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.

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 :)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Time Flies

On September 1, we celebrated Avery Kate's 2nd birthday. It was the 2nd time that we all celebrated a beautiful life without the guest of honor. It was the second birthday with no cake, no candles, no presents, and worst of all... No little birthday girl running around my house. How can it be that another year without my sweet girl has passed again. I still remember that amazing day like it was yesterday, and it's a day that I cherish and hold in my heart. It was the day a true angel was born. I am so lucky to have had her in my life, even though it was such a short time. I sure would give anything to have one more day, even one more minute with my baby girl. I miss her so much! This time of year is especially tough because these were the days I was able to share with Avery Kate. The weather, the smells, the pumpkin spice lattes; they all remind me of Avery Kate. Most of the time they make me smile, but every now and then something may bring a tear to my eye.
And now my sweet little Aubrey will turn one year old tomorrow. I'm having the hardest time with this. I have been putting off her party and everything dealing with her birthday and I never truly understood why until this morning. I was trying to explain why it was so tough for me and it hit me. Aubrey is celebrating a day that Avery Kate was never able to do. And the older Aubrey gets, the more of Avery Kate I lose. I feel like as long as she's a baby in my arms, a small piece of Avery Kate is in there. But now Aubrey is getting older and it just makes me grieve Avery Kate that much more. I no longer have a baby in house. It's really tough. I'm actually holding Aubrey in my arms as I type this. I don't want to put her to bed. I don't want her to wake up and be a big girl. How did this year go by so quickly? You know, people always say to cherish those moments when your kids are little because they pass by so fast? I did! I cherished every single moment with this baby girl and it still wasn't enough. You'd think with the advances in technology someone would have figured out how to pause time right? What are these brainiacs doing with their spare time these days?
I also know another great saying that I can swear to be true. "Time flies when you're having fun!" I completely agree and that's the exact reason this year has gone by so quickly. Our family has had some happy times. It's been a great year and I am so thankful that God has sent us these wonderful blessings. Tomorrow morning I plan to wake up with a huge smile on my face and take a million pictures of my happy birthday girl! After all... In our family, a birthday IS a big deal now. We can't take a single one for granted.
Happy 1st Birthday, Aubrey Kathryn Soileau!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Baby Steps

