Monday, May 18, 2015

Angel Peyton

I loved meeting Peyton Little's family at the Running with Angels 5K.  There is something about families that have lost babies; an instant bond, a deeper understanding, an empathy for other families experiencing loss, that simply cannot come any other way.

I imagine long, lonely hospital days, week after week, as Megan experienced, could be awfully dismal.  The Littles chose Hope.  Literally.  This sweet little angel Little carries this as her middle name, as well as the confidence that they will be together again as a family.  As Megan, Cleve, and little Kaylee ran for Peyton Hope on Saturday, and as they continue their journey through life, I believe their little angel will be right there beside them.

Here is their story:

In October 2014 we found out we were expecting baby #2. We were beyond thrilled. We had been anxiously awaiting this opportunity and we were ecstatic for our 2 year old daughter to have a sibling. Things were going well with the pregnancy, I was feeling great and the baby was growing like it should. 

It was a quiet Sunday, a few days after Christmas, while taking a nap that I realized something was wrong. I woke up feeling like I was leaking something. I wasn't sure if this was a normal pregnancy symptom or something to be concerned about. We monitored it for a hour or so until I was overwhelmed with the feeling something just wasn't right. We jumped in the car and rushed to the ER. After lots of tests and hours of waiting our fears were confirmed. The doctor came in and told us that I was leaking amniotic fluid. My heart stopped. How was this possible? We asked the doctor what that meant for our baby. He told us that at 16 weeks, in most cases the pregnancy would result in a miscarriage within a week. He explained that there was nothing they could do. The baby wasn't viable yet and we had to just let "nature take its course". 

We were heartbroken and terrified. How could there be nothing they could do?  We left the hospital that night feeling lost and confused. We set up an appointment with our regular OB the following morning. He did some more tests and confirmed what the ER doctor had told us. Later we met with Maternal Fetal Medicine and they explained that if the pregnancy didn't result in a miscarriage that there were other significant concerns to consider. They explained the high risk of infection that would threaten my life and they explained the health and development issues it could cause for the baby. They basically told us the odds were against us and that we may want to consider ending the pregnancy. Without hesitation we chose love. We didn't want to give up on our baby and wanted to give it a fighting chance. They told us again that only time would tell and that nature would take it course. 

We felt hopeful as each day passed.  We hit 20 weeks and went in for a regular scheduled ultrasound. The MFM doctor was very optimistic. He said the amniotic fluid was at a good level and my sac probably healed itself. Which he said is very rare, but can happen. He also told us we were going to have another little girl!!!  We knew instantly that her name would be Peyton. We couldn't wait to share the news with our family and friends. 

Two weeks later, at 22 weeks, our life once again got flipped upside down. I was leaking again... but this time it was a lot. We once again rushed to the hospital and this time were able to be taken to labor and delivery because we were further along. They did tests and told us that my water had completely ruptured. The nurses and doctors were frantic. Our OB informed us that we needed to be transferred via ambulance to UVRMC since they had an advanced NICU. They felt this was necessary because there was a good chance our little girl was coming that night. 

The ambulance crew came in and started getting me ready for transport. It was a quick ride to UVRMC. There they monitored Peyton's heartbeat and my contractions all night. The NICU doctor came in and tried to make a "game plan". He told us they would try to do what they could for her but until she was 24 weeks she didn't have much of a chance for survival. As you can imagine this was a very emotional situation to handle. We were trying our best to wrap our heads around what was happening and tried to take things minute by minute. Much to everybody's surprise we made it through the night. 

Each day that passed the doctors were amazed and told us how each minute was a blessing. At the 24 week mark it felt as though a huge burden was lifted. We knew things still weren't great and we still had a long road ahead, but at least we knew, if she were to be born at this stage she would  at least have a fighting chance.  I would have some contractions off but luckily nothing ever came of them. The long days spent alone in the hospital gave a lot of opportunity for deciding Peyton's middle name. The name that kept coming to our minds was Hope. Everything about this situation screamed hope.

