Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What I got for Christmas

This is the note I posted on Facebook to announce my pregnancy.  I posted it on Christmas day. 

Merry Christmas to All!!

     James and I are proud to announce that we will be welcoming our second son and fourth living child in May.  This announcement was a long time coming, of course.  Mostly because I have been excited for some time to share my testimony.  Here is our story:
     This past September you might recall me posting a status update about a whole swarm of dragonflies I walked out and found in front of my house.  That was September 10th, the same day as Caleb's birthday party.  It was an amazing sight to see and one I doubt I will ever be priviledged to witness again.  Twenty or more dragonflies just zipping right by me and around me.  It was amazing.  It was puzzling.  I wondered what they meant for a few days until I stumbled upon an etsy listing for a sculptural piece.  It was a baby with angel wings holding a dragonfly in it's hands with the caption underneath that said, "Go tell Mommy, I'm okay."  This really got to me.  I wondered if those dragonflies were sent from Gracelynn. Ultimately I decided I had been sent a sign from Heaven.  Though my pain is still immense for our loss of Grace and some days I feel like the wind has been permanately knocked out of me, I am happy knowing she is okay.  I also decided then that maybe I wasn't as insignificant as I thought I was.  Perhaps the Burke family is most important to God right now as we heal for our loss.  Maybe we were always so significant to God, we just didn't see it.

     There are many times in life that we feel so small.  We feel like God is there, but we just wonder if He is listening and willing to answer our prayers.  I have to admit that I felt pretty alone and hurt when we got Gracelynn's diagnosis in June.  There were days I couldn't help but fall to the ground and just weep at what was certain to happen though I had as much hope as I possibly could that she would fight through her heart problems.  It wasn't until I started to see things from a different point of view that I learned what it means to just have Faith.

     So on September 23rd, I took my first hpt and it was negative.  We had just tried that first cycle after having Gracelynn and expected nothing.  In the past, the more I've stressed to concieve the harder it was.  I had this feeling though, that God would work quickly to send me another son or daughter to help heal my heart and to fill my empty womb.  I tested on the 24th and got a positive.  Immediately I started inputing dates into the various websites.  (I am a dork) I needed to confirm my conception date and to know my due date.  I put in, just for fun, a conception date of the 10th (the day Grace sent the dragonflies) and came up with September 24th being the first day to get a positive.  I know this baby was given life on the 10th for many reasons that are concrete (and tmi, lol), but also because I have the faith and the belief that this was how it was all supposed to work out.
     I really can't describe how it feels to know without a doubt that you have an angel watching out for you.  It seems to me that maybe we are all sent these signs and are all given the opportunity to put any doubts we may have to rest.  I know that God is watching over me.  I know that I am important and significant to Him.  I know that I have an angel in Heaven waiting to be reunited with her family one day.
     I wanted to share this message and this news on Christmas because I felt like if there was ever a time to remind people that there is so much more to this world than what we are doing in our everyday lives, this was it.  There are miracles all around us and we are all special enough to witness them if only we stopped and opened our hearts and our eyes.
     So we are having a sweet baby boy in late May.  He is healthy and doing well.  We are so very blessed and excited to add to our family.  There is nothing more important to us than the legacy we will leave to this earth.  We believe our legacy will be raising our imperfect children to grow up and honor God, do good everyday and stand up for what's right.  There is no amount of wealth or status that could equal that.  If you've made it this far, Thank you!!  =)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Gracelynn's Due Date

Gracelynn had a few different due dates.  The 22nd, the 20th and towards the end the 19th.  I went with the 20th, but does it really matter.  She should be here right now.  She should be in my arms or at least here getting the medical care she would have needed.  I have to wonder if I would have been emotionally ready to handle open heart surgery on a newborn.  Part of me is thankful that she didn't have to go through all the surgeries she would have surely needed.  The mother part of me is just angry and frustrated that the rest of my life will be spent without her.  I want her and need her so badly.  I usually have to remind myself that this was His plan and He knew best. 

