Our Story

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Call For Pictures!

Hello, everyone!  We are looking to make some changes in our online presence over the next few months.  We don't want to spoil the surprise, but it will involve an opportunity for some pictures of all our children with the furry friends they have made at Build-a-Bear!  So, if anyone has pictures they'd like to share, please feel free to email them to us at cadenscubs@gmail.com.  Depending on how many we get, some or all of them will be posted online, so only send us pictures that you don't mind sharing with the world.

Thanks in advance!
Brandon and Lindsey
Caden's Cubs

Monday, January 7, 2013

Bowties for Babies

Bowties for Babies is a fundraising gala held in honor of Alexandra's House, the perinatal hospice we worked with during our pregnancy with Caden.  The hospice serves families of terminally ill babies and provides a host of resources for these families in their time of need.  Alexandra's House does not fundraise in any way on its own...friends of Alexandra's House created the banquet as a way to support the incredible work that Patti Lewis and her amazing support people do.  

Alexandra's House has been very gracious in supporting Caden's Cubs, so we were ecstatic to have the opportunity to host a table at the Gala this year.  We invited families who have been recipients of Caden's Cubs to join us at our table and it was an amazing opportunity to get to meet new friends and spend time with friends we have known from earlier in our journey with infant loss.  We felt so blessed to be able to remember Caden, along with the children of the friends who sat with us, in this very special way.

Caden's Cubs' table: Sitting with three very special families

A poster that sat outside the banquet area, explaining the ministries of Alexandra's House.  Caden's Cubs is the fourth one down.

We don't get to buy birthday or Christmas presents for our son, but being able to sponsor a table in honor of the ministry that is named for him means a great deal to us.  This year, we were also blessed by a friend of ours who created a special giftbasket in honor of Caden as a part of the silent auction held at the event.  The basket sold and the proceeds went to Alexandra's House.  We look forward to this evening spent memorializing our precious baby boy and other precious angels who left this earth much too soon.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

4 Years

4 years ago right now, we were leaving the hospital after telling our baby boy good-bye.  Riding out of the maternity ward in a wheelchair, empty handed, I felt relief at the prospect of getting to go home, and, of course, extreme sadness to be going home without my baby.  I held, in my lap, a small wooden box filled with a lock of Caden's hair, moldings of his hand and footprints, and the measuring tape they had used to see how long he was.  Friends had given us the box so we wouldn't have to leave the hospital entirely empty handed.  I was so grateful for that box.  It would be months before I could look through its contents without feeling like I was reliving our "silent birth" experience all over again, but in the years since Caden's heaven day, I have pulled it out often to look at his hair and touch the outfit that he wore.  These physical reminders bring such comfort.

There are certain things about time passing that makes grief lessen.  The emotions aren't as fresh, the pain not quite as searing.  However, time passing also means that's another year we haven't gotten to celebrate a birthday, watch our boy grow, or learn more about his personality.  We should be deciding where to send him to preschool this year....not missing him terribly.

I received a card from a friend and former co-worker in the mail this morning.    She is always so good to remember this day.  Her words said "Your kids are getting so big, but we are thinking about the one who is missing."  Those words touched my soul deeply.  There is a hole in our family that will remain there forever.  There still aren't many roadtrips where I don't think about how amazing it would be to have 4 carseats in our van.  How nice it would be to request a table for 6 instead of a table for 5 at a restaurant.  How I would love to buy Christmas presents for 4 kids.

In those moments of longing, I am quickly reminded of how blessed we are.  There aren't words to express our gratefulness for our 3 beautiful children who are here with us, and for the ways in which God has enabled us to memorialize Caden in our lives and family.  We are so thankful for the friends and family who are praying for us today, cherishing the life of our baby boy along with us.  We are grateful for the lessons our journey with Caden taught us and continues to teach us daily.  One of our babies was received into heaven 4 years ago today.  In a quiet hospital room, amongst great heartache, an angel was born.  A piece of heaven came into our lives.  We celebrate this journey in the midst of our sadness.

Caden Adair, thank you for allowing us to hold you in our arms for a few brief moments.  More than that, thank you for holding a place in our hearts forever.  You are missed and loved in a way that words cannot express.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Things God Has Done For Me

I always enjoy looking over the projects that the kids work on during the Sunday School hour in Church.  Today, Connor's task was to make two lists on a piece of paper.  One was "Things I Know About God" and the other was "Things God Has Done for Me".

The first thing on Connor's "Things God Has Done for Me" is: "Sent my brother to heaven."

I am inspired by this on many levels.  The first thing that touches me about this sentence is that God is again providing comfort with the knowledge that the spirit of our baby boy is still very much alive and well in the hearts of our family, and especially in the hearts of his siblings.  The second, and perhaps more profound lesson that Connor's work reveals to me is that his statement about Caden going to heaven was categorized as something that God did for Connor....as if it was a blessing.  A favor.  A gift.


I learn so much from our children.  Losing Caden isn't something God did TO us.  My oldest son has taught me that the Lord bringing Caden to heaven, to sit at the foot of His throne, to be surrounded by the splendor of His Kingdom...is something God did FOR us.  A piece of our family...one that we miss daily....has been called to his eternal dwelling long before the rest of us.  And while our hearts are filled with extreme sadness and longing....and while our earthly family feels incomplete because Caden isn't here....we have been given a gift.

What a perspective.  I am so, so grateful for the ways in which God speaks to us through our beautiful children....whether they are here....or in heaven.

I don't know that I'm entirely there yet like Connor is, but am thankful that God is patient with me.

Thank you, Lord, that there is no greater blessing than being in Your presence.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

It Is Finished

Caden's garden is FINISHED.

Grandpa and Grandma Carlson have been brainstorming with us for months about a bench for the garden.  We talked about several different ideas, and then they sent us a picture of this bench....and we knew instantly that it was perfect.  The bench was purchased right around Caden's birthday this year.

"Those we have held in our arms for a little while, we hold in our hearts forever."

This year, things bursted in full bloom, filling our yard with bright colors and flowery smells.  We can see it directly out our kitchen window and it brings a smile to our faces every time we look at it.

Many friends and family members helped bring Caden's garden to life...we love the garden not only because of what it means to us in remembering Caden, but because of what it symbolizes in terms of those who love and support us...in good times and in bad.  We look at each plant and remember who gave it to us....and it warms our hearts every time.

So, once again, thank you, friends and family.  We love you!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Facebook Update

We've just expanded our presence on Facebook!  Check out the new Caden's Cubs group and join us by going here:

Our most important goal is to provide love, support, and encouragement to those who most need it, and this should help us better establish that kind of a community.  Not only will you be able to hear from us, but all of you can better interact with each other, too.  Let us know if you have any trouble, or have any other suggestions.

Many thanks to Sarah!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

We Miss You, Baby Boy!

Today is the day.  June 30th.  Three years ago, we held our precious Caden in our arms for a few hours.  We caressed our son's silky hair, touched his soft skin, and kissed his little cheeks.  We counted his tiny toes, held his little hands in ours, and covered him in love.  We watched, for a brief while, our three children together.  It is a day that will be forever etched into our souls.

