Bennett David Kahl

Bennett David Kahl
I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers Ephesians 1:16

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Is 2008 really over?

Today marks exactly three months since my last post. I can't tell you how exhausting it has been to keep all of my thoughts bottled up inside of me! My therapy is writing and I have simply been too busy to sit and write anything in the last few months. Life is a little less hectic these days and I am ready to start this new year as the dedicated blogger that I used to be!

A lot has happened in the last three months. Ellie is growing up so fast...every day I thank God for her. She is hilarious! She knows how to sing her ABC's, she can count to 16 (I have no idea why she won't just go to 20!), she can spell her name, she talks in sentences, she loves to ride her bike, play with her Little People and run through the bubble machine. She is fearless and independent ~ which would be great qualities for a young adult, but she is just a toddler! Her personality makes us laugh daily!!! Her favorite phrase to use is, "Oh my gosh!!!” I have no idea where she picked that up from...and to be honest it is a little embarrassing when she yells it out in a restaurant when they place her food in front of her! She is potty trained for the most part. We have a few accidents here and there and we are still working on her telling us when "number 2 is coming" rather than when it arrives...ahhh the joys of parenthood.

I am proud of her...she is amazing. I love watching her read books to her baby dolls and kiss and hug them while she doesn't think you are watching. My heart is so full of happiness because of her. I think it took becoming a mother to realize exactly how my mom feels about me...what an amazing gift!

In December, Ellie turned 2, Brandon turned 31 and we celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary ~ WOW!!! I am pretty sure that when he met me 8 1/2 years ago he never saw us traveling the road we have traveled! I probably don't tell him enough how wonderful he is and how thankful I am to him for the gifts he has given to me. He loves his job in sales and he is great at it! Talking to people has never been a problem for Brandon and that makes for a successful outside salesman!

In September, October and November I did a total of 10 shows. Running a business on my own was exhausting for those three months! I am so lucky that I have a sister-in-law that transformed herself into "Super outside salesgirl"! Connie helped me out at all of the big shows and this year was extremely successful for me! It still amazes me that people will pay for something that I create...what a blessing.

This fall I was blessed to have met a local business owner that loved my items. She now carries all of my bows and monogrammed gift items in her store. She keeps me busy every week and she is awesome to work with! Ten shows, two stores, a toddler, a husband, house and two wonder I haven't blogged in a while! I am so thankful to my sweet mother-in-law for all of the babysitting and to Aunt Ashley for making an emergency babysitting trip all the way to Houston to watch Ellie for us!

I think the worst part of being so busy is that the weeks flew by. All of a sudden I found myself days away from Bennett and Ellie's second birthday. The days became harder and harder to breath through. Life is such a battle between happiness and sadness for us. Put on a smile for Ellie and make her day as special as it can be and hide the tears that you can barely stop from streaming down your face. How do you visit and cemetery for one child and Inflatable Zone for another all in one day? It is emotionally exhausting. December 14th 2006 was the best day in my life hands down. I think about how happy we were that day. We were so oblivious to the severity of our babies situation. I woke up one night crying...missing having my little boy in our lives. I asked Brandon to please get up and get the videos of Bennett and Ellie. For days I watched the same videos over and over again. Crying and remembering...and wishing I could have had more time or done things differently with the time I did have. Grieving again for the stocking that hangs on our mantle for a child that will never use it and for all of the memories we won't be able to make.

Birthday turned into Christmas and we were blessed to have Biddi and Uncle Mike with us this year. It was nice to create memories with them and to watch Uncle Mike and Daddy struggle with putting toys together! Bennett picked out a ton of new books for Ellie and filled his stocking with them. Santa and Bennett also left a tear jerking note for Ellie next to the home baked cookies...what a pair they are!

So, here we are on New Year's Eve. I am sitting here with a lump in my throat while I try to hold the tears back because I don't want another year to pass since we lost Bennett. I have so much hope and so much fear about what this next year will bring. I have debated about posting that Brandon and I are trying to have another baby. Part of me wanted to keep it a secret for fear that it won't work...however, I know the only thing that got us through our journey with IVF and our pregnancy were all of your prayers. So, as 2009 makes its way into our world I am begging you to keep our family in your prayers. We have met with several specialists and we are confident that this will be a very blessed year for us. If we are able to get pregnant with our next IVF cycle (tentatively scheduled for either February or March) we will be scheduled for a cerclage at 12 weeks and I will be followed by a perinatologist. We have a new OBGYN that is AWESOME (she actually delivered the twins at my request). She is proactive and very knowledgeable and her goal is for us to welcome a very healthy baby...or babies into this world. Her cautious optimism fills me with hope and confidence that our next pregnancy will be a success.

Thank you for sticking with us through this crazy journey we call life! We are so blessed to have the family and friends that we have in our lives. Happy New Year to all of you!!! My prayer is that we continue down the path our Lord has created for us with faith in Him and that our prayers are answered as He sees fit.

Blessings to all of you!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

New Pics

Holy hurricane

No, we didn’t fall off the face of the earth…even though it felt like it for 8 ½ days! I have just been ridiculously busy lately and I have slacked on the blog update. But, now I am back!!!

I have been thinking about what the easiest way is to update about everything that’s been going on. I’ve decided that I want to chronicle every day of the hurricane for Ellie to read about later in life, so I am going to go day by day. This will probably not be one of the best blogs!!!

It’s so funny because we get hurricane threats so many times here in Houston during hurricane season. In my opinion, the media has desensitized us to the actual threat of hurricanes due to so many false alarms…or at least I HAD become desensitized to the actual threat of them.

On Tuesday, September 9th, it was business as usual. I was running errands and getting ready for a private show that upcoming Friday. I was with my mom and we decided to visit Sam’s Club “just in case” Hurricane Ike hit that weekend. I half shopped for the storm and half shopped just to get food that we needed, not really worrying about the storm. Brandon was out of town, so it was just the girls. I watched the weather and didn’t really think anything about it until late Wednesday afternoon when schools were beginning to get cancelled and surrounding areas were under voluntary evacuation. Brandon arrived home late Wednesday night and we talked about whether or not we should worry about the storm actually making land fall near us. Brandon (being the planner that he is) decided that he would rather make a trip to Home Depot at night (it was 8:30pm) and get wood to board up our windows. We could always return what we didn’t use…which was most likely going to be the case…right? Anyway, a house load of wood later we were resting in bed with the news on. Evacuating was never an option for us because we have Ellie and the dogs and really we weren’t THAT worried about Ike. By Thursday afternoon the Mayor of Houston had basically closed the city for Friday. Only emergency personnel were to report to work on Friday. The “cone of uncertainty” was closing in on the Houston/Galveston areas and the path of Ike was not deviating much. Uncle Dave called from Florida to say that he was catching an early flight home and he wanted to come stay with us. The more the merrier was our opinion, so I headed to Target for some real hurricane food. The lines were out of control. There were few items left on the shelves and people were scurrying around like mice in an empty basement. It was surreal! I was still calm and not as worried as I probably should have been. I felt like I should maintain some sort of normalcy for Ellie’s sake. Speaking of Miss Ellie, while we were in Target hurricane shopping she decided to grab a fresh tomato from the produce section and take a huge bite out of it like a apple…so much for normal! Anyway, we went home to prepare the house for a few guests and a hurricane which is always fun with a toddler. Thursday night Brandon boarded up all of the windows in our house to protect them from being blown out by the 100+ mile per hour winds they were projecting. During this time he noticed that the overflow from the AC unit was leaking…oh no! After his close inspection he realized that the lines just needed to be cleaned out with some bleach. Crisis diverted…we moved on.

Friday morning came and with it came the sounds of saws and drills outside. Armed with a cup of coffee I went outside to see several neighbors boarding up and preparing for the wrath of Ike. It hit me like a freight train in the middle of the night on Thursday that my precious little angel boy would be out in the cemetery all alone during this disaster. It was all I could do to rush over there early Friday and pick up his angel that Ellie Grace picked out along with his eternal light. As I pulled into the cemetery Ellie started to scream, “Bubba, Bubba!!!” She was hysterical. I didn’t want to get her out of the car because the clouds were threatening and the winds had picked up. They were telling everyone to try and be off the roads by 1:00 and I was cutting it close. I decided to let Ellie “cry it out” while I ran to collect our Bennett’s goodies. I had an emotional conversation with Bennett that morning. I told him that I knew he would be with us and protect us. I wished for the millionth time at that very moment that we had not buried Bennett. I felt helpless and scared that I had to leave his body out in a cemetery during this disaster. I went back to the car and cried with Ellie…

We put Bennett’s angel next to his picture on the side board in our kitchen. Soon after we arrived home Brandon’s mom also arrived. She was part of the crew that would be battling out the storm with us. Ellie went straight to the angel in the kitchen, picked it up and said, “Oh, Bubba” as she handed it to Biddie. The connection she has with her brother is undeniable. A few mornings later she would go over and offer her chocolate milk to the angel during breakfast. Chills ran up my body at that moment.