I woke up today and got on the computer to catch up.  I hadn't been on in several days.  I came across one article after another discussing the Duggar Family sharing pictures of their daughter's hands and feet at the memorial service.  Articles say those who attended the memorial were shocked when they were handed a card that had a picture of someone's hands holding the baby's feet and the saying next to it said no foot is too small to leave a footprint on this world.  Or something to that affect.  I can't pull it back up now, because it's all too upsetting.  My heart goes out to the Duggars.  Michelle is now right where I was back in July.  Just a slightly different situation.  I can tell you that delivering a stillborn baby is tough, traumatic and scary.  I don't understand the mentality that taking a picture of a baby who has passed away before you ever got the opportunity to lay eyes on them is wrong.  It's not.  When you have a living child, you have plenty of time to build memories and hold onto things that will remind you of them long after they grow up.  When you give birth to a child that has passed away, those moments in the hospital afterwards are all you have.  There is no second chance to make memories or take pictures of that child who has passed away.  To me, you should have every right to do whatever you can to perserve that moment in your life.  To have a stillborn child, it isn't something shameful.  It happens to women of all ages, sizes, races, religions, condition of health and from the beginning of time.  Women have strugged with miscarriage, stillbirth and infant death since life was first created.  I just wish I could change the minds of those people who find pictures of our children who have passed away offensive.  If I could explain that it was all we have to hold onto and look back on.   

Saturday, September 24, 2011


Does God exist?  He does.  I am as sure of this now as I ever have been.  I have a lot to share, but I won't be able to share the whole story right now.  So on September 10th, I was getting ready for Caleb's party.  We had it at a clubhouse about 15 minutes away so there was a lot to put in the car to bring.  I asked Lily to start carrying some things out.  She said that she wouldn't, that there were horseflies out there. I stuck my head out my front door to find a huge swarm of dragonflies right in front of my house. I'd say 20 of them. I walked right out into the middle of them and just stood there. Despite being in a huge rush to get things done for the party, I stood out there probably 20 minutes hoping one of my neighbors would pull in and share it with me. And one of them did, it was amazing!!  I tried to take a video of it, but those things are so darn fast. Anyhow, I live NOWHERE near water. I have never in my life seen more than 1 or 2 at a time. I wondered what this was all about for days. Some said that it meant I would have good luck, but I don't believe in luck. I believe in blessings.

So I logged into my Etsy Account that I haven't used for months on September 16th and I saw these cute little acorns. I loved them immediately. I started looking around the store and immediately realized that I have seen this seller's items before. Just about a week after I found out about Gracelynn's condition, I stumbled upon a blog titled Caring for Carleigh.  I had went there to see her birth plan for when her daugther was born.  A birth plan for a baby that has passed away is a whole lot different than one for a baby that is living.  Her birth plan gave me some great insight and information.  Anyhow, she had just posted about an artist she had purchased from.  They are sculptural pieces to honor and remember Angel Babies.  I PRAYED that I would never have the need for such a thing.  Well that day I stumbled across that etsy shop, I ordered the angel baby holding the dragonfly. I get chill bumps thinking about it now. What an amazing miracle to have found that piece and to hope that those dragonflies really were sent by Gracelynn. I would have never considered that before.  Here is the piece I bought, though mine will be flesh colored.

Like I said, there is more to this story and it is amazing.  I can't wait to share it with you when the time is right.  Thank you!!

Here is her shop:

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

She's Home

Gracelynn is home.  I thought it would make me feel better, but it didn't.  I do feel more "whole" now that she is finally laid to rest with us....but the pain is still there.  I promised pictures, and here they are:

Here is her tiny little urn.
And here is the footprint and handprint plaque that I made from the molds the hospital took.  Her hands and feet were so tiny and so precious.

Here is the outfit she wore at the hospital. 
They provided it to us and let us keep it, of course.

Finally, here I am holding her hand with just my finger.