Our hearts hurt.  The kind of hurt that never goes away.  But we know that even in times of pain, without a doubt, God is with us.  We know we will never understand why we have been led down this path, but we have learned to trust that there is a purpose, and that, somehow, some way, good will come from this journey.  There is a hole in our family that will never be filled.  Yet, we are filled with hope at the promise of seeing our son again soon and spending eternity alongside him.

Thank you to those of you who have loved Caden right along with us...Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Friends....we are so grateful for the ways in which you keep Caden's legacy alive.  Caden continues to be a big part of our daily lives, with Connor and Kylee being continually insistent that there are four children in our family.  We love it that they incorporate Caden into their prayers at night and talk about him regularly.  The picture above is a piece that Kylee created at school this year when asked to write about her favorite tree.  She chose to write about the Magnolia tree in Caden's garden:  "This is my favorite tree because it stands for my baby brother and it is old." Hadley has gone out into the garden a couple times this year and it is incredible to reflect on the significance of her being amongst the flowers and shrubs that celebrate her older brother's memory.  Caden is very much with us.

Caden Adair, we miss and love you so much.  You have touched us in ways that words cannot express and we are so thankful for the lessons that we have learned as a result of our journey with you.  While we will forever wish our journey with you had moved in a different direction, we trust that what we have learned on this path will bless us.  We know, even though we can't see you, that you walk with us.

You are forever our little angel.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sonogram Day

Today was the third anniversary of our sonogram where Caden's condition was diagnosed.  It seems crazy to us that this much time has passed since we were sitting in our midwife's office and then, just an hour later, waiting to be admitted to the hospital for further evaluation.  This day, in some ways, is almost as difficult as Caden's Heaven Day...because, to us, March 30th is the day we lost the hope of bringing our son home.

It is true that time heals all wounds.  However, I still have those moments where pain sears my soul as I wonder why it wasn't God's will for our baby to walk on this earth.  At times, my arms still feel so empty.  I am struck by the magnitude our baby's ministry...he fufilled his life's purpose without ever leaving the womb.  Pretty incredible when you think about it.  I try to focus on that instead of the "whys" that surround him not being here with us.  Because honestly, you can make yourself crazy with the "whys"...and we have come to believe that there are just some "whys" that we'll never understand.

The plants in Caden's garden are starting to turn green, and a few daffodils provide a bright yellow highlight amongst the remnants of winter.  They remind me that there is sunshine in the midst of heartache.  Our sunshine is the knowledge that Caden is waiting for us...and we will be reunited someday.

In the meantime, we continue to put one foot in front of the other, because, as those of you who have walked a similar journey know, that's just what you do in situations like these.  Caden's name comes up frequently in family discussions and Kylee has asked me, more than once, "Mommy, do you wish that Caden was here with us?"  It means the world to me to know that he is very much alive in all of our hearts.

I wish that we had enjoyed the time that we had him with us more...that's easy to say in hindsight.  At the time, we were so hurt, confused, and anxious about all the unknowns that it was impossible to enjoy the pregnancy.  Sometimes, I lay in bed and remember what it was like to feel him doing his gymnastics at 2:00 am.  I miss him.

Caden Adair, we love and miss you...each and every day.  And although time heals all wounds, your presence in our lives and hearts will not be diminished by the days, weeks, months, and years that pass until we are reunited again.

Thanks for being our precious angel.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Holidays

As those of you who have dealt with loss in your life already know, the holidays can truly be a mixed bag.

I will speak first to the joy that comes with getting to celebrate the holidays with friends and family...and especially, of course, our three beautiful children who are with us here on earth.  Watching them anticipate the holidays warms my heart to a degree that words cannot express.  We decorate the house, bake, make Christmas wish lists, open a new window on the Advent calendar every night, and literally, count the days down until Christmas is here.  I love our kids' enthusiasm for this magical time of year and I love it that we spend the holidays TOGETHER.

Throughout all this, however, my heart aches.  I wonder if I will ever be able to fully experience the joy of Christmas without Caden here with us.  I am afraid that I won't.  Which, in itself, is a good and bad thing.  Good because it means that Caden's memory will always be a strong presence in my heart and life.  Bad, because that's another thing that I will grieve.  When you lose a child, you grieve the loss of their life, but you also grieve the loss of ability to live life normally.  You'll find a "new normal" and move forward, but the "pre-loss" life no longer exists.  That goes out the door the minute you discover that one of your children will leave this earth before you do.

The moments when I realize that I'll never get to watch Caden open a Christmas present sear my soul.  I dream of seeing him in his footie pajamas (he would have been 2 right now) with his little hair all messed up after a good night's sleep.  I long to see him interacting with Connor, Kylee, and Hadley...playing with his favorite Christmas present (or perhaps whatever it was wrapped in) in front of the fireplace right here in our family room.  I want to hear the hustle and bustle another pair of little feet would bring into our kitchen.  My heart grows still as I realize this is a dream that won't ever come true for our family.

For those of you who know exactly what I mean, please know that you are in our hearts and prayers this season.  For those families who have experienced a miscarriage and are grieving the baby they've never met, we are praying for you.  For those who have just learned that their baby will grow angel wings shortly after birth, our hearts hurt with yours.  For those who are spending their first holiday without their precious one, we grieve with you.  For those of you who have celebrated, year after year, with a member of your family watching over you from heaven, we lift you up.

I read in a devotional this week that broken vessels are uniquely crafted to carry grace.  It was one of those phrases that hit me at my core.  I would definitely consider myself a broken vessel...first and foremost, because I am human, but I am also broken as a result of specific experiences I have had in my life, the first of which is telling one of my children "goodbye".  But the perspective that the particular way in which I am broken allows me to carry grace in a way that is meaningful is such a comfort to me.  With all the cracks and crevices, and despite all the Christmas dreams that will never come true, God has equipped us, through our experience with Caden, to carry grace.

May the grace and promise of Jesus' birth touch you in the way that you need it most this season. 

Happy Holidays.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Finally...The Video Has Arrived!

It's always easier to watch a video than a Powerpoint presentation.  Finally, after much trial and error (mostly error), I've found a program that will convert a Powerpoint presentation into video format.  Some of the transitions come off a bit quicker than in the actual Powerpoint, but overall I think this looks pretty good.  We'll probably make some adjustments to it as time goes on, but for now, here it is...

Feel free to share it around.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

To Three Or Not To Three

So, now it's my turn.

As Lindsey mentioned previously, when I make big decisions, I tend to employ a more logical approach, looking at a pros/cons equation, balancing facts and numbers whenever possible to decide which outcome is most beneficial or has the biggest upside/downside.  I like spreadsheets because they're clean, they're obvious, and the numbers just don't lie.  Maybe it's just my inner nerd, or maybe it's something about the Y chromosome in general, but logic works best for me.  The bigger the decision, the more variables need to be considered.  Obviously, the decision of whether or not to try again after Caden was about as big a decision as it gets.  So, you might logically conclude that it would have required a great deal of mental grappling, numerous lengthy spreadsheets with pros and cons showing various weighted considerations, and lots of restless nights of deliberation.