The rest of Friday was spent finishing laundry and letting Ellie play outside. We were obsessed with the weather on the news and it appeared that Ike would make a direct hit on Galveston which is about 30 miles south of our home. At about 8pm Ellie was fast asleep with Biddie by her side. Brandon and I opened the garage door and hung out with the neighbors to watch this storm arrive. At about 10pm the light show from the transformers blowing was something I have never seen in my life. We have a power plant just across the field from our neighborhood, so not only could we see the transformers blowing we could hear them. It was a light show with green and pink lights that sounded like shot guns going off. The winds were picking up so much that you could no longer sit in your driveway, so we moved into the garage. I was determined to stay up for the storm, but all of the preparation had worn us out. We battened up the hatches and went in to go to bed. At 3am I woke up to our alarm sounding…or at least I thought it was our house alarm. It was really our smoke alarm that decided to have a battery go dead during a hurricane! It was at that moment (when Brandon tried to turn on our hall light) that we realized that we had no electricity. BUMMER!!! I was secretly hoping we would escape losing power…no such luck! We lit a few candles and got the lanterns ready. My cell phone rang a few minutes later at about 3:45am. It was Aunt Steppy wondering if our house was shaking like hers was. She had some water coming in the front door from the winds driving the rain water in. We talked for a few minutes and then the phone reception went bad. No more than 30 minutes later at about 4:15 am I sat awake in the rocking chair listening to the wind whip around our house and shake the wood that surrounded our windows. Brandon woke up and told me to get the closet ready for Ellie because basically it sounded like a tornado was nearby. I took our blankets into the closet and grabbed Ellie from our bed. I brought her into the living room with me and rocked her. She looked up at me and said, “Choo, choo.” I told her that there was no train, but it was wind outside. I felt what Aunty Steppy had described only an hour earlier, our house appeared to be shaking. I never went back to sleep that night. I sat and rocked and worried and thought and prayed. I also waited for the sun to come up. At 7 am we were up and looking outside. There were fences down. Roofs ripped off and street signs in the middle of the streets. However, we all made it. No houses down, no cars overturned, no major disasters. We were still without power, but at that moment I was thankful that was all we were dealing with.

As time passed on Saturday we watched the rain fall and listened to the radio to find out about other damage. The city was closed and 98% of people and businesses were without power. There was flooding and major damage in the city of Houston. Galveston was devastated. On Saturday, they were projecting that it could be 1-3 weeks that we would be without power. WHAT??? I had only worried about what to do for the storm, not what to do after the storm. We thought about it and we decided to stay put and see what was going to happen about the power. Biddie, Uncle Dave and Katy decided to leave on Saturday to go back to their homes. Brandon and I drove looking for somewhere to eat and the only place we found that was open was McDonald’s. Ellie was thrilled because she could get some “wee bits” this is her word for French fries…don’t ask me why!

Saturday night was long and warm, however we were lucky to have a cold from come in and it was at least in the 60’s during the night. Saturday turned into Sunday and it brought Biddie back to our house b/c her apartment was way too hot for her to stay in. Sunday turned into Monday…into Tuesday…into Wednesday…into Thursday…into Friday with no power in sight. We were blessed to get a generator on Monday from my brother. Along with the generator he gave us an AC window unit and I don’t think we could have lived without either of them for that long! With extension cords running all over our house we made it from one day to the next. We traded off cooking with the neighbors and let them borrow some of our power for their freezer. We had finally figured our how to live like farmers by Wednesday. We rose at 7am lived outside for the whole day planned dinner out by 4:30 and got the house ready for bed by 7pm. Brandon dug through the attic and found our little 13” old school t.v. and plugged it in so we even had some entertainment. It really wasn’t THAT bad…considering.

On early Friday morning we woke up to power!!! Glorious AC!!!! Fans turned on HIGH!!! It was a dream come true. Being very anal the first thing on our agenda (Brandon’s and mine that is) was to deep clean our house. We cleaned from 8am until 12:30 while Biddie watched Ellie Grace. Our house was spotless from floor to ceiling. It was about 2:30 and I was thinking about getting in the shower, but I wanted to finish the laundry first. Until a bright light flashed outside of our house followed by a gun shot…it was our transformer AGAIN!

Once again we were without power. We were devastated and disgusted. We decided to go out to pick up dinner and during this trip Brandon spotted a Centerpoint Energy truck. He was on a mission to follow the truck and get some answers from the driver inside. The truck stopped at McDonald’s in Pecan Grove and so did Brandon. He followed the man inside to the table that he sat at and began questioning him. I was horrified as was Biddie. We tried to both hide on the floor board of Brandon’s truck, but we couldn’t find a way to fit. It was one of the most embarrassing moments of my life! I am not really sure what Brandon was trying to accomplish, but I was half worried he would get arrested for harassing this man and half proud that he was that worried about his family having to go one more day without power. We decided to go home, put Ellie to sleep and relax outside with the sound of generators surrounding us. Brandon called Centerpoint that night and the woman seemed confident that they should be out within the next 12 hours to restore our power…likely story.

At 8:30 the next morning, Brandon came into our room and told me that the men were there to fix our lines. Music to my ears! I jumped out of bed and went to see for myself. By the time we got back outside they were gone!!! And we still didn’t have power! It was another disappointment! Brandon went to get kolaches for breakfast and I sat outside with the neighbors hoping that the men would return to fix out power. Sure enough the did! It took them about 20 minutes to replace the transformer and restore power to us. We all cheered and gave them the thumbs up sign…they were our hero’s at that moment!

So, over a week after we lost power we had it once again. We had phones, computers, refrigerators, AC, lights and every other modern convenience restored. We were back on the face of the earth. What we didn’t realize is that 54% of the city of Houston was still without power at that point. Our lives had resumed while so many other lives were still on hold.

This storm was a wake up call. It was also filled with so much irony. We spend a lifetime preparing for the storm…whatever it may be. However, it is what we do with ourselves during and after the storm that defines the people we are.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A single raindrop

As I was driving along the road yesterday a single raindrop fell against my windshield. In that moment I was reminded of a conversation I had with Bennett in his last few hours of life.

When we got to the hospital that Tuesday afternoon we hoped against hope that Bennett would somehow pull through this devastating blow he had suffered. As more and more tests were run it became clearer that God was choosing Bennett to come back to His home. It was in the following 72 hours that I had to share a lifetime of conversations with my little man. If you have children you can imagine fitting their lifetime into a few hours…seemingly impossible, but we took our lemons and attempted from that moment on to make lemonade. We talked about everything from here to there and back again. In one of my last days with Bennett I felt compelled to tell him that I would never forget him…ever and that it was okay for him to go. I would think of him for every first raindrop that hit my windshield, for every lady bug I would crawl on my skin, and for every rainbow that I was blessed enough to see. I would remember him when a beautiful butterfly would dance near me and when the birds would sing. He could remember me by the smile that all of those things bring to my face. It was a private conversation between my angel boy and me…until today.

The moment that the raindrop hit my windshield a smile crept across my face. That day and that conversation gave me chills and I sat there driving and remembering. All of a sudden Ellie chimed in from the backseat with, “Bubba, Bubba?” I am not a woman that believes in coincidence, so moments like that are special to me. Bennett was there with both of us yesterday…aren’t we so blessed…

Today my babies are 20 months old. It seems impossible to think that tomorrow will mark 14 months since Bennett died. Impossible. Impossible to think that is the last time I held him. Impossible to realize that time really does march on and the impossible starts to become a little possible…maybe.

We finally got the final call about Bennett’s medical records. You won’t believe this…or maybe you will. For his last month of life it will cost us $780 to view the records. Just to see what happened and relive it all over again. You would think they would take mercy on parents that have lost a child and just give them a portion, but no! And the cost is absolutely ridiculous. I mean after 6 million dollars of medical bills (some covered, some not covered) you would think they could just give you the records, but no! So, in the middle of preparing to meet with our doctor about another IVF round (that’s NOT covered from the 1st one) we are faced with choosing to pay almost $1000 for Bennett’s records…for his last month of life. It is just such a deflating feeling. I always see people standing on the sides of our Houston roads with signs about needing help or donating money to them and I always feel for them...So, I recently thought to myself about what my sign would look like if I were out there:

Please help!
Can’t get pregnant on own ~ want to try IVF again
Lost a child and need to buy medical records to understand what happened to him

Sure! That will never happen, but I just had to vent! It’s frustrating to be in this situation. Frustrating that we live every 15th of the month with a sad and lonely feeling in our hearts because it’s Bennett Day. Frustrating that something that should be so natural (getting pregnant) costs me upwards of 15,000 a try. It is just a long and exhausting life until that one little raindrop hits your windshield and you are reminded of how lucky you are...

Biddy (B’s mom) came over to watch Ellie Grace today while I did some work and she walked through the door with a pink balloon (for her 20 month bday). By the end of the day she was saying “Happy Birthday to me” ~ NO KIDDING! She is amazing! We are working on going on the big person potty and she thinks that she needs to tear a piece of toilet paper off every few seconds and just throw it in the potty…I am thinking I need to get to Sam’s quickly to get some more TP. Silly little lady!

