Monday, December 17, 2012

Comfort and Joy

Like the rest of our country, I am deeply heartbroken over the events of last Friday in Newtown, Connecticut. I keep thinking about all those precious little ones who died. I also keep thinking about the parents of those little ones. I know what it's like to lose a child, but I can't help but think that my grief would somehow be different if I had lost a child in such a sudden, horrific way.
Since Cole's death, I have felt a true sense of comfort and joy. One might wonder how that is possible. How do you lose a child and then feel that inner contentment? Eric and I know that our help has come from the Lord. Our faith and belief in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior has given us the assurance that Cole is having a glorious, perfect life now. He has more in Heaven than he would have ever had here on Earth; more than we could ever imagine. Our faith also gives us certainty that we will one day see Cole again. I heard someone this morning on television speaking about joy in the midst of grief, and it confirmed how I have felt since losing Cole. Joy is not the same as happiness. When I am hit with a wave of sadness, my joy is still there. It's an underlying, peaceful feeling that is hard to describe. I believe it's a gift.
In the spirit of the Christmas season, I pray the parents in Newtown will find comfort and joy as they deal with their sorrow. I pray the same for anyone who has lost a child or other loved ones. The pain may run deep, but joy is possible.

Safely Home
Let your grieving be not long,
for I'm home at last where I belong.
Understand - if I were given a choice,
I'd remain here where I now rejoice.
It would be unthinkable to return to earth
from this land of matchless beauty and worth.
Gazing at Christ's loving, majestic face,
I know deeper dimensions of grace.
Do not think I tasted death 'before my time',
rather it was precisely in God's wise design.
At the appointed moment He opened the door
to wonders and splendors undreamed before.
It's all true - never fear,
and soon you will join me here
Where there's no more crying, no more sorrow,
with Christ the Lord in every tomorrow.
- Mae Fortson

Monday, November 19, 2012


Music has always had a profound effect on me. It can stir emotion like nothing else. There are certain songs, usually ones containing verses about Heaven and Christ's victory over death, that really get the tears flowing, especially since losing Cole. The music at my church is exceptional, and on several occasions I have been so moved that I end up shaking while trying desperately not to cry. Yesterday was one of those times. The last song we all sang was one of my favorites, "In Christ Alone". Not only is the melody beautiful, but the lyrics are profound. A sweet friend sang this song at Cole's funeral, so it holds extra special meaning in my heart.

I searched for the song on Youtube, and was surprised to find this version by Owl City. Listen to the words carefully, and enjoy.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

And the winner is...

Cole's Gift by a landslide! With 80% of the votes, Cole's Gift will be the recipient of Finding Magnolia's October payment from their Give it Forward program. Special thanks to Mary of Finding Magnolia for including us on her blog, and to my sister-in-law, Melanie, for making it happen. And a big THANK YOU to everyone who voted!! You can read Mary's announcement here. I am beyond excited!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Weavings Retreat

Last weekend I attended a retreat for mothers who have lost children. It was local, but I was away from home for two nights. I had been feeling rather anxious about going, but when the day came to go, I felt ready. Nervously ready.

Going in, I didn't know anyone there except the social worker who planned it. As I approached the entrance, a couple of volunteers greeted me and immediately offered to carry my bags and lead me to the sign-in table. Overwhelming? You bet. I guess they wanted to make sure we didn't turn around and leave. I went to my room for the first time to find a basket of goodies on my bed. Then I headed down the hall to a lounge to meet some of the other moms and make my name tag for the weekend. I was told to take a photo of Cole to another room where I would find a table with candles and empty photo stands. I placed the photo on one of the stands and lit Cole's candle. So far so good, but I didn't know who my roommate was yet.

We had dinner, then it all really began. Twenty-two moms and all the volunteers gathered in yet another large room. The moms sat in a circle, and one by one, we shared our child's story. Before the retreat, we had all received a packet which included a long strip of white fabric and a sharpie. The instructions were to write our child's story on the sash, however we wanted. So that first night, our sashes were shown to the other moms as we told our stories, then they were woven together on a table.