Before I explain, the stage needs to be set a bit.  After having two healthy kids with essentially no problems at all during either pregnancy, and after getting pregnant pretty much at will for the third time in a row, I think we kind of fell into a sense of invulnerability and of being in control of the whole child-bearing process.  Once that bubble was popped with that fateful sonogram, however, we knew just how much of a blessing a healthy baby was, and that things didn't always go the way of puppies and rainbows.  It's always painful to have real life thrust so rudely into your face, and it tends to dissipate the comforting illusion of that-only-happens-to-someone-else rather quickly.  So, in contemplating whether or not to try again, the old set of variables was flushed down the drain and a whole new set of variables presented itself.  It was a much smaller set that was basically this:
1. was I ready to go to a zone defense (more kids than parents)?
2. could I handle it if we had another difficult pregnancy/birth experience?
3. could my family handle it if we had another difficult pregnancy/birth experience?

The first one was easy because we'd already answered it with Caden, and it was really a non-issue.  All of the things on my spreadsheet (and no, there wasn't literally a spreadsheet for this decision) had remained unchanged.

The second one was a bit tougher.  A soul-crushing experience like losing a child isn't something that anyone ever anticipates, nor wants.  To deliberately invite a second such experience is either the height of stupidity, or the embodiment of self-flagellation.  In our case, there was no indication that what happened with Caden would happen a second time.  It was simply a fluke of development - it wasn't a genetic tendency, nor the result of any particular behaviors on our part.  So, the chances that it would happen again were precisely the same as the chances it would happen with any of our pregnancies (of course, in writing this after the fact, I do fully recognize the irony of that statement).  Could I handle it again?  Well, I had survived the first time, so that meant I could survive another.  And, in contemplating the potential of having problems with another pregnancy, I found that much of the fear had been taken out of the whole experience.  In some ways, the anticipation of Caden's passing was worse than the actual event, simply because of the unknown factor.  We didn't know if he'd be born alive, we didn't know how long he might have with us on this Earth, we didn't know how he would look, and so on.  And, in the moment itself, we were far too focused on that moment to really stop and think about the moment, if that makes sense.  I think we were in a kind of emotional shock, where we were able to close off certain parts of our emotional spectrum because it was just too painful to deal with right then.  We just needed to be in the moment, and the emotional processing would come later.  But, since we'd been through it and had time to look back on it, I knew how it would feel and I knew what kind of pain it would bring.  It wouldn't be pleasant, but the unknown factor was gone.  And, above all, I knew that if God brought us through the wringer once, He could (and would) bring us through it again if need be.

The third question was the one I struggled with the most.  As a parent, you come to realize that you'd gladly take on massive amounts of pain if it saved your loved ones -- especially your own children -- from having to deal with it.  You just want to protect them from every bad thing out there as much as possible.  There was no way we could take away the pain of losing Caden from Connor and Kylee, but the same concept applied in the sense that if we decided not to try for another child we knew they wouldn't have a chance of experiencing that pain of loss again.  It would be a sort of protection through prevention.  Balanced against that, of course, was the undeniable fact that both of them really wanted a younger brother or sister, and both of them were hit very hard by Caden's loss.  The potential of even more hurt was out there, lurking in a statistically unlikely but possible future...but their current pain was unavoidable, completely present, and very real.  In my mind, the question really boiled down to what would most help them heal, both in the short term and in the long term?  I confess to a significant amount of dread and turmoil about what we would say to the kids if we did have another bad experience.  I would be heart-broken to see my own kids develop the sense that childbirth is a fearful and undesirable experience, but I didn't have the foggiest idea about how to approach that, nor did I want to, so I deliberately pushed those thoughts away until such time as they became necessary.  Thank God they never did!

I once saw an inspirational speaker talking about how to achieve success.  In his talk, he related a story about how he took his family mountain climbing.  At one point, his teenage daughter had an accident where her hair got tangled in the equipment halfway up the mountain.  When they finally rescued her and brought her back down to the ground, she was hurt and more than a little scared.  The speaker's wife thought they should call it a day at that point, but the speaker disagreed.  His philosophy was that you never end a major experience in fear.  The daughter reluctantly agreed, and gamely tackled the mountain again.  It turned out that it was one of the family's more memorable vacations together.  Similarly, I knew without a doubt that we all would remain forever scarred if this had been our last experience with childbirth.  Lindsey has a very strong maternal instinct, and I know she considers being MOM as one of her primary purposes in life.  Obviously, childbirth is a key event in the life of MOM, and to have her last childbirth experience end with such fear and pain would be a wound that would heal only very slowly and with much difficulty.  I wanted very much for the kids to view the birth process as something to be anticipated and filled with joy.

In the end, I was convinced that though having another child certainly wouldn't replace Caden, and though the scars we all bore would be there for a lifetime, we would all be better off with another little bundle of joy than without.  Any life-changing experience more or less destroys your definition of 'normal' life, so after any such event you have to establish a new 'normal'.  I believed our new 'normal' would be much better in a group of five than in a group of four.

Watching the kids dote on their baby sister -- even when she messes up their puzzles, eats their art projects, and smashes the latest Lego creation to pieces -- has completely reinforced that belief.  I've lost count of the number of times that Lindsey and I have looked at each other over Hadley's antics, wordlessly sharing volumes of love, pain, and gratitude that we made the decision to try again.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Waiting for Hadley

I really didn't allow myself to truly believe that we were actually going to get to bring our baby home with us until around 27 weeks of pregnancy.

We had the typical 20 week ultrasound in March, which I have to admit was fairly anticlimactic.  Since we had the big Level 2 sonogram in February, it seemed like the 20 week ultrasound was a formality.  I had expected it to be very difficult given our experience with Caden.  We scheduled our sonogram the afternoon before we were leaving for vacation, so I think my mind was pre-occupied with all the arrangements necessary to leave town.  However, once I actually sat still in the waiting room, listening for my name to be called, once again, my palms started sweating and my heart raced.  What if the bottom dropped out from underneath us?  We had decided to bring Connor and Kylee with us to the ultrasound, feeling that they needed to experience a normal ultrasound after the devastation that they had witnessed at our 20 week ultrasound with Caden.  We saw our baby on the screen, but compared to the Level 2 sonogram, the picture quality on the machine in the OB's office was TERRIBLE.  We could hardly see a thing!  Honestly, though, the ultrasound technician was able to see Hadley's vital organs and determined that there was adequate fluid, which was all we cared about.  The greatly anticipated (and feared) 20 week ultrasound was over.  And we survived.