It's been a while since I've updated my blog. July is a very busy month for us and I've had no time to sit and write. We've had family vacation, Hallie's 4th birthday, Brandon and I celebrated our 6th anniversary and also both of our birthdays as well. So needless to say it's been crazy! And during all of this craziness, we have felt Avery Kate with us every step of the way. Brandon and I have noticed little feathers in the strangest places; just a reminder that she is there. Even as I continue to learn my new job, feathers appear. The most comforting time I saw one was at a doctor's office. I was standing in the doctor's office waiting to speak with her and it seemed like it was taking forever! I was getting a little impatient and frustrated when I looked down and right between my feet was a tiny white feather. I quickly scanned the room for anything that would explain this feather, and I found nothing. I took a deep breath, smiled, and realized that there are worse things in life to get frustrated about. The doctor came back to her office to speak with me within that minute. I just thought that was really neat. I've also run into some "bumps in the road" (when it comes to Avery Kate) at work also. I met a nurse practioner who spoke about her daughter who will be 2 in September. She said they took a mom and me dance class together, etc. A huge lump developed in my throat and a numbness came over me. She is the same age as Avery Kate. We could be doing those things together but we never will be able to. Days like that are tough, but I've met some pretty amazing people and I am happy every single day. I have never regretted my decision once, or even second guessed it. I thank Avery Kate for this :) Another hard moment happened just last week. I had been sick for almost two weeks with a sore throat and just being exhausted so I finally decided to go to Urgent Care before work on Monday. The doctor working there was the same doctor from the ER that worked on Avery Kate that day. As I sat in that empty room and waited for him to come in, it took everything I had not to burst into tears. My hands were literally shaking and I kept swallowing that lump in my throat over and over again as that day replayed in my head. Sitting in that room and waiting for him to come in was just like waiting for him in that tiny room almost two years ago. I made it through it though. He apologized for what happened on that awful day and I somehow made it through the entire visit without crying. Now of course the minute I got back into my car, I lost it. It was just so tough to see him again and hear his voice. I hadn't seen or heard his voice since November 2011. Still gives me the chills. He's a great doctor though and I'm glad we were both in good hands.
A lot has also changed with Aubrey.  She has been growing and getting very mobile! She started trying to climb out of her nap nanny (she slept in there every night) so we had to take her out. This caused her to get tangled in her wires at night and it became more of a hazard than a comfort. So I had to take her off the apnea monitor. It was probably one of the hardest things I've had to do lately. I didn't sleep for the first week, and the light on my cell phone blinded her every few seconds. Poor baby! But needless to say, she did just fine. It's moments like this that I realize that I am not in control and I have to trust God and leave it in his hands. She still sleeps in her pack n play beside our bed, and she will probably sleep there until she's a year old. It doesn't bother her, and I just like to have her close by.
Hallie has really been enjoying having her little sister with her at the babysitter every day this summer. She tells me when she's out of food or diapers and lets me know if she cried during the day. She's such a great big sister! I just can't help but imagine how she would have been with Avery Kate for a whole year together at the sitter. She would have loved that; I would have loved that. Now, Hallie will start school in a few weeks and Aubrey will continue to go to the same sitter. We will still go back and visit Honey and Pops since they are forever burned into our hearts, but I will have no children there this year. As for more children....NO WAY! So many people ask me if there will be more babies in our future and the answer is no. I just cant handle those first 6 months again. It was too tough on my heart and my mind, not to mention how horrible my pregnancies are! I think we are all set with our two beautiful girls here with us, and our special guardian angel watching over us from Heaven. Our family is complete. Saying that also makes me really sad and depressed though. I know I've said before how the more Aubrey grows up, the more I feel like I lose a piece of Avery Kate. It's still happening, and the thought of me never holding a sweet little infant of my own again just brings tears to my eyes. It's really hard to know that we are done! But I know in my heart it is the best decision for our family.
I bought Aubrey some new flowers for her grave today. As I walked to the checkout I saw a bunch of feathers for sale. I grabbed a hot pink one to put with her flowers just as another reminder of the angel that she is and that we are never alone on this journey of life. I will add pictures once I go put them out there.
You know I keep thinking it's going to get easier as time passes, but for some reason it just doesn't. My heart longs for her more and more and I miss her more every single day. I guess with our busy summer, I kept wishing she were here with us in person to experience everything, and she wasn't. Maybe that's why she sent us so many feathers. She wants us to know that she is here. :)

Monday, June 10, 2013


     This has been a really tough week. Heaven gained another sweet angel. Roderick was an awesome little boy who was in my class last year. He was diagnosed with cancer and fought so hard for two long years. He never lost his smile through it all. It's always hard to lose someone to such a brutal disease, but to lose a child.... I'm speechless.

