Monday, August 18, 2008

The Birthday Girl

It is late and I should be heading to bed instead of sitting down just now to my computer with a thousand thoughts in my head, all of which are the same as yesterday and the day before. But today they are stronger, more promenant, more sad, more everything. Two years ago, Bryan and I were in the hospital staring at our sweet baby girl. She was 12 hours old and we were in love with every inch of her. We had shared our news with all that we knew and Nat was known throughout the ward, because babies that are almost 11 lbs are big news! She was nursing like a champ and I was trying to figure out how I was going to get some sleep. She was perfect in every way and she stole our hearts that day.

Two years later, I sit here, having just finished a big piece of cake in memory of my sweet girl. I sit here, wishing the cake had candle holes, that we had hosted a party this weekend (that Emily would have wanted to be a tinkerbell party) and we were still cleaning up the reminants of toy boxes and twist ties that released a whole new crop of toys into our lives. I would be unpacking the 2T clothing that I just packed up for the attic. My family would have just left to head home after a weekend of celebration. And right now I would probably be going to sleep, thankful for a few moments of peace and quiet without a child in my lap. I would check on my babies, making sure they were sleeping soundly and head off to a comfortable slumber myself.

Instead of the wonderful scenario I want, I have a new one. One that is still hard to live with. One that still makes me cry everyday. One that makes me want to stay in bed, not answer the phone, not use my perky voice, and not have to face reality. So, here I sit, knowing that my days begin and end with thoughts of my sweet baby girl. I know she is happy. I know she is whole. I know she is perfect. But I wish….oh how I wish for so much.

Today has been a lemon kind of day. Totally sour, needing some sweetner, hoping for a straw and maybe a few strawberries to be added to it. I hid in bed as long as I could. I ate whatever I wanted because who was going to tell me otherwise. I went shopping (and sadly walked away from Target having only spent $12). I went to my CM unit meeting and did my best to focus. Then I went to the store, got a cake with buttercream icing and balloons on it and came home to my family. I have spent today knowing it was not going to be a good one. But really….it has been full of memories and that makes it wonderful.

I miss her badly…more than I can give words to. I cannot imagine that this is really a short period of time and I will have so much more in heaven with her. It is not an easy concept and I struggle with it daily. Truth be told…I question every bit of belief I have more often than I want to admit to. But I know He is the one who will dry my tears and give me a peaceful rest tonight. He is the one who had helped me through today, knowing that it has not been a good one. He is the one who will show me that tomorrow can be good, despite my broken heart. And He is the one who will help Alie come into this world happy and healthy, showing us that we can love this sweet baby and that our new normal will have lots of happy moments.

But for today…I miss my girl. I wish I was cuddling with her now. I wish she were here eating cake with me. I wish today was easier. But I know that today I have loved her, remembered her, and done what I can to keep her alive in our family. This is what I know….just does not make it easier.

At the time of Natalie’s birth today, 10:37am, I wrote her a note and posted it on Caringbridge. I am adding it to this as well….

Happy 2nd birthday to our sweet, red-headed, green-eyed, mischevious, stubborn, loving, adorable, fabulous baby girl! I miss you most, especially today. Don't worry, we will have cake here as well....make sure you get a piece with lots of icing. I know that is your favorite part!!
Miss you most!
Mommy, Daddy, and your sisters Emily and Alie

I miss her most. We all miss her most. She will forever be my sweet 14 month old baby. She will forever be my boogsie, my cuddler, and my second-born. Happy birthday, sweet girl!

Good night all…I am off to meet my girl in my dreams. I am off the bed, with my last thought of the day being about her after my day was started by thoughts of Nat.
Hillary, Bryan, Emily, especially our angel baby birthday girl Natalie, and Alie

~I was going to put some pictures on here....but they are not uploading. I will try to add them tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

My beautiful family

Last week, we had a photo session with one of my favorite photographers and her assistant who happens to be one of my great friends. I love Jessica Riehl Photography and how Jess captures each moment. And Ryall is so fabulous and whimsical and everything I am not! So we headed out to do some pics of my large belly and our family together. A few evenings ago, I received the first preview from Ryall's camera, unedited but beautiful. I had not had a chance to post it on here, so it will be the first one you see.

I loved on this picture throughout my trip to MN, even showing it to everyone who would stand still. Aren't Emily's eyes just stunning? I am certainly in love with them!

This evening, I received an email from Jess with a few more pictures. I am sure you will see why I love her photography style so much! Check out her website and blog. If you go to the galleries and look through, you will find another picture of Emily, taken back in November. I am sure you will fall in love with her photography as quickly as I did.

And can I just say that there is something about a 4 year old in a twirly skirt (that is Em's description) that could make anyone have a good day? I am loving the skirt, I am loving my photos, I am loving my family, and I am loving these memories. Thanks, Jess and Ryall, you both are fabulous and I love you!!!

