Carrying Cullen

A Journey of Life, Love, and Daily Blessings with Our Baby Boy

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Our Journey

Ainsley Grace and Amazing Grace

July 30, 2016

It was a day we anxiously waited for, hoped for and prayed for.  On July 12th, 2016, at 9:40 a.m., our beautiful daughter, Ainsley Grace, was joyfully welcomed into this world.  8 lbs 6 oz. 20 1/4 inches long.  Cullen's baby sister, our precious rainbow baby, was whole, healthy, and absolutely perfect.  Our hearts burst with love and appreciation to our Lord and Savior for blessing us with this amazing little life.  To Him all the honor and glory for creating such a precious baby girl and blessing us with another child.  

    

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From the very moment we learned we were pregnant with Ainsley Grace, we were abundantly blessed with God's amazing grace.  Just as He walked us through our journey with Cullen, He was with us every step of this pregnancy.  We were incredibly thankful we were able to return to Maternal Fetal Medicine at Harrisburg Hospital for our prenatal care.  One of only a few prenatal patients, we felt comforted to see familiar faces and know those tending to me and our baby girl.  Every doctor visit we went to, we held our breath until the ultrasound... waiting to hear the words, "everything looks good" or "everything is perfectly normal" or "she's perfectly average, keep doing what you're doing".  And every time we heard those words, saying a prayer of thanks.

Not only were we able to return to the same practice, but Dr. Tressler offered to deliver Ainsley, as well.  For those of you who may not know, Dr. Tressler is actually no longer performing hospital deliveries or c-sections and is essentially just doing office care and visits.  So needless to say, we knew God was moving in big ways by having him in the OR to deliver Ainsley.  Not to mention the countless nurses and individuals that made it a point to be there with us on Ainsley's birthday, who had also been there with us on Cullen's birthday.  Our amazing prep and recovery nurse, Shawnee, my anesthesiologist, Dr. Joe, our special angel nurse, Liz, and so many others!  We were extremely thankful for the fellows at the practice who provided amazing care and all of the others who were present, helping provide a safe and healthy delivery.  

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It seemed like an eternity until I got to see her sweet face and hold her in my arms (mostly because under the circumstances with Cullen, they gave him to me as quickly as possible), but the (in reality) short wait was worth it. She was the most beautiful baby girl I'd ever seen and my heart instantly melted.  I think any parent would agree with me, that the first moment of seeing your baby is completely indescribable.  How do you describe the best feeling in the world?  An overwhelming amount of emotions came over me.  So much love, so much joy; pure gratefulness for her arriving safely and healthy into our arms, and yet an ache was still there missing our sweet boy. While I wouldn't change things, part of me wished Cullen was here to meet his baby sister.  But I know that he was watching over her the day she was born and she will have the most precious angel watching over her always.  Ainsley actually has a little spot on her head that looks like a bald spot but is just a spot that grows blonde while the rest grows darker...  We say it's a "kiss from Heaven" from her big brother.  Looking at it that way to me, is a reminder that he will always be with us and that he loves his baby sister.

Now, on to enjoying every day we're given with this precious life.  The joys, moments and milestones we will never be able to share with Cullen because that wasn't part of God's plan.  Looking forward to each and every one of them with this little girl.  Thank you to all of you who have prayed for us and for Ainsley.  God listens and answers prayers.  He certainly did with this sweet bundle of joy.  

Be Slow to Speak, Be Mindful of Your Words

May 31, 2016

An experience that happened to me several weeks ago has stuck with me; hard to brush off, only because it happens so often that I think it's something everyone should be aware of before they do the same thing.

I was in a local food chain restaurant, going to sit down when a women walked up to me and very excitedly asked, "Aww!  When are you due?  How much longer?"  

I replied with a smile, "A couple of months yet."

She looked at me and then my belly and said loudly, "A couple of months?! Wow!  Are you having twins?  You look like you're about ready to pop!"

I nervously laughed and smiled....  because really, what do you say to that?

She proceeded to ask me, "Do you know if it's a boy or a girl?"

"It's a girl," I was proud to answer.

"Aw, is this your first, or do you have other children?" she continued asking.

"This is our second, but our first child, our son, passed away a few years ago."

