Monday, September 24, 2012

Samuel's 17... missing my Cayla

Well, thinking about little miss Cayla alot these days.  I guess I will for a while... especially around the 22nd and 24th of each month.  Yes, she'd be 5 months old today.  I guess in time I will get past these days of the month without noticing, but not yet.  We'd probably still be at Cleveland Clinic recovering from her 2nd heart surgery so we could gear up for her bottom surgery.  Oh well.  How to stop these thoughts.  I do not know.  I love her so much.  I miss her so much.  I want to kiss her and hold her one more time. 

I have this picture of her and Lowell as my desktop background, and I find myself before I go to bed each night, telling her that, Momma loves you, and stuff like that.  There's going to be a permanent mark on my screen where I "rub her head" like I used to.  Feeling like this is pretty pathetic, but it makes me feel like I can at least say goodnight to her each night.  Don't know if it's "healthy" but it's where I'm at.  :o) 

I really am doing ok.  I just miss her.  I am feeling like I'm functioning a little more like myself everyday.  Haven't determined whether that's good or bad yet... ;o)  Samuel and I are doing the couch to 5K program instead of just our own walking/jogging for 3-4 miles.  This is different, so we'll see how it goes.  We only went one day last week between Samuel's poison ivy all over his body and then his birthday.  So today was a little rough getting back into it.  I am loving this cooler weather though.  The trail is pretty shaded so it's definitely jacket weather. 

I really need to do this and watch what I'm eating since I've gained back all the weight I lost with my pregnancy and some.  I need to hourly ask for God's strength to do what's right for my body physically.  I cannot do this on my own.  I've tried my whole life to be able to lose the weight.  I mean lose it and keep it off.  I'm going to take it where I'm at right now and ask God at the top of every hour (even if I need to set my alarm) to be in control of my actions.  To drink a glass of water every hour.  To take a few minutes to pray for all the many people needing it that God brings my mind throughout that hour.  To guard what I eat. To smile and show the love of God.  To not be a waster of my time.  It's easy to sit here and write this out... what great intentions.  Well have to see what kind of a report on how I do in the next post...

Good news!  Well, bad news too.  First the good news... My hair that has been falling out by the handfuls is growing back.  Yay!  My head is covered with half inch peach fuzz.  Some are even longer.  :o)  Ok, the bad news... It's coming back white and kinky.  I have white hairs zig-zagging out of my head that will not curl, or unkink.  It's almost funny it's so bad.  Actually it is funny right now while it's still just a few long ones that stick out, but once all these many other ones start growing out longer, me thinks it won't be funny anymore.  At least you can't see my scalp all the way back anymore.  So I guess this means another update will have to come later with pictures.  Eww, Ahh.

Another note, two weeks ago, I was able to complete the process to send in my milk and they called to tell me they pasteurized it that morning and it's already being used.  They were thrilled with the amount I was able to send and the content of it.  She said it is just what they need for preemies with lots of thick cream and good fats (from all the salmon I was eating).  :o)  So, I'm so glad that finally worked out and is done.

Don't have time now, but I'll have to take pictures of Cayla's little box.  We put some of her mementos in a fancy jewelry box from Things Remembered.  I keep meaning to do that and don't think about it until times like now when I don't have the time to do it.  Oh well. 

Samuel's now 17 and we had a great weekend celebrating him!  Although the celebrating will continue this next weekend too.  Friday night Grandma and Grandpa are taking us to an Indians game in Cleveland and on Saturday, Lowell managed to get tickets to see Tim Hawkins, the Christian comedian, in Middleburg Heights.  Somewhere in the suburbs of Cleveland I think.  Plus we got a free $50 gift card to Chili's and Lowell has been through Chili's withdrawl since moving to Ashtabula... So he's really looking forward to this weekend as well.  We all are.  It will be nice going to Cleveland for something other than the Clinic.  :o)

Some pics from Saturday night with family and friends.

Thanks for all the love and prayers.  So many times I feel my spirits lift and just know someone had to have been praying for us.  Thank you.  We'll talk more later!  ;o)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Samuel or Cayla?

