Saturday, December 17, 2011

2 years and 7 months...

Dear Savannah,

It has been 944 days since we lost you.  I'm not sure if it's the holidays or the Christmas Memorials we've been attending lately to remember and honor you, but there are times when my heart is just as broken today as it was that day.  I am always aware that you are not physically with us, but it seems that as we prepare for the holidays, I am even more sensitive to the fact that you are missing from all of our photos and activities that we are doing with your big brother, Jeremy.

There are times that the pain is so deep that I would give anything just to be with you.  I know you are safe and well taken care of by those who took care of me when I was little - my grandparents and friends who are in Heaven with you.  I know that I have more work to do here on Earth and more people to share your life and story with.  I just wish I could hold you in my arms again.  I wish I had been given the opportunity to look into your eyes or sing to you or tell you how much I love you.  I know that you know all of these things without me having to say them or even think them.

You are such a blessing from God and as much as I wish we were together, I find comfort and peace knowing you are in Heaven and well taken care of.  I think sometimes people look at me and think that it's been 2 1/2 years and I should have moved on by now, but I will never move on.  How could I?  You are my precious daughter who was conceived from love and woven together by God.  Your Dad and I are working hard on dealing with our grief, but I feel that it will be with us for the rest of our lives.

We have done our best to continue with our lives without you here, even though we know you ARE with us.  Your big brother is doing so well.  He attends a grief group for kids and loves to talk about his Sissy.  He loves you so much and remembers you in prayer each night before bed.  He talks to you regularly and likes to share his accomplishments with you.  I'm sure later he will also share his frustrations with his parent with you, but I know if you were here, you two would likely be teaming up against us.  And we would savor every minute of it!

Our entire family misses you dearly, every second of every minute of every day.  Your life's purpose is becoming more clear to me now and we are so proud of you for changing the lives of so many.  Most importantly, you have changed the lives of your Dad and I and your big brother.  It was hard to find the purpose through all the pain, and it still is sometimes.

We love you so very much and we remember you now and always.

Keep dancing among the Angels.

I love you so much,
Mommy

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!!

Jeremy had a BLAST at his Halloween Festival at school today.  In case you are wondering, he is an alligator/crocodile, depending on when you ask him.  He will also firmly tell you that he is NOT a dinosaur.




He has been talking quite a bit about Savannah in the last few days.  I asked him what he thought Savannah would be if she were here on Earth and he replied, "Mommy, she would be a princess!"  I couldn't stop my eyes from welling up with tears.




Jeremy had so much fun playing all the games that the school had set up!  On this particular game, Jeremy knocked down all but 1 of those cups with his 1st throw!  Could he have a bright future as a baseball pitcher?




Jeremy was so happy to see his good friend, Karagan.  Karagan is so special to our family because she was due around the same time as Savannah.  Due to some emergency medical complications, she arrived early.  I absolutely love this little girl, but she does remind me of what Savannah would be doing if she were still with us.  Jeremy says he is going to marry Karagan and as far as Karagan's mom and I are concerned, that's fine with us!




After school, we went to visit Eric's grandma Jody.  I knew it would make her smile to see Jeremy all dressed up in his costume.  She has an amazing amount of patience with Jeremy.  We just adore her and spend as much time as we can with her.



Happy Halloween from the Renfro Family!

Friday, October 28, 2011

October 15th 2011

Please forgive me!  I know it has been FOREVER since I last blogged.  It has been a busy few months for us, but I finally have some free time to sit down and blog and catch all of you up on us.
We spent the early weekends of October getting our house ready for the Holidays.  We are so excited to be hosting all of my family, who will be traveling from California and Chicago!  We have been planning this for nearly 18 months now.  We transformed Jeremy's bedroom into a "Big Boy" Room and totally redid the spare bedroom.  It's amazing to see the pictures I had in my head actually turn into reality.


October 15th is International Pregnancy & Infant Loss Rembrance Day.  It's a special day that honors all of the babies who died too soon.  It's a special time to raise awareness about the issues surrounding miscarriage, stillbirth, and neonatal death.  This year, it was the Saturday of a busy weekend.

On Friday, October 14th, Jeremy attended a birthday party for his best friend, Hayden, at a bowling alley.  It was a lot of fun and Jeremy got to take home a beautiful yellow smiley face balloon.



