Friday, March 27, 2009

Enacting change in my life.

Tomorrow is the one month anniversary of her delivery. I just cannot believe it has already been a whole feels like I delivered her yesterday, and yet it feels like it was so long ago too- like a very distant dream. Today was three weeks since we said goodbye at her funeral and they put her little coffin in the ground.

I woke up very snappy this morning. I didn't realize why until later in the morning and I think it has everything to do with tomorrow's anniversary. It's so strange that her delivery has already become an anniversary. Luckily I got the snappiness under control once I realized why I was feeling that way.

Before all of this happened with Mary Grace, I used to say a morning offering, but only every now and then or when I remembered. Now I say it every day. I thought "what in my life was changed since Mary Grace's death?" "How did she impact me?"
Well of course there is the redefinition of who I am. In addition to being Isabel's mommy, and having lost 2 babies in the first trimester, I am the mother of a stillborn baby. She has redefined who I am. There are some days where I feel rotten and depressed about the situation, but I still know Who is in charge. And I feel strongly that her death may have had alot of purposes, but the one purpose I can actively participate in is building up my own faith. Walking every closer with God. And how do I put that in action? I ask myself again, "What in my life has changed since Mary Grace was in my life and since she died? Am I going about the 'same old life' I had before or has she kicked me out of my complacency? Has she touched me enough that I am willing to enact a real change in my life?" The answer for me is "yes".

I have started by committing myself to saying a morning offering every day. Getting my morning started out right...with God and offering my day to Him. Isn't that how Mary Grace is starting each day in heaven? With the Lord?

O Jesus,
through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
I offer You my prayers, works,
joys and sufferings
of this day for all the intentions
of Your Sacred Heart,
in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
throughout the world,
in reparation for my sins,
for the intentions of all my relatives and friends,
and in particular
for the intentions of the Holy Father.


One small prayer at the beginning of the day can have a huge impact on how you live the rest of that day. It feels good to be able to sit here a month later and even in the sad days, I can realize that I am making a change in my life for the better, because of my daughter. Thank you Jesus! Maybe she is just what I needed to be a better servant of Yours!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The grave marker.

After writing my blog post yesterday, Isabel and I drove out to the cemetery. For some reason I felt compelled to take my camera. And sure enough, once we got there, I saw Mary Grace's marker had been placed at her grave. I was surprised that it was already there and yet somehow I knew that it was going to be, even though the cemetery hadn't called to say it was ready. Maybe it was a little present from God to let me know that He was remembering remind me that He is always remembering me. It is hard to see in the picture, but her marker very simply reads: "Mary Grace Holmes, Daughter and Sister, February 28th, 2009".

Lately Isabel has been praying "Thank you God that Mary Grace is in heaven with Jesus and the sheep." So today I asked her, "why do you say 'and the sheep'?" and she told me that Mary Grace had baby sheep in heaven with her. It was kind of sweet that her vision of her sister in heaven has little lambs surrounding her...and of course Isabel's version of heaven would definitely involve little lambs following you around...that would undoubtedly be "heaven" for innocent. So when we got to the graveside today and saw her marker with the 2 little lambs, it was just so appropriate. Isabel picked grass and left it next to the little mouths of the lambs "for them to eat". She also picked those tiny little blue flowers again; as many as she could fit into her hand.

Isabel was using an exceptionally loud voice...the cemetery always seems like such a quiet place even though it is so vast and we talked about how even though we were outdoors, we were to use an indoor voice at the cemetery because it was a special place to remember people who had died, like Mary Grace. I sat on the bench that is still in front of her grave, and Isabel asked "Mommy, can you talk about you remembering Mary Grace?" I was instantly overcome with emotion and literally choked back my tears and told her I was remembering how she used to kick me when she was in my tummy. She asked if I could feel her kicking right now, and of course I had to explain again that she was not in my tummy anymore. How can a 3 year old understand when I can't even understand that she's really not in my tummy anymore?

The grave is still pretty fresh...more so than I thought it would be after 2 1/2 weeks, but maybe it was just from setting the marker. I took a wipe out of the van and cleaned all the clay off the nameplate and granite. I hope you enjoy the pictures of the marker, the little blue flowers and the last picture is of course Isabel looking the marker over.

A heavy heart and a prayer request.

