Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Quick Update--I had an appointment today to check my cervix, and everything looks great!

THANK YOU! (and clarification)

Hey--just wanted to thank everybody for their support and all the sweet comments. :) It means a lot to both of us!

I also wanted to clarify something about her name very quickly. I have had a lot of notes from people who say, "I love the name Amelia." I just wanted to point out that I didn't misspell--it is actually AmeliE (e on the end, not a). It is similar to Amelia . . .Amelia being the German, and Amelie the French.

Many people have also asked me how we will pronounce it. It is ah-muh-lee.

Just wanted to make sure I clarified so everyone would know what her name actually is and how to pronounce it. Thanks, everybody! We are so lucky to have such great, supportive friends in our lives. Now, if I can just make it through the next THREE WEEKS without anything happening to my cervix, I think it should be smooth sailing from then on.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Introducing . . .

Amelie Jane Rennie

Our third child

Our first daughter

Waving Hello!

We found out today that we are, as previously suspected, having a girl. We are obviously overjoyed. We didn't mind what gender she was--but we did want to know! We are so lucky to be able to bond with her in this way . . .and we loved that we were able to do the same with our boys before they were ever born. As the ultrasound tech moved the transducer over my belly, I just sobbed . . .even before they told me the gender . . .because I could see her moving all around, looking so beautiful, and it just gets my heart! I could watch her all day! She was so funny--she spent much of the session doing "gymnastics" (the tech said we should sign her up right away for lessons)! She had her feet OVER the top of her head most of the time, and kept rubbing her eyes with her little fists. She also did a bit of a pelvic thrust dance maneuver that cracked us up. She was gorgeous, and we couldn't be prouder to have Brian and Sawyer's little sister on her way!

The "feet-over-head" position she was enjoying today.

Doesn't it look like she's blowing bubbles in this picture? hehe

She looked like she was getting sleepy.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

People keep emailing me for updates, which made me realize it's been awhile, so I thought I'd let you all know that everything is going great! I had an appointment on Wednesday to get my p17 shot. I was feeling nervous because I've been feeling very achy and heavy in my pelvic area and inner thighs. I asked the nurse if it was normal, and she seemed a little concerned and said it could be, but she would rather have me see the doctor to be sure.

So of course, I got really worried. I convinced myself that everything was going wrong again. I can still remember during the last pregnancy when I was first told I was "funneling" and there wasn't anything I could really do about it. It was so terrifying. I was really upset and sat crying while I waited in the sono room.

Dr. Harrington checked the cervix without really saying anything, which scared me too. When doctors are overly quiet it makes me nervous! Eventually he finished and started asking me about the heaviness and cramping. Finally, he told me that with a "normal" woman, he would say it was just normal pregnancy aches and pains, but with someone like me (given my history), he wanted to be sure.

So FINALLY he told me my cervix was still long and thick, and I was not dilated at all. What a relief! Everything looks great, so apparently what I am feeling is normal! I also heard from some of the other moms at abbyloopers (a website exclusively for women with a TAC) that it is something most of them have experienced--seems to go hand in hand with incompetent cervix and TAC. I don't mind as long as the baby stays put!!!! I can handle anything as long as he or she gets here safely!

Speaking of the "he/she" thing . . .we have another high-level with Dr. Egley on Tuesday, so hopefully after that I will be able to FINALLY announce whether or not it's a boy or a girl. :) Fingers crossed baby behaves and shows what he/she's got!

I am almost 20 weeks. Within 4 weeks, I will officially be the most pregnant I've ever been. During my pregnancy with Sawyer, I was already on bedrest and funneled, so I feel really happy that nothing has changed so far, and at this point, we are as close to a "normal" pregnancy as I can get! Keep us in your prayers, as this next 3 1/2 weeks are the real scary weeks for me. If we can make it to 25 weeks, I think each week after that will be more and more smooth sailing.

BTW, I wrote to Dr. Haney (I write to him about once every two weeks or so, either with updates or questions) and here is part of what he replied:

"I am delighted that you are progressing well and it will be no time until you are in the third trimester and anticipating your C-section. Your anxieties will be much less the second time around when you have absolute confidence. Good luck."
A.F. Haney

Sunday, November 30, 2008


About a week ago, I was wishing that Jim and I could "get away" for an overnight trip, as we sometimes enjoy doing. It's nice to stay in a hotel (I have always loved it!) and be somewhere different, and feels like a mini-vacation. Well, the exact same day I was mentioning to a friend of mine how I wanted to do that, Jim got a notification from the USCIS that he had to go to Naperville to get biometrics. This is because he has just applied to have the conditions lifted on his permanent residency. Never mind the fact that he already did this two years ago (do fingerprints change??) . . .that's okay. It gave us the excuse we needed to get away!

We stayed about a mile from the biometrics office in Naperville's Staybridge Suites. We LOVED the hotel! It was clean and very nicely decorated. Our room was huge, and had a fridge, stove, microwave, sink, dishwasher, dishes, cable, HBO, DVD player . . .a couch, a desk, and a great view! On top of that, we knew that we would get "light Hors D'oeuvres" on Thursday night. This consisted of: mashed potatoes, gravy, turkey, sweet potatoes, really nice green salad, corn, biscuits, and breadsticks. This was served buffet style, all you could eat, and also included limitless wine (5 different kinds), beer (Miller Light and Samuel Adams Winter Lager), and soda (including iced tea, Powerade, and lemonade). Now, while I clearly couldn't take advantage of the beer or wine, I was still impressed by the offering, and Jim had a glass of pinot grigio . . .and when we go back next summer (which we've already planned to do!) I will certainly enjoy a small glass of wine. :)

That night we drove downtown to see the Christmas window displays at Macy's. It was a lot of fun, though we were a little confused by the window theme. I can't really describe it, except to say that it was like . . .little fairy-type creatures (kind of looked like Thing 1 and Thing 2) who made Christmas stuff out of Chicago . . .like bubblegum using bubbles from Lake Michigan. ?? Your guess is as good as mine. The poems were bizarre and did little to shed any light on the whole thing. But we had a great time and are glad we went! The only glitch was that I am pregnant, and a pregnant woman has to pee . . .a lot. So even though I peed several times before we left, I had to go REALLY BAD when we got there, and it being Thanksgiving, EVERYTHING WAS CLOSED!!!! And the people we asked for help we SOOOOO friendly (note the sarcasm). The clerk in the parking garage looked at me as though I were the dirtiest, most disgusting piece of human crap she'd ever seen and shook her head with a vengeance. hahaha Needless to say, I was relieved when we found a Walgreen's store open on the way back.

The next morning we enjoyed a huge full breakfast of waffles, oatmeal, cold cereal, omelets, bacon, sausage, hash browns, biscuits, gravy, donuts, muffins, bagels, toast, hard-boiled eggs, various fruit, yogurt, and various fruit juices. Yummmmy. We also discovered the hotel had a really nice pool, hot tub, and exercise room, along with FREE washers and dryers for guests! We debated for about 2 hours about going to the Brookfield Zoo. We had decided to go, when I started to feel a little heavy and crampy . . .which is "normal" (apparently) for this stage of pregnancy, but for someone like me, it's hard to know what normal is, and so we decided to take it easy instead. We agreed that the Brookfield trip will be another thing we do when we stay next summer, as well as Shedd Aquarium, The Field Museum of Natural History, The Museum of Science and Industry, and The Art Institute of Chicago. Looks like we'll have to stay for a week!

