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.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Merry Christmas

This week we celebrated our second Christmas without Avery Kate and our first Christmas with Aubrey as well as our first Christmas having two children. It was such a roller coaster of emotions. Every time I would dress the girls in their matching outfits, my heart would immediately start to hurt. Every picture we took, every "baby" gift we bought, every family celebration we went to...My heart felt like it was bleeding. It was so much harder this year than last year. Maybe I was still numb at this time last year? I was so happy to celebrate Aubrey's first Christmas this year, but at the same time, I knew this is exactly the Christmas I had planned out in my head for Avery Kate to have last year. It is just so hard to explain. It was probably one of the hardest weeks so far, and maybe because it just lingered on forever. For those of you who know me well, you know we have lots and lots of families to celebrate with on the holidays, so Christmas isn't just a one day event.
On Christmas morning, I pictured Avery Kate running into the living room with Hallie and opening presents with her. I imagined her playing with Hallie in their new playhouse that Santa brought them. I just imagined how happy she would have been here with us. And then I imagined different things. I started to think of her in Heaven with Paw Paw and Jesus. I pictured them all rejoicing and spending Christmas with the true reason for the season. How lucky she is to be there, but I would just love to have all three of my babies here on Earth laughing and smiling with us on Christmas morning. I do take a few moments during this time to look at Hallie and Aubrey and thank God that I have them in my life. I really am blessed, but it doesn't take away the hurt in my heart or the lump in my throat during this holiday season. I now understand what people mean when they say that the holidays are the hardest once their loved ones pass away.
On another note, I have started my new job. I study all day long and take two tests a day. It's pretty demanding and I have Aubrey home with me while I'm doing this which isn't the most ideal situation. It's working though, and I am learning a lot. Honey and Pops will open back up on Thursday and I am bringing Aubrey there. I get tears in my eyes just thinking about it. How am I supposed to drop off my baby and leave her there? The last time I did that, I never got to see her again. I know deep down that Aubrey will be OK and I know they will take care of her, but it will be so hard. I have been dreading this day since the day she was born. My stomach is in knots and that lump is in my throat as I type this. I'm so nervous! But the reality is that Aubrey will be just fine and there is no better place for me to bring her. So I've got to calm down and just do it. I can do it. Or at least I keep telling myself that right? Well, I know I can do it with the help of that special guardian angel I have with me all the time. I will put it in God's hands.
Also, I have to leave next Sunday to go to New York for training for three whole weeks. Yes, three weeks straight! Brandon bought me an iPAD for Christmas so I can face time with him and the girls, but I am going to miss them sooooo much! I don't know how I am going to go without seeing them for three whole weeks, but I know it will be worth it in the long run and it's best for my family. After all, compared to my lifetime without Avery Kate, three weeks will be nothing. I'm going to make the best of it and try to enjoy the fact that I will actually be able to sleep all night long with both eyes closed. How wonderful does that sound! Speaking of sleeping....I have been doing a lot better. Aubrey sleeps for eight straight hours and then I wake her up to eat after that. She is definitely my easiest baby, so I am not worried about Brandon being home with them while I'm gone. Our moms will be here to help him, but I know he can do it.
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and I wish you a happy new year. I know I have learned to never take anything or anyone for granted this year. I hug my babies and feel so blessed that God has shared them with me. I've learned a lot about myself this year too and I know now that I can conquer anything. Embrace life and live every moment to the fullest. Happy New Year! Come on 2013...the best is yet to come!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

9 weeks and 6 days

Last Monday, Aubrey was 9 weeks and 6 days old; the same age that Avery Kate was the day we held her in our arms for the last time. I had so much anxiety during the days leading up to that day. Sunday night we were driving on the interstate (sleep apnea monitor all hooked up on her) and Aubrey's machine went off. It showed that her breathing was either weak or non-existent. Really? This is the last thing we need! Luckily I was driving and Brandon jumped back there to check on her. She was fine of course, but again....really? Tonight? Once we were all sleeping Sunday night, guess what happened again? Yep! That darn monitor started going off again! I think it went off two or three times that night, and let me tell you, it takes a while to recover from that kind of wake up call. Aubrey was just fine every time the machine went off, but boy did my heart race! The machine makes a noise like no other. It's loud and high pitched, and frankly one that I will never forget as long as I live. Of all the times for that machine to start going off, it chooses now. My heart had a hard time recovering from that long night. Of course Monday I watched the clock and as it hit 11:19, I thought, "Aubrey is now one minute older than Avery Kate ever was." I just kept looking at her all day, looking deep into her beautiful blue eyes and thinking how I could not imagine losing her. It's something that I don't really have to imagine every day, but something that I remember feeling when I lost Avery Kate. And now somehow, all that pain came back to me on Monday. I was so scared that I would lose Aubrey, so scared that all this happiness would be taken from me, but of course I made it through the day. I have never held a baby so tightly or stared so long as I did on Monday. When I closed my eyes to go to sleep that night, I thanked God for Aubrey. She is truly a miracle and a blessing from above. God sent her to me to help me through hard times, make the good times better, and to know that nothing in life should be taken for granted. I feel so lucky and blessed!
During the past week, I couldn't help but feel like Avery Kate had missed out on so much. I've now had Aubrey for one week longer than I had Avery Kate. One week makes a big difference in the life of a baby. In that one week Aubrey was able to meet her new baby cousin, something that Avery Kate was never able to do. With every day that passes I think about what we would have been doing with Avery Kate. I had such big plans for her, and it makes me nervous to plan for Aubrey. I bought her Christmas dress and immediately imagined Avery Kate's Christmas dress hanging in her closet, a dress she was never able to wear. I just pray every night that God will let Aubrey stay here with us and she will be able to do all the wonderful things that I have planned for her. I guess I will have to let my faith take over, because only God knows what lies ahead for us.
So I didn't make Christmas cards this year. I don't know if it was a time issue or the fact that I really wanted my entire family together in front of the Christmas tree this year. Maybe it's a little of both. I just want all my babies together and it will never happen. I want to put my arms out and have a big girlie group hug with my three daughters. Again, it will never happen. I sometimes dream about what it might be like, and it's the best feeling in the world. But those are just dreams, not reality. I'll get passed this, but these issues are still very fresh.
Hallie has been talking about Avery Kate a lot lately too. While I was feeding Aubrey the other night, Hallie sat next to me and said she needed a bottle too. She said that I could feed Aubrey and she could feed Avery Kate. Before I could respond to her, she said, "Mom, that would be soooo special right?" Of course the only response I could give was, "Of course! That would be so special." Hallie is one special little girl let me tell you. She even made Brandon drive by the graveyard the other day to check on Avery Kate's Christmas tree. She is always thinking about her little sister and still wants to take care of her. I love that about her! When I pierced Aubrey's ears last week, Hallie immediately started to call her "A-Kate." I wonder if the earrings just made her believe that Avery Kate was back? She could have just been being silly too, but it really hurt my heart to hear her calling her that.
I am taking each day at a time now and thanking God for allowing Aubrey to be here with me. I know Avery Kate was sent to our family to be our Guardian Angel, and I think she is doing a pretty good job. I feel her with me when I get to my lowest points and I know she will continue to help me through each and every day.
I dressed Aubrey in Hallie and Avery Kate's little dress this morning. My plan is to frame all three of their pictures in my hallway. My Maw Maw and Paw Paw have their three girls in the same dress framed in their hallway and I have always loved looking at those pictures. I knew the day that I found out Aubrey was a girl that I would do the same thing. Here is a sneak peak at their sweet pictures. They each have a little piece of each other which I think is pretty awesome. Hallie was 4 weeks old, Avery Kate was 8 weeks old, and Aubrey was 11 weeks old in the picture. I love making pictures like this but I know deep down that it's only a matter of time when Aubrey outgrows everything that Avery Kate wore. It makes me so sad! But let's live in the present and enjoy all these little moments right?