I knew my nurses well and was starting to feel "at home" there. I missed my family terribly but felt grateful for each day I had feeling our sweet baby girl kick and wiggle inside of me. At this point I had been in the hospital for 6 weeks. It was late one evening when once again I felt that something was very wrong. I called my nurse and she discovered that I had a prolapsed cord. Within seconds there were multiple nurses in my room and before I knew it they were rushing me down the hallway. As they were wheeling my hospital bed down the hall I quickly called my husband who was at home with our daughter. 

They quickly put me under anesthesia and performed an emergency c-section. Our sweet Peyton was born at 27 weeks, weighing only 2 lbs 4 oz and measuring 14 inches long. Because of the lack of fluid throughout the pregnancy, her lungs didn't have the chance to develop as they should. Peyton struggled with her under developed body for three days before returning to her Father in Heaven. She passed away after having the opportunity to meet her big sister and after spending some snuggle time with her Mom and Dad. 

Although we didn't get a lot of time with Peyton we all felt like we knew her so well. There had been such a deep and lasting bond created through this difficult circumstance. Peyton has left such a lasting memory and continues to be a very real part of our lives. Peyton's big sister talks about her constantly. Peyton is forever immortalized in the sweet memories, images, and mementoes throughout our home. We look forward to the day our little family will be whole again. Until that time we are so grateful for our guardian angel, Peyton Hope Little.

The quote on her gravestone says it perfectly, "Such a big miracle in such a little girl."

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Owen the Warrior

This is such a sweet little family.  I heard updates as the pregnancy progressed from Owen's grandma, who is my good friend.  My heart ached for them, and I remembered what it was like to carry a baby with a condition "incompatible with life."  

I see smiles of hope through the heartache on the faces of Amy and Jason, and I love the faces of their adorable daughter and particularly angel baby Owen.  It almost looks as if he is wanting to give his mom a kiss.

We look forward to having them as Dove Releasers at the Running with Angels 5K this year!

My husband and I found out May of 2014 that we were expecting our second child. We were beyond thrilled, and the pregnancy seemed to progress normally. The baby was growing well and a quad marker screening came back normal, so we went into our 20 week anatomy ultrasound confident and excited to learn the gender and see our little baby. I remember thinking as the tech completed the ultrasound that she seemed overly focused. She told us the baby was a boy and hardly said another word. When the doctor came in after the ultrasound, he met us with a calm, but sad, face and said words I will never forget. “I want to be honest with you and tell you that we saw some very concerning things in the ultrasound.” I sat there with my 18 month old daughter in my lap, clutching my husband’s hand as he proceeded to explain that our baby boy had many markers that led them to believe that there was a chromosomal issue of some form. An amniocentesis confirmed our fears, as we learned that our baby had a condition called Trisomy 13, a condition that only occurs in about 1 in every 16,000 newborns and is ultimately incompatible with life. We were told that if our baby made it to delivery, his life would be very brief.

Our hearts were broken as we tried to come to terms with the fact that our son would not have the life we had envisioned for him. Knowing that there was a chance that the pregnancy may be the only time we would have with our sweet baby, we decided to make memories with him before he was born. We went to the zoo, to the beach, to a BYU football game, took family pictures, etc. I made him a quilt and recorded memories of the pregnancy. We decided on the name Owen, which means “young warrior,” and anxiously awaited the opportunity to hold our little boy.

At 8:47pm on December 23, 2014, Owen Charl Evans was born. It took him a few minutes to breathe, but our little fighter held true to his name and blessed our family with 18 precious hours of life before returning home to his Heavenly Father. Those hours will forever be remembered as some of the sweetest and most sacred of our lives. He was snuggled and sang to by mom and dad all through the night, read to and loved on by his big sister, greeted by a loving and supportive family, and ultimately knew nothing but love in his short life.  

Although we feel him close in spirit, we wish each and every day that Owen could be here with our family. We talk about him freely and even our little two year old blesses “baby brudder” in her prayers and finds ways to let us know she's thinking of him often. We are grateful for the opportunity to honor him and share his story. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Holding the Angels

This is an amazing family!  

