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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Day with Her

If I had just one day that God would give me back my Rylan, at any age I chose, I would love for her to be three years old, the season would be fall, and the day would be a Saturday.

The morning would start off by me waking up first. I would run up stairs to find my two precious girls asleep together in a double bed in their pink and green room. They would be snuggled up next to each other with there dollies. Rylan would have her pink blanket and Anna Claire would have her white blanket. I would sit on the end of the bed and watch them breathe. I would stare at Rylan and finally see what my daughter would look like beyond four days old. What color is her hair? Does she have fair skin or olive skin? Who does she look like? I am in awe of her and have longed for this day since I kissed her good-bye on October 20, 2008.

Eventually, the girls would wake up and we would cuddle in bed, give lots of hugs, and eskimo kisses. We would talk about our dreams of sliding down rainbows, eating a huge ice cream sundae, and being a princesses in a beautiful castle. I would tell Rylan "I love her" and "I have missed her everyday for the past three years." After a while, I would carry my girls downstairs and we would meet up with all the boys in Mommy & Daddy's bed. We would tickle each other, have a pillow fight, and laugh together.

Daddy would make us a yummy breakfast with all seven of us around the table. We would pray and thank God for this wonderful, amazing, and special day with Rylan. While eating, Camden and Everett would ask Rylan a million questions about heaven and about her likes and dislikes. Anna Claire would copy everything her big sister was doing, just like she does with her brothers.

The day would be spent playing with each other and loving each other. We would play superheroes, "house", play-doh, dress-up, and legos. We would all walk to the neighborhood park and swing, run, and enjoy the cool, crisp fall weather. Fall is always a reminder of Rylan. We would go down to the lake and watch the ducks and birds. The kids would gather sticks and rocks and throw them in the water. I would sit back and watch all of five of my kids play together for the first time. I would fight back the tears because I did not want this joy and "complete" family to go away.

When we returned from the park, we would set up our camp chairs in a circle in the driveway, eat popsicles, and talk. We might play a game of basketball or baseball with the family.

That evening, we have a "big" party at our house. We invite everyone we know, family, friends, neighbors, etc. We want everyone to get an opportunity to meet our girl, Rylan. We talk about her to others but so many never met her. Rylan is excited about the party. Rylan is not shy; she hugs everyone she meets. She does not understand why some visitors are crying when they meet her, but her sweet heart is filled with joy. The people who attend now finally understand why we are still sad and why we still grieve for our daughter. Before, they met her that night, she did not seem "real" to them. After a fun evening, friends say their good-byes, but the family does not want to leave because they all know Rylan will not be at the next family gathering. We want to hug and kiss her so we can have something to hold on to until we meet again in heaven.

It is getting late, Rylan comes to me with her pink blanket and cuddles up on my lap. I look her in her big brown eyes and tell her "I love you, and I will see her soon." She falls fast asleep in my arms, then I am reminded of the night she left this world. It was so similar. She was in my arms with her pink blanket when she took her last breath.

I cried, held her tight, and fell asleep. I woke up that morning with empty arms. I was left with a pink blanket and a few memories of my girl. I can't wait to see her again.

Thanksgiving 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thankful for Camden who is an awesome big brother and leader for all the other kids in the family,

for Everett who is sweet as can be and is so creative,

for Rylan who is a constant reminder of how blessed we are and what in life is really important,

for Anna Claire, who taught us the sun would shine again and gave us a new hope and a new joy,

for Owen, who reminds us God's plan may be different than ours but by far better,

and for Dan through all the joys and sorrows of this life, he's always there! We are on this journey together and he is my best friend! ♥

Finally, I am thankful for my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who saved me, who gave me heaven as my hope, and who is always faithful and keeps His promises.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Broken Chain


The Broken Chain

Author: Ron Tranmer
We little knew that day,
God was going to call your name.
In life we loved you dearly,
In death, we do the same.

It broke our hearts to lose you.
You did not go alone.
For part of us went with you,
The day God called you home.

You left us beautiful memories,
Your love is still our guide.
And although we cannot see you,
You are always at our side.

Our family chain is broken,
And nothing seems the same,
But as God calls us one by one,
The chain will link again.

Your family misses you, Rylan!

Remembering Her


This is the month, the month of October. I dread it yet embrace it. It is the month I do not want to relive yet want so bad to remember every detail. This is the month my daughter, Rylan Elizabeth, entered the world. My heart and world changed forever.

In this post, I will write what I remember since time is fading the memories which once were so vivid and real. The memories are few, but I hold on to them so tightly because they are all I have left to remember my girl. I will share a few details with you about the days I had with my daughter.

