Sunday, May 31, 2009

One week without Vayden ~ Through his mothers eyes

One week ago my baby passed away and joined a host of angel friends in heaven. I miss him dearly. Last Sunday was the day I left the hospital, the room was cleared out as our family waited downstairs for us, Van and I held Vayden kissed him, told him we'll see him again, and most of all said "we love you" Before the nurse came in we bowed our heads and prayed that God get us through this and give us strength, we praised him for the time he allowed us with Vayden and asked that he be well taken care of. The nurse came in and walked with us slowly to the room where we were going to leave Vayden. Van asked if I wanted to carrying him, as much as I did, I said "no, you do it, I carried him for 8 months". We walked slowly, handed him over and cried the entire way out of the hospital. It wasn't supposed to be that way. I was supposed to take my baby with me, not a blanket that smelled like him.

Monday through Wednesday, every morning when I would wake up, I would have this uncontrollable shaking of my upper body, however I felt numb. I will admit that my appetite was non existent, even with some of my favorite foods eating was something I had no need for. One day at 10pm I realized that aside from drinking water, I had only eaten two pcs of bread that entire day, yet I was still not hungry. On Thursday I finally went to get my nails done, it felt right and wrong. Of course a woman should pamper herself, but what mother who just had a baby on Saturday would be at the nail shop on Thursday?? I don't look pregnant anymore, I'm happy to see my feet again, my nail tech said, "long time no see, how's the baby?" At that moment I wished I could have been a woman that still looks pregnant even after the baby is born. I walked around from store to store, trying to find something to wear for his memorial service. This time shopping didn't seem so fun.

On Thursday me and Van went to view Vayden's body one last time, before his remains would be turned into ashes. I thought it would be this CSI, john doe thing, go into the morgue, open a stainless steel refrigerator door and confirm that was Vayden. I was pleasantly surprised when she escorted us to a room where Vayden laid in a small basket wrapped in a warm blanket, under a soft light. He was beautiful, his skin so pink, I'm not sure if they put make up on him, but they did brush his hair. She closed the door and said take all the time you need. We spent about 15-20 min in with Vayden crying and kisses him, getting the last hugs and pictures with him. I am so thankful I was able to see him that way as a last way of seeing him, he truly looked like he was just sleeping. What a wonderful, wonderful picture for memory.

Monday through Friday I stayed up late into the night planning and preparing for the service, the over planner over protective, I want it my way side came out of me, as I felt that I had home court advantage over the service planning. I am his mother, right? Many times I had to remind myself that I am not the only one grieving this loss & that my family is just here to help.

Last week I should have been planning my baby shower to be on Saturday (5/30). Instead I planned for my sons memorial service. Saturday morning, dressed for a funeral, I told Van, we should be going to Vayden's baby shower, not his funeral. He held me tight wiped my tears, and said we're going to get through this. Van has been amazing, with this all, at times I expected to walk through this alone, he has proved me so wrong and I have fallen in love with him all over again. I married a wonderful man.

I speak to everyone that calls me on the phone, so if you'd like to call please know that unless I'm spending time with Van or Vashon I will be up to talking. I cry everyday, but I also laugh everyday. I feel that is a healthy balance and I make it a strong point to wake up, give thanks to God, shower, drink lots of water and if I have a moment, I take my moment. I scream, I cry, I laugh, I smile, I do it all for my son. I love him dearly, miss him tremendously and will never forget that moment when he looked into my eyes.

