Avery Kate

Avery Kate was a healthy ten week old baby girl who went to sleep for a nap and woke up in Heaven. We miss her every second of every day. SIDS became a reality in our family and we will never forget our beautiful baby girl.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Same Story; New Chapter

Life with three children has kept us pretty busy these last few months. Evie is now 8 months old. Yes, 8 months already. I can't even believe how quickly life has flown by lately. If the saying, "Time flies when you're having fun" is indeed true, then we must be having some fun!
The beginning months with Evie were pretty similar to those first few months with Aubrey. I was full of fear and constantly worried that something was going to happen to her. I tried my best to walk by faith, not by sight, but sometimes that is just easier said than done. I spent many nights staring at the blinking lights of her apnea monitor, watching the light blink with each breath and another blinking light with each beat of her heart. I fell asleep to those lights many nights, and on the flip side, I was also awoken by the monitor's ear-piercing alarm many times. I don't think my heart will ever be the same after those middle of the night alerts. No matter how many precautions I took with Evie, deep down I knew nothing I could do would ever protect her completely. It's funny how we think we are in charge of our lives sometimes, when in reality, we control nothing. I think that's one of the toughest lessons of parenthood.
These past few weeks have been extremely monumental for us. Evie has been staying with Honey and Pops since I went back to work in January. Bringing her there brought back so many memories of the days that I brought Avery Kate there, especially that last morning. I had that flashback every single morning when I walked out of their house. But I knew that I was leaving Evie in the best hands, and once again, I'm not the one in charge. She spent five months there and it felt really good to see them on a daily basis. It was just good for my soul! When I dropped Evie off there for her last day, I cried off and on the entire day. I just didn't realize how tough it would be. Picking her up was even tougher. We will still continue to visit Honey and Pops often, but having Evie there somehow made me feel just a little bit closer to Avery Kate. They were the last faces she saw, the last voices she heard, and the last arms she was held in. They just mean the world to me, and I am so blessed and thankful they agreed to keep Evie for us. But all good things must come to an end. Evie is now at Mrs. Kathy's with Aubrey. She's only been there for a week now, but I think she's adjusting well. I know Aubrey is loving that she can be there with her and be the big sister without Hallie taking over. (Hallie goes to the summer care at her school)
The next big step I knew I had to take was discontinuing the apnea monitor. I didn't remember how long I left Aubrey on hers, and honestly I didn't want to know because I was trying not to compare the two situations. Even though they were both my rainbow babies, I couldn't compare my grief and my fears. Four years had passed between the two, and even though my grief had progressed tremendously, I was still terrified. One night, when Evie was exactly eight months old, we decided to just rip off the Band-Aid. We put her to sleep that night without the monitor, and knew there was no turning back. I woke up probably 50 times throughout the night and checked on her. She's still sleeping next to our bed at night, so needless to say, that first week without the monitor wore me out. I hardly slept. It was like I had a crying newborn baby at home, when in reality, I just had a super quiet eight month old who actually "slept like a baby" right next to me. I'm learning to embrace the change...slowly, but surely. I'm actually pretty proud of myself for listening to my heart and not setting expectations on myself to move through these small milestones.
I know my next step will be to put Evie in her own room. Well, I'll just say that I don't see that happening any time soon, and I'm perfectly fine with that. Baby steps. Baby steps.
All in all, adjusting to life with three little girls has been pretty pleasant. Sometimes life gets stressful and we might hit a few bumps in the road here and there, but that's what makes this journey unique. And that's what makes this journey ours. Every day we will continue to walk along this journey of life with our little angel alongside us. Some days are tough; some days are easy. But this is the life we were chosen to live and we are taking it one step at a time.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Busy Year; Double Rainbow