I begin my home study for my new job tomorrow so I won't have much time to write. I am so excited to start this new chapter of my life, well I have to admit I'm a little nervous too. But bring on the new career...I'm ready!  Merry Christmas :)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Holidays are the Hardest

Thanksgiving morning began with smiles and laughs as I got Hallie and Aubrey all dressed in their turkey outfits. Before we left I took Hallie and Aubrey's picture. They were so adorable! And then it hit me. This is what I was looking forward to last year. I wanted to take Hallie and Avery Kate's picture all dressed up. Avery Kate never got to do that. She never got to spend Thanksgiving with us. It breaks my heart to think that this is what it would have been like last year with Avery Kate and it makes me miss her that much more. We went and got our Christmas tree at the tree farm after lunch, and once again Avery Kate entered my mind. I imagined what our picture together would have looked like last year. Would we have used that for our Christmas card? Would she be running around the tree farm with Hallie this year? I could just imagine the fun they would be having together. I didn't think it would be so hard this year. We have already celebrated our first holidays without her. Why does it still feel so fresh and raw?


Decorating was even harder. We bought a new frame at the tree farm to put our family picture in. When I took it out the box, my heart felt like it was bleeding. I realized that now we are starting to take family pictures with Aubrey. Now, I have to choose which "family" will go in my frames. Will it be the family picture with Avery Kate or the one with Aubrey? I won't ever have them both in the same picture. A friend of mine gave me a very good idea to have the entire family in one picture, so hopefully that picture will come soon ;) Anyways, I pulled out the stockings, the ornaments, and all the other fun Christmas decorations. Then I just sat down, held Aubrey, and cried. What if something happens to her too and she will miss out on Christmas too? My heart was just so heavy to know that Avery Kate should be here helping us decorate. And as I would look down at Aubrey, I kept imagining what it would have been like last year with Avery Kate, what it should have been. I know it's hard to explain, but I know I will always imagine what Avery Kate would look like and what she would be doing if she were still here with us, but now that I have another baby girl, I'm also imagining what my holidays were supposed to be like last year too. It's like double the heartache. But I am so thankful to be able to make this new memories with Aubrey and I will make sure we have a wonderful and happy holiday. I just had to get passed the initial shock of it all. Luckily Brandon's mom came over and helped me to get in the Christmas spirit. I feel like these moments hit me when I least expect them and it's really hard to plan and prepare myself mentally for that.
With all the Christmas decorating, I knew it was time to put Avery Kate's Christmas tree up at her grave. Hallie, Aubrey, Jenny, and I went to the graveyard to decorate. I absolutely hate having Aubrey there because it reminds me of just how small these graves in "Babyland" are and how unfair life can be sometimes. I let Hallie pick out some special ornaments for Avery Kate's little tree and we began to decorate. Meanwhile one of the workers came and asked me to follow him to the back of their work building. He said he had a surprise for me. I followed him to the back of the building to find a big, beautiful statue of an angel "protecting" a little boy and a little girl. He said they dug up the bush next to Avery Kate's grave and they were going to put this statue there. I just thought that was so special! After we finished decorating, we all got back into the car and Hallie began to cry....uncontrollably! She cried, "I just want Avery Kate! I miss her and I want her! Dad can take her car seat down from the closet and she can come back. I want two sisters, not just one... I want two of them!" Well really I feel the exact same way! I calmed her down, but how do you comfort a child who feels the same way you do? She is just so mature when it comes to stuff like this. I feel like I'm talking with an adult when we talk about Heaven and God. She understands so much.
I had Aubrey's name monogrammed underneath Hallie's and Avery Kate's on their First Christmas Stocking. I have decided to keep this one hanging every year as our memory of our little Christmas Angel that we have to watch over us during the holiday season. We have our house decorated inside and out for the holidays and I know we will have a wonderful Christmas with our family and friends surrounding us. I know it won't be easy, but we have some pretty amazing things to be thankful for. God has blessed us with another beautiful baby girl who I fall in love with more and more each day.
Overall I've been getting so much better. I'm sleeping better at night and I don't have as much anxiety as I used to. Although I have to admit, I'm already freaking out about December 10; the day when Aubrey will be as old as Avery Kate was on that last day we saw her. I know that day will be hard and scary. I feel so many prayers and so much love and support from everyone that I know I'll make it through that day as well. :)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A New Chapter Starts NOW

Lately I have been thinking about what it would be like when I go back to school in January, and it makes me sick to my stomach. I just can't imagine dropping off Aubrey and going back to the same school and standing in the same place where I received that phone call every single day. My stomach just turns thinking about it. I knew there would be no way I would be able to go back there and keep my focus in the right place. I needed a change. I sent out a few messsages to some friends explaining that I needed a new career. Well, a new position in pharmaceutical sales opened up. I applied, interviewed, and got the job. (Even though it sounds like a piece of cake, it was a lot of work and I have my friend Rachel to thank for all the "training" she did with me) I am so excited to start this new chapter in my life. It's hard to believe that I won't be a teacher anymore, but I know that I will be happy it's just something I have to do. I can't wait to start this new job. Change is a good thing!  "You can't start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one."

Thursday, November 15, 2012

One year = 365 Days

On November 9, it made one whole year that Avery Kate has been gone from this earth; 365 days without my sweet baby girl. Sometimes it feels like it was all a horrible nightmare. I'm glad it wasn't a dream though. I'm glad I got to know her, love her, and spend every single day with her. I was blessed to have her in my life.
Last week was pretty tough. I had mentally prepared myself for that week for a good while leading up to it...or so I had thought. Once Wednesday hit, I was a mess. Last year, the 9th was on a Wednesday. We had gone to a friends to watch to the LSU vs Alabama game the Saturday prior to her passing. Well, we did the same thing this year. We watched the LSU vs. Alabama game on Saturday with all of our friends, and as Wednesday approached me, I began to have the worst anxiety. It was too identical to last year and I didn't handle it very well. On Wednesday I sat in the living room and stared at the clock. I went over every single detail in my head of that horrible, awful day. Each minute that passed I remembered what I was doing at that time. My stomach was in knots as those flashbacks entered my head. I held Aubrey tightly and prayed she would not leave me too. As I watched the time hit 11:00 (the time I got the phone call last year) I noticed a beautiful, bright yellow butterfly fluttering outside my window. It only stayed long enough to cause a small grin to come across my face. On Thursday, I did the same thing. I sat in the living room and watched the clock. I don't know why I did that to myself, but I couldn't help it. I imagined what Honey and Pops were going through on that day, performing CPR, calling 911, and I just can't imagine what that must have been like for them. Then, around 11:00 again, another butterfly came to my window and fluttered around. This one was orange, but still beautiful! It stayed a while and I just watched it with tears pouring down my face. Terri happened to have called during this "moment" I was going through and she drove all the way here just to give me a hug. I sure did need that.
I wanted to go to Honey and Pops and visit with them last week, but I just couldn't. I couldn't physically drive up to their house and carry Aubrey into their house. I just wasn't ready yet, I will be, but last week was not the week. When I am ready, it will be one of the toughest things I will have to do, but I know I can do it. I definitely won't be able to bring her anywhere else that's for sure! I trust Honey and Pops, they are now our family. I'm so happy they've agreed to keep Aubrey when I go back to work. But, like I said, just not yet.
On Friday I decided that I was not going to watch the clock. I was getting out of the house! I brought Hallie to her babysitter, and I was doing so well! I hadn't even shed a tear. Hallie had plans to sleep at my mom's in New Iberia that night, so when I dropped her off at Mrs. Kathy's I reminded her that she was going there when I picked her up. She asked if Aubrey could go with her. I told her that Aubrey wasn't big enough yet. She started crying and said, "But Avery Kate came with me last time!" And then came my tears, behind my sunglasses of course. Her memory is absolutely amazing!
My friend Teri invited me to have lunch with her and I was so happy to have something to do and keep my mind busy. As I was getting ready, I told myself that I wouldn't look at any clock until after 11:18 (time of death).Well,  Brandon called me at exactly 11:18 and my heart just sank to see that time on my phone, and on that day. In my mind I just heard, "Time of death, 11:18." I just imagined that happening in the ER with my poor innocent Avery Kate lying there on the table. Teri and I had lunch (with Aubrey of course) and then I made my way to the graveyard. I remembered my poor brothers lowering Avery Kate into the ground. I remembered the looks on their faces. I remembered the pain I felt, a pain that some people never experience in their entire lifetime.
How is it that an entire year has passed and I still remember every single detail of that day?  I can barely remember what I did yesterday. I will always cherish those memories I have of her, but I HATE remembering that day. Every memory I have of November 9, 2011 puts a huge lump in my throat and knots in my stomach.
We all went to New Iberia to drop off Hallie at my mom's and then headed to Youngsville to spend the night at my dad and Terri's house. We had a nice family dinner and just enjoyed each other's company. But we missed Hallie!! It was a nice ending to such an anxiety filled week for me. I was glad it was over.
I wonder if every year will be this way? Will this anxiety feeling ever go away? Will my memories of that day fade? Will I ever be able to rest and know that this will not happen to Aubrey? Will she sleep on side of my bed until she's 18? I already think I'm getting better :) But, I do wish we could skip November 9 every year. That would be nice.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Grieving all over again...