I have a small prayer request for my sister-in-law’s mother. Her name is Janet and she is going to have deep brain stimulation surgery tomorrow to help her Parkinson’s disease. I would appreciate all of you keeping her in your thoughts and prayers!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

While you slept

This had to be is everything that I feel daily for my precious little girl and it is something I hope she grows up knowing.

To my sweet little angel girl,

While you slept this morning I watched you. The rise and fall of your chest, the way you gently moved your mouth, the way your hair stood straight in the air and the way you cried out “mommy” in your sleep. You are truly the most amazing being on this planet. The love I have for you is indescribable. At the same time you can make me feel the most love and the most fear I have ever experienced. I have never wanted anything more in this world than to be a mommy. You and your bubba gave that to me. I am so afraid to hold on to you too tightly, but I can’t seem to let you go. We spend every minute of every day together and I can’t imagine it being any other way. You are truly amazing.

I have so many hopes and dreams for you. Not mine…but, your own. Dreams that I can imagine you accomplishing. I hope that you live your life with the highest morals and values. I hope that daddy and I raise you to know the difference. I hope you are the one that people come to because they know they can trust you. I hope that you believe in the Path that our God has created just for you and that you follow it with faith in Him. I hope that your happiness in life overshadows any pain you might ever feel. You are the best.

I love the way you talk and wave to bubba like he is standing right next to you. I love that you already know that he is a part of our family even though he is not here with us. I love how affectionate you are…even with strangers. I love how you beat the odds! I love that when I look at you I don’t remember the pain and fear I felt while you were in the NICU. And I love that you make me think it will be easy if we travel that road again. I love that I can still remember how it felt to feel you move inside of me…you never stayed still! I love that you like the same types of food as me and that you look so much like your daddy. I love to watch you play golf and I love to watch you dance. I love that you came into this world so “girly,” but you act like a linebacker sometimes. You are the love of my life.

You are the one that brings a smile to my face daily. Your presence has gotten me through some rough days. You are my Ellie Grace…the one and only.

I love you with all that I have…forever.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Take a deep breath...

Take a deep breath…okay…here is what I have been dreading…the recount of our trip. I have sat down on more than one occasion to blog about our weekend, so now I am really going to finish. I thought that breaking down the trip by day would be more efficient to write and to read. So, here it goes…

Friday: Friday was filled with running errands and last minute packing. We left for the airport that evening after Brandon got home from work. We were excited b/c this was the first time we would ever be on an airplane together. I flew several times last summer and last fall, but Brandon was never with us for those trips. We ate dinner at the airport (never had a $50 dollar meal that consisted of 2 hamburgers in my entire life) and then with a hope and a prayer we ran Ellie around the terminal in order to tire her out. Our plane was delayed…surprise…due to a mechanical issue with the AC unit. If I can give any of you advice it would be to NEVER board a plane that is having any type of issue with the AC. I have NEVER been so miserably hot in my entire life!!! Ellie fell asleep (I don’t know how in that heat) and was sweating profusely on my arm as I slowly melted myself. To top it all off Brandon had a 7 year old boy next to him that kept trying to put a string of elastic on his ear to pretend like it was an “earring.” We were thankful to finally land and soak up the air conditioning in the Orlando airport. We got our luggage and we were off to The Peabody in Orlando. We arrived at 1am and Ellie thought it was dinner time. We got a snack from the restaurant and headed off to our room. By 2:15am we were all settled into bed. Ellie was restless b/c she was off of her schedule and Brandon was snoring like a freight train. I didn’t have any room to move without feeling like I was going to bulldoze over Ellie Grace. Not to mention (again) that I don’t sleep anyway. I decided to put the comforter on the floor and make myself comfortable there. From 2:30am until the wake-up call at 6:30 I thought about a few hundred things…but, sleeping was not part of the plan. We got dressed and had to wake Ellie up at 8:00 in order to make our 8:35 appointment with the Mears Shuttle that would deliver us to Animal Kingdom by the time the gates opened at 9am. My one mission was to find hot water to mix my coffee up, so that I could properly function for the rest of the day…mission accomplished! Take a deep breath.

Saturday: Brandon, being the VERY friendly guy that he is, made friends with our driver immediately. Hakeem was from West Africa and Brandon was talking to him about a nonfiction book that he read a few years ago about their culture. He also demonstrated his vast knowledge of the world of sports which led to the funniest thing I have witnessed in years… All of a sudden Hakeem looked in his rear view mirror and said, “Man, I know you from somewhere…you play in the NFL right?” I started laughing hysterically b/c I knew who he thought Brandon was…John Lynch! “I WISH,” were the words that came flying out of my mouth! It took Hakeem a few minutes to believe us that Brandon was indeed, NOT, John Lynch. We finally arrived at the, “House of the Mouse” for a much anticipated day with the animals. The day was fun. I say “fun” b/c in my eyes Animal Kingdom is simply a glorified zoo. The neatest part of the park was the Tree of Life. As we stood in front waiting to have our family picture taken all I could think of was how our little man wasn’t going to be in it with us. Would he like the animals...would he like riding the train as much as Ellie did that day…was he there watching over us? A million thoughts and feelings raced through my head. I like WDW, but I wouldn’t say that it is the best vacation spot we have visited. The day was long and hot, but we were prepared for that this year. After sweating in the heat for 7 hours we were off to the hotel to shower before dinner. On our way we had to drop another family off at their hotel and we were surprised to run into presidential candidate John McCain! It is amazing to see how many secret service men they have protecting a man that isn’t even the president. I have to admit it is pretty exciting to see that sort of scene. Dinner was nice…I don’t think it’s ever a wise idea to take a toddler to a 5 star restaurant, but what choice to you have when you are on vacation with them? After dinner it was off to bed early in order to wake up on time to go to Sea World on Sunday. Take a deep breath.

Sunday: WOW! I was exhausted after our two days of excitement and activity and I finally slept Saturday night. We decided to let Ellie sleep in (and we joined her) which got our day started at 8:45. We ate breakfast and took off to visit Shamu. There was a trolley that picked us up at the hotel and would drop us off at Sea World, so we decided to brave public transportation with Ellie Grace for the first time. Interesting experience! We entered Sea World and I swear it was 150 degrees outside with about 200% humidity! We were miserable right from the start, but Sea World was magnificent! I would totally go back and I have even considered buying a family pass for next summer in San Antonio. We love animals, so it was truly amazing to see the penguins, dolphins, whales, polar bears, etc. in their recreated natural habitat. We spent hours walking around and Ellie was a champ through all of it. I believe her favorite part of the day was the Believe show with the killer whales…spectacular! Brandon’s favorite part was the Budweiser brewery and the tasting room they had. It was pretty interesting to see the different brews and be schooled about the different ingredients and methods for distilling each beer. The Clydesdale horses were there and BOY were they beautiful. You would not believe how well they are taken care of. It was a truly amazing day! We wanted to let Ellie play in the splash pad part of the park until Brandon spotted a little girl relieving herself in the middle of the park and other children began splashing in it. Needless to say we didn’t stay there very long! After we chased down our trolley to go home (literally) we were off to dinner, but we weren’t so lucky this time with Ellie’s behavior. Oh well, take a deep breath…one out of two nights isn’t that bad…

Monday: We packed up and headed to bed. We had to leave at 4:30 am (3:30 Houston time) in order to get back so Brandon could be at work on time. It was another one of those nights where I didn’t sleep and I literally watched the clock from 1-4am. We arrived at the airport to find breaking news on CNN about a tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico…it was headed straight for Houston! Take a deep breath… After being so busy for the last three days the last thing we had time for was the news, so we were completely caught off guard with this news. We boarded the airplane (with AC this time) and got news from the pilot that he would be flying a longer distance in order to stay above land and away from the Gulf on our trip home. This turned out taking 45 minutes longer to get home and it was a horrible flight! I was afraid that Ellie was going to suffer from shaken baby syndrome from all of the turbulence! We hit the ground and ran to get our bags. B dropped us off and headed to work. It was 8 in the morning and I felt like I had been up for days! I watched the weather all day and at 4pm I decided to “panic” like every other idiot in the city of Houston and I headed to the grocery store with Ellie in tow. You would have thought they were giving away free food given the number of people at the store that day. There were people with 7 cases of water in their carts. They had employees rationing out the number of cases you could purchase! They were out of almost everything, so it made shopping very easy! Uncle Dave didn’t want to be stuck all alone if it was indeed going to be as bad as they were predicting, so he packed up and came to stay with us. We stayed up for hours talking and goofing around waiting to see some kind of stormy weather…nothing! Take a deep breath.