Very quickly she was rendered speechless.  She turned, threw her food away, and walked out the door not saying another word to me.  

I couldn't quite figure out if she was embarrassed or if she wanted to cry.  Perhaps it was both.  Either way, I felt bad I unnerved her or upset her in someway, however, I must say I was very taken back with her exclamation of my basically looking 'huge'.   

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But my point and my simple request is this...

Before you look at a pregnant woman and exclaim to her that she looks like she's having twins or maybe that she looks like she's ready to pop, stop and think of the words that are coming out of your mouth.  Think about what she maybe has been through in previous pregnancies.  Think of how what you say may make her feel.  

When someone feels huge or feels like they look huge already, they don't need to hear it.  It's not funny, or cute, or appropriate to say something like that to anyone, let alone a woman who is expecting.  And maybe, just maybe, that woman has experienced infant loss, stillborn, miscarriage, infertility, or something else, and she's just thankful to be pregnant (and huge).  

I don't care how big I am out front, if I look like I'm having twins or gain 30 lbs.  As long as I have a healthy baby to bring home, that's all that matters to me.  I am thankful and blessed to have had the opportunity to carry a child again, and that she is healthy and whole.  I am thankful to have a husband who tells me I'm beautiful regardless and is just as excited and thankful for these things as I am.  

So next time you feel those words, "O my you <insert obsurd statement here>!", stop and remember just to say...

"Congratulations", "You look beautiful", "You're glowing", "God bless you and your baby" or anything sweet, encouraging or positive.  

 

    

 

Cullen's Little Sister

March 30, 2016

I have wanted to blog since December, but the words and ability to put my thoughts and emotions "down on paper" have somewhat escaped me.  Well, actually, attempting to articulate exactly how I'm navigating this roller coaster of emotions we're on, hasn't exactly been the easiest thing to do.  But, I made a promise to myself that I would keep writing and help to provide hope to other women and families who may face the same or a similar journey as we continue to walk through every day.  Stories from individuals hearing of our blog and reading it and passing it along has truly encouraged me and I hope many others, too.  For those of you who have shared our blog with others, shared stories with me about others who have read it, and also for those of you who have encouraged me to continue to write, I just want to simply say, thank you.

The last two and a half years since Cullen made his brief appearance in this world have been both joyous, fulfilling, and blessed, yet some days lonely and challenging.  The (mostly inner) emotional struggle of missing your precious child while still enjoying life and taking steps forward through the grieving process is one that is truly difficult to express in words most would easily comprehend.  

Not a day goes by that Cullen's not on my heart or mind.  Thoughts ranging from wondering what he would look like and act like, to the memories we made with him, to the things that he taught me in such a short time.  So naturally thinking of trying for another baby can be slightly overwhelming.  The thoughts of "will I forget about him", "are we ready for this", "what if we lose another child", all ran through my mind.  But Joe and I chose to take our time and pray... and pray... and pray some more, trusting that the Lord would show us when He wanted to us to have another child and when He felt we were ready.  It's not an easy thing to discern what God wants for you vs. what you want for you,  But I truly believe he reveals it to you when you're in fervent prayer and looking and listening for him.  

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September was a wonderful month spending time with our families at the beach and taking a trip out west to Wyoming.  It was something we decided to do before we tried again for a family.  We both felt like we were ready and the Lord was providing us the comfort and strength to try again.  So come October, with a little bit of nerves, but more so a bigger peace than ever, we decided to try for a little brother or sister for Cullen.  

It was an overwhelming blessing to learn on November 9th that I was pregnant with our second child.  We both said we felt at that time that God was giving us a rainbow baby and wanted us to have a healthy, whole child.  We knew that He was telling us that this was the right time for us to have another baby.  Our hearts overflowed with joy and happiness and in a way, it started to bring more healing.  Of course we held our breath though until the first ultrasound, and we were so thankful to walk away from the doctors office with a positive report.  