It's been three and a half weeks since Aubrey has been born. I thought I had let out all my "Avery Kate" tears before she was born and I just knew I was prepared for everything. WRONG. I've stumbled across so many different occasions where I was blind sided with something belonging to Avery Kate or special memory of her that hit me like a ton of bricks. The first time I went to put diapers in the diaper bag, Avery Kate's were still there in the little pouch. At night when I feed Aubrey, even though I've changed the decor in the room, it's still that same room at night. I cry almost every night when I feed her, and I always feel like someone is "sitting" on my shoulder when I'm sitting in the chair in her room. I'd like to think it is my little angel watching over me and helping me through tough times.
I guess when you have a baby, you have those same routines; change the diaper, feed, burp, swaddle, snuggle, walk back to the room, etc. That routine reminds me so much of my special times I had with Avery Kate. No one else was awake, it was dark, no TV, no cell phones, no interruptions. It was just Avery Kate and me. She would look into my eyes when I fed her and those moments are all brought back to me each night. I look into Aubrey's sweet eyes and pray that God will let her stay with me. The truth is, I have no guarantee. Faith is the only thing that will keep me grounded.
Aubrey is the quietest sleeping baby I have ever seen! She doesn't move or make a sound when she sleeps. I put her to sleep at 10:00 and she makes the smallest little squeak at 2:00. I feed her and put her back to sleep, and then she makes the same little squeak at 6:00. So you'd think, I'm sleeping so good right? WRONG. I put her to sleep, turn on her apnea monitor, get in bed, and close my eyes. Did I turn on her monitor? Did I hook her up correctly? Is that monitor really working? Let me see if she's really breathing, Maybe she spit up and she's choking, will the monitor pick that up? Let me turn on the little light and see, I bet she came out of her swaddle and she's smothering herself, that monitor can't be working right.... Then I try to pray myself to sleep.... Hail Mary, full of gra..... Did I just hear her choke? OK, here we go again... Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is .....I wonder if she found her pacifier and now it's blocking her mouth to where she can't breathe.... That's every night. I close my eyes, sometimes I even put a blanket over my eyes so I'm forced to sleep, and I'm freaked out!! I feel like a first time mother times a million! I never did this with Hallie or Avery Kate. I just need to give it time, but I sure hope time will calm me down. My mind has to relax so my body can do the same. There have been hundreds of times that I stare at Aubrey in her seat, just waiting for that next breath to come. She's so still and so quiet that it's hard to see her breathe. And then sometimes, when I look at her sleeping, I have flashbacks of that day where I saw Avery Kate's lifeless body on the table in the ER. Avery Kate just looked like she was sleeping. Her color had not changed or anything. So how can I rest assured that Aubrey is OK when she just appears to be sleeping too? That's where I have to let my faith come in once again right? It's just so hard!
This is also the same time period that Avery Kate and I were out and about last year. Brandon and I took Hallie and Aubrey to the MSU Homecoming parade last night. It was the same place and same routine from last year when I took Hallie and Avery Kate. We ate at Gatti's with our friends and watched the parade. I put Aubrey in the same outfit (Hallie also wore that outfit and bow to her first MSU parade) and it was complete deja vu. Of course I made it through the night with a smile, but I kept remembering every detail from the year before. It's like I'm grieving Avery Kate all over again.
Last night, I sat on the couch to feed Aubrey before bed time. Sadie was of course all curled up next to me and then Hallie joined us. I looked at Hallie and said, "I've got all my favorite girls right here." She looked at me and said, "But someone's missing!" Of course she was referring to Avery Kate. I tried to explain that she was here with us, but of course she can't see her. So I told her she was in her heart. "In my skin???" She asked. I'm having a hard time explaining how Avery Kate can be with us without us seeing her. Then I told her we were going to baptize Aubrey on Sunday at church. She asked me if Avery Kate was going to be there for that. I guess she's just thinking that maybe Avery Kate is still at church and will come back one day??? I wish that were true!
We are taking it one day at a time and I know in my heart that it will get better. I know she will be OK, and we will be too.
I came across the lyrics to this song and I feel that we can all benefit from them:

Oh Lord You lead me
By the still wa - ters
Quietly restoring my soul
You speak words of wisdom
The promise of the glory
The power of the presence of God

Have faith in God
Let your hope rest on the faith
He has placed in your heart
Never give up, never let go of the faith
He has placed in your heart

Verse 2:
Oh Lord You guide me
Through all the darkness
Turning my nights into day
And You'll never leave me
Never forsake me
The power of the presence of God

Monday, October 8, 2012

Our Rainbow Has Arrived!

Aubrey Kathryn Soileau was born on Tuesday, October 2, 2012 at 1:03 PM. She weighed 6lbs 11oz; 19.5 in long.
I did really well the morning of the birth even though I had been anticipating this day for 9 long months. I knew it would be just a tidal wave of emotions. I was so nervous to hold another baby in my arms, feel such strong love for her, and at the same time have that fear that it could be ripped from me in an instant. The moment I saw Aubrey, tears immediately fell from my eyes. I was so happy to meet my baby girl. I cried tears of joy at that moment and knew I was already completely in love. I felt such a relief as I watched them clean her up and take her measurements. I did it! I made it through the delivery and I was OK. We let all our family and friends in the room to meet the newest addition to our family. The nurses had just finished cleaning her up, and they placed her in my arms. I cannot even begin to explain the way I felt; there are no words to describe it. I fought so hard to keep the tears in, but I broke to a million pieces. I was so happy and scared at the same time. I was reminded of that moment I held Avery Kate for the first time. It was just so overwhelming. These two pictures capture that moment:

She had a little trouble with her breathing once she was born, so they kept her on the warmer for a while. She finally got the hang of it and Hallie was able to hold her. She absolutely loves her!! She knew exactly what to do with her and was an amazing big sister right from the start.
That night we decided to send Aubrey to the nursery to sleep. She was on a sleep apnea monitor from the hospital but we knew we would sleep better with her in the nursery under constant supervision. When the nurse came to get her, I had a really hard time. It felt like that moment when I gave Avery Kate to the social worker in the ER for the very last time. Of course I broke down once again. We had such an emotional and wonderful day and it is one I will never forget.
We stayed at the hospital for two nights and went home on Thursday. I wanted them to keep me forever! I love the staff at the hospital and it's so comforting knowing that Aubrey was being monitored. The hospital sent us home with an apnea monitor. They told us it would have many false alarms and it would probably go off a lot. It went off like crazy at the hospital and Brandon and I were completely freaked out. It seemed like this monitor was going to be more of a pain and a curse than the blessing we were hoping for. Our first night at home was amazing though! Aubrey slept like a champ and that monitor never went off. Of course Brandon and I woke up a million times and checked on her anyways. I was actually able to rest knowing that monitor was on her. Thank goodness we have it!
One of my biggest fears has been that once Aubrey was born, everyone would forget about Avery Kate. I was especially worried that Hallie would forget about her now that she has a little sister again. Mrs. Christy took Hallie to go get some pumpkins on Saturday. She came back with some big pumpkins and some little tiny ones. Hallie said she wanted to bring one to Avery Kate's grave. My heart completely melted! I know Hallie's memories of Avery Kate will fade with time because she is so young, but we will be the ones to keep her memory alive through pictures and stories that we tell her. I just love that she thought to bring her sister a pumpkin though! I still tear up just thinking about it.
I've had some deja vu moments here at home these past few days that have made me have little break downs, but I know I have a very special angel on my side helping me through every step of this new journey. What they say about rainbows is true, it does not mean the storm never existed, or that we are not still dealing with its aftermath. It means that something beautiful and full of light can appear through the dark clouds. Aubrey is our rainbow baby for a reason. She was handpicked and sent to us for a reason. I'm so happy and thankful to have her in my life.
This is a collage of all three of my girls on the day they came home from the hospital. It is so special to me!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Thank you God for Hallie Girl!