It's been over a year since I've posted, and a very busy year at that. On February 4, God decided that our family needed another baby. I've always felt in my heart that I wanted another child, but I never knew if it was because I knew I had 3 children, but only had 2 here on Earth. And if that would be the case, then I would never catch up. I would always feel one child short. I just couldn't distinguish the difference in wanting to have another baby and feeling emptiness from Avery Kate's death. Brandon and I decided to leave it in God's hands. I was terrified! I swear the moment we decided to leave it up to God, he took over and I was pregnant. It took me a few months to comprehend that we would have another baby, and once again I was scared. I knew what it was like to raise a baby following the death of another child, and it was rough! I didn't think my heart could handle that again. And for all of you who remember my pregnancies...this one was no different. Vomiting every day, all day. Multiple hospital visits (along with some friendly home visits) to receive IV fluids. It was just as terrible as the other three, yet I still felt so incredibly lucky and blessed to have another child growing inside of me.
Evie Elizabeth Soileau was born almost four weeks early on September 21, 2016. She weighed 6lbs 8oz and was absolutely perfect. Evie is the perfect blend of all three of her sisters. At different moments of each day, she will look exactly like Hallie, then she will fall asleep and look like Aubrey, and then when her hair gets crazy and fluffy, she looks just like Avery Kate.

Hallie asked me if Avery Kate had picked out a sister for them and sent her to Earth. Absolutely! I couldn't think of any other way to explain it. And the funny thing is, now that Evie is here, I feel like our family is complete. I guess God really did know what He was doing after all. I'm still a nervous wreck and completely over protective of her, but I know in my heart that she is here to stay. And in a way, I feel like I have a piece of Avery Kate back with me. We have her hooked up to the apnea monitor from the hospital which is definitely a blessing and a curse. I can sleep at ease knowing that it will alert me if she stops breathing or if her heart rate becomes too high or too low. On the other hand, it also has many false alarms. The first night that it went off, I fainted. Yep, I jumped up out of a dead sleep, obviously too quickly, and the combination of the loud beeping from the machine and my completely still baby was just too much for me to handle. So down I went. Thinking back on that night makes me giggle, although it wasn't very funny at the time. I even chipped the paint on the wall in our bedroom; I've always had a heard head. There are less false alarms now that I've found the "magic spot" on her belly to put the leads. And you know, even though I know in my heart that Evie is here to stay, I still worry like crazy. But then I think back to that bible verse, "For we walk by faith, not by sight." I take a deep breath, and let it go because it's out of my hands.

Today was the day that I've dreaded since Evie was born. Today, she is the same age that Avery Kate was when she died. To add to my anxiety, a friend here in town lost her baby in the 39th week of her pregnancy. I went to the funeral home last night, and her baby was there lying in the same place that we had Avery Kate five years ago. The memories flooded my brain. Everywhere I looked, I was reminded of that dreadful day where I was able to see my baby's body for the last time, tuck her in, and say goodbye forever. Her baby was so perfect and it's just heart wrenching to see another mom experiencing so much pain, a pain that I know all too well.
Needless to say, I was extremely tenderhearted this morning. I've watched Evie like a hawk since we woke up. I had a nice long walk with another friend who also has a sweet angel baby in Heaven. Seriously? Why are there so many mommas of angel babies? It just doesn't seem fair. Anyways, it was great therapy for the both of us, since she also visited the funeral home last night and was flooded with her own memories of her awful day there as well. After our walk, I just came home and held my sweet Evie girl. I swear I've been squeezing her and kissing her face since her 6AM feeding! I look at her and I feel many different emotions. I'm so thankful that God chose me to be her mommy. I'm so thankful to have each and every second with her. And then, I'm afraid. I'm afraid that in an instant, my heart will be ripped from my chest once again. I look back to where I was five years ago, and I've come so far. Then when all those memories are flashed back at me, I feel like I take a step back in my grief journey. I'm OK, it just reminds me of those days when I thought my life was perfect and the days when I was oblivious that my worst fears could ever be a reality. It's been five years since I've had those feelings, but I must say, since Evie was born, I've felt the closest to my former self. I still have that vacant space in my heart and in my arms, and I know I am changed forever, but I'm becoming a little more OK with our new "normal."