The last 3 days I've been feeling on and off depressed again. I guess everything has now slowed down enough that we're definitely back to the "everyday routine", and it's been harder than I want it to be. My heart has been very heavy feeling, and although it's been gorgeous outdoors, I feel as though a dreary rain cloud has been lingering over me. Thankfully, though my heart has been heavy, it has not been physically hurting like it did for the two weeks after Mary Grace died. Don't be alarmed- it is apparently a grief response to have a physically achey heart.

In my heart I know that it is natural to be sad. It's okay for me to feel depressed that I don't have my little baby girl to hold. It's part of have to "work through it". I know that there will be good and bad days. Right now though I have that foggy headed feeling again that I had for those first 2 weeks. I completely forgot a friend's birthday yesterday until nearly 10pm and she even called me on the phone at 6pm...nope..didn't trigger anything in my brain until nearly 4 hours later. I guess people will understand that my mind is still clouded. But it kind of makes me mad. Not only do I not have my baby, not only do I have sadness and heartache, but now I can't remember birthdays that are clearly marked on the calendar? It's just frustrating. I'm frustrated with myself for failing to remember. I think in some ways I'm frustrated with myself because Mary Grace died. Was I the best mother I could have been to her while I carried her? Could I have prayed for her more? What about before her diagnosis- what if I had prayed especially for her health every day before I knew she was sick? Did I talk to her enough? Did I tell her I loved her enough?... I know that she is in heaven and she can pray for me; she IS praying for me. And I'll see her again one day. But what about TODAY? What about the pain I'm feeling right now?

Lord, please help me to turn this sorrow over to you. Please make my suffering worthwhile in Your plan. Please show me, make it apparent to me that my suffering has value; that it is not in vain. I know I cannot understand it all here, but give me just a glimpse of what You have in mind.

I went to a website ( where I go when I need hope and inspiration, because this mother has also been through loss and her faith is an example to me especially on my "down" days. And when I got to her website I found an urgent prayer need for baby Stellan... please see the direct link to his family's website and pray for this little baby: ( Here I am feeling sad about what I've lost, but my time could be better spent praying for other families who are in need. Please join me in praying for their family tonight.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Memories from the hospital.

When we got into our labor and delivery room and hooked up to an IV, I asked Rob if there was something on our door since everyone who entered knew not to ask the "fun", typical baby questions. The picture taped to our door marked our room. It was the silent signal to nurses, doctors and orderlies that we had lost our baby. There were no words. Just a simple picture of a leaf floating on water with a small drop in the middle.

After I got my epidural I was able to sleep comfortably for several hours at a time. I woke up in the night to the sound of a squirrel crying outside my window. It was the sound that squirrels used to make when they were cornered up a tree by our cats. I thought it funny to hear a squirrel crying in the night since I never in my life had heard any squirrel after sunset. And then I realized that it wasn't a squirrel, but the newborn baby crying in the adjacent room. I knew that I was going to hear live, crying babies while I was there. I had thought it would be difficult to listen to newborn babies crying, knowing that those precious sounds would not come from my room. Our room would be silent. I tried to prepare myself during the hours while I was waiting to deliver Mary Grace. I warned myself, "She will not cry. When Mary Grace is born, it will be silent. Your baby will not cry." I would whisper it to myself over and over while Rob was sleeping on the cot next to my bed. It felt very wrong that in a place where so many babies were being born, that a baby would be born and not baby would be born sleeping and it would be very quiet.

I thought it would be hard to hear other babies, but instead I liked listening to them. In particular to the "squirrel baby" as I nicknamed our next door neighbor. He wailed so loudly...I thought about his parents. I wondered if they were already annoyed and overwhelmed by his crying in his first few hours. I wished Mary Grace could have been able to cry. Lately Isabel has been incessant's almost as if talking non-stop is her new outlet for all the emotion of the past few weeks (although she's always been a talker). And I've been torn between needing a few breaths of silence from her and between praising God that she can talk and talk and talk...keep talking Isabel, maybe you are speaking for your little sister too. I often feel guilty when I want her to be least I have her here to talk!

After my doctor finished with my D&E after delivery, he quickly, yet carefully laid Mary Grace in her blanket and brought her over to me. He looked at me with the most compassionate look I think I've ever seen out of anyone- certainly the most compassionate look that I've ever personally received, and told me he was so sorry.