On Saturday, we drove the 2 hours up to Charlottesville to visit Carter Mountain Apple Orchard.  It was a great fall day and we had a great time picking apples.  No matter where we are, Jeremy always wants to remember and blow kisses for his Sissy up to Heaven.






Afterwards, we decided to take a detour home and drive an additional 90 miles to Fredericksburg, VA to visit the only Steak 'N Shake in the state of Virgina.  This is my husband's favorite and just seemed to be the icing on an already fantastic day.  I guess you could call us Steak 'N Shake Groupees.  We are planning to attend the opening in December of a new one in Richmond!

We arrived home shortly before 7:00pm which is when we are asked to light a candle in remembrance of our loved ones and all the babies.  The goal of the project is to light a candle and leave it lit for 1 hour in every single time zone across the world so that there is a continuous wave of light.  Jeremy also decided that he wanted to send his yellow smiley face balloon up to Heaven for his Sissy.



The next day, we had yet another Birthday Party to attend ~ this one for his friend Novalee.  Jeremy, Novalee, and her cousin Henry have all been good friends since they were very little.  They were all in a program together and it's been such a blessing to see the kids grow and prosper and outgrow any delays or challenges they've faced.  Their moms and I are all such good friends and it's been such a blessing that we've all been able to stay close.  Eric even said we look like we could be sisters!




I cannot believe that Halloween is upon us already!  Jeremy is super excited to wear his costume.  We purchased it back in August so he has been looking at it in my closet waiting until the very moment he can put it on.

Tomorrow, we will be attending the Walk to Remember, hosted by Mary Immaculate, our local Catholic Hospital.  It is a great event that we attended last year and we are looking forward to attending again.  Afterwards, we have a Halloween Party to attend!

I will do my best to be better about blogging.  Since every single blog I write has to do with Savannah and how she is still alive in our hearts and incorporated in everything that we do, some days are harder to write than others.  It has been 2 years, 5 months, and 11 days since we lost her and 2 years, 5 months, and 10 days since we last held her in our arms.  Although we miss her dearly, she is absolutely still with us and still part of our family and we look forward to the day when we can all be together again.

Until next time,
Shannon

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Jeremy's 1st Day at School 2011

Jeremy had a great 1st day of school.  He's gotten so big and we are just so blessed to have such a wonderful little boy in our lives.  Notice how clean his clothes and face are!


Today was also a little bittersweet because as I walked Jeremy into his classroom, I passed the 2 year old class.  Savannah would have been starting school today too.  It's hard not to think about what I would have dressed her in or how I would have done her hair or how big of a bow I would have used that would have matched her outfit perfectly.  While it makes me very sad at times, I am just so thankful for all the blessings that we have and I look forward to our family being together again someday.

When I picked him up, he was all smiles.  Like most boys, he didn't arrive home the same way I dropped him off.


Apparently, he prefers to use his shirt as a napkin.  I'm told this is typical for boys.


Here is another close up.  See the dirt smeared on his face?  I learned quickly that going to school involves a bath in the morning and a bath when we get home.

Hope you are having a great 1st Day of School too!

~ Shannon

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Surviving our 1st Hurriane...

Today is such a strange day for us and many of our friends and neighbors.  The good news is that our family has survived our 1st Hurricane ~ Irene.  Our neighbors and local news stations successfully scared us enough and evacuation orders came down for some of our surrounding areas.  Since we've only been in our new house for about 18 months now, we were not willing to leave.  Additionally, Eric was a little concerned about looters since we live in a nicer neighborhood. 

We felt pretty confident since our home is all brick and the previous owners installed something called a B-dry system around the house, which pumps all of the ground water up and away from the house.  It seemed like a great thing to have, especially since we have a full finished basement, right?  However, it would have been nice to know that we needed a generator to keep the pump running should we lose power.  With the last hurricane, this neighborhood was out of power for over 2 weeks.  The phone call from the previous owners the night before the storm set in to confirm that we had a generator was enough to put us in panic mode.  Since this area flooded before and we are a few blocks from the water, not to mention the tornado a few months ago that left us without power for a few days, we were officially panicked. 


We called around to see if anyone had any left and of course, no one did ~ no one within 150 miles!  In the afternoon, we called our local Sears.  They had a truck arriving in a few hours with 5 generators on it.  We raced down there to get in line.  While we were #5 in line, we were not planning on the person who was #3 purchasing 2 generators leaving no generator left for us.  We continued to call around to different stores as we stopped by others, hoping the people answering the phones maybe didn't have accurate information.  Luckily, our local Lowes had a truck arriving with over 100 generators.  We got in a long line with at least 65-70 people ahead of us.  We lucked out and got one after 4 hours!


