Saturday, October 31, 2009

Whoopie! It's Halloween!!!


Sorry, I just couldn't resist!  Here is my big ol' boy as a whoopie cushion.  Truth be told, he is a rather gassy child and didn't NEED the costume, but I've been told it's a boy thing!  We just got back from Trick or Treating in the neighborhood.  Brian and I passed out candy for a bit, then went together to take the kids out for goodies.  We got an unexpected treat ourselves... Ricky, Clara, Matthew, and Ruby all decided to spend the night at Grandma Janice's house!  So I guess I should say,  "WHOOPIE" again!

Here are pictures of the rest of the gang.  Clara was a "poodle girl".   The outfit couldn't have been any more perfect for her.  She loves it, especially the glasses!  I know it's hard to tell she loves it since she is not smiling, but the fact that she is wearing it speaks volumes.  Those of you that know Clara know what I mean!
Here's Ruby in all her Rah Rah glory... her teacher has even better pictures of her at school.  I need to remember to get copies of those.  In case you are wondering, Clara refused to wear her costume to school.  (Surprise!)Here is Matthew as his current favorite super hero.  A Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle!  He was crushed when a little old lady thought he was Franklin.  Poor kid!  We decided to Trick or Treat without the mask because he kept running into things in the house with it on, despite his protests that he could see, "just perfect".And this year, my worst nightmare came true.  My Ricky wanted to be Elvis.  I thought this was a GREAT idea, then he went to school, and came home one day and insisted on being this.Not really the image a mom wants to see when she thinks of her son.  Look at these blue eyes... do they really say psychopath?  I hope not!  Happy Halloween 2009 from our house to yours.
God is good.  All the time.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Happy Birthday in Heaven....

My baby would have been 7 today.  It's hard to believe that it has been so long since we lost her.  As I watch my other children grow up, I wonder what Briona would have been like.  Would she have been silly and carefree like Ruby, serious and stubborn like Clara, angelic like Matthew, driven like Ricky, or in their own world like Noah?  Would she dream of being a nurse like Alyssa?  Love dogs?  Be a daddy's girl?  Get lost in books?  Carry a blanket?  The questions that swirl in my mind at times like these are endless, and I find myself picking at a wound that people say time will heal.  Apparently seven years is not enough.  So I will place my trust in God, and rejoice in the knowledge that she is at peace, and with us always.  Loving Briona has forever shaped who I am today, and who I will be tomorrow.    

As a reminder to myself to remember how great an impact her short life had in ours, I am posting her eulogy that I wrote for her funeral.  I'll warn you, it's long, but I cannot think of a better place for it to be than in my blog tucked in with family memories where it belongs. 

My life has been blessed in so many ways.  I have a wonderful, loving husband.  Alyssa my honor roll student, Noah, my very imaginative five year old, and Ricky, a very active and luckily for him, very adorable baby.

Briona was our little surprise.  I knew from the beginning of my pregnancy that something was different.  I just had no idea of what really was to be in store for us.  Everyone would ask me as they found out I was pregnant again, "I bet you are hoping for a girl this time!" To which I could quite truthfully answer, "Not really, I just would like a healthy baby, and a boy would be much easier with them being so close in age."

We found out at 20 weeks gestation that Briona had Hypo Plastic Left Heart Syndrome, a very serious and very rare congenital heart disease.  We were worried, and scared, but determined to give our little girl every chance possible.

Briona was supposed to be a "straightforward" hypoplast.  Even before she was born, her surgeon predicted that she would be home within two to three weeks after her first surgery.  The day she was born, the doctors actually let me hold her for several minutes before taking her to the neonatal unit.  For her father and I it was love at first sight.  One look at her and we were hooked.  We both agreed that as long as she had fight left in her, we would do everything we could to help her win her battle.  There was a quality about her that had an affect on everyone who met her.  Her beautiful spirit shone through.  Her wonder at the world around her amazed people.  There's not really much for a baby to look at in a pediatric cardio thoracic unit, so Briona quickly became fascinated with her "bug butt" mobile.  Many days my hand got tired from winding it up over and over again, but to see her smile even with a breathing tube in made it all worth it.

