Tuesday, July 29, 2008

My Natalie Necklace

I am tired and want to post but really want to go to bed. So I will leave you with this, a photo of my Natalie Necklace. I have been trying to find the perfect one, with the help of friends and family, and this is it! I decided that I wanted a necklace that reminded me of her and the happy life she led. I love it, Bryan loves it, Emily really loves it, and it arrived just in time for my trip out of town this weekend and for some fabulous pictures we took today. If you love it, you can get your own at www.planetjill.com.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The good, bad, and in between

Oh my, what an interesting 2 weeks. It has been up and down and even a bit sideways. And I am doing my best to look up.
On Sunday, July 13th, my sister and brother-in-law received the phone call that they have been waiting for over 2 years. Their adoption agency called to say, “We have a baby for you”. Music to their ears!! Sweet Anna Kathryn will be a part of our family soon. And I am so excited. I am excited at the thought of being an aunt, a real aunt. I am excited that Emily will have a younger cousin to play with. And I am excited that Anna Kathryn and Alie will be a mere 10 months apart in age. They will play so well together and I cannot wait. The most special part of this story…Anna Kathryn and Natalie will have something in common as well. I have wanted there to be something between them and it is such a neat thing. Anna and Nat share a date. The day that Anna Kathryn was discovered in a basket at an orphanage was the very day that we were celebrating Natalie’s life. November 3rd was a bad day here for our family as we held Natalie’s service to celebrate her life. November 3rd is Anna Kathryn’s birthday. Coincidence? I think not! I have a feeling that our sweet Nat and our faithful Lord were having a chat that day, trying to figure out how to dry some of our tears. I think they decided together that Anna Kathryn was the perfect way to cheer us up. And I cannot wait to meet her. It will be 2-5 months before she comes home and we all are anxiously awaiting that day. It will be so good, so refreshing.

Then I received some tragic news the very next day. Friends of my parents were contacted by a family that had just lost their son, a 21 month old baby, to a pool accident. The family is devestated. We are devestated for them. As I heard their story, my heart broke for them. We were there just 8 months earlier. We lived those moments. We felt each emotion they were now feeling. And we are praying so desperately for them to find peace in this horrible situation. I do not know this family personally, although I do know their names. I know that some of the events surrounding his accident are similar to ours. I know that their family has some similarities to ours. I know that their sweet boy was born just 2 months after Natalie’s birth. And I pray desperately that we are able to help guide them through these moments. They are so difficult, so devestating, so draining, and so overwhelming. But, here I sit, 9 months later, seeing that tears still flow readily but so do smiles. I know that I am terrified for tomorrow yet I cannot wait for it to be revealed to me. I know that God has a plan, we will prosper in Him, and He will guide us through. I pray that this family knows this and can live by this as it will get them through the next days and months. Today is 2 weeks since they celebrated the life of their son. I realized shortly after I heard their story that my last post was on the day they said goodbye. My heart was breaking that day. I spent a lot of time praying, reading my bible, and asking for help to see me through. I now wonder if I was grieving for this family as well. To this family…if you are reading this post…please feel free to contact me. I would love to hear all the wonderful memories you have of your sweet baby boy. I am happy to share all I can with you. We are still grieving, but I know that there is comfort is sharing our story. I hope you find this as well.

Since these two events, I have been up and down. One moment I am excited at the impending arrivals of Alie and Anna Kathryn. The next moment I am remembering my baby girl and wishing she were here and excited about Alie with Emily. So here I sit, in my chair, trying to figure out what is next. I feel like I am in limbo…stuck between grief and exciting anticipation. I feel like I am in a desert…wandering, able to see the oasis but not yet able to get there. I know that on Monday we will know the date of Alie’s arrival. I am so excited, yet so scared as well. I am praying HARD for a smooth transition, a safe delivery, acceptance of Alie by Emily, and comfort as we embark on this new journey. I am fearful of the emotions that may return. And I hope that I am able to share all of Natalie with Alie.

That is about it for now…we are holding on. We are living through this, daily, together and managing to hang in.

Good night all,
Hillary, Bryan, Emily, our angel baby Natalie and Alie

Thursday, July 24, 2008

More tomorrow....

I am tired....I have a lot to say. This post has been in my head for about a week now. But I am tired, have I mentioned that yet? So, I am going to go to sleep and try to get some rest. That does not come easily for me right now. Tomorrow, when Bryan gets home from his workup for deployment, I will elaborate on the last 2 weeks. There have been lots of ups and downs, lots of praises and prayers. So....I will fill you in, as soon as I get a bit of rest, I find my knees and find the right words to express just what I want to. That is the beauty of a blog. I can write tomorrow when the words will come out right.