 Cole's sash
It reads: God's SPECIAL creation , our BEAUTIFUL baby boy, mommy's SUNSHINE, a life of MIRACLES, little FIGHTER, incredibly LOVED always , He brought us JOY, a BLESSING to many , MISSED beyond measure
The emotion in the room that night as we shared about our children was heavy. We heard about illnesses, accidents, and drug overdoses; young children, teenagers, and adults. One mom had a stillborn son. Another mom lost two of her adult children within months of each other. I can honestly tell you that despite all of the differences in ages and circumstances, the group as a whole instantly connected, and it was wonderful.
We had small groups within the larger group, and mine was awesome. There were two other moms who lost babies, and one who lost her two year old. We had two very lovely group leaders who not only facilitated our discussions, but they really really listened, encouraged us, and even cried with us. Our small group met several times throughout the weekend.

Late Friday night, I finally met my roommate. She asked me if I was a believer, and I excitedly replied, "yes!". Something I had shared during the large group meeting led her to ask me that question. A bond quickly formed, and we stayed up chatting until about 1 am.
The rest of the weekend consisted of art projects, pampering (a much needed massage for me), and some rituals I had pretty mixed feelings about. I spent some time outside walking the labyrinth on the property. The colors of the trees had really begun to change that weekend, and they were gorgeous.

entrance to the labyrinth

the labyrinth and lovely trees

the tree in the center of the labyrinth where moms,
past and present, left tokens for their children

I thought this was nice
I went into this weekend skeptical and uncertain that I would get a whole lot out of it. What I did get, though, are new, beautiful friends that understand my loss and how I feel, and that is priceless. The stories of their children are now rooted in my heart. What I also got were more opportunities to share Cole's life with others, which I love to do. I tried to emphasize what a gift and blessing he was, and most importantly, to express the gratitude I feel for his life and the immense JOY I now am able to feel in the midst of my grief. If nothing else, that was truly my goal for the weekend: to show that it IS possible to feel joy. Our last circle time on Sunday allowed each of us to tell our wish for the others. I'll repeat it here because it truly is my wish, my prayer really, that anyone who has lost a child will be able to find some joy. Even just a little bit.
Here are a couple of sweet bonuses from the weekend: I was able to share about Cole's Gift to the whole group, and even had a new friend tell me she wants to make a donation.  And throughout the weekend, I bonded in particular with a gal who lost her precious, 8 week old baby girl ,Corey, just this past May to a rare genetic condition. Corey's momma and I like to think that Corey and Cole are now little friends in Heaven. Corey and Cole, I mean, how cute is that?
I'm thankful for Weavings and for the people that made it possible. And I'm thankful for the God-given strength to get there, enjoy it, and endure it.




Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Vote for Cole's Gift

I am feeling overwhelmed, thankful, and humbled today. I found out this morning that Cole's Gift is featured on the wonderful blog, Finding Magnolia. My sister-in-law, Cole's Auntie Melanie, made this happen. Finding Magnolia has a rather large audience, so I am thrilled that more people are going to read about Cole and see his sweet face. More importantly though, readers will have the opportunity to vote for Cole's Gift to be the recipient of a $200+ payment from Finding Magnolia's Give it Forward program. Please go to Finding Magnolia to vote, and as a bonus, you'll be linked to Melanie's blog, Like a Radio, to read her beautiful tributes to Cole. And if you hang out on Like a Radio, you'll see photos of my adorable nieces, and will discover what an incredible writer Melanie is. But I digress.

Voting is open until midnight October 23rd.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Cole's Gift: Update

The project that kept me very busy in September involved Cole's Gift. After my friend Beth Wendling, the President of Orphans Treasure Box Books in Champaign, IL, told us that she wanted to create Cole's Gift to help a family adopting a child with a life-threatening illness, Eric had the idea that we should host a book drive, then travel to Champaign to deliver the books. The timing could not have been more perfect given that Cole's death anniversary was in September. I created an "event" on Facebook and sent out a mass email to friends and family asking them to donate their used books. In about a two week period, I spent a good amount of time coordinating book drop-offs and pick ups. I did a lot of driving, met a few new people, and got to see some friends I don't see that often. It was fun and exhausting.