So instead of going to the zoo, we settled for coffee and reading at Borders, followed by a painful excursion into a parking lot . . .see, we forgot it was "Black Friday" (shuddering) and decided to go out for lunch at a Cajun place. So we turned into a mall parking lot at 12:50 PM, realizing instantly it was a mistake. They had traffic cones blocking off the turn we needed to take, because they wanted all traffic to move in a gigantic circle around the mall. There were very frustrated traffic cops at every intersection, and people literally (for real!) crashing their cars into each other, all trying to get the BEST DEAL! The circle was 2 lanes wide on each side. Well, we travelled all the way around, could not get over to the turning lane to get to the restaurant we wanted, passed the point where we needed to turn to get out of the lot because no one would let us over STILL, continued in another half-circle before FINALLY we caught a break and were able to get over . . .and turned out of the parking lot at 1:20 p.m. THIRTY minutes and several near-crashes later, we finally were free. I'm not even going to get started on how I feel about the way most people behave on "Black Friday" because this blog would never end. We ended up stopping about 20 miles further on our route at a place called Johnny Rockets, which was like an old-fashioned diner. We arrived home at dusk to pick up our whiny little Beagle from the kennel. And I say whiny only because it's very cute the way she whines when we get her . . .like, "How COULD you??" All the way home, we ask her about various favorite pursuits of hers, such as, "You want to see Sammy???" (our cat) and she howls hysterically.

All in all, we had a wonderful time and a little trip away from home was just what the doctor ordered. Now, back to reality. *sigh*

I had to post this, just so Jim's family could see what a dork he still is! hahaha

Monday, November 24, 2008


Okay, first and MOST IMPORTANTLY . . .the baby is healthy! I got the quad marker test results (finally) and they were absolutely wonderful, and the baby looked great today.

However . . .the moment we have all been waiting for, sadly, will not arrive for at least another week, possibly 3 weeks. Dr. Egley could not tell yet if it was a boy or a girl. So you're all just going to have to be patient--like mom and dad--until we can tell for sure!

I will be going back to Dr. Egley's in 3 weeks. I was not quite far along enough yet for him to check all the things he wanted to . . .but I am a lot less nervous for next time, being fairly sure this baby is healthy. If there are some problems, we will be glad to know so that we can get them taken care of after the baby is born. My prayer this whole week was to know that this is our miracle baby, and that whatever the test results came back, I would know that he or she is a PERFECT creation of God, and no matter what I would love and cherish him or her. And I prayed that we will be the best parents we can be to whoever this baby is. :)

Dr. Egley did tell me that Dr. Harrington spoke with him on the phone just this morning about my case, and about scheduling my C-section. They decided at that time that I should have the C-section at one day short of 38 weeks (possibly because I'll be 38 weeks on a Saturday?) . . .and by our calculations, that should be on April 17. Who knows--this could change, as we are all aware that things don't always follow a perfect plan. But if things happen the way Dr. Egley seemed to think they will, then April 17 would be a perfect day. I will have the steroid shots for the baby's lungs, just to make certain that everything is okay in the breathing department.

Next week I have an ultrasound with Dr. H, so we'll see if he can tell any clearer whether this is a he or a she! :) Please continue to keep us in your prayers--I am right smack dab in the "risky time" of this pregnancy. If we can get from 16 weeks to 26 weeks without problems, we should make it to the end just fine!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


1.) Today my cervix measured 3.9 cm with no funneling. This is exactly what it measured the day BEFORE my surgery! When I was 15 weeks along with Sawyer, it was around 3 cm. So this is GREAT NEWS!

2.) Our OB has speculated on the gender of baby #3. He says he is 50-80% sure. :) So Jim made me swear to keep it a secret until after our high-level ultrasound in 12 days! I will announce it if we are able to see for sure on that day. Until then . . .I'm going to get a poll to have everyone vote on what they think! That should be fun!

3.) I started my p17 shots today to make sure I don't have preterm contractions. That thing hurt like heck. It actually BURNED going in, and still hurts now. However, it WILL be worth it in the end . . .I keep repeating it to myself to make sure I remember!

Wow--two for the price of one today! I'm on a roll!
Well, I have done it. I've started to believe. Kind of.

I felt the baby move recently, and it's been happening nightly. When I'm sitting or lying very still, I can sometimes feel him/her rolling around. Jim's been able to feel it once too.

I also bought some baby clothes. Steve and Barry's is going out of business, so I bought a few gender-neutral outfits and lots of baby socks. I also bought the sweetest onesie . . .it has baby Dumbo on it, and says, "Mama's Little Peanut."

I've also started to dream of putting the nursery together, of baby showers, and of all the things we will do to prepare for this little one.

I start my shots today. I am almost halfway through the pregnancy, and only 6 weeks away from the point where things have gone wrong before. I have a feeling I'm going to sail right through. I didn't have that confidence when I was pregnant with Sawyer. I was scared all the time. But this time, I know the TAC will hold. I have heard from several women who all made it full term, with no complications. I am praying for this every day. I pray no pre-term labor, no contractions, no gestational diabetes, no high blood-pressure. But most importantly, I pray this baby will make it as close to full term as possible with the TAC, and that he/she will be born healthy and we can take him/her home.

I have fallen in love, and I can't wait to meet our child for the first time. It makes me cry just thinking about it. I long for the moment I see our baby's face and look into his/her eyes . . .and just know that I am mom to a living child, finally. I miss our boys so much, but I know they will be SUCH a huge part of that moment. They will be part of our lives no matter what, and our third child will always know how much mommy and daddy love ALL their children, and how proud we are of them.

Little one . . .I can't wait to hold you. I have longed for this moment all my life. Your dad and I are waiting, every day, with the highest of hopes and hearts full of love.

(And very soon I should be able to stop with the him/her stuff and find out for sure!)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I just wanna say how awesome and amazing Extreme Home Makeover is. I have ALWAYS loved and watched the show, and now, guess what?? They are doing a house in Pekin. Not only is that pretty cool . . .what's even cooler is that it is the house of my friend's family!!! I personally know someone involved!!! My friend Rachel's (aka Kiki) parents' home is the one being redone, and I couldn't be happier for them! They are great people, and very deserving of this great gift. I love a show that promotes giving and caring amongst fellow community members--what could be better than that?

Here's a story:

(Rachel is the one crying in the front row when the house is demolished. And Rachel, if you read this blog, trust me, I get it! I ALWAYS cry when they demolish the houses on the show. I know I would do the same thing, no matter how awesome I knew the end result would be . . .that's your house, and all the memories . . .wow. Brave woman.)

If you click on the photo on the left side of the page, it will take you to a slideshow of lots of pictures from the day!

Friday, October 17, 2008

My cousin told me about this song, and I thought I would post the lyrics here today.

Glory Baby by Watermark

Glory baby you slipped away as fast as we could say baby…baby..
You were growing, what happened dear?
You disappeared on us baby…baby..
Heaven will hold you before we do Heaven will keep you safe until we’re home with you…
Until we’re home with you…

Miss you everyday
Miss you in every way
But we know there’s a day when we will hold you
We will hold you
You’ll kiss our tears away
When we’re home to stay
Can’t wait for the day when we will see you
We will see you
But baby let sweet Jesus hold you
‘till mom and dad can hold you…
You’ll just have heaven before we do
You’ll just have heaven before we do

Sweet little babies, it’s hard to
understand it ‘cause we’re hurting
We are hurting
But there is healing
And we know we’re stronger people through the growing
And in knowing-
That all things work together for our good
And God works His purposes just like He said He would…
Just like He said He would…

BRIDGE: I can’t imagine heaven’s lullabies
and what they must sound like
But I will rest in knowing, heaven is your home
And it’s all you’ll ever know…all you’ll ever know…

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Feeling . . .

There's a line from a Sarah McLachlan song that says, "I won't fear love."

I think I do, and I want to change that, but I'm not quite sure how to go about it.

I realized today, while watching a video from a mom who lost two boys, had a TAC, and now has a healthy baby girl, that my fear is preventing me from feeling. I am afraid to love this baby. I know I do, of course . . .but I'm afraid to really feel it. If I do, and I lose again, how can I ever cope?

Jim gave me a gift which had a quote on it: "When things go wrong, hope whispers, 'Try it one more time.'"