It helped that the next day, we left on a week long trip to Disney World. We had planned the trip because we really needed something MAGICAL after the year we'd had, and that is where Connor and Kylee asked to go. We had planned it months in advance, not knowing if I'd be pregnant. When we realized that the date of the trip would coincide almost exactly with our 20 week ultrasound, we deliberated about cancelling vacation, because we couldn't stand the thought of leaving town (and spending all that money) after getting bad news. But we decided to forego the trip insurance....and told ourselves that even if the news was bad, we'd still really need some time away. Our vacation was perfect and the kids had a ball. At the end of the trip, I even allowed myself to buy a little outfit for Hadley. It was the first thing I'd purchased for her. I still remember standing in the gift shop, debating. I finally pulled the outfit off the rack and marched up to the cash register before I could talk myself out of it. To this day, that outfit is one of my favorites.

It was business as usual at our house.  Our midwife suggested that we do another ultrasound at 27 weeks just to make sure that everything still looked okay.  That ultrasound looked fine, too.  It was walking out of that appointment that I found that I was finally able to breathe.  Really breathe....and imagine holding a healthy baby in my arms.  It was a great feeling.  I felt as if a weight had been somehow lifted.

It was short-lived relief.  Around this time, I began to panic that something would happen to Hadley.  Being a nurse, I will tell you that I am not normally a panicky type person.  However, all bets were off in this case.  We had heard stories from so many other families of tragedy striking in the last weeks of pregnancy...cord accidents, babies being born too early....I was constantly worried that I wasn't feeling Hadley move enough.  I knew it was irrational, but I couldn't help myself.  We were so close and I didn't know if I could bear it if something happened just when I had started to let my guard down.

My midwife was gracious enough to offer any ultrasounds or testing that I needed to make me feel better and assured me at every appointment that our baby was continuing to grow.  I trusted what she said about Hadley growing....at one of my appointments she was even able to help me feel a big pocket of fluid as she felt my abdomen to assess how Hadley was positioned.  I didn't opt for any additional testing, but it was a comfort to know that it was available if I needed it.  We set an induction date for July 21st, when I would be about 39 weeks along.  We chose that date because it was our midwife's day off and she would be able to devote herself fully to us.  This is the incredible, gracious woman that she is.  This woman had delivered Connor and Kylee, and saw us through all of our struggles with Caden, although she was not able to care for us after we received our diagnosis.  The lengths to which she went to accommodate us during each of our pregnancies are truly amazing.  July 21st was also my Grandpa's birthday.  Grandpa Haneke had a massive stroke in January, just prior to our diagnosis with Caden.  He passed away the following October, and it had been a long journey in between.  Caden, in fact, was named for this Grandpa, whose middle name was also Adair.  It was symbolic to us to have Hadley share a birthday with Grandpa.

We opted not to decorate a nursery before Hadley arrived.  Friends had graciously offerred to throw us a baby shower.  We declined, asking instead if we could do something after she was in our arms, safe and sound.  They understood.  A few people bought us things for the baby before she was born, but most people didn't.  It felt like everyone was collectively holding their breath for us.  About a week before she was born, we made ourselves pull out the baby stuff and begin washing it up.  I almost resented doing it, because I felt like preparing for Hadley's arrival was somehow making us more vulnerable.  It also made me realize what we'd missed out on with Caden.  It, like everything else, was hard.

As we assembled Hadley's cradle, I found tears welling up in my eyes.  Caden never got to sleep in the cradle.  There were so many other families that would give anything to be setting up a cradle in anticipation of a new arrival, but they weren't going to be able to because they, like us, would never get to bring their baby home.  All these thoughts and emotions swirled around inside of me.  It was so strange.  I felt guilty that our baby was healthy when I knew others weren't.  My heart ached for families who were losing their babies in the same instant we were preparing for ours.  A whole new world had opened up to us through our experience with Caden and we knew that the fairy tail ending didn't always happen.  And yet, I was hopeful...hesitantly anticipating seeing our little angel asleep in the crib.

The moment was quickly arriving.  We were just a week away from meeting our little girl.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Journey Continues

I left you with a post about finding out we were pregnant with Hadley...I will pick up where I left off.

I told Brandon that I was pregnant that evening after we had put the kids to bed.  He was excited.  We hugged tightly in the kitchen...the tension in our bodies was palpable.  After that, we really didn't talk much about it.  It was as if talking about it would only serve to increase our anxiety and longing for another baby that we couldn't allow ourselves to believe that we'd actually get to bring home.  We did know that we weren't going to share our news with anyone until we could be at least reasonably certain that this baby was healthy.  For almost 20 weeks, the secret was ours.

At 8 weeks, I had an appointment and we got to see our baby's heartbeat.  For many couples, this is where the anxiety lessens.  However, we knew that this was only the first step in a very long process for us.  Hadley's heart was beating strong on the screen.  We both took a deep breath.  Step one...done.  Even being in the doctor's office was an accomplishment for us.  We felt so disillusioned with the medical community after our experience with Caden.  Our OB practice had two locations and we chose to go to the location that was further away from our house because it was at the other location that we got all the bad news about Caden.  The memories there were too fresh and we needed a clean start.  The extra drive was an investment in our sanity (what precious little of it was left).

After our sonogram, we met with our nurse midwife who has been so good to us...the moment I saw her, I burst into tears.  She hugged me and we sat in her office and talked, knowing that to be put into an exam room would make things harder for me (again, too many memories).  She told me that we could be as high-intervention or as low-intervention as Brandon and I wanted to be in this pregnancy.  We settled on moderate intervention...a Level 2 and triple screen at 12 and 16 weeks to rule out genetic issues and the presence of all the necessary "parts" and amniotic fluid.

Amidst a massive amount of anxiety, I felt tremendous relief.  We knew that what had happened with Caden was orchestrated by God and had been decided at the moment he was conceived.  Knowing this, I knew that our baby was already formed exactly as he or she was meant to be, and there was absolutely nothing we could do to control anything.  No matter what, God was with us...and with our baby.  I treasured every moment of my pregnancy.  Caden lived his whole life in the womb and I was determined to treasure this baby's life from the start, too, in the event that something happened and this baby's life, too, was cut short.  Whether we had this child for 2 weeks, 12 weeks, 20 weeks, or 50 years, I was going to be mindful of every moment. 

Even before we were pregnant with Hadley, Kylee told us with great conviction that she was going to have a sister.  She even went so far as to tell her Grandparents that she was going to have a baby sister.  They questioned Brandon and I about it and we were honestly able to say (at that time) that we weren't pregnant.  We admired her faith and conviction.  She was adamant...to the point of picking out pink baby clothes in Target.  It broke my heart as I hoped with everything in me that someday, she'd get to experience the joy of being a big sister.  We so desperately wanted to see Connor and Kylee holding a healthy baby.  Both kids continued to grieve Caden in a way that was profound and raw.  There were many evenings that we sat together as a family crying and sharing Kleenex.  There was a hole in our family that would never be filled.

We made it through our first holidays without Caden and it was tough.  It was a great comfort to know that we were pregnant and being hopeful that we'd celebrate the next Christmas with our new baby helped to numb the pain at least a little.

