Thursday, September 23, 2010

Where does being "right" really get us?

I have often wondered where does being in the right really get you at the end of the day?  You can have all the facts and have all of your ducks in a row, only to point out someone else's faults or shortcomings or beliefs.  Maybe you proved your point, but at what cost?  What good comes out of being right?

In life, we are taught not to be "righteous."  What does that even mean really? defines righteous as (1) morally right or justifiable of a person or conduct (2) perfectly wonderful, fine and genuine.  I could make lots of arguements about situations (I'm sure we all could) about times and situations and conflicts where we were right.  Whether it was a decision by a friend that you found to be hurtful or political views or a situation involving someone else's family, there are lots of times when we only have our eyes open to our views and nothing can stray us from that strong belief.  I have often been called strong-willed and opinionated and full of convictions.  I always thought this was a good thing and something that defines me as a person.  I have no problem telling off someone who stole my parking spot at the commissary or who cut in front of my grandmother at line at the grocery store or even the doctors at the hospital where Savannah was born.

I think we can all agree that my blame towards that doctor and the hospital is rightly so, but at the end of the day, what good comes from it?  Being right about sensing something was wrong didn't prevent Savannah's death.  I can't make her come back.  Monday quarter-backing only does so much since we can't go back and re-do anything.  The self-blame that I feel over what happened is something that I can never let go of and don't get me wrong ~ I rightfully so blame that doctor.  But what good does it do?  Does it put me ahead of anyone else?

Calling out a friend on a decision that she made that was hurtful to me, making her feel bad about herself and pointing out a mistake ~ really, what good did that do?  How many times have I said or done something stupid and been fortunate enough to have friends and family that love me and we able to give me a pass?  Why can't I do that to others?  Why is it so important to be right in an argument?  What did I really succeed in doing, other than making someone else whom I care about feel badly about their thoughts or words or actions?

In dealing with my grief, I cannot let the ignorant things that others say get to me and in the same respect, I should not feel free to tell them so.  I need to continue to practice restraint and reflection and thinking before I speak or act.  Do I really need to honk at that person who cut me off?  At the end of the day, what good came from all of that nonesense?  It certainly isn't something I want to teach my children and it doesn't reflect well upon me as a member of society.

I think this is a good lesson for everyone to learn ~ think before you act or speak and really reflect on all the times people gave you passes when you said or did something that you're not proud of and make sure to give those passes away freely to others.  Being right does not make you a better person and at the end of the day, being righteous only makes for a close-minded person.  Make sure to practice lots of unconditional love.  Now that is something I want to teach my children and a personality trait I want to be known for!  :)

Have a great weekend and thanks for reading!!
~ Shannon

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Back to School...

Well, here we are at the night before Jeremy's 1st Day at School.  Tomorrow is "Meet You Teacher" Day and we are so excited.  I have gone through all of his clothes and tried to find just the right outfit for him.  He has his new backpack packed and ready to go!  I will try to remember to add some pictures tomorrow so check back!  I got him the cutest backpack with his first name embroidered on the front.  I had to check with Eric to make sure it was OK to put his name on the label on the inside.  I was warned about kids making fun of other kids for things like this, but I'm pretty sure at 3 years old, it's still OK.  I don't know who is more excited for school tomorrow ~ Jeremy or ME!!

We had his 3 year well baby appointment and school physical on Friday.  For the first time in a VERY long time, I was able to answer YES to every question on the developmental paperwork.  If it's been awhile since you've filled one out, they ask a bunch of questions to gauge your child developmentally.  One question was "Can your child say his first and last name?"  You're choices are "Yes," "Sometimes," or "No."  Jeremy had some trouble with his speech and the last time we filled this out, he had a few different things that I had to answer no to because we had never tried them.  So this time, I was very excited to answer all yes! Actually, there was one question that I had to answer no to.  It had to do with scissors.  We haven't let Jeremy play with scissors yet.  Call me a bad Mom if you must, but we just haven't done that yet. 