Sunday, November 8, 2015

That Time of Year

Most people associate fall with beautiful weather, pumpkin spice everything, changing colors, and complete happiness. Even though I might enjoy a PSL from Starbucks every now and then, for me, this time of year brings so much anxiety and sadness. From Halloween up until Avery Kate's Angel-versary (tomorrow) I remember and re-live every single moment that I had with her. I remember the outfits she wore, what she smelled like, the way she looked at me, the noises she made, and the list goes on. Last night was especially hard because I remember the details of that LSU vs Alabama football game just those few nights before she passed away. Four years later and I can still remember dressing her that morning, taking her picture, going out to eat for breakfast with Brandon and our girls..... I remember Hallie's pancake, I remember the waitress oohing and ahhing over Avery Kate. I remember the house that we went to for the "big game." I remember where I set her car seat down outside since we watched the game on a big screen. I remember eating what seems like 20 helpings of grilled green beans! I also remember changing her into her jammies before we left that night....very, very vividly. So last night was extra difficult being that our friends were all gathering once again to watch the "big game." I honestly don't think I watched more than 10 minutes of the game. It wasn't necessarily the best game to watch, but it just helped to keep my mind busy inside talking with the ladies. As it got closer to the time for us to leave, the lump in my throat got bigger and bigger. I always imagine what it would be like to have her here with us playing with all the kids, but last night was just extra hard. And I knew it was going to be that way. I've had anxiety about that night all week. But I made it and Hallie and Aubrey had a blast playing all night with their friends.
Sometimes I wonder if the reason these few days are the hardest for me is because I keep trying to replay those days over and over in my mind to see if there was something I missed. Was there a sign that I didn't see? Maybe if I would have done something differently that night. I know we can't change the past, but it's so hard to have no answers. I'm normally pretty accepting of this, but not this week. This season just brings out all of my emotions.
We took our Christmas card pictures last week... yep; during my emotional bliss! I'm always looking for ways to include Avery Kate without being gaudy or tacky and I am soooooo very pleased with the way they turned out. My absolute favorite is the one of my THREE girls. Wow! It feels so good to write that. I have a picture of my three girls. Amazing! I put Avery Kate's picture inside of the word JOY. This will help to remind us of the joy this little girl brought to us during her short stay on Earth. I absolutely love it! It also helps to have a great friend as a photographer. She knows how to capture my thoughts without me even explaining them to her.(I added my two favorites below.)
Tomorrow brings to an end another entire year that we have spent without Avery Kate. Four years. Four years without that beautiful baby girl in our lives. We will always wonder what she would have been, what she would have looked like, what trouble these girls of mine would be getting into together, and I could just go on forever. Even though I wonder a lot, I can tell you what I imagine.... I imagine a little girl who looks somewhat like Aubrey, but with darker hair. Her smile lights up every room. She and Hallie play very well together, but she and Aubrey butt heads. I daydream about the three of them playing together all the time. And oddly enough, Hallie does the same thing! Every now and then, she will come in and tell me how life is not fair! Avery Kate should be playing Candyland with them right now! And I completely agree with that little girl. She is so smart and so in-tuned with her sister. I'm so grateful that she still thinks about her so often, but on the other hand, I worry about her. It hurts my heart to know the pain she bears at such a young age. Children are supposed to be out playing with their friends and having fun! I hate that Hallie worries about death, Heaven, angels, etc. But we don't get to choose our lives, and I know our parents wouldn't choose this life for us either. We accept it, and make the best of every day.
Life isn't fair, we know this. But we aren't the ones writing this story. I believe our Avery Kate chapter is just getting started. I don't believe that her chapter was ever closed. She makes a difference in every day of my life and I know she is continuing to touch others as well. One day, we will see our beautiful baby girl again, but until we meet again..... I will continue to imagine and daydream who she would have been and what our lives would have been with Avery Kate still here on Earth. Happy 4th Angel-versary to my sweet Avery Kate! Our lives are forever changed and you will always be in our hearts.
The girls wore their feather shirts today in remembrance of their angel sister in Heaven. I pray that Avery Kate sends little white feathers to all those who are in trouble and need guidance this week. I also pray that she will send those little feathers to anyone who is needing a special little wink to know that Heaven is for real, and that we have some pretty amazing support coming from above.
Avery Kate Soileau September 1, 2011 - November 9, 2011.

