Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Well, as expected, Christmas day was full of emotions.  Our plans were to stop at McKinley's grave on Christmas morning and spend some time with her with a blanket and hot chocolate.  These plans came to a halt when we woke up on Christmas morning to find it raining.  Next, we left the umbrella at home...  We had to run out to her grave and place the long stem rose we bought for her and then run back to the car.  I know that her grave is just a place for her body to lay, and that she is really in heaven but being there just makes me feel close to her at times. 

Then, on facebook, I see people post pictures of  "Santa" gifts all laid out and how they were so excited for their kids to wake up to them.  I know I'll never get to do that for McKinley.  Its just hard.  Even though she was due in February, she should still be with us for Christmas.  I should still be feeling her kick around when I eat too much sugar and she should be waking me up 10 times a night to go to the bathroom. 

On the ride up to my in-laws, I hear on the radio a song that I have heard for years and it now has a completely new meaning to me...  "All I Want For Christmas Is You..."  Songs have been doing that to me lately...

I knew Christmas would be hard for me, but I do know she had a great day.  She got to spend her very first Christmas in Heaven!  What a party!!  Can you imagine celebrating Jesus' birthday in heaven??

I miss her terribly but I know that she is happy and whole, and beautiful as an angel.

Matt gave me a very special gift for Christmas this year;  a beautiful necklace with McKinley's November birthstone.  I will treasure it forever. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

He Listened

For the most part, I see new people every day at work, (for those of you who don't know, I perform cardiopulmonary stress tests) and I get into interesting conversations with some of my patients.  The day before my amniocentesis, I was at work like any normal day.  My mind was a little distracted that week to say the least.  My patient, which I later found out was a retired pastor, was talking about how sometimes he likes to buy himself gifts.  His most recent gift to himself was the version of the bible called "The Message."  A huge smile came over his face when I told him I had a copy of The Message as well.  He said, "When you get home, I want you to look up Psalm 116,  I want you to pay attention to the first part of the first verse."  I said, "Ok," he smiled and that's all that was said. 

Well of course, my curious self could not wait until I got home.  I knew that my mom had The Message as well, so I called her.  She read the first line of the first verse to me; it said, "I love God because he listened to me. (This was the part that he wanted me to pay the most attention to.)  My mom read a little further as we both cried, "listened as I begged for mercy. He listened so intently as I laid out my case before him." 

I felt this huge relief!!  I had prayed and prayed for McKinley, begging God to heal her and not confirm the doctors suspicions.  I just knew God sent this man to tell me that he heard me and everything was going to be okay!

I had the amniocentesis the next day and a few days later received the devastating news that McKinley had Trisomy 13.  If you read my post in November, Anger into Thankfulness, this was when the anger began.  I was angry because I felt like God didn't listen to me.

I haven't talked about this to many people however, our journey to McKinley took a little longer than expected.  Thankfully, no fertility drugs were needed, just a matter of balancing out some of my hormones to get us on the right track.  By the time we found out we were pregnant, it had taken a little over a year, way longer than we had ever anticipated. 

During that year-long process, I prayed to God many, many times about it.  I wanted to be a mother so badly and I begged God for this.

The other day, I was thinking about the last few months.  For some reason, that man's face appeared to me, smiling like he had that day.  It suddenly dawned on me!  I prayed and begged God for over a year to let me become a mother.  He HAD listened to me.  This brought me the biggest sense of peace that day.

When we were in the hospital and had McKinley baptized, the Chaplin looked at me and said, "You ARE a good mother." 

He listened.....

Friday, December 16, 2011

Lessons Learned: Hope

This week I learned a lesson about hope thanks to my friend, Kara.  In one of her previous blogs, she helped me understand the difference between hope and optimism.  She said, "Optimism is thinking things are going to be okay based on past circumstances and what you already know.  Hope is having faith that everything will be okay because you have put it all in the Lord's hands."

Optimism was definitely something I struggled with after we received McKinley's diagnosis.  With all of the statistics that the doctors throw at you, how COULD you be optimistic?  However, hope was something that was completely in my hands.  I feel like in some ways, this is where I fell short.  I'm human.  At times, I felt like hope was in my reach and at other times, I felt like I was being naive.  I would look at pictures of the beautiful children who beat the odds and lived past their 1st birthday...but then I would get slapped back into reality when my specialist would give me statistics based on McKinley's specific problems.  Maybe I was scared that hope might leave me more vulnerable and more hurt in the end.  I do know that more than anything, I wanted McKinley to come home with us in February.  I also know that even though I struggled with hope, I never once gave up on my daughter.