Tuesday: B got up and went to work (even though most of the city was closed and prepared for a natural disaster to strike). Uncle Dave, Ellie Grace and I waited…and waited…and waited for some kind of storm, but nothing ever happened! What a joke! The media gets everyone pumped up and prepared for this horrible situation and then nothing! Take a deep breath. Don’t get me wrong ~ I am relieved that nothing happened~ I just think it is ridiculous that we allow our media to put the fear in us like that (or I am just disappointed that I allow them to get to me like that). I usually don’t fall for that kind of nonsense, but with Ellie I feel like I have to be prepared for the worst just in case. Oh well, we are prepared for the next threat of a hurricane/tropical storm!

Wednesday: It is half way through the week and I am exhausted! I finally admitted to Brandon the other night that the last month has been torture for me. I don’t know why I find it so hard to admit that type of thing. I guess it is because I like to think I can handle anything and still do it all. I have felt a little better and at least the poor guy has had a homemade dinner every night this week. We are still waiting to hear from our doctor (it takes a few weeks to get an appointment) and that is weighing on my mind as well. There are so many fears that run through my mind about trying to have another child. I have always felt as if we were supposed to have more kids. Even after the twins were born and they were in the hospital people would ask if we were done and I would say, “Probably not.” I truly feel that God has it in our plan to have more babies. I have peace with that feeling. It feels right to me. It is not something I wonder or worry about (okay, that’s a lie). But, I do still have fears. I struggle with the ease in which the decision to have more kids was made. B and I both were convinced that we should try IVF again and that it was a part of our plan to have a bigger family, but what if…what if we are faced with a similar situation again. What if the IVF doesn’t work this time? What ifs keep me up at night. I am a type A, anal personality. I like to be in control and make everything perfect. I know this about myself and I think that is why infertility rocks me to the core. I have absolutely no control over whether or not the love of my life and I can ever have more babies. The one thing I have always dreamed of is not a sure thing for me. What can I do? What can I say? How hard can I pray for this miracle? All I can do is…take a deep breath.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The slacker in me

Surprise, surprise…there is a slacker in me. My goal was to blog every single day about that days events or how I am feeling or just to post pics of our growing baby girl. Well, that didn’t happen this week…although I have written and rewritten this post a million times already.

I decided to keep a notepad of paper near me in the car, so when I get hit with an idea or something I need to write about it I will be able to remember it by the time I get home. I will have to start this next week because I already forgot to take it with me and tomorrow is Thursday. Oh, well. I am sure I will get it together soon…

We made a decision to travel back to Orlando this summer even after the almost unbearable high temperatures we experienced last summer. So, on Friday we will board an airplane for the first time as a family and with Bennett’s memory tucked into our hearts we will take off for a weekend of fun! Our plan is to visit Animal Kingdom on Saturday and then Sea World on Sunday. Ellie Grace LOVES animals, so we figured those two places would be perfect for her. She is at such an exciting age right now. She knows what she likes and she gets excited about it. It is difficult to imagine going on another semi-family vacation to a place where we dreamed of having Bennett with us. I believe with all of my heart that he will be with us this year as he was last year. This also marks the one year anniversary of the second biggest scare of our lives…the trip to TCH for Ellie Grace. That turned out to be the MOST EXPENSIVE diaper rash in the history of all diaper rashes! It’s funny to talk about now, but the day we returned from Florida last year is when she began gasping for air…it was exactly 6 weeks to the day that Bennett died. I just reread that journal from last year and it brought chills to my body. What a year…what a life!

When can you just sit back for a second with out worrying about anything? I am not expecting a lifetime of worry-free living. I am just wanting to enjoy what I have now without any new worries…it might not be possible.

Speaking of worries…I am still waiting for the doctor to call us back for our next appointment. We are basically waiting to see if I will have to have surgery again in the next few months. We are praying that my body is healthy and strong, but it has failed me in the past so I guess I shouldn’t have super high expectations. At any rate we are still waiting. I believe that Brandon will have to be blood tested to see if he is a carrier of CF. Because Bennett showed up as a carrier it means that one of us is. I am pretty sure that they already performed that test one me…but my medical file is as long as Bennett’s and I am sure some of that info gets lost in the shuffle.

Lost in the shuffle is a funny term to me…I feel like I am lost in the shuffle of life sometimes. So many thoughts are constantly racing through my mind about Bennett, Ellie, Brandon and the business. I am constantly shuffling thoughts about each of them in my mind…always thinking…always worrying…

There are a few prayer requests I would like to put out there from us. Please pray for Heather ~ a young mom in the blog world that recently found out she has stage IV melanoma cancer. I have listed her blog under our friends, so please keep her family in your prayers.
Baby Rhys ~ born 16 weeks premature he is fighting like our little chunky monkey had to. Please pray for Rhys’ lungs, PDA valve and his head scans. He is just beginning his journey down the road in the NICU and he could use all of our prayers and support!

Also, please keep our family in your prayers as we venture off to Florida this weekend. We will return with tons of pictures and great tans…hopefully!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

My Child

My Child - Plumb

Peacefully you are sleeping
Silently you dream
And I cannot help but feeling blessed
While watching you

Your eyes
My eyes
Your smile
My smile
Your love
My gain
Your hurt
My pain
Your laugh
My joy
Every time, it's mine
You are my child

I will always protect you
Oh and I will even let you go
I'll spend the sweetest time holding you
And will let you grow

Your eyes
My eyes
Your smile
My smile
Your love
My gain
Your hurt
My pain
Your laugh
My joy
Every time, it's mine
You are my child

Don't ever be afraid
Don't ever be afraid
Cause I am here
And if you start to fear
Just close your eyes
And hear me say

Your love
My gain
Your hurt
My pain
Your laugh
My joy
Every time, it's mine
You are my child

my precious little angels: Bennett and Ellie Grace

My child is a song by an artist named Plumb…it is a beautiful song that touches my heart for a million reasons. I have been wishing lately that I could hear Bennett’s cry just one more time. You see, for the entire six months Bennett was in the hospital we might have heard him cry a total of 5 times. This is because he was constantly on the vent working as hard as he could to get back to a CPAP. When I heard this song it reminded me all over again of the things I am going to miss about being Bennett’s mom. I will miss his eyes…were they like mine or were they like his daddy’s? His smile…his sweet lips and the way they were always looking so peaceful. The song is just a true confession of what being a parent is like. It touched me so deeply… “I will always protect you…Oh and I will even let you go”.

This song makes me feel like I have so many things to say to Bennett. Things that I can not wait to say until we meet again at Heaven’s gates…so, I guess I should begin putting together a letter for my little man. I am sure it will take me some time to get it just right.

You probably won’t believe this…and I am even embarrassed to admit it. Anyway, on Saturday I was in the computer room and all of a sudden it dawned on me that it was July 19th…the 19th…this meant that the 15th was the week before. That meant that I had sailed through one of the worst weeks I’ve had in long time and didn’t even realize it was the 15th…Bennett Day. I have very bad anxiety issues and events like that one set off my attacks. OH NO!!! Did he think that we forgot about him? Surely, he was near us and he knew that our minds were racing with memories of him all week…or is there even a way for him to know that?

Let me back up to the beginning of last week. On Monday I sent our paperwork to our fertility doctor to look over before we go back for our next check-up. That was pretty much the exciting start to the week. Then Tuesday came and it brought a phone call from my partner that we had a HUGE and I mean HUGE order to fill in just a matter of days for one of our stores. So, back at the house we were with the monogramming machine on and the midnight oil burning (it was Bennett Day that day…how did I miss that?). On Wednesday Brandon was leaving to go out of town for a few days, so we decided to have lunch together before he left. I was on 610 (a major freeway in Houston) when as I was exiting my car shut down…breaks locked up and that was it! I panicked…it was 97 degrees outside and I had no clue about what to do to fix the car or who to call or anything. I called Brandon and he met me in a neighborhood near West University. He fiddled around the hood and then the car was back to normal…I was not so sure! We drove it to the dealership and then we all piled into his car and we were off to the airport so he could be on time for his flight. Our Mimi was flying in from Atlanta at the same time, so we picked her up and went off to eat and get home. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were fun filled single parent days with all of that work looming over my head. Thursday we picked the Armada up and it was all fixed…or so we think. Friday night we picked Brandon up and off to work I was in our office. This brought me to Saturday when I had the realization that we had just skipped over the 15th without realizing that it had passed. Disturbing…

I don’t know why, but I have so many fears and worries about Bennett being buried. I worry about everything out there. Rain, heat, cold…they all make me think of Bennett being buried out there. I know I have written about this before and I know that Bennett’s spirit is in Heaven. However, his tiny little body that I held in my arms in down in that box and I can’t do anything to help protect it from the heat or the rain or the cold. I think it is times like this that I know I need therapy…but does that mean that you are ready to talk about it and work on “getting over it” because if that is what it means that’s not what I want. I think that is why I started writing. I knew I needed to get all of this out, but I didn’t want to talk to someone that was going to try and make me feel better…what do they know.

So, anyway if you haven’t gathered it’s been a long couple of weeks. We are busy with work (praise God) but I just can’t get myself together. I can’t convince myself to cook dinner or to even leave this house unless we have set plans (which is almost everyday anyway). I’m just blah…sad and scared and tired and blah! I miss Bennett and I love Ellie Grace so much that it hurts sometimes. I am scared that we will never have another chance to be parents again and that scares me. This part of my life is a rollercoaster and this is just one of those down times…bear with me.