As Aubrey's birth gets closer, I start to get really nervous. I've been contracting for over a month now and I'm just in a lot of pain. My doctor has asked me to stay home, but I really don't want to. I finally agreed last week and you know what? He sure did know what he was talking about! I have felt so much better! I haven't necessarily been resting, but it's been really good for my mental health. I was able to finish Avery Kate's baby book. I had the pictures printed out to go in there and I tried my best to fill everything out. It was just hard to stretch the "first year memories" section. I had to write that her vacations were to Lafayette and New Iberia. It was really hard to leave those lines blank where I was supposed to put the date of her first tooth, when she crawled, when she walked, her first word, etc. It's just not fair. I wanted to experience those moments with her. Those lines will be blank forever. It's just not the way the world is supposed to turn. I was also able to move some things around that I simply left like they were since November 9. I still had Avery Kate's pacifier on the table next to my bed. I didn't want Aubrey's to get mixed up with that one and I didn't want to see it and get sad once Aubrey was here. I put it in Avery Kate's shadow box and I feel good knowing it's there. I just couldn't throw it away. I just feel like being home allowed me to tie up some loose ends that needed to be done on my own time and when I was by myself. This has truly been the perfect opportunity for that. I'm so thankful to be given this time to mentally prepare myself for my sweet baby Aubrey.
I went to the graveyard the other day with Hallie. When we pulled up she asked me why we were going there. I told her, "I just want to check on Avery Kate real quick ok?" "But Mom, she's not there. OK? So you can't check on her," she responded back to me. What an eye opener! She's absolutely right! She's not there. It's just her shell. Wow, it took a three year old to explain that to me. "I'm just going to check on her grave then. OK, Hallie?" I told her. She was fine with that. Well of course I got a little teary eyed and when I got back into the car I grabbed a tissue and blew my nose. "Why you crying?" Hallie asked. "Oh, I'm not crying, Hallie," I told her. "Then why you blowing your nose?" She asked. "I just have a sniffle. I'm OK," I said. "Well, Mom, Avery Kate is in Heaven and you can't cry for her. We are about to have a new baby sister here and she wants you to be happy. Avery Kate told me that Aubrey doesn't want to go to Heaven with her and Paw Paw. She wants to stay here with us!" My jaw dropped. "Well that's wonderful, Hallie. I sure hope you're right sweet girl!" I said. And I sure hope she is. Although, I feel in my heart that it will all be OK this time.
Some friends of ours also had babies around the same time Avery Kate was born and of course it was time for their first birthday parties. At first I wasn't too sure I would be able to make it to their birthday parties. I just thought it would be too hard. When it came to be time to go though, I was actually alright. So Brandon, Hallie, and I went to the first party on Saturday. It was great and made me smile to see such a happy celebration. Now the birthday party on Sunday was a different story. I often look at this girl as a way to watch Avery Kate grow up. I look at her milestone pictures on facebook and I feel like I will always watch my baby grow up through her. Brandon had a headache so Hallie and I went to the party. It was super cute! They even had a petting zoo and Hallie had a blast. I was totally fine up until we sang "Happy Birthday." The little girl was adorable with her little bow and I just pictured Avery Kate looking the same way. I started to tear up, but quickly swallowed the lump in my throat and shook it off. Right after we sang, Hallie had to go potty. I brought her to the bathroom and right when I closed the door she said, "It smells like Avery Kate in here." I asked her, "What smells like Avery Kate?" She said, "This bathroom." Now let me assure you that this was a hunting themed bathroom with no baby stuff anywhere to remind Hallie of her sister. Not only that but even though this little girl makes me think of Avery Kate, Hallie has no clue of that. Why would she say that out of the blue? So of course it made me just smile and I said, "Maybe Avery Kate is here with us Hallie!" She quickly responded, "Mom!! She's not here. That's so silly!" Of course she made me laugh, but I was still comforted by the fact that she smelled her. I believe Avery Kate was there. I also believe that children know far more about God and Heaven than we do. Sometimes I wish I had that special "power" like Hallie has. She's so smart and I feel so lucky and blessed to have her in my life. She keeps me grounded when I need it the most. It does make me wonder though....what else am I missing that she sees?
"Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these."
~ Mark 10:14

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Aubrey's Room is Complete

Sweet Girl's room is ready :)

We were able to reuse the monogrammed bedding since they share the same initials.

Waiting for Aubrey's newborn pictures to go here.

 I couldn't think of a better quote for this wall. (Ordered from Etsy)

Monday, September 3, 2012

Happy Golden Birthday Avery Kate!

The day that I'd been dreading for the past few months finally was here. I had anxiety about it all week and was just so nervous about the way I would feel. A part of me was mad at God for not allowing Avery Kate to be here with her family on her special day. Another part of me was depressed because I wanted to be having a big birthday party for Avery Kate with a special cake and a cute little outfit. And then a small, very small, part of me was happy for her because I knew she'd have the best birthday anyone could ask for. She got to celebrate with Jesus. It was her Golden Birthday (Turning 1 on the 1st) and I bet it sure was golden up there. But again, I'm human and wanted my baby with me on her birthday, so only a tiny part of me could feel comfort by thinking about that. Although it did bring a little smile to my face and to my heart imagining what she was doing up there. I just kept imagining her little face digging into her birthday cake; gosh I miss her so much!
I let Hallie pick out a special balloon to bring to Avery Kate's grave. She also wrote a little note that we tied to another balloon. She was going to send her birthday note to Avery Kate in Heaven, but she had a break down and couldn't let go of the balloon, so it's still in our car. The thought was there though! We also got Cypi's cupcakes. Hallie ate an entire strawberry cupcake (a Cypi's cupcake is equivalent to almost 2.5 normal cupcakes) on her first birthday. I just had to eat one for Avery Kate's birthday. It just brought tears to my eyes and caused a big lump in my throat the whole time I ate it. It should have been Avery Kate chowing down on this cupcake, not me. It just made me realize what she was missing. I'm not even sure if those are the right words, because she's the lucky one! She is in the happiest place imaginable. But as a mother, I feel like she'll never have a birthday party, a Christmas morning with her family, a family vacation, etc. I could go on forever with my list of she'll never..... I guess it might be me who feels like I am really the one missing out on something though. I want to celebrate with her and do all of these things with her. So in the reality of all of this, Avery Kate is more than OK, and as a mother, that's really what I want for her. One day I'll be OK about this too, just not now. I don't think that any mother should have to go to a grave yard to bring her child a birthday balloon. It still doesn't make sense to me sometimes, and it might not ever make complete sense to me. That's just the place that I allow my faith to fill in the gaps. That's what will keep me going.

We had a very special birthday dinner with our family and closest friends. It was so amazing to feel a room full of such love and support. These people, along with many, many others are the reason that we have made it through each day. There is absolutely no way we could have done this alone. Brandon, Hallie, and I are so blessed to have such wonderful people in our lives. It gave me goosebumps to walk into a room full of people who were there to celebrate the life of Avery Kate. To me, it meant that she has touched their lives in some way and she is still remembered. It truly was an amazing feeling.

When we left the restaurant, we all went to Avery Kate's grave. We lit sky lanterns and sang "Happy Birthday" to our sweet angel as the lanterns drifted off into the sky. It was just breath taking and everything I imagined it would be. We all held hands and said a special prayer. Honestly, the experience I had that night is just indescribable. It was a celebration of a sweet angel's life, not a sad, depressing night.