I decided early on that I did not want to set up a nursery and that I did not want to have baby showers.  I just felt like it was too hard.  I decided this purely on what the doctors told me about McKinley's fate. Maybe this was the place I could have held on to more hope. We go through things, we learn from them, and I have learned to have more hope, no matter what.  God is in control and he knows what is best.  I feel like hope can bring you more joy in any specific moment as well.  I tend to be a "statistics" type of person, but with God, there are no statistics.

After we lost McKinley, I have to admit that I "put off" seeing my friends with babies for a while.  On Tuesday, we met our dear friends Keri and Brandon for dinner.  They have a 3 month old little girl named Kinsleigh.  Kinsleigh was the first small baby that I have held since I held McKinley.  I thought it would be extremely hard but was amazed at how much joy I felt from that little girl.  It makes me excited and hopeful for what my future holds.

2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Glory Baby

**This is the song that plays when you get on the blog**

Glory Baby
By: Watermark

Glory Baby, You slipped away
As fast as we could say baby, baby
You were growing, what happened Dear,
You disappeared on us baby, baby

Heaven will hold you before we do
Heaven will keep you safe
Until we`re home with you
 Until we`re home with you

We miss you everyday, miss you in every way
But we know there`s a day when we will hold you, we will hold you
And you`ll kiss our tears away, when we`re home to stay
We can`t wait for the day when we will see you, we will see you
But baby let sweet Jesus hold you, until mom and dad can hold you
You`ll just have heaven before we do
You`ll just have heaven before we do

Sweet little baby, it`s hard to understand it
Cause we are hurting, we are hurting
But there is healing, and we know we`re stronger people
Through the growing, and in knowing

All things work together for our good
And God works his purposes
Just like he said he would, just like he said he would


I can`t imagine Heaven`s lullabies
And what they must sound like
But I will rest in knowing
Heaven is your home
And it`s all you`ll ever know, all you`ll ever know

Monday, December 12, 2011

My Story

Well, I can finally say that I have about 95% of my thank you notes done!  I definitely put the task off way too long.  I think I just had a hard time grasping the reason I was writing all of these thank you notes.  I am so thankful for such awesome and supportive family and friends.  Each and every gift, card, and donation made in honor of McKinley meant so much to Matt and I.  Now the hard part.  Coming to grips that I was writing thank you notes for gifts I received because of my daughter's passing was hard, when all I wanted in the world was to be able to write thank you notes for gifts I received for McKinley for the day I got to bring her home.  But with all of this being said, it was definitely a step forward in my healing process. 

On Saturday, Matt and I went to visit our daughter.  When we got there, we realized that they had compacted the ground where she laid preparing it for her headstone.   In the process, her temporary marker with her name and birthday on it got a little muddy.  I asked Matt to go grab a paper towel out of the car to clean it.  Well, the mud did not come off by just rubbing it with a dry paper towel.  My very first thought was to wet the paper towel with the "magical mommy spit."  It came right off!  I smiled as I did it picturing her as a toddler with spaghetti sauce on her face and having to use the same method because I forgot to pack the wet wipes!  Everyone has had their mom do this before! This was my time to get to do it.

A friend, and fellow Trisomy 13 mom, that I have "met" through blogging told me something that really stuck with me, so I hope she doesn't mind me sharing.  She said, "Everyone has their story and everyones story is different. This is my story."  This may not be what I envisioned for my life,  I have to have faith that God knows what he is doing.

I wanted to share a couple pictures.  The first one is of McKinley's shepherd's hooks (from our wedding), one with a hanging basket of pansies and the other one with her wind chime on it.  As I stated in earlier posts, this was my way of making sure she got to hear lullabies.  Matt and I also have the same wind chime (we bought 2) in our back yard.  I  now smile every time the wind blows.  The second picture is of a spinner that we have in the tree that is above her. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011


I am currently reading a book called "I Will Carry You: The Sacred Dance of Grief and Joy" by Angie Smith.  Angie was faced with the same situation at 18 weeks to terminate the pregnancy of her daughter, Audrey Caroline who was not expected to live long past birth due to conditions "incompatible with life."  Her husband Todd wrote this song.