It's 12:30am this lovely, cold, rainy, dark, Friday night.  Samuel and 3 of his friends are outside, in the rain and darkness, having an AirSoft battle.  Whatever makes them happy.  I'm glad to be right here, dry and warm.  Samuel turned 17 yesterday and is having friends over tonight.  We'll have all the family and friends over tomorrow for dinner.  He's had a great time so far.  Uncle John (my brother) and Uncle Cress (Lowell's brother) have had an impact on him.  He likes cool smelling deodorants and sprays, so I thought I'd ask him if he wanted to look at some cologne yesterday.  So, what do we see right off the bat?  Mustang.  It was in the original or Blue Mustang scent.  We both really liked the Blue one, so I got it for him.  Thanks to his uncles since Lowell and I don't wear any of that... :o)  Tomorrow we celebrate my boy. 

Yesterday, we also started looking through old pictures.  I wanted to post a little album on facebook with some of his baby pics.  Well, what do we find?  This picture below of him sleeping on the couch with Daddy.  The top 2 are Cayla.  They almost look like the same baby!  I had to share.  So amazed at how much they look alike.  Samuel thought it was pretty neat that she looked so much like him.  :o)

Cayla Joy 2012
Samuel Hunter 1995

Well, they are coming in, drying off and wanting to play the Wii which is right behind me... Well, I'll get a picture of the wet gang and go to bed.

Left to right... Steven Russell, Joseph Laing, Roger Strull, and Samuel

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Samuel and Some Thoughts

Well, we'd be getting ready for Cayla's 2nd heart surgery this week probably.  I am happy for her not having to go through all the surgeries, pain, recoveries and all that goes with it.  The Lord knows we'd be right there helping her through it all.  He chose to spare her.  I am happy for my girl, but... but what?  I wish her back here to go through it all?  I guess I can't say that.  She's perfect now.  No abnormalities on her.  No surgeries lined up.  I guess I really can't wish her back here.  But, I guess I can say, I miss her.  I do wish it didn't have to be this way.  Still, even though I miss her tremendously, God has given me a peace about her life.  I know I cry, I feel lost at times, I don't function the way I used to, but that's just my human side coming out.  I have a great Lord.  I can smile about her more and more as the Lord's great peace just settles in and stays. 

I have to share Psalm 27:4, "One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple." When I hear the phrase, "and I will dwell in the house of the Lord..." I think of Psalm 23:6.  It ends that phrase with the word "forever".  But Psalm 27:4 ends that phrase with, "all the days of my life."  That's right now, not just eternity.  I've always thought of that phrase as just referring to heaven, but this verse refers to now, here, on earth, while I'm still living I can dwell in the house of the Lord.  That is an awesome thought if you let it sink in.  Every day of my life, however long or short that may be, I can chose to live with the Lord and hang out at His place anytime I want to!  I'd guess that if I had a friend who was a billionaire and was given access to their house anytime, I'd be going there as often as I could, and I'd be wanting to show my other friends what this place was like.  How much more amazing is it to walk each day of this life on earth in the presence of the Lord and dwell where He dwells.  To see His wonderful beauty and ask Him whatever I want to.  Well, we can.  It's our choice.  To spend our days in squalor, living on the streets, or to step into that beautiful place of peace and trust.  I can't imagine anyone literally choosing to live on the streets with a house like that available, but spiritually we do it all the time. We can chose to trust God, to dwell in His house all day long, or we can live life the way we do... with anger, mistrust, fear, pride, disobedience and the list goes on.  Just a thought that struck me when Mrs. Emery, my pastor's wife, read this verse in her devotional the other day.  Thought I'd share my thoughts.