January found us back in the perinatologist's office.  We were about 12 weeks pregnant.  We went back to the same practice that we'd gone to with Caden (why, I am not sure).  Sitting in the waiting room was hell.  I remembered all the times we'd been there before, only to receive bad news time and time again.  I doubted...my palms were sweating and my heart was racing.  Brandon sat beside me, wordless, and we held hands.  We visited with the genetic counselor, who told us that there was no reason to believe we'd encounter similiar issues to those we'd had with Caden.  Again, she took our family history and filled in all the boxes in our genogram.  We were hardly listening.  Back to the waiting room we went.

It was then time for our sonogram...it was to be a quick one just to measure the nuchal fold on our baby's neck.  The nurse escorted us into the room.  Seeing the room, set up exactly as it was when we had our sonograms with Caden, overwhelmed me.  I lost it.  The nurse comforted me and Brandon wrapped me up tight in his arms.  I pulled it together and laid down on the table.  The nurse put the gel on my stomach and there was our baby on the screen.  Perfectly knit.

The results from the sonogram and from the blood testing came back normal.  Still, we couldn't relax.

February found us back at the perinatologist's office at 16 weeks of pregnancy for our second Level 2 and more blood work for the Triple Screen.  This was the sonogram where we would be able to see whether or not our baby had kidneys and a bladder along with all the other parts necessary to live.  We would also see if there was enough amniotic fluid present.  I could barely breathe.  Our appointment fell right before my birthday.  We still had not told any of our family that we were expecting and on this day, I wished that we had.  I really needed the prayers of others.  The Holy Spirit was praying for us and that was exactly what we needed.

I held it together as we entered the exam room.  The nurse asked "Do you want to know if you're having a boy or girl?".  I replied "We don't care.  We just want to see kidneys and a bladder."

She began inspecting our little one, who, we noted right away, was swimming in a fluid-filled world, much to our relief.  The fingers, toes, head, brain, heart, and finally...the abdomen...where she was quickly able to identify two kidneys.  It took forever, it seemed, before she found our baby's bladder.  She said that is wasn't as full as she wanted it to be, but it was THERE.  The tears started rolling.  Then, shortly after that, she ventured down south and was able to tell with no difficulty that our newest addition was a baby girl.

Kylee was right.  God was bringing her a baby sister.  And maybe, just maybe, we were going to get to bring our baby home.

More to come....

Monday, July 19, 2010

Hints for Healing: Trying Again

Brandon and I have both felt compelled to do better about updating this blog more regularly.  God has really been tugging at our hearts, letting us know that we need to be doing more to encourage and support the families we serve through Caden's Cubs.  We also want to support others who may have found this blog by Googling everything possible to try to make sense of a terminal diagnosis or loss of a child as we did following our diagnosis with Caden.

So, as a way to begin this effort, we thought we would post a series of blogs dealing with ways that we have personally found healing after our loss.  I will post some and so will Brandon, because, as we all know, men and women grieve and heal differently.  Some of these things may work for you, others may not.  What we do know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, is that everyone walks the journey to healing in their own way.  What we also believe to be true is that it is better not to walk the journey alone.  Although others mean well, we have found that the best encouragers, for us, are those who have had similiar experiences with loss.  Because there is nothing....NOTHING....that compares to losing a child.

I write this first post to you two days before Hadley's birthday, so it seems natural to begin an outline of our journey towards healing with her.

If you have experienced the loss of a child, you know that people (very well-meaning people), say REALLY dumb things in an attempt to console you.  During our pregnancy with Caden, there were several people who, in the spirit of encouragement, said things like "Don't worry, you can always try again", or, "At least you have two healthy children already".

These things were not helpful.

As I carried Caden, it took every ounce of my energy to cope with my thoughts and feelings surrounding the comprehension of not getting to bring our baby home.  The roller coaster ride was unending.  I'd find a small spark of joy just in time for my next Doctor's appointment, which would bring me crashing back down to the reality of what we faced.  It was miserable.  We were so grateful for Connor and Kylee, of course, but we wanted Caden with us, too.  Not another baby.  Caden.

I distinctly remember at one of my last Doctor's appointments, the Doctor looked at me and said "give yourself a month or so after delivery and then you can start trying again".  I felt like she was saying "This one is messed up, but that doesn't mean you can't get it right the next time".  Ouch.  I felt that it was disrespectful to Caden to even think about another baby.  I had to give him my all.

But I did wonder.  I wondered if we'd have the strength to try again.  To put ourselves out there and risk another loss.  A very wise mentor of mine, who lost her daughter to Potter's Syndrome, advised me..."don't try again unless you know you could go through the same thing all over again".  Her words shocked me.  Surely, if you went through something this awful once, it made you exempt from future trials and losses.  Surely it did.

One thing you learn as you move through an experience like this is that God's concept of "fair" may not be our concept of fair.  Therefore, our ideas about what we should be asked to endure are just that....ideas.  The reality can be much different.  Another thing you learn is that no matter what you encounter, God is there with you and His ability to sustain you, even when you are teetering on the edge of despair, is nothing short of incredible.

The moment I gave birth to Caden, I knew that I wanted to try again.  No matter what that meant.  No matter how many losses we'd endure, or how long it took, I had to try.  While it was absolutely beautiful to meet our baby boy, I couldn't have that silent birth be my last memory of childbirth.  Seeing the Doctor's face as she said "I'm so sorry, but I can't feel a heartbeat".  The look on Brandon's face when we realized that our hopes and dreams of just a few minutes with our boy while he was alive had been dashed.  Calling our family to say "Don't rush here, just come when you can.  He's not alive."  That couldn't be the last chapter in our book of having babies.

I knew it.

While I knew it, I still wondered what was the "right" way to go about it.  Should we wait a year?  I felt like we needed to give Caden his due time and acknowledgement.  If I got pregnant again, would we remember Caden in the way that we wanted to?  Would people think we were trying to replace him?  What is something went wrong?  Could we handle it emotionally, knowing what we knew now about how these stories can end and hearing so many stories from others who had experienced devastating losses at different points in their pregnancies?  Could I handle it physically?  What about Connor and Kylee?  What about our friends and family, who had endured this loss right along with us.  Was it fair to ask them to hope and pray for us again?

We contemplated.  I was ready.  Brandon was a lot more hesitant than I was.  I will let him explain that in his portion of this series.  Being a man of logic, the numbers were important to him.  The genetic counselor had told us that what had happened with Caden was a "fluke"...that there was no reason to think that it would happen again.  But we knew that a fluke could occur at any time, and probably didn't have much concern about striking twice in the same place.  It was hard.  I was also frightened that I wouldn't be able to get pregnant.  We knew of families who had lost their babies and had tried for years to have another baby with no success.  I couldn't bear the thought of wanting something so badly and not being able to have it.  We'd never had trouble conceiving before, but I knew that there were no guarantees in this business.  That thought was more frightening to me than almost any other.  What if God said "no"?  Could I be content?