I know that Brian and Sawyer would want us to try again. I believe that with all my heart. When I considered how hard they both fought for life, and how CLOSE we were, I knew that it was the right thing to do. I also believe that God brought me to Dr. Haney and the TAC surgery so that my lifelong dream of being a mother could be fulfilled. The trouble is . . .now that I'm in the middle of it, it's hard to remember, and even harder to believe in.

Terrified doesn't even describe how I feel. It's not a strong enough word. And I used to be able to get out all of my feelings by writing . . .yet now, I am not that interested in writing, further proof of the distance I am creating within myself. So that is why I don't blog much, unless it's to report some important bit of news.

I cried for about an hour today, because suddenly, this little life growing inside of me became painstakingly real . . .and I realized that everything I have ever wanted is riding on the outcome of this pregnancy. I can't remember a time when I didn't want to be a mommy. I have the husband I always dreamed of, and I have two boys, but I can't hold them or even see them. The loss of Sawyer and Brian still hurts, and I just pray every day that we make it to the end this time. I know you are all praying, too, and I thank you. It means everything to us, and we know that God is listening.

There is a brokenness out of which comes the unbroken,

A shatteredness out of which blooms the unshatterable.

There is a sorrow beyond all grief which leads to joy

And a fragility out of whose depths emerges strength.

There is a hollow space too vast for words

Through which we pass with each loss,

Out of whose darkness we are sanctified into being.

There is a cry deeper than all sound whose serrated edges cut the heart

As we break open to the place inside which is unbreakable

And whole.


Monday, October 13, 2008

A visit to the ER is always fun, especially when it takes 5 hours.

Saturday night, I couldn't seem to get any sleep. I felt restless and nauseated, and couldn't find a comfortable position. I kept feeling really full and bloated, but didn't know why. I woke up the next morning throwing up. It was really quite horrible--I didn't make it to the bathroom the first time, and my WONDERFUL husband had a mess to clean up. He definitely deserves an award for the way he has taken care of me!!!!!! Anyway, I continued to be sick all day long (thankfully made it to the toilet the other 10 or so times)! Finally, at about 10 pm, Jim called the answering service for our OB and we got a call from the doctor. He advised going to the ER to get re-hydrated, and said that vomiting like that can be a vicious cycle, where you get dehydrated, the dehydration causes nausea, and then the vomiting causes more dehydration. So . . .we went to the ER around 10:00, and didn't get a room until after midnight. I was sick twice more while we were waiting. My mom came to the hospital, because she couldn't sleep until she knew I was okay. She also had stayed during the surgery, which was very sweet. It's nice to have moral support! Finally, at about 12:40, they placed an IV. I got IV fluids and some strong anti-nausea medication for the next 2 1/2 hours. At about 3:00 I was discharged and told I could come back right away for help if any more problems came up.

I had an appointment at the OB office this morning at 9:30, so when the alarm rang at 8:00, naturally I turned it off. Thankfully, I woke up at about 8:45 again, and we made it in time. Everything looks great--baby is looking good with a heart rate of 170. I am feeling a lot better, and got a bottle of Zofran, a very strong antiemetic. I have managed to eat a little today and kept it all down. I am still worried about it happening again, just because it's so miserable, but so far, things are going well.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

I am home, and here is a brief summary of how I am doing:

The sugery, which is supposed to take an hour, took over 3 hours. Dr. Haney said it was one of, if not his most, difficult case. Because of my height, he said it was difficult to get where he wanted to be, and also my uterian arteries are exactly parallel to my uterus, while most people's come in at an angle. All of this is probably too much information, but what it means is that combined together, it just made it VERY difficult for him. He also usually makes an incision of a couple of inches, but for me it is about 10-12 inches across my entire stomach. This means the recovery will be a lot more painful.

I was also very scared because I had no choice--I had to be "put under." I had wanted that at first, but then got worried about it, and had pretty much decided on a spinal, but Dr. Haney said it would be too dangerous to do it while I was awake. He said he had to be able to "pull muscles apart" and couldn't do it if I wasn't fully relaxed. In retrospect, I am VERY glad I was under, because it was over 3 hours and very complicated. I would not have wanted to be awake for any of that!!!!

I also experienced an incredible degree of nausea . . .which seemed to get better yesterday late afternoon, but appears to be back. I am hoping this will get better soon, because I hate feeling like I'm going to throw up all the time. Apparently this is because, as Dr. Haney told me, they had to move around my intestines (I know--gross!) At first I thought I was going to have to stay another night, but thankfully, I was able to get up and move around, pee, and all the other stuff that convinced them I was okay to go home. I am a much better "patient" and recover better in my own bed! I finally got some solid sleep without anyone taking my blood pressure or more blood!

However, the outcome is really good. I would trade physical pain ANY day for losing another child, and the upshot is that Dr. Haney is an amazing doctor and surgeon. The reason he took so long was to get it perfect, and it is perfect. When they looked on ultrasound the next day, they saw that the kevlar band is ALL the way at the top of the cervix, just under the uterus, which is optimum placement. He couldn't have gotten it any higher, so it was a perfect outcome. The other perfect part is that the baby, despite all the risks, made it and is doing perfect! Heart rate is between 176-180!

So everything is good, other than the HUGE amount of pain I am in, but that will get better every day over the next few weeks. It will DEFINITELY be worth it in the end.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Pregnancy/Surgery Update

Well . . .my medical card FINALLY arrived (phew!) and my surgery is now scheduled. It will be on Monday, October 6 at Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine. I will then stay at Bernard Mitchell Hospital across the street. Dr. Arthur F. Haney will perform the Transabdominal Cerclage (or TAC). TACs have a 95+% success rate, which is all the more incredible considering all of those who have a TAC have had failed TVCs and Incompetent Cervix. Dr. Haney has been amazing--always ready and available to answer all of my questions, very reassuring, and very positive. He's a great physician and surgeon--a rare find indeed. And I also joined an online community of women who all have had TACs and success stories abound! I am feeling very positive and excited about this. Please keep us in your prayers--there are risks to the surgery, just as with any surgery, so we could sure use them.

About Dr. Haney:
Dr. Haney is Chairman of Obstetrics & Gynecology and the Catherine Lindsay Dobson Professor in Obstetrics & Gynecology at the University of Chicago.

The recipient of numerous honors, including a Distinguished Professor Award from Duke in 1986, Haney has served as president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, as president of the Congress of the International Federation of Fertility Societies, as well as an examiner and director of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

He has published more than 100 articles in peer-reviewed journals, authored dozens of review articles and book chapters, and served as editor for the 9th edition of the most widely used textbook for medical students and residents, Danforth's Obstetrics and Gynecology.

He also has served as a consultant on fertility issues to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the National Institute on Environmental Health Sciences, the National Cancer Institute, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and the President's Council on Bioethics.

Dr. Haney specializes in abdominal cerclage.

Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine
Arthur F. Haney, MD
University of Chicago Medical Center Obstetrics and Gynecology

In other news, please pray for my uncle as well. He is in the hospital with some heart problems, though I'm not sure exactly what is going on right now. He was NOT having a heart attack, so this is good news. His heart rate is also improving.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

I realize I haven't been saying much about the pregnancy yet. There has been a reason for that. I am very, very early . . .even earlier than I had first thought when I went to the doctor. Apparently, I found out about a week to 10 days post conception. So I am just now between 5-6 weeks. I was nervous at first, because last week when I went in, the nurse said my pregnancy test (urine) was "very light." So they did a sono, and all they saw was a small gestational sac, which apparently is normal for early pregnancy. However, it can also be that way if you have a blighted ovum or other such complications. They took my blood and had me come back 2 days later to do it again to make sure the hCG was doubling.

I was afraid to talk about things because I was really, really worried. Even though I didn't really tell anyone, I just felt so afraid of something going wrong in this early stage, and how hard it would be . . .especially since I have already told everyone. Sometimes when you start THIS early in the pregnancy, it can be scary! There's not a whole lot they can see or do at 3-4 weeks, but we want definite answers! We are praying a lot and learning a lot of patience already.