* A 2nd post is below that talks about his memorial service*

Remembering Vayden ~ Memorial Service

Yesterday marked one week without my baby Vayden. It was also the day we celebrated his life and hosted his memorial service. The service was held at Bill Eisenhour Funeral Home, in Del City, OK and officiated by Pastor P.S. Hagger of New Testament Christian Church of Del City. The Service was only about an hour long but was so meaningful. I feel we honored Vayden greatly, his unique name will allow him to stand out, his story will continue to touch the hearts of many and the love that everyone has for him will be everlasting. I read the poem "A pair of shoes" my husband and all the other military members that attended, stood up all dressed in their AF blues and sang the "Air Force Song" that Van sang to both Vayden and Vashon. As a tribute to Vayden, my husband, mother and dear friend Sheena read special remarks about Vayden our family and my strength in carrying to term. The slide show I provided was played, which brought on a lil tears but also brought laughter. The service although sad had it's moments where the guest laughed as we brought light to this situation.
Pastor Hagger was amazing, I had only met this man two days prior, but he spoke so wonderfully. All I said to him was please don't talk about "why me". I wanted the guest to leave the service; hug their husbands, wives and run fast to go pick up their kids. I did not want them to leave thinking "what kind of God do we have that would take a baby". That is exactly what he did as his message spoke about "Appointments" it touched me personally because, he spoke about how we prepare for so many appointments in the world, but how we rarely prepare for our appointment to meet the Lord. It was comforting to know that although I was praying and praying for a different outcome for Vayden, I also prepared myself for his appointment, I enjoyed my time with him, I gave him so much love, hugs and kisses, I found out character traits about him while still in the womb, told him about his family. When the time came to finally meet him, we did the same as we prepared for his appointment. Showing him nothing but pure 100% true love, if you have to go you couldn't go in a better way than that.

The funeral home was so kind and great, the directors were very pleasant I was am very happy that we chose them, to celebrate Vayden's life with us, they even came to us after the service and told us that they don't get many babies, when they do they are always a lil sadder, but Vayden's service was the best they've seen by far. Talk about putting a smile on face.

I have no regrets about the service and thank everyone who helped me and my family put this thing together in only 1 week. I now know why I never had a formal wedding, party planning is hard. lol

We've received and are so thankful for all the flowers, but we'd also like to offer as an alternative. Consider making a donation to the following non profit organizations that have been extremely helpful in Vayden's name:

Now I lay Me Down To Sleep – Infant bereavement photography

The Fetal hope foundation - to help spread the word about rare fetal conditions like LUTO.

String Of Pearls – provides a nurturing and safe place for families as they navigate the path following a fatal prenatal diagnosis that will result in the death of their baby prior to, or shortly after birth.

Sufficient Grace Women’s Ministries – Provides, comfort packages to families in time of loss, along with great support.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The birth story of an Angel

It was May 22, 2009. I was awaken early by a phone call from Van, saying their coming home (finally) today and I need to pick him up at noon, I looked at the clock, OMG!!! it's 8am. The house was a bit of a mess, Vashon's toys everywhere. I get up rush to clean up shower and shave I hadn't seen my husband in 23 days. Our Memorial day weekend was already planned to go to Tulsa to spend with his side of the family at the lake, kind of our way of having one more weekend of normal life before our world was turned upside down. The delay in Van getting home and our to do list, gave us a lil time at home, no time to pack, and few mins to take a nap. We wake up and remember that we needed to change our cell phone service from sprint to AT&T, so we head over to the AT&T store. It was 5:40pm when I casually text my mom saying "I may be having minor contractions, hope your bags are packed". Thinking in my mind they were nothing but braxton hicks. I never experienced them with Vashon, so I really wasn't sure. In fact I insisted I had gas for about 20 min, not gonna lie I did eat Mexican food that day, lol.

By 6:30 pm the contractions, were about 3-4 min apart, and I was in a lot of pain. Still I insisted they were braxton hicks and if I went in to be checked I would only be about 2 cm dilated. I asked Van to take me home, so I could take a warm bath then lay down for an hour. That didn't work out to well as the pain became stronger and closer and Van over ruled and said we're going to the hospital. I still felt they were going to keep me for a lil while stop labor and what not so we didn't pack, not to mention Van was so freaked out by my intense screams he could no longer bare to see me in such pain.