I figured we might receive a couple hundred books that would easily fit into my small SUV. God had other plans! The Tuesday before the weekend we were to go to Champaign, a friend of mine helped me count books for those who wanted receipts. We counted just over 1,000 books! Wednesday through Friday, I drove around town and picked up books from three or four other people, and the back of my car completely filled up at least twice. We easily received another thousand books. My car was not going to cut it for the Champaign trip, so we rented a minivan.

As you can see, the minivan worked out great! The rental company even gave us a break on the cost because we were transporting items for a charity. Thank you so very much to everyone who donated books. You honored Cole's memory beautifully!
Eric and I drove to Champaign on the 22nd and unloaded our books at a warehouse. A local Christian radio station recently donated that space to Orphans Treasure Box, and it's a good thing they did! Beth is up to her eyeballs in books. :) 

Eric, me, Beth, and her son at the warehouse


So what's next? Beth has told me that the amount of Cole's gift has been raised from $2,000 to $2,500! I need to begin doing some research so Eric and I can choose the family who will receive this special grant, which we hope to award around next April 27th, which is Cole's birthday. In the meantime, here's how you can help us. Orphans Treasure Box has a store on Amazon where the donated books are for sale. Beth and her volunteers have the tedious task of listing all of those books we brought plus any others they receive. Many, many books have already been sold to assist in the care of orphans in other countries, and Beth has been able to give generous grants to families adopting children who are older or who have special needs. Isn't that cool? You can be part of changing the lives of orphans by shopping the amazon site:

Books are organized alphabetically, so putting keywords in the search box can help. If shopping for books isn't your thing, and you'd still like to help, you can make a monetary donation. Please make out your check to Orphans Treasure Box and send to:

2511 Pinehurst
Champaign, IL 61822
We feel that Cole's Gift and working with Orphans Treasure Box is just part of the big purpose God had for Cole's short life. It's just another something to feel joyful about in the midst of our sorrow. We are truly blessed indeed. 



Thursday, September 27, 2012

One Year Anniversary

Whew. The last couple weeks have been a whirlwind. I am so, so behind with the blog, and I can't believe I let September 16th come and go without posting quickly afterwards. I'll explain what has been keeping me busy later on. For now, I'll concentrate on the events of the 16th (and the 15th, for that matter).

If you've been here before, you probably know that September 16th marked one year since Cole left this earth. We are nearly 2 weeks past that date now, and it still seems impossible that Cole has been gone for that long. As the day got closer and closer, I felt anxious. I was concerned I was going to be an emotional wreck that day. After all, September was already proving to be an emotionally difficult month.

It just so happened that on the 15th, there was going to be a picnic for Wings families. Wings is a pediatric supportive care program out of St. Louis Children's Hospital. Cole had spent 5 weeks in the NICU at Children's before he came home. Nurses from Wings visited our home once or twice a week to check on Cole. I could call them whenever I needed to, even in the middle of the night. One of the nurses spent about 4 hours at our home the day Cole suddenly got sick and then had to return to Children's for a week before he died. Wings has a social worker who has come out to see me a few times since Cole died. We didn't have to pay for any of these services. Wings is wonderful and will always have a place in our hearts. But this picnic was going to be the same weekend as Cole's death anniversary, and Eric and I feared it would all be too much. I really wanted to see the Wings staff, though, so we decided to attend.

We reminisced with the nurses about Cole and the joy of having him at home. I laughed a whole lot, and that was great.These ladies loved our Cole-man so much, and I am incredibly thankful that they are now part of our lives.This picnic may have actually come at just the right time.

At the end of the picnic, we all released butterflies. I had envisioned a perfect photo-op with a sky full of butterflies, but that didn't happen. Instead, many of the butterflies flew out of their little envelopes and hung out on the ground for awhile. The weather was cool that day, so not the best conditions for butterflies, but it allowed us to really look at them and admire their beauty.