So . . .the good news is that my hCG looks great. It is doubling, and the numbers are right in the 4-6 week range.

The best news is that I had another sono today. This time the gestational sac was much larger than a week ago, and the doctor could see the yolk sac and fetal pole, both of which are very important to identify at this stage! I go back for another sono next week, and hopefully at that point there will be a heartbeat.

Keep praying that things continue to develop normally and this baby is healthy!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Just When I'd Almost Given Up . . .
"A mother's joy begins when new life is stirring inside... when a tiny heartbeat is heard for the very first time, and a playful kick reminds her that she is never alone."

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Fly away little bird
The saddest song I ever heard
Was the one I wrote you in my heart
That never made it to the world

~Indigo Girls

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Lighter Than Air, Filled With Love . . .

Brian's second birthday was on Friday, July 11, which happened to be during our vacation. Early that morning, my mom and dad helped us call around to some local florists to find out if they did helium balloons. We found one that did, so we travelled to Versailles, MO, to buy balloons for him. We decided upon a balloon that depicted a cabin by a lake, with mom and dad ducks sailing by. Each day, we would see and feed this little family of ducks, so we thought it was perfect. We also got another blue balloon for Brian, and added a green one for Sawyer.

We picked out a small card that said "Glad you were born" on it. We wrote on the front of the card:

~In Memory~
Brian William Rennie
July 11, 2006
Our Precious Son

Then on the back we wrote:

We love you! Mom and Dad
If found, please mail to:
Jim Rennie
(and then our address)

We sealed the envelope after both signing our names (Mom and Dad), and then Jim wrote some words from Brian's funeral on the outside of the envelope. The words were read by the Pastor as we released a white balloon in his memory: "Lighter than air, filled with love . . ."

We released the balloons in early evening, and watched as they sailed off into the distance. It was a bittersweet moment--the day our first child was born was also one of the saddest and most horrifying days of our lives, because it was also the day we had to say goodbye to him. We want to always remember him in a positive way on his birthday, and make sure to pass on the love that we feel for him to others. In this way, he lives on and makes the world a better place.

We were really hoping that someone might find the card, but didn't know how far it might travel or how long it might be before we heard anything (if ever). Today was the day! When I got home from work, I discovered that we had a letter from Berger, MO. My heart was filled with joy and anticipation as I tore open the envelope. This is what we read:


Hello Jim Rennie:

My name is Carolyn and my husband is Gerald S****. We ride our double bike down in the Berger Bottoms as many days a week we can ride. We try to ride 20 miles a day. Berger, MO is just 5 miles east of Hermann, MO or 70 miles west of St. Louis. On Friday, July 11th, we were riding and saw the balloon on a levy, and thinking it may be like a treasure hunt my husband got off the bike and went to retrieve it. He found the card, unopened, still on the ribbon. We think it was down there because it looked like there may have been more than one balloon on the string and the remaining balloon was almost flat. We were both touched by the gesture and words on the card. We are curious, was your son born on 7-11-06, or did he pass away on that date? How old was he?

We are also wondering when the balloon was released? We found it 7-11-08.

It also throws us, when we see the florist was in Versailles, MO and your address it Tremont, IL. We are about 110 miles from Versailles, MO.

We are both retired and ride our double seated bike for pleasure and exercise. How about you?

We have email, do you? Ours is *****. Would love to hear from you.

Carolyn and Gerald S*****

We went on a bus trip, thru our local bank last summer to Amish Country. Had a delicious meal at an Amish home in Versailles, MO. We may do it again the food was so delicious. We will look forward to hearing back from you.

So how amazing is this? My little boy is still touching people's lives, people who live far away, who have never met us or heard our story. And the fact that someone would take the time not only to mail the card back, but to write a letter means more than we can express. This small gesture on their part has really moved us deeply, and we can't wait to get in touch with them. I am thinking of writing a real "paper" letter first, and then emailing if they would like to stay in touch.

So, happy birthday to our precious, beloved baby boy, Brian William. You are our firstborn, our very first glimpse of a true miracle, and we will love you eternally.


Interviewer: Do you have any advice for women?

Edith Piaf: Love

Interviewer: How about for a young woman?

Edith: Love

Interviewer: And for a child?

Edith: Love


Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

1 John 4:8


All you need is love . . .

Yes, the Beatles said it too, in as many ways as they could find. Maybe someday the world will hear the message.


Lighter than air, filled with love . . .

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Just a quick update . . .we celebrated Brian's second birthday in Heaven while we were in Lake of the Ozarks. I will be posting pictures and memories soon . . .just need a chance to get caught up with things here!

Happy Birthday, our precious son. We love you more than ever and miss you more each day.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Something Has to Change

We just got done watching part of a documentary on BBC Newsnight about North Korean refugees. "On The Border" is a documentary on North Korean refugees produced by the Chosun Ilbo as part of its global cross-media program. The segment contained scenes of a North Korean woman sold to China across the Tumen River for [$47], a North Korean drug dealer crossing the river naked, and the suffering of North Korean women suffering hardships after being sold to Chinese men. It also showed the bodies of people who perished in the freezing cold and who were left where they fell until the waters thawed and they were washed away. It showed how China treats these refugees (put them in prison and send them back, in one case first aborting the fetus of one of the women who was pregnant w/a half-Chinese/half-Korean baby).

I couldn't believe my eyes. Lately it seems as if I am seeing the world as it really is for the first time. I can't believe how naive and silly people are, myself included. It feels like the world around me has been a mirage, which is slowly dissipating, and I am seeing for myself just how frightening and tragic the lives of others are.

I read a story recently about a free rice program which is being stopped in Cambodia, due to soaring global food prices.

"At dawn in a ramshackle elementary school in rural Cambodia, the children think of only one thing: their stomachs. They anxiously await the steaming buckets of free rice delivered to their desks. But by the end of the month, they will no longer get free breakfast from the UN World Food Program. About 450,000 Cambodian students will become the latest victims of soaring global food prices.

Five local suppliers have defaulted on contracts to provide rice because they can get a higher price elsewhere, program officials say. Prices of rice have tripled on the global market since December.

Faced with a shortfall of more than 14,000 tons of rice, and with more pressing needs to meet, the World Food Program stopped the free breakfasts in March. The schools' remaining stocks are expected to run out in the coming days."

The article goes on: "The numbers are grim. In Burundi, Kenya and Zambia, hundreds of thousands of people face cuts in food rations after June. In Iraq, 500,000 recipients will likely lose food aid. In Yemen, it's 320,000 households, including children and the sick."

Many children will now drop out of school, as this free meal was a worthwhile reason to attend. However, without it, they will need to help their families try to find a way to survive poverty and hunger.

I cried my eyes out when I read the quotes from the school children.

"I had difficulty sitting in the class because my stomach was growling," Rim Channa, a 13-year-old fifth-grader.

"I feel hopeless," said Boeurn Srey Leak, a 15-year-old in sixth grade.

I realize there are those who feel that it isn't our responsibility to help the rest of the world. I am not one of those people. Something in my life has to change. I can't continue to live this life, wanting for very little, while there are so many needing so much. I don't know what it is yet, I just know it's there, and it needs fixing.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

I'm Such a Jerk

I meant to post this on Mother's Day. I honestly did. And then I forgot. Completely. Now I feel like big crapola. I walked past my gift from Jim and was admiring it and garnering strength from it, as tonight has been a particularly hard night, and suddenly realized I'd never actually posted this blog. In the midst of mentioning the garden, the tattoos, and the other special Mother's Day gifts, I failed to mention the most significant gift of all. So . . .here it is, a little late, but just as heartfelt and grateful.

On Mother's Day, after a family dinner, Jim and I retreated to our apartment to spend the evening together. He brought me a card and a package.