Verses like this lift my spirit tremendously.  I just want to yell it on the housetops that God is real!  The Bible is everything it says it is.  God is everything He says He is.  And I can say this, not because it's just what I believe, but because I've experienced it.  I've experienced living with God.  I don't know what you believe, but if you just believe something because that's what you've been taught, it's popular, or think is right, you've got nothing on personally knowing something's real because you've felt it.  I can't explain it.  I can't explain the overwhelming peace God gave when my baby died.  I can't explain a lot of things that God has done these last 2-4 months in my life.  But I can say He's real.  The Bible is 100% true.  I've experienced it!  Just had to share.  My fingers are just typing away as I sit here this Sunday afternoon.  I sat down, not having a clue what I wanted to write, but just started writing. 

This is what pulls me up out of my depression.  I talk about Cayla alot.  That helps.  I talk to people alot.  That helps.  I read my Bible.  That really helps.  I pour my heart out to God.  That gives me peace.  I write this all out.  That helps me more than all the talking I could muster up (trust me that's alot...).  People are wonderful, don't get me wrong.  All my talking helps me and thank you to all you listeners who put up with me.  But my strength to get through each day only comes from the Lord.  He is my all in all.  I guess I just want everyone reading this to grasp a picture of what your life could be like if you truly gave it all to Him. 

I sang a song a couple of weeks ago called, "You Will Always Be A Child".  It's God talking to us.  We will always be a child in His eyes.  It's like being 5 years old and having no worries about tomorrow, mom and dad are taking care of it.  Kids don't worry about stuff.  Neither should we.  If you're God's child, you've got a heavenly Father taking care of you.  Think of yourself as being 5 again.  Trust Him with all the details of your life.  If you're not God's child, you really need to reconsider. I was just talking to my mother-in-law Thursday about this.  I so badly want another baby girl to hold in my arms and love, but just as much as I want this, I don't want it.  I don't know if I can write out my meaning.  I'm 42.  Lowell's 52. The thought of raising Cayla was overwhelming in itself.  I could push and pray that God gives us another child.  What if it's not the best thing for us?  What if it's not in God's perfect plan for our lives?  Would I want to push God to do something that I want when He might have a perfect will and plan for our lives that might be even better?  Never.  I want a baby, but I don't. I'm ok, not ever having another child again.  All this confusion is where God comes in.  I'm not going to push one way or another.  I can just tell God that I want His best for us, whatever that may be. Period.  No more confusion.  No more stress.  No more worrying.  It's in His hands and when your life is in perfect hands, you have nothing, I said nothing to worry about.  Love it!!

My mother-in-law and I did our last trek out to Hillcrest Hospital again last Thursday.  At least I think it should be our last trek.  With life, you never know.  I've been trying to donate all the breast milk in my deep freezer.  It's taking a while to get the ball rolling, but we're making progress.  It's good for up to 6 months and time is running out.  The milk bank of Ohio is very low on supply, so I would love to have this go to help another little baby.  Cayla had to have donor milk at one point, so I'm happy to have it to give.  I would guess I have about 130-150 ounces of milk in my freezer.  I had to keep pumping so when she could have my milk, I could keep up with her demand.  Anyways,  Hillcrest is the closest hospital that will do the necessary blood work for free, so we went with the kit they sent and had my blood drawn.  Well, I couldn't go to Hilcrest without stopping to see Dr. Rajabi.  He thought he got rid of me a long time ago... :o)  Well, I keep coming back to haunt him.  :o)  Going there to my appointments, even though I knew Cayla only had half a heart that worked, was such a high point for me.  I was pregnant again.  I was going to have a baby.  Yeah, she had problems, but it was still a time of great excitement for me.  So going back up there to Dr. Rajabi's office was remembering good times for me.  I would love to go back to Cleveland Clinic and see the doctors and nurses there too.  It was a hard time, but it was where Cayla was.  It's a special place to me.  They're all special people to me.  I know I won't since I don't really have a reason to go back, but since I was already at Hillcrest, I couldn't help myself  from stopping in to say Hi up on 4th floor.

Well, there went my Sunday afternoon... I always feel good after I sit and write in the blog.  I should do it more, but I feel like anything I type here should have to do with Cayla.  So I share some stuff on facebook and every now and then, on the blog.  I guess I'll share some pictures I've recently put on facebook on here too. 