I miss "my little fluffy head" every single moment of every single day. I realize that this birthday was only the beginning. Brandon and I were talking about how we will be remembering Avery Kate on this day for the next 80 years, God willing. She will never be forgotten. We are all so lucky to have known her. We were truly blessed to have an angel living amongst us for ten weeks last year. Now, I feel that we are blessed to have her watching over us and protecting us every day.
Happy Birthday to my sweet girl! I love you and miss you with every piece of my heart.

Here is the Happy Birthday Song video:

Here is a link to the full video of the sky lantern send off:

Sunday, August 26, 2012


We've been in school for two full weeks now and I absolutely love my class! Going to school each day is something I look forward to. I enjoy being with the people I work with and I don't feel like I'm surrounded by the memories of "that day."
On the other hand, since I started teaching, I've started contracting just about every 2-3 minutes non-stop! I have 7 weeks left so this is waaay too early. The doctor says it's OK so I'm trusting I'll make it a few more weeks. I'm also getting really nervous! As much as I can't wait to meet Aubrey, I am scared. I don't know what I'm really scared of though. Is it because I don't know how I will react when she is born? Or maybe I'm scared I won't be able to sleep or take my eyes off her? Perhaps I'm scared it will bring back all those emotions and grief of Avery Kate? It may be all of those things too. I just know right now I'm good. Aubrey is in my tummy, safe and sound. Her room is looking so happy and cheerful. I just think I'd like to keep her in my stomach forever; as uncomfortable as it may be! But the reality is, she will be coming out soon, and I don't know what to expect.
I got Aubrey's canvas in this week. Brandon propped it up on her bed and I went in to see it. It was so hard to see that name on the wall. All those memories of the day I got Avery Kate's canvas came rushing back to me. I felt that same excitement to see the finishing touches to Avery Kate's room as I was feeling when I saw Aubrey's canvas. I think that's what upsets me the most. I had all these wonderful, happy feelings while preparing to meet Avery Kate just to have them all ripped from heart. My heart is scared to feel that way again. I know I need to, but it's just so hard. The reality really hit me after seeing Aubrey's name on the wall. This is Aubrey's room. It's not Avery Kate's room. I still cry just thinking about it. But on a positive note, Aubrey's room is just about done and I absolutely love it! I've changed it around just enough to remove the sadness and bring joy to the room. I am very pleased. (Pictures to come soon)
I also realize these next few weeks coming up are going to be really tough. It's even harder on me because of the deja vu factor. I'm pregnant, preparing for a new baby, preparing my class for a transition, etc. I remember exactly what I was doing on these days last year. But again, reality sets in and I have to realize that this is a new year and a different baby. I'm really nervous about Saturday though. It's her birthday and she is not here. I have no party invitations, no first birthday smash cake, no birthday outfit, no birthday girl. We will go out to eat with our family and have a special celebration for her, but it's not the same. This morning I was braiding Hallie's hair for church and she put on her locket with Avery Kate's pictures inside. She said, "I miss her so much." I said, "Hallie, did you know her birthday is on Saturday?" Her words of response absolutely break my heart. She said, "Oh I'm so excited! I'm gonna go to her birthday party and give her a big, sweet hug!" Luckily I was behind her still braiding her hair, so she couldn't see my face. Tears immediately started falling down my cheeks. I told her that Avery Kate would be spending her birthday with Jesus in Heaven and she was just so lucky to be able to do that. I couldn't let her know that in my heart, I thought that it sucked pretty bad that she can't be with us. The more I tell myself how lucky she is to be there in Heaven and it's just us on earth who are sad, the sooner I will truly start to believe it. Right now, to me, it sucks. I don't want this weekend to come. My heart is so tender right now with the anticipation of it coming. It's just not fair that Avery Kate is not here with us on her birthday. I've stayed so positive these past few months, and I've really done well, but right now I am falling apart. I just want my baby girl.
I'm going to try to stay as busy as possible this week and surround myself with positive energy. I'm going to pray every night that God will be with us and help us through this. He hasn't failed me, so I know I can trust that if he's bringing me to it, he'll bring me through it!

Monday, August 6, 2012

New Beginnings, Fresh Start!

School will be starting soon and I started working in my classroom over the summer, just as I usually do. For some reason though, I just couldn't get excited about it. I set up my furniture like I had it last year, and then I did my bulletin boards. Even still, I felt really depressed about the new school year. I knew I had a really good class coming up, but I just didn't want to be there. I remember leaving school one day just absolutely in a slump and knew I had to find a way out. I started to research the possibility of taking a sabbatical or some sort of leave for the year. I am not too sure what I thought that was going to solve or how that would have helped me, but it was the only thing I could think of at the time.
One morning Hallie woke up and asked to go to my school. I thought I would take her there for maybe thirty minutes and she would be ready to go. While we were there, I suddenly had a burst of energy and felt the need to rearrange my entire room. I moved desks, tables, shelves, rugs, etc. (I did this very carefully and did not lift anything....totally safe!) Anyways, Once I was done I felt this wave of positive energy! I was actually looking forward to school starting. I couldn't believe it. I realized that last year was such a hard year, and every time I stood in that spot where I received the phone call that changed my life forever I was brought back to that day. Just looking around my classroom in general brought me back to that day. Now that everything is different and fresh, I'm OK! I still cannot believe that the arrangement of my classroom made that much of a difference. I cannot wait for the first day of school. It will be a new beginning and definitely a fresh start. I even used my cricut and posted some cute quotes in vinyl on the walls. If we surround ourselves with positive energy, how can we not be happy?

I've been working in Aubrey's room lately too. It's still not done, but it looks like a baby room now. Not only does it look like a baby room, it looks like Aubrey's room- not Avery Kate's. That is the most important part to me. It's a happy room and will bring many happy memories. I also bought Aubrey's Christmas dress this week. I was not expecting that to hit me so hard. Once I had it in my hands I remembered the day I bought Avery Kate's Christmas dress. She never got to wear it. I'm worried that all these little lifetime milestones I'll start to meet with Aubrey will cause me to grieve Avery Kate all over again because I will constantly be reminded of everything that she did not get to do. I know I need to focus on the positive, but sometimes the grief and sadness hits me when I least expect it. I guess it's all part of the process.

I'm 30 weeks pregnant now. It's getting close! I'm excited about having a new baby in our house again; OK I'm really scared too! I am ready for Hallie to be a big sister again. She is just so sweet and she still thinks about Avery Kate. We drove by the graveyard the other day on our way to go out on the boat. Hallie asked Brandon to stop so she could see Avery Kate. Well, he couldn't stop because we were pulling a boat behind us, so he told her we couldn't. She said, "But I just wanna make sure she's OK." Tears immediately came to eyes. She is just the sweetest big sister! I can't wait for Aubrey to get here so she can experience the love that Hallie has to give her.
I'm also ready to not be pregnant anymore. I know it sounds strange, but I feel like every stranger I see feels the need to ask, "Oh, this is your first baby?" I try to just smile and say, "No it's my third," but they don't stop! Maybe we are too friendly in Louisiana?? They want to know girl or boy, what I have at home, etc. They're strangers who I will never see again, so I just stick with the whole, I have two girls and I'm pregnant for another girl.You would think that's enough right? NOPE! I'm serious, these people want all the details! I know they're just being sweet, but come on now. Then they ask, "How does your husband feel about three girls in the house?" or "How old are the girls?" or "Three girls huh? WOW! So you'll be trying for that boy next?" I refuse to leave out Avery Kate and maybe I'm just sensitive to it right now, but since when do people need so many details about a complete stranger's pregnancy?
I'm looking forward to these next ten weeks. I'll have an awesome class, wonderful co-workers, and a new baby. What's not to be excited about? Here's to a new school year, and a fresh start! I can't wait!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Here comes the happiness

I feel like I've had a really good few weeks. There were so many wonderful things to celebrate and I actually felt some true happiness in my life. July is a really busy month for our family. Brandon and I celebrated our 5 year anniversary on July 14. Not only that, but Hallie turned 3 years old on that day! Where does the time go? Since the 14th was on a Saturday, we had Hallie's birthday party at our house that day. She is one lucky little girl, let me tell you. Terri made her the biggest most beautiful cake! She had all of her family and friends with her to celebrate and it also made our anniversary special too. We were surrounded by everyone who loves us! Hallie even sent Avery Kate some party balloons to Heaven. That just brought tears to my eyes, but they were happy tears. As sad as it was knowing I would never be able to do any of these birthday things with Avery Kate, it touched me that Hallie could send something to her sister each year and always remember her on such a special day to our family. I loved that!

