Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentines Day Reflections...

Today is Valentine's Day.  While for most, it is a day filled with chocolates and love notes, it has a far different meaning for me.  2 years ago today, I hit my lowest point as a person.  It was 9 months after losing Savannah, 9 months following what was my due date when she was still very much alive.  It was 9 months after going through something that no one should ever have to experience - the death of a baby.  Not only had I lost Savannah at 40 weeks and 3 days, but I had also experienced 2 miscarriages back to back.

At the time, I was very depressed and broken.  I felt that I had no purpose left and at times, felt that Eric and Jeremy would be better off.  I struggled to take care of myself and really just wanted to be with my daughter, Savannah.  It was a dark time, but one that I am thankful for.  Had I not gone through that, I would have never been able to get to where I am today.  And now, I am beginning to further understand my purpose as well as Savannah's.

Today, Irelynn is 6 weeks old.  It was exactly 6 weeks ago that my beautiful little girl's life was saved thanks to the education and wisdom I learned from Savannah.  It is also due to the team of experts that I surrounded myself with.  Dr. Collins of the Pregnancy Institute out of Baton Rouge, the Star Legacy Foundation, which I am honored and humbled to be a part of, spreading the wisdom and education they shared with me, and most importantly, Dr. Shwayder, my OB here in Virginia.  He never gave up on me and made keeping me and my baby safe a top priority.  I owe him everything.  While he was NOT involved in anything that happened with Savannah, he made sure he learned lessons from what happened and was just as determined as I was to make sure it didn't happen again.  While there are no guarantees in life, and everyone who is pregnant is not guaranteed a baby, he was just about as close as you could come.  I can say thank you a million times over to him and it would never be enough.  The same goes for Dr. Collins.

This year, as we celebrate Irelynn and Jeremy and our entire family, we look back at where we were as a family and where I was just 2 years ago.  Little did I know on that dark day what was to come,  It was only 2 weeks later that we found this beautiful house, which provided a fresh start for us.  And here I am, holding my gorgeous daughter as I type.  It's always important to remember that when you are at your darkest of times, there is always hope.  I hope that anyone reading this who is currently in a dark place can find hope in their future.  The most important thing that I realized is that my job here on Earth is not done, even though Savannah's was.  She continues to speak through me and I continue to share her story and her life with others.  While I wish more than anything that she was here with us, I can't think of a better place for her to be.

Dear Savannah,

I love you so much, my sweet girl.  We are so proud of you for everything you have done in your short life and everything you continue to do.  You have taught us and countless others many valuable lessons and no matter what, you will NEVER be forgotten!  While I can't wait to see you and hold you in my arms again, I know that I have more work to do here on Earth.  Thank you for being such a wonderful daughter and helping me and our family through our dark days.  Thank you for strengthening my faith in God and helping everyone who knows your name to be a better person.

Love, Mommy

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Baptism Gown Signifigance

The one leap of faith I took while pregnant with Irelynn was to have her Baptism Gown handmade from my wedding dress.  This was something I planned to do with Savannah, but instead, my Mom had saved my Baptismal Gown and we chose to bury her in that instead.  While I had hoped to pass on my Baptismal Gown, there was nothing else I could think of to bury Savannah in.  So, with Irelynn growing well and things seemingly going well, I contacted a local seamstress to discuss the project.

To my surprise, this lady was so compassionate.  It turns out she had lost her own son at the age of 3, so she was very understanding as to my anxiety but willingness to make this leap of faith.  She did an AMAZING job and it's something that I hope another baby girl can wear someday.  There is also enough left over to hopefully make a 1st Communion Dress one day!

I also had my wedding handkerchief that was wrapped around my Wedding Bouquet made into her Baptismal Bonnet.  And the blanket I held her with was Jeremy's Baptismal Blanket.  It was a beautiful joyous day, one that we weren't sure would ever happen, but it did and was such a blessing!  It was a LOT of dress for such a little girl, but you only get Baptized once, right?  God has blessed our family more than we could have ever imagined!

Irelynn is welcomed into God's Family!

Today, February 11, 2012, Irelynn was Baptized.  It was a beautiful Saturday morning ceremony followed by a lovely brunch.  Today, interestingly, is the Feast Day of Lourdes.  This is interesting for a few reasons.  My parents traveled to Lourdes, and my Mom prayed for me and our baby.  She brought back some water and while she was here over Christmas, she prayed over my belly and asked me to drink it, which I did.  It was a very emotional experience and little did I know how much the value of prayer and faith would play just a few days later.  So, how appropriate that Irelynn was Baptized on such a special day!  It was a day we weren't sure we would ever get to experience.

We were also blessed enough to have Father John David Ramsey Baptize her.  He is very special to our family for a few reasons.  As a seminarian, he gave his first homily at the Mass where Jeremy celebrated his Baptismal Rite of Presentation.  Jeremy was Baptized in the hospital as a baby when he was readmitted and facing surgery for suspected Hirshbrung's Disease, which he was later cleared of.  Ironically, the hospital chaplain was Father Dowd.  My maiden name is O'Dowd.  Coincidence?

Later, as a Deacon, John David assisted and participated in Savannah's funeral.  It meant a lot to us that he was so willing to be involved again.  He also comforted us after our 1st miscarriage following her funeral and has become a good friend.  He was since ordained and transferred to a neighboring parish.  We were thrilled that he was willing to Baptize Irelynn and it meant the world to us that things were able to come full circle.

After the Baptism, we gathered with friends and family for a celebratory brunch.  It was a wonderful day and although we were very tired, it was full of memories. 

May God Bless Irelynn, today and forever!  She is such a blessing to so many people and most importantly, has provided all of us with hope and faith.  She is a true miracle and blessing and was well worth all the pain and heartache.  I know that Savannah is smiling down upon her.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Sharing Savannah's Life...

For the 3rd year in a row, I was asked to speak on the Parent Panel for the training seminar "When A Baby Dies."  Last week, over 100 people (nurses, chaplains, social workers) all got to hear about Savannah and learn the lessons that I wished Langley had learned.  Every time I have told her story, someone comes up and asks me if my doctor ever apologized to me for what happened and sadly, I have to tell that person no.  Everyone feels badly for the way I was treated, but more importantly, I think people need to hear what happened so if they are in that situation, they can do better and learn from the mistakes and failures of Langley.  This time, my Mom was in town and able to hear me speak and took a few pictures.

It's something that I'm happy to talk about because while sharing Savannah's life, I am hopefully helping to ensure that no one else has to experience what I went through after losing my daughter.  While I realize no one knows the "right" thing to say, there is a long list of things that while well-meaninged, are very hurtful.  The speech was a success and more and more people have let Savannah into their hearts.

Afterwards, my Mom and I headed to the Olive Garden for lunch and a much needed drink.

And here is my "Mommy of the Year" picture!

In case you are wondering or going to be visiting the Olive Garden in the near future, the drink special is called Toasted Marshmellow Amore and is the closest thing to a grown up alcoholic chocolate milk.  It's so yummy I found the recipe and have been making them at home.