The card was from Hallmark's (Product)RED line. The front looks like this:

Inside, on the left, it says (I couldn't get a decent picture of it):

EBAN "Fence"

In West Africa, a house

with a fenced yard

is considered an ideal home

where love is safe.

The inside right looks like this:

So the tears began . . .obviously. The card couldn't have been more perfect. It is so special to me. I still have it displayed on the dining table so I can look at it every day.

Then I opened the gift. It was from Jim and the boys.

Are any more words needed? I cried and cried . . .and it felt so nice to be remembered, and for my boys to be a part of the day. I know they want us to try again, in all aspects of our life together, as a family. Brian and Sawyer will always be that Hope, whispering to me, leading me on.

Thank you, Jim. You are the most amazing person I know. I love you more every day, and I will love you always.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Brian and Sawyer’s Memorial Garden

Well, we finally did it! Yesterday when I went to get my tattoos, they were running about 45 minutes behind, so we went right across the street to buy some flowers. We had bought my mom flowers for Mother's Day from the same place and they were really pretty, so we thought it would be a good place to get some for Brian and Sawyer.

We chose three types of flowers: snapdragons, alyssum, and lobelia. We chose flowers in green, blue, and yellow . . .the colors of the boys' nursery. We already had one pink flower too, that my church had given to each mother for Mother's Day.

After my tattoo was finished, we went to Menard's to get some stones to edge the garden with. At first we were looking at landscaping bricks and edging, but nothing caught our eye (or imagination). Suddenly, just as we had almost decided on a type of stone we "kinda" liked, Jim noticed some granite cobbles. They are really natural looking smooth, round stones. We loved them instantly, but debated on whether or not it would be possible to use them around the edge. We finally decided it was worth taking a chance and chose some. We had no idea how many to get--we hadn't measured anything or decided on a size--we couldn't even remember the width of the stone. So we kind of guessed and hoped that we had enough.

Today when we arrived, Jim dug out all the grass and chopped up the dirt so it was smooth and fine. At the same time, I put up the new wind chimes that a "mysterious friend" sent me for Mother's Day from Brian and Sawyer. We also found a new flag holder--our other one was kind of makeshift, because when we went to buy it, there were none at any of the stores. So this one will be more sturdy and permanent, even though I have to say, Jim did a great job with the first one! So I put that up, and I also washed their tombstone and statues.

When he finished, he laid out the stones, and guess what? There were EXACTLY enough. It couldn't have been more perfect. They looked absolutely beautiful. He packed them in, then I sat down and we started the flower planting. We tried to lay everything out perfectly.

When we finished, we arranged the stuff at their grave, and then stood back to look. We were both incredibly pleased. It looks gorgeous! The stones and flowers could not have been more perfect. We went and got some water to water the flowers, and then took some pictures. We are so glad everything worked together to create such a nice memorial to our boys. We think their grave looks absolutely perfect. The flowers have added some color, life, and beauty to their resting place. It looks very peaceful and serene, and I love that all the colors of their nursery are incorporated.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Well . . .I did it! For those of you who don't know, I got 2 tattoos for Mother's Day. However, I had to make an appointment for this weekend, which worked out really well since it's Memorial Day weekend. We also got flowers and stones to make Brian and Sawyer's memorial garden . . .we will be working on it tomorrow, so watch for a blog and pictures!

My tattoos are my sons' footprints--Brian's left footprint on my left foot, and Sawyer's right footprint on my right foot. And just so everyone knows . . .foot tattoos aren't any worse than any other tattoo, as far as I'm concerned. They hurt, yes, but I can remember getting both of my other tattoos, and it was no worse. I had built up the pain in my mind SO badly, because everyone kept telling me how much foot tattoos hurt . . .but it was really okay. Tolerable, anyway. Perhaps this is because Kalib, the artist from American Inkwell who did mine, is very talented. I've always heard that if you get tattoos from really great artists it isn't as bad, and maybe that's true. Regardless, Kalib did an amazing job. He didn't push me too hard, took lots of tiny breaks, just to let me breathe once before starting again, and just when I thought it was too much, he'd squirt a little water on and wipe, which really cooled down the burning sensation. Each foot only took about 7-10 minutes, because I didn't want any color and Kalib didn't want to use any liner. We just wanted to go for a very natural look, as if the boys' footprints were stamped directly on mine.

Here is a picture of Brian's tattoo, which is on my left side because he was our first born, but also because my tattoo in memory of his namesake is on that side as well:

Here is Sawyer's (still a little bloody, sorry):

And here are both together:

In this picture, you can see the "tan stripe" across the center of my feet. It was funny, because when I was trying to explain to Kalib and Jason, the other tattoo artist at American Inkwell, where I wanted them, I finally said, "Well, you see that tan line across my foot?" and they both laughed.

So there you go! I love them love them love them. I love how they are each unique, because they are perfect replicas of my children's footprints. I am SOOOOOOOOOOOO glad I got up the courage to do this . . .Jim told me in the car on the way, as I was crying because I was so scared, that I would always regret it if I didn't do it, and he was right! AND he reminded me of all the happiness they would bring if I did do it, and he was right about that too, of course . . .he always is.

I'll post some more photos as they heal. For now, I'd better go get them elevated--avoiding edema is a great excuse for a lazy weekend!

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Call

I went to see Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian on Sunday. I am a huge CS Lewis fan, and I ADORE the Narnia books. My old set is ragged and dog-eared from being read over and over again, through my childhood and into my adulthood. I always thought it would be fun to decorate a child's room in a Narnia theme. So, as you can imagine, I loved the movie. I thought it was really well done and captured the spirit of the book. However, an unexpected gem came at the end of the movie in a song. I am also a HUGE Regina Spektor fan, so when I heard the first line, I knew instantly it was her. This song is absolutely gorgeous. It made me cry, BIG time, not just because it captured the book/movie/story perfectly, but of course because of the loss I've experienced. I love being reminded once again by CS Lewis that death is never the end, and goodbye is never forever.

The Call
by Regina Spektor

It started out as a feeling
Which then grew into a hope
Which then turned into a quiet thought
Which then turned into a quiet word

And then that word grew louder and louder
'Til it was a battle cry
I'll come back
When you call me
No need to say goodbye

Just because everything's changing
Doesn't mean it's never been this way before
All you can do is try to know who your friends are
As you head off to the war

Pick a star on the dark horizon
And follow the light
You'll come back when it's over
No need to say goodbye

You'll come back when it's over
No need to say goodbye

Now we're back to the beginning
It's just a feeling and no one knows yet
But just because they can't feel it too
Doesn't mean that you have to forget

Let your memories grow stronger and stronger
'Til they're before your eyes
You'll cone back
When they call you
No need to say goodbye

You'll come back
When they call you
No need to say goodbye

Saturday, May 17, 2008

My sister-in-law (Jim's sister) has just released her first full-length CD. Her name is Cathryn Stone, and the album is called "White Sun Dark Moon." I have listened to it hundreds of times now, and I can tell you without reservation that it is fantastic. Even if I didn't know her and wasn't related to her, I would still STRONGLY recommend that you purchase this album, . She writes her own songs, plays her own instruments, and her voice is incredible. The songs are all beautiful . . .haunting . . .so earthy and real.