The morning after Hallie's party, Hallie and I went to Florida with my Maw Maw, aunt, and kids. We had such a wonderful, relaxing time! Hallie really loved the beach, and with the exception of me getting sick the first day, I loved it too! It brings a smile to my face to see Hallie having fun and to also see Maw Maw relaxed and enjoying life. It's hard to find happiness after a loss in your life, but boy does it feel good when you find it!

When we got back from the beach, it was time to celebrate some more birthdays! Brandon turned 30 on that Saturday and I turned 28 on the Monday. We celebrated the whole weekend and just had more happiness brought to us. Here is a picture of us at our family dinner at Regatta in Lake Arthur. If you haven't been there...you're missing out on some awesome food and a really neat atmosphere.

Not only did we have a great time celebrating, but we also have one more step of Aubrey's room complete!! A parent from the school where I teach came to the house and painted a tree on the back wall of the room. I have never been so pleased! It was even more relieving to be excited about THIS baby. I'm finally starting to feel how I am supposed to feel...happy! There is still that part of me inside that is scared out of my mind, but overall, I'm looking forward to her birth...finally! We will hang the new canvas "from the branches" once it comes in. It's all coming together just like I imagined it in my head.

On another note, I went to visit Avery Kate's grave on my birthday and literally had my breath taken away. When I walked into her section there was a big hole dug in front of her headstone. I thought they had dug her up! I haven't seen any "action" on this side of the graveyard since Avery Kate's funeral. My heart hurt so bad. I finally realized that it wasn't her grave, but it sure was close...too close for my comfort. It brought back all those memories of that day. I kept picturing my poor brothers placing her in that hole. I will never forget the looks on their faces. No one wants to put their baby niece into the ground, and the pain I saw in them will live with me forever. I was also really upset that another mother would have to watch her baby be put into the ground in only a few hours. I would never wish that pain upon anyone...ever.  With all the digging around Avery Kate's grave I decided her flowers just looked dirty and old. A few days later my mom, Jacob, Hallie, and I went back to her grave to put some new flowers. When we got to the graveyard, there was another shock...another grave was wide open, ready for a funeral in only one hour. And when I looked to my left, there was another freshly dug grave. I just don't understand what is going on. Why are these sweet innocent babies dying? Three in one week? That is just so sad and scary. It just doesn't seem like this is the way life is supposed to go does it? I still have faith in God and know that He truly knows what is best for this world, but it still doesn't settle easily to see such a thing.
We did get Avery Kate some happy, brightly colored flowers. I always like to put happy things there, hoping it will cheer up anyone who visits. Flowers always cheer me up, and maybe these bright flowers will do the same for these parents who have such a long road of grief and healing ahead of them. It's also really therapeutic for me. It's the only thing I can do for my child, and I enjoy making it pretty.

Overall, I'm doing good. I have my moments, and I still continue to miss that sweet face every single day, but I'm OK. I'll continue to keep Avery Kate as a major part of our lives and prepare to bring another joyous miracle of a life into this world. We have way too many blessings in our life to focus on the negatives of each day. Let's all remember to count our blessings each and every day :) 

Thursday, July 12, 2012


The day finally came where we would have to transition Avery Kate's room to Aubrey's. I'm using the same bedding but I thought a coat of paint and a different color crib sheet would change the whole look of the room. As hard as it is, I want it to be Aubrey's room.
I had already cleaned out all the items that I would not be able to reuse for Aubrey earlier this summer. That wasn't as hard as you would imagine it would be. I had all of Avery Kate's clothes separated in her closet. I had a small little section with her super soft Kissy Kissy gowns and her Kicky Pants gowns with her name on them. She rarely wore anything else. I wanted her to be a baby as long as possible since I thought she was my last baby. I just kept her in soft little baby gowns as much as possible. Cleaning out her closet was as simple as just gathering that section and pulling it out. I left the Hallie hand-me-downs and of course the things Avery Kate never had the chance to wear. Cleaning out the drawers was also easy. I just grabbed the bibs and burp cloths that had her name on them. So I figured I was done. Don't get me wrong, I grabbed with eyes full of tears and a heart hurting from the memories these things brought me, but it didn't take long and it wasn't hard to decide what I was keeping and what I needed to take out of there. I left everything in a pile on her changing table.
Well when it was time to paint, I had to take her canvas down from the wall and move her stuff out. The act of moving everything out of the room is what killed me. Honestly, that was the hardest part of all. The minute I took everything out of there, it was no longer Avery Kate's room. To me, that was closure. I'm still not too sure how I feel about it, but it had to be done.
My dad, Terri, and Mrs. Christy came to help us paint the room. It was a very bittersweet day. I know I need to get happy about Aubrey and get in that "I'm so excited I'm having a baby" mode, but it's just so hard. We all got the room painted (step one of three) and had a really nice day together. It was just hard not to think about Avery Kate the whole time. I really don't think she minded though :)
I still wasn't sure what I was going to do with Avery Kate's canvas. It was a really special part of her room and I had many ideas about what I could do with it. The idea I decided on makes me happy. I hung it over the bed in our guest room. To me, she still has a room in our house and she can "watch over" any guests who spend the night. I never want her to memory to fade.

Hallie was confused with the whole transition at first. She kept asking us if Avery Kate and Aubrey would share a room and wanted to know why we were doing all this stuff. She gets it now though. She knows that it's Aubrey's room. I slip up sometimes and refer to the room as Avery Kate's, but I think that's normal.
Overall, I am beginning to get excited about Aubrey and I've even started buying her little things. That's the fun part! Deep down, I am scared to death for her to be here. I'm scared as to what my life will bring with this new baby and what kind of mother I will be. I don't want to live my life in fear and I don't want to constantly try to protect my baby from the world. I realize all parents live to protect their children, but I don't want to drive myself crazy trying to prevent the day from moving on. I'm also nervous that once Aubrey gets here, Hallie will forget about Avery Kate. I know she was so young when this all happened, but I don't want her to forget her sister. I know she will always have pictures to remind her, but I want her to have memories. She saw the double stroller in the garage the other day and told me she wanted to ride in there with Avery Kate again. She wanted to stand up and watch Avery Kate in her car seat like she did "yesterday." That's a memory she has of her and her sister and I want her to hold on to it.
I think and hope by the time Aubrey is born (due October 15) all these thoughts and feelings will be settled. Until then, my plan is to be excited about having a baby and get myself in gear for a new school year come August.
*Here's to positive thoughts and a healthy baby!

This is a picture of Aubrey's room so far. This is the back wall and will have her bed against it. We will paint a tree next week and I have ordered a canvas with her name on it. It will be similar to Avery Kate's because it was just so perfect in the room, but it will be different in some ways to make it her own.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Father's day

For some reason Father's Day was a whole lot harder on me than Mother's Day was. It could be because I had already thought of a ton of projects to make for Brandon from Hallie and Avery Kate. I blame Pinterest for that. I had pinned all sorts of ideas of pictures for the girls to take for Brandon. I stayed home one day and decided to get everything done for Father's Day all in one day. Well I literally cried my eyes out the entire day. I was looking through pictures and trying to decide how I would make something special. Maybe I should have just went to Dillard's and bought him and my dad and shirt, but that just wasn't good enough in my eyes. I ended up taking Avery Kate's birth paper work from the hospital to a local photography shop here in town. They scanned and copied her footprints for me, and I made a little card for Brandon with them. Then I took Brandon's favorite picture of Hallie and put a sweet quote on it and had it printed on special paper. I also made photo collage's for my dad and Rene. Once it was all done I felt a lot better, but it sure was hard making it through that day. I don't think I really had a day like that...ever. I've never stayed at home and just cried. My body needed that. I guess it's just all part of this grieving process. We did have a wonderful Father's Day and spent the day at the zoo in Lafayette. It was the perfect end to the week!