     This entire week I caught myself questioning God. Why? Why do things like this happen? Why should a mother have to go through something so horrible and heart wrenching? Believe me, I know the pain, and I just do not understand why God allows this. Life is just not fair; not fair at all.
     I attended the funeral on Saturday, or as they called it, his celebration of life. I kept glancing at his mother. I knew that pain. I knew how awful it felt to sit in that front row watching your child's lifeless body lie there for all to view. I knew the pain in her smile. I knew the hurt in her eyes. I knew the throbbing of her heart. And it absolutely broke my heart in two. It brought it all back to me. I replayed Avery Kate's funeral numerous times in my head. Again, I'm asking myself, why? This little boy brought so much happiness to me each and every time I saw him. I couldn't bare to see him lying there. I know he is no longer in pain, but it doesn't make it easier. The fact is, he's gone. The fact is, his parents will have to bear that pain for the rest of their lives, the same pain that Brandon and I will continue to bear. Why? Why do these things happen to good people? We sang a song at the "celebration" and as I'm listening to the lyrics, "My God is awesome!" I'm questioning again. Is He really awesome? Is He?  I told Brandon on the way home from the funeral that I know we are supposed to have faith and be positive and trust in God, but on days like today... I am just mad.
     So I have to go to Dallas tomorrow for the week and I know I will be very busy. It's for work, and I decided earlier in the week that I was going to skip church on Sunday and just get some rest and start packing. After the way I was feeling yesterday, I decided that I am truly blessed and God deserves my time so I went. As we drove into the church parking lot, the sign read "Death is not the end." So clearly I thought it was a sign meant for me. The Gospel was about Jesus bringing a woman's son back to life. Of course I'm thinking, "Well he didn't do that for me, and he didn't do that yesterday for Roderick's mother either." It was just hard to hear. Then Fr. Keith began his homily. I think he spoke directly to me! I felt like I was the only one sitting in church and he was speaking to me. He said how God is NOT death. He is LIFE. He does not bring these tragedies to us, he is bringing these people to new life. Of course, I begin to feel a lump in my throat, but still, I'm good. Then he says that it is the hardest when he experiences the death of a child. As he spoke about his experiences with parents losing a child and walking that journey with them, tears started flowing from my eyes. I couldn't stop. I was already so emotional, and now I feel as if he is sharing his story about walking with us every step of the way. From the moments in the hospital until we laid Avery Kate into the ground, Fr. Keith was there. I feel a hand on my shoulder, and Honey's daughter in law is sitting right behind us. I don't think it's a coincidence that we were all there together today. I can't believe I almost missed this. When I left, I just felt emotionally drained...and makeup-less! It was one of the most touching masses I had ever been to. I really needed that!

     I will be gone all week, which means I will be away from my family. Hallie is sooo upset! "I'm gonna miss mom so much AND Avery Kate tooooo!" I know I'm going to miss that little thing too! You know a lot of people feel like they need a break from their kids every now and then, and I can understand why they would feel that way, but I can honestly say that I don't. When I'm not with them, I miss them. Even if it's just for an hour. I know it's probably due to the fact that I have lost a child and I feel like every moment I have with these children on Earth is precious. I am just dreading being away from them for an entire week. I know it's nothing like last time (3 weeks) but I hate that I won't be able to hold my baby girl, Aubrey and I won't be able to cuddle with Hallie. Please pray for my family and for me this week while I'm gone. I can always feel the power of prayer and I know it's what gets me through each day. Also, please pray for Roderick's family. I know the journey they are on and I know prayer is what got me to where I am today. We will never "get over" this, but we can grow in our faith in knowing that Death is NOT the End. We will see our children again!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

As long as I live... you will live

Last Sunday was Mother's Day, a day that I knew would be very tough. Brandon included Avery Kate in my Mother's Day card and that meant the world to me. I guess I tried not to think about her and to be strong and be thankful for the children that I have at home with me, but the truth is, I won't ever be able to not think about her. She is always on my mind....always. I pray to her in my car every day while I'm driving the many miles for work. So many songs on the radio remind me of her, and sometimes I wonder if she sends those songs to me at certain times on purpose. Carrie Underwood sings a song, See You Again. Here are the lyrics:
Said goodbye, turned around
And you were gone, gone, gone
Faded into the setting sun,
Slipped away
But I won’t cry
Cause I know I’ll never be lonely
For you are the stars to me,
You are the light I follow

I’ll See you again, oh
This is not where it ends
I will carry you with me, oh
Till I see you again

I can hear those echoes in the wind at night
Calling me back in time
Back to you
In a place far away
Where the water meets the sky
The thought of it makes me smile
You are my tomorrow

I’ll See you again, oh
This is not where it ends
I will carry you with me, oh
Till I see you again

Sometimes I feel my heart is breaking
But I stay strong and I hold on cause I know
I’ll see you again, oh
This is not where it ends
I will carry you with me, yeah yeah

I’ll See you again, oh
This is not where it ends
I will carry you with me, oh
Till I see you again
Till I see you again,
Till I see you again,
Said goodbye turned around
And you were gone, gone, gone.