My midwife offered me birth control.  I took the prescription for the pills, knowing that I would never go to the pharmacy to fill it.  Brandon was okay with that.  A couple months after Caden was born, he gave me roses...2 red (Connor and Kylee) and one white (Caden).  The card said something to the effect of "let's try again".  We were like-minded.  We believed that experiencing a loss hadn't changed our fundamental desire for another child.  We prepared to begin another journey, not knowing where the road would lead us.

One morning in early November, just over four months after having Caden, I took a pregnancy test.  Brandon was at work.  I hopped in the shower while the stick worked its magic.  The entire time I was showering, I prayed that God would give me the strength to accept whatever the results were, knowing that I would need colossal strength with either result.

I stepped out of the shower, dried off, and wrapped my hair up in the towel.  I felt incredibly calm.  I peeked at the bathroom counter.  I took one step closer.  My heartbeat accelerated.

There were two pink lines.  One dark, one faint.

I collapsed on the bathroom floor on my knees, tears streaming down my face, saying "Thank you, Lord.  Thank you."  I knew that regardless of the outcome, the opportunity to create another life was precious.  God said "yes!".

I was elated.  I think I enjoyed the feeling for at least 3 hours before I started worrying.

More on that to come.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Caden's Cubs Now on Facebook!

Hello, everyone!  In an effort to increase our networking with other folks and organizations with similar goals and experiences as ours, we've recently joined the masses on Facebook.  You should be able to find us simply by going to Facebook and searching on "Caden's Cubs".  If I've got everything set up correctly, all of our blog posts from now on should automatically be posted up on our Facebook page, too.  Please let us know if you notice any problems with all of this.  Otherwise, feel free to stop by either location!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Almost 2 Years...

It is incredible to me that Caden looks like he's just sleeping in this picture.  This was the picture that Brandon took just seconds before we walked out of the hospital, leaving our precious angel behind in a little white basket. 

It has been almost two years since we held our baby in our arms.

June is always a difficult month.  The anniversary of my mother's death is on June 9th...and then we begin replaying the mess of emotions that we felt in 2008 in the month of June, culminating with Caden's Heaven Day on June 30th.

I distinctly remember coming home from the Doctor's appointment where we scheduled my induction.  I thought it was a great cosmic injustice that choosing an induction date was synonymous with choosing the day we'd say goodbye to our boy.

Two years ago tonight, we were preparing to go to the hospital.  Last minute arrangements were taking place...small details tended to so that when we came home with empty arms, we'd have nothing to concentrate on but healing.  In the days before Caden was born, I remember going to the store to buy a sportsbra that I could wear to help reduce the pain from engorgement I'd experience after Caden was born.  Brandon went and bought a black shirt to wear in our Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep pictures.  Instead of picking out "I'm A Big Brother" and "I'm a Big Sister" shirts, we selected dark shirts for Connor and Kylee to wear, so that our pictures would look good.  I would have given anything to be buying new blankets, or Dreft, or binkies, or diapers.  But no.  It was all so bleak.  Planning for death at the same moment we anticipated birth.

Looking back, I wish that I'd spent more time rubbing my belly.  Feeling Caden move.  In the moment, I was so exhausted and emotionally spent that laying awake at night was frustrating.  I tried to treasure each and every flutter, praying that everything would be okay.  Begging God to let us have time with our son...the precious life I felt twisting and turning inside me...and not letting go of the hope that maybe, just maybe, we could bring our baby home.

But it was not to be.

The kids have had a very difficult time with missing Caden recently.  Both have cried many tears in the last few weeks, missing their brother.  We cry right along with them.  We pray that Caden is happy up in heaven and remind each other that someday, we'll get to be with him again.  It is interesting because they aren't necessarily aware of the anniversary that is approaching, yet the energy in our house flows differently, and they perceive that.  A change in our household, that, while difficult, is one I hope will stick.  The energy will flow differently with each year that passes, but I hope we continue to reflect on Caden being a part of our family every day, and especially as June 30th approaches each year.

Our baby is forever woven into the fabric of our hearts.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

So Blessed!

We have been very blessed this week!

My sister, Sarah, works with a graphic designer who generously offered to help us create some graphics for Caden's Cubs. Sarah has worked with Jeff to create a brand new logo, notecards, address labels, and a brochure that we can use to distribute our giftcards to families and spread the word about Caden's Cubs and as you can see, the result is AMAZING. We have been further blessed by Jessica Carlson's willingness to solicit a donation of printing services from her employer so Jeff and Sarah's creations could come to life on paper.

Sarah delivered the first fruits of their labor to us last weekend. We received our first batch of notecards and address labels and it was SO EXCITING to see them! We have already had the opportunity to use our new products when providing giftcards to two families this week.

We have also been blessed to receive our first monthly donors for Caden's Cubs. Some of our friends have approached us about making a monthly contribution to our ministry and began contributing regularly earlier this year. We are overwhelmed and honored at their desire to support us in honoring our son.

We are VERY excited about our new logo and wanted to share it with you here. This is the design featured on our notecards and address labels. Isn't he cute? You'll notice that on his foot, he has Connor, Kylee, and Hadley's initials.

As always, if you know of a family who might be able to utilize the services we offer through Caden's Cubs, please feel free to send us their information and we'll do the rest. If you know of anyone who would be interested in simply learning more about our ministry, we would love to share it with them.

A special THANK YOU to those of you who have made this possible. Jessica and Sarah, we are so very grateful for your willingness to share your expertise to make this all happen!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

We carry a special place in our hearts for those moms who have lost one of their children...and especially for those mothers who are celebrating their first Mother's Day without one of their children here with them.  Mother's Day is another holiday that has been forever changed by our experience with Caden.

Throughout today, we have found ourselves reflecting on our family, and the fact that it's been almost two years since Caden's moment in time arrived.  It strangely seems like both forever ago and just like yesterday.  Time does heal even this wound, but I don't think we'll ever get past the part where you stop and just wonder what things would have been like if Caden had joined us as a happy, healthy baby.  We miss him terribly.

We often see sayings or messages about love and loss...and, while all are very well-intentioned, there is very fine line between something that just makes you sad and something very meaningful and encouraging.  

Alexandra's House sends out Mother's Day cards to the families that have been a part of their ministry, and for us, the message the card contained took our breath away, so we wanted to share it with you.