At 7:20 pm we're in OB triage and I'm told that I'm already 8cm dilated. WOW!!!! I broke down crying, looked at the nurse and said I have 7 nails, my hair is nappy and my eyebrows look like chubaca. They unlocked my bed and started rolling it Labor and Delivery, that is when I realized that I didn't even know I was dilated, and I clearly labor fast. Then it hit me. I have nothing for Vayden. I cried and cried, how could I have done so much to remember my son while I carried him and nothing on the day I finally would meet him? I asked for my epidural ASAP!!! and got it. Then started to calm down, I was going to figure something out.
I asked Van to call Carrie from NILMDTS, I asked for my purse thank God my camera was in there and had a decent charge. I then got my phone knowing I could have maybe an hour or two, I was going to refuse to be checked for as long as I could. This baby wasn't coming out until he forced himself out. I was not planning to help. lol.
I called my friend Sara who I knew lived not to far from the hospital. I asked if she could please go to wal mart and get a preemie baby outfit a blanket and a cap. She was honored to do it and was there quickly she even remembered to pick up some socks for Vayden. I thank her so very much for how helpful she was. I still wanted my care packages, so I called my friend Morgan who lives off base but has access to get on. She had to come to the hospital to get our house key , then to our house and back to the hospital. She didn't think twice about coming and did it quickly. Carrie from NILMDTS had no photographers in town, she said that she would come out to be with us. Carrie just went through a round of chemo that week I knew she probably wasn't feeling great, but she found the strength to come be with us. Truly 3 wonderful walking angels.

Once everyone was there, my midwife (who was not on call but came up to be with me) told me I was ready and I could start pushing. With my midwife, two nurse and Van by my side I started pushing. Carrie stayed quiet in the back round taking photo and my MIL walked in about 5 min before his head was out. Midnight Vayden James Stewart was born 4 lbs 15 oz & 17 3/4" long. Only one ounce bigger than his brother Vashon, but looking just like he did when he was born. I fell in love all over again. Vayden let out a cry it was a bit of a struggling sound, but we were told he may not even be able to cry. They left him on my chest for a lil while until the placental expelled, so that we could hear him cry and coo more. He opened his eyes and looked into the eyes of both me and my husband. Van's attachment hit instantly, he was overwhelmed with joy and sadness, because he knew Vayden was fighting for his life. I however only felt utter and complete joy. I was so happy he made it through labor and a vaginal delivery.

After a few mins with him I wanted to know more about his condition, he just looked too perfect, to be sick, although we could hear his weak cry and see his struggle to breathe he was just so perfect. Van cut the cord and we let him go to the other side of the room to receive a quick assessment. Everyone in the room politely stayed out of my way so that I could still see him. They checked him and said his heart was great but his breathing was bad, I asked for him to come back to my arms, but requested that daddy bring him to me. The NICU Dr's said he could be with us for about 30-60 min without breathing support.

We took that time to love on Vayden, I sang "you are my sunshine" and "happy birthday" my husband sang the Air Force song, he always sang to Vashon to get him to calm down. We cried and gave thanks to God at the same time. Two hours later with no breathing support Vayden was still with us. We called for the NICU to come down, we were considering having him taken up there to get a better assessment. They came down with a machine to check Vayden's lungs and oxygen levels, she sat with us and told us that his lungs were very underdeveloped and he was not getting proper oxygen. She then paused with tears in her eyes, said we can take him upstairs but that will not save him just prolong this. We agreed with our initial choice to show him nothing but love, we said thank you and she left us with our baby. Thirty min later that same NICU Dr. came to our room and said she felt she didn't tell us enough. While holding Vayden in my arms she said, "you guys are doing the right thing", tears came to her eyes as she said we are in her prayers.

Right before he passed away we had him baptized and Van, myself and his paternal grandmother told him "it's ok to go home to be with Jesus" Vayden fooled us for a while as he would get very quiet, we thought he had gone and then he would let out a coo cry or open his eyes. One last kiss on his cheek I said "it's ok baby, you can go, I love you".

Vayden James Stewart died in my arms at 3:45am. We held him and cried. I got up to use the restroom and broke down as I had to change my blood stained hospital gown. I begged the nurse to please let me keep it. She said it was fine. I pulled myself together walked over to my son and changed him into a different outfit from what his father put him in earlier. It was not hard at all as I smiled and handled Vayden gently.

We made foot prints on everything, the hospital did a 3D mold of his hands and feet, we took over 300+ pictures. Then me and Van laid in bed with our son and fell asleep.

I'm so proud of Vayden he fought a good fight and changed my world along with many others. Although short, what a meaningful life. Something we all strive for, something my son did. He is in Heaven now watching over mommy, daddy, and brother Vashon.