This song totally explains how I feel about Avery Kate. I know I will see her again, I just wish it was NOW. I hate that I have to wait so long. I get jealous of old people sometimes because I know they'll see her before I will; of course if God allows me to live until I'm old and gray. I tried to explain to Hallie that we will see her again when we go to Heaven and she did not understand. She is little and she kept saying, "But we're going to come right back right?" Sometimes I just can't explain Heaven, it's just too non tangible for words. I can't tell her about Heaven from my own personal experience so it's hard for me.
The other night Hallie started crying. I asked her what was wrong and she said that Avery Kate wouldn't answer her. Of course I'm thinking, ummm...does she usually answer you? So I asked her what she asked her. She said, "I just said, Avery Kate are you big now? Are you running around? Are you smiling and laughing up there?" My heart just melted. How does this 3 year old child think of something like this? She remembers her sister, and even when those memories fade, I will keep them alive for her. We talk about Avery Kate every day, sometimes multiple times, but we don't go one day without mentioning her name. Her memory will be kept alive as long as we are alive. We carry her in our hearts all day, every day.
On another note, Aubrey is getting so big! She is 7 months old now. We still use the apnea monitor on her at nighttime. I'm still not ready to relax without it. My biggest fear is that the moment I get comfortable, something terrible will happen and I won't be able to forgive myself for it. I'm just patiently waiting for that day that I just relax, maybe when she's 18? Maybe never..I guess that's the definition of a mother right? I also feel like the older Aubrey gets, the more I lose Avery Kate, or maybe I'm just mourning the things that Avery Kate never got to do? I don't know which it is. I just know when I see Aubrey sitting up and "talking" it breaks my heart. I know Avery Kate never got to do that. Aubrey has her own look now and I guess now that I'm not holding her like a little baby, I feel like I've lost Avery Kate all over again. I felt so much comfort in holding Aubrey as an infant. My arms were so empty and she helped to fill that emptiness. She never replaced Avery Kate or replaced the pain I felt, but she brought joy to my life, a joy that I needed so badly. I am so thankful for her. She is such a breath of fresh air each day. She smiles ALL THE TIME. Aubrey is the happiest baby, and I sometimes wonder if she was handpicked by Avery Kate and sent to us. She's just the absolute perfect baby. Well I am her mother, so I may be a little biased :)
Aubrey did something this week that I've been waiting for for a very long time. She said Mama. I cannot explain how much this means to me. That was one thing that upset me so much when Avery Kate passed away. I never got to hear her say Mama. She did come to me in my dream and say, "I love you, Mama." but I never got to hear those words when she was here with me. When Aubrey said it...my heart...my entire body just beamed with happiness. Tears rolled down my cheeks. I know she was just jabbering, but she said Mama. She said my name. And it meant everything to me. I recorded her on my phone later that day, and I replay it a few times each day. It's just music to my ears.
I know as Aubrey begins to hit those milestones that Avery Kate was never able to meet, I will have my moments. I think it's only normal...right??
I was recently on my computer and came across this video that I made when Avery Kate was born. I look at Hallie; she was just a baby herself. I cannot believe that she remembers her sister, and remembers from her own experiences. I'm just in awe at this amazing little girl. I'm so thankful that she remembers her sister :) Enjoy...

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there who have a sweet angel in Heaven. It takes a special person to be the mother of a true Angel :)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