This song hits really close to home for me.  I will forever be grateful to God for choosing me to carry McKinley through her short life.

I Will Carry You

There were photographs I wanted to take,
Things I wanted to show you,
Sing sweet lullabys,
Wipe your teary eyes,
Who could love you like this?

People say that I am brave but I'm not,
Truth is I'm barely hangin' on,
There's a greater story
Written long before me,
Because He loves you like this.

I will carry you,
While your heart beats here,
Long beyond the empty cradle,
Through the coming years,
I will carry you,
All my life,
I will praise the One,
Who's chosen me,
To carry you.

Such a short time,
Such a long road,
All this maddness,
But I know,
That the silence,
Has brought me to His voice,
And He said,

"I've shown her photographs of time beginning,
Walked her through the parted sea,
Angel lullabys,
No more teary eyes,
Who could love her like this?"

I will carry you,
While your heart beats here,
Long beyond the empty cradle,
Through the coming years,
I will carry you,
All your life,
I will praise the One,
Who's chosen me,
To carry you.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Praise You in This Storm

I remember the first time I heard this song...I never knew that soon this song would mean so much to me.  I have attached the lyrics under the video. 

"Praise You In This Storm"
I was sure by now
God You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say "Amen", and it's still raining

As the thunder rolls
I barely hear Your whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

And I'll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
And every tear I've cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I remember when
I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry to you
And you raised me up again
My strength is almost gone
How can I carry on
If I can't find You

But as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away


I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The Maker of Heaven and Earth

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Story About Gifts

My mom writes an article for Forsyth Woman Magazine titled "One Woman's Voice."  She interviews women and writes articles about things going on in their lives. The December article is "A Story About Gifts."  It's about our journey with McKinley.  I wanted to share it with you.

I have attached a picture of the article page. You can click on it to make it bigger.

You can also download the magazine at the link below.  Go to the website and select "Download Latest Issue."

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Dear God

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Romans 12:12 

Dear God,

By now, I am sure that you have heard from many of our friends and family members. Thank you so much for sending such wonderful people into our lives.  Also, thank you for guarding my heart and sending the most perfect woman last week to be the first one to ask me about children after we lost McKinley.  She had such a kind heart.

I'm going to be honest.....  I'm jealous of you. I know I shouldn't feel that way, but I do.  I am jealous that you get to spend time with my daughter and I don't.  I know that one day I will get to spend eternity with her (and you), but right now, that just doesn't seem to help the hurt I feel inside.  I need help with this.  But, if I can't be the one holding her and loving on her, there is no one else I'd rather her be with than you.  There is comfort in knowing that she will never feel the pain of this world and will only know what love feels like, our love here on earth but most importantly, your love...the most perfect love there is. 

I struggle on a daily basis but I know you know whats best for us, and for McKinley.  I know that you see things that we can't see. Knowing her condition,  if you saw that she would be in physical pain when she came into this world, I am glad you called her home to safety. You know my heart, if there was nothing the doctors could do,  I would much rather be the one suffering right now than my daughter. This is where I have to put full trust in you.  I may never know why you only let us have her for a short time.  I have to accept this and find peace in this.  I would much rather have had her for a short amount of time than not have her at all. You knew how much love I had to give a child and this child you sent me was special. So thank you, thank you for sending me a beautiful daughter, such a precious gift.  I now have a small glimpse of what it must have felt like for you to send your only son to die for us, for our sins.  Your grace is astounding...


Monday, December 5, 2011

Why? or How?

I am having a bad day.  I don't know that it's any one thing in particular.  A lot of things run through my mind on a daily basis.  I remember thinking a few months ago while on the internet that I should be researching day cares and nurseries, not funeral homes and cemeteries.  I can still have faith that everything would be okay, but I needed to be prepared in case they weren't.   It was a harsh reality for me to face, but I had to. 

Today, along the same lines, I thought,  right now I should be enjoying baby showers in honor of McKinley, not mourning the loss of her.  Things like this really hit me hard. 

A few months ago, my mom told me the story of a woman who was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer.  She told my mom that she was not going to live her life by the question of "Why?" but instead the question of "How?"  This really got me thinking about how this could relate to me.