I finally ordered the vinyl I needed for her bench where we keep her things. 
This is the saying that will go on the top of the bench where it lifts up.  

"A life so brief, a baby so small
had the power to touch us all"

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.  I would love for you to continue to pray for my family. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Come Home

I am so sorry I haven't updated in awhile.  If anyone is still out there, reading this...Thank you.  I am having a hard time doing anything I did while I was pregnant with Gracelynn.  I feel like I have to keep moving.  Being online is hard, because I have to stop and think about things.  I can't get on, though it helped me so much during my pregnancy.  I can't read any more posts/blogs/stories about women struggling with their loss.  I feel like my own pain is all I can bear.  I just don't have the strength to cry for someone else right now...and I always do.  My heart goes out to women who have gone through what I have.  It's awful.  And the grief is overwhelming.  I find myself going back in my mind and wanting all those things to happen again during that week I had her.  I just want one more chance to be pregnant with her again, or even just to see her again or hold her again.  The more I get done everyday, the less chance I have to sit and wish I could go back in time and relax and know what the outcome was going to be and enjoy my time with her when she was alive.  Writing this blog is one of those things that just brings back the hurt....instead of healing it like I thought it would.  Maybe one day I will look back to this and be happy I wrote out what my time was like, those six weeks.  I'm not sure what is needing to be changed in me....but I'm going to pray for God to show me the way.  

Well.  I should update that we are still waiting for Gracelynn to come home.  It's been over 4 weeks since she passed and we had hoped to have her back with us at least a week ago.  I know they are doing all they can, but I'm getting impatient.  I have to wonder if that is what is making me so stressed out.  James and I both agree that we feel like someone from our family is missing and we can't be at peace until they are back with us.  We have her tiny little urn waiting for the funeral home to call us and say we can bring it in, so we can bring her home.  I took some pictures of her hand and footprints. I will work on getting those uploaded.  In the meantime, please say a prayer that Gracelynn comes home soon.  We need her with us.  Thank you!!   

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


I'm not sure what to update this blog with since Gracelynn passed away.  I feel like all I can talk about is how much it hurts to not be pregnant with Grace and just how much it hurts that things went the way they did.  I have good days and bad days, but mostly I am just a thought away from crying because I am thinking about Grace again.  I can't recall what all I've shared on this blog.  Did I share that her name is Gracelynn Mercy Burke?  That she weighed 6 oz and was 4 inches long and came at 12:05pm on 7/26?  I do have more pictures to share and promise to get those uploaded soon.  I have pics of the molds they made me of her hands and feet.  They are amazing.  Her hands and feet were so tiny and so beautiful.

So what am I doing now?  I'm spending a lot of energy cleaning out my house and organizing it.  Grace's pregnancy was really tough on me physically and emotionally.  Before we found out her diagnosis, I felt like I was much more tired than I normally would have been with my previous pregnancies.  I have no idea if that was really the case or if it really was something related to carrying her.  Physically, I feel fine now.  After I came home from the hospital, which was the same day I had Grace, I had a few days where I over did it with the kids and I paid for it.  One day I felt very weak.  I was taking a nap on the couch with the kids sitting around me.  I awoke to a loud crashing sound and found Lillian and Caleb sitting there watching TV and Addison not in sight.  She had snuck into the kitchen and covered it in glitter and chocolate.  I tried to carry her upstairs and give her a bath.  I put her in the dry tub and laid down on the floor and called James.  He came right home and bathed her and put her down for a nap for me.  Addison's mess took me days to clean up.  But I started to feel better and was able to do it.  I feel like I let my housework get behind during my pregnancy and it is now all caught up.  That's a great feeling, at least. 