Goodnight all.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Lots of tears

It has been a bad day. I have spent a lot of today crying, hiding in my bed, avoiding the thoughts that will not stop. When I lay down, I cannot help but think of what happened, feelings and emotions we have gone through, sounds we heard, moments that I wish I never experienced. Emily has been great, cuddling when I ask for it and understanding that “mommy doesn’t feel so good today”. I have avoided my phone. We were supposed to go to the pool and did not even make it there. I could not bring myself to do it today. I don’t know why, but today has been one of those days. This has actually been coming on for a week now. I can feel it, the sadness and hurt coming back up to the surface. I think it took this long because we have had a BUSY week. Emily has had swimming lessons, VBS, ballet camp and playgroup. She even had all 4 things on Wednesday. And I have pushed it back down, hiding from the moment that I knew would come up eventually. Avoiding the inevitable, this has been my week. Today, I could not hide anymore. Bryan called from work to check on me and I totally lost it. I was balling and I think I scared him a bit.

So I did what any girl would do. I dropped Emily off at VBS and headed off for a quiet moment at the nail salon I used to frequent for a manicure and pedicure. All was going well. I was relaxing until the girls there started asking about Nat, what was going on still, and how they are amazed at our forgiveness. That was not what I wanted to talk about. I wanted to hide, get away from those thoughts. I should have known. It is not really a normal day unless we have talked about Baby Nat Nat at least 12 times. And today, even with my futile efforts to escape it, was no different. But my toes and my fingernails are very pink! And it was good to get a bit of pampering again.

But, oh how I have missed my girl today. Every thought turns to her. My tears have not subsided. And I know there will be one more good cry before I succumb to the sleep my body so desperately needs. Even in bible study this morning I did not say much, simply because every comment I may have offered would have been about Natalie. And she is so important in my life, but this study is not just about me. It is about each woman in that room, struggling in our own ways, getting through each hard moment. I have never thought that my situation is so much worse that anyone elses…it is different. Perception is different for each of us. I get that. But all I really wanted to do was cry through it all. It was good. I enjoyed our study today. And I loved that it touched on one of my favorite verses, John 13:7. This is one of my “I need something to get me through the day and this verse is perfect” verses. Emily has also been talking about her more in the last few days. She will randomly point toward heaven. And when you ask her what she is pointing to, she responds with this quiet (yes, Em can be quiet!) voice, “Natalie”. And I know. I know what she feels, what she is thinking, what she is wishing. I get it, yet I cannot make it better or easier for her. And I do not like that. How I wish that it was easier for her. How I wish it was easier for us.

I can say that I am a different girl. My thoughts are different. My life is different. My relationships are different. My marriage is stronger. My faith is greater. My temper is calmer. My hope is bigger. My love for my family and my God is cemented. My need of things is smaller. My prayers are louder. My face is on the ground in front of my Lord more. And I can thank Natalie for each of these. She brought these changes to me. She walks with me everyday and I know she is kissing my hand, happy that she is still such a big part of our lives. My sweet girl, who lived for such a short time, has taught me more than anyone else. She gave these things to me. I loved her so much before I knew this. And my love has only grown with each of these revelations. And I am thankful for each reminding tear, each memory, each moment we had together. Yes, I wish it was more. But I know it was exactly what was planned for us, just as I know that Alie was planned for us too. She was not really in our plan yet, but we are so excited for our road to digress onto a new path now. This path has a lot of hope for us.

Good night all,
Hillary, Bryan, Emily, especially our angel baby Natalie, and Allison

Saturday, July 5, 2008

We are...

I have come to my computer to write so many times in the last month. And I cannot seem to get my thoughts to paper. This is difficult for me. I have always been able to express my feelings through writing, but now I struggle. There are so many things that are affecting me, I am sure. Bryan just got home from a deployment, his first since Natalie’s accident. He was gone 6 weeks. That was hard. We have just passed the 8 month anniversary of Natalie’s death. I am still in shock that she is even gone, much less that it happened 8 months ago. I have been to the hospital several times for check-ups and lab work. Nothing to worry about…but every trip to the hospital is difficult. Walking in reminds me of walking in the first time. Walking out reminds me of the night we said good-bye. I am thankful that I go to a different floor than the one Natalie was on. We are closer to Alie’s arrival. I will admit…I am scared. I know we will be fine, adjustment will be difficult, and we will be joyful as we grieve. All of these play into what I am feeling, and how I deal with all of this.