The next problem, since we have never owned or run a generator before, was finding gas cans.  We happen to have 2 cans which added up to about 10 gallons, but were advised that this wouldn't even last us 24 hours.  The next complication came when we tried to find gas.  Every gas station was sold out of gas!  We found one gas station and pulled behind someone with a small truck.  After filling up his small truck, he lifts up the tailgate to reveal about 25 gas cans.  So annoying!


So, we prepared and prepared as much as we could.  I baked up 3 trays of chocolate chip muffins just in case we lost what was in the fridge.  We brought some over to the neighbors who we simply adore.  They advised us to park Eric's car in their driveway in case some trees should fall down.  We heeded all the warnings, stocked up on water, flashlights, non-perishables, baby wipes, filled up the bathtubs with water, and took our last showers for what we expected to be a long time.


The storm set in overnight and we awoke to find that we still had power.  We got up, made a hot breakfast, and set in for a long day of watching the news and learning about the storms path and areas of damage.  We freaked out around 11am when we saw that the backyard was flooded up to the house. 




Eric and Jeremy set up a super fun tent in the basement for us to camp out overnight during the storm.  Just in case you're wondering, it wasn't all that comfortable to sleep in.




We waited and waited for the power to go out.  Eric had all the extension cords laid out and ready to go so he could fire up the generator.  Daylight came and went.  The winds were the scariest parts.  The house across the street had part of a tree break off and sadly, an 11 year old boy lost his life yesterday in nearby Newport News when a large tree fell and hit his house.  It was a good wakeup call.  We surveyed our property and noticed one particular large pine tree that was leaning towards the street.  Luckily, it was leaning away from the house, but we knew that since it was super tall and top heavy, it could snap anywhere and we certainly were not safe.  We prayed and prayed.  The winds still pounded the house until 2-3am.  This was such a long storm and it was so hard during the night because we couldn't see what was going on.


We woke up this morning to an eerie calmness.  The sun was shining, the weather was comfortable, and that tree was still standing ~ still leaning, but still standing.  AND we still had power!  Eric seems to think we maintained power because we bought a generator.  In the town where we live, the stats were that 48K of 61K power subscribers were out of power.  How we managed to keep ours is nothing short of shocking.


Some of our neighbors weren't as lucky as far as trees coming down.  Across the street, our neighbor had 2 trees snap.  They didn't fall all the way on the ground, but if their cars had been in the driveway, who knows?  Behind that house lives a family with a state trooper.  They had a HUGE tree fall and take out their screened-in porch, but thankfully, no one was hurt and it didn't seem to damage the house.  We all were very lucky!


The bright side to the story ~ Savannah's tree!  It was still standing strong, which brought a HUGE smile to ur face!






Not sure if this is just my eyes, but you can see Savannah's tree in the back corner and my other Elephant Ears bent over.  But do you notice the shape of the shadow in front?  Doesn't it look like a heart?  We choose to believe that it is a sign from our daughter, Savannah.  She is everywhere around us and while we miss her dearly, she is one of the biggest blessings in our life.

We pray that everyone around us is as fortunate in surviving this Hurricane with minimal damage.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Things that make me happy...

Here are some things that bring a HUGE smile to my face these days.

My wonderful family


Banana Chocolate Chips Pancakes made with love by my loving husband...


Watching my son celebrate his 4th Birthday with friends...







 Vacation Bible School starting (and more importantly ending!)


Watching my husband experience something off his bucket list ~ the Nascar Experience!





Attending Republican events and getting involved...Oh, how I LOVE politics!!


And most importantly, sharing Savannah's life and helping to make a difference!  Savannah will be honored at the Stillbirth Roundtable, taking place October 2011.


What makes YOU happy?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

On a Happier Note...

So, I just went back and re-read my last 2 blog entries and I get that they weren't exactly positive.  When I decided to start this blog, it was to help other people through the journey of grief and to talk about the ups and downs.  While I don't want anyone to ever have to experience what we have experienced, I understand that it happens to different people at different times for different reasons.  I think most of the time, the feelings that surface are pretty similar and I think it's important for people to understand that it's not always a rosy path filled with butterflies and ice cream cones.  Even 2 years later, I still have my bad days just like everyone else.  I was just given the blessing of gab and have a talent for verbalizing my feelings and from time to time, actually making some sense.  It's a good thing that while I still have those feelings and insecurities, they don't last weeks or consume my life like they did in the past.