Sunday the 16th arrived. As I look back on it, I think I felt the way I did the day of Cole's funeral. I was a bit numb and not overly emotional. Grief is strange sometimes. I guess I was just focused on and really looking forward to celebrating Cole. My parents and Eric's parents are our only family members in town except for my grandmother, who is pretty much confined to a nursing home. We had planned to all be together that day. The first stop on our celebration "tour" was a visit to the cemetery. I have mentioned before how much I love where Cole is laid to rest. It's a quiet, peaceful place surrounded by trees, and sometimes we may even see a deer or two. Thankfully, the cemetery is only about 15 minutes from home. We talked to Cole, his pinwheel spun, we gave him some fall decor, and we all sang "Jesus Loves Me".

Next we headed to a lovely park in our town for a picnic. The park has special meaning for us because it has a tree that is planted in Cole's memory. Last year when Eric and I returned home after Cole's visitation, we sat down to read through some of the cards we received. One was from several of our neighbors letting us know they had all gone in together to have the tree planted. We were stunned. A few of these neighbors didn't really know us well at all, yet they gave us this sweet, very generous gift. We didn't even know where that park was and had to find it on a map. I love that park now. I love that Cole's tree is there for others to see and enjoy.

After our picnic, we all headed back to our neighborhood for the main event. Last year, Eric's parents purchased a Chinese paper lantern that we launched the night of Cole's funeral. It was incredibly moving, and we decided to make it an annual tradition. Eric's parents live up on a hill, so we knew it would be a good launching site. We wrote messages to Cole, and sent the lantern up into the sky, which still had just a hint of blue in it. Just like last year, this new tradition was beautiful and moving. One of my neighbors texted me just minutes after we launched the lantern to let me know she and her daughters had seen it, and they talked about Cole as they watched. I was really touched.

Here's the video of the lantern launch:

September 16th has come and gone, and we got through it. I thank God for granting us the strength to do so. What a joy it was to celebrate our sweet boy's life in such memorable ways.

On a side note, I had a dream about Cole two nights ago. Sometimes I go to bed at night, and I pray that Cole will appear in a dream. I think I've only had one other dream about him since he left us, and I couldn't remember much about it. But my dream the other night was pretty vivid, although the scenario was weird and unclear. Anyway, in this dream, Cole was perfect. The baby didn't look exactly like Cole, but I was calling him Cole. He was smiling, giggling, and running, and I was telling people, "Look at Cole! Look at what he can do!". I woke up with a twinge of disappointment that it was only a dream, but I was immediately struck with the thought that maybe the dream was just a glimpse of what Cole's life is like in Heaven. It's perfect, and he is perfect.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Battle

September is here, and it's been a hard month so far. I knew it would be. The first anniversary of Cole's death is less than 2 weeks away, and well, that just seems crazy. And I actually feel a bit crazy right now. I just cried and cried because I miss Cole so much. We have a busy month ahead, and all the things happening and coming up are good and positive, yet I feel like a crazy person emotionally. I'm overwhelmed by the busy-ness, and my heart is still broken. We just began a wonderful project to benefit others and to honor Cole's memory, and I am thankful for that opportunity. Our journey has brought new friends into my life and has re-connected me with old ones. This is all good, right? I know it is, yet none of it would have come about if Cole had been a normal, healthy baby. Cole struggled for 4 1/2 months, then he died. And now all these "good" things are happening. I don't know if I'm properly articulating the way I feel. It's just an emotional, spiritual battle.  I ask God "why" when I know full well I may never get the answer I want. I know He wants me to simply trust him. I need to trust that his plan for me is good. It is way better than anything I could dream up myself. Everything that happened last year and everything that has come to us as a result is part of that plan. Everything yet to come is part of that plan.

I will trust. It may be a battle, but I will trust.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Family Photo Shoot

Our family received a wonderful gift one year ago today. A friend and neighbor of mine knew of a local photographer that was looking to photograph a family with unique circumstances. My friend wrote the photographer about us, and we were chosen to receive the photo shoot for free. We were overwhelmed with gratitude.