The Bockholts have participated in the Running with Angels 5K in the past, and I am honored to have them join us again this year.  I am also simply in awe of all they have experienced with their sweet angel children.  Here is their story:

In early spring of 2013 we found out we were expecting our third child.  Excitement and nervousness overwhelmed us.  Our second baby was a complicated pregnancy, rendering Krystal on hospital bedrest for a month, and then our baby coming early at 29 weeks.  He spent 5 months in the NICU, almost 2 years on oxygen, and 3 years with a feeding tube.  However, we felt that after everything we went through with him, we could handle any type of pregnancy given to us.  

In May, about a week before Mother's Day we went in for our 20 week ultrasound anxious to put our fears at rest.  The entire pregnancy we felt something was off, not quite right.  Our fears were unfortunately confirmed as the doctor explained to us that our sweet baby had a life-limiting condition called Bilateral Renal Agenesis, also known as Potter's Syndrome.  Our sweetheart had no kidneys, no stomach, and no bladder.  Because of the lack of kidneys our baby also wasn't able to produce any amniotic fluid and so the lungs were unable to develop.  We also found out that our baby's heart wasn't working right either.  We knew that any amount of time we were blessed to have our baby with us was truly a gift from God.  We also decided that regardless of our baby's condition, this was OUR baby, and we chose love, and chose to continue the pregnancy as long as possible, knowing our baby could easily not survive long in the womb, possibly not even through a birthing process, and if we made it that far, lung failure would cause our baby to pass away quickly.  

At 30 weeks, July 16th, 2013, contractions started and we went to the hospital to say hello and goodbye to our sweet baby.  We gave birth to a perfect little boy we named Kale Link Bockholt.  He was here on earth for a little over 30 minutes, during which time he was able to meet his older sister and brother, and was shown nothing but love.  He was held his whole life.  We were so blessed to have been working with Angel Watch and we were able to get many many photos of Kale, and have casts done of his perfect hands and feet.  

Fast forward a year and our family walked for the first time in the Running with Angels event in memory and honor of our sweet Kale and the impact he made on our life and in our family.  We love and miss him dearly.  

A few weeks after the event, we found out we were expecting again.  We were getting our 'rainbow' baby.  The emotions felt through a pregnancy after a loss are indescribable unless you have gone through it before.  

We went to our 20 week ultrasound at the high risk office because of our history.  The first thing we saw on that ultrasound was there was no fluid around our baby.  Our doctor confirmed that this baby also had Potter's Syndrome and we had to go down this heart-breaking road all over again.  Shock does not even begin to describe how we were feeling.  We had been told with our son Kale that it was most likely a fluke while he was developing, that only about 1 in every 10 thousand babies have Potter's Syndrome.  At this point though, we learned we were probably one of the very few people who have a genetic link; that we each must carry a recessive gene that combines to cause Potter's Syndrome.  Generally speaking the risk of a second baby with Potter's is about 1 in 100 million.  Lightning striking in the exact same spot twice.  Practically unheard of.  

Having walked this path before we knew the steps we had to take, we knew the outcome of this story.  And we again chose love for our sweet baby.  Krystal carried our angel baby until almost 33 weeks.  On January 8, 2015 our darling Miranda Dawn Bockholt joined our family.  She looked so much like her brother Kale, it was uncanny.  She too was surrounded by family and held her whole life.  A little over an hour after her birth she joined Kale, and I'm sure he gave her a giant brotherly hug.  Perhaps he gave her a noogie, while she boasted at spending twice as much time on Earth as he did.

We love both Kale and Miranda immensely, and miss them with a fierceness that most cannot comprehend.  Half of our hearts are here with our two living children, and half of our hearts are with our angel babies.  The opportunity we have to honor them and share their brief lives and stories with others is a bittersweet gift.  But nothing makes a parent happier than to talk about their children, whether they are in their arms, or in their hearts. 

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Soft Heartbeat of an Angel

Loss can be such a heartbreak; no matter how far along the pregnancy.  Even with subsequent children, that loss is still felt.  Grief can be very complex!  I look forward to meeting this sweet family.

Here is Britania and Max's story.    

