One Year Ago

Friday, December 27, 2013
There are very specific dates over the course of my pregnancy that I think will always be engrained into my memory. One of those days was the day that I went for the MRI...December 27, 2012. The sounds, the inability to move, the sweat running down my back, and a pure nervousness for what could possible be revealed...I remember it like it was yesterday.

You can reread my thoughts following the MRI by clicking here.

I vividly remember the conversation that I had with the perinatologist that day. I was about to walk out of work when he called. I remember what I was wearing, where I sat, and who was in the office with me.  I remember trying to write as fast as I could on a series of post-it notes. I could tell in his voice that Addy's prognosis was not good. I could hear his genuine and heartfelt concern. After explaining all the anomalies, he explained how he called every hospital in the nation that offer experimental in utero surgeries for babies with right sided diaphragmatic hernias.  None of the hospitals would accept our case but I was touched by his efforts. 

That conversation changed me.
I refused to give up hope but my momma instinct was not good.

Christmas 2013

Saturday, December 21, 2013

I have always loved Christmas.
The lights, the carols, the decorations, the family time, and the birth of the savior.

But this year I didn't decorate my house. I just wasn't feeling the joy of the season.
But, I didn't want my Addy to think that she was not being remembered during the holiday season. So, I bought a couple of ornaments and made a few more and the only decor in my home this season is Addy's Tree.

And, I carried on a family tradition from my childhood.
Every year until I was well into my college years, we went to Crown Center at Christmas to see Santa. It was one of those traditions that I didn't appreciate as a child but long to carry on with my family.

I rehearsed what I was going to say over and over in my head, grabbed a picture of my Addalyn, and went to see Santa at Crown Center. I handed the picture to the man dressed in the red suit and asked him if he would take a photo with my daughter on what should have been her first Christmas. He smiled at me as I tried not to cry and told me, "Christmas is about what is in the heart and you my dear will be blessed." A few tears rolled down my cheeks.  I took my picture of Addalyn back and went to pay for her photo with Santa. The nice man at the checkout said that Santa paid for the photo and wished me a Merry Christmas. And the tears started rolling. As I was walking out Santa got out of his chair, came up to me, gave me a hug, and a kiss on the cheek. "You are going to be okay my dear," he said and then he asked if he could print one of the photos for himself so that he too could remember my Addalyn this Christmas season.  My heart was over joyed. He didn't look at me strange when I asked him to take a photo with my picture of Addalyn, paid for the printing of her photo, offered me encouragement, and then asked if he too could reflect upon my Addalyn's memory this holiday season. 

My heart overflows. 

To the moon and back my beloved Addalyn.

October 15th...

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day and it would have also been Addalyn's 30th week of life. My heart was weary and overcome with pain as I drove to work today. The song "Worn" by Tenth Avenue North came on the radio and the words brought me to tears...

Let me see redemption win 
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Cause I’m worn
I have struggled with my faith over the years but I know that I alone can't overcome all the hurt. 

And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left


There are a lot of amazing mommas that I have met over the course of the year who have lost part of what made them whole. Whether their loss was a result of miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant death, their loss is real and their grief is felt.  Thinking of them all today and everyday.


Sunday, October 13, 2013

On a recent shopping trip, my 3 year old niece was in her own little world in the cart. 
She was making up songs about how much she "loves her mommy" and all about "riding in the cart."  As we continued to shop, I overheard her singing, "Baby Addy is flying in the sky with God and Jesus."

Proudly she continued, "I know how to swim but Baby Addy can fly!" 
And since she can fly, for Halloween, "Baby Addy is going to be a butterfly." 
Not just any butterfly, "Baby Addy is going to be the most beautiful butterfly with pink, purple, and sparkly wings."

"All little girls love sparkles," she declared!

I stood in awe.
From the mouth of a three year old, my beloved daughter is remembered. 


Sunday, October 6, 2013

A much needed getaway to visit one of my dearest friends 
and her husband was long overdue.

We ate, shopped, pampered ourselves, ate, cultured ourselves at the art gallery, ate, saw a movie, went sight seeing, and ate some more.

