Birthday Benches

August 20, 2015 at 11:36 pm | Posted in Grief, hydrops, Jake, life after loss, Love, NICU | 9 Comments
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Jake never left the hospital.  His short life was spent entirely in the NICU.  The only other places Evan and I went with him were the consult room and a small outdoor balcony off of the NICU.

The three of us

While helping with the special project of updating the consult room I heard that the balcony might need some new benches.  It seemed to make sense to me that for Jake’s 10th birthday we should get the benches for the balcony.  So that is what we did.  We miss you Jake.

quote - roses - Lincoln

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a special project

July 22, 2015 at 10:36 pm | Posted in Death, Grief, hospital, life after loss, Love, NICU | 12 Comments
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The “consult room” – every hospital has one or several.  The “consult room” is where Evan and I held Jake for the last time. It is where we were when the ER doctor told us that Sawyer was dead. They were different “consult rooms,” in different hospitals but they looked the same. Standard issue plastic couch and chair. Generic flowery art. Striped carpet.

No one wishes to be in these rooms.  The hospital where all 4 of our children were born has a Perinatal Bereavement Office where I volunteer at times.  The extraordinary people who work at the office decided that they were going to renovate the consult room in the Special Care Nursery of the NICU.   I was lucky enough to help with this special project.

One of Evan’s mother’s paintings is now on a wall of the newly decorated consult room.  On another wall there is painting by an artist who is the great-aunt of other parents who also used the room when their little girl, Lily, died.  Her parents helped with this special project too.

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This is still a room that I hope none of you have to enter.  I know that realistically there are people who will be in that room holding their precious baby for perhaps the first and last time.  I wish that one day all babies will go home with their parents but until that day I am glad that there is now a warm comforting room where families can spend whatever time they have together.

Evan and I are truly honored by the dedication of this room and that this will be part of Jake and Sawyer’s legacy.

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the sun and the earth

June 12, 2015 at 7:28 pm | Posted in Grief, life after loss | 4 Comments
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The twins finished school on May 22nd.  Their elementary school is divided into 2 campuses (k-2 is in the primary campus and 3-5 is in the intermediate campus about a mile away).

The pictures below are from their 2nd graduation parade.  They both picked out the same concert t-shirt to wear.

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Evan said that I should not be sad about the twins going to 3rd grade and at the same time be sad that Sawyer is not starting kindergarten.  The twins growing up and finishing 2nd grade is the way life should be unlike Sawyer (and Jake) who are forever frozen in time.

I did cry in the corner a little bit during the parade but for the most part I have not been as emotional as I was at the end of 1st grade and kindergarten.  I am not sure that if it was Evan’s words of wisdom or the fact that one of the twins had a temperature of 103.8 on the last day of school but we have left the primary campus without too many tears.

So far this summer because of life and work the twins have been spending time with a babysitter.  When I got home from work yesterday they were both so excited to tell me that they went to the park and checked on Jake and Sawyer’s trees.  I have not visited the trees to check on them in such a long time.  It made me so happy that the twins thought to do it.

quote - hafiz-sun

March of Dimes’ March for Babies

May 12, 2015 at 10:15 pm | Posted in life after loss, Love | 4 Comments
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Last weekend we walked and remembered Jake, Sawyer and all the other babies who were not there to march with us.  In the 1950’s the March of Dimes helped to fund the cure for polio – which led to the effective end of the disease.  Who knows maybe some day there will be similar medical breakthroughs that will help to end infant mortality and there will be less flowers in the memorial garden.

March of Dimes 2015 - memorial garden

Thank you so much for again supporting our team this year and in past years.  We appreciate all of your amazing kindness and generosity.

Still Marching

May 6, 2015 at 10:16 pm | Posted in after death?, Grief, life after loss, Love | 1 Comment
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This weekend our family is walking in the March of Dimes’ “March for Babies” just like we have in years past.  Originally our team was named Jake’s Journey.  After Sawyer died we renamed it to Jake’s Journey & Sawyer’s Strides.  This year the walk is on Mother’s Day weekend.  Although I wish we were walking with all of our children, I think this is as close of a perfect way to honor all 4 as possible.

The mission of March of Dimes is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.  I believe that the March of Dimes is making a difference and saving babies.

I cannot do anything to bring back Jake or Sawyer but maybe, just maybe, I can help spare other parents the heartbreak of having to live in this world without their child/children.

Thank you to all those who supported our team this year and in past years.  Thank you also to the Northside Hospital for matching funds.  We appreciate all of your kindness and generosity.   Please consider supporting Jake’s Journey & Sawyer’s Strides and click here.

Holiday Hope

December 16, 2014 at 9:36 pm | Posted in life after loss, Love | 4 Comments
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I am not always strong enough to get through the hard days by myself – especially during the holidays.  I look to others to see what they do during these happy/sad celebrations without their child/children.