If Heaven wasn't so far away

I've been very busy lately with the Easter holiday and learning my new job so I haven't had a chance to update my blog and I've felt it building up in chest. This blog is my release. It's my way to let out my thoughts and feelings and to just be real with myself. I also hope to help people along the way, but ultimately, I'm helping myself.
We have been looking for someone to keep Aubrey for the summer since Honey and Pops only keep teacher's kids during teacher hours. It's been the hardest thing to do since we have been so overprotective of Aubrey since she was born. well, after much searching, Mrs. Kathy offered to keep Aubrey this summer and it just means the world to me. She only keeps kids once they turn a year old, so for her to keep Aubrey at 8 months is a really big deal. It's also a big deal to me for more than that reason itself. Not only do we already trust her completely, but this allows Hallie and Aubrey to be there together all summer. I cry just thinking about this. Hallie and Avery Kate were supposed to be together this year at Mrs. Kathy's. I was so excited for them to be together and that was just another dream for my children that was crushed with her death. Mrs. Kathy has allowed that dream to come true. I haven't been able to tell her about it because I know I could never get the first word out without crying, but it just shows how wonderful she is. I know she was just trying to help me so I didn't have to bring Aubrey to a stranger, but it's much deeper than that to me. I couldn't even type about this without wiping my tears away. Thank you Mrs. Kathy for being such a critical part of our lives. I don't know what I would do without you!
I also had a really tough week last week. Aubrey turned 6 months old on Tuesday. This is the day we've been waiting for all along. The risk of SIDS drastically decreases at 6 months old. All along I thought I'd take her off the monitor at night and she'd start sleeping in her own room. WRONG. My heart was just so soft Monday night. Aubrey had her 6 month check up the next morning and I was just a mess inside thinking of her doctor taking her off that monitor. I just wasn't ready. Not only that, but I was browsing around facebook that night and saw a post from another SIDS mom. She had to bury her second child of SIDS. I even made the mistake of looking at her pictures and seeing pictures of her beautiful babies just gone with no reason. She had captions on her pictures saying how God had given her a piece of her heart back and how blessed she was to have another wonderful baby. The way she felt about her baby boy is exactly the way I feel about Aubrey. And she lost him. My heart literally hurt; my chest felt so tight as I thumbed through her pictures. I just put myself in her shoes and I could not imagine losing two children. I just got really scared and knew that I was not ready to take Aubrey off her monitor. I cried myself to sleep that Monday night. I cried for Avery Kate, and I cried at the thought of ever losing another one of my girls. Please pray for that mom, because I know a few extra prayers can go a long way.
I took Aubrey to her doctor Tuesday morning and he was absolutely amazing and supportive of me. He told me I didn't have to take her off her monitor until I could look him in the eye and tell him I was 100% ready. I hope Aubrey won't mind wearing this to elementary and high school ;) But I just felt the biggest relief when he said that to me. I still can't believe that the day I've been waiting for is finally here, and I'm still as scared and nervous as I was the first night we had her at home. How long will I feel like this? Hallie even asked me, "Mom, how come I don't wear wires at night." I responded by saying, "Because they won't give me any for you!" And I am serious in that response haha!
That Tuesday afternoon I was driving home from work and heard a country song on the radio. "If Heaven Wasn't So Far Away" by Justin Moore. I lost it. And I mean, completely lost it right there in my car. Thank goodness I was done with work because there was no way I could go into a doctor's office after this. My makeup was awful and the crying was just uncontrollable. Here are the lyrics that got me the worst:
 "Then tell him we'd be back in a couple of days
In the rear view mirror we'd all watch 'em wave
Yeah, and losing them wouldn't be so hard to take
If heaven wasn't so far away"
I just pictured Avery Kate waving to me, Brandon, and the girls. I imagined my face lighting up knowing we would be back in a few days, knowing I wouldn't have to wait this lifetime to see her again. I pictured the fun she is having there, and all of us getting to experience that with her. and it sucks! It absolutely sucks because I don't get to experience any of that with her. That song really hit me hard, and I know timing is everything. I couldn't pick up Aubrey first because I didn't want Honey and Pops to know I'd been crying. So I picked up Hallie first and of course cried at Mrs. Kathy's as I tried to explain the song. It just really touched my heart. But it also felt so good to let it all out. It had been balling up inside of me for a while.
Lately I've been squeezing Aubrey and Hallie and just cherishing every moment I have with them. Life is short as we all know now and I want to remember every second I have with my children. I'm trying to learn my new job and be the best I can possibly be, but I also have to remember that I have a family; a family who is precious. We don't have all the time in the world so the time we do have together should be meaningful. I learned a few other things these past few weeks:

1. Country music stations are prohibited during the work day.
2. Cupcakes can get you anywhere in life :)
3. Do something that makes you happy. Don't stay in your career because you're used to it.
4. No regrets
5. Cherish those in your life, they make your life what it is.
6. Rock your babies, you'll never get to do it again.
7. Take as many pictures as you can. You can never have enough images to capture the present.
8. Have faith, without it, you have nothing.
9. Being alone in the car can be good for soul searching, and for catching up with family and friends on the phone :)
10. Don't eat at Grandma's for lunch if you have a busy afternoon of work planned (boy did I want to curl up on the couch and pass out! roast, rice and gravy, smothered potatoes, veggies, macaroni, salad, dessert...woa!
11. As much as you are your child's hero, they are in turn yours :)
12. If Heaven wasn't so far away... I would be there every single day! Especially since I have a company car with free gas!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Where is the PAUSE button?