So if you're in the mood to try something new in the world of music, buy her CD. You won't be disappointed! You can buy it from her website,, or from CD Baby at

Oh, and by the way, Jim designed the logo of her name, and his name is mentioned on the back cover of the CD. Very cool--we feel slightly famous!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Tattoo Update

Well . . .the tattoo has been talked about with the artists, a deposit has been paid, and an appointment has been made! I will get both feet tattooed with the boys' footprints (one on each) on March 26. Pictures will follow! Wish me luck--I have heard nothing but warnings about how BAD the pain will be, but Kalib, one of the owners and artists at American Inkwell, told me it would hurt less than the one on my leg, so that made me feel a LOT better! I trust his judgement. I'm really excited and can't wait to show them off!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

So . . .I've been living my new healthy lifestyle for a week now. Actually 8 days. I have lost 10 pounds, which isn't too bad I suppose (although I do struggle with impatience and the need for instant results). For the first few days, I was concentrating on the food part--calories, fat, protein, and carbs. Then two days ago I added exercise and began walking a mile each night, and this afternoon--joy of all joys!--my Sweatin' to the Oldies DVD arrived! Yes, that's right . . .I could relive the days of high school PE aerobics with Richard and the 80's gang. I did the whole workout, and even though it was fairly simple, I did sweat and it did strain me. One must bear in mind that it's been over a decade since I've really exercised. But I had fun. I really love Richard's workouts--you feel like real people are capable of doing them successfully and losing weight. I also felt really good afterwards. I had planned to join my already sleeping husband for a nap, but alas, I was suddenly overcome with energy--go figure! My dog is happy with this whole arrangement too, because she never gets to lick real plates . . .but now that many of my foods come out of plastic trays, she gets to lick them at the end, and this makes her feel fulfilled.

I am really obsessed with the food part. I track every single last calorie I eat, down to this morning's single servings of Coffee Mate (30 calories each)! A couple of my friends at work have joined me, which is really nice and helps with motivation. It's also funny, because we're pretty desperate to get the most food possible for our calories. I was telling them today how I use my fingers to scrape clean the bottoms of my microwave food entrees, and they totally understood. We also talked about how some foods have become "SO not worth it" to us . . .because they're such a small portion and so many calories. We're also quite serious about eating every last bit--today my friend dropped a raisin, and I joked about it . . .but deep down, I knew that if it was me, I'd have grabbed the raisin off the floor and eaten it. Every raisin counts.

I shall leave you all to ponder that as I finish up my roasted potatoes and broccoli, which I mistakenly thought also contained chicken. As you can imagine, I'm pretty disappointed right about now. Anyway . . .here's to living longer!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Tagged Again

Okay, I got tagged again . . .I think I've done this before, but I will try to write different things this time.


The rules in this game of tag are simple -- once you have been tagged, you must write a blog with ten weird, random things, little known facts or habits about yourself. At the end choose at least 10 people to be tagged, list their names and why you chose them. Don't forget to leave a comment that says "you've been tagged" and tell them to read your latest blog. Since you can't tag me back… let me know when you've posted your blog so I can see it.

1. I love Kenny Loggins. I am embarrassed about it, but my friend Jami and I decided we should make T-Shirts that say, on the front, "We Love Loggins" and on the back "And we are not ashamed!"

2. I kind of want to write Kenny Loggins a fan letter. I bet he hasn't gotten one since the late 80's. I could be his number one fan, for sure. Maybe even president of his fan club.

3. I also love Richard Simmons. I recently ordered "Sweatin' to the Oldies" to go along with my diet. Maybe I should add "Simmons" to the Loggins Tee.

4. I am getting 2 new tattoos, as soon as my "economic stimulus" money comes in. I am getting Brian's footprint on my left foot and Sawyer's on my right.

5. I like to call people by strange names. Like right now, if I saw you, I'd say, "Hi, Mike!" And I bet your name is indeed . . .well, not Mike.

6. Like my sister-in-law, I am not overly obsessed with chocolate. I like it. But I don't LOVE it. Now that I'm on a diet, people keep asking me if I miss it. No, I don't. In fact, I can still eat a lot of stuff w/some chocolate, and it's not that thrilling. What I'd REALLY love to eat is a pound of bacon. Seriously.

7. I used to worry a lot about people talking bad about me. It really upset me a lot to know that "friends" of mine were saying things, judging me, behind my back. I know that people have judged my divorce and remarriage, and think I am a bad person. I haven't advertised my feelings or what happened to most people, so they assume they know. I'm over that now, and over them. None of them actually know even a tiny percent of what they THINK they know about me or my life.

8. I am a little bit obsessed with true-crime tv shows and books. Another secret passion.

9. I love rainstorms. I love camping too. And I even like it if it rains when I'm camping so I can lay in the tent and listen to it and smell it and feel the coolness wash over everything.

10. I pretty much hate forced social activities. I am not an antisocial person. I enjoy hanging out with people in a relaxed, casual environment. I feel very silly and uncomfortable sitting with people I maybe kinda-sorta know, or maybe have never met, pretending we're friends. Everyone laughs too loud and tries to be funny.

I Now Tag :

1. Amy N.
2. Nichole R.
3. Jami K.
4. Ashley K.
5. Sheri M.
6. Stacy W.
7. Trish W.
8. Carrie W.
9. Ashleigh B.
10.Stephanie H.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Mother's Ring for Mother's Day

For a long time now, I have wanted a mother's ring. I wasn't exactly even sure what kind of ring to get--one with birthstones, or one with engraving. I had asked for one for Christmas, but unknown to me at the time, my friend, Kathie, had already written to Jim about a ring she was getting for me. She had seen the company,, in Oprah's magazine. After she ordered it, they informed her that it was going to be quite awhile before they could get to making the ring--the magazine had launched them to a popularity they were unable to keep up with. So she decided to give it to me for Mother's Day.

Today we went to Starbucks to hang out, and she gave me the ring. She gave credit to Jim for helping her out with the sizing and planning. Of course, I love it!!!! It is so perfect, and so ME. I don't like big, shiny, "blingy" jewelry, and I don't really wear that kind of stuff. That is why I chose a very simple wedding ring. It's just my personal taste. The ring looks aged, and very classy. I think it's absolutely perfect.

It is also perfect in that it doesn't fit on my right hand ring finger--apparently that finger is larger than the one on my left hand. It does fit on the ring finger of my left hand, but not with my wedding ring. So I put it on the pinky of my left hand, and it looks perfect! I love how it looks right next to my wedding ring. It represents nicely my 3 loves--Jim, Brian, and Sawyer. One of the really cool features is that the ring is really 2 rings intertwined, so they are always changing position--one is never "more important" than the other.

Thank you SO much, Kathie, for such a wonderful reminder of my boys. It is just perfect in every way, and I can't wait to show it off! I couldn't have chosen a more perfect ring myself! You are a wonderful friend, and I love you. Thanks for remembering me at this holiday and recognizing me as a mother. It means a lot to me, more than you could know.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

This is a poem that, oddly, I had printed out and even had one of my speech students read for competition years ago, before I married Jim or lost the boys. It's strange to me that I was so moved by these words, even then.

by Svea Barrett

There are things I can't seem to hold, things always slipping from me,
like messages for you, lists of errands, pens and chalk, all the broken
dishes and spilled cups of coffee -- just this morning a fresh cup,
steaming, spread across the blacktop in Duncan Donuts' parking lot.

And that time, the last time we drove in silence down to Philly again,
to Children's Hospital, where they cut and hold babies' hearts
every day. The doctor I didn't like met us at the door before we could
even wash our hands or put on those masks and stiff, green gowns.

"Be prepared." His voice was flat. "He looks bad today. His kidneys are failing.
He's very bloated." I tried to leave but he held my arm. "I'm serious. Be prepared."
My teeth drew blood from somewhere deep inside the dryness of my mouth.
My jaws and armpits clenched. Your hand clamped onto my shoulder.

Inside I stroked our son's stretched skin and winced for him.
I feared my slightest touch would explode us both all over the hospital floor.
I whispered once into his swollen ear, and we slipped out to sit on that
hard wooden bench in the hall, not speaking, all our words long gone.

We sat 'til there was nothing left to do but drive back home.
You had to work, and our other twin waited for me.
I didn't know then that mothers often ask to
hold them, even after they're gone.

He just slipped out of my reach, like everything else does lately,
except for this memory slipped around my neck and holding tight.
Another opportunity missed, like so many chances for us to talk,
since it became clear things would not be turning out the way you planned.