Today I am 24 weeks and 4 days.  So far we have walked through this pregnancy one day at a time, trusting in God and holding on to those very first thoughts we had in November.  Each doctors appointment and every ultrasound puts us a little more at ease and provides a little more excitement.  Just a few weeks ago, we learned that Cullen will have a little sister.  It most certainly didn't matter to us boy or girl, as long as he or she was healthy, but in a way it's somewhat comforting having a girl.  I feel like it will be different, and not seem quite the same as with Cullen.  And I know that Cullen will be the best big brother and guardian angel, looking down from above, watching over his little sister everyday.  

We will continue to take this pregnancy one step at a time, enjoying every moment we can preparing for this precious little girl to join our family.  July will be here before we know it and we can't wait to hold her in our arms. We're thankful for our rainbow baby.  We're thankful there is hope and healing.  We're thankful we serve a merciful God who covers us with his grace everyday.  

 

A Birthday Letter

October 30, 2015

To my Cullen,

 

It's your 2nd birthday.  It's hard to believe it has already been 2 years since the last time I held you in my arms. The greatest joy of my life was holding you and knowing God gave us such an amazing son.

I often think of how big you would be now; walking, talking, and learning.  

I wonder if you would be silly like your daddy or quieter like me.  Either way, I know you would be strong and loving, just as you were the short time you were with us.

I think of what your favorite things would be.  Would you like spaghetti, mashed potatoes, or cereal the most? 

Would orange, green or blue be your favorite color? 

Would you like  John Deere tractors, trucks, trains, or race cars more?    

I think of how independent you would probably want to be and the possible "terrible two" tantrums we would go through...

It hurts to think of all of those things we won't get to experience with you, but mommy knows that God had other plans for you.  He had plans for you to be in His arms for eternity so much sooner than most.  He had plans for you to impact the lives of so many around us in ways we could've never imagined.   

You changed our lives forever and you continue to make us proud each and everyday to be your mommy and daddy.  Your tiny little life, had a huge impact on us and so many others.

Daddy and I were together today celebrating and remembering you; everything you were and everything you are to us.  Your grandmas and pappy's, aunties, uncles and cousins joined us for supper and a small balloon celebration which I know you could see.  I like letting the balloons go and watching them rise to the heavens, reminding us always to look up and remember who has you in His hands.  We looked at pictures and reminisced about how cute and perfect you were...  

The longing to hold you in our arms again will never go away and it's hard for me to put into words just how much we miss you.  But we cling to the hope and promise that we will see you again some sweet day!

 

Happy Birthday sweet boy! 

 

Love, 
 

Mommy

 

 

  

 

October, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month

October 14, 2015

October is here.  A month full of memories and emotions.  It's hard to think that in just 2 short weeks we will be celebrating our son's 2nd heavenly birthday.  I can picture the day he was born like it was just yesterday... the sights, sounds and smells... are all still so vivid in my mind. 

It's not a group you want to be a part of... you know, the infant loss community...but through God's greater plan, we are.  And even though we remember Cullen and all of those we know who have lost, everyday, October is especially special.  October is pregnancy and infant loss awareness month.

It's a special time to remember the babies who were lost through miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDS or death of a newborn.  It's a special time to celebrate those sweet little lives that are now in the arms of Jesus.  And it's a special time to support those who have lost their babies and to help break the silence.  Pregnancy and infant loss affects individuals and families from all walks of life.

More specifically, October 15th is pregnancy and infant loss awareness day. At 7:00 pm people around the globe will be lighting candles during a "wave of light" in support and rememberance of the precious little lives that were so short, but had a great purpose in this life.  If you have personally lost, know someone who has, or even if you do not, if you would light a candle with us and share.  Our hope is to have a wave of light across Central PA and the world as a simple gesture to remember our little ones.  

  

Thank you for your support, love and prayers.  Thank you for taking the time to remember with us. 

James 1:17

God Bless. 

 

Give Thanksgiving

November 20, 2014

How many of us forget to stop on a daily basis and thank the Lord for what he has given us?  How many of us go about our lives each and every day, not minding the Lord, but when we are stricken with grief or tragedy, then we turn to him?  How many out there only look to the Lord when in need, instead of remembering to give him thanksgiving every day for the love and blessings he bestows upon us?  How many of us remember to thank him for the trials and tribulations he presents us with, as well as the blessings?  I'm guessing, each and every one of us is guilty of these things.  I know I am.  