UPDATE TO TODAYS JOURNAL: We requested Bennett's medical records from the hospital, so that we can actually know what happened to him during that last few days and get this...just to read about what happened to Bennett will take over 7000 pages and almost $1200 to buy. Can you believe that I will have to fork over another $1200 just to read his medical history...For God sake I gave birth to him and didn't even get to take him home...shouldn't they just give the stupid medical history to me??? It's not like I can ever use it for another doctor...Where is the justice?????

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Weekend Fun with Ellie Grace.
Christmas in July for Ellie Grace and with her new bike
She's thinking, "Oh, what fun I'll have on this bike..."
Daddy teaching her how it works.
Mommy and Aunt Steppy.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Fears...questions...and feelings

A million little things need to be written in order for me to clear my head today. I usually have just one thing that has been weighing on my mind that I need to get out, but for some reason today there are several.

In this crazy world of bloggers I have met some wonderful people. I get emails and comments from total strangers that comfort, pray and sometimes can even relate to my situation. It is amazing that there are so many stories out there like ours. It is therapy to read the outcomes (some good, some sad) of their stories and keep up with them daily. One night I found a blog about a family that had a very similar story to our own. Infertility…Twins…boy and girl…premature labor…precious little boy passed away. I felt connected for the first time in a long time. I did something that I would typically never do…I emailed her. For a few months now we have been communicating back and forth and it is nice. It is so nice to have someone that knows you are not ungrateful for what you have, but you will never “get over” the loss you have experienced. It’s nice to have someone that feels your similar pain. It feels less lonely somehow. Yesterday, during my usual “blog check-up” time (at about 12:45am) I was heartbroken to find news about another fellow blog mom (30 years old, two small children) that was diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma cancer. For the first time since Bennett’s death I was scared of leaving this earth with Ellie left behind… Just like it is hard to imagine living without Bennett every single day, it was suddenly equally as tough to imagine not being with Ellie Grace. It was a reminder to me that this life is a temporary mission. I know that I have so many “jobs” left to complete here in this physical world…and I feel blessed to have the faith to know that.

This brings me to the next random thought.

If you know me well…you know that I am a perfectionist (nice way to say anal). I like to be organized, planned, researched, ordered…you know…everything that life IS NOT! So, when we were doing IVF I researched EVERYTHING. Brandon was often times embarrassed to go into the doctors office with me (and my book of questions) because I asked a million questions, read statistics, asked about future research they were planning to do, etc. I even went so far as to “challenge” my doctor while I was laying on the operating room bed about the number of blastocysts he was going to implant. You see, the odds are only 50/50 that any woman will get pregnant with IVF and he wanted to put in 2 eggs. I thought why waste the time with 2 (we had a total of 7), lets at least put in 3 and see what happens. You can understand why, 2 weeks later, when I visited his office his first words to me were, “I told you so!” Anyway, at 11 weeks and 6 days pregnant I suffered a sever hemorrhage. I was rushed to the hospital the whole while thinking I had miscarried our long awaited miracles. NOPE! It was what they call a threatened miscarriage and I had a 50% chance of losing the babies. After several weeks of complete bed rest I went back to the doctor to be diagnosed with a subchorionic hematoma. I was sentenced to at least 6 weeks of complete bed rest (I had a large hematoma) until the bleed could reabsorb into my body. My fingers were on fire as I researched this rare diagnosis. My doctor told Brandon to pull the plug on our computer b/c it was not healthy for me to spend hours worrying about the odds/outcome of these types of bleeds. So, I obliged and spent the remainder of my bed rest attempting to knit (YUCK) and scrapbook (What was I thinking). At 19 weeks I was finally allowed to get up and return to work (I was an elementary teacher). I worked with my little angels for 7 weeks until my water broke AT SCHOOL at 26 weeks pregnant. After the twins were born I spent endless hours researching prematurity and the complications associated with it. There was ALWAYS something to research as Bennett was the classic “worst case scenario” preemie. It occurred to me a few months after Bennett died that I never really understood what happened with my own body. Why did I hemorage…what is a subchorionic hematoma…did it play a role is my PROM (premature rupture of membranes)…I needed answers. I was disappointed to find out that there isn’t much written about my condition. It occurs in roughly 1.3% of pregnancies…and a few other useless stats. I have only met one person that even had one and I call her the mystery nurse practitioner (she was supposed to be the new NP in Ellie’s pedi office…she was there 1 time at which time I talked to her about the sub. Hemorage and then she never came back…weird!). Long story short I would love to meet/talk to someone else that knows about this rare condition. Is it going to happen again…was it the cause of our PROM…is my next pregnancy likely to be as troubled???

Anyway, like the blogs that I read about families that have lost a child, it would be wonderful to find moms that have had subchorionic bleeds to talk to. If you have had or know someone that has had one of these please feel free to contact me.

We have 5 embryos left and we are praying that just one of them will grow into a healthy baby to join our family. It is a scary time for us. We are once again planning to let go of our control and leave it all up to God. There are just a few questions/fears we need to calm before we move forward. Most of you took the last journey with us and we feel blessed to have you pray with us on this next journey…

Last Friday we went up to the hospital to see Bennett and Ellie’s nurses and bring some books to the hospital. It is always so amazing to see the number of nurses/RT’s/NP’s and other hospital staff members that remember you. The long term preemies are famous in a way. I think it is because they cause the most trouble and they require the largest number of staff members to stabilize them. I think that Bennett will go down in Women’s hospital NICU history. It was awesome to see the nurses that spent endless hours taking the absolute best care of our little angel. It was also nice to see the few that had Ellie during her short stay. We got to see Uncle Chris and Aunty Charlette…always a heartwarming experience. We feel tied to this part of our lives forever b/c they are our only link to the best time of our lives. They are the few that we got to share our greatest loves in life with…they are our family. As we stood in the scrub area in the NICU I could see past the glass pain door to the other precious miracles fighting for their lives. It gave me chills to see the tiny blue knit hat on top of the lemon sized head and legs the diameter of my finger. The nearly translucent skin, the wires, and the IV sites brought back all the memories of our 6 months and 1 day in the NICU. What other definition of bravery is there…I mean when you see a 2 pound baby fighting to survive that is brave! You would think that this experience would detour us from ever trying again to have children…but, I feel like that is where our faith comes in. Are you ever prepared to relive that type of experience…NO…but, at the same time I don’t think we can live our lives in fear of the unknown.

My irritable toddler is reminding me that I have been on the computer way too long! It is a blessing to know that I can type out my fears, questions and feelings to so many faithful friends. Thank you for listening today!

Friday, July 11, 2008

A new link

Well, today will be short and sweet as Ellie Grace is patiently waiting to go swimming!

I have added a link to our new temporary blog site for Peek-A-BOWtique. We are excited to have a professional site under construction and we thought that creating a blog in the mean time would we have SO MUCH free time! (laughing) We will begin adding pics and new merchandise as soon as we get it all together, so stay tuned.

In Ellie Grace news...
Wow! This summer Ellie has grown and is changing every day. She is talking up a storm and has a pretty serious attachment to her baby dolls. In fact, she WILL NOT ride in the car without her two babies. Yes, TWO! In fact she does not ever play with just one baby it is always two. It gives me chills sometimes because it is as if she knows that she is a twin and that is just the way it will always be...

Ellie tried cold cereal for the first time two days ago. I usually fix a hot breakfast for her only because I am here and honestly I thought it was better for her. However, we discovered that she loves Honey Nut Cheerios and Coco Crispies (like her daddy) when they are mixed together. She is nothing if not unique!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Check out my Slide Show!

Pain, pain go away!

Not much has changed in the last year. I was rereading my post from last July 4th and it was chilling because I still know that same pain. Once again it is raining outside and Bennett’s “freedom” outfit is still hanging in his closet.

It just doesn’t seem like a year has passed. I can remember every single detail about last July 4th. I remember watching the pouring rain from my rocking chair and being so thankful that I didn’t have to go out and celebrate. I deliberately kept Bennett’s outfit in the laundry room, so I could look at it and torture myself with the thoughts of what was supposed to be. Our little miracle man was supposed to be at home with us by July 4th. Instead we had just buried him two weeks before. What happened? I think about that every single day. What did happen? To be honest with you I can’t really answer that question and that is part of what eats me up. After one year of pain and sadness I still have questions about exactly what happened. I know that one of these days I will have the strength to try to figure it out. Now…is not that time.

We had so many wonderful offers to get together with friends and family this year and I found it so difficult to commit to any of them. I couldn’t decide what felt right. I knew visiting Bennett’s tree was a priority, but aside from that I don’t really have the strength to celebrate. I think it has to be hard to understand how effected we are still. Weeks and days that lead up to holidays are so painful for us. We don’t dump our feelings out to many people b/c if we did it would probably get really old, really fast. It is difficult to balance all of these thoughts and emotions.