I also remember when Rob held her and I took his picture, he smiled so proudly and looked at her with such love that I thought I would die with love for him. I will always remember his face as he looked at wasn't a face full of sorrow and pain. It was a proud father face. The face of a daddy when he holds his baby daughter for the first time. I felt my heart break that she would never open her eyes to see his loving gaze. God has given me the most wonderful man in the world to share my life with. Robert has been more than I could ask for throughout the entire stretch of our relationship, but he has been an incredible rock for me to lean against, cry on, talk out my feelings with, pray with, and has loved me through Mary Grace's diagnosis and death in an unbelieveable way. He has been there for me in every way. I know that God is giving him an abundance of grace to deal not only with his own emotions and the stress of coping with the loss and continuing his normal duties (like work!), but of dealing with me and Isabel. I am so blessed to have him as my husband.

The memories are bittersweet. It was bittersweet to look over at one point and notice that Rob was rocking Mary Grace. So very sweet, and so heartwrenching. It was bitter to be wheeled out of the maternity ward without a baby in my arms. I felt very conspicuous as I was sitting in my wheelchair empty handed, in the middle of the waiting area amidst cheerful and expectant relatives who were awaiting the arrival of a new baby. I went home empty handed, and with a heavy heart, but I did have several hours worth of memories from holding and just being in the room with Mary Grace. And I would have rather had those memories than not have them at all. Thank you Lord, for the time you gave me with my daughter. For the time she was alive with me in the womb. For the times that Robert and I got to feel her kick and move. For the times when I would listen to her with Isabel's Fisher Price toy stethoscope. And for being able to see and hold her little body, quiet and still though it was; for those moments of being able to hold her in my arms and tell her I loved her. Thank you for those memories.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A choice to trust.

Last night Robert and I attended the funeral of the sister of one of our friends. It was really touching and I am so glad that we went, even though we had never met the sister who passed away. I came away from the funeral wishing that I could have known her though, because she sounded like a sweet, loving person. It was a Catholic funeral, and although not a Mass, they read the same gospel reading that was read at Mary Grace's funeral. The one from Mark where Jesus tells his disciples to "let the little children come to me".

Shortly after we buried Mary Grace we heard a homily about choosing between the particular promises of God as we have perceived them and trusting in the God Himself who makes the promises we may not comprehend. I have to quote just a small section of it because it spoke directly to our hearts as we sat in the fact, I took out my notepad and pen and started copying as fast as I could.

"At some point in our lives, we all face the loss of something dear to us; something in which there had seemed to be such promise, had seemed to be such a blessing from God. We face the death of a loved family member or friend, perhaps one who dies too young. We face discovering that some path we thought our life was going to take falls apart and is no longer possible. Someone or something that had seemed such a concrete manifestation of God's blessing is taken away from us. And in that experience, we are tempted to despair, tempted to doubt; tempted to doubt God."

We thought we were going to finally have another baby in the house. We thought that bringing that new baby home to live with our family was the blessing God had in mind. We thought that the path laid out for our family was to become a family of four this July. We were so sure this was God's plan, we went out and bought a minivan to replace my 4 door sedan.

Two things struck me in this homily...the first was that my perception of God's particular promise, His particular plan, may not be God's plan at all. We perceive His plan through human eyes and with a human's like wearing glasses with scratched lenses- you can't see clearly. Our "lenses" are "scratched" by sin. But in heaven we aren't going to have that sin and we will understand God's plans more fully. For me, that means that I don't need to torture myself by asking "Why did you take Mary Grace, Lord?" I won't fully know that answer until I get to heaven. And I can live with that because I have a choice to trust in either the particular promises as I perceive them or to trust in the God who makes the promises that we sometimes cannot comprehend. That is the second part that struck me- that it is a choice that God is giving me- "choose Me", "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life". Well if it's a choice to choose God or to rely on my own, limited perception of what I think He is promising- my choice is to choose God. And that brings me comfort.

Lord, You know the plans You have for me...and I trust in You. Please do not let me despair over our losses. Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer. Psalm 4:1

Friday, March 13, 2009

Mary Grace's burial gown.