I want to share with you someone who is very special to me ~ my grandma.  She was this amazing woman who I was very close with.  Her name is Margaret Dempsey O'Dowd and she was very much the matriarch of my Dad's family.  She had 9 children (my Dad is #2), was a foster parent to several, taught preschool, and did so many other things with her life.  She was a Naval Officer along with my Grandpa (who coincidentally was also on Submarines ~ just like my husband).  Here is their wedding picture.



She did so much with her life and was always helping others.  They were very active in the Catholic Church and while I thank my parents often for my faith, I realize that it was the wisdom and deep-seeded culture of many generations before them.  My grandma and grandpa were in the deaconate program until my Grandfather passed away.  She decided to continue and finish the program.



I owe a lot of who I am to my grandma.  She was a wonderful woman, she always listened to me complain about my parents during those challenging teenage years, she always had a smile on her face, and she gave to everyone around her.  I still have a sweater of hers.  It's sealed away in plastic, but it still smells like her.



I wanted to share her life with you because I firmly believe that she is caring for Savannah right now.  I mean, who has more experience with children and foster parenting than her?  That woman had nothing but unconditional love to give.  I remember when I was really little and she stayed with me and my 2 older sisters while my parents were at the hospital with my younger sister.  She was born 3 months premature and had a lot of health problems.  She let us make whatever we wanted for lunch ~ even sugar sandwiches (which sounded like a good idea at the time) and my personal favorite ~ butter & peanut butter together.

I remember driving home from San Diego up to Monterey before she died.  She had a brain bleed, but she waited until all of her children had the opportunity to fly from all over the country to be by her side.  She had a massive stroke, but I will never forget how she looked at me and mouthed to me that she loved me.  She passed away 6 months before I met my husband, Eric.  After Jeremy was born, we went to Chicago and visited her grave site.  It's funny because we have a very large family plot there.  After we lost Savannah, we seriously contemplated having her buried there, but I knew that I would want to visit her all the time and make sure everything was being taken care of, so we decided to bury her here in VA.



My grandma instilled many things in me and I attribute much of who I am because of her.  I gained my rich Irish culture, my loving and giving nature, my willingness to help others within the community, and to take the things I've learned and share them with others in need.  I also learned how to be a strong and proud military spouse.  There wasn't anything my grandma couldn't do.  I look to her for advice and pray to her often.  I know that she is taking such good care of Savannah and giving her all the love and support that I would.  She is an amazing woman and I strive to be like her.

I love her and miss her so much but I find so much comfort knowing that she is taking such good care of Savannah for me until my time comes.  She was one of the most outstanding women I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Infertility...

**Probably not a good idea to read if you are currently pregnant.  Then again, maybe you can learn something.

Do you know what Infertility is like?  A few years ago, I didn't either.  I think Infertility is something that happens to people, such as myself, who are control freaks.  Having another baby is just timing, right?  Wrong.  I have learned the hard way that there are some things people just can't control, even me.

I can't control the fact that some people are extremely fertile.  Lucky them.  Some people keep getting pregnant and then use things like abortion as a birth control method.  I try not to judge, but it's hard.  Some people just keep having babies and then complain about how expensive it is.

Then, there are others who claim to be infertile who do it for attention.  You are not infertile because you had 2 miscarriages and then go on to have 3 or 4 more children.  You are especially not infertile if you go and brag to others who are infertile that you are now pregnant again unplanned because ~ surprise surprise ~ you decided your family was complete but didn't use birth control.  Someone who is infertile or who has infertility does not rub an unplanned pregnancy in the face of others.  I have to question if that person was ever infertile to begin with.

For anyone who has no idea what I am talking about, I will use an example using chocolate.  Pretend that you are standing in the middle of a circle and for some reason, all you want is some chocolate but you don't have any.  You are craving it and have wanted some for a very long time.  Now, you are circled by others who are eating chocolate in front of you.  You try to be happy watching them enjoy their chocolate, but perhaps one or two of these ladies are overweight or diabetic and you know they really shouldn't be eating that chocolate.  Then someone comes from outside the circle into the middle to meet you.  They say, I understand, I want some chocolate too and it really sucks to be surrounded by people eating chocolate.  But wait a minute!  There's something in my back pocket! says this other woman.  It's a chocolate bar!  I know it's melted a little bit, but I am going to lick it off my fingers right in front of you.  That's exactly how it feels to struggle with infertility and watch everyone around you get pregnant.