I've also been working on figuring out ways to make sure Gracelynn is thought of often at our home.  I want her to be remembered as my fourth child and that she was an amazing blessing to our family.  I took a small bench I found on the side of the road a couple weeks ago and made it into a place to keep all of Grace's things.  I spray painted it and ordered lettering to put on it that will honor her.  In it is the oufit the hospital put on her and took pictures of her in, her hospital bracelets and mine, papers given to me during my pregnancy, the doppler I used to hear her heartbeat, the blanket James went out and bought for her after we found out she had passed away, and a teddy bear I bought just for her.  I call it Gracie Bear.  We also ordered her urn.  We are hoping to have it before they call and say that her ashes are ready to be picked up.  It's taking a bit longer for them to get that done than I expected.  Of course I am very grateful that they are taking care of it for us, free of charge.  I'm just eager to have her back with us.  I feel like a member of our family isn't with us.  

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Our Time with Grace

It's probably time to start talking about what our time with Grace was like. It might take me a few posts to complete this. 

So we went into the hospital on the 25th at about 6or so in the evening.  At 7pm, Dr Duke came in and inserted some kind of seaweed sticks into my cervix.  She was able to do quite a few as I was already in labor. The goal of these sticks was to expand and open my cervix a bit to make it more viable for an induction the next day.  It worked.  They dropped out the next morning.  In the mean time, I had a difficult time sleeping and relaxing.  There was a lot of crying and reading scripture and just praying.  I had an awesome nurse during the night.  Her name was Thelma.  =)  It wasn't lost on me that her name was the same as my Aunt Re.  (Thelma Marie, who meant the world to me)  Thelma was very kind and said some things that really hit home and made me think God had sent her that night to me.  Just a few days ago we got a sympathy card in the mail from her.  I am grateful that I had a nurse like her that night.  Although, I can't complain about any of the nurses I saw in the time I was there for Gracelynn's labor and delivery.  MVH was very thoughtful and considerate to our situation.  They put us at the end of a hall with few neighbors.  Across from my room was another mom who had a loss.  They put something on our doors so that any who enter know this isn't a joyous occasion they are walking into.  That night, however, I could hear the baby and mother's heartbeats in the room right next to me.  I gotta say, that was a bit difficult to relax to.  

The next morning, Dr. Duke came in and inserted two cervitek capsules.  They started working pretty quickly.  I was in labor from 7 to 12.  Just before 12, Dr Duke came back in and was going to give me my second dose. She said that after the second dose things start to go much quicker and I should be careful getting up to use the restroom.  I commented that I think I am getting ready for something to take the edge off the pain and that the contractions were about a minute apart.  Up to then I wouldn't take anything.  I refused a sleeping pill and all the goodies they offer to make you more comfortable.  I was still pregnant as far as I was concerned and Gracelynn didn't need any of those goodies.  I guess that doesn't make sense.  After hearing how close the contractions were, she thought it best to check me.  She did and I was complete.  I had gotten to ten and didn't complain until the end.  So this is what natural labor feels like, eh?  

So she said it's time to have her and I just needed to push.  This is when things got pretty tough.  I was more frightened than I have ever been in my life.  I had no idea what this next moment was going to bring and what it would be like to deliver a stillborn child.  I focused on James and pushed.  She came right out, water breaking first.  I cried like I've never cried in my life.  Like, out of control sobbing.  It was by far, the most difficult moment I have ever experienced in my life.  There is no way to describe the emotional pain of delivering a stillborn child.  My daughter, Gracelynn Mercy.  I was able to deliver the placenta quickly and they left me and James with Grace.  She wasn't at all what I pictured, but beautiful nonetheless.  Her hands and feet were so tiny and so beautifully formed.  Her cystic hygroma had just taken over the top of her body.  It was difficult to see that.  I could see her ears and her eyes.  Her ears were low set, like most Turner Syndrome girls are.  They were adorable.  We had four hours to hold her and love her.  They took her from me to weigh and measure her and to take her photo.  She measured 6 inches and 4 ounces.  So tiny, but my daughter.  The pictures of her are too difficult to share, but I will share a picture of her hand and then us holding her. 

I have to stop now, but I'll post more about our time with Grace later.  Thank you so much for your prayers and kind words.  We really appreciate it.