We give thanks to God for giving us a life changing 3 hrs and 45 min with our son.
- For every comment, text message, email and phone call thank you. I do read them all and I do appreciate every single one of them. Thank you so very much

Sunday, May 24, 2009

An angel was born

Vayden James Stewart was born May 23,2009 at midnight. He weighed 4 lbs 15 oz and was 17 3/4" long. Vayden lived with us for 3 hrs 45 min, without any breathing support. We were so blessed to hear him cry, see him open his eyes and coo a lil. He was struggling but still strong. We miss him very very much but were so very blessed that he made it through a vaginal delivery and stayed with us for almost 4 hrs. God is Good. Vayden was 35 wks exactly. His in in heaven now, watching over his daddy, mommy and big brother Vashon. He was welcomed into nothing but love and he left with nothing but love. I will write soon with my birth story.

p.s. He looked just like Vashon when Vashon was born, however Vayden had 1 ounce on Vashon. Go Vayden!!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

But you gotta have faith

In these past few weeks more strangers are becoming brave to ask me questions about why I'm carrying to term, why I'm selecting comfort care, and the bravest of the brave ask me why I'm just going to let my baby die? I've also had many people tell me to pray and pray harder, I've been constantly reminded that God performs miracles, and I need to keep my faith.

I have faith. I still love God in fact I love him even more now, is that not faith? I'm carrying to term, I found out I lost fluid at 22 weeks, 12 weeks ago I could have said it's over lets get him out, but I didn't. Is that not faith? Is accepting that our prayers for a total and complete healing will be answered on earth or in heaven not faith? Yet because I contacted Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep and because I've booked the base chapel. I've been told that I don't have faith in what God can do.

So because I planned for the worst and the best, I have now spoken death to my child and there is no need for God to intervene??? Is that what you are trying to tell me ??? How many stories have you heard of people trying to slit their wrist and missing the vein? Or blow their brains out and missing the part that kills them?? is that not God??

God is not Santa Clause, all too often do people expect him to be, at the first moment they don't get what they wanted, they turn their back on him.

God is not and never does things like this to push you in the ground and kick dirt in your mouth, from all that is bad something does come good.

The point that I'm making is this is not up to me anymore, in fact it never was. However I have been told something is wrong and it has been explained to me how fatal it can be. I find that I've done a wonderful job in keeping my FAITH in check, otherwise this would have been over a long time ago. I want my baby more than anything, as I'm sure all the other wonderful faithful parents who have lost did also. I don't know what the final chapter will read for Vayden, but please don't mis understand my actions for a lack of faith, especially if you have not walked two steps in the shoes I'm wearing now.

I've addressed our choice for comfort care in previous post, so no need to go back around that merry go round, please understand that comfort care is not set in stone. Vayden will be assessed and then and only then will the true choice be made. I will not even address the "why am I just going to let my baby die?" because everyone who knows me and has truly read Vayden's story knows that we would never do something like that.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Maternity Photo Shoot

When I was 31 weeks, I was offered a courtesy photo shoot, from Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep They do remembrance photography for the unfortunate families that have to deal with the hurt and pain of loosing a child. The service is completely free and the photographers work on a volunteer only base, taking time out of their busy life and work schedules to be there for families in the most tragic times. Carrie LaFollette is the NILMDTS OKC Metro Area Coordinator, I contacted her after finding out that Vayden's kidneys had failed. She opened her arms, heart and ears to me within mins of reading my email, never once did she treat me like a job, she spoke to me like a friend. Carrie is fighting colon cancer, I would like everyone who prays for Vayden to please also pray for her in this battle, she is a true walking angel . From Carrie I met Christy Walker Goodger of Goodger Photography, in OKC . Christy is a very very talented photographer and a volunteer for NILMDTS, when she met with us we talked for a while and she was so warm and welcoming, she also did not treat me like a job, she treated me like a friend. I feel in love with her mins into the session and I wish I could take her home and keep her. I never once thought the pictures may not look good, and as you can see below they are perfect. Christy's son Ryan just joined the USAF "Go Blue" so while you're praying for everyone else, please pray that he does well and that the family doesn't miss him too much. Christy is also a walking angel.
Here are the photos done by Christy Goodger, thank you so much - The Stewart Family

Please consider supporting the mission of NILMDTS
* it can be done in Vayden's name

Thursday, May 7, 2009

She told me to just say "F*%^ It"

Yesterday was a bad day for me. It was my time to get my it's just not fair moment. I took it very hard and cried for almost the whole day. I had wonderful people just a phone call away to help me through the tears. They have all been through some form of life event that makes you go in the corner scream and cry, WHY ME??? and say things like IT'S NOT FAIR!!!. Because they knew 1st hand what I was going through they let me have my time to sulk in my bad day, they listened and did not judge. I thank you Auntie, Lisa, Jessica and Kristen.