We found out we were expecting in October 2013, but waited until Christmas to announce it to our family. We were so excited to be expecting our first baby and thought we had made it past the vulnerable first weeks. I had shirts made and we wrapped the pregnancy test for my mother to open. Everything was perfect! A few days later, I was at my parents’ house waiting for my husband to return from a meeting and suddenly I began to bleed heavily. Max rushed home and we went to Orem Community Hospital and had a sonogram. They were able to see the baby and a heartbeat. The heartbeat was on the low side so they told me to see my doctor. I went in the next day to see my doctor and again they found a heartbeat, but told me it was now even slower, so the placenta was failing and there was nothing they could do. We waited several days as the heartbeat slowed and our sweet baby was finally lost. We made it through the holiday season and, luckily, found out we were expecting again the end of January. Our son, Dexter, was born in September 2014 and we cherish him, but we will always mourn for the sweet baby we lost.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Angel baby Pierce

Pierce is this sweet little boy who came to earth a few years ago and touched many hearts.  He has touched mine, as I have read his story and have come to know his cute parents, Alesha and Phil.  They are going to join us at the Running with Angels 5K on May 16th and release the doves, in honor of angel Pierce.  I love how he is holding his hands in this picture.

Here is his story, as told by Alesha:

In April 2011 we were excited and nervous to welcome our 3rd boy! Early on we choose to name him Pierce. Everything went well with the pregnancy. Pierce seemed to be a very mellow baby in utero, which I was so happy for considering he was less than 2 years apart from his older, very busy brother.  On May 25th we went in for a scheduled c-section. We expected this to be a smooth and predictable delivery. Shortly after getting Pierce out they realized he was really struggling to breath. He didn't cry when he came out either. After about 5 hours of trying to get him to keep his oxygen levels up they decided it was necessary to transfer him to Primary Children's Hospital. The life flight team came, intubated him, gave him surfactant (thinking his lungs were some how under developed) and off he went. 

What we thought was a simply case of under developed lungs or infection ended up being something we could have never anticipated. We thought Pierce would spend 7-10 days in the hospital. He spent 7 weeks in the hospital enduring multiple intubations and extubations, blood draws, EEGs, EMGs, genetic testing, and about every other test possible. He was a mystery. He looked completely healthy and perfect but he could not breath. Shortly before Pierce passed away we learned he most likely had a genetic condition called SMARD, Spinal Muscular Atrophy with Respiratory Distress. Our sweet little guy had a paralyzed diaphragm and increased muscle weakness throughout his whole body. Pierce passed away on July 12th 2011 in the arms of his Daddy. 
Everyday we wish Pierce could be a part of our family here on Earth. We talk about him and include him in our lives on a daily basis. We love him and miss him very much. 

We have since welcomed our rainbow baby, a girl, Myla. We feel so blessed to have her here with us. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Running with Angels 2015

Looking forward to the Running with Angels 5K !

Lace up your running (or walking) shoes and join us!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Looking Forward to February 4th

February 4th has been a day of bittersweet sadness and painful memories for the past 25 years.  It was the day we cuddled our baby Emily for the last time in mortality and sent her home.  I have not looked forward to this day for a long time--until now.  

In a few hours, we will be going to the airport to welcome our son, Stephen, returning home after a two-year mission in Xalapa, Mexico.  Having mixed emotions about his challenging yet wonderful experience there include gratitude for all he has learned and taught, and not wanting all of that to end.  But he is now ready, hopefully, to move on.  I pray he will continue to be influential in the lives of those with whom he associates.  

As painful as February 4th was all those years ago, Emily came to earth and got her beautiful little body, perfectly formed except for her heart.  Her time on earth was not long; my not-so-mixed emotions then were all about not wanting her earthly mission to end.  She, too, has moved on, and I have felt her influence daily, encouraging me to be better, to do better, to "run" a little faster, or at least keep walking in the important aspects of my life.  

I honor the birth of our sweet daughters, Amy and Emily, the life of angel Emily. . .  and now the arrival home of a dear missionary son. . . and a very happy reason to celebrate February 4th!