I slept, caught up on some very educational TV shows, and relaxed. 

But mostly, I got to spend lots of quality time with one of my very best friends. 
 There was lots of laughter, conversations, tears, hugs, reminiscing, and motivational speeches.

Thank you for providing me with a much needed oasis. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013


I remember where and what I ate before going in.
I remember what I was wearing...the shirt, the skirt, the shoes, and the earrings.
I remember being so elated at the thought of hearing the heartbeat for the first time. 

Everything was so normal that morning but so quickly it all changed.

I was 12 weeks pregnant and I went in for a routine appointment. 
I had my phone out ready to record the heartbeat when my OB struggled to find it.
Knowing I was anxious that she was unable to hear the heart tones, we walked across the hall to the ultrasound room. Tears began to roll down my cheek as I quickly heard the lub-dub. The ultrasound tech continued to click and zoom on the monitor and then said she wanted to grab our OB. I tried not to panic but the look on her face caught me off guard. When I close my eyes, I can see them both standing before the ultrasound monitor and nodding. Something looked "concerning" but they would not elaborate. They moved us to a different room while they made several calls. 
I bawled.

We drove around the corner to the perinatologist office and checked in. 
I was so frustrated that they were asking routine admission questions...what is your primary language, highest level of education, emergency contact...grr! I just wanted to know what was wrong not answer a million and one questions about myself.

Finally, we were taken to the ultrasound room. I crawled on the table and exposed my belly. There was a large wall mounted TV across from us and I watched as the ultrasound tech did the scan. The baby was so small that it was difficult to tell what she was looking at.  She didn't say anything. 

Fairly quickly, the perinatologist came in the room and without hesitating she said the baby had a cystic hygroma. 

I had no idea what that was or what that meant. I think I stopped listening because I was so overwhelmed. We were moved to a conference room where we met with a genetics counselor. She talked about our family history, chromosome abnormalities, genetic syndromes, percentages, probability, termination, and on and on and on. I don't operate well under possibilities, I needed clear answers so I opted for an immediate CVS. After the procedure was complete, we walked out of the hospital with the wind out of our sails. 

I called my mom as we drove away and through my sobbing I told her "something is wrong with the baby." She kept asking "what" but I could not answer because I had no idea. 

We went in for a regular appointment expecting to hear the heartbeat for the first time but left four hours later depleted and terrified of the unknown. 

It was as if I had been mixed up with someone else. 
It was surreal.


I am not in a good place in my life. 
I am not ready to elaborate but the same verse keeps coming to me....

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”   - Jeremiah 29:11

 I am not good at asking for help
 but, if you would, would you keep me in your prayers. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Part of me was not sure I was ready, but a bigger part of me longed to go.

To see the people who helped to guide my pregnancy.
To say thank you to those who supported and encouraged me during the ups and downs.
To be in the presence of those who helped to bring Addalyn into this world.
To see those who tenderly cared for me during my moments of greatest need. 
To go back to the only physical place where my daughter ever was.

I needed this.

To celebrate what would have been Addy's first half birthday, I went back to again say thank you to the physicians, nurses, counselors, coordinators, and technicians who took my heartbreaking situation and helped me make it through.  

I will be forever grateful.

A 6 Month Reflection on Me...

Thursday, September 19, 2013
I have been told three different times this week by three different people that carrying out my pregnancy was heroic, admirable, and commendable.

I am none of these things.
I am a momma who's life took a journey in a direction that I could have never anticipated. A direction that I could have never prepared for or believed that I would have made it through. 

I am not a hero, I simply refused to give up hope on what I longed so desperately for.

I have been changed and have found that I am stronger than I ever believed.
And, reflecting back on my journey, I am truly proud of myself.
Does it sound conceded to say that I am proud of myself?
I hope not. 

I don't mean to be conceded but life handed me the unimaginable in the past year and I am truly proud of me.

There was a large needled stuck into my abdomen while I was awake to obtain a segment of my placenta.

My arms, legs, and head were strapped to a table and slid into a closed MRI for close to an hour so a better image could be obtained of her kidneys.