"Why me?" is an easy thing to say when you are faced with adversity isn't it? Why did this happen to us and our daughter? The truth is that Matt and I will probably never know the answer to this question. 

"How are we going to deal with this?"  "How will we let this affect our lives?" "How can we not let this completely destroy us?"  "How can we turn this horrendous situation into something good?" "How can we help others facing similar things?"  Now these are questions that we can take control of right?

Why dwell on things that are OUT of our hands when there are things that are IN our hands?

Saturday, December 3, 2011


I would like to share a poem with you. A family that is very close to us lost their daughter, Rachael in 1991 to Trisomy 18.  They blessed me greatly by sharing this poem that was written for their daughter.

Every child has a special moment
in which they truly shine.
Your moment may have been brief,
but I was proud to call you mine.

Our journey may have not been long,
but I loved you just the same,
wanting to give you everything
All I could give you was your name.

My dreams for you will never be
but in my life you remain a part
while Jesus holds you in his arms
I will hold you in my heart.

It's in my heart I keep hope alive
with the promises from above
I know my dear sweet daughter
with Jesus you'll know perfect love.

And someday too I will be there
no tears to dim my sight
from Jesus' lap you'll run to me
into my arms I will hold you tight.

For now I pray for daily strength
for this time we are apart
while Jesus holds you in His arms,
I will hold you in my heart.

Author:  Sherri Simpson

**The family gave me permission to share this.  If you decide to share this with someone else, please give credit to the author.  This was a precious gift and blessing given to this family.**

Friday, December 2, 2011

Dear McKinley

To my dearest McKinley,

     One month ago today, you were born. We had to say hello the same day we had to say goodbye.  I miss you terribly.  Sometimes, the pain of losing you is too much.  I try to stay strong just like you did for 6 months.  I am so proud of you.  You were such a fighter even when they didn't think you would make it past 18 weeks, you proved them wrong and made it to 24.  I wish I had more time with you.  It breaks my heart that I will never know if you had your daddy's crystal blue eyes or my natural curl in your hair.  I would have loved to hear you giggle when your daddy made one of his funny faces.  His monkey face would have been your favorite.  Your daddy loves you... I know you already knew that because he would tell you in the morning before he left for work while I was still in bed.  He calls you his "sweet girl."  What I would give you hear the word "mommy" from you.  If your first word was "daddy," I would be okay with that too!
     I made a scrapbook of your life with your aunt Jillian and your grandmother.  I wish I could show it off to the world!  I am so thankful to the sweet nurses who gave me so many pictures of you.
     When I went back to work, I was worried about the first time someone asked me about kids.  Well that day happened yesterday.  My patient and I were talking about Thanksgiving and she said, "Do you have children?"  McKinley, you will always be my first born and I will never deny you of that.  I simply said, "I have a daughter, she is in heaven."  I tried to be strong, but tears filled my eyes.  The woman started to cry.  She told me that she was sorry.  She was dealing with the loss of her father.  She understood recent loss, especially during the holiday season.  Even though I will probably never see that woman again, I know God had a hand in her being the first one to ask me about you.  I want you to know that when you have younger siblings, your dad and I will tell them about you.  I just know you would have been a great big sister.
     Thank you, McKinley, for changing my life.  Thank you for being you.  I never understood the love for a child until now.   I will hold onto that for the rest of my life.  Not a day goes by that you are not in my thoughts.  I am so thankful for you.  I am so thankful that I got to be your mom.  Christmas has a new meaning to me now.  If I could really have what I wanted for Christmas, you would be the only thing on my list today and always. 

I love you,
your mommy

Thursday, December 1, 2011


This year my family decided to book a cabin in Gatlinburg for Thanksgiving.  We were there Thursday through Tuesday, so it was a nice long vacation.  The cabin consisted of my mom, dad, sister, brother-in-law, me and Matt and the 3 dogs!  Sadie came along for the trip as well as my sisters dogs, Jenny and Daisy.  Needless to say, it was a cabin full!  We had a great time!  I wanted to share a few pictures of the trip!

Taken from the front door of our cabin
Cousins napping together

So sweet!