One of my friends always includes her “angel” on their family holiday card.  Their daughter, like Sawyer, died during this festive season.  It is so bittersweet to read her name on the card but it always reminds me that I am not alone.

Another friend, has created a family tradition to bring unwrapped holiday gifts to all in-patient oncology kids who are in the hospital where her daughter spent her last Thanksgiving and Christmas.

A few years ago one mom was looking at outgrown Christmas dresses and thinking of her little girl who never got to wear them at all.   She decided to create a Holiday Clothing Drive.  She asks people to donate gently used holiday clothes to others in need.

I know that there will be other dark days but I will try to continue to search for hope.

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

October 14, 2014 at 10:14 pm | Posted in Grief | 1 Comment
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“When you come to the edge of all the light you know and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of two things will happen: There will be something solid to stand on or you will be taught to fly.”   – Author Unknown (borrowed from the Atlanta Walk to Remember 2010 program)

Tomorrow is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.  As part of the day, everyone is invited to light a candle at 7 pm in all time zones, all over the world.  The idea is that if everyone lights a candle at 7 pm and keeps it burning for at least 1 hour, there will be a continuous wave of light.

The candles that we will light were given out at the Atlanta Walk to Remember 2014.   We will be lighting our candles at 7 pm hope you can join us.

October – Pregnancy and Infant Loss Month

October 12, 2014 at 9:08 pm | Posted in Grief, traditions | 4 Comments
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October, in addition to being Breast Cancer Awareness month, is also Pregnancy and Infant Loss Month.  In 1988, President Ronald Reagan issued a Presidential Proclamation making it a national event.  This year the Governor of Georgia also wrote an official proclamation making October Pregnancy and Infant Loss Month.

Across the world there are many walks to remember.   Families and friends walk to remember their little loved ones.  The walk also symbolically joins people who are working towards raising awareness of perinatal loss and care.

The year before Jake died, 10 years ago, three bereaved mothers in Atlanta started the Atlanta Walk to Remember.  Last weekend we walked for the 9th time.  Originally, Evan and I walked to remember Jake.  In 2007, we were lucky enough to walk while pushing the twins in their stroller.  Starting in 2010, the 4 of us have walked together every year to remember Jake and Sawyer.   The walk this year had the  biggest turn out yet.  It was in a new location and it was a very special day.

This was also the first year that one of the twins had an activity conflicting with the walk.  One of the twins had a flag football game.  Evan and I decided to talk to him about it and give him a choice.  I was a bit surprised, but maybe I should not have been –  he decided to go to the walk.  He said “I can play in the game next week.”

Each week in his 2nd grade class they write the “Weekend News.”  Here is his from last week:

weekend news

In case you cannot read this, it says “My dad’s a[u]nt came over.  I went to the walk to rem[em]ber. With my spicey monky.  I went [to] the walk to rem[em]ber bec[a]use two of my brothers died.  I had a good walk.”  And so did we.

 

May the fourth be with you

May 4, 2014 at 11:48 pm | Posted in Grief | 4 Comments
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Today is the unofficial holiday, “Star Wars Day“.  I did not exactly feel the force with me today but last week during the March of Dimes walk I really do think I felt it.  I looked around at the crowds and every one there had been impacted by the premature birth of a child.  Our stories may all be different but we have all loved, hoped and in some cases lost.   There were survivors walking among us but many of us walk in memory of our loved ones.

I saw people I have seen walk in years past.  Still walking, like we do, in memory of our lost loved ones. My heart broke for all the new faces I saw last week.  Every year I look into their eyes and wish I could take away the pain.  Hopefully in years to come there will be more survivors.

We will continue to walk if not for ourselves than for them . . .

Hoping for Healthier Babies

April 28, 2014 at 8:28 pm | Posted in Grief, Jake, life lessons, Sawyer | 5 Comments
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Thank you to all of our friends and family for supporting Jake’s Journey and Sawyer’s Strides in the 2014 March of Dimes “March for Babies!”   We appreciate you all so much.  Special thanks to our super talented sister-in-law for designing a new logo for the t-shirts.

Jake and Sawyer‘s deaths were due to circumstances beyond our control. I cannot describe in words how horribly helpless it feels as a parent to watch your child die and not be able to do a thing to prevent it.   The March of Dimes gives us a chance to do something to hopefully prevent another child from dying.  Maybe, just maybe, another family will be spared from having to try to figure out how to live in this world without their child/children.

Evan was the chairperson of the North Atlanta walk this year.   As the twins explained “their daddy got to the park early to put out the chairs!”  Although he did not actually put out any chairs, we are so proud of him for all he did and continues to do in the fight for healthier babies.

Thank you again for supporting our team this year and in past years.   We are grateful for your amazing kindness and generosity – we could not make it through this journey alone.

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