I watched an ultrasound screen close to 15 times trying to make sense of changes from week to week riding the ups and downs as things got better then bad and then worse.

I sat around a conference table and listened as her anomalies were presented and potential interventions/surgeries/transplants were explained believing in my heart that quality of life should outweigh quantity of life even if my heart was not ready.

After indepth conversations to discuss the pros and cons, we made a decision to not wear the heart rate monitor during my labor knowing that there was a potential my daughter would not be born alive.

I carried my child within me for 35 weeks and 5 days despite the fact that being visibly pregnant resulted in very difficult and emotional conversations with people who had no idea of my story.

I had painful conversations about comfort care, death, funeral homes, and cremation/burial.

I endured labor knowing that my joy in the end would be robbed.
 I swaddled my daughter one last time, ensured her hat was perfectly situated on her head, gave her one final kiss, and placed her body into basket and sobbed as she was carried away knowing that I would never see her again in this life.

I packed my bag and walked out of the hospital empty handed leaving behind the only place my daughter ever was.
I bound myself with ice packs for close to two weeks when my milk came in to help reduce the pain.

In a fog, I finalized plans for my daughter's memorial service and I sat at the front of a church to celebrate the life of a child I would never know beyond her first and only day of life. 

8 weeks after her passing, I returned to work and walk the halls of the hospital where I pass the cardiologist that did the ECHO and the doctors from the fetal health appointment. My heart stings a little with each siting.

In working to get myself healthy, I continue to see a counselor, find solace in my support group, have managed to drop the baby weight, and am finding ways to ensure that my daughter's life has purpose.

I am a better person today because of her. 
I did what was best for Addy regardless of my what it would mean for my body, regardless of how sad it made me, and regardless that it was not easy. I believe so much that I am forever changed that if I could roll back time, I would endure it all again. I would because I saw Addy open her eyes, I had the opportunity to kiss her precious lips, I felt her warmth against my chest, and because I am at peace with our journey.

I have never uttered the words, "I wish we would have" or "if I could do it all over again, I would change." I prayed for time with my daughter and that she would not struggle. I didn't want her to gasp for air, to struggle to breathe, or to be in pain.  To be honest, I am not certain when Addy passed away. The time of her birth and the time of her death are listed as 41 minutes apart but there was not a clear moment of her passing. She did not live long but she never hurt, she never struggled, and she never gasped.  She passed peacefully and prayers were answered.

I am proud that I am still standing after the journey my life has taken.
And more so, I am proud to be Addalyn's momma.  

To the moon and back.

Decorating for Fall

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

It felt a little strange to decorate for fall this year 
and not just because it is still 95 degrees.

 Fall has always been my favorite season 
but decorating my home this year was different.

 Life was so different this time last year. 

Getting out all the fall things just reenforced to me that life is moving on. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013
Sometimes I find myself in situations where I have to make a very conscience effort to remind myself that the people I have encountered are not aware of my journey and that they are simple doing their jobs. 

Yesterday was one of those days.
My "worst case scenario" self had my realistic self totally paranoid about some leg pain I have been experiencing lately so my PCP ordered an ultrasound to put my mind at ease. All was well but I added a tally mark to the ultrasound list...I am almost certain that I have had more ultrasounds this year than most have in their entire life. 

As I laid on the exam table the sonographer was explaining the machine to me and telling me how good the imaging has become. She does not know me nor did she know that I am an ultrasound pro so I just listened to her. In her explanation of the imaging she asked if I had ever had an ultrasound. I hesitantly answered yes and she asked if it was "for the exciting gender reveal during a pregnancy." My instinct was to say, "nope, I found out I has having a girl after they stuck a massive needle into my abdomen while I was awake and nicely ripped out a piece of my placenta." I resisted the urge but politely responded that I had to have several ultrasounds due to a complicated pregnancy. My hope that this would satisfy as the answer was quickly crushed as she asked a few more questions.  I know I am beginning to heal because I can talk about my journey without totally losing it but I don't always like to share with strangers. It is sensitive and personal so I don't usually provide all the details but the sonographer seemed to really want to know our story so I give her my very quick and very rehearsed run down...Addy had a cystic hygroma and after an MRI, we knew she also had a right sided diaphragmatic hernia, dysplastic kidneys, and underdeveloped lungs.