Keri Dummerth came to our home and spent about three hours taking photos of the three of us. She told us just to do what we normally do, and she would click away. She made it fun and so easy, and she took the most beautiful photos. Our family will treasure them forever. Click here to see the post on Keri's blog about our photo shoot.

Check out more of Keri's photos on some of my earlier posts. And here are some more of my favorites (you'll notice we removed Cole's feeding tube so we could see his whole, beautiful face):




Thank you so, so much again Keri!




Saturday, August 18, 2012

A Really Good Day

Yesterday was a really good day. I wanted so much to write about it yesterday, but good things kept happening and I didn't have time to sit down at the computer. After weeks and weeks of extreme heat, St. Louis is finally getting a break in the weather. It has been beautiful this week, in fact, it feels like fall! I decided to start getting up earlier as often as I can to start the day with a walk in my lovely neighborhood, which is surrounded by hills and trees. Anyone who knows me well will agree that this is a big deal as I am not a morning person. I have not been exercising as often as I should, and unfortunately I am still carrying a lot of the weight I gained when I was pregnant with Cole. I am turning 40 next week (gulp!), and I want more energy. I need a whole lot more energy. Let me tell you that on the two days where I had walked in the morning, I felt absolutely energized. It was incredible! Yesterday was one of those days.

I headed out to run some errands, which included Target and Trader Joe's. Shopping at either of those places is always a good thing in my book. On my way I decided to take a detour and go to the cemetery. The day before, the 16th, marked 11 months since Cole's death, and the heat had kept me away from the cemetery for at least a month, maybe even two. I was overdue for a visit. I have mentioned the pinwheel we have on Cole's spot before. Whenever I see it spin, I picture Cole waving to me from Heaven.  As I drove up yesterday, I could see it just spinning away, and it was like Cole was waving and saying "Hi Mom! Where've you been?". I got out and crouched down to pull some weeds and long grass that had grown along the edges of the headstone. The pinwheel was still. Out loud I said, "I really miss you Cole", and that thing started spinning again! I laughed and kept talking, telling Cole about all the people that miss him. The pinwheel would move ever so slightly here and there. I never quite know what to make of that pinwheel, but it makes me really happy. Yesterday it was like Cole was right there with me listening and responding. I loved it. The weather was similar to what it was like the day of his funeral. The sky was bright blue, the temperature was pleasant, and there was a nice breeze. It was perfect. Needless to say, this visit with Cole energized me even more. The tone had been set for a really good day.

I went to Target and ended up being there longer than I had planned (as usual). It was lunch time, so I grabbed a sandwich and headed to a nearby park so that I could sit outside and eat. I didn't see another person there, and that was fine. I sat under a pavilion with my sandwich and my snazzy new smart phone (an early birthday present from Eric), and pulled up some music to listen to. A couple of the songs I heard as I ate reminded me of God's love. I needed that. I left for Trader Joe's and stocked up. I even bought some sunflowers which suited my mood. If you are reading this and don't know what TJ's is, you should google it. Then you should go to their website and suggest they build a TJ's near you. I'm serious.

I went home and still felt all that energy. I visited with a friend in my neighborhood up at her house, then popped in on my mother-in-law, who lives just across the street from that friend. Yes, my in-laws live in my neighborhood and it is the best. I couldn't have asked for better in-laws. Anyway, I headed back home an hour and a half later. Eric was home from work. We had our usual Friday night pizza, then to take advantage of the weather, we decided to go play putt-putt. He beat me by one point. Whatever. :) It was so much fun, and a good end to a really good day.

Thank you Lord for yesterday and for every day. Thank you for all of your blessings and for giving me reminders that you love me.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


I've been invited to take part in a retreat in October for moms who have lost children. Sometimes it is just surreal that I am in that category, in that group of moms that I used to feel so sad for. I still feel sad for them. And now I'm one of them.

Right now I feel like I can go on the retreat without any problem. It still seems pretty far off, but I know that as it gets closer and closer, I'll start to feel nervous about it. I've opted not to go to any support groups since Cole died. I haven't felt like I've needed it. Eric and I have had such strong support from our family and friends, plus I've had the opportunity to talk with a few people one on one, whether in person or online, who have lost a child, and that has been incredibly helpful. Sharing my feelings in a group setting will be very different, and I hope I'll be ready.