But I want the Lord to know that I am beyond thankful.... for His never-ending love, His grace, His strength and comfort, His guidance, and the many blessings He provides each and everyday, whether it be joyful or devastating. Each situation He provides us helps us grow in our faith and character.  If we trust in Him and His plan, then we know He knows what He's doing in molding and shaping us into the individuals and Christians He wants us to be.

Last Thanksgiving I was thankful for Cullen, our amazing baby boy who brought the greatest joy to our life; my husband who stood faithfully and strongly by my side through every step of the journey; our family who surrounded us and supported us through it all and showered Cullen with as much love as any family could possibly give; our church who fervently prayed for us, in the months, weeks, and days leading up to Cullen's birth, as well as long after; all of those who sent cards, as each one provided a bright spot in our days following his birth and passing; all of those who supported us financially during a difficult time to help afford Cullen's services and bills while I was off work; everyone who visited and cooked meals to help make things just a little bit easier for us during our time of emotional and physical healing; and for each blessing the Lord presented us with and the strength He gave to us each and every day.  

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This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for the situation we went through with our son.  I am thankful for the hardest thing I have ever had to face... losing my child.  Everyday I wish he was here so that I could hold him just a little longer or kiss his sweet face or see what new things he does as he grows bigger and older each day.  But that wasn't God's plan...  His plan was much different.  His plan taught me more about life, love and trusting in Him than I could have ever imagined.  And as strange as this may sound, I wouldn't wish it to happen any other way.  There is no doubt my heart aches daily, and I wish he was here, but there was a reason and a purpose for Cullen's life and the way things happened the way they did.  If things would have been different, we would have missed out, as well as our families and those surrounding us, on the blessings He brought to us through the situation and Cullen's life.  

I am thankful that we were able to grow deeper in our faith, closer to our family and friends, and to experience the greatest love a person can know through the most difficult journey we have ever faced.  God never said it would be easy, but He did promise that He would never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

It's not easy to stop and be thankful for the hardships and trials or the losses and grief.  It's taken me some time to truly digest this thought and what it means, but it has given me a whole new perspective and understanding.  I pray this Thanksgiving I might continue to be thankful for even the most difficult of circumstances God puts before me and my life.  I pray I remember blessings come in all sizes, disguises, and may not always be what we pictured, but rather are part of God's greater plan.  

May we all remember to be thankful in every situation, celebration, trial or tribulation.    

Blessings to you and yours this Thanksgiving holiday. 

 

Happy 1st Birthday

October 30, 2014

Dear Cullen,

Happy Birthday baby boy!  It's your 1st birthday, one you are celebrating in the arms of Jesus, and what a celebration it must be in heaven!    

It's hard to imagine a year without you...  It's hard to believe this day has come.  It's been one whole year since I held your tiny little hands, kissed your sweet cheeks, fussed with your blanket so it was perfectly wrapped around you and everyone could see your face... It's been one year since I have heard your little "coo", heard you hiccup, and watched you blow bubbles so unexpectedly... and I want you to know that I can still picture it just like it was yesterday.  Your face is the first thing I picture when I wake up, what I carry with me throughout the day and the last thing I see when I close my eyes to sleep at night.  You are our first child, and one who has made us so proud. From the day I first found out I was pregnant, I knew you were going to be special, but I truly had no idea just how special you would become.  

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What a joy we were having a boy!  Daddy was so proud and excited to have a son - we both were!  We held hands and shed tears of joy in the ultrasound room, as we started to picture what our life would be like with you, our son, by our sides.  But then as quickly as the smiles and laughter came, they were gone when we learned of your diagnosis.  We couldn't believe what we heard...  The only decision was to carry you full term and meet you, but we had no idea we would be as blessed as we were along our journey with you. 

The remaining 21 weeks your were in my belly was the hardest, but the happiest time in my life.  During a time of heartache and uncertainty, you gave us great joy and hearts so full of love.  We wanted you to know how much we loved you each and every day and tried to make the most of every moment we had with you.  Some of my favorite memories with you were winning fish at Dutch Days, sparklers on the Fourth of July, taking you to the movies, your daddy teaching you to fish on our boat and pappy teaching you how to hunt.  I loved reading to you every night before bed; How Do I Love You? and your first Bible.  You let me know you were there by your little (or big) kicks and moves; a truly amazing feeling.  