Friday, August 21, 2015

This is Just the Beginning

It's been almost an entire year since my last post. I've sat down at the computer numerous times and tried to put my thoughts into words but it just never worked. It was a super busy and crazy year to say the least! My first and best friend in the whole world got married as well as two of my brothers.... yes TWO of them! Brandon's sister had her first baby whom I am so lucky to call my godchild. And in the midst of all the wedding fun we took the girls on a surprise trip to Disney World. It was a year to remember!
Aubrey has grown up so much and she just reminds me of Hallie when she was that age. Not at all her behavior because in that department those girls are NIGHT AND DAY! I mean more like the questions that Aubrey asks me and the comments that she makes. And that makes me miss Avery Kate. Aubrey is the age that Hallie was when she was Avery Kate's big sister. My heart breaks all over again seeing Aubrey's mind work and remembering that, yes, Hallie absolutely knew her little sister and she knows that she is gone forever. I guess I tried to convince myself that Hallie was so young she won't remember much of the heartache; only the happy stories that we will share. Wrong. That little girl remembers everything. The other night I could hear her crying her little heart out in her bed. I went in there and she was asking me how old Avery Kate was. I used a friend's little girl as an example since they would be the same age. Hallie lost it! She screamed, "She can walk!? She can talk? And we don't get to see it??" Well of course I feel the same way. My little girl is growing up and I am missing it. I feel like I've come so far, yet I have so much more ahead of me.
I do think it's so neat to watch Hallie teach Aubrey about Avery Kate. She tells her she's in Heaven, but I know Aubrey thinks that means she is on the wall in our bedroom. Aubrey wears some of Avery Kate's bows or bracelets and I always tell her that her sister gave them to her. She just smiles.
I cleaned out the playroom one day and threw out a bunch of old stuffed animals. Well I found a pink bear and a white bear that I knew came from a plant or flower arrangement from Avery Kate's funeral. Hallie quickly snatched them up and gave the white one to Aubrey and kept the pink one for herself. They both call their bears Avery Kate, which I have to admit is kind of creepy at first, but then again it's so sweet that they both choose to sleep with "their sister" every single night. It just warms my heart and I guess it also makes me smile to hear her name used so often in our home.
I realize this post may be all over the place but the real reason I am finally able to sit down and write is because this has been by far the toughest week I've had in a while. Avery Kate's birthday is September 1. For all you teachers and former teachers out there, you know I was already struggling with the decision about when she would start school the minute I found out my due date with her. Would I start her in pre-K at age 3 and let her turn 4 a few weeks into the school year? That would mean she would graduate at 17 instead of 18. She's a girl so sports wouldn't be a factor in holding her back. I'm telling you, these thoughts had already consumed me just while I was pregnant. Well this is the year I thought I would be"dreading" although I never knew just how much I would be actually dreading it and never imagined it would be for the fact that I don't get to make that decision for her anymore. I don't get to decide if she can start pre-k this week or if I would wait and start her next year. She won't start school this year, next year, or ever. And all of this heart ache and upset just made me realize: honey this is just the beginning. This week I watched as all of my friends sent their babies off to pre-k. Gosh I never truly realized how many friends I have with children her age. It took me seeing all the names on those pre-k class lists to realize just how many friends she would have had in her grade. Some of these friends we knew as babies and they "knew" Avery Kate as well, and others we have met within the past few years. I just scrolled through all these pictures people had posted of their pre-k kids on facebook and tried to imagine my little Avery Kate starting school, wearing her tiny little uniform, holding her "My 1st Day of Pre-K" sign, running in her classroom to meet her little friends, and the list goes on. My heart physically hurts. And that's just this week. What about when they all make their first communion? What about when they all start high school? What about when they all graduate? What about when they all get married? What about when they all have children of their own? It's absolutely just the beginning. I knew this day would come, but I didn't realize just how hard it would be. I'm having such a hard time imagining what she would even look like. How long would her hair be? Would she look more like Hallie or Aubrey, or have a look of her own? I have so many questions and what ifs flowing through my brain right now that I can barely keep my thoughts straight. And again.... this is only the beginning.
September 1 will be here in a little over a week. I asked Hallie and Aubrey what they would like to do for Avery Kate's birthday. Aubrey immediately shouted out that she wanted candy and cake...shocker! But Hallie.....She just has such an old soul... she says, "Well mom, who are her friends? We can invite them all over and let them play and eat birthday cake." Sweet girl! What a great idea she had, but clearly I cannot handle anything like that, especially with the week I've had. So we all decided to send her some birthday balloons. Simple and sweet. Then Hallie asked me, "Which cloud is Heaven?" It's like she wants to know exactly where we are sending these balloons. She doesn't go a day without asking about Avery Kate or drawing pictures of her at school. She's been bringing me feathers every time she is outside playing. She always asks, "Is this from a bird or did Avery Kate send this to me?" Of course her sister sends all of them! I love my little girls! I just wish I had them all here with me. I know I have to settle for an angel, but it doesn't mean I have to like it.
Well, I have to admit I feel much better after writing this, but I still know in my heart...it's just the beginning.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Three Years Old