My favorite part of the trip!  We did a scrapbook of McKinley's life!
 Obviously, this was the maternity section!  :)

I was so happy with how the scrapbook turned out!  I will cherish it forever!
Thank you to my mom and sister for helping!

my bro-in-law Bob, my sis Jillian, me and Matt

So it decided to snow on the day that we went home!
Had to drive home in it!

Another view!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Facebook Official!

Well, on this day 5 YEARS AGO,  Matt and I became "Facebook Official!" and changed our status' to "in a relationship"  This blog is going to be about how much Matt has meant to me over the last few months.  I'll try to spare you a ton of the mushy stuff!

The chorus of this Martina McBride song illustrates exactly what Matt has been to me through this...

"He took her in his arms and said "That's what my love is for"
When you're weak, I'll be strong
When you let go, I'll hold on
When you need to cry, I swear that I'll be there to dry your eyes
When you feel lost and scared to death,
Like you can't take one more step
Just take my hand, together we can do it
I'm gonna love you through it.
And when this road gets too long
I'll be the rock you lean on
Just take my hand, together we can do it
I'm gonna love you through it."

I could not have asked for a better partner in life. Sometimes I wonder how I got so lucky.  I honestly don't know where I would be in this journey without him.  He has helped me in my healing process more than he knows.  (I guess he will know now :) )  On Halloween night when we discovered McKinley no longer had a heartbeat, I was devastated.  After her delivery and over the course of the next 2 weeks, I cried daily, and most days many times.  Each time different things would trigger the tears.  Going into the closet to get dressed and all I saw were maternity clothes, thinking that I felt her move but knowing it couldn't be because she was no longer there, looking at her ultrasound picture that is still on our refrig, walking into the room that was suppose to be her nursery, seeing the blanket that my grandmother knitted for her.   Matt took the week off that she was born and then he worked from home the next week.  It was good to just have him here with me.  Anytime Matt saw the tears start to fill my eyes, he would completely stop what he was doing and come to my side.  After I calmed down, he always asked me what triggered the tears. We just sat there and talked about exactly what made me cry (which was different most times.)  Even though sometimes, I just didn't want to talk about it, I still did.  I believe this has helped tremendously in my grieving and healing process.   Talking and communication with each other through this has also brought us closer in our marriage. 

I would like to say thank you to my wonderful husband, Matt who has been my soft place to land during the hardest time in my entire life.   Thank you for always being there for me.  I love you with my whole heart.

Monday, November 21, 2011

"The Finer Things"

DISCLAIMER:  You may think I am absolutely crazy after reading this post!  :)

Close to the end of my pregnancy, I decided that I needed to expose McKinley to the "Finer Things" in life.  What might this include, you ask?  None other than the BIG MAC!  Well...let's just say, that's where it began.  I figured that since the reality was that McKinley would never be able to experience such things, we could share these things together!!  Note: This could very well be me in complete denial and that this was only an excuse to eat these things myself....but who cares!!  When I was a kid and before America realized how bad McDonald's was for you, I loved Big Macs!  Of course I could never eat a whole one, I would always split it with my mom.  Well, one night, I didn't feel like cooking, so I asked Matt to stop and grab dinner on his way home.  I decided it was time.  I could not let my daughter go her entire life without tasting the "special sauce."  Before this, I hadn't had a Big Mac in years.  Matt laughed when I told him what I wanted because I don't think he has ever seen me eat one!  So, that night, I sent my mom a text and said, "McKinley and I just split a Big Mac!"  Such a special mother-daughter moment.  :)  Side note: I, of course, am not naive enough to think she could actually taste these things, its just the principal. Hopefully you used your imagination for this post.  :)

The other thing that I was so excited to "share" with McKinley was the "Limited Time" (for the holidays)  Peppermint Chocolate Chip Milkshake at Chickfila.  If you have never had one of these....just say no, and you will never know what you are missing!  After my first one last year(knowing the nutritional facts are horrendous) , I even tried to make a "lower" fat version at home....TOTAL FAILURE and complete letdown!  So, I was waiting for that glorious day when I saw the sign on the Chickfila billboard say, "Its back!" as it did last year.  Well, I am sad to say that I did see that sign, but it was the week after we lost her.  So I have decided that after Thanksgiving, I will have my first (and most likely only, since pregnancy is not my excuse for gaining weight now, haha) Peppermint Chocolate Chip Milkshake with Matt on a blanket by her graveside.  It was just something that I was so excited to share with her and didn't get to.  I feel that this is the closest thing to sharing it with her.