The day you were born was a day filled with love and miracles.  Holding you in my arms was surreal and all I could do was smile.  My heart was bursting with joy.  It was amazing to me to know that I was your mommy. God chose me to be your mommy.  How did I get so lucky?  You were so perfect, sweet as could be.  I wanted to hit the pause button and stay in those moments forever with you.  But God had other plans and took you home after 8 amazing hours with you. 

My heart aches to have you here now and see the milestones you would be celebrating on your 1st birthday.  My heart breaks that you're not here to sing  happy birthday to again like we did the day you were born.  My heart yearns to hold you again and kiss you and hug you.  But we know that today, and everyday you are celebrating in Heaven.

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Today, your 1st birthday, Your daddy and I spent the day together today, remembering you and celebrating you.  We visited with you and prayed.  When we prayed, the sunlight intensified and shined so bright on our faces and got so hot... we knew it was you telling us you were with us and God telling us he heard our prayer.  We both broke down and cried the hardest that we have since we last saw you.

 

We looked at pictures and watched videos of the day your were born, remembering so many special moments and blessings.  You were so perfect.  We read cards, filled your special vase with flowers, and got out your blue blanket and teddy.

Your grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, all came to our house tonight to celebrate your birthday and be together.  We all wrote messages to you on a big blue balloon and released it from a field on a hill behind our house. 

    

   

   

    

You are so incredibly loved and missed so much everyday.  No words can adequately describe just how much. 

I love you with all of my heart and am so proud to be your mommy.

Hugs and kisses. 

Love,

Mommy

 

I Have Been Blessed

October 24, 2014

The leaves are vibrant colors and falling from the trees, pumpkins and mums dress up everyone's porches as you drive by, the smells of pumpkin and apple are everywhere, and the cool crisp air gives you a brisk feeling every morning you step out the door..... yes, it's fall.  It's October.  For us, it's Cullen's birthday month.  It's one year since our precious little boy came into this world and we got to meet him.  All of these familiar sights, smells and feelings bring back memories of just last year when we were preparing this month to meet our baby boy.  Fall and Christmas seasons are my favorite time of year, no doubt why God chose to grace us with our greatest blessing during this time.  

I'd be lying though if I didn't admit that my Bath and Body Works fragrance plug in, Harvest scent (a wonderful mixture of pumpkin, leaves, apples, and everything spice) brought on a little PTSD.  Smelling that wonderful, all too familiar smell walking from my closet into my bathroom, took me back to the morning Cullen was born, and a different day, to the day of his services...like it was happening all over again.  It was October 2013... it was November 2013.  I was there, I was in the moment, again.... deja vu, flashback...  PTSD was something I had never experienced, but I have since unplugged it, upon figuring out that was indeed what triggered it.

Helping us to get through this month though is the amazing support we have seen not only for our family but for the entire infant loss community.  October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, a month that we recognize the hardship, difficulty and life changing experience some families face through pregnancy and infant loss.  A month that helps support and lift up those families, as well as reach out to other families who are or may face the same thing in the future and help them choose life.

Many of you know how special The Smallest Gift is to Joe and I, as we had asked for donations to be made to them in lieu of flowers upon Cullen's passing.  The response was heart warming and left us speechless, as we learned that almost $5,000 in total had been donated to them in honor of our son.  We appreciated every single donation because we knew it helped fund an organization that will continue to reach out and touch more families as they go through the most difficult walk of their lifetime. It blessed our hearts because we knew it was a way Cullen would continue to touch lives.  

For those of you who don't know, The Smallest Gift is a local organization who helps provide support to families who face infant loss and help to be the voice for a subject many people do not want to talk about.  They reached out to us when we learned of Cullen's diagnosis providing us with a heartbeat animal to record his heartbeat to listen to forever, and upon his passing a beautiful blanket and a special heart, filled to the exact weight Cullen was when he was born.  They are special ways to remember our son and it meant so much to us to have someone reach out to us that knew exactly what we were going through.  