Little did I know, he had managed to find some scissors and take some chunks out of his hair which was just recently cut.  I walked around the corner with the laundry and caught him with scissors and quickly took them away.  I figured he must have just picked them up because he looked OK to me and he said "I want a haircut."  He had just had his hair cut a few days earlier so I didn't think much of it.  Well, today, Eric noticed 2 different bald spots that I had apparently missed.  So, I guess we can go back and check "Yes" to the scissors question after all.  It's really not that noticeable unless you are looking for it, but very funny just the same.  I will have to take some pictures for the Baby Book.

Here is a picture of the "real" haircut.  What a ham!!  Picture to come of the "alteration."

One of the questions had a drawing of a snowman but it was missing some of the facial features, an arm, and a leg.  The question along side it said something like "Ask your child what this is.  Appropriate answers are a snowman, man, woman, person."  What did Jeremy think it was?  A Monster!  I hope the doctor got a little laugh out of that one.

Other than that, the most exciting news we have to share is that our foster daughter has become a walker!!  After spending the weekend at Water Country, we wore her little legs out.  Tuesday, while at the eye doctor getting her eyes checked and waiting during the eye dialation phase, we went out in the hallway and walked up and down.  Whenever she would get back down on her knees, I would pick her back up and off she would go.  I am sure it was just a matter of building her confidence.  Let me tell you ~ now she is a walking fool!  The eye appointment resulted in her needing to wear an eye patch rotating on both eyes.  I feel so badly for her.  We haven't started yet, but I think tomorrow will be a good day.  I was thinking about putting one on Jeremy and myself so we can all wear them together.  Now there's a photo op!

I am getting ready to send out another mass email with pictures, so if you aren't already on the list, send me an email and I will put you on the distribution list.  We are so happy to share our little Love Bug with our family and friends.

We are also planning for our trip to North Carolina in October.  It seems that all of the Charity Events, Community Activities, and Meetings all are planned over the dates we will be gone.  Doesn't it always work out that way?  Oh well.  Onward and Upward!
I hope everyone has a great week ahead!

~ Shannon

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Infant Bereavement Kits have been delivered!!

It has been a long summer and as always, my family and I have been very busy with activities.  We very much enjoy the hustle and bustle of life and are always up for a new adventure.  This summer, with Jeremy busy with camp, I decided that I needed a summer project.  There is an earlier post about the making of the infant bereavement kits.  It was a challenge to say the least, but I started the project and gave myself an end date of Labor Day.

Well, I am 3 days late on my delivery, but these kits were delivered tonight to the head of the Labor & Delivery unit at Mary Immaculate Hospital in Newport News, VA.  I had been talking to the Chaplain at the hospital and she knew these kits were in the works but I was eager to get them out of the house since there, they cannot help anyone.

The nurses were very gracious and grateful and seemed surprised that these were put together by a Mom with no agenda other than to help another family, or 30 to be precise.

The final breakdown was this:

Infant Bereavement Kit Contents:

* Handmade Baby Blanket
* Disposable Camera
* Ink Pad & Cardstock for hand & foot prints
* Forget-Me-Not seeds
* Autographed Book "Hope for Parents Who Have Lost Children"
* Brochure and Coupon for "Remember Me Bears"
* Current list of local and online resources
* Personal Letter of Support

The bags were divided and seperated based on the contents.  Of the 30 bags:

* 6 preemie (for 18-22 weekers) bags ~ 2 boys, 1 girl, 2 gender neutral, and 1 bag for twins
* 24 regular sized bags ~ 9 boys, 10 girls, and 5 gender neutral

I would like to thank everyone who supported me in this project:

* Sweet Pea Project for donating the blankets
* Geoffrey Jowett for discounting the books and autographing each one
* Gale Rendon from Remember Me Bears
* The Marshall Family
* Anyone who supported me with prayers and encouragement

My hope is that these kits will bring peace and confort in a time of great distress and pain.  This is one of the best ways I could think of to honor Savannah.  I know that she works through me each and every day to make a difference in the lives of others.  I am honored to share her treasures and although I miss her dearly, I know she is safe and warm and I will see her again someday.

What have you done today to make someone else's life brighter?  Sometimes all it takes is a smile.

“Sometimes your best success comes after your greatest disappointment.”