Good night all,


Hillary, Bryan, Emily, our angel baby Natalie, and Allison

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Big Laughs and a Big Baby Bump

I have returned home from my trip and I have a few pictures to share with you. But first, let me tell you about my trip. I went to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Yes, I had permission to travel and even fly there. And yes, it was SO worth it. I went to Creative Memories National Convention. And I know the next question you have is why when I am so close to delivering. Here is the story.

Nine months ago, when we lost Natalie, I was done. At the time, my CM business was steady, I had 3 girls on my team, and I was happy even though I wanted more. A few days after we said goodbye, I told Shannon that I was done. I had no clue how to help people preserve their memories when it felt like I would never be able to look at pictures again without crying. I did not think I could complete another one of my albums and I certainly could not expect my customers to do something I was not even doing myself. I thought that this was big enough to end my career. So I told her not to expect too much from me. She smiled at me, told me that it was ok, and then I decided I would just let it ride. If I deactivated, so be it. If I maintained what I was doing already, that was ok too. But I could not give it any extra attention as my focus was our family and dealing with our tremendous loss. I let it be about me and not the mission that I believe in wholeheartedly. And that was that.
So, I maintained my sales and continued my workshops. I planned a weekend away, hoping that I could get some done and get back into the habit. I had 10 customers there. I was happy. But then, when we offered the CM business opportuntity to the group at the weekend away, something happened. I signed a new consultant and one of my downline signed 2 of her own. I now had 6 people on my team and was beginning the process of promoting to the first level of leadership in CM. And that night my passion for what I love came back. I felt like I could achieve this. I wanted it again. I had not felt that way since we lost Nat Nat. And it felt good.
Over the next several months, my team worked hard and diligently to complete all the requirements we needed to in order to promote as a team. And, on June 1st, I promoted to the title of Unit Leader with Creative Memories. Now my goal was to make it to Showcase. You see, at Showcase, they make a HUGE deal out of each promotion to a leadership level. I wanted to be there. I wanted to walk stage, proud of what we had accomplished, proud of what I had strived to achieve personally. I had to go. Nothing was going to stop me...except maybe my doctor.
So, at my 2 appointments with my doctor in July, I basically begged her to let me go. She agreed to run all the necessary tests to make sure that Alie and I were healthy enough to travel. But she reserved the right to tell me no even up to the day of travel. I agreed and we began blood draws, untrasounds, and other tests to make sure I would not go into labor. Sure enough, just 3 days before I was to board a plane, she gave me a letter stating that I was not in any danger of Pre-Term Labor and I could go! I was thrilled.

I drank lots of water (which resulted in lots of trips to the bathroom!) and kept my feet up as much as could. Bryan took leave to be home with Emily while I was gone. I packed my bags and boarded the flight. I got to participate in all the leader activities like early entry to marketplace (CM shopping), leadership meeting, a new unit leader reception, and the leadership banquet which had a 50s theme. I could not find a maternity poodle skirt anywhere, so I opted for the white top and black capris. We had a great time and I loved all the extras as a leader!!

We had great training and lots of laughs. We ate yummy food and barely slept. But the best part was the last night. Sunday night was closing banquet and then closing ceremonies. Sunday night was my moment to shine in the CM world, walk across stage and be proud of my journey, from a terrible tragedy to a great triumph, and remind myself of why I do this. As a consultant, I am asked fairly frequently why I do what I do. After Natalie's accident, I knew for sure. It was for us to remember how to smile, for Emily to remember her sister, and for us to work through our grief. It will also be the only way that Alie knows her sister, Natalie. They will not meet until Alie gets to heaven and she is not going any time soon!! I have to give her those memories through ours. I have to share Natalie's story, however short, because she is worth it. And I have an outlet through our albums to smile, to cry, to get mad at where it ends, and to rejoice in her beginning. Walking that stage in front of 4100+ CM consultants plus the Home Office staff was just what I wanted. And I wanted somehow to share my why.
Some people with CM know our story. Some were told when lots of emails went out for prayers, some were told when my upline notified home office of what happened. Some are on my team, and I have met some at meetings and trainings. So, for those people, the statement I made while crossing the stage was so meaningful. For others, it just showed my love of the mission. But it was a statement that I am happy I did. And it caused a room full of 4100+ to say "This is my why" in unison as I came out from backstage. So, here is a picture of what really says it all.

It was a perfect, waddle walk. I am so glad I did it. I doubt I will have the chance again. I heard our group cheering and had to pose for a few hundred pictures from other consultants. I guess I will be in a few more scrapbooks than my own this year. But, this is my why. I have chosen to use this as an opportunity to help my family so that I can stay home with Emily and with Alie. I have chosen to continue our scrapbooks so Alie can see what a great big sister Natalie was. And I have chosen to share our story so others can know that God is good, He will carry you, and you will go on, albeit changed, but there will be lots of smiles and laughs, expecially when there is a big baby bump involved.
Good night all~
Hillary, Bryan, our big girl Emily, our angel baby Natalie, and our sweet Alie