I know it's been a while since I've written, but since I've been back with my family I've really been enjoying "living in the moment." Aubrey is growing up right before my eyes. I blink, and somehow she's bigger and meeting milestones that I didn't think she was ready for yet. She is rolling all over my living room, trying to sit up, and almost ready for baby food. I just want her to stay my little tiny baby. I think part of this is the fact that I'm human, and most mothers get a little teary eyed imagining their babies growing up. But another part is that the older Aubrey gets, I feel like I lose another piece of Avery Kate. When Aubrey was born, I felt like I got part of Avery Kate back. I'm not saying that I think she was reincarnated or anything, but that hole in my heart that was longing to hold her, squeeze her, smell her, etc...the physical things that I missed...that hole was filled when I held Aubrey for the first time. And now that she is getting older, I know that I will never feel that again. I love watching Aubrey grow up too, but deep down I always think of what Avery Kate would look like at this age, or what Avery Kate would be doing now if she were here to help Hallie and I cheer on Aubrey to roll over, etc. Lately, I've been surrounded by some friends with babies the same age as Avery Kate and I just watched their kids running around Aubrey and playing with Hallie, and I can't help but wonder what my life would be like if she were still here. I've been dressing Aubrey in some of Avery Kate's clothes that she was never able to wear. Of course I'm the only one who knows this, but Hallie always seems to comment on the outfits, even if it's just a simple pair of pajamas. "Mom! These are beautiful!! Are they brand new?" She doesn't miss a thing that's for sure. It always brings such a bitter sweet smile to my face each time I dress her in those clothes. I immediately smile and picture what Avery Kate would have looked like, and then smile even bigger to think of how blessed I am to have sweet Aubrey in my life. She is without a doubt my rainbow after the storm. I am so thankful to have such an amazing baby in my life. I just wish that Avery Kate could be here to enjoy her with us.
Brandon and I attended the funeral of Brandon's uncle on Wednesday. It was at the same place where we had Avery Kate's funeral, and he was buried in the same cemetery. I cannot even begin to explain the memories that came rushing back to me the moment we drove up to the funeral home. I just kept picturing that day that I had to pick our her casket, bring her clothes for her to be dressed for the last time, the way my sweet baby looked in her pretty pink bow, the hugs and kind words I received, the tears I shed, and the list goes on. I remember it all and it all came pouring back into my memory all at once. Of course I tried by best to block it out, but the brain does not work that way. And then I kept watching Brandon's grandma. Even though our situations were different, I could feel her pain. I knew what she was feeling. I remember being in her shoes and burying my child. I don't think any mother should ever have to endure such a pain. It's not the way the world is supposed to turn. We aren't supposed to bury our children.
On a positive note, I am absolutely loving my job! I enjoy my quiet time in my car each day. I get to do some good soul searching, which is also followed my some major jamming! I know I give those big truck drivers something to laugh at because I just let is loose! I also enjoy talking with people each day and getting to know so many people. Every person has a story tell, and I love being the one to hear it. I also feel so much happier and energetic each day. This was the change that I needed in my life. I miss my teacher friends so much, but I do stop by and get my hugs in when I can. I can honestly say that I have been truly happy these past few months. I still have that hurt in my heart, but I have learned how to live with it. I don't know if it will ever go away, and I do acknowledge it occasionally, but ultimately, I am happy. I have God to thank for that. I also have all the prayers from my family and friends too. I know I couldn't have made it this far alone.
And now to move forward. Six months is said to be the "safe" age. SIDS is most common in babies 2-6 months old. I just am not ready for Aubrey to sleep without the monitor. I am finally sleeping better now and I don't want to go back to that anxiety every night, wondering if my child would be alive when I woke up. I still stare at Aubrey every time she sleeps in her chair during the day, or sleeps in her carseat. I am just not ready for the day where she has to sleep without her monitor. Can she use it until she moves out of the house for college?
I also heard of a six month old baby passing away a little over a week ago. My heart hurts for the baby's parents. I would never wish this pain on anyone. This family's story was very similar to ours, but the baby was older. So of course, as I think I am about to gain a little relief when Aubrey turns 6 months, I'm still just as terrified that I will lose her too. Please pray for this family. I know the only thing that got me through this horrible time in my life was prayers. Even when I had no faith, everyone else's faith moved me closer to God and that's why I am OK today.
Thank you to everyone who has helped me to get where I am today. I am so thankful to have such an awesome support group. Thank you :)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Walking by Faith...