Matt and I go to her site often and have talked about having picnics there when it gets warmer because her plot sits under a pretty tree.  It just our way of feeling close to her and spending time with her even though we know she is in heaven.      

Sunday, November 20, 2011


As stated in my last blog, last Sundays sermon was about "Suffering," and this Sundays sermon was about "Healing."  The series was about the Supernatural: When Prayer Invades the Natural.  I wanted to share some notes that I took today that I found very helpful.

The sermon was split up into 3 parts:  The "Do Know," The "Don't Know," and The "Who Knows."

1.  The "Do Know"

-God is not the source of sickness, sin is.  Even though we or someone we love probably doesn't get sick based on our sins directly, we live in a world of sin.  No one is sin-free.
-God does supernaturally heal.
-All healing is temporary.  We will all die at some point.
-God invites us to be a part of healing through prayer.

2. The "Don't Know"

-Why God does not heal some.  God does not heal everyone, every time.
-We don't know what God sees.  His ways and thoughts are much higher than ours.

(The pastor told us a story of him and his youngest son.  They were in the car driving while his son was in the back seat playing legos.  All of the sudden, Kevin (our pastor) slams on his brakes and the legos go everywhere.  His son gets really angry with him because now his legos are everywhere and he has to clean them up.  All his son knew was that this ruined what he was building with his legos.  Later, Kevin sits his son down and says, "What you don't know about the car ride is that a deer ran out in front of our car and I slammed on brakes to keep you safe from harm and possibly save your life." )

His son didn't know what he saw.

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.

3.  The "Who Knows"

(This is hope-filled)
-God might be gracious!

**The ultimate healing is eternal life, and he offers that to everyone who is willing to accept it.**

I hope that whatever you may be going through that these notes were helpful to you like they were for me!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Anger into Thankfulness

When we began to see the specialist, and especially after we got McKinley's diagnosis, an anger started to grow inside of me.  I grew angry with God.  Why would God let this happen to 2 people who want to be parents so badly?  I wondered, “Is God punishing me?”  What did I do wrong to deserve this? Was it because we skipped church that time to do yard work?  Is there a lesson you want to teach me?

I am sad to say that we stopped going to church for about 2 months because of my anger towards God.  How could I go to church every Sunday and praise the One who is about to take my daughter from me?  We go to a pretty big church, so, what do you get with a really big church?.....Yes, a bunch of kids!  I would see kids running around, perfectly normal and healthy.  Why did MY daughter have this fate?  I knew that I would never get to see her running around having fun with other kids like this.  It was just too much to grasp.

It was only a couple weeks before she was born that I felt like I was getting into a place of comfort. This is the "okay" feeling that I refer to in McKinley's Story post.   I was coming to terms with what my future would hold.  Maybe I will never know why, but God trusted Matt and I enough to be McKinley's parents. 

Almost immediately after she was born, I had a turning point. No matter how angry I was with God for letting my daughter die and no matter how much church I missed because of this anger towards him, I still knew that McKinley was in Heaven with Him.  There was never a doubt in my mind where she would be after she left us. What better way to be close to my daughter than being close to the One who is holding her?  Insert turning point.

This past Sunday was our first Sunday backto church in a couple months.  It was really good to be back and I had missed it.  So...our first Sunday back and the sermon was about "Suffering..."  It really hit home for Matt and I.  He followed it up by telling us this weeks sermon will be about "Healing..."  Okay, God, I can hear you loud and clear!!  You have my attention!  This was an example to me of how God's timing is perfect.  This was no coincidence. 

I took some time off work after McKinley's birth.  I read "Heaven is for Real," which was given to me a few weeks back.  I cannot tell you how much that book opened my eyes to where my daughter is.  I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone. 

Now, a couple weeks after our daughter came into our lives and our hearts forever, I am in a much better place.  She changed us.  I thank God for bringing her into our lives.  Wait, now I am thanking the God I was so angry at?  Yes, I am.  I am thankful to have the privilege to always be McKinley's mom.  He knew this precious child needed to be loved unconditionally,  he gave her to Matt and I because he knew we would do just that.