Truthfully, it is hard to explain the emotions and feelings I have. It seems like I will go for days short tempered and tired and I don’t understand why. Then, it will dawn on me that I must be feeling pain somewhere inside. I don’t actually understand what’s going on when I am feeling that way. It takes me thinking about it to realize that it is just sadness…sadness that you don’t necessarily feel, but that is just there inside of you. Once I realize that the exhaustion and irritability is from my sadness I am able to snap out of it and move on for the next few days or weeks…until the next bout. I like that I am able to identify why I have those “episodes” and I love that Brandon is so understanding. We are a gift to each other in this circumstance. God truly knew what He was doing when he combined our hearts forever.

So, on this rainy Independence Day we have decided to visit Rees and Sophia (our NICU friends) so the kids can celebrate together. It is difficult to celebrate on a day that is more like a brutal reminder of what should have been… However, every single time I look at Ellie Grace I am thankful for ‘what is’.

Happy Independence Day!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

My dreams...a blessing and a curse.

The past is not the past…not even in my dreams

Here I go again with the sleep issues… It is not a big secret that I have a hard time sleeping at night. Whether it’s falling asleep, staying asleep or actually enjoying my sleep my dreams and my anxiety always seem to be in the way.

Lately, I have been having reoccurring nightmares. I was having similar nightmares for a long period of time this past year, but they had seemed to slow down for a while. Well, now they are back and they are regular. The premise of the dreams is always the same…someone very close to me is dying (usually Bennett or Ellie) and I am always just short of being able to save them. So, usually I start out spending time with Bennett playing and showing him off. Then he will start to shut down on me and I will run to try and save him and all of a sudden he is lying dead in my arms. It is so scary for me because I can actually see his pale blue skin and feel the cold…and then I wake up in a cold sweat. I sometimes feel like I shouldn’t say anything about the dreams b/c they are so frequent and I don’t want to bother anyone. So, I thought I would take it out on the computer tonight. My sweet husband offered for me to wake him up so we can talk about it when I have these dreams, but really there is no sense in creating two sleep deprived parents for Ellie!

I know that I have these dreams because I have so much guilt built up inside about decisions we made for Bennett and decisions we made while he was in the hospital. The shoulda, coulda, woulda’s…but we didn’t and now we can’t. No matter how much faith you have inside of you, there is always a conscience part of you that wonders “what if” I had done something different. I know I don’t have any medical training, but I think that is why I have these dreams. It is the mom in me that wants to save my baby boy. All of the regret I have for not being there when he crashed. The fear I have about something happening to Ellie Grace. It is so overwhelming for me that it invades my dreams.

To be honest it is exhausting to relive my son’s death every single night. On the other hand, it is such a wonderful time because I am usually holding him and enjoying him before he dies…so it is like being with him again. My dreams are a blessing and a curse all at the same time.

In other news…
Ellie Grace is growing right along. She is attempting to expand her vocab and is really enjoying swimming in the pool. She has decided that she can tell us when she wants something and when she doesn’t…she vigorously shakes her head from side to side to indicate a NO. We are working on teaching her “no thank you” in order to avoid any visits to the time out carpet for shaking her head no with her eyes crossed while wagging her finger at us. I mean to tell you…she has a mind of her own!

Eating with Ellie has become a bit more interesting as her food allergies have become a bit more stubborn. No acidic foods, no ranch dressing, she will not eat lunch meat or cantaloupe and really does not prefer milk. So, we are working on it one day at a time. As long as I don’t have to breast feed her until she is 5 we’ll be fine!!! I will post some new pics of the princess as soon as they are downloaded.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Check out my Slide Show!

On the day our son was burried

On the day our son was buried I wanted to curl up in a ball and cry. I wanted to go back in time one year a three days and hold him in my arms again. I wanted to hear his voice and smell his sweet skin. I wanted to feel his silky hair and feel his heart beat. I just wanted him.

Instead, I was reminded that my world still has to go on. I woke up with our one and a half year old that cut THREE bottom teeth this week at 8:30 and hit the carpet running…for the phone that is. It was business as usual as I got Ellie Grace ready for errands we needed to run. She has been unpredictable and irritable the past few days and I am sure it can all be credited to the two bloody molars that have recently cut through her gums and the forth bottom tooth that just made an appearance.

All of the errands for our business were done and I decided to treat myself to a to-go sushi roll from my favorite restaurant in the Galleria area. I got home and ate with Ellie Grace…which today felt like a chore. I just couldn’t manage to get anything accomplished today. No energy. No emotion. No…me.

I decided that today was the perfect day to just sit and rock Ellie. She needed it and I needed her, so it was a perfect fit. As she slept in my arms the thunder crashed outside. It had gone from a hot and sunny day to black clouds and rain in a matter of minutes ~ that’s Texas weather for you. All of a sudden it occurred to me that there just HAD to be a rainbow outside of our house. (Right before our IVF I saw a double rainbow…a sign of our two miracles!?!?) In the midst of my sadness and Ellie’s nap I had this “feeling” that there was a big rainbow from our Bennett outside of our house. A message from Heaven just for us to keep our faith on this horrible day. I opened the shutters in the living room and I was blinded by the sun. It was bizarre because it was pouring outside, but the sun was beaming through my back window. I checked the sky…no rainbow. I felt a little deflated for a minute and then I decided to check the front. I ran to the office to get the camera and headed for the front door. As soon as I opened it I was greeted with a perfect message from Heaven. There, right in front of my house was the perfect rainbow. I know it was sent to me from my Bennett to remind me not to fall down and forget my faith. I know it was sent to perk me up and make me remind myself of all that I have to be grateful for. It was sent from our little boy.

This is only the second time it has stormed since Ellie has been older. She would hear the thunder crash outside and come running with fear in her voice, “Mommy!!!.” I told her that it was Bubba playing in Heaven. About the third time she looked at me and said, “Bubba?” I reaffirmed the question in her voice and said, “Yes, Bubba…in Heaven…playing.”

All I can do is pray. Pray that I am right and that our little man is up in Heaven watching down over us. Pray that one day we will meet again and all of the dreams I have will once again come true. Pray that God will bless us with the chance to be parents again to another miracle child. It all comes down to prayer.

I remember exactly what I did last year on this day. I remember every single small detail about the day. I remember shaking like a leaf on the stage at church telling all of you about our son, I remember kissing Bennett’s small casket and it leaving a lipstick stained kiss and I remember looking at Brandon in the limo on the way home after the service and asking him, “What do we do now?” I remember all of it. I love those memories. They are the link I have to the best days of my life. They are my past and I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world...except maybe reliving them.

This week has been long. It has been emotionally exhausting. It has been filled with sleepless nights and reoccurring nightmares. But, it is all because of Bennett and that makes it all worth it.

Thank you to all of our friends that sent cards and kind emails. We are thankful for each and every one of you. Truly, those words are what get us through some of our days. We would also like to thank whoever put flowers in Bennett’s vase at the cemetery. We go out every Sunday to place fresh flowers on Bennett’s grave, but we did keep the flowers to put there on a weekday visit. We thank you for your love and devotion to our little blessing ~ it means the world to know that we are not the only people out there visiting Bennett. From the very bottom of our hearts…Thank you.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Thursday, June 12, 2008

One year ago today

One year ago today at 1:30 in the afternoon our phone rang. That phone call would change our lives forever. On the other end was one of our neonatologists. His words are eternally etched into my memory…”Mrs. Kahl there has been a problem with Bennett…his heart stopped and we are trying to save him. Can you get to the hospital?”

Brandon didn’t know what was happening. He was rocking Ellie Grace in our living room after a morning of swimming. I was organizing a lunch for us to eat before I went up to the hospital to visit my chunky monkey. Then just as quick as it began…it came to a crashing end. I remember running from the kitchen to our bedroom yelling to Brandon that Bennett was dying and we needed to get to the hospital as soon as possible b/c they didn’t think they could keep him alive long enough for us to get there. On that day one doctor and a team of nurses resuscitated our precious little prince for over an hour, so we would have time to say good-bye.

Medically speaking, Bennett died at 2:35 on June 15th in his father’s arms, but I know that his spirit was already gone by the time we got to the hospital on June 12th. This day changed my life forever.

So, how do you spend such a day 365 days later? I suppose you could lie in bed with swollen eyes because you cried yourself to sleep the night before. However, if you are me you can’t sleep and you are out of bed by 5:15 AM. That’s right…I was in our office by 5:15 this morning completing a bow order because of my insomnia/heartache. I worked like a machine until 7:30 when Ellie woke up and then worked again until 11:00. Like a person on autopilot, I got dressed and drove to one of our stores to deliver bows. One bow delivery, lunch and stop at the bank later I was back on the road with tears in my eyes. I was driving down the Westpark Tollway – the road we traveled to see Bennett – and I couldn’t help myself. All of my fear and sorrow is still as fresh as it was one year ago. The anxiety and sadness is so overwhelming. I repeat that day in my head almost every day. Why did we take Ellie to the pool on THAT day? Why wasn’t someone with Bennett when all of this happened to him? Was he scared? Did he feel pain? Will I ever stop feeling pain? Why did this happen to Brandon on Father’s Day? Why do I feel so much guilt for spending Bennett’s last night alive with him instead of Brandon? Will my prince really be waiting at Heaven’s Gates for us someday?