While Bryan was gone, Emily and I went on a mini vacation. We ventured to the cabin, Briarpatch, in North Georgia with Mom and Dad, Kimberly and Mark. We had not been there, as a family, in about 15 years so this was well overdue. We had a great visit, Emily ran Kimmie and Mark to exhaustion, and made lots of new memories in a place that holds so many wonderful childhood memories for me. My first trip to the mountains of North Georgia was in October of 1980. I was 2 ½ years old then. And I literally grew up there. Last summer, I took the girls there. It was the first part of a 2 week trip on sharing all my childhood favs with Emily and Natalie. I have to say…that was one of the best decisions of my life. I am sad that Bryan was not able to go with us, but I am so glad that Natalie experienced all of those things before we lost her. Being at the cabin was hard this year. I never thought it would be a place that would bring tears to my eyes but it did this year. I kept thinking of last year, of all the things we did together, places we visited, and I kept thinking that we will share all of it with Alie as well next summer. I don’t know how many times I looked at the pictures to remember what a happy place it really is, despite my sadness this year. I wish Bryan had been there to help me through it, although I know it was important for him to do what he was doing. Thankfully my family was so supportive and understanding. I do have to admit that it was nice being at the cabin. There is no cell service (to speak of), no internet, no TV, just nature and the company with you to keep you busy. It is relaxing. We are planning on going next year, this time with Bryan and Alie joining us. And I cannot wait to share the farm with them. Hopefully the cows will still be there next year…I know Emily will want to share them with Alie. She loves the cows!

Bryan has now been home for a week, and Corey is back as well. It seems that life is getting back to normal, but it is really a strange “new normal” that we are all living now. There is an obvious absence in our midst, one that makes me a little uncomfortable.

Court has also been postponed again. This was difficult to hear. I really want this part to be over. I feel like it just continues to drag and as I prepare to have to listen to the details of the day again, I am crushed again by having to wait. The bad news of all of this…the new date is after Alie arrives and after Bryan will leave for his 6 month deployment. And this whole scenario, which should have been resolved about 2-3 months ago, does not really have an end in sight.

I think yesterday was the hardest though. Last year, we spent the 4th at the cabin, actually at Rib Country eating amazingly wonderful ribs until we exploded. This year we headed to Town Point Park, where we always go to watch fireworks, and it was weird. I spent the whole time thinking about how we never took Nat to see the fireworks, she never went to Town Point for our annual tradition, and that last year was her one and only July 4th. I wanted to cry, hide, change things somehow. I wanted her back. I wanted her to experience that. This year was so similar to 2 years ago. I was pregnant with Nat then and it was Corey’s first year with us. This year we were all back together there, pregnant with Alie this time. So similar, but so very different. I think we all knew that she was missing and she would have loved the lemonade, the singing, playing on the grass, dancing with her sister. Can I just say…this sucks! I have grown to really not like holidays. I am grateful that there are only about a dozen of them. Maybe after the first year and the “she was here last year but now she is not” moments have passed it will get a bit better.

Alie is doing well. We got a peek at her the other day at my check-up. She looks great, weighing about 4 lbs. She is kicking tons, moving all the time, and making it difficult for me to sleep. But, that is how it should be and I am enjoying every moment of this. Next Saturday we are going to do a 3-D untrasound and I cannot wait to check out her chubby cheeks. I am sure they are chubby…both Em and Nat had them so she has little chance of escaping that family trait. Plus, it is an extra look at her and how well she is doing. Emily is excited. When we had Natalie’s 3-D, Emily got scared that they were hurting me and we had a hard time convincing her otherwise. This time, she is so excited to see her. Nine months is a long time to wait when you are 4 years old and she lets us know just about everyday. When I explain that she is too small to come home now and would have to stay at the hospital if she was born now, Emily quickly changes her mind and wants her to stay in my tummy. Officially we are just under 2 months from my due date, but she will be here at the very end of August. It is getting close and we have so much left to prepare for her arrival…we better get busy.

That is about it for now…we are here, we are hanging in, we are surviving. We are excited for the new beginning that will be here shortly and we are grieving still for the lost moments of our sweet baby girl. I guess the best way to say it would be, “We are.” I can start so many sentences with this…and I don’t think that will change anytime soon.

Good night all...
Hillary, Bryan, Emily, especially our angel baby Natalie, and our kicking Alie