This morning the tiny bar of soap on the shower floor dissolved
and disappeared before I could try to hold its slippery roundness and
finish washing. I stand and shiver, cooling water slides through my hair
and thighs, but I'm not clean. I'm still not even close to being clean.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

March 31, 2007 ~ April 11, 2007

Sawyer, you left us in the wee hours of the morning, quietly and peacefully, with complete courage. Our beautiful boy, we love you. We are so lost without you, yet we celebrate the wonder and miracle of you. We are so proud you are our son.

The songs on our playlist are all dedicated to Sawyer. For various reasons, they all bring him instantly to mind. Some of them we played for him, some were played at his funeral, and some of them are songs that are inseperable from his little life. We were listening to Regina Spektor almost constantly during the two weeks before he was born, and then while he was alive. If we get into the car and play her CDs, we are instantly and heartbreakingly transported to those moments in time. It feels like I am pregnant again, full of hope . . .or on my way to St. Francis to check into the antenatal unit . . .or driving up to visit Sawyer in the NICU. Many of the songs are almost completely perfect to describe Sawyer and his life . . .like Blackbird, or Love . . .and others have an ambiance that just "feels" like him. Some have a line that just grabs our hearts and brings us closer to our son. We hope you will take some time to listen.

And did you get what you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself beloved on the earth.

~Raymond Carver

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

For My Love

Our anniversary was on Monday, April 7. A lot has happened to us in two years of marriage, but we're still holding on to each other through all this stormy weather.

Jim . . .thank you for being you, for loving me, and for saving me every day. I will never let go of you . . .

Here's to better days ahead.

First Day of My Life
by Bright Eyes

This is the first day of my life
I swear I was born right in the doorway
I went out in the rain suddenly everything changed
They're spreading blankets on the beach

Yours is the first face that I saw
I think I was blind before I met you
Now I don’t know where I am
I don’t know where I’ve been
But I know where I want to go

And so I thought I’d let you know
That these things take forever
I especially am slow
But I realize that I need you
And I wondered if I could come home

Remember the time you drove all night
Just to meet me in the morning
And I thought it was strange you said everything changed
You felt as if you'd just woke up

And you said “this is the first day of my life
I’m glad I didn’t die before I met you
But now I don’t care I could go anywhere with you
And I’d probably be happy”

So if you want to be with me
With these things there’s no telling
We just have to wait and see
But I’d rather be working for a paycheck
Than waiting to win the lottery

Besides maybe this time is different
I mean I really think you like me

Tiger in the Night
by Katie Melua

You are the tiger burning bright
Deep in the forest of my night
You are the one who keeps me strong in this world

You sleep by the silent cooling streams
Down in the darkness of my dreams
All of my life I never knew
You were the dream I'd see come true
You are the tiger burning bright

I was the one who looked so hard I could not see.
Now I could never live without the love you give to me.

I lived like a wild and lonely soul,
Lost in a dream beyond control.
You were the one who brought me home down to earth.

For you are the tiger burning bright
Deep in the forest of my night
All of my life I never knew
You were the dream I'd see come true
You are the tiger burning bright

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Sawyer's First Birthday

To celebrate Sawyer's birthday and remember him in the most positive way possible, we did several special things.

To begin with, we made little treat bags full of candy. I attached cards to each one. The pictures didn't turn out that great, but they will give you the general idea.

I passed out the treats at work, and then Jim and I delivered them to some close friends and family members.

After that, we headed to the NICU. We took a huge bag of candy filled with several of the cards. Strangely enough, the first person to come out of the NICU and see us standing there was Dr. Ramiro, his primary doctor. She came over and talked with us. When we told her it was Sawyer's birthday she got teared up, and of course, I did too. We got ready to leave, and I was walking down the hallway crying, when suddenly I heard this little squeal of my name. It was Emma, the nurse who was very close to Sawyer. She came to his funeral, and she was awarded the Daisy based on our nomination. She was so excited to see us, and she cried too. She told us that whenever she's training new students, she takes them to the collage of Sawyer and shows his pictures and the letter we wrote. She said it has helped to give her a lot of comfort and perspective, and she wants to show others his story to inspire them. She said it is good to know that even if the story isn't the typical "success" that we all hope for, it doesn't mean it was a "failure" either. From the letter that we wrote to the staff, she learned how successful it was that Sawyer had love all his life, and how grateful we were for their constant help, diligence, and support. She also said she realized how much their jobs mean, not just to the babies, but also to their families. It was soooo great to see her. She is and always will be very special to us.

After that, we stopped by the store to pick out a birthday card. We found the perfect one . . .absolutely perfect.

We also bought some baby tulips for his grave.

And some cupcakes--one for each of the boys.

We went to the cemetery, but since the winds were SO crazy you couldn't even walk in a straight line, we decided to bring back his stuff the next day. We talked to him (and his brother too, of course) for awhile, and then came back home. Then on Tuesday we took all of his stuff to his grave. Jim also bought a little birdhouse that we are going to paint and plant something in, which we will take when the weather is nicer.

Several people remembered Sawyer and us with nice gifts and cards.

These candles are in memory of the boys from my friend, Tressa:

This is from my grandmother:
This is from my friend Jami:
This is from my parents:
This is from Jim's parents, made by Jim's mother:

We are so grateful to all of you, not just those mentioned here, but everyone who sent emails, cards, notes, and lit candles for Sawyer. It is so important to us that he is remembered, but at the same time, it is also nice to feel so much love and support from so many. Peace and love . . .

Monday, March 31, 2008

An Early Morning Wish

One year ago today, my son came into the world. I can't give him presents or a cake, but I can say . . .Happy Birthday, Sawyer. We love you and miss you so much.

You can light a candle for Sawyer at his memorial site.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Just Something Funny

You know the Johnny Cash song "A Boy Named Sue?" Well, Jim read the other day that it was written by Shel Silverstein. I looked it up, and it's true! It was inspired by his friend, Jean Shepherd, who wrote and narrated the movie "A Christmas Story" and other humourous works. He thought his name sounded feminine, hence the song. Just a bit of trivia for you!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Okay, here's the final blog I promised, with another one to come after Sawyer's birthday on Monday.

I just finished reading "Beautiful Boy" by David Sheff. From his biography on his website:

"Along with The New York Times Magazine, Sheff, a contributing editor to Playboy, has also written for The New York Times, Wired, Fortune, Rolling Stone, Outside, The Los Angeles Times Magazine, Esquire and Observer Magazine in England, Foreign Literature in Russia, and Playboy (Shueisha) in Japan. He has conducted seminal interviews with John Lennon and Yoko Ono, nuclear physicist Ted Taylor, Congressman Barney Frank, Steve Jobs, Ansel Adams, Thomas Friedman, the founders of Google, Tom Hanks, Betty Friedan, Keith Haring, Jack Nicholson, Carl Sagan, Larry Ellison, Salman Rushdie, and others. He also wrote an award-winning documentary about John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath and a radio special about Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, both for National Public Radio, and wrote and edited Heart Play: Unfinished Dialogue, which won a Grammy Award nomination for Best Spoken Word Recording of 1984." He also wrote a great book about the videogame industry called "Game Over."

This book is about his son Nic's addiction to crystal meth. I was going to try to write a book review, but I really just want to encourage you all to read it. It's one of the most honest, heartbreaking, and in the end, hopeful books I've ever read. Someone on amazon, amidst the rave reviews, gave it a lower rating because they wanted father and son to pen the book together, in order to give "both sides of the story." Nic Sheff did write his book, called "Tweak." However, I really feel that this is David's story alone, the story of his relationship with his son, and how he and the rest of their family dealt with this addiction. I have heard many addict's stories, but I haven't read a good book by someone who loves an addict. I would strongly recommend this book to all--not just people who have dealt with addiction or loving someone with addiction, but any parent.

The real beauty of this book is that I felt I was living vicariously through David. His concerns became my concerns; his joys, my joys. It takes a powerful writer to make hisor her reader feel so closely knit into the story. I felt like David, Karen, Nic, Jasper, and Daisy were my family, and I wanted to trust Nic, and I wanted to comfort Jasper and Daisy, and on and on.