I have some very wonderful friends that know exactly what I am talking about. Martha, Jodi, Heather, Aunt Mary and my gift from God, mother-in-law, all know the pain of losing a child. It is like nothing else in this world. I can’t begin to describe how it feels to call a florist and order a spray of flowers to lay over your child’s grave for the “anniversary” of their death. Aren’t anniversaries something we celebrate anyway?

I think one of the most impossible things about this year is that Bennett Day is actually on Father’s Day. I honestly can’t imagine how Brandon maintains himself. He is so strong and faithful. There is guilt on my part for having had Mother’s Day with my precious miracles last year. Spending brunch with Ellie Grace and then heading to the hospital to bathe Bennett and play with him. Brandon was robbed of all of that and he has never been ungrateful for one minute. He is noble and wonderful and he is mine! I am so proud.

Now here we are. One year and seven hours later. Both thinking about what we were doing at this exact moment one year ago. Both wishing we could turn back time. Both missing the other best thing that has ever happened to us…our son.

Thank you so much for your kind words and prayers.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Check out my Slide Show!

Houston...we have a potty!

At last!!! I have a free minute to sit and catch all of you up on the excitement that has been going on here at home.

So much has happened since Mother’s Day. Potty training, a virus, repeating words, cutting new teeth and an Astro’s game.

I will begin at potty training…clearly the most fun topic to discuss! At 17 months old I knew we would get a few crooked looks when we said we were going to begin potty training. As a first time mom I never know when it’s the “right time” to try something, but I had a feeling that Ellie was ready to start sitting on the potty herself. We purchased a fancy singing toilet in hopes that the positive affirmations would speed up the potty training process…we were right! Or maybe we were just lucky that our little chicken was ready to potty like a big girl. Soon after we began and after several “potty singing sessions” with mommy and daddy our little miracle was going on the potty at least three times a day. About a week after we began Ellie was not only doing number one, but she upgraded to doing number two on her singing potty as well! Boy, was I unprepared for that one! It never occurred to me that she would poop in a toilet that I wouldn’t be able to flush! After calming myself down and bringing in the heavy duty germ killers we were back on track and there was nothing I couldn’t handle. UNTIL…one early Wednesday morning.

On this particular day we woke up and followed our typical morning routine. Wake up, talk, get out of bed and head to the potty. Ellie was sitting on the potty when something awful came out of her tiny body. This was the beginning of what would turn out to be a very nasty stomach virus that would also affect daddy. By the next day Brandon was coming home from work early (a first for him) and Ellie was very cranky. By the weekend we had called the doctor three times and I was fearing a hospital visit due to dehydration. Fortunately, we remained calm (after calling Uncle Chris and Aunt Charlette) and kept the fluids coming. After three baths and 15 diaper changes on Saturday we were glad to see things calming down on Sunday. Ellie was a champ through the whole illness and by the following Wednesday she was back to normal. This was the first time Ellie has ever been so sick and let me tell you that I could wait another 18 months for it to happen again…actually I would be okay with waiting forever for her to be that sick again! Through this whole ordeal Ellie seems to have cut another tooth. A molar that is! So now we are up to 8 teeth…not many for an 18 month old!

In addition to cutting new teeth and learning to potty like a big girl, Ellie Grace is a talking machine. I listened to all of my friends say that one day she would wake up and she would just start repeating everything we say. True! In the last week Ellie has started to talk and repeat every last word we say. Ask her, “Ellie want to go to the pool,” and she will say, “pool.” It is so much fun! She is very articulate when she speaks as well. She can say her long vowel “e” very well. So words like eye, bye, mommy, daddy, me, all sound so clear. There doesn’t seem to be a letter that she has a problem with. She says please and thank you to get what she wants…most of the time! All in all we can’t believe how big she has gotten. She is absolutely amazing and every single day with her is a blessing for us.
Brandon got a very nice surprise on Saturday. We were given a set of tickets to the Astro’s game and we ended up taking Ellie Grace with us. This was SO exciting for Brandon…his little lady and her first baseball game! Believe it or not, she LOVED the game and was a dream child in the seat. We were 16 rows from the dugout so she could see all of the players up close as they were warming up. Truly, I don’t know who was more excited…Brandon or Ellie Grace. It was a great game and so much for us as a family. Uncle Mike and Bobby joined us and it made for a SUPER day!

All of this excitement and fun has brought this week very quickly. I can’t even believe that this is the week of our biggest nightmare. I can’t even begin to describe how it feels. I honestly have to keep reminding myself that this is real and we will have to face Thursday – the day “it” happened, Sunday – the day we turned off Bennett’s machines, and Wednesday – the day we buried our angel. I imagine I will have to remind myself to breathe this week and to try and sleep and wake up and eat. It is a true blessing that we have Ellie as she is one of the only things that will keep us going this week. There are indescribable amounts of fear, sadness, and guilt that we will be riffling through as we approach this “anniversary”. Your prayers are much needed and appreciated during this difficult time.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mother's Day and faith...

You can’t ignore the obvious forever…and I have been trying to ignore the fact that I would have to drum up my emotions to get through this blog. Every day this past week I kept telling myself that I would have to eventually get on and blog about the weeks events. Every day I put it off selfishly not wanting to face the pure heartache I was experiencing.

As of last Wednesday it had been almost a week that I hadn’t been sleeping. When I say “not sleeping” I mean that I am physically in bed, but my mind and eyes will not cooperate and let me get even 3 hours of rest. It was especially important for me to get rest b/c I told a friend of mine that I would watch her (almost) 5 year old until school was out for the summer. Subconsciously, I knew exactly what the issue was. There were only a few days until Mother’s Day…Lord help me.

What exactly is Mother’s Day all about? I mean honestly I feel honored to be a mother EVERY SINGLE DAY! I truly don’t need a day with a title to make me feel any more blessed to be a mom…whatever! I didn’t feel this way last year though. I waited and waited for Mother’s Day. I couldn’t sleep the night before b/c it was a day I had dreamed of my entire life. I woke up with a fast beating heart and excitement. I was proud to show off my little girl at brunch and I couldn’t wait to get to the hospital to see our little miracle man. I remember shopping to pick out my special dress…the one that hangs in my closet as a brutal reminder of what Mother’s Day used to feel like to me. I remember what I ate that day, what I dressed Ellie Grace up in, what Brandon gave me, and what my little boy gave me when I got to the hospital (thanks to his loving nurse). That day last year will go down in history as one of the best days in my life.

Fast forward to this year. The week was excruciating. I was glad to have my friends little boy because it kept us busy and made the week fly by. On the other hand…it brought the weekend a lot faster than I was ready for. It took me until Saturday afternoon (as I was pouring juice for Ellie) to pin point what I was feeling. I felt disconnected from my own life. I felt like I only wanted to be alone…no one to talk to…no one to worry about…just quiet and alone. However, that is impossible when you have a loving husband (who you know is feeling just as bad) and a precious little angel girl who needs you and loves you. What a conflict! How do you balance your gut wrenching pain with your life that does not stop just because you want to? The answer came as I was sitting in church on Sunday. It is all about faith. Now, I already know that my faith is the only thing that is going to get me through this. I always have faith no matter what the situation. I have faith that we will get through this, I have faith that our business will make it, I have faith that we will have more children…honestly; I am not short on faith. I just don’t think I realized how to make it through the day with faith. I didn’t realize that no matter how much faith you have the pain is still going to be there. AH-HAH a revelation…Faith will not erase the pain it just makes it possible to deal with it. It truly took me this long to get that. My faith didn’t make Mother’s Day easy or painless, but it did remind me that the day would end and there would be a tomorrow. My faith didn’t erase the butterflies in my stomach as we pulled into the cemetery, but it did help me stand up and leave after I visited my prince. My faith prepares me to face the anniversary of our beloved son’s death, but it does not lessen the sadness that I feel about it. Blind faith is all I have to have. Blind faith that God chose this path for me and every event is sculpting the person I am meant to be.

Before I go I have to tell you about Ellie Grace. Oh…….Ellie! I’ll start with the news that we have a singing potty in our bathroom that Ellie uses at least 3 times a day! Yep, Ellie Grace is potty training at 17 months old and it’s working! She is running around the house and has even gotten herself in trouble for biting a few times…shocking, I know! She can point to several of her body parts and is learning to make all of the farm animal sounds and point to their pictures in one of her favorite books (thanks great AJ). She LOVES to go to the inflatable zone and go down the “big girl” slide with mommy. Best of all (I say with sarcasm) she has to be taped and bound to her high chair so that she can not escape during meal time! Needless to say, Ellie is a bundle of energy and because of her I lost another 4.2 pounds last week…SERIOUSLY!