My blog began as a way for me to document each moment I had with my sweet Avery Kate as well as a way for Hallie to be able to look back and remember her sister. It quickly evolved into my of helping other parents suffering from the loss of their children. I wanted them to know they weren't alone, and their feelings were completely normal. The more I poured my heart out into this blog, I realized it had become therapeutic for me. It helped me to get my feelings out at my own pace. I began to blog less and less and I knew it was because I just didn't feel that need to "get it all out." I'm not saying that I'm over it, or that I don't cry and ask God, "Why?" But I  am getting better at being the mommy of a true angel. Fewer events in life catch me off guard and I'm walking through each day with Avery Kate by my side,  guiding me in the right direction.
This weekend, Labor Day Weekend, each year is always a tough one. I start getting emotional and really tender hearted. This year was no exception. I can't help but think about it's supposed to  be, well how I wish it would be. This is just another year where there is no birthday party, no cute girlie cake, no candles, no presents, no little girls running around my house, no birthday girl. No birthday girl.. Wow.. It's still hard to type. I see the other children that are the same age as Avery Kate and I can't help but wonder what she would be like today. Would she have brown hair like Hallie or blonde hair like Aubrey? What would her birthday party theme be? It's all so hard to imagine. Hallie wants to send Avery Kate a cake up in heaven. I told her she could make a special card and we would send it up with balloons. She also asked when she was going to go to Heaven which my response is always, "Hopefully not any time soon!" It's one of those questions where you can't ever be certain of what our future holds and as much as I want to promise her that we will all be here with her forever, we all know very well that is not the case. Hallie was upset last night and was so focused on the fact that Avery Kate really isn't coming back. It's so hard to tell her that and to know that this is reality and not a long lasting nightmare.
Tomorrow, we will go and bring Avery Kate some new bright and cheery flowers and we will send her 3 balloons up to heaven to symbolize the 3 years that we have all loved her and held her in our hearts. September 1, 2011 was one of the best days of my life. It's all because she entered my world and made my life that much more meaningful. I think of her every day, and I know that she makes me a better person. I look at life differently because of her. I appreciate the people in my life and know they were brought to me for a reason. I am more patient (for the most part) because I realize that most of the time the things that would just piss me off in the past, truly don't matter.
I continue to get my little winks from Avery Kate too. We went on a family vacation last month and when we got out of the car at our first stop, there was a tiny white feather on the ground right at my feet. There's just no way that was a coincidence... No way! I hear songs on the radio at 11:11 that remind me of her. I pray to her every day, but I still long for the day where I can think of her and not get that lump in my throat. I LOVE talking about her. It makes me feel like she is still remembered, but it sure does give me that lump... Every single time! I miss her so much!
So here's to you Avery Kate! On your third birthday... I wish you a happy happy birthday! What better place to celebrate than in heaven.... Even though the human side of me would much rather her celebrate here with me and the rest of our family. I love you sweet girl! We will see you again....