Once upon a special day in Heaven up above,
The tiniest souls sat at God's feet, surrounded by His love.
The time was coming very soon, God said, do not be scared.
Your family awaits your arrival, now let us get prepared.
And so God looked upon these souls, in mute consideration.
He knew the life each one would live, He weighed each situation.
The souls chatted amongst themselves, and wondered who they'd be.
They knew the day grew closer; soon, they'd meet their family.
How would you like to change the world? God asked each soul in fun.
The chance to change a soul, a heart, is held by only one.
I'm going to make the world laugh, one soul said with a smile,
for laughter heals a broken heart, and helps us through each trial.
Then take with you the brightest smile, and share your laughter well.
The soul thanked God immensely, and down to earth he fell.
And I'll remind the world to sing, a sweet little soul told the Lord.
I have the gift of a beautiful voice; I can hit every note and every chord.
You'll have the gift of music then, a voice lovely and strong.
Share your gift with others, and let them hear your song.
I will show compassion, the next little soul raised her hand.
Some people only need a friend, someone to understand.
Compassion is a good thing, God said with much delight.
To you, I will give mercy.  You'll perceive wrong from right.
And so each soul shared every thought, their plans, their hopes, their dreams.
And God explained that life, it is much harder than it seems.
And as each soul began to leave in a scurry of laughter and fun,
Heaven became quiet and still, for left was only one.
Come sit with me my little child, God said with just a sigh.
Do you know how many you will touch, in a world left wondering why?
Before your life comes to an end, you will know much strife,
but you'll teach those who know you, to cherish the smallest things in life.
And some may only know you through a simple photograph,
they'll never hold you in their arms, or memorize your laugh.
Some may only know you through the words they read each day,
but you'll do something wonderful, you'll make them stop and pray.
The tiniest soul raised his head up, to touch God's firm, strong hand.
Father, I am ready for the life that you have planned.
And I will do the best I can without a word or deed,
for you Lord, are the planter, and I will be your seed.
He could already hear many praying, and although they had not seen his face,
they were praying for his safe arrival, they were asking for mercy and grace.
What talent do I leave with, Lord? What gift do you impart?
All that you will need, God said, I've placed within your heart.
And so God kissed this tiny child, knowing all that he would be,
and whispered as he watched him go...You'll teach them...to love me.

We keep reminding ourselves that the slice of time we're missing with Caden here on earth is literally almost nothing compared to the eternity that waits for us all.  

Happy Mother's Day.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Our Story In Powerpoint

It's been way too long since we've updated this page - sorry!  Life has a way of speeding past you, especially when you go from a man defense to a zone defense.  Our new little one, Hadley, is now 8 months old!  Yes, time flies!

But, we've also been busy with lots of gift cards, which is both heart-breaking and encouraging at the same time.  While we would never wish our experience on anyone else, we are glad that more people are able to utilize Caden's Cubs to provide a small measure of comfort for the siblings of these little angels whose presence on this world is far too short.

Over the past few months, we've also done several presentations and fundraisers to keep Caden's Cubs expanding.  We wanted to share with you the Powerpoint that we've used for those presentations - it's basically the story of how Caden's Cubs began in the space of just a couple minutes.  Feel free to download it or share it with anyone you think it might help.

Thank you again for the incredible generosity of everyone who has donated - your dollars go directly to provide comfort to young ones who have lost their baby brother or sister.

God Bless You!

PS - I'm playing with some of the settings in this presentation, so please let me know if you don't hear the audio during the presentation.  Thanks!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Caden's Cubs Update


It's been awhile since we've shared what's happening with Caden's Cubs, so I thought I would take a minute to update you all. We have been blessed by our friends and family with some generous donations recently, which allowed us to purchase our first sizable batch of Build-A-Bear giftcards. This is great because when we hear of a family that can utilize Caden's Cubs, we can now send them a giftcard from our batch on hand within a couple days rather than ordering the cards individually and having to wait several days for them to come in the mail.

In the last month, we have been able to provide giftcards for about 10 children. This is exciting, yet disheartening, for us. Each family's story touches our souls, and we are so grateful to be able to do something to let them know that even strangers are praying for them and their babies.

Our goals over the next few months include getting ourselves set up with some notecards, address labels, and perhaps even some informational pamphlets to be sent out to the families we give cards to. Right now, we are using generic cards to send things out in, and we think it would be wonderful to be able to use cards and address labels with the Caden's Cubs logo on them when we mail giftcards. It is our hope that eventually, information about Caden's Cubs can be given to families in the hospital so that they can contact us if they are interested in making a bear in honor of their little one. That is a big vision. We'll see where the road takes us.

Some have asked how much money it takes to create one bear. Build-A-Bear has given us a discount, so we will be able to provide $25 giftcards for a cost of $20. This is, generally speaking, enough for a stuffed animal and an outfit at Build-A-Bear.

We continue to accept direct referrals. If you know of a family who could benefit from this experience, please let us know. All you need to do is provide us with the names of their children and their mailing address and we take care of the rest. Of course, we always love to hear a little of their own personal story...we feel a connection to all these families.

Before I sign off, I want to say a special thank you to Spencer and Steph. Your gift will be a true blessing to us and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for helping us further our ministry. We are truly humbled.

To all of you that have contributed or will contribute in the future, we want you to know how blessed we feel by your generosity. Each giftcard we send is a piece of healing for us...and also brings healing and joy to a child who needs something to cuddle while remembering a precious angel.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Caden's "Heaven Day"

One year ago today, our son, Caden Adair, was born. One of our dearest family friends, Paula, called today "Caden's heaven day," and I thought it was perfect.

For weeks, we have thought about how this day was going to hit us. We decided that it would bring with it a mix of relief and incredible sadness...and perhaps, hopefully, a little bit of joy at knowing our youngest sits at the feet of Jesus (on the first anniversary, it is hard to have the joy outweigh the sadness, I have to be honest).

Once again, we have been amazed and so grateful for the outpouring of love and support that we have received from friends and family. From beautiful cards, to flowers, to e-mail encouragement, to yummy treats and a homemade lunch, we have been so blessed today. It has been a gift to face this difficult day surrounded by love and lifted up in the prayers of others. So, to those of you who have provided that support for us, thank you.
The kids said they wanted to color pictures for Caden and release balloons in his memory, so we did that together as a family tonight. Brandon and I had thought for some time about what would be an appropriate way to commemorate Caden's "heaven day", and in the end, decided to just ask the kids what they wanted to do. So, that's what we did. And it was perfect. They have been well aware of what today means and have asked lots of questions and have been a little sad today, too. They miss their baby brother. What a gift perceptive children are.

One of the greatest reminders we have of our baby boy is our garden. I wanted to share some pictures with you. Things are popping up beautifully this year. The picture at the beginning of this post is of one of our first blooms on our magnolia tree. What great timing to see new signs of life! Here are some other shots of the garden:

Here are some shots of our balloon release. The kids wanted to let the balloons go out in the garden:

When asked if she wanted to say anything, Kylee said she wanted to tell Caden "Hi" and that she "hopes he's doing good in heaven." She wrote her name on the pink balloon.

Connor wrote "Hi, Caden!" on his balloons. When he released his, he yelled "I miss you, Caden!"

Watching the balloons soar...the kids were both very concerned about whether or not the balloons would actually make it up to heaven. We assured them that even if the balloons themselves didn't make it, Caden could see what we were doing.

We love you, baby boy. You dwell in our hearts forever.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

One Year Ago Today....