On Saturday, October 11 of this year, Joe and I were honored to be a part of and witness an amazing event hosted by a local church to help bring attention to and raise funds for The Smallest Gift Organization.  The turnout to the event was overwhelmingly wonderful.  It was a blessing for us to see how many people came to support the families in the infant loss community.  It touched our hearts that so many showed that they care and that they wanted to help The Smallest Gift continue its efforts in ministering, reaching out to, and supporting families who face such a difficult circumstance.  We had the opportunity to meet so many lovely families and individuals who have also lost a precious baby and shared our stories.  No one wants to be part of that group, but in a way it's comforting to know you are there for one another.  And we were so thankful to share our story and my blog that day on WJUN, our local country radio, as well.  What a special way to celebrate Cullen's birthday month, in remembering him and continuing to share him with the world.  All in all, the event raised $13,000 benefiting The Smallest Gift and their mission.  Mandy Maneval, Jeannette Gill, Brad Gill, and so many others put an amazing amount of time, energy, heart and soul into the event and I think it touched the hearts of countless people who came.           

On October 15, we it a candle for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day, to honor our sweet little Cullen and all of his precious little friends in heaven... Abigail, Aaron, McKinley, Xavier, Samson, Kail, Morgan, and the other little lives who have gone to be with Jesus.  We know many who have faced miscarriage, too, and did not get to hold their baby in their arms, but their sweet little babies still mattered and had a purpose in this life.  We will never forget any of these precious lives, as they will live on in our hearts, our minds, and our memories forever.  They have touched our lives in indescribable ways and changed our lives forever.  And what a hope we have, what a hope we are thankful for, that we WILL see our babies again someday!  Thank you to everyone who lit a candle in memory of Cullen or another precious baby.

   

    

 

  

Tomorrow (Cullen's original due date) we will have the honor to share in an awards ceremony, as Liz Schaeffer, one of our nurses from MFM, receives the Patient Choice Award from the Nightengale Board.  We nominated her for her incredible compassion and devotion to her patients, and shared the story of how she stood beside us through our journey with Cullen. She was chosen by the board for the award and we will have the opportunity to present her the award, share our nomination letter and also Cullen's life with a room full of people.  What an amazing (and emotional) evening it will be to share such a special moment with such a special nurse and friend.

So, no matter how difficult the day, no matter how difficult the month, God gives us just what we need at the right time. During a difficult time and month to relive, he has provided us with countless reasons to be thankful, to remember Cullen and continue to share his life and celebrate his life, as well as endless support and prayers from so many surrounding us.  Our God is so good.  And I think back to just this past Sunday at church when we listened to Jonathan Buckner and the Chosen Road sing, "I Have Been Blessed..."  The last part goes like this...

"He's my shoulder to lean on, when I am down,

The rock where he leads me, when I'm so overwhelmed

The place where he hides me, under his wings,

He's not just some song, He's the reason I sing...

Yes I have been blessed.

 

Yes I have been blessed,

God's so good to me.  

Precious are his thoughts of you and me.

No way I could count them,

There's not enough time.

So I'll just thank Him for being so kind. 

God has been good, so good... yes I have been blessed."

 

Leaning on the Lord to continue to help carry us through this October and journey of life.  And remembering Cullen, his birthday, and how blessed we are this month and each and every day.  Yes, I have been blessed.  

Amen.

 

Life After Loss

September 21, 2014

I haven't written in quite some time as life has seemed to run away with me...  It's hard to believe summer is gone and fall weather is here.  It's hard to believe it's been almost a year...  Taking on a new position at work, family activities, a few short vacations, maintaining our home and regular chores, and keeping care of some new animals on the "farm" has surely kept life busy.  Good in keeping my mind occupied and helping me to continue to move forward but some days I want to scream, "STOP, and let me off!" 

Those of you who have unfortunately suffered the loss of a precious loved one or a baby or child, know exactly what I mean and how I feel.  You feel like the world around you is moving at a fast forward pace and you just want to hit the pause button.  You just need a second to breath, right?  You have the constant inner battle of, 'I know I need to continue moving forward because it's the healthy thing to do', while thinking, 'if I do that, it means I'm forgetting about my sweet little baby'.  Truth is, life after loss is beyond overwhelming.  And as much as you think moving forward means you're forgetting your precious baby or loved one, that's not the case.  It's something I have had to remind myself of many times.  It's okay to take a step forward...  It's hard and it hurts, but God is there with you every baby step you take... 