I began filling out the lengthy retreat application today. Only 25 women get to participate, hence the application. I couldn't fill it out in one sitting. I finished the first two pages or so which included describing my relationship with Cole and the story about his death. That was enough for me for today. I had to fight back tears as I wrote about the last moments of his life. One of these days, I will write that story here. The tricky thing about my blog is that it is a mix of past and present, where I think most blogs focus on the present. I'm probably over-thinking it (like I often do with most things), but I'm still figuring out how to balance the story of Cole's life with what is currently happening in my life. I want to share so much, and I want to do it right.

To all of you who have read newsighted, thank you so, so much! Please be patient with me as I figure out how and when to share the details of Cole's story. If you have read my blog and only know what you've read here, I feel like I've left you hanging. Thanks for hanging, though. I hope you'll continue to come back .

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Cole's Gift

Last week, I reconnected with my friend Beth (thanks Facebook!). We have not seen each other or even talked for probably 4 -5 years. We wrote back and forth to catch up on each other's lives. She knew nothing about Cole, of course, so I filled her in and referred her to my blog. Beth started and runs a wonderful non-profit organization in Champaign, IL called Orphans Treasure Box Books. They sell donated, used books on-line through Amazon, and 100% of the net profit goes to orphan care and adoption assistance. In the midst of our online conversations this week, Beth decided that she wants Orphans Treasure Box to give a $2000 grant to a family who is adopting a child with a life - threatening illness. She wants to do this once every year that Orphans Treasure Box exists. She wants to call that grant "Cole's Gift". I read her message and was immediately overcome with emotion. Eric and I are both incredibly touched that Beth wants to honor Cole in this wonderful way. I asked her if she would be able to give us information on any of the families that receive the grant, and she told me she would actually like for Eric and I to be involved in the process of choosing the family. She even asked if I would research and find out which adoption agencies serve children who have life-threatening illnesses. Without question I'm going to do this. I have the time, and it will be good for me to have a project. I am so excited about what has transpired this week. It is such a God thing! Beth and I both can see God's hand in getting the two of us reconnected. He has plans, and those plans are big!

When I called my parents to tell them about Cole's Gift, my dad said something like, "Cole is still making things happen here". We told Eric's parents about it tonight, and my mother-in-law said, "Isn't God amazing?". Yes He is.

To "like" Orphans Treasure Box Books on Facebook, please click here.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

It's Okay to Ask

It's okay to ask me about Cole.

I appreciate the thoughtfulness of friends and family who ask me about Cole's life, death, and how I am dealing with it. There are some who never ask, and well, it hurts. I try my best to give them the benefit of the doubt since I know that everyone deals with loss very differently. But really, if I'm face to face with someone, and I know that they know what happened last year, and they don't ask me about any of it, then I feel like there's a big elephant in the room. And then I feel disappointed, confused, and angry. Do they want to spare my feelings?  Do they want to just spare their own feelings? Have they forgotten about Cole? Is that even possible? I don't know the answer, and I surely never confront them. I guess at some point I won't expect to be asked all the time, and I pray that will happen sooner than later. Grief is a process though, and I don't know that I can change it or speed it up. So for now I want to be asked. Maybe I need to be asked. And if you've asked already, I really, truly am thankful.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

10,000 Reasons

I love the song "10,000 Reasons" by Matt Redman. I especially love this verse:

"The sun comes up,
Its a new day dawning.
Its time to sing your song again.
What ever may pass and whatever lies before me,
Let me be singing when the evening comes."

This is a good reminder for me to stay focused on the Lord and to keep trusting and praising him no matter what the days bring. Take a listen here.