I know that the events that have happened in my life have left me a changed person.  There are times when I still struggle with anger and bitterness.  For the most part, I don't complain.  I understand that life just isn't fair and sometimes there are people in it who unknowingly make it much harder on you.  Infertility sucks because you can't control it, you can't wish it away, it just is.  There are good days and bad days.  But please understand that if you are near someone with it, please try to have some empathy and do not lick your chocolate off your fingers in front of them.  It's really just cruel.

I hope one day we will have lots more children to add to our family.  I hope it will be soon.  I know that my experiences have changed me as a person, in every way.  As much as pregnancy scares me, I know and appreciate what a blessing it is.  I know that every second of morning sickness, backache, ankle swelling is a direct result of the miracle of life.  If you are pregnant, please don't complain about not being able to drink or smoke or eat whatever you want.  I know several people who would chew off their arm to be where you are right now.

Pregnancy is the biggest blessing in the world, but it is so easy to take for granted.  Enjoy each and every day and thank God for the miracle that is growing within you.  Focus on loving your baby rather than complaining.  I have never been shy about the fact that this is my biggest regret while I was pregnant with Savannah.  I complained.  I worried.  I anticipated everything.  I didn't take the time to tell her how much I loved her and wanted her.

You never know what someone else has on their plate or in their heart.  I am who I am today because of what happened.  I wish more than anything that I could go back in time and be that ignorant again where I didn't know all that I know today.  But I can't.  And each time since Savannah that I have been pregnant, I have focused on loving that baby for each and every day they grew within my belly.  Because of this, I have no regrets when they left me to be with Savannah.  Tell me, if you are pregnant and everything ends tomorrow, would you have regrets?

Sometimes, it's better not to ask...

Someone asked me today about the sign on my truck.  I tried to be brief and not give a lot of detail, which, unknowingly, always leads to more questions.  I never mind talking about Savannah at all.  In fact, most of the time, I am happy to do so.  Sharing her life is another way of sharing her with the world.  After all, what good does it do anyone to just go on with my life and pretend that she never existed?  What kind of mother would that make me?

Anyway, as the questions got more invasive and I explained more about what happend, I felt all the anger coming back.  I have worked so hard to get to where I am today, accepting Savannah for who she is.  I often hear the comment, "I just can't even imagine."

Well, allow me to explain it to you.  Pretend that you are in a wonderful marriage and have a beautiful little boy and now you are expecting a little girl, which is secretly what you always hoped for.  You go shopping and pick out the most amazing outfits and dresses from Strasburg and all sorts of online boutiques.  You decorate the nursery exactly the way you had been envisioning in your mind since you were a little girl.  Everything is going fine until you hear the words Down Syndrome.  But, you know that you will love your little girl unconditionally and will do your best to be her Advocate for life.  You know that the career of being a ballerina will not be possible but you focus on the postives and continue to anxiously await the arrival of your precious miracle.  The nursery is ready, just as you pictured.  The crib is ready.  The carseat is in the backseat, approved installation by the local fire department.  You have your bags packed with the most adorable outfits for the hospital possible with at least 40 bows packed and at least 3 pairs of shoes for each day spent there.  She is your child, after all.  There is a sign that you ordered to hang outside your front door that says "We welcome with joy and love Savannah Grace Renfro" and cannot wait to display it so that all of your neighbors who have been watching you waddle back and forth each day to the mailbox can stop asking you when the baby is coming.  You have the Baptism scheduled for 3 weeks later and a Baptismal Gown that you yourself wore already pressed and waiting.

You think to yourself that even if your daughter has Down Syndrome, your biggest concern is how the older people at Church will look at her and wonder if she will be judged as she grows.  Seriously, that is your biggest concern.

And then something happens.  You go to the hospital and deliver a baby that is not alive.  Something much bigger than your biggest nightmare has just happened.  There are no answers, no explanations.  You watch babies come out of the OR just having been delivered via C-section and you hear the woman in the next room laboring and the horse-thumping sound of her baby's heartbeat, who is still very much alive.  And you have nothing.