Our close friends had gotten us a battery operated candle with Cullen's name and a scripture engraved on it to keep lit in memory of Cullen.  I was religious about changing the size D batteries whenever I noticed they started dying.  I wanted to keep it lit to let the light shine in remembrance of Cullen.  Then one day I noticed I had let the candle "go out".  The batteries died.  The light of the candle was no longer shining... In my mind I had forgotten...  In my mind I had forgotten him.  I felt crushed, ashamed, guilty, and upset...  How could I let something so important to me go?  I cried and quickly put batteries in it again and made sure it lit back up.  A few weeks went by and it happened again.  I felt terrible.  It wasn't until I was reminded again by Joe that it's just a candle.  Yes, it's something very special... yes it's something to let shine in remembrance of Cullen... but just because it was no longer "lit" didn't mean I had forgotten him.  I could never and will never forget him.  He lives on in my heart, my mind, every part of my being, every day, and he will for the rest of my life.  I eventually realized though, letting the candle "go out" was a baby step of moving forward.  It meant I wasn't focusing as much on material things (candles, blankets, pictures) so to speak anymore, but instead letting his memory live on in me. 

One thing that has been hard for me to get past though is sleeping with his sweet little blue teddy bear.  The same teddy bear that sat next to him in my arms in the hospital, was next to him in his pictures; the one that's just a big as he was.  It's almost comforting to have in my arms every night because he's not.  It's something that was his, it's a piece of him.  Sleeping with "teddy" is almost a way of me saying I remember him... 

It's not an easy thing to process; the constant back and forth..  You don't want to the world to continue moving and going the way it does because you feel like that means you're going to forget.  You want to hold on to every little thing you can, and do special things to let your baby know you remember them.  But the truth is, they know.  Cullen knows.  He knows that I think of him every morning I wake up, he knows when I talk to him throughout the day...  He knows that I remember him every time I walk to the top of our steps when it's time to go to bed and kiss him (his picture) good night while whispering, "Good night Cullen, mommy loves you". (Yes, you can see the lip prints on the glass of his picture from the kisses I still give him every night)  To those who have not lost, this may sound silly... and, maybe not.  But to those of you who have lost I'm sure you can easily understand.  I'm sure you have had those few things that you have hung on to, or tried to hang on to; or your special little ways of remembering or telling your baby you love them; or maybe you have just had that feeling of wanting to stop the world because continuing on means your forgetting. 

I have learned that it's okay to have those things to hold on to but to allow yourself to take those steps forward and not to feel guilty, hard as it may be, and God will help you through it.  He never said it would be easy, but He did promise to always be by your side.  "I will never leave you, nor forsake you..."  So as we continue on our healing journey after the loss of our sweet Cullen, I continue to look to Him to help me through.  I look to Him to help me understand, cope and deal with the constant inner battle of taking the next step moving forward, while knowing... I'll never forget and I will always love our son. 

 

 

 

A Life Worth Living

June 7, 2014

A very special young woman, Micaiah Bilger, who works with the Pennsylvania ProLife Federation, attended Cullen's services last November with a family friend.  A few months after his services, she reached out to me, asking if I would be willing to share our journey and Cullen's story to include in their next newsletter.  I knew it would be emotional to retrace every step of our journey, but felt so blessed to have the opportunity to continue sharing our story with others and hopefully impact the lives of others facing a similar journey or in a time of crisis.  

So, Micaiah and I had lunch together and talked about when we found out, what my pregnancy was like, how we tried to enjoy every moment we had with Cullen, and what it was like the day we finally got to meet him.  I was so touched how she put the words together in the article.  I pray that it bares witness to what it means to grant life even if it's only for a short while, and the sweet joy that it brings regardless of the situation.

Thank you Micaiah for the work you, and the Pennsylvania ProLife Federation, do everyday and the support you give to so many, showing them that there's always a reason to choose life.  

Click here to read the article:  A Life Worth Living

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