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Tidal Wave

I haven't posted in a while because I've been so busy and just enjoying life. Avery Kate is on my mind every single day as she will be for the rest of my life, but I didn't feel like I had anything bottled up inside until now. I know grief comes in waves, and yesterday is when the tidal wave hit. I received a message last night that a co-worker of mine whom I've never met lost her 16 month old baby yesterday. He passed away in his sleep with no previously known conditions. I've heard stories that have been similar to my own these past two years and my heart always goes out to those parents and of course prayers as well. But somehow this one was different. Her baby was the same age as Aubrey.  I feel like I've worked so hard to overcome all of my fears with her and I finally felt safe. So many times during the night I'm tempted to just glance at the video monitor screen to check on her but I talk myself out of it. I always repeat that saying to myself "walk by faith, not by sight." And then I go back to sleep, leaving it in God's hands. But with something like this... It just breaks my heart all over again and I've gained all that fear back. I know we are never truly "safe." It's in God's hands; we are not the ones in control... But it doesn't make it any easier. When I got the news of this precious little boy's passing, I immediately ran to grab Aubrey out of bed. I just held her and cried. I hugged her and thanked God for sending her to me... And then I begged him to allow me to keep her. It's just one of those moments of weakness when all you can think of is to beg. It's so hard not to be in control of these things. As parents all we want to do is protect our children. It's so hard to lose them and know nothing could have been done differently to save them... It's really hard! So needless to say I went to sleep last night with such a heavy heart, teary eyes, and many many prayers that I know that mom will feel. And of course all through the night I woke up and squinted my eyes at the video monitor to verify that Aubrey's chest was moving up and down. When my alarm went off this morning, my eyes went straight to the video screen. I couldn't tell if her stomach was moving! I ran into her room to touch her and found her sleeping (and breathing) peacefully. Then I walked back to my room and the tidal wave hit me again. I began to think about that mother, and what her morning would be like. I remember that morning after all too well. I remember waking up and hoping, wishing, it was all just a horrible nightmare... But it wasn't. I remember facing reality and knowing that I had to plan my child's funeral that day. I had to pick out something for her to wear for the last time, I had to pick a coffin for her, I had to pick flowers, readings, music, and the list goes on. All these thoughts hit me as I woke up that morning. I just imagined that mom doing the same thing this morning and my heart just broke into a million pieces for her. I would never in a million years wish this feeling on anyone. The morning after is worse than the actual horrific day in my opinion. It's the day where all your worst worries and fears become an actual reality as the initial shock from the day before wears off and you're now forced to deal with it. I've cried numerous times today just reliving each little detail from my own experience and remembering that pain, feeling that pain again, and then knowing someone else was also feeling that same pain for the first time. Please send your prayers to her, because I know how beneficial they are and how much those prayers carried me through my journey. Actually.. Those prayers are still continuing to carry me along this journey because it's a journey that will last until I join my sweet girl in Heaven.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A New Light

Two months has gone by since I've posted. Since then, we have celebrated sweet Aubrey's first birthday, Avery Kate's second Angelversary in Heaven, and we have moved into our new house. I just have to say, I made it through Aubrey's birthday with flying colors. I was just fine. And the most amazing part of the day was the double rainbow in the sky that afternoon! Multiple people called me and texted me about this rainbow, and how appropriate! A rainbow for my rainbow baby...a double rainbow at that! How beautiful and rare! I was amazed!