I also realized these past few months that many people still wonder in their minds what actually happened to Avery Kate. I thought I would clear up just a few things:
- She was not on her belly.
- She did not smother.
- She had not received her 2 month vacinations...yet.
- We did not smoke nor did we allow anyone who had smoked to hold her.
- She was on a firm matress.
- She had not eaten within the last hour and did not aspirate on spit up or vomit.

These are answers to some of the questions that I get along the way, and others are either common misconceptions or questions that parents don't want to ask. I know it's easier for some parents to think that we had to do something wrong and there has to be a cause. As scary as it is, we didn't. No one did anything wrong. I realize it's easier to think that but the reality is that it can happen to anyone. SIDS does not discriminate. We just never thought it would happen to us. Life sure was a lot easier when we thought we were invinsible! Now that we prepare for baby Aubrey, we are worrying about breathing monitors, etc. This experience will just be so different.
We talked to our pediatrician, OBGYN, and MFM doctors about SIDS. They all pretty much said the same things to us. Nicotine was the main factor they had seen in previous cases. They were all shocked that this happened to Avery Kate, especially since we did not smoke. The MFM (Maternal Fetal Medicine) doctor examined Aubrey's brain, spine, lungs, etc. in a very detailed ultrasound. He said everything looks perfect and he does not need to see me again. This made me feel a whole lot better, although, Avery Kate always looked fine and healthy too. I guess there are some things that we just will never know.
Here is a website on SIDS. It has a list of all the causes, incidence, and risk factors. Keep in mind that we did not meet any of those. Not a single one! http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002533/
It's all in God's hands. We know that we did everything we could to protect our little girl. We aren't the ones in control. As hard as it is, we have to "Let Go....Let God."

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

We are not alone

As you all know some pretty amazing things have been happening to us lately, and I just can't write them off as coincidences. I KNOW Avery Kate is with us and she has been showing us that more and more lately.
Last week at school my friend told me a story about the little "winks" from Heaven that she had gotten from her parents and she told me something she'd heard about feathers. She said that she heard that feathers are a sign from Heaven, especially when there is just no logical way as to where the feathers came from. Then yesterday she posted this quote on facebook:
I thought it was neat but had never seen any feathers out of the ordinary before. Either that, or I had never taken the time to notice them. Well, I put Hallie to bed last night where we of course prayed that Avery Kate and Paw Paw would watch over us every day, just as we always do. When I left her room, I closed her door and felt like I was being told to look down on the floor. Honestly I thought I would see a spider or a June bug! It was just a feeling though. I was absolutely shocked to find a tiny white feather right there on the floor. It made me smile for a second, then brought tears to my eyes to think that my baby girl has wings. I've pictured her as an angel before, but this made it real. Seeing such a tiny feather had my mind actually picturing the wings she is wearing in Heaven.

So now here is the real kicker! This morning, I'm lying in bed just thinking about the feather. Of course I start to think, maybe I'm just being silly and trying really hard to find things that could be from Avery Kate. Maybe that feather fell out of a pillow and was blown there by the air conditioner, etc. Bottom line: I'm trying to make logical sense of it all because I felt a little crazy believing that all these little "winks" and miracles would be happening to me so much. Well in the middle of all these thoughts I pull out my phone and notice a notification on one of my apps. It's an app that notifies you when apps go on sale and are free. A quote app had been put on sale this morning, so I decided to download it. Who doesn't want a nice quote of the day? Once it was downloaded I opened it up to see what it was about. This was my quote of the day:
Goosebumps? Yea me too! At that very moment I quit trying to make logical sense of everything and chalked it all up to God and my guardian angels. Why did I even think about second guessing this? When things are right here slapping us in the face, we need to embrace the moment. We have to appreciate the messages God sends us and believe in him, and believe in miracles. They are just not coincidences. My sweet girl is with me, and will help me through every step I take in life. No wonder I am so strong. How could I be weak with such a glorious team on my side.
I got out of bed and immediately knew what I was going to do with the feather. My former principal had given me a little wooden quote that I had put in a cabinet in our living room. Another friend who I met through the graveyard (Our babies are buried near each other) had given me a little white angel that I put with the quote in the cabinet. I couldn't think of a better place for my baby's sweet feather! And since it is in a cabinet, it will never blow away.

The feather is on the right of the angel even though it's hard to see in the picture. I will walk past here every day and know that Avery Kate is with me. It just doesn't get much better than this! Thank you God for always helping me to believe and see that YOU are behind everything that happens on this earth.

And finally.....we have a name! Our baby girl will be named Aubrey Kathryn Soileau. Hallie may still call her Siri for a while, but we are very excited about baby Aubrey coming to meet us in October. Brandon and Hallie have been able to feel her kick in my belly and I just love having them be a part of this. A baby growing inside my belly....that itself is a miracle too!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Winks from Heaven

