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!