I can’t put into words how I feel about being a mom to Bennett and Ellie Grace. It is indescribable the love, honor, pride, and gratefulness I feel about/for them. I honestly do celebrate Mother’s Day every single time I look into Ellie’s eyes and hold her close or look at Bennett’s pictures. I am a mom…what a true blessing!

A little bit extra…
About a week ago I was “tagged” by a fellow blogger and mother of preemie twins. I haven’t had the extra time to sit and follow the rules of being tagged and to be perfectly honest…I don’t really know how to link blogs and all of that cool technical stuff. I am just a simple girl that is doing good to get my blog updated and looking good! I’ll do my best to follow as many of the “rules” of being tagged as possible and I’ll work on figuring out the rest!

Here are the rules:
*Link to the person who tagged you. I am trying to figure this out
*Post the rules on your blog . Got it!
*Write six random things about yourself. This will be interesting
*Tag six random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs. I am still working on this.
*Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment at their blog
*Let your tagger know when your entry is up.

1. I love to cook! I actually wanted to go to culinary school rather than college, but that was not an option! Cooking is a form of relaxation for me. I could spend HOURS researching new recipes and trying them out. When I was on bed rest I actually saw several reruns on the food network!!! How exciting!
2. To follow the fist random fact ~ I love to go to the grocery store. I have always loved grocery shopping. When I was a little girl I would cry if my mom went to the store while I was at school or went without telling me. Now, Brandon hates going with me. He knows that he is in for an adventure if he goes to the store with me! I actually go up and down every isle looking for new, interesting items that I can use or make up a recipe for. Strange…I know!
3. I still sleep with my “binkies” that I have had since I was a little girl. My binkies are my two baby blankets that I have had for my 30 years of life. Most of you know what a germ warrior I am, so the next piece of info will shock you I am sure. I can count on two hands the number of times the binkies have been washed…They just aren’t the same when they smell like Tide.
4. I have always wanted to be a mom. From the time I was a little girl I was fascinated with pregnant women. I drew pictures of pregnant moms and my own mom actually set up my walk in closet as a nursery with real baby furniture. Finding out that I had serious infertility issues was a true nightmare, but becoming a mom was a dream come true.
5. If you know me you would probably say that I like to be “the life of the party.” Actually, I am very shy when I am around a group of people I am not familiar with. I hate to speak in front of crowds or be in a situation without people I know.
6. It would be an answered prayer to make our public more aware of the issues people with infertility face. Infertility is a lifelong sentence and it is not fair that we spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to achieve what most people are given naturally. What is the difference between treating an illness vs. treating infertility? Why are we punished for being born like this? Anyone know Oprah??? Give her a call ~ I’ll go and speak for all of us! 

So, there it is. Six random facts about me that won’t help you sleep any better tonight, but they do help you know me a little better. Thanks for indulging me! Stay tuned for new pics of our “little chicken” ~ Ellie Grace.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Monday, April 28, 2008

How many hours are in a day?

I would like to thank all of our friends and family that helped make Team Chunky Monkey such a success this year. We have raised almost $4000.00 and I still have donations to drop off at the March of Dimes office. We are so blessed and thankful that our money will be part of the nearly 3.6 million dollars Houston raised this year!

WOW! How many hours are in a day? Don’t worry, I DO know the answer to this question…it just seems like I lived a whole week in the last three days! This weekend was eventful to say the least and it has left me exhausted!

I spent Thursday at the spa enjoying a massage, manicure and pedicure from my husband for my big 3-0! It was relaxing and I enjoyed getting lost in the silence. I actually found myself thinking to myself that I wasn’t really thinking about anything! That is bizarre for me because my head is usually spinning every second of the day about something. I realized that I would love to do that more often…we’ll see how that works out!

Friday, I went over to my mom’s house to pick her up. My family was meeting for dinner to celebrate my birthday that evening. I came home and got Ellie Grace ready for her Grandmom. Ellie was in rare form that evening and I actually felt terrible leaving her behind. I forgot about all of the home “drama” when I walked into the restaurant and saw my friends and family waiting for me…Brandon had planned a surprise dinner with my greatest friends and family members present! I kept asking everyone what our plans were for after dinner and they cryptically answered, “Can’t say…!” Now, if you know me and my type A personality, you know that I need to be in control and have everything planned out perfectly. To not know where we were heading after dinner was driving me crazy!

Dinner was great! My good friend Jocelyn brought my FAVORITE cake in the entire world and I have been enjoying it for the last few days! We exited the restaurant and there was a beautifully restored trolley waiting for us. We loaded up and headed out for a very exciting and eventful evening in downtown Houston. At about 11:00 I noticed that my younger brother had gone missing. I started to worry that we had left him behind until I noticed him walking up the stairs with two friends of mine that I hadn’t seen in over 5 years! Brandon’s last surprise to me was having Josh and Ashley in town from Dallas to visit and hang out with us! It was the icing on top of the cake and I honestly couldn’t have asked for or planned a better birthday myself! Way to go Brandon, mom, Connie, Dave and all of my friends that “lied” to me for the past week! I love all of you and thank you for taking so much time to plan a wonderful evening just for me.

Friday night was long and actually lasted until Saturday morning with Josh, Ashley and I talking and catching up. Brandon let me sleep in and after only 5 hours of sleep it was time for total Ellie Grace duty. You see, Saturday was the NFL draft and that day is sacred to Brandon. Honestly, this is Brandon’s favorite day of the year and he looks forward to it all year long! Uncle Chris came over and made salsa and the boys drug in the standing dry erase board and got down to business as the draft began. It really is cute to see how “into it” they are. There is a lot of planning that goes into that day on their part…it’s actually kind of obsessive!!! Ellie and I spent the day at the park and shopping at Target for a new digital camera…ours didn’t survive the surprise party night! We were in bed early because Sunday was the March for Babies and it was going to be an early morning.

I couldn’t sleep at all on Saturday night. I was up almost the entire night thinking about our baby boy. Most people wouldn’t realize that events like the March for Babies is excruciating for Brandon and me. Yes, it was for a great cause and it will no doubt help other families avoid the heartache we have suffered. However, half of the reason we were walking is in a cemetery rather than in our twin stroller. It is beyond description the pain and anxiety days like Sunday drum up. By this point in the weekend I was sure I had been awake for at least 72 hours. Between the out of town guests, the long day alone with Ellie Grace and the stress of the March for Babies I was hanging on by a string. We were so proud to see all of our friends come out and show their support for Team Chunky Monkey. We had a very generous family friend donate all of the t-shirts for the day, and they turned out perfect! It was awesome to see everyone in their shirts and gathered ready to walk. As the walk began (with THOUSANDS of people) we got separated from most of our group. We know what changes to make for next year, because we plan to have another big crowd and we want to make sure we can all walk together! The last few miles were LONG because Ellie Grace woke up and either wanted to be held or wanted to walk on her own…seriously! The best moment of the entire day was the moment we crossed the finish line. Imagine this…there is a band playing…thousands of people are all walking and cheering for you and they announced our team name over the loud speaker as we crossed the finish. “And coming into the finish now is TEAM CHUNKY MONKEY”…It brought tears to my eyes. It has been a long haul and there are very few things I can do for Bennett to honor him and celebrate him with all of you. This was one of those moments and for a split second I felt complete happiness and joy.

We met our team back at the tent and decided to go to lunch with our families. We had about 20 people heading out to eat as we left the stadium. One minute we were driving and the next minute we were slamming into the back of a car! OH MY GOSH is the next thought that ran through my head…my baby was in the car! I immediately checked Ellie out and she was fine…talking as a matter of fact…no tears…no discomfort at all…THANK YOU GOD!!! I was shaking like a leaf on a cold fall morning, but my instinct to comfort Ellie was the only thing I could think of. As it turns out, I was the only one that needed comfort after this fender bender because everyone else was just fine. We made it to the restaurant and joined our families to celebrate the last of this VERY LONG weekend. Once we were home, Brandon had to pack and head to the airport for a trip to Chicago where he will be until tomorrow.

As I was thinking about this weekend I couldn’t help but think that God had added a few hours to each of the days!! It truly felt like I lived a whole week in a matter of days. I hate that the stressful/eventful times seems to drag by and the wonderful/intimate times seem to vanish in a flash. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could decide how many hours were in each of our days? I think I would like to cut the bad ones short and make the good ones last forever!

Crawfish boil news:
We are hosting a thank you crawfish boil at our neighborhood clubhouse on Saturday, May 3rd, for all of you that supported Team Chunky Monkey in any way. We would love to have all of our friends and family there to help celebrate our success as a TEAM! The party will begin at 3pm and we will have the mudbugs and all the ‘fixins’! Bring yourself and a cooler with your favorite drinks…and maybe an outdoor chair to sit in! Please email me through or leave a comment on our blogspot to let me know if you will be able to join us. I will be placing the order for crawfish on Thursday. Thanks again for all of your support ~ you are the world’s best and we are blessed to have you in our lives!