It's now been six months that I've been without my baby and it is still so hard. The one thing that has helped is the huge weight that was lifted from my shoulders when we found out we were having another girl. I felt like I was ready to start going through Avery Kate's things but every time I go into her room to do so, I end up having a breakdown and nothing really gets done. But just the idea of knowing what I will do with her room and what the future will bring (somewhat) has helped me. Hallie found me in Avery Kate's room the other day and was absolutely heartbroken to see me so upset. "You miss Avery Kate, Mom?" she asked. I nodded my head with tears just pouring from my eyes. "She's in Heaven, so you can't cry for her in Heaven OK? She's happy in Heaven, Mom, so you can't cry for her," she said as she wiped the tears from my face. It was in that moment that I knew she was right. She's not even three years old yet, and she is giving me advice! Really good advice at that!! I love that little girl.
Well, Mother's Day was last weekend and it was a lot harder than I ever imagined it would be. I never even considered the fact that it would upset me. I had such a tender heart all day long. I received the sweetest cards from Hallie and Brandon. Brandon included Avery Kate in his card and it just touched my heart. I am still her mother and will always be her mother no matter what. I just wish I could do things for her that I am able to do for Hallie. The only thing I can do for her now is pray to her or clean and decorate her grave. That's just not enough and it was just an all around tough day. I was able to spend the day with my family and of course Hallie brought my spirits up, but I had Avery Kate on my mind all day long.
Avery Kate was given a beautiful silver bracelet for her baptism and I wanted Hallie to wear it to church for Mother's Day. I had been looking for that bracelet for a few months now and could not find it anywhere. It really upset me, because it was really special. On Mother's Day night Brandon and I put Hallie to bed just like we always do. Now she still sleeps in a crib, because she has never tried to climb out and I'd like to keep her in there as long as I can! She has a little table on side of her bed with a lamp, a picture, and her sound machine. She does not sleep with a night light, so it is pitch dark in her room. Well after being asleep for about thirty minutes, she calls for Brandon. He goes in and talks to her for a bit and comes back to tell me about it. She was telling him to get a box out of her room. She didn't want it in there anymore and she asked him to take it out. She told him to look behind her lamp and he would find a box. He brought the box out to me. I was amazed to see a box that said, "There's an angel watching over you." I opened it to find Avery Kate's silver bracelet. Now I turn on her sound machine every night before she goes to bed and I have never seen that box there before. There is no way she could have seen it from her crib, and even if she could have seen it, it was dark! And why now? Why would she suddenly, in the middle of the night, need the box out of her room? I am convinced that Avery Kate told her I was looking for it and showed her the way.
I've always heard that a child is the closest thing to Heaven and I am now one hundred percent sold on that. I have learned so many things from my child these past few months simply because I've opened my eyes, ears, and heart to fully listen to what to she has to say. I know I have said it before, but I believe that God and our loved ones that have passed try to speak to us and communicate with us but we are too caught up with our busy lives to notice. I can hear Hallie in her bed at nighttime talking away. I used to think she was singing herself to sleep, and sometimes she might be. But, I know she talks to Avery Kate at night. I'm a little jealous actually.
On another note, my sickness has let up tremendously. I am now 19 weeks pregnant and only getting sick every now and then. It may just be ironic timing, but I started looking and feeling better on the day we found out this sweet baby in my tummy was a girl. I guess it was just another stress lifted from plate which helped me. Whatever it was....AMEN!! I have also started to feel her moving around in my belly. It brings back a lot of memories of being pregnant with Avery Kate. It also reminds me that this is a live baby and she will have to come out eventually. That scares me! I am terrified that this baby is going to die too and I just don't think my heart can handle that. I just want her to stay in my belly as long as possible! We are going to use Avery Kate's initials to name her in honor of her sister. Hallie is insisting on naming her Siri (like on the iPhone) but that will never happen. The other day I found Avery Kate's shirt that she wore in the hospital. Hallie took it and said, "It's so little. Hey! Maybe baby Siri can wear it, Mom!" She's something else let me tell you. Anytime I come across something of Avery Kate's that I decide to give to Hallie, she always says, "Avery Kate shares! She loves sharing with me." I just love the way that little girl thinks. We haven't decided on a name yet, but I will be sure to share it when we make our final decision.
Hallie has also finally comprehended that this baby in my tummy is not Avery Kate. It took her a while, but now she knows that she has a sister in Heaven and another one in Mommy's tummy. I was really worried about explaining this to her and now she understands. I guess that's just another weight lifted as well.
Last Friday, school was really tough. I started making the slide show for my class to remember their second grade year. Little did I know, it would not be nearly as fun or as easy as it had been every other year. I began to pull pictures from special events at the beginning of the year when I caught a glimpse of myself in the background of a picture holding Avery Kate. I noticed her little toes, and boy I sure do miss those little toesies! I immediately started to cry. And that was only the beginning. Every picture I pulled up reminded me of a school year that I choose to forget. I know it sounds terrible for me to say that, but I want to forget this year. I want to forget that spot in my classroom where I received two different phone calls that changed my life forever. The phone call about Avery Kate and the call about Paw Paw. I just so happened to be standing in the same spot for each call. I know I will remember all the love and support I received from everyone, but I don't ever want to have to relive the year with pictures and sappy songs ever again. As I went into the office to burn copies of the DVD for my students, my co-worker told me that she also found a picture of Avery Kate and me on her camera. She mentioned how my face was just beaming with happiness, then we both started to cry. It was such an emotional day. I looked at the picture once I got home, and she was right, I hadn't seen myself smile like that in a long time now. I miss those days. My life was perfect. I had everything I could have ever dreamed of. And now, no matter what I have, I will always know that something, someone is missing. I'll never again be able to say that I have everything I've ever wanted. Until I am in Heaven once again with that little sweet pea of mine, I will never feel complete. Although I do enjoy those little winks she sends me ;) I'm so thankful for those.
Overall, I am doing better, but it saddens me to know that in just a short time, Avery Kate's room will no longer be her room. That will be the biggest hurdle for me to cross, but I will do it one step at a time. I have separated some things, but haven't taken anything out of there yet. I still have her jammies and bath towel in the her hamper from the night before she died. I know many things have to be done before October, but how will I do it? Like I said baby steps, I'll know when I'm ready. I will just have to keep praying for strength. "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13

This is a video of Hallie telling me about Avery Kate. She's so smart!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

It is revealed!

May 3, 2012.
I anxiously awaited my doctor's appointment today more than most others. I knew for sure he would tell me the sex of the baby. This to me was not just about finding out boy or girl, it was much more to me than that. Every day I walk into Avery Kate's room just wondering what it would become. Would I reuse the bedding? Would I reuse any of the clothes? What would the future of this room hold? I didn't know if I'd have to change it completely for a baby boy, or keep some things the same for a baby girl. I felt like I was ready to move forward with going through her things, but I just couldn't do that without knowing if I was going to have a boy or a girl. Brandon and I also really wanted to tell Hallie. She came and sat with me in Avery Kate's room just a few days before and said, "Mom, God's going to bring me a baby sister, and I'm going to say, 'Thank you!'" I was in shock. Every single person has told me I would have a boy, so I felt really bad for Hallie for even thinking that God might bring her another sister. I thought there had to be some truth behind everyone telling me I'd have a baby boy, so I quickly explained to Hallie that one day God would give me a baby in my tummy, but it just might be a baby brother. She completely dismissed that theory! Anyways, so here I sit just anxious as could be, causing my blood pressure to go up and all, waiting for the big reveal. Well you will never guess it! It crossed it's legs again! Not only that, but the umbilical cord was passing right through the middle of those little legs. I was completely devastated! I held it together while we were at the doctor, but I fell apart in the car. I just couldn't go any longer not knowing what my future was bringing. I deactivated my facebook because I didn't want to set myself up for any more upsets. I know that with any other circumstance it would be pretty darn funny to try to find out the sex four weeks in a row with no luck. But this was not the case for me. I didn't care if it was a boy or a girl in there, but I just had no know which one it was. I could not go into that baby room one more time without being able to do something. I was at a standstill in my grieving process and I was not OK.
I texted my doctor that night asking if there was any possible way he could get me in with his ultrasound tech the next morning. He texted me back the next morning saying that she was completely booked but I could go to a place called A Moment in Time here in town. I did not even know that place existed! I called at 8:00 that morning only to hear that they were also booked. Then the begging started. I was not taking "No" for an answer. I told her that I was not interested in all the fancy stuff they had to offer, I was not bringing my entire family to see the baby move around, I didn't need to hear the heartbeat, I didn't need a picture of the baby or any cutsie stuff, I needed to know boy or girl and be on my way. Clearly that wouldn't take but 3-5 minutes and I was just sure they could fit me in. And she did! I left school at 12:45 and nervously walked to my car. I looked down and saw three red lines painted on the cement. For Hallie and Avery Kate's ultrasounds that's exactly what we saw, three lines. I knew that was a sign, but I had to ignore it. After all everyone was insisting that I was having a boy.

 I drove up to the place and looked up at the pictures of Avery Kate and Paw Paw that I had clipped to my sun visor in my car. "OK y'all. Hold my hand through this and help me to be accepting no matter what." After all, it truly does not matter, but my heart was going to hurt either way. I took a deep breath and Brandon and I went in together. I got on the table and just watched as the ultrasound tech searched for the perfect view of the baby. She paused the screen and zoomed in. She pointed her little arrow at the baby and began to type. She never said a word. I saw those three lines, but still wasn't positive of what it was. I held my breath! She slowly typed, I....T....'....S.......A......G......I exhaled and grabbed Brandon's hand as the tears began to fall down my cheeks. It was at that exact moment that I felt a huge weight lift from my shoulders. I actually felt it! I finally knew. I knew that my heart wanted another baby girl so badly, but I didn't think I'd be so lucky as to have another one. Then I remembered my Paw Paw. He had three daughters and loved it! I knew he had a huge part in this. I am so thankful that God has blessed us with another baby and that Hallie will have another baby sister. She will have a sister to watch over her and a sister to play with every day. What more could I ask for? I guess Hallie knew all along didn't she?
Brandon picked up Hallie and we brought her home to paint my belly. We let her paint pink hand prints on my stomach and Brandon painted "It's a Girl." This would be our special way to tell our family and friends. We told Hallie that I had a baby in my belly, but she was more concerned with the paint to comprehend what we were telling her. She will understand soon, it just may take a little while.
I'm now the mother of three girls. WOW! This big reveal has brought out some other thoughts and feelings though. I will never have a picture with my entire family in it. This baby girl will never meet Avery Kate on this earth. I'll never get to see my three girls playing together in the backyard. It just sort of made everything real for me. I had really never thought of any of those things before now. Avery Kate will always be a part of our lives no matter what, but I just wish that this new baby could know her like we did. It's really hard to swallow. I know everything will be OK, it always is. I just need for all of this to sink in.