Life was happy. Life was easy and simple. Dan and I were blessed with two adorable little boys, Camden and Everett. On February 16, 2008, I found out I was pregnant with baby #3. Camden was two years old and Everett was only eleven months old. I was not sure how we were going to do it with three kids under the age of three years old, but I was ready for the challenge.

In May 2008, we went for a 20 week ultrasound. The baby looked wonderful, but we found out I had a marginal placenta previa with this pregnancy. Dan was determined to find out the gender at this appointment, and I wanted a surprise. We agree Dan would find out, but he would not tell me. So much for "the plan," the ultrasound technican slipped and at the end of the ultrasound said " She sure does have a lot of hair!" We found out we were having a baby girl! We were so excited to add a little girl to our family! Looking back, I am so happy I knew she was a girl for the remainder of the pregnancy. We decorated her nursery, had a "girly" baby shower, and came up with a list of girl names.

Throughout the pregnancy, I went for regular doctor visits and to a specialist regarding the placenta previa. In the meantime, I was busy chasing after my two little boys and enjoying being a mom and wife. I have thought about a few special memories during my pregnancy that I hold dear to my heart.

The first memory is from August 2008. Dan and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary with a night out. We went to eat at Irma's downtown, the Kenny Chesney/Keith Urban concert, and spent the night at The Hilton Americas Hotel. It was so much fun! I vividly remember the concert and the loud music. When the Keith Urban song "Days Go By" came on, the baby kicked and moved like crazy! I think she really liked that song. To this day, anytime that songs comes on, I cry and think of my baby girl. She was a live, healthy, and safe in me.

Another memory I have with my sweet girl was in September 2008. It was Hurricane Ike. We were without power for nine days. Yes, nine months pregnant and no air conditioning in September. We stayed at my parents' house since they had a generator, and we all slept in one room with a a/c window unit running at night. It was inconvenient without power, but it was a true bonding experience for the family....no tv, no lights, no internet! I remember praying I did not go into labor during the storm, and God answered that prayer. On day nine, I remember Camden running around and doing a happy dance, saying "we got the power!"

A fun memory I have was when my sister and dear friend gave me a "girly" baby shower. Family and friends came and bought adorable pink and purple outfits, accessories, and blankets for our new little girl. My mom had been buying cute girl clothes for months and bought three large bags to the shower! I could not wait to dress her up!!!! Meme was determined to make this little girl a fashionista!!!

The final memory, I would like to share is the memory of my brother-in-law and sister-in-law coming into town October 14, 2008. They came down a few days early to visit and stayed to help out with the boys while I was in the hospital having the baby. My sister-in-law was about six months pregnant with her first baby, so we talked about babies and took a few pictures side-by-side with our baby bumps. I was looking forward to our two little ones playing at future family gathering and having a cousin the same age.

The morning of October 17, 2008 was filled with excitement. After seven hours of labor, my baby's heart rate dropped into the 50s, and I was thrown on a stretcher and given an emergency c-section. As I lay in the operating room with terrified tears in my eyes and no husband by my side, her entrance was silent and the room was filled with fear and darkness. My heart sank.

On October 18th, 2008, I met my daughter for the first time. She was in the NICU with many tubes and machines. When I took her tiny hand in mine, I remember crying and praying. She opened her eyes and stared at me. Her eyes said "Help me, Mommy." I tried so hard to brave and strong for her. At that moment, I knew I was going to fight for my girl and hold on to hope. I told her everything was going to be okay, and she was going to get better so she could come home and meet her big brothers. I sang her a few songs and talked to her about our family. In my heart, I truly believed she would be okay and God would answer my prayer by healing her little body.

Over the next few days, I cried out to God constantly....begging Him to heal her and asking him for answers about her health and direction in the decisions we faced. I remember the nights in the hospital feeling sick to my stomach and wishing I would wake up from this terrible dream. I kept thinking this could not be happening. We were not prepared for anything but to bring home a healthy baby girl.

On October 19, 2008, we finally decided on a name for our daughter, Rylan Elizabeth Slate. Dan chose Rylan because he really liked the nickname "Riley." I chose Elizabeth for two reasons. One: the meaning of Elizabeth is "God is my vow." I needed to believe that and cling to that. God is faithful, and He always keeps His promises. Two: for namesake, my dearest friend's name is Elizabeth. She is a godly woman and faithful, forever friend.

On October 20, 2008, our baby was baptized and dedicated to our Lord that morning with a pastor, my parents, and Dan's mom present. After four days of many questions and every few answers, we made the decision to remove life support and release Rylan from the pain and suffering she was enduring. We chose to let our precious baby go into the arms of Jesus. This was the hardest and most selfless decision I have ever made in my life. It was so hard to think about giving God back the gift that He had given us for 10 months of pregnancy and four days on earth. I was not ready to say "good-bye" for I had just said "hello." More than anything, I wanted my girl here and with me. I wanted to see her smile, put bows in her hair, have tea parties with her and play dress up, go with her to buy her prom and wedding dress, and see her become a woman of faith and purpose. God had a different plan for her. We had to accept it and embrace it even though it hurt and broke our hearts.