I did take some pictures last night of the 8 long-stem pink roses my Dad and Pat got at Cayla's homegoing service from June.  I arranged them and let them dry and we'll see how long they last.  They look very pretty I think for just sitting in a bowl.  They chose 8 because she was 8 weeks old.  One for each week of her little life. 

I'll close this post with Samuel.  He's a senior this year.  He's still 16 at least for 2 more weeks.  Here's some pictures from the first day of 12th grade...

He said the sun was in his eyes.  :o)  My bright eyed and bushy tailed son. 
We've been walking/running every school morning.  We've done it now for 4 weeks.  We go to the Greenway Trail which is 41 miles long from Ashtabula straight south into the next county.  It used to be a railroad track and now it's a gorgeous stretch of God's creation.  We've been going anywhere from 2-3 and 1/2 miles a day.  We're thinking about running (and walking) a 5K.  I think there's one on Thanksgiving morning.  We'll see.  Here's some pictures of where we run.  It's beautiful and I can't wait until the leaves start changing for fall!  I have to say that he even went this week by himself the 2 days I wasn't feeling good.  I'm proud of him and how he's maturing and letting God change him into the man He wants him to be. 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

I remember...

I started writing this on Friday, August 24th and never went back to finish or publish it to the blog.  I was "remembering" too many things and couldn't finish.  I read this now over a week later, and I'm not crying, but am wanting to.  Emotions have been very high recently.  Not in the way that I'm walking around weeping or anything, more like I'm just more sensitive to everything around me.  Ok, so maybe a few tears.  Not just Cayla stuff.  Anyways, I might just add another paragraph at the end and publish it, but this is just a drop in the bucket of memories that constantly flood my brain...

From Friday, August 24th

Well, today, Cayla Joy would have been 4 months old.  Also, today marks 9 weeks since she died.  That sounds like an eternity, yet it seems like it was this week.  Funny how our minds work. 

I started last Saturday night, August 18th, rereading the blog from day one.  Tuesday, I got to June 22nd's entry and had to stop.  I was feeling the excitement, uncertainties, joy, nervousness, peace, anticipation, unknowns, and all the emotions all over again as I read.  It was very overwhelming to relive those months again.  I so remember the feeling as I wrote about being able to hold her the first time.  I remember the smell of her when I wrote that I just loved to breathe in the smell of her.  I remember kissing her as I read about it.  I remember feeling like I needed handcuffs when they told me I couldn't touch her or stimulate her with my touch or voice after surgery.  I remember gently rubbing that sweet little head whenever she needed comfort. I felt and remembered every emotion from the beginning.  I remember sitting with my friend Wendy Hollon when I found out I was pregnant on October 21, 2011 and crying tears of disbelief, joy, and amazement that God had opened my womb after 16 years.  I remember earlier that same morning, Lowell asking Samuel what he thought about the possibility of mom being pregnant and what Samuel's answer was.  Without any hesitation with this whole possibility posed to him for the 1st time, he said, "Two things.  It's a little late, and if something happens to you guys, I'm stuck with the kid."  :o)  Oh my!  What a laugh we had at that.  He quickly added that he was kidding, and that it would be very cool, and then looked at us with his head to one side saying, "Really? You could be pregnant?!"  Love him.

I've remembered all the people I've met along the way as I reread.  So many nurses.  So many doctors. So many friends.  So many babies.  So many moms.  It's been nice going back through and remembering so many people.