I just realized that most of you have not seen the gorgeous little dress that was handmade from someone's cherished wedding gown in which we buried Mary Grace. It was made by a volunteer from the Mary Madeline Project an organization that takes these donated wedding gowns and turns them into burial gowns for the tiniest little babies. There's not really a way to describe how perfect the little dress was. It was made by someone with alot of love, and from a dress that someone wore on their "day of love", and now it is worn by the little baby whom we love so much.

I cannot say enough about what an amazing organization Mary Madeline Project is! They shipped her dress so fast to ensure it was delivered on time. We will forever be grateful to Pam and Meredith for finding this organization and contacting them about Mary Grace, and especially to Carlin Kammerer from Mary Madeline Project who made sure that Mary Grace had a gown to wear. Just amazing, we are so thankful. The little dress is so small and delicate. I was feeling a little desperate before we had discovered Mary Madeline Project because it meant we would have had to bury Mary Grace in a baby doll dress.

While my friend went on a search to toy stores and did find a pretty dress, there was just something that didn't feel right about laying her to rest in a dress for a toy. So we were just floored that beautiful handmade dress were available for situations like ours. And we were so grateful, because when I saw the gown I knew that it was perfect. I know that it is to cover her little earthly body, but I also imagine Jesus holding her in heaven and she is wearing that beautiful, precious gown.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Offering it up.

On Tuesday something happened that left me with an unchristian anger, bordering on hate. It was an incident where I perceived the selfishness of others directed towards my family. What made my emotions so intense was that it was by done by people close to our family, and to me it showed complete disregard for the fact that we had just buried our Mary Grace not four days earlier.

Robert tells me that I wear my heart on my sleeve. When I have offended someone, my heart is very troubled until I have made amends, and I guess some part of me believes this should be true of everyone. I was having a very difficult time letting go of my anger over this. I felt hot, I'm sure my blood pressure shot up, my body was fuming. I wanted to seethe and rage over it in my heart.

What do you do with these feelings? That's what I asked God and I pleaded with Him to relieve me of this heavy anger. Although I felt it was a "justified" anger because I felt very wronged, it was still anger and hateful feelings that are incompatible with the Christian life I am called to live. We all have initial "gut" reactions to things that happen. I think that's natural; it's human. But it's what we do with those feelings after the initial period. Do we recognize that sustaining feelings of anger and hatred can ruin our soul? That it draws us away from the heart of Jesus? Yes. God allowed me to quickly realize that my hateful feelings were sinful and that I needed to ask for forgiveness and repair my relationship with God. But after recognizing that I wanted to choose Jesus, to choose love, there was still the question of "what to do with my anger?". Rationally, I knew I shouldn't encourage it, but I needed to do something with it. And then I read a card that a lady wrote to my parents and it started to make sense: (I hope she doesn't mind me quoting her sweet card)

"This is a miracle we can't understand, for God alone knows what this little life and her parents have suffered (and continue to suffer) for the Glory of His Kingdom and the salvation of souls."

The act I perceived as offensive and selfish caused us suffering. And what can I do with the angry feelings and suffering I have? I can offer it up to Jesus, and I can know that my suffering- whether it is a giant suffering like the loss of our baby or the suffering after someone does something hurtful- it is used to further God's Kingdom. We join our sufferings to those of Jesus. My suffering on it's own is nothing without Christ's Sacrifice, but when I join my suffering to Christ's sufferings it benefits others and helps to build up the Body of Christ.

1 Peter 2:19-22 says: 19For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. 20But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. 21To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

So Lord, today I offer my sufferings, and they are so little when compared to Your Suffering, but I offer them to You as a sacrifice, united to Your Own Sufferings. Please use it for Your Will and help me to remember to offer my entire life to You everyday: my works, my joys, my sufferings. Yes Lord, I will drink the cup of your suffering with you. Help me more fully unite myself to You.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Visiting the cemetery and post-delivery check up.

Yesterday we took our fake flowers out to Mary Grace's grave. I underestimated how big the bouquets are that people bring out to cemeteries. We had this tiny little bouquet of purple flowers that was just dwarfed when you looked out at all the other bouquets. Rob said it was just right, because she was a tiny little baby. But I will know to bring more the next time we bring her flowers.

The earth was fresh from where they had buried her and the spot is a third of the size of a regular burial plot. She is the first to be buried in the new "Cherub Garden" section. I thought she might be lonely being the first one there, but of course that is such a human reaction...I guess it is also a mother's reaction. I know it is just her little body there. She is really in a place that has no loneliness. But there still seems to be something lonely about it.