I went to bed with every intention to wake up and have a better day, however that was not the case. I felt bad all over again. My mom so perfectly called me as I was having my moment once again, with her past experience she let me have my moment, however being that she is my mother, she gave me the wonderful motherly advice I needed. I was then able to speak to Jenn who lost Matthew only 2 mo ago, I was reassured once again that the feelings I was having were normal. Thank you Mom and Jenn.

Pam is a military wife who's daughter is suffering from potters syndrome. She is stationed in Alaska away from family, like myself and is dealing with a lot of feelings a mixed emotions. She is the only one I know of right now standing in limbo with me. She is set to deliver 1 week after I do. I emailed her to tell her about my hard time, knowing she would understand thinking she would maybe be going through those same feelings right along with me. However in her reply she said her supportive piece but then told me to just say "f*^% it". She said it's not about anyone right now, but Vayden, and to just spend time with him and enjoy whatever I have with him. She said not to worry and stress over the people who don't yet understand or make it hard for me, she said just stop giving a damn. Have fun with Vayden, make memories and be a normal pregnant woman, not one that feels her belly is a burden.

I took her advice immediately. I got dressed got Vashon dressed, turned my phone on silent and me and my boys went to the zoo. We had a wonderful time, of course until we had to leave and Vashon hit the floor and I had to walk away gracefully. Otherwise I would be in questioning from CPS, lol. After the zoo we got a fat burrito from chipotle and I ate it all in under 10 min ( nothing out of the norm for me, lol)

I'm glad I listened to Pam it was wonderful advice. I didn't cry over Vayden, I enjoyed him and it was a good day. So thank you Pam.

*Above are the pics from today. The 1st pic is Vashon when we left the zoo, he was so mad at me that we had to leave. I was talking to him and he just put his sunglasses on to try to block me out. Take note to how he put them on, lol. I'm 33 weeks along and here is yet another place that Vayden has been so blessed to visit.
*Today I did a double post, so there is also a second post below this one FYI*

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Birth Mothers

Birth mothers are remarkable wonderful women in my opinion. Yet they are so often made to look like drug addicts or money hungry women. The big picture is that they giving Gods greatest gift to a family worthy but not able, not everyone can be a birth mother and it's not an easy thing to do.

A former classmate of mine, is a birth mother. When I found out that Vayden was said to not make it. I battled with contacting her, in my heart I felt like she may understand me just as a mother who's child has died, however I didn't want to imply that I viewed her child as dead. I contacted her anyway after weeks of questioning myself. She was of wonderful help. At first she didn't see how she could be of any help to me, her son was still alive. However as she started going on in her email reply she began to notice how similar we were. Our bodies will do the same thing with no baby to take the milk, no reason why we're so fat, lol (joke). What made us even more alike was the choice we had to make. My battle between comfort care and invasive care was very much like her battle between keeping her baby and giving him up. The reasons behind the decision didn't matter, it's the battle between the two that was the same.

This is not a political debate, the purpose is to thank the birth mother that I've spoken to in my journey of being uneasy and unsure. It is to let her and all other birth mommies know that you also experience some form of loss, I understand that now more than ever. I can not control whether or not I will keep Vayden, in some form I feel I have it easier than she did. But all in all, this one thing is true, It's in Gods hands.

About 12 weeks ago my mother and I cried together. She said that if Vayden does go to look at it as him being well taken care of by a women in heaven who wasn't able to have children on earth. She would be there for him until it was time for me to come back, but I will always be his birth mother. That was a wonderful thing to hear, it made me feel comforted that if in fact I did loose my baby boy, not only would he be with our great father God, but he would also have a mommy while I was away.

If I don't get what I want out of this, and we all know what I really want. I will have gained so much knowledge and such a wonderful understanding of beavered parents and birth mothers, even people that have lost close friends or family. I have gained medical knowledge about things that I would have never thought about and most of all, my faith and my trust in God has grown so much, even when things look so dark. I still never and wont blame him.