Although I made it through her birthday with no tears, the day of her birthday party, my emotions started pouring out. I was so soft-hearted and sensitive that day. I kept tearing up the whole morning while I was getting dressed and getting things ready for the afternoon birthday party. I just kept picturing our little gathering for Avery Kate's first birthday the previous year and how we sent her balloons. It was just a constant reminder that Avery Kate did not have a party like Aubrey was about to have. It made me realize that this was the party Avery Kate was supposed to have last year and instead we all went to the graveyard. That is just not how things are supposed to be. I was just so upset and teary eyed and I walked outside to find a tiny white feather in the driveway. I'm telling you... I lost it right there in the driveway! My baby girl sent me that feather to remind me that she is ok, and that she has the most amazing birthdays each year, birthdays that we can't even begin to imagine. From then on I was much better. It was the most perfect birthday party ever. The theme was "Cute as a Button" which she absolutely was! Aubrey enjoyed her cake and she got to see her family and close friends. I couldn't have asked for anything more, and the best part was that I actually enjoyed it too.
Hallie went on a field trip to the local pumpkin patch in October. She picked pumpkins for herself and Aubrey and then picked out a special one for Avery Kate. My heart is just so touched by this child. We brought it to her grave and once again I'm amazed by the actions of my four year old child.
 She always remembers her sister in Heaven and just has the most pure soul. I just can't even put into words how Hallie still connects with her sister on a daily basis. It may sound crazy, but I had posted a while back how a friend told me that if you are thinking about someone in Heaven it's because they are with you at that moment. I always believed it, but it's been confirmed for me since then. Lately, and the most random times, I'll start to think about Avery Kate, sometimes it's a good memory and other times it's a horrible flashback memory of that day she went to Heaven. I never say anything because trust me, I talk enough as it is, I don't need to share every single thought that goes through my head! Anyways, every time I think about her, Hallie will say, "Mom, I miss Avery Kate." Completely out of the blue! And sometimes I'll ask her, "What made you think of her?" And she just says, "I don't know I just miss her." I don't think that's a coincidence at all, so I started telling her that I think it's because Avery Kate is with us so we think about her at the same time. I just think that is so neat. I also believe that Aubrey knows Avery Kate. I've always believed that Avery Kate and PawPaw handpicked Aubrey to send to us because she is just the absolute perfect gift from God. And because I believe this, I believe they knew each other before Aubrey came to Earth. It may be far fetched but that's ok; it makes me smile. Sometimes, Aubrey just looks into the thin air and laughs and smiles and starts having a conversation in her own language. I love to believe that she is talking to her sister. Again, it makes me smile and I'm going with it even if it makes me seem a little crazy :)
October was just a super busy month. We also took family pictures mid-October. This was another tough experience because I just didn't know how I was going to take a true family picture without my sweet Avery Kate. I felt guilty for taking pictures without her because clearly she is part of our family and still part of our every day lives. A friend of mine who also lost her baby shared some ideas from her family pictures and I was at such peace with these ideas. I felt like I was finally able to have my entire family, all three girls, in one picture together. It brings tears to my eyes each time I see these pictures. Thank you to Kimberly Parfait with Parfait Photography for capturing these wondering moments for my family. These pictures mean more to me than you'll ever know.
Here are a few pictures:

The last day of October was of course Halloween. The weather was predicted to be horrible so our neighborhood decided to change Halloween to the day prior that way the kids would be able to trick-or-treat and enjoy the night. It was a great night, but I had a lump in my throat the whole time. Every time I looked at my precious Cinderellas I couldn't help but think that there was a Cinderella missing. There should be another sweet Cinderella in that wagon with the girls, there should be three smiling Cinderellas trick-or-treating with us. It's always the hardest holiday for me because it was the only one that we had Avery Kate with us. It's just really tough for me because those memories are still so clear for me and I know what it should be like now, and it's not, never will be. I'll never get to take my three girls for a ride in the wagon to get candy and that reality hits me hard at Halloween. Just another one of those things in life that is simply unfair. And even though I know that and accept it, doesn't mean I like it.