You go home and look in the backseat of your car as your husband drives.  You see the empty carseat, the handmade blankets you had to cover that newborn baby still folded up, unused.  You return home to a nursery that is beautifully decorated but no baby to enjoy it.  You look at the closet full of clothes, all still with tags on it that extend from Newborn sizes to 4T, because you learned with your son that no child stays in Newborn sizes for long.  You were smarter and bought ahead so the seasons would match up.  You notice the 3 long strands of ribbon that neatly hold each and every bow that you found to be just perfect for your daughter and the shoe rack that holds more shoes than any girl would ever possibly need.  You see that sign that you were waiting to put up, layed out neatly on the bed that was decorated to match the nursery bedding so you could stay up late at night to nurse your daughter.

The nursery is too much to take, so you walk into the kitchen and see all of the Dr. Browns bottles neatly lined up from smallest to tallest.  Maybe the kitchen wasn't such a good place to go.  The garage has to be safer.  There you find the cases and cases of diapers that you stocked up on because you knew exactly how long she would be in each size.  It's all staring you in the face, but you have nothing.

That's how it felt.  I still go back to that time and re-live every single moment of the devastation and sadness and anger.  You can't imagine what it's like?  There you go. Try to imagine it. It's the worst possible nightmare that can happen.  And sadly, it can happen to anyone when they least expect it.

Eric and I are older, but not too old.  We are both college educated and smart people.  We are not low-income or low intelligence or low socio-economic class.  We are Republicans after all!  This isn't supposed to happen to people like us.  But it did.  It happens more often than you think.  It happens to good people.  Sometimes, life just isn't fair and there is nothing you can do about it.  I'm not sharing this to scare anyone, but rather to help people understand what it's like. 

Maybe one day, this won't be such a taboo topic. Maybe someday, this won't happen anymore.

All I know is that it did happen, and it happened to me.  If this happens to someone that you know, perhaps you can be a better friend to them instead of saying "I just can't imagine."

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend

6 years ago, we were married on May, 28th, 2005. 



This year, we decided to take a last minute trip to the Outer Banks.  It's a common destination for anyone who lives in Hampton Roads with amazing beaches on the coast of North Carolina and only a few hours away by car.  In usual Shannon format, I researched all the things to do and talked to people.  I looked up lists and ratings and comments from people on all sorts of websites.  Just as I did with our honeymoon, I created a schedule of activities and things to do.  I made reservations and made sure we did as much as we could in our 3 day trip.


We left at 4:30AM on Saturday and made the 3 hour drive to the north end of the Outer Banks (or OBX as the locals call it).  We arrived at Duck Donuts shortly before they opened at 7am.  Duck Donuts is a chain found only in OBX where they actually make the donuts to order right in front of you.  They were yummy!


Don't you love the Pajama top with the swimsuit bottom?





So, next we headed up the road to a spot where you can drive on the beach for miles and miles. It was fun but a little nerve-wracking for Eric. He watched a you tube video that advises you to take the air out of your tires before driving on the beach. I was a you tube skeptic which made Eric extra nervous, but it turned out that all the other trucks had their tires aired down.  Who knew?






We did some amazing things, spent a lot of time at the beach, and really enjoyed our son, Jeremy.  To be honest, it had been an emotionally draining few weeks dealing with Savannah's Birthday in Heaven, so it was nice to be away from the phone, computer, and all the reminders of our daughter who is physically missing from our family.






It was a great trip and I think it's safe to say that we are OBX fans!  The pirate adventure was a HUGE hit!




Hope your Memorial Day Weekend was just as amazing as ours!  Thanks to all of the Military men & women across the world who work so hard to keep us safe each and every day.  I am so proud of my husband and the job that he does!






Until next time,
Shannon

Reflections of the Casey Anthony case

I’ll admit it ~ I am a court TV junkie. I have watched the David Westerfield case, mostly because it happened in San Diego while I lived there. While pregnant with Jeremy, I watched the Anna Nicole Smith hearings about who would make decisions regarding her burial and paternity testing of her daughter. Recently, I have been watching the Casey Anthony trial. I remember watching all of the news coverage on it and just being heartbroken when they found her remains. It was horrific and I still get sad when I think of all of the potential that little girl had in front of her before having her life taking from her.



Today in particular, things struck a huge cord with me. Casey’s father, George Anthony was being grilled about an attempted suicide attempt. I listened to comments from commentators and others who thought that was fake. I know for a fact it was not fake. I have been there myself. I have lost my purpose in life and considered taking my own life and wanting to be with my daughter.