As many of you may recall, on March 31, 2008, at our 20 week ultrasound, we were told that our baby was to become an angel. Approaching this anniversary date has affected us in ways that have been somewhat unexpected. Neither Brandon or I slept well last night and we both are just feeling a bit unsettled today. I have already had two good cries this morning...and will probably have another one tonight as I remember sleeping a year ago in a lonely hospital room, uncertain of what the morning would bring. I will be overcome with gratitude that tonight, I get to sleep beside my husband, with my children in the rooms next to ours, feeling our unborn daughter kick and turn inside of me. I will be overcome with sadness that the baby I carried one year ago is not here with us.

We were unaware, on this day one year ago, of the journey that was beginning for us. We were hopeful, that with enough bedrest, hydrotherapy, and IV fluids, that our baby would be okay. Reflecting back on the experience, I think we would have been much more scared if we had known, at that time, what the next few months would hold for us as we carried a baby that we would never get to bring home. God has great wisdom in only dishing out information as we can take it, although when in the midst of a crisis, the lack of answers is perhaps the most frustrating part of the process.

We would learn what it meant to simply "get through". We would face our worst fear...saying goodbye to one of our children. We would have to explain to our children that things don't always work out they way that we want them to...and sometimes, God calls even little babies to come and live with Him. We would feel discouragement and loneliness unlike any other. We would be told, over and over again, that the right decision, in the eyes of some, was to terminate the pregnancy. And we would learn, for a fact, how much we value the life of our children....born or unborn. We would also learn what an incredible support system surrounded us, as, on this night one year ago, my family stood around my hospital bed, holding hands, saying a prayer for Brandon, Connor, Kylee, and I, and for our unborn son. It was the beginning of so many prayer circles formed on our behalf.

Incredible. And painful. Anniversaries, particularly the first ones, are so difficult. When in the midst of a difficult time, the stress of the situation causes your body to go into overdrive....in a way, almost preventing you from experiencing the emotions that would accompany the situation in a different circumstance. But months or years later, that "overdrive" sensation is gone, and you are grieving the loss in a way that is perhaps even more raw than when it actually happened. It is very healing, but also very difficult.

Today is also the nine month anniversary of the day we met Caden. I have spent time this week looking at pictures of him and can't believe how strong the longing to hold him is. His naked little body, his gorgeous red hair, his sweet little cheeks...all formed so perfectly. Seeing the love in our family's faces as they gazed down at him. It's amazing.

Baby boy, we love you more than words can express. And, as painful as the journey that began one year ago today has been, we are so thankful for the days we had with you.

You were worth all of it.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Approaching Friday...

Many kind folks have inquired as to when our 20 week sonogram is. I appreciate it that people have asked, because it means they understand, on some level, the anxiety that surrounds this typically joyous landmark of a "normal" pregnancy. Our sonogram is this Friday.

On March 30th of last year, our world came crumbling down around us. Our 20 week ultrasound quickly spiraled into a real-time nightmare as we saw the lack of fluid around our son.

Knowing that our baby girl has kidneys and a bladder has helped to relieve some of this fear as we prepare to walk into the sonogram room this time. However, there is a residual anxiety that we carry with us as a result of our experience with Caden...so we are grateful for your prayers. We have decided to take the kids with us, hoping that getting to see a healthy baby on the screen will bring healing to them. They are counting down the months until this baby joins us here at home.

Pregnancy after loss is incredibly healing. I wish I could express how different our approach and reverence for this little life is following the loss of our son. Every landmark is even more precious...every little kick a huge blessing. We know these moments are to be treasured...and the realization that some babies' lives, like Caden's, consist only of the time they've spent in their mother's womb drives this point home even harder.

Moments of uncertainty are also magnified...the fears, the knowledge of what all could go wrong...tell me that we won't fully enjoy this little one until she is here with us on the outside...breathing and moving in our arms. Every appointment brings my heart up into my throat...will we hear or see her heartbeat? Is she okay? Will there be fluid? It's a far cry from the typical "How much weight have I gained THIS time?" type worries I had in my pregnancies with Connor and Kylee.

The other thing I have learned, thanks to our journey with Caden, is that we are entirely powerless to control the outcome of this pregnancy. And if, heaven forbid, we were asked to go through another loss, He would get us through it. I praise Him through that uncertainty, and trust in His plan for this baby...praying that she gets to come home with us, but knowing if, at any point, we get bad news, we will celebrate our daughter's life for what it has been so far. This viewpoint is a blessing and a curse. We are soaking up each and every day that she is with us.

We will let you know what Friday brings. And in the meantime, thanks for your prayers.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Missing Caden

As some of you know, I have started my semester at William Jewell, teaching sophomore nursing students the art and science behind Health Assessment.

Typically, I teach in the fall, spring, and summer semesters of school. This year, however, I had arranged to take the fall semester more or less "off" from teaching because we were anticipating having a newborn in the house. When we found out we weren't going to get to bring Caden home with us, we decided keeping my teaching load to a minimum in the fall would still be a good idea...to allow me time to recover physically, mentally, and emotionally from all that the summer held for us.

While I was up on campus occasionally during the fall semester, I was really able to focus on things here at home. I realized as I was preparing to start my class this semester that I was, in another way, returning to "normal". I found that there was great comfort in that, but it was also hard. This return to teaching meant, in a way, that I was taking a step further away from losing Caden (this may sound crazy, but bear with me). I was going back to a familiar routine...putting on the professional attire, interacting with students who have no idea what I've been through in the last year...and it was a bit surreal and somewhat sad to enter this new phase of our grief and recovery. But I know it is time.

I met my class this week. As I was riding up in the elevator on the way to give my first lecture, the tears just started rolling down my face. "What on EARTH?!?!?!" I thought. Great timing.

I thought about it. The last time I taught this course, I was pregnant with Caden. I got to bring my precious boy with me to work. It was something I got to experience with him...and given that he didn't live outside of my womb, those intrapartum experiences are all the memories that I have with him. Outside of our sonograms with Jan, teaching class at William Jewell was one of the only "fun memories" that I have with Caden. Not that he did a lot of teaching (in the traditional sense, anyway), but he was there. WITH ME. Those days together are important for many reasons, and I think my emotion stemmed from the realization that I would miss having our precious boy with me as I stood at the head of the classroom.

Because of dismal Doctor's appointments, frustrating sonograms at the perinatologist's office, and dark moments of fear and doubt, I don't have a lot of happy memories of our time with Caden. Teaching at Jewell, where I was supported and loved by my colleagues, embraced by my students, and getting to do something that I have a great passion for, was a GOOD memory from this summer. Connor and Kylee have both spent time with me up at Jewell...and Caden got to do that, too.

Taking one more step towards a "new normal" is something that I am grateful for. But I am also grateful, as Caden's Mommy, that I had the opportunity today to realize how much I miss him. The "missing him" is different because I didn't know him while he was alive and on the outside of my womb. There aren't many experiences I recall with him that make me reflect on my pregnancy and how wonderful it was to have him inside me...but today, I had that moment. Realizing that there is something we used to do together and that I'm going to miss was very powerful.

Our God works in strange and wonderful ways.