my heart for this sweet mother.  She worked hard to bring twin girls to the earth. . . and they were only here a short time.  This brought with it not only a loss of two children, but also a loss of experiencing the adventure of raising twins.  I understand this particular sadness from losing one of our twins.  My heart aches along with Sarah and Josh.  They went on to experience even more grief just a few months later.  Read their story here, and notice the smiles in the picture from one of the Running with Angels 5Ks they attended.  I love how this courageous mother says that she was "able to experience the purest happiness and joy in those short moments," a sentiment that parents who lose children soon after birth often share.  Sarah also shares how her angel babies Kate, Allie, and Cole have truly become her "beautiful heartbreaks."  We are honored to have Josh and Sarah and their two living children join us on May 19th.  Registration is at runningwithangels.org.

Here is Sarah and Josh's story, in Sarah's words:

After many years and a lot of negative pregnancy tests, we found out that I was finally pregnant… with twins! Time passed with a very healthy, easy pregnancy. We soon found out we were expecting girls. I was beyond happy. Without a doubt, this was a miracle and a blessing from our Heavenly Father and an answer to many prayers.
            When I was 23 ½ weeks pregnant, there was a sudden turn of events that we were not ready for. I woke up one beautiful Sunday morning and my water broke. We quickly made our way to the hospital to find out I was in labor. I kept thinking to myself this wasn’t possible, this wasn’t happening, I wasn’t far enough along. The amazing medical staff worked incessantly to try to stop labor and determine what to do if we couldn’t stop labor. My husband and I were forced to have impossible conversations about how aggressively we would resuscitate my girls if they were born soon. After a very long day, including many prayers and priesthood blessings, I had to deliver. The NICU took both our little girls right away for an initial assessment, but they had simply come too early. They gave us back our daughters to spend as much time with them as we could. We knew they had no chance of leaving the hospital alive. It was such a bittersweet moment to go through. We were so happy and blessed to have two beautiful girls. It was so precious to hold them in our arms and hear their little cries. It was so cute to see them kind of scoot towards each other. On the other hand, it was so heartbreaking to know that it was only a matter of time that we had left with them. We had so much heartache, but at the same time, so much peace. I have never felt the veil as thin as I did at the hospital that day. We were able to spend a few precious hours with our beautiful girls before they went back home to our Heavenly Father.
            We were surprised, but excited, to find out that I was pregnant again just a quick 6 months later, and with a little boy! It was a very stressful pregnancy because of our recent experience, but we tried to stay optimistic. At week 19, symptoms of an infection came one morning that needed to be addressed. We headed to the hospital. After another very long day of tests and conversations, I delivered my son. If there had been any question about our twin girls being able to survive, we knew there was no chance for my son. We were devastated. We relished in the one hour we had with him before he returned home. For a second time, were forced to go through all the same emotions and feelings—all too soon.
           
           

 Through it all, I had a lot of fears. Fear that I would never get pregnant again. Fear that I would 
never be able to have any more children. There were certainly a lot of tears and pain. I ached for children. I longed for children. I hated each negative pregnancy test. I wanted the roller-coaster to be over. I wanted it to end. I wanted it all to go away, yet I knew it wouldn’t go away because I was willing to do whatever it took to have children.


            God had a different plan for me than I had for myself. I had been praying for children... and they came. Just in a different way than I thought, planned, or ever expected. My children lived and breathed, though only for a very brief amount of time. I was able to hold them and kiss them. I was able to cherish them during the time we had. I was able to talk to them and tell them how much I loved them and how much I would miss them. I tried to enjoy the happiness and beauty as long as I could. I was heartbroken to say goodbye. They are truly mine forever and for always. I was able to experience the purest happiness and joy in those short moments, that outweighed all those years of aches, tears, and pain. Kate, Allie, and Cole truly became my beautiful heartbreaks.
            In the time that has passed since, we have been so blessed with two miracle babies … we now have a 3 ½ year old boy, and a 15-month-old girl. 

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?  :)
#101DaysofAngels



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.