The life support was removed at 5 p.m. She was free from the tubes and machines. We could finally see her precious and beautiful face. The family came to meet her and hold her. We kissed her and sang to her. She died in our arms and left this earth at 9:30 p.m. I gave her a bath after she died, and then we left her... alone. It was cold and dark. I cannot express the feeling of seeing my child die, but I think a small part of me died that day.

We came home to a dark, quiet house with empty arms. I quickly went upstairs a picked up Everett (19 months old) out of his crib and hugged him so tight. I held him and thanked God for him. Then, I went to Camden's room and sat on his bed and cried. I kissed his head and prayed for God to help me through this and keep me in the "light." At that point, I knew I need to be a mom to my boys but I was hurting and grieving for Rylan.

Over the next few days, I planned my daughter's funeral. She was gone, but I want to make her short life special. I picked out a casket and an outfit for her, chose songs to be played at her service and met with the funeral home. I made a slideshow of photos to be displayed at both events. So many of our family and friends never met our daughter. I was so proud of her and wanted everyone that came to see her sweet face. The state of shock and God carried me through and helped me go through the motions of the visitation and the funeral. I remember arriving at the funeral home and entering the first room and seeing the tiny white casket. I could not go see her. I wanted to remember Rylan alive not dead in a casket. I never looked in. I just could not do it. I remember the rainy weather for the visitation....symbolizing the many tears that were shed that night from hundreds of dear friends, family, and even Rylan's NICU nurses. I remember sitting on the couch at the funeral home and all my neighborhood friends gathered around me, crying with me and comforting me.

The day of the funeral is was a beautiful fall, crisp day....symbolizing the true beauty and joy my girl is experiencing in heaven. We greeted our guests and cried with them. I was very surprised of the people that came from both near and far. It blessed my heart to see my forever friends by my side during this very difficult time. Throughout the service and that day, I cried many tears but I just kept thinking about Rylan in heaven with a new body and experiencing God's best, and that is what I hold on to everyday. Rylan in heaven is my hope!

Though days, months, and years will pass, I will always remember her. She will live forever in my heart. She is part of me. Unless you have kissed your child good-bye forever you will not understand the reason why I hold on to her and try my best to keep her memory alive.

Happy 3rd Birthday in Heaven, my Rylan! I know your day will be filled with God's best! I love you! Mommy

Sunday, July 3, 2011

You Have Given Me Strength

To My Sweet Rylan,
I was thinking about you today, as I passed by the cemetery were you are buried. I was looking back at the last two years and eight months, remembering the many wonderful thing you have taught me.

As I approach the birth of your baby brother, I am trying my best to remain positive and praying for an uneventful birth. Lately, anxiety and fear have been the main emotions I have been experiencing since I am two weeks from my due date. Honestly, I am so scared. I thought about how you've taught me to ENDURE and to have STRENGTH no matter what trials or joys come my way. I am not going to give up, give in, or back down. God has bought me too far to wimp out. With God, I can do this...I can joyfully await your brother's birth, I can be thankful your brothers and sister, I can walk through this life with my best friend, my husband, and I can humbly rely on God for peace and strength to endure. I love you, my girl! Thank you for giving me the strength to look forward and love.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Paralyzed by Fear

Last week, I was truly paralyzed by the fear that I was going to lose another child. Anna Claire ran a high fever (104-106) for five days, and there was no explanation. I spent countless hours holding her listless body and praying God would heal her. Many of the same feelings of helplessness and fear came over me like the four days I held Rylan.

With Rylan, I was hopeful, prayerful, and believed my God would save her and we would experience a miracle and she would be healed. But God had another plan for her.

With Anna Claire, I prayed but I was doubtful and expected the worst. I prepared myself for hospitalization, death, and a funeral. I know that sounds morbid, but I am being honest and real with you. This is part of who I am, I am a mom who has lost a child, and I will always fight this battle. A battle against the paralyzing fear that one of my precious children will go to heaven before I do. I hate it....the fear that is. I know what I am suppose to do...give it to God....give the children to God. As I write this, I realize that after two and a half years, I am still on the journey of grief and my heart is healing.

Even though I have great comfort in knowing Rylan is in heaven, I can't bear the thought of losing another child. I pray God would allow me to keep my children here, love them, hug them, and cherish them all of their days. I pray God would say "yes" to this prayer.

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About Me

We love deeper and cherish each day given to us because of our trials and joys in this journey of life.