The funny part is that the book ends at the present. There is no further to go. This story is still being written. Yet I wanted more! I wanted to know how it ends . . .even though logically I know it isn't over yet. I wanted to be able to see into the future and know how this all turns out.
The book lived with me and lives in me still. It's definitely a must-read!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

As promised, here is blog #2. The boys celebrated their second Easter this year--Brian's second in Heaven, Sawyer's first. We were lucky enough to have him with us last year for Easter.

Jim and I chose some wooden eggs and egg-cups from Hobby Lobby, along with 2 little rings that Jim found sitting side by side, all on their own. We never saw any others in the store, so it seemed to be a sign!

Jim painted the eggs with the boys' names on them, and then a design on the back of each--a butterfly for Brian and a sailboat for Sawyer. He painted the cups to look like grass on Brian's and the sea on Sawyer's. I think they look perfect! Their daddy did a great job!

We went out to the cemetary during the evening and put the easter eggs and rings by the boys' headstone. We miss them so much, but it's nice to be able to at least do something to remember them on special holidays.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Sawyer Flies

As Sawyer’s first birthday approaches, I figured it was time to tell you about the painting my friend, Nichole, made for us.

Nichole is a very, very gifted artist. You can learn more about her at her website. She’s also a crazy lady who loves teaching high school so much that she continues to do it, even though she wouldn’t have to. She inspires young people every day to express themselves creatively. I have always loved her work. In fact, my friend Jami and I were talking one day about how much we would LOVE to have one of her paintings, and only a couple of days later (just before Christmas) she came into the center, where her sons attend, and presented me with a gift.

As soon as I looked at the painting, I started crying. I couldn’t believe how amazing it was. It instantly moved me, for it captured our son Sawyer’s spirit and his passing from this earth in such a perfect, poignant way.

Nichole knew that we had played the song "Blackbird" for Sawyer before he passed away. She was also at his funeral, where we had a slide show, the end of which was set to that song. So this inspired her to create "Sawyer Flies."

Unbelievably, she was nervous about giving it to us. She told a friend that she almost didn’t do it, because she was so afraid that we might not like it. I cannot fathom what would possess her to think that. We would have loved the painting no matter what, even if it was only a tenth as wonderful as it is. BUT . . .and when you see it, I am sure you will agree . . .how someone with that amount of talent could ever doubt herself is beyond me.

I have started a dozen different letters to Nichole to try to thank her for this gift. I have yet to finish one. I can’t seem to find the words to say what is in my heart. Not only did she care about Jim and I enough to offer us a piece of her artwork as a gift, but she also loves our son, and has acknowledged and memorialized him in an absolutely incredible way. I can’t thank her enough for the piece of her heart that has become a piece of ours. It is hanging in the main entry of our apartment, and every day, as I walk by, I look at it and remember Sawyer. The painting expresses so brilliantly my feelings . . ."You were only waiting for this moment to arise." Sawyer was set free to fly through the pain and into endless beauty.

This is my way of saying thank you to Nichole. Nichole, I hope you read this. If you do, please know how much I love you and value your friendship. You have been a source of comfort, inspiration, and peace to me throughout this ordeal. I have met someone through you, as well . . .your sister, Amy, who has become a dear friend and another person I can count on to understand my pain, sorrow, and confusion. I am so lucky to have you both in my life. I honestly don’t know where I would be without Jim and friends like you to help carry this burden, and yes, even to make it lighter. You continue to amaze me with your compassion and generosity. I will never be able to say thank you enough, but I will at least try . . .so thank you.

And, as a p.s. . .I have tears running down my face, yet I still wanted to point out that Simon Cowell, who criticized "Blackbird," called Lee Greenwood a "brilliant writer" and "I’m Proud to be an American" a "brilliant song." Touché, Simon. Touché.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Okay. I have about 3 blogs to write. I need to catch up. I know this. However, I have the day off today and I’m going to spend it with Jim, who also has the day off! Yay! A non-weekend day off together is very rare!

Anyway, here is a preview of my 3 blogs, for anyone who is interested. I will be writing them over the next couple of days.

1.) The piece of artwork my friend, Nichole, made for Jim and I. It is called "Sawyer Flies" and was inspired by him and the song we played at his funeral (and for him when he was alive), "Blackbird" by the Beatles. It’s really amazing, and I have intended to write this blog for months, but haven’t been able to find the right words. I decided that the "right words" aren’t as important as the telling.

Incidentally, I’m really mad at Simon Cowell for calling the song "cheesy" and saying, "You had the entire Beatles catalog to choose from, and you chose a song about a Blackbird." Well, Simon, who obviously hasn’t listened to much Beatles music, has also missed out on one of the best songs in the world. It is very special to me, Jim, and our boys, and we feel it tells Sawyer’s story perfectly.

2. Easter and what we made for the boys, including pictures.

3. My thoughts about one of the best books I have read in a long, long time. It’s called "Beautiful Boy" by David Sheff (he interviewed John and Yoko) and it’s about his son’s addiction to crystal meth.

Also, next Monday is Sawyer’s birthday, so I will be blogging about how we celebrated and my thoughts on his first year in Heaven.

Take care!


Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to be free.

Blackbird fly blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night.

Blackbird fly blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
You were only waiting for this moment to arise.

Monday, March 17, 2008

2 years ago today, I found out I was pregnant for the first time. Last year, my second son was here for Easter. And still, we miss them terribly, and always will. It is a grief that never ceases.

On My First Son
by Ben Jonson

Farewell, thou child of my right hand, and joy ;
My sin was too much hope of thee, lov'd boy.
Seven years thou wert lent to me, and I thee pay,
Exacted by thy fate, on the just day.
Oh, could I lose all father now ! For why
Will man lament the state he should envy?
To have so soon 'scaped world's and flesh's rage,
And if no other misery, yet age !
Rest in soft peace, and, asked, say, Here doth lie
Ben Jonson his best piece of poetry.
For whose sake henceforth all his vows be such
As what he loves may never like too much.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

It must be the time of year.

The other day, as we were driving back from Peoria, Jim and I both had such a strong reaction to driving by St. Francis. The sky looks the same, the weather is similar, and it just feels so familiar. It feels like we should still be in the NICU.

I've been feeling a lot of . . .well, I suppose that anger is the right word. Lately, I have heard so many people talking about the miracles God has performed, how He saved their loved ones from the brink of death, how He protected them and wouldn't let them fall. I don't begrudge these people their miracles. I really don't. I am very happy when people's health is restored, or they are saved from a tragic accident, or whatever the case might be. It's just that I wish I could have had my miracle too.

Yes, my sons were both miracles. But if it's a question of prayer, which people claim it is whenever things go their way, then Sawyer was prayed for as much as anyone else has ever been. Why didn't God save him?? Why wasn't he pulled back from the brink of death? He was a baby, pure, simple, a clean slate, who never had a chance to live. Why not perform a miracle on him? And if God saves people based on the prayers offered, which people tell me He does, then does he allow someone to die if no one says a prayer? What if only one person prays, or two? How many is enough?

I had to deliver one son knowing that no such miracle could be. There was nothing the doctors could do. I had to accept that, even though I still prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed that God would save him. I asked God to let him live even if it meant that I would die, and I really meant it. I would have given my life for both of my sons.

So after that tragedy, which feels like a nightmare that I am only now waking from, I am given another son, another chance, and still . . .he was taken from me. People always say that God has a plan, that the days of our lives are numbered . . .yet when someone survives a potentially fatal accident, they say that God saved him. How does God decide who to save? Why wasn't my son one of the chosen ones?

I'll never understand any of it. All I know is that my heart is still aching every day, but added to it is this raw anger. The more I hear of other people's miracles, the more angry I become. I know jealousy is wrong, but how could I not be jealous? They got their miracle. Why didn't my son get his?