I remembered the feeling as Samuel and I met Dr. Rajabi the first time and heard him tell us that Cayla had a major heart defect called hypoplastic left heart syndrome.  I remember looking at him, at Samuel, the nurse and then back to Dr. Rajabi again as they were waiting to see how I responded to this information.  God had prepared my heart to hear this news and I remember thinking, "I'm ok. God's going to help us through this and made Cayla's heart exactly how He intended it to be."  I remember trying to focus on what Dr. Rajabi was saying about her heart and how hard it was.  My mind kept wandering.  He was so good, and I believe repeated everything he said at least 3 times to help me process it all.  I remember getting through the rest of that doctor's visit and setting up a time to go see him in his office at Hillcrest Hospital that following Wednesday.  I remember the feeling as Samuel and I stepped outside of the hospital and let out a huge breath and just a few tears fell then.  I remember pulling up to our house as Samuel was driving and not having really cried.  He stopped the car and we both just sat there.  I remember the precious moments as we held each other and prayed asking God to help us accept His will in our little baby's life.  It was as we prayed that the dam broke and we were both weeping before the prayer ended.  Such memories.

I'm back to today, Sunday, September 2nd.

I remember carrying Cayla up the stairs and losing my balance one time.  From then on, anytime I carried her up the squeaky stairs, she would cry as if she remembered the feeling of almost falling.  There are times I cry going up those stairs wishing I could hear her cry and comfort her.  I remember going upstairs to get her when she'd woken up from her nap, and open our bedroom door to the sights and sounds of Cayla Joy.  Almost every time I walk into our room now, I find myself automatically looking at the spot where her crib was.  I remember those eyes looking up at me wanting to be picked up when I got there.  I remember taking her to our bed and falling asleep across it every morning after her 7am feeding.  We would take our time falling asleep and talk sometimes.  Many times she was crying, and I couldn't figure out why.  I completely remember feeding her her bottle and how she would just stare at me the entire time.  She was precious.  I can write all this without crying.  I just want to talk about her.  I just want to remember her.  I just want everyone else to hear and know just how precious she was.  I don't want to ever forget her.  Ok, now I'm crying... :o} 

I feel like this was just a dream.  She came and she went pretty fast.  It's like it really was too good to be true.  It was too amazing to be pregnant and having a baby again and I told myself I knew it wouldn't last.  I had such a hard time allowing myself to believe she'd live, we all did, that when she died, it was as if I was expecting it.  But, there was also a point in time that I let myself dream of her actually growing up.  She was doing so well.  I guess I lost sight of how fragile her life was and wasn't jumping every time she did normal baby things like cry, have a diaper rash, spit up some, or fuss.  I needed to stay alert to all that, but I got comfortable and thought she was doing well.  So when it all happened that Friday, I think I was just slow catching on to what was really happening.  It wasn't until shortly before she died that I realized what was happening.  So, I am still waking up at night remembering this and dealing with guilt again.  It's been weeks since  this had happened and now these last few days, it's all coming back again. That awful guilt.  Those "Why didn't I?" thoughts are plaguing my nights.

I guess I'm remembering the good the bad and the ugly... I'm finding I'm not praying like I was either.  I'm now reading His Word so much more, but haven't been praying much.  I haven't been talking to God like I have been.  I can't seem to get things right.  It's all related to my sleepless nights, the feelings of guilt and all.  On top of it all, I just plain out miss my baby girl.  I just miss her.  I just want to hold her one more time and rub that little head and kiss that little mouth.  Oh man, I'm crying again.  I came home from church tonight after having a good day today and laid down on the couch and cried.  I don't even know what provoked it.  I made myself get up, and I did the dishes in record time, made the jello and scrubbed the potatoes for tomorrow and did one load of laundry.  It's now after 11pm and I need to go to bed.  So for now, this is it for this crazy post.  It's sopping with drama and emotion.  Sorry about that.  I can't help myself.  I'm feeling the need to analyze myself, figure out what I need to be doing, and make some changes.  We'll see. 

Thanks for the prayers.  I think at times, I'm doing so well and am starting to be able to move on, then I feel crippled all of the sudden like now.  Well, overall, I am doing well, I'm just still working through this.  We all are and are so grateful you're praying for us all.  Thank you so much!!!

ps... I'm adding a note this Labor Day morning.  I just need to say, pms.  Boy does that make me feel better.  I forgot about this and I know it's tmi (too much info), but explains the extra tears and emotions these last few days.  Feeling better already this morning... in an emotional way, not physically... :o)