I made it! I made it through my entire three-week training in New York. I made it away from my husband and babies for three whole weeks. I still cannot believe I did it! The first week was the hardest. I cried really hard when I'd talk to Brandon and hear Aubrey's little coos in the background. Hallie would cry on face time, which would make me upset too. The first week was just awful. I absolutely hated it. I was mentally exhausted from all the information being pounded into my brain, and I was emotionally exhausted from missing my babies and the thought of something happening to them while I was across the country. I had visitors on the weekends and that really helped to break up the trip. I am so thankful for such awesome family members and friends. The second two weeks went by so fast! I don't know if it was because I finally got the hang of things, or if I was just so distracted and focused on the training that it went by more quickly. Either way, I'm thankful it did. I even experienced my first snow while I was there, which was really cool.  I also felt like Avery Kate was with me every step of the way. I felt closer to her being there, than I have felt in a while. I know she was with me. I also had a few break downs about Avery Kate. It seemed like she was just constantly on my mind the entire time I was at training. And, the strange part is that Hallie started talking about Avery Kate the day I came home. Brandon said she didn't mention her one time while I was gone. I know it's because she was with me, helping me through such a hard time. I'm so lucky to have my own personal angel on my side. As much as I hated being away for so long, I'm actually glad it happened. It forced me out of my comfort zone, and it also brought Brandon closer to girls. Any time I would leave Aubrey in the past, I had this terrible feeling in my stomach. The anxiety I had was sky high, even if I would only be away from her for 30 minutes. So now that I was forced to be away from her for such a long period of time, I'm OK. It's strange how things work out. Now, I can drop Aubrey off at Honey and Pops, and I am totally fine. It feels so good to feel normal when I drop my baby off at her sitter each morning.
While I was at training, I was asked the questions, "So why would you leave teaching?" "You didn't like teaching?" and many similar questions the entire three weeks. I thought I had it all figured out with needing change since Avery Kate passed away. I felt embarrassed or silly for not being OK teaching at that school anymore. I thought something was wrong with me for not being able to go back and teach there. But then I thought about it. Even though our situations are completely different, the children and staff of Sandy Hook Elementary don't want to go back to that building. It's traumatic, and they don't want to constantly have to be reminded of that horrific day, reliving the worst day of their lives. That's exactly how I feel. I absolutely loved my school and the people I worked with. Those people are the ones who helped me through the worst day of my life. They supported me and were there for me when I needed them. They made my days brighter. And still, I can't go back there and feel normal. I can't go back there and not have that awful feeling in my stomach. I know that everything happens for a reason, and this change will be for the best.
After a long three weeks, I finally got to go home to my babies! Hallie was waiting at the airport for me with a huge sign and balloons. She had the biggest smile on her face. I couldn't wait to hug her! She came running to me, "Mom! I missed you sooo m..... You got a new purse??" She doesn't a miss a thing! We left the airport and went to pick up Aubrey. That was honestly one of the hardest things. I was so happy to see her and squeeze her, and I just couldn't help but imagine the feeling I would have if I could see Avery Kate again. I just kept hugging Aubrey and thinking of what I would do if I could hug Avery Kate just one more time. I still get a lump in my throat just thinking about that.
So now I'm home and back to our everyday routines. It's funny how much I've missed making bottles, doing laundry, bathing kids, etc. I just missed being a mommy. I'm so happy to be back home. I've started my job now and I absolutely love it! I'm so glad I took the leap of faith and the step out of my comfort zone. My friend, Elise, shared a quote with me, "Walk by faith, not by sight." I feel like I have lived that quote to the fullest these last few months. I have faith that God will see me through my darkest times, and he has never let me down. Aubrey has truly been my rainbow following the worst storm imaginable. I feel so happy about my life. I have a wonderful husband, amazing children, and a job that makes me happy... But that scares me. The last time I felt that way, my precious Avery Kate was ripped from heart. I'm scared to be happy again. That's where the faith has got to come in. I'm trying, but I'm still scared.
Here is a quote that goes along with this post:
"Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step." -Martin Luther King, Jr.
I don't see the whole staircase, but I'm OK just taking baby steps. As long as I'm moving forward, I know I'm moving in the right direction.