After sharing, she asked if I drank enough water throughout my pregnancy. 
I found it to be an odd question after I just explained how Addy had passed away but she proceeded to tell me her story. She shared that her son had to go to the NICU after his birth because "he also had issues with his lungs." She explained that her doctor told her his issues were a result of "lack of amniotic fluid most likely caused by not drinking enough water throughout the pregnancy." She continued that he is "perfectly fine now" but he has "really bad asthma" which she feels really guilty about because she "caused it by not drinking enough water." 

I left the conversation at that. 
There was nothing else to say. 

For me, it isn't helpful to hear that God needed an angel in Heaven.
It isn't helpful to hear that my Addy is in a better place.
It isn't helpful to hear that I am young and can have more children.
And it isn't helpful to be made to feel like I did something wrong. 

I would have ingested the Mississippi River if it would have changed Addy's prognosis. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

I am convinced that there will never be a Tuesday 
that the first thought I have as I rise is, “today my Addy would be ….”
Surely I will be 90 and thinking, “my Addalyn would be 3,225 weeks old.”

Today, she would be 23 weeks old.
My heart still aches. It hurts, it burns, and it longs for my beloved daughter.

Tonight, I watched the recording of Addy’s memorial service.
Is that strange? Perhaps
Is it healthy? I have no idea.
Is it some part of the blessed grief cycle?  Probably
Is it needed for this grieving momma? I believe so.

To hear Jim beautifully reflect on Addalyn's precious life, or to hear Michael sing “All Of Me,” or to hear letters written to Addy after we had the opportunity to meet her, or to see her life displayed in pictures…it is all needed by this momma...even though it hurts. Her life may have been limited but it will be my life's work to ensure that she is never forgotten. 

I wept as I remembered back to that day…the day she was born and the day she passed and the days to follow after I parted with what made my heart whole.
It was and will forever be one of the very best and the very worst days of my life.

I have been forever changed.

To the moon and back my beloved daughter. 

And so it begins...

Friday, August 2, 2013

August 2, 2012
 I had my very first positive pregnancy test one year ago today.
I had been feeling tired at work so my dear friend Casie convinced me to take a test. 
I took it more as a way to prove her intuition that I was pregnant wrong.
This was the series of text messages that followed... 

(I included a picture of the test for Casie's viewing pleasure)

I see a slight pink line! Are you sure?

The second line is so faint that I think it is negative.

Ok, I just showed Jason the test and before I said anything I asked what he thought.
He goes, "oh yeah there are two lines!" 

And just like that, I was a momma.
I will never forget the overwhelming amount of joy that I felt in that moment. 
Joy and disbelief...I took a test on the 3rd, 4th, and the 14th just to be 100% certain!

There are life alternating dates that will be ingrained into my memory forever and I know it will be difficult as those dates resurface this year. What I have certainly learned through the grief process is that life does not stop, it will not even slow down, it just keeps on going whether you are ready or not. 


To the moon and back my precious Addalyn.
Momma loves you and misses you beyond words.

18 Weeks

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

I hit my highest weight when I was working nights in the Pediatric ICU. 
It was a stressful job where I faced life and death on a nightly basis (perhaps forshadowing for what was to come in my life?).  It takes a special nurse to work in the PICU and after a year, I realized I was not one of them.

When I would have a stressful night, I would go to the cafeteria during my lunch (mind you it was 2am) and get a plate of fries and a grilled cheese know one of those really good grilled cheese...texas toast rolled over the cascading butter and then fried in even more butter. It was so good that I used to eat them with a fork because I didn't like the butter saturating my fingers. 

After a shift change and a job change, I took up boxing and dropped my PICU weight. At the beginning of my pregnancy, I continued with the workouts. I tracked my heart rate at my OB's request and scaled the workouts back to stay in a safe zone. Once things got complicated around 12 weeks, I struggled to keep up with the workouts. I was physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted so I gave myself permission to stop boxing.