One of Briona's doctors once said that Briona had more lives than a whole litter of kittens.  She endured three open heart surgeries in less than four weeks, and was on ECMO life support twice.  She had a fungus infection in her bladder, a bacterial infection in her blood, her lungs even collapsed once, but she bounced back every time.  Her will to live was amazing.  More than once we told that she probably wouldn't make it through the night, and until January 14th, she proved the doctors every time.  She would wake up in the morning, look up for her mobile, and wave her hands around until someone wound it up for her.  She loved to be touched, which can be unusual for a baby in the ICU.  We could stroke her beautiful, but untamed hair, and she would roll her eyes back and sigh as if to say, "That feels so good!"  She loved to suck on pink sponges and to be rocked on the few occasions that we were allowed to hold her.  She loved to hear her bedtime stories, Goodnight Moon, Mama Do You Love Me, and her daddy's favorite, Guess How Much I Love You.  She tolerated all of the silly hair dos that the nurses and I had so much fun creating.  She even let us play dress up one day.  I had such big hopes and dreams for her.  I miss her so much already.

On the morning of January 14th, I knew that Briona didn't have any fight left in her.  I looked at her poor little body, stroked her head, and whispered to her that it was okay to stop fighting.  I promised her that we would never forget her, and that we would love her forever.  I also told her to look out for her friends in the ICU, many of them as sick as she was.  Then I asked the doctors to let us hold her so that she could die with dignity in our arms.  She died snuggled between her father and I.  We knew that she was ready.

People always wonder WHY do things like this happen?  I've asked that question many times myself, and I don't really expect an answer.  All I do know is that Briona taught me more in 12 weeks than I had learned in a lifetime.  I saw miracles happen at the hospital every day.  I learned to appreciate my family more, and to take the time to thank God for even the little miracles that happen every day.  I received random acts of kindness from strangers, whether it was a hug,  a piece of candy, or even a basket of flowers from our veterinarian.  It's too bad that it takes a tragedy to bring out the best in people.  I know I will try much harder to appreciate life, and to live it to it's fullest.

If you learn anything from my daughter's short life, take away the fact that life is meant to be lived.  There is no promise of tomorrow for any of us.  Even though she never left the hospital, Briona live her life the best she could.  She truly made the best of her situation, and her family and the wonderful people who cared for her are all the better because of her.  Robert Frost wrote a poem that reads.. 
Nature's first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold
Her early leaf's a flower
But only so an hour
Then leaf subsides to leaf
So Eden sank to grief
So dawn subsides to day
Nothing gold can stay.

Our daughter was golden.

Happy Birthday in Heaven my darling.

God is good.  All the time.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Marching in the Rain...

Ruby has joined the Twirlettes.  She takes her twirling very seriously.  She has had two lessons now.  She thinks she is ready for the twirling olympics!  This Friday was very rainy.  (I should know, I took my class to the apple orchard!)  The rain was NOT letting up.  Ruby however was dressed and ready to go to her first parade.  I personally was hoping it would be cancelled (I know... bad mom, but I had to march in the rain too!!)

Ruby is the smallest Twirlette, but perhaps has the biggest heart!  That little girl of mine marched her heart out, in the POURING rain, and grinned the whole time!  The little ones just linked batons and marched, the big girls were doing a routine up front.  Every time they tossed their batons into the air and caught them Ruby would exclaim, "MOM!  Did you see that?  That is sooooo AWESOME!  I am gonna do that when I get big!"

After the parade, the director complimented Ruby on her "toughness", and told her she was very proud.  Mom was very proud too.  Even Brian has to admit that perhaps Ruby has found her "thing" already.  She sleeps with her baton!  

Today Ruby woke up and asked, "Mom, when are we going to the parade?"  She was ready for another one!  When anyone asks her how the parade went, she says, "It was good, but my hair was sooooo soaked!"  

We'll have to see how she feels about marching in the snow in December!  I'll be sure to keep you posted.

God is good.  All the time.