Here are a few pics from the trip:


Sunday, January 6, 2013

Aubrey's First Day

Aubrey's first day at Honey and Pops was set for Thursday, January 3. I had been mentally preparing for that day then she was born. Honey texted me that week and asked if I could bring her Wednesday instead so she could have her by herself and just get comfortable with things before the other babies came back. It was soooo hard! I cried the entire morning but managed to keep it together when I dropped her off. It was really hard. Luckily I had a doctors appointment so I didn't have to go home alone. When I left there I picked up lunch and realized that I could not go home. I had never been there without Aubrey and I my heart was hurting too badly to be able to handle being home alone. So I went to Heather's and stayed there until it was time to pick up Aubrey.
As I drove up to pick her up, I just thought, "I did it!" I was so proud of myself! But when I walked out of their house holding my sweet baby, it hit me. I never got to do this that last day with Avery Kate. I dropped her off and never got to pick her up again. I cried the entire way home. I would have never thought that picking her up would be the hard part! Sometimes it just hits me when I least expect it.
Thursday was a little easier dropping her off. I had done it the day before and I was ok. I went home to finish studying and testing for my new job. I absolutely hated it. I hated seeing her mamaRoo-empty. I hated seeing her bottles and seeing all of her things and not seeing her. I felt just like that night when I walked into our house without Avery Kate. All of her things were there, but she was not. It was so hard to study and focus on my work! I'm not even sure if I learned anything that day.
Finally I had had enough of the silence so I called Brandon's sister to come change out Avery Kate's flowers with me. We took her Christmas tree down and put her some pretty, happy flowers. I knew I couldn't leave town with her grave not taken care of. Then I went to pick up Aubrey. It was hard again, but I made it. I told Honey that she was never allowed to call me if Aubrey was with her. My heart cannot handle seeing that number on my phone if my baby is there. It's just too many memories and flashbacks. Of course she agreed. I know it's hard for them too. It's really not easy to leave her at all, but it's something I had to do. I can't put her in a bubble forever can I? I sure wish I could sometimes.
Well I made it past another hurdle during this journey we call life. There will be many more, but I have faith that I can make it. We don't have to be strong throughout every day, we just have to trust that God will be there every step of the way.

19 days without my family

This morning I woke up at 6:00 to feed Aubrey. I fed her in her room just like I always do. The only difference today was that she stared at me and smiled the whole time while I cried my eyes out. I held her tightly and kissed her forehead probably twenty times. I just had that feeling that I did when I held Avery Kate in the emergency room day. I just told Aubrey... Don't you go anywhere. You stay here and wait for mommy to come home. You have to be here when I get back ok? Again, she just smiled. Hallie cried a little too, but not nearly as much as I did. Brandon and I tried to pretend like it was so cool that I would be away because they were going to have so much fun! I also promised her that I would be coming home. I didn't want her to think that I was going away just like Avery Kate did. I managed to hold it together, but it was sooo hard! I could barely see through the tears in my eyes as I checked in at the air port. But you know what... I made it. I'm half way to New York now and I know I will be ok. That's the good thing about having God on my side... I will always be ok... No matter what. And after all... I get to have one of my babies with me this entire week and I feel her presence.