I only gained 35 pounds throughout my pregnancy which I felt pretty good about since carrots don't constitute "comfort food" in my book. When we had a bad appointment, we would cope with good food...Mexican, Flea Market Burgers, Mac&Cheese from McCoy's, Stroud's, etc. Why is it that food has a way of making us feel better?

After Addy was born, I started walking and by 6 weeks post baby, I had dropped 15 pounds. With the blessing of my OB, I started boxing again after 7 weeks and slowly my clothes are beginning to fit again.

Most days, I find that I am exhausted from trying to feel normal in a very unnormal world. My emotions fluctuate, I feel drained, and a good nights sleep is few and far between. So, I am getting serious about getting healthy...physically, mentally, and emotionally. I started seeing a counselor weekly to help me work through the grief, am making an effort to attend the monthly support groups at Alexandra's House, made a 'bucket list' of things I want to accomplish in the coming year (perhaps I will share as I begin to cross things off the list), continue to go to my boxing classes, and am trying to avoid processed foods to refuel my weary body with natural, clean foods. 

Sad, Depleted, Heart Broken, Weary, Bitter, Devastated, Angry, Jealous
Grief is a process and I have felt the gamut of emotions...sometimes all in just one day. There are days where the tears will not cease, some days my chest burns without avail, and some days I find myself being so angry and frustrated that everything just makes me mad. 
This year, I have to focus on me and restoring my brokenness. 
When I turn 29 next July, I want to be able to look back and know that despite how difficult the year was, I can hold my head high and know that I made it though.

Easier said than done? Sure. But I have to start somewhere.
Here is to turning 28.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013
I have been beyond touched by the personal gifts that we have 
received in remembrance of my Addalyn. 

A wall plaque with Addy's birth statistics, an engraved necklace, a charm bracelet, a picture frame holding her hand and foot prints, a monogrammed keepsake box, a 'sleeping baby in angel wings' garden statue, a monogrammed blanket, and the list could go on.

I am beyond grateful for the outpour of love. 
Thank you to you all. 

This past week, a beautiful drawing of Addy and her luvie showed up in our mailbox.
I have no idea who it is from, it was sent to Alexandra's House and then on to me. 

She is remembered. 
If your hands crafted this work of art, thank you. 
Thank you for caring enough about my journey to bless me with a 
beautiful drawing of my precious daughter. 


Saturday, July 13, 2013
I have been so blessed by Alexandra's House. 
Monthly, they host support groups for brokenhearted parents regardless of where they are in their journey. There are expecting parents, parents who have recently lost babies, and parents who lost babies years ago.

We attended in April and for various reasons, I have not been able to go back until today. 

To sit in a room of people who have or will experience the loss that you have experienced cannot be explained. No two stories are the same but the feelings of pain, sorrow, sadness, and heartache are felt by all.  There is an indescribable sense of understanding as you share your story and listen as others do the same.

Both times I have gone, 
I have walked away feeling comforted by the fact that I am not alone. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013
At 4:45, we gathered for family pictures on Emily's wedding day. 
As the photographer assembled my entire family, he casually said, "is this everyone?"
My heart sank. He simply wanted to insure that everyone that needed to be in the picture was present but Addalyn will forever be missing.

Missing, but never forgotten. 
Much to my surprise, Emily insured that Addalyn was with us.

Woven into Emily's bouquet was a charm with Addy's picture. 
I can't even begin to tell you how touched I was. 
As a grieving momma, it delights my heart so to see Addalyn being remembered. 

She was mentioned, she was talked about, and she was remember. 
 Her spirit was present and felt in the warmth of the sunshine on such a perfect day.

I am blessed with an amazing family and am so touched by their love for my daughter. 

Mr. and Mrs. Brinkmeyer

Sunday, June 23, 2013
Emily and Chad wed at Eventful at Locust Grove in Weston, MO 
in a beautiful outdoor ceremony.


And the pictures would not be complete without the beautiful bride and groom!
Welcome to the family Chadwick. 

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