Blessings to you!
~ Shannon

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Growth and Grief

This week has continued to be full of blessings, joys, and challenges.

On Monday, we spent the day in Richmond. We visited with our good friends and then headed over to the Children’s Museum. It was our first visit and was so much fun! We stayed until nearly closing time. Both children were able to explore and learn in such a fun and unique environment.

On Tuesday, our foster daughter had an appointment to check her hearing. I thought this test would be a piece of cake compared to the testing she had last week. However, she wanted nothing to do with the room or the sounds. In fact, I started to think it was because of me because she tends to have a stronger bond with Eric. We were able to get her in for a few hours later with Eric to try again. Unfortunately, it was not me because she flipped out the same way for Eric. The next step is to sedate her, which does not make me happy, but it’s the only way to know what type of hearing loss she has and what we can do about it.

Wednesday, I took her to see the allergy doctor. While in the waiting room, she walked about 10 steps all by herself unassisted. When she got to the counter, she reached for the keyboard and began to push the buttons. I was elated and so proud of her. Each and every day, she is making progress and strengthening those little legs.  She did not care for the allergy doctor either, but this was not to be overshadowed by her walking!

Thursday, she had her first developmental therapy appointment. She did very well but she prefers to snuggle with me, which doesn’t bother me one bit! She plays very well with Jeremy, who is still learning to share his toys. He helps pick up her bottle when she drops it and will occasionally hand her toys. It is so heart-warming to watch them interact. I know that once she starts walking and eating, it will be hard for her not to want to be just like Jeremy and do all the things that he does. She can climb a whole flight of stairs and has learned from Jeremy how to throw toys down a flight of stairs, but it’s hard to discipline her when her face lights up and she laughs the most adorable laugh I have ever heard!

I was asked to speak at the Eastern Virginia Perinatal Council Thursday afternoon and share Savannah’s story. I was honored to do it and was hopeful that Hurricane Earl would not interfere. I was able to talk about Savannah and share her life and her treasures with a room full of people and I am sure that no one in that room will ever be the same after hearing her story. I know that Savannah changed their lives because she speaks through me. I am simply the messenger. As a gift, they gave me a beautiful butterfly wind chime which will look awesome on Savannah’s Tree ~ the Weeping Cherry Tree that we planted in her memory this past Easter, the same weekend we moved into our new house.  It's not exactly weeping with the large growths at the top, but it looks so pretty with pink flowers in the springtime.

The speech and reliving what happened brought up many feelings that I was surprised I still felt. If there was anything I could change about what happened with everything, I would have changed the things that I held back from saying at the Patient Care Conference with the doctors at Langley. If I could go back, I would look that doctor in the eye and say:

How dare you sit here, not look me in the eye, and let all of these other knucklehead doctors speak for you and ramble on about nothing that had to do with my questions. All I needed to hear you say is that you were sorry, you made a mistake in judgment, and you will never do it again. How can you tell me that you would perform an elective c-section for a woman who simply did not want to deal with incontinence issues but it would be a bad decision medically to induce me with all of my legitimate medical concerns and history at 39 weeks? Why did you make the additional risk for C-section be such a huge deal when it meant that my baby would have been born alive? I really hope that you enjoyed your time with your husband that night when I called 30 times in panic and terror when I knew that something was wrong with my baby and that stupid midwife wouldn’t call you at home. I hope she feels very powerful as the gatekeeper of the labor and delivery department instead of asking me to come in and get checked. And for you to say that you supported her decision? I really hope that that dinner at Outback or the Olive Garden that night was really worth it because it came at the price of my daughter’s life. I know you said that you did nothing wrong but I hope that when you are in the privacy of your own home, you think about Savannah and about how I will forever visit my daughter in a cemetery. I hope each time you look at your twins that you think of me, my empty arms, and my daughter in Heaven. All I ever needed to hear was that you would never make that kind of mistake again and when a mom is in panic, you take her seriously. That’s it. That’s all I got!