Friday, November 18, 2011

McKinley's Story

After our 13th week visit, our doctor sent us to a Maternal Fetal Specialist because of something he saw on our ultrasound. After the visit to the Specialist, we received the news that there was a strong possibility of a chromosomal abnormality. The specialist informed us that a few of the more rare abnormalities were considered “incompatible with life” and because of that, we decided to have further testing to get an absolute diagnosis to prepare us for what our future held.

On September 26th, at 18 weeks gestation, our lives were flipped upside down when we found out that our baby girl was 1 in 10,000 and the diagnosis was Trisomy 13. McKinley had an extra chromosome #13 and this would affect the development of her entire body. We were informed the devastating news that if she survived to full term, our time would be limited to hours, maybe days.  The doctor gave us the option of termination in which we were surprised to find out was the decision most couples make. This was never an option for us, period. Our minds were put at ease when we were told that she was in absolutely no pain. She is our precious daughter and as parents we wanted her to live the longest life possible. We prayed that we would see the day when we would be able to hold her in our arms and have her beautiful eyes look up at us.

We were relieved to find out that the process in which she received the extra chromosome was not hereditary; therefore there was no need for genetic testing before trying to conceive again. This was a very random occurrence that happened at conception. We were told that there is less than a 1% chance this would happen to us again.

In the weeks to follow, we were thrilled to see that our little girl was a fighter and had a strong heartbeat. At one of the ultrasounds, we got to see her “dancing,” in the words of the technician. Six weeks after the diagnosis, we still had our “bad” days but we could finally say, “We’re okay.” God chose us to be McKinley’s parents and we would love her unconditionally.

On Monday, October 31, 2011, at our 6 month checkup, we found out that our angel had gone to heaven. We arrived at the hospital on Tuesday morning at 7 a.m. to be induced, and delivered McKinley on Wednesday, November 2, 2011 at 6:34 a.m. She was 9.5 inches long and 8 oz.

She was baptized in a sweet ceremony in our room with family and we were able to spend the day with her, holding and cherishing every moment. We are so thankful for the kindness of the doctors and nurses at the hospital. Along with the hospital staff, the thoughtful mothers who have struggled with the loss of a baby themselves, who take the time to make the very small dresses and hats and donate them to the hospital for parents in this situation.

On Wednesday afternoon, we visited a beautiful cemetery and picked out the most perfect spot for her under a tree. We will forever be grateful to the staff at the funeral home who took such special care of our sweet angel. They did an amazing job dressing her and wrapping her in the white blanket given to us by the hospital. On November 3rd, we had a private Graveside Memorial Service for her with our family. At her grave site, we’ve placed a shepherd’s hook from our wedding with flowers and we plan to hang a wind chime so she can listen to her lullabies.

Through this process, our love for each other has grown stronger and stronger. We will always be McKinley’s parents and we will always love her and never forget her. Our families have been an amazing support system for us as well as our close friends. They’ve loved McKinley from the time we told them the wonderful news that we were pregnant.

We will miss McKinley dearly but will forever be grateful that God sent her into our lives even for such a short amount of time. She has taught us so many things and our lives will be changed forever because of her sweet face.

Our beautiful angel, McKinley Grace Howard, was born into heaven on November 2, 2011. Mommy and Daddy love you more than you know. Not a day will go by without you in our thoughts. Our comfort is knowing that God is holding you in His loving arms and one day we will see you again.

Kalee and Matt

Chosen by Matt and I for McKinley's Memorial Service.
Psalm 139:13-15

13 For you formed my inward parts;
... you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

The reason for my blog..

Hey everyone.  I have decided to start a blog!  This blog is in memory of our daughter, McKinley Grace Howard (her story is to come).  I will share things about her as well as about the Howard family in general! 

When we got McKinley's diagnosis, I started searching everything I could find about her condition.  Then, I was given Katie's blog by a friend.  Her daughter, Hallie, was also diagnosed with Trisomy 13.  I found such comfort in reading her blog and I found her blog very "real," which was so helpful for me.  From her blog,  I then found Kara and Miranda, whom I have been speaking with over email as well!  Hi girls!!!  You 3 are such wonderful women and mothers and I am so glad to have come in contact with you!   You have inspired me to create this blog!  It is my hope that another mother finds my blog one day and finds comfort in the fact that "You are not alone."  This is the comfort I've felt from reading the blogs by these 3 women.