Isabel found the tiniest blue flowers growing all over the hillside. When I say "tiny" I mean that the entire flower was the size of my pinky nail- not including the stem. I showed her where she could place them. We told her that was Mary Grace's special remembrance spot; a special place we could go to remember her little sister. She seemed to understand but was also not overly concerned. I think she will really like the memorial we chose for Mary Grace. When it comes in I will take a picture of it. It has two little lambs and most of you won't know, but Isabel absolutely adores sheep. Sheep are better than princesses, playing dress up or any other typical little girl favorites. I'm sure if our homeowner's association allowed it, our family would have a pet sheep because our daughter is so in love. So I think it will be more special once the memorial comes in and she can see the lambs and Mary Grace's name...and of course, just as she gets older and understands more. As soon as Rob and I saw that memorial picture of the lambs, we knew it was the perfect one.

Switching topics, today I went to my OBGYN for a post-delivery checkup. I learned that after delivering Mary Grace, my doctor had performed a D&E to clear out the rest of the placenta. I knew that he had done some sort of scraping because the placenta was coming out incompletely, but I did not have to be put under because my epidural anesthetic was working so well I could not feel what he was doing. Anyway, my doctor said that I had healed nicely, that the urine pregnancy test came back negative which means all the pregnancy hormones have already left my body, and that we are physically ready to try to conceive again as soon as we are emotionally ready. I was shocked and relieved and angry all at the same time. How dare my body be healing so quickly while I feel so emotionally sick, hurt and sad?! How could I heal faster after carrying a baby for 21 weeks than after my ectopic pregnancy at 7 1/2 weeks or my miscarriage at 9 1/2 weeks? It just feels so backwards and wrong. And at the same time, of course I am so thankful that I am healing so quickly! The physical healing won't be drawn out like it was with the other losses...for once we don't have to wait to try to conceive again, and yet I can't imagine trying to conceive again right away.

Finally, it's 9:11pm and I just realized that I've completely missed bible study tonight. I'm so sorry, my bible study friends! Just another example of the foggy realm that I'm still living in. Other examples of "the fog" include: forgetting my wallet in the car as I'm trying to check out at the shoe store, walking around the house for 45 minutes looking for the book people signed at the funeral (when it was clearly in sight), forgetting important details from emails people have sent, skipping meals because I simply forget to eat, and leaving my cell phone in the car all afternoon. I'm usually organized, conscientious of others and of appointments, and of the time. And lately time moves at it's own pace while I catch myself spacing out and then trying to catch up.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The fetal heart doppler.

We have had so many unique instances of extreme kindness since the first ultrasound. I thought I would share with you the story of the fetal heart doppler. Since 2007 when we first started trying to add to our family, I have been a part of an online message board for trying to conceive and pregnancy. I've never met any of the ladies in person; we are "online friends" but we read each other's stories and journey together while we are trying to create new life; experiencing the joys of getting a positive pregnancy test, the first doctor's appointment, and sometimes the disappointment and loss of our child. One girl who is due in July, (as I was with Mary Grace), mailed me her fetal heart doppler once she found out that Mary Grace was sick. The doppler is a small hand held device, just like the OBGYNs use in the office to check the baby's heartbeat. She sent it so that I could check on Mary Grace on those days where I felt little movement, to give me some reassurance. I've never met her. This was just an amazing act of kindness; trusting a complete stranger who was going through a difficult time in her pregnancy...I felt like she was truly showing me the face of Jesus in her generosity.

The doppler arrived while I was out of town, and as soon as I got home, Wednesday, February 25th I tried it. I listened for a long time, because the heart beat that I heard was not the normal thumping, but weak, and fluctuating between 115 beats per minute, to the low 80's. I listened because as much as I didn't want to believe that her heart was beginning to fail, I couldn't not listen. We had heard her heartbeat and it was so strong in the doctor's office just a week earlier, and now it was so weak- my daughter's heart was failing as I listened. I could literally hear her heart beat slow and then pick up and then slow again. Some people might have thought it was a waste for this sweet stranger to mail a doppler all the way from Florida to NC when I only got to use it one time. But it was the very last time that I got to hear my little baby's heart beat. The next morning at our ultrasound, she was gone.