For me, it happened in February 2010. My husband was on his 2nd deployment since losing Savannah. I was alone and it was Valentine’s Day. It had nothing to do with Valentine’s Day, but it was exactly 9 months earlier that was May 14th, my due date with Savannah, who was still very much alive within me. If only I had said something or done something differently. Everyone has agreed that if I had delivered her one week or even one day sooner, Savannah would be here today. I felt enormous pain and guilt that as a Mom, I had somehow failed my daughter. I felt alone and isolated. I didn’t know anyone who had been through the loss of a child. I reached out to everyone in my family. It was the darkest time of my life. I remember thinking that my husband would find someone else and Jeremy would have a new Mom, one who could be happy and play with him. I felt that I had nothing left to give. I wished more than anything that I could go back to that day and take Savannah’s place. Why her? Why now? I had lived a good life, gone to college, had fun, got married, and had a baby already. Savannah got none of that.  Why couldn't it have been me?


Back to George Anthony ~ he was a grieving grandfather. When you lose a child, whether it is yours or a grandchild in such a manner that is unnatural, people react differently. But I can tell you that he saw the same potential and future for his granddaughter that I had for Savannah. It’s true that he had almost 3 years with Caylee that I never got with Savannah, but the pain is the same. To know that another human is responsible for your child’s death is unbearable and unless you have experienced it personally, there is no way to understand it.


I admire how George Anthony and his wife reached out to others and have continued to advocate for missing children. They kept the memory of their granddaughter alive by turning their own personal tragedy into something positive. This is also what I have tried to do with Savannah’s story. I tell people about the risks and concerns with military hospitals. I talk about what I did and what I should have done differently. I tell people about all of the advantages of delivering at a Catholic hospital (they will always do everything possible to save your baby no matter what the circumstances and are ethically bound to do so). I will continue to use Savannah’s story when invited to speak to teach nurses, doctors, chaplains, and other healthcare workers what to do and what not to do when a baby does die. The only way that I was able to pull through my darkest days was to find my purpose again. My purpose is completely different from before May 17, 2009. Before that day, my purpose was to be the best mom, wife, friend, sister, and person I could possibly be. May 18th and beyond, my purpose became much clearer ~ I still strive to do all of those things, but I am also an activist for Stillbirth Awareness and talking about the failures in military healthcare. I have joined forces with other groups and organizations to bring awareness to these issues and to educate others on things you can do to be proactive in the future.


Sometimes, it takes those darkest days when we feel we have lost our purpose in life to really find out who we are, who matters, who stands beside us, and who supports us unconditionally. My daughter’s life taught our family so much about support, love, and the bonds that only blood can bring. She is an amazing example of how one person can make a difference ~ and it’s not me. It’s all Savannah. She just uses me as her voice.


I hope that people realize that passing judgment on what is or isn’t appropriate methods of grief is hurtful and unnecessary. At the same time, I realize that unless you have walked in my shoes, there is no way you could ever see things from the same perspective.  Do you know what it's like to leave a hospital with a carseat in the backseat of your car, a suitcase full of newborn clothes, dresses, and hairbows and come home to a beautifully decorated nursery with no baby?  None of us know how anyone else feels, but it’s important to remember that when someone reaches out for help, that we be understanding and show compassion and empathy. You will never know the weight of the cross that each one of us carries on the inside.

Until next time,
Shannon

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The blessing of May Crowning...

Maycrowing is a special tradition that I remember from being a little girl.  It always happen in May, the month of Mary, and is such an honor to partake in if you ever have the chance.  As a side note, this is part of the reason why I LOVE the Month of May so much that we selected our wedding to occur.  I got the priviledge of watching each year throughout Catholic school, and when I became an 8th grader, the girl selected to do the actual Crowning of Mary, is a wonderful girl who to this day, I have the priviledge of still calling a friend.

When I heard through our Church Bulletin that it was going to take place on May 22nd after the 11am mass (the mass that was being offered for Savannah), of course we were going to attend.  They had the recent 1st Communicants dressed in their dresses and suits partipate in the saying of the rosary and then bringing flowers to Mary.  It was amazing and meant the world to me.  Eric and Jeremy had never been before, but I think they enjoyed it too.

Here is a picture of the "May Crowning."  It brought tears to my eyes as I remembered my years looking forward to this ritual each year.






Until next time,
Shannon