Sunday, July 8, 2012


For the sake of noting another anniversary, I'm jumping way ahead in our story. On July 8th one year ago, after spending the first 10 1/2 weeks of his life in the NICU of two different hospitals, Cole came home. It was one of the greatest miracles of his life. He had proven just days before that he could breathe completely on his own. It was so unexpected and simply amazing. I was ecstatic. Eric and I spent the night at the hospital the night before going home to have a trial run with Cole. He had a very set schedule of medications and feedings, and it was our job that night to handle those responsibilities ourselves, knowing there were nurses just outside our room to help us if we needed it. We made it through the night without much sleep, and I figured we'd be leaving the next day by noon at the latest. But that day ended up being long and filled with a mix of emotions. There were many papers to sign. There was medical equipment to learn how to use. We had a quick course in CPR. The car seat had to be installed and rigged in a certain way to ensure Cole could breathe okay. And there were many, many goodbyes to the doctors and nurses who cared for Cole and for our family so wonderfully. I remember some of his nurses, who referred to themselves as Cole's girlfriends, talking about Cole going to the zoo. The zoo? I discovered at some point that in their sadness over seeing the babies leaving the hospital, they referred to home as the zoo. It made it easier on them, I guess.

I was a wreck by the afternoon; so exhausted and so incredibly anxious to get Cole in the car and go. We were finally packed up and ready around 4 pm. Cole looked so tiny in his car seat. I got in the back seat and just kept my eyes on Cole as we headed down the highway. He looked content. My heart was content. At last we would have our son in our home, in his home, free from monitors and excess noise. At last we would have a baby in the crib that had been empty for too long. At last we would be a family under one roof with some sense of normalcy.

Thank you Lord for that day. You made it possible, and I will be forever grateful.

Cole's room at St. Louis Children's Hospital

all snuggled in

Here we go!

home at last

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Beginning

I got pregnant in September 2010, about 3 1/2 years after Eric and I got married. We'd been trying for nearly a year, so of course we were very excited when it finally happened. I've wanted to be a mother for as long as I can remember. I could hardly wait to find out if the baby was a boy or a girl. I really, REALLY wanted a son. My husband is a sweetheart, and I just knew that any son of Eric's would be very sweet too. And  I wanted a son named Cole. Eric's middle name is Cole, and his grandfather, great-grandfather (I believe), and uncle were named Cole. I just loved it. The name Cole was simple and sweet.

At my 20 week ultrasound, it was confirmed that we were having a boy. I was overjoyed. We both were. But our joy suddenly diminished when we were told that the ultrasounds were showing several calcification spots. One was on the baby's heart. I asked my doctor what the worst case scenario could be, and she said it could be a marker for Downs Syndrome. She sent me to another doctor to get higher-resolution ultrasounds. He confirmed that the baby did not have downs, and we were relieved. I had these ultrasounds every three weeks from that point on to monitor the spots, and they eventually became a non-issue. At some point, we were told that the baby was small. I am 6 feet tall, and Eric is 6'2", so this didn't make much sense to me. Plus my belly was huge! I was retaining a heck-of-a lot of fluid. The doctors never seemed particularly alarmed. At the 32 week ultrasound, Cole was 3 lbs. 12 oz. He had been growing at the same rate at every checkup, though, so that was good. We didn't need to be worried. My mother's instinct felt like something was not right. I remember thinking at one point that I might have a baby with special needs. I think God was starting to prepare my heart.

On Sunday April 17th, 2011, I began having some contractions and light spotting. We went to the hospital in the middle of the night, and we spent about three hours there. I was sent home because I was not in labor, and I was told to take some medication to keep the contractions in check. I was fine for about a week. On the following Sunday, which happened to be Easter, the contractions and spotting started again. I tried to ignore them and felt if we went to the hospital again, I would just be sent home. The contractions persisted. Night time came, and I could not sleep at all. Finally at about 3 am, I woke Eric and told him we better get to the hospital. During the 25 minute drive, my contractions seemed to come about every 5 minutes, and I started to feel panicked. Cole was not due until June 9th. It was too soon. I'd had that last ultrasound a week before, so I knew how small Cole was.

We arrived at the hospital, and my water broke, but only a little bit. We were told I was going to have that baby. Tears came instantly. What was going on? I hadn't even had my childbirth class yet. I didn't know how to breathe through contractions. I had not had my baby shower. We were just not ready. The doctors decided to stop labor for at least two days so that I could receive steroid injections for Cole's lung development. Those two days were absolutely terrible. I'll spare you the details, but I don't think I've ever felt physically worse in my whole life. The medication was indeed stopping labor, but its side effects were horrendous.