Christina, you gave me the gift of being able to listen to my sweet little girl's heart beat for the very last time. Thank you! And for those of you reading, you never know how one small kind act might impact someone- it can have effects that are far more lasting than you would think. I will have that memory for the rest of my life and I am so thankful.

Monday, March 9, 2009

How perfect is His creation.

Today I thought I'd share the picture that we displayed at the funeral. It is the picture of Rob holding Mary Grace's little feet. It was taken by Robin Rogers and shows just how tiny our little girl was. She was so small and yet she was so perfectly formed. You could see her tiny little toenails and the delicate lines on the bottom of her feet.

I was happy that we took lots of photos of her as well as having a professional photographer. It just feels like you could not have too many pictures of someone who was here for such a short amount of time. Her pictures are very personal and close to mine and Robert's heart. I almost feel protective of them- maybe that's my way of being protective of her. But we have only shared this one picture.

Yesterday and today have been much better days for me. I've been trying to stay busy. Today we went and picked out a collection of fake flowers from Michael's to lay at Mary Grace's grave. I detest fake flowers, but it is the cemetery's policy and I understand that it makes more sense to have something that will last at a cemetery, rather than having fresh cut flowers that would wilt and die. The collection we chose is actually quite pretty; I guess fake flowers have come a long way. I also bought a box in which to put some of her remembrance items. I have had a very strong and urgent need to quickly find a "home" for some of her things. It feels good to have a special space for them now.

Your prayers must have really been working, because it is an absolutely gorgeous 78 degree day here in Raleigh with Carolina blue skies and a gentle breeze, and I really feel like my heart has been lightened a bit today. I guess you really do ride grief like the ocean waves, because today it is hard to be too sad when God is showing His glory in this springtime weather. I feel like God is not only carrying me today, but holding me up to delight in His creation.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

An outpouring of love.

In a way it is a relief to have Mary Grace's funeral behind us. Yesterday was a gorgeous day here in Raleigh...beautiful bright blue skies with a warm sun shining down on us. It was a remarkably pretty day to say goodbye. I had trouble sleeping the night before the funeral. My doctor had given me a prescription for a sleep aid and I had to take two (per the directions) before I could get to sleep. I just couldn't let my mind stop thinking about everything; it's been nearly impossible to turn off my brain.

The funeral Mass was a sad, yet comforting way to let her go. It broke my heart to hold Isabel's hand and walk beside Robert as he carried Mary Grace's little coffin up the aisle to the front of the chapel. I felt as if I was watching someone else's family live this sad story; as if it wasn't really happening to us. But I kept reminding myself that we all asked God for "complete healing" for her...and her healing is more complete than we can imagine. The Great Healer is holding her now and she must be so very happy in heaven.

We were so touched by the people who attended...some friends we hadn't seen in quite some time, others we met for the first time at the funeral. I learned that in the future I will go out of my way to attend the funeral of someone I knew or the loved one of someone I know. Sometimes when a person dies you wonder, "Should I attend the funeral? I barely knew them," or "the family won't even remember me." And I can tell you that while we were so touched and comforted by the people we knew would come, we were especially touched by the people who we did not anticipate coming. It meant so much to know that Mary Grace mattered that much, for people we did not expect to see, to honor her life by attending her funeral. Having never been in this situation before, we did not understand how our hearts would overflow with love for the people who came to the funeral. Thank you all for attending from the bottom of our heart.

Mary Grace's casket rode in the limo in between Robert and I from the church to the cemetery. She and her little casket was so tiny that it would have been absurd for her to ride in a giant hearse. The graveside service was brief and windy. I think we were all very nervous for her little casket at one point as the wind really gusted; but thankfully the funeral home attendant stepped in to steady the table on which the casket lay. My brother later noted that it seemed like God was in the wind letting us know that He had her. Isabel tiptoed and skipped around giving me the sweetest little grins, completely innocent and unaware of the reality of the situation. And I was happy to see her skip would be the first and only time she would have played around Mary Grace. I hope Mary Grace was watching her big sister happily from heaven.