And then the dreaded month of November came. I must say I did a lot better than I thought I would during that dreaded week. I felt a few butterflies in my stomach, had a little anxiety, and I must say dropping Aubrey off at Mrs. Kathy's that Wednesday was really tough. I kept having that feeling that I would never see her again. But I stopped myself, stopped the thoughts, and told myself that I cannot live a life in fear. I can't. It's not healthy and it doesn't help anyone or anything to worry and stress. It's out of our hands anyways, we are not the ones in the driver seat so what good is it to worry? So I calmed down, went to work, and had a great day! The 9th, the actual day was on that Saturday and we went to our friend's house to watch the LSU game. We were surrounded my wonderful, positive people and it just made the day go on without a tear. It helped that we had something to do and had our kids with us too. It's never good to be alone when you're upset, I think it makes things worse so I try to surround myself with positive people as often as possible. It's amazing what a difference that can make in a person's life.
We moved into our new house the following week. That was another tough one. It was so hard to leave the only home where Avery Kate lived. I could look at any inch of our house and have a memory of her. We brought her home from the hospital there, I stayed home with her for 8 weeks in that house, and the list goes on. I remember the way she looked at the living room ceiling fan right before she dosed off to sleep. I remember how she looked around when I took my bath and had her in her little bouncy seat in the bathroom. I remember taking pictures of her, well, in every single room of the house because I'm obsessed with pictures. And then I also have those awful memories that are even painful to type about. I remember buckling Avery Kate into her carseat that November morning. I remember taking her picture, I remember kissing her- never knowing it would be my last. I remember walking into that empty house on the night of November 9. I remember going into her empty room and just crying in her chair. I remember those feelings of disbelief and sadness I felt as I sat in that house. I remember the months that followed in that house as well. I remember the days I sat alone in Avery Kate's room and just soaked up all our memories of changings and feedings in that room. And now..all those memories will stay there, or so I thought. I was so sad about moving, but happy on the other hand because this is a house that Brandon and I built (OK so we picked everything out and someone else did the dirty work, but this was ours). I just couldn't help but think of the new and happy memories we get to make at this new house. This is a good thing. As hard as it was to leave that house, I'm glad we did. We are just loving the new house! I'm just over the moon about the way everything turned out. I feel so lucky and blessed to be here. And now....let the memory making begin! Here is one of my favorite views of the kitchen:
Thanksgiving this year was celebrated at our new house! I was so excited to have our first holiday at our new house. It was perfect! I loved having everyone over and having room for everyone to eat and move around. It just made me my heart smile :) Hallie also had a Thanksgiving picnic at her school this year. She was dressed as an Indian for the Thanksgiving feast. She had a necklace around her neck with leaves that had what she was thankful for written on them. This one was my favorite:
Now we are in the month of December and getting ready for Christmas. It's been a busy year this year, but I've still had time to realize a few things. This second year without Avery Kate has been harder than the first year. My first year I was either sick and pregnant or I was focusing on my sweet Aubrey. I realized that since my mind was so occupied with other life events, I never really grieved the loss of Avery Kate the way I should have until now. Now I am realized that my arms are empty again. Aubrey is older and doesn't want to be held. Aubrey really helped me through that first year or so; and in ways I had no idea she could help. It helped me to have that happiness in my life. It helped me to get excited about her first Thanksgiving, her first Christmas, etc. It helped me to get excited about her outfits and bows. All of those baby things that I thought I would never be able to do again, I was doing with Aubrey and it helped me. But now I no longer have a baby. And the reality of never holding Avery Kate again or never celebrating a holiday with her again hurts so bad. All the new exciting "distractions" of my life are no longer "new." I'm forced to face this head on. I do think I handle well and I'm not afraid of my feelings. I still talk about Avery Kate to anyone who will listen. I will never let her memory fade. That little girl has made me who I am today and I am so thankful to have had her in my life; even if it were only for a short time.
I also have a huge milestone that I've accomplished since moving into the new house. I put Aubrey to sleep in her own room. I did it! It only took a year and some change, but I did it! She absolutely loves it and will sleep 13 hours if I let her. I have a video monitor and I watch her alllll night long. It's also been one of those things where I have to stop myself and say, "Brandi... have faith. Don't open your eyes. You can't stare at this monitor all night. It's not healthy. Have faith that God will take care of Aubrey tonight and you get some sleep." Yea so sometimes it works, and other times...well I get all cross eyed staring at the monitor deciphering if Aubrey is really breathing or if it's my eyes moving. Some nights I make my self sick watching it and others I have more faith and I can relax and sleep the entire night. I am very proud of myself and I know it's better for her to be in her own room. It's just another piece of the puzzle and the start to making new, positive memories in our new home.
I bought this sign for our new house a few months back and it finally came in. I think it's the perfect finishing touch to our new home. Here's to a new house, new memories, and a new, positive light on life :)