It has been a long time since I have been so angry, probably months! I went to sleep last night listening to my Anger & Forgiveness Meditation and it calmed me to sleep. I have had many good days lately ~ weeks of them. But for some reason as I was trying to fall asleep in bed, I began re-living those days. I thought about everything I said and how I tried to be polite and respectful to the doctors and hospital administrators. That was my one opportunity when I could have changed the lives of each of those doctors in that room and I blew it. I let them talk over me and ramble on and on about nothing, trying to confuse me. Nothing got accomplished at that meeting and I understand that they were limited legally on what they could say. I hope that somewhere, somehow, in some little tiny way, each of them will be a little bit different in how they practice medicine. I realize that is a long shot, but I can hope. I have often thought about having another Patient Care Conference, but I just don’t think it would do any good. After getting letters from my attorney, I don’t think I would ever hear any of the things from anyone at that hospital I am looking for. I just hope and pray that no one will ever have to go through what we went through, not at that hospital or any hospital.

Friday, we waited out the Hurricane, which luckily turned east shortly before coming anywhere close to landfall, so all we received was some rain and a little wind. Saturday, we visited Water Country again. We wanted to squeeze in one last visit before it closes for the summer. The kids had fun and were worn out and ready for baths and bed by the time we got home.

Today’s reading at Church provided much opportunity for reflection. The second reading, particularly, was about a man named Paul who had a slave named Onesimus. He was freed and sent back to Paul, but instead of continuing to treat him as a slave, he welcomed him back as a brother. Then, the Gospel of Luke was very influential as well. “"If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” I am not one to quote Bible verses and pretend to know what I am talking about or spread some crazy message, but the homily that followed made these readings very thought-provoking to me, which is rather unusual.  Faith is something that is private that my family and I share, but we never push it on anyone else.

We have been blessed with so much family and many dear friends in our lives. In fact, we were in shock of how many people rallied around us with love, support, and prayer after we lost our daughter, Savannah. But, we are not without our share of disappointment and drama, for lack of better terms. Family and friends are such a blessing, but unfortunately, there are times when they become the object of much pain and sorrow. This is such the case with some family of my husband’s. It got to the point where we, as a family, made the decision to love unconditionally from afar, but not speak or communicate at all with them. It became a very toxic situation and my husband and I had to make a decision to protect our children. It is sad that our children will never know that side of the family, but I trust that our daughter, Savannah, is watching over them and praying for them, as she is us. It has become evident to me that these certain family members have discovered this blog. The purpose of this blog is to help others and to deal with my own grief and pain. I have been very open in sharing my feelings and some of the happenings in our family. However, having a relationship with us and with our family is a privilege and not a right.

While none of us has hate in our heart, we do still have anger and hurt. For this reason, we only surround ourselves with good people who wish us well, not harm. We continue to raise our children and love each other and our families and friends as we have been taught to love and we try every day to work on not being judgmental. We are not perfect and have never claimed to be. But we work hard every day to do the right thing for God, for our family and friends, to lead by example to our children, and to give back to the community to which we belong. We try to be forgiving and we are, but we will never forget and therefore some people will always remain part of our past and not our future.

We look forward to the weeks ahead ~ apple picking, hayrides and pumpkin patches, cornfield mazes, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, and a very special Birthday Party. We are planning some trips in the coming months. I am very excited to meet Danny Gokey. Some of you many remember him from Season 8 of American Idol, but sadly, that was around the end of my pregnancy with Savannah and I didn’t watch it at all. He lost his wife in surgery after a life-long battle with a heart condition. To honor her and fulfill his promise to her, he tried out for American Idol just weeks after her death. I found him on CMT. He has a song that really has affected me. The lyrics are on the right hand side of the blog, but the video is so powerful. It is a tear-jerker for sure, but it came on the TV randomly one day when I had CMT on for background noise. It came at a time when I really needed to cry and cry long and hard. I do not for one second believe that it was a coincidence. We have been emailing back and forth about how his music has touched my heart and my life. I encourage you to watch the video and you will see what I mean.

Danny Gokey ~ I Will Not Say Goodbye

Our foster daughter LOVES music and loves to dance!  I would love to get her into some type of music therapy one day.  For now, we just enjoy her each and every day and look forward to the day when she officially becomes part of our family, although she became family the day she came through our front door.

Until next time, may you enjoy your blessings and open your heart for whatever God has in store!