Yesterday was such an outpouring of love! We experienced so much of God's grace and so much of His love through the faces and hugs of people, to the cards and flowers, and the donations to charities made in Mary Grace's name, to unexpected gifts for funeral expenses, to gifts of meals and desserts, to clothing items, and all of the prayers that people lifted up for us yesterday! We are so blessed to have had such an outpouring of love for our sweet little baby and for our family. God has truly blessed us. Thank you.

I ask for your prayers again tonight though, as it has really been a sea of emotion for me today. I had read somewhere in a grief book that you should get up in the morning, shower, put on your makeup...basically make yourself look nice, because "when you look good, you feel good", so I did that today. We went to the lake to feed the geese with Rob's family and Isabel played with her cousins on the playground and I was doing really well. But at the end of our playtime when Isabel had a meltdown because it was time to go home, I felt my heart just melt down too. And my heart has felt so very sad the rest of the day. I know that no one expects me to be "okay" today, and this will all take time...but if you read this please lift us up in prayer for a minute that we will feel God's tender arms around us. Thank you friends.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

How to move beyond tomorrow.

Tomorrow is her funeral and I am so sad. It's been good to have this week of busy activity; trying to get everything organized and planned for the funeral, because it's kept me distracted. But I don't want tomorrow to come. After her funeral, that will be it. Everyone will go home and we'll be expected to "move on" with our lives. And I don't know how to move beyond tomorrow. It is alot like how I felt on Sunday morning. I hadn't wanted to wake up Sunday, because that was the "day after" I delivered Mary Grace. The day after I got to hold my tiny little baby. The day after everyone who came into our hospital room mourned our loss with us. The day after. It all happened so fast now. All those hours of waiting to deliver her and now the delivery is over, holding her is over, memorizing her face is over, funeral preparations are over and tomorrow after the funeral it will all be over. I just want God to carry me while I cry, because I don't know how to take the next step. Please pray that God will show us how to move forward over the next few days.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Funeral Arrangements.

The funeral Mass for Mary Grace will be at Saint Raphael's Catholic Church (5801 Falls of the Neuse Road, Raleigh, NC 27609) on Friday, March 6th, 2009 at 11:00am in the Mary Chapel of the church. This is a public funeral and anyone is welcome to come. We will have a short graveside service immediately following the funeral at Raleigh Memorial Park Cemetery (7501 Glenwood Avenue, Raleigh, NC 27612); also public so anyone may attend.

Mary Grace's delivery.

We arrived home from the hospital at about 3:30pm Saturday. We went in at 7:30pm Thursday evening and started the induction medication at 10:45pm. I have to say here that our labor and delivery nurses, Tina, Linda, Aileen and Ruth at Rex Hospital were all amazing- very sensitive to our situation and attentive to our needs- they were excellent. Labor took about 31 hours from start to the time she was delivered. Mary Grace was born sleeping at 5:23am on Saturday, February 28th, which is also Mary Grace's great grandmother's birthday. She was 8 1/2 inches long and 6.5 ounces. She was delivered without my bag of water breaking, so she was perfectly preserved still in her amniotic sac.

We were able to hold her all morning and a very kind photographer, Robin Rogers ( from the Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep organization ( came and donated her services to take pictures of us with Mary Grace. I have to say I felt this lady was sent by God because she was so tender with Mary Grace and really made us feel completely comfortable. We were amazed by how tiny Mary Grace was; although I was 21 weeks when I delivered her, she was the size of a 15-16 week baby. And even so, she was perfectly made even with the physical problems in her little hand. Robert and I were just in awe of her and of God's work in her creation! It was a surprisingly calm and peace-filled time that we had once she was in our arms. I expected to be a wreck, and of course we were sad and are brokenhearted, but we were joy-filled to be able to hold and touch her.

There were no complications from the delivery for me. I am just a little crampy every now and then and quite tired from everything. Robert and I have picked a funeral home and a burial site but we still don't know the exact funeral date as of yet. I will be sure to post it here when we find out. My friend Meredith's mom found an organization in Nebraska that donates burial gowns for stillborn babies using donated wedding dresses. We are so appreciative that they were able to acquire one of these gorgeous tiny dresses for Mary Grace to be buried is absolutely precious and perfect for her. The organization is the Mary Madeline Project ( What an amazing organization and we are so thankful to the person who made her beautiful gown.

Thank you for all the prayers and sweet and thoughtful comments. We are so thankful for you and thankful that God has allowed Mary Grace to touch so many lives.