Cole had a strong heartbeat just like he had throughout the pregnancy. The nurses laughed about how active Cole was. We could hear him on the fetal monitors, and I just couldn't imagine what he was doing in there. He just sounded so busy!

On Wednesday April 27th, the doctors stopped "stopping" my labor, and we all thought it would just start to roll along. It didn't, really, even after I was given pitocin. Concerned about infection, my doctor broke my water completely, and all Hell broke loose. I could feel all that fluid just gushing out, and suddenly I began having unbelieveably intense contractions. They kept coming without hardly a pause in between. I've never experienced pain like that. I couldn't see it, but my doctor said I was bleeding, and just like that, I was rushed out of the room for an emergency c-section. I was told my placenta had probably abrupted, and I might have to be put under. They didn't end up doing that, but I sure felt like I was going under, and it was scary. What happend next is a blur. I remember bright lights and many people rushing around. I remember receiving the epidural and Eric standing next to me saying, "You should see what I'm wearing." Then he said "Cole is out", but I couldn't see Cole. Instead I heard a voice somewhere behind me counting quickly. Somehow in my fog, I realized Cole was receiving CPR. I felt no emotion. I was too drugged.

In the recovery room, someone told me that Cole needed to go to the NICU at a different hospital, but I would be able to see him before he was taken away. He had stopped breathing during the delivery. He was put on a ventilator, but the doctor had a very difficult time putting the tube down Cole's throat because his airway was so small. I was told that Cole's ears were lower than normal, his toes and a few fingers were fused, his head was small, his jaw was pushed back too far, and worst of all, he was having seizures. I listened, still in a fog, and still felt no emotion. Cole was brought into my room in one of those incubator-looking beds. He was swaddled, wearing a hat, had his eyes closed, and wasn't moving much. This was not the active, busy baby I thought I was going to have, but he was here nonetheless.  He was here, and I couldn't hold him, and he was going to be sent about 10-15 minutes down the road to another hospital. It seemed like there were many people in the room with us in addition to my parents and Eric's parents. This was not how I pictured meeting my son for the first time. In my foggy, nauseated state, I reached my hand through one of the holes in Cole's bed, slipped his hat off, and stroked his head. My doctor told me much later that someone else in the room had asked quietly, "Does she get it?". Right then I didn't. None of what was happening seemed real. I'm not sure how much time passed, but it was time for Cole to leave. According to my doctor, I wouldn't get to see him until probably 4 days later.

This was just the beginning of our unexpected, painful journey with our son.

Cole, not long after his birth

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


I cried tonight.

I hadn't done that in awhile. I'd been fine all day. So what was the trigger? Facebook, or more specifically, photos of babies on Facebook. It's not that I envy the friends who have babies. I'm truly, genuinely happy for them. Those photos sometimes remind me of all the things Cole was not able to do, and tonight was one of those times. Maybe I should just block the friends to keep their posts from showing up in my news feed. Or maybe I should just stop checking Facebook. Neither of those will ever happen because I love babies (and I really enjoy Facebook). I love  baby toes and baby skin. I love fuzzy baby heads, and soft baby cheeks. My friends with babies have been given sweet, little gifts. I hope they all realize that as they are dealing with sleepless nights, feedings, diapers, and laundry. So keep the photos coming, friends. I really do love seeing your babies and everything they are doing.

Speaking of cheeks (we were, right?), Cole's were the best. Little man weighed only 3 lbs. 12 oz. when he was born. He was so little, but as he grew, his cheeks seemed to take over. They were soft, squishy, and oh so kissable.

Here are some of my favorite cheek photos:

So peaceful

I grabbed the camera since I knew his eyes
wouldn't stay open for long.

*Showin' some attitude

*One of my most favorite photos of Cole

*Snuggling with Mommy

*I posted this already, I know, but I can't help it.

*The best.

*Photos courtesy of Keri Dummerth Photography