This blog post is part of a series that I began for telling our story. You can read the first post here.

From this point forward, I’m going to be sharing the text of posts as they were written at the time. Some will come from this blog; others, from our CaringBridge site. I may from time to time write my own reflections after re-reading, but mostly I will just be sharing words as they were written. So much of this journey for me is revisiting what happened, and realizing just how difficult the journey was for us. And now, seeing how far we’ve come since that time.

I really want to catch up with the dates on the calendar, but to do that means I need to double-up my posts even more than I already have. So bear with me as I will post twice a day for a while, in an attempt to get better caught-up. Thanks for your patience. 

I did not write a blog post on May 28, but have one from May 29. There are also two shorter CaringBridge posts from those two days, which I will start with here. As we transitioned home, it took a bit to get into a rhythm. First up, CaringBridge on May 28, written by my sister:

Samantha is doing well today.  She got to spend the day with her parents, grandparents (on Travis’ side), aunts, uncle and all of her cousins, plus a few other special visitors.  Her other grandparents will be arriving on Monday as well so it is precious moments to have with her as family.

We are so thankful to the photographer that drove all the way from College Station to do some photographs of Samantha as well.  What a blessing that was!

Stephanie and Travis have quite a schedule to keep track of for her between meds and feeding.  Everything has a different schedule (some things are 3 hours apart, other 8, others 12, etc.).  Samantha ate well today, which was so sweet to see.  It seems like her meds are really helping to keep her comfortable and her pain under control.  We enjoy the moments that she is awake and alert, the response she has to Frodo’s barks, the excitement she shows when hearing her mom or dad’s voice.  They may be small movements and moments, but we celebrate them all.

Samantha is such a precious gift from the Lord.  We are so thankful for each day we have with her.  Thank you for your continued prayers!

~ On a separate note….

*If someone is running errands in the Conroe/Woodlands area and is willing to add a couple things to their list, please contact Stephanie as she has a couple things she would like from there.  **Also if you are handy with hanging shelves, there are a couple of shelves that need to be hung at their house and they would greatly appreciate the help with that (plus it’s a chance to see and hold Samantha! 🙂

CaringBridge from May 29, again by my sister:

Today was very special as Samantha got to go to church with her family.  There was a rededication/remembrance of her baptism as well as holy communion.  It was a special time.  Thank you to all our special friends and family at Faith that welcomed her and spent time with her today.

This afternoon was spent relaxing with family and then this evening we celebrated the special service today at her godparents, the Dretke’s house.  There was a crawfish boil and lots of good food and fellowship.

The moments with Samantha are wonderful.  They are also very difficult as you can imagine.  We just love on her while we have her and celebrate the moments we have.  Thank you for your continued prayers!

Finally, my blog from May 29, originally titled “Coming home”:

Coming home has been better than I imagined and also harder than I imagined. Travis and I are parents again. I don’t know if that makes sense, but if you’ve ever had a child in the hospital you probably can understand what I mean. Instead of the doctors and nurses determining the schedules, making decisions, checking diapers and measuring medicines and food, it’s us again. We are the ones caring for our daughter. That is a blessing because we get to spend lots of time with her. But it’s hard because there is a lot involved. She eats every three hours, or 8 times a day. At six of those feedings, she also gets medicine, different ones depending on the time. Then she also has one med that is every 8 hours, which means it only overlaps once with feedings. So ten times a day we are doing very specific things to care for our daughter, plus the diaper changes that don’t happen to intersect with the feeding/med schedule.

I’m tired still, but I can’t seem to let myself sleep during the day. My mind gets going or I think about all of the stuff that needs doing or I feel guilty because I’m in the bedroom when there is a pile of company here. Plus it means less time with Samantha, and I hate that too. I want everyone to hold her as much as possible, and they do, but then I feel guilty that I might not be holding her enough. Why is that?

The one thing that has come out of the events of last week is that I’m no longer afraid of her dying. My sister asked me today if I’m constantly getting up and checking her. I do check her when I wake up, but it’s more to make sure she’s comfortable. I do check her face and watch her breath, even put my hand on her chest to feel her heart. But all of this is not the fearful thing it might have been even a week ago. Now it’s me being her mommy, loving her as long as I get to. And whenever God chooses to take her is ok. Well, I’m not ok with it really but I’m at peace about it. Of course then I think about what it means that at some point in the future I will be childless again. I will sit here and think about my memories of her instead of sitting with her. I already find myself mourning her in a lot of ways. What do we do with her stuff? It took me six years to let go of all of the Jonah stuff, but I couldn’t handle looking at it either so it sat in our basement. Much of it was ruined because of the moisture by the time I went back through it. I never wanted to have reminders out of him. Now suddenly I find myself pulling out the few things we have of him and feeling guilty about that, too. Why do I have less stuff from my son than my daughter? I keep reminding myself that a stillborn is different than having your child pass away, but I still feel like I’m not able to honor my son the way I should. This whole process is dizzying to say the least.

I realized too that the way heaven and God are separate from our concept of time can be confusing to us in this life. Even though Jonah was technically older than Samantha (he was stillborn 8 years ago) I keep picturing him as her little brother.

I keep wondering too why we have to be the parents who lost two children. I know it hasn’t happened yet but when you know it’s coming, it’s hard not to get ahead of yourself. I dread the future questions from meeting new people, who ask purely out of politeness or curiosity, “do you have kids?” It was hard enough before. Now I think it will be impossible to hear it. And it’s just a question meant to find out more about your family. I never ask anyone about their kids. I figure if they have them they’ll talk about them. And if they don’t it may be a painful reason why.

Going to church today was also good but hard. I loved seeing people, but getting through the service where we recognized Samantha’s baptism was just about impossible. Travis had to ad-lib some sections because he didn’t want to read the parts that talked about years to come or the future. Some still ended up being part of it. I just held Samantha and cried, my arms and back aching from her weight (not that she’s heavy, but you can’t really shift her much without causing her some pain). I couldn’t even look at the people in the pews. And I’m not exactly sure who was in church today to be honest. I saw some before church, and some at the cake/punch reception we had after, but since I missed the end of the service with giving Samantha her bottle and meds (thanks to my sister for helping me with that), I didn’t really figure out who was all in church today.

Yesterday a photographer came and did a photo shoot for us. I really hope the pictures turn out well, she did some neat shots of us and Samantha and her cousins. All of her first cousins are here right now! It’s weird thinking about how she has six cousins and all of them only have one, her. And we tried explaining to my sister’s kids how they are related to Travis’ sister’s kids, but the truth is they really aren’t, so Allison’s oldest came up with the term “pretend cousin.” I guess that works.

So far we are being helped in a lot of ways – hospice is taking care of so much, but we also qualify for an overnight nurse through our insurance. It’s hard to think about having so many strangers in our lives, but Travis keeps reminding me to take whatever help we can get right now. I keep reminding him of that when he doesn’t want to overburden people from church. I know it’s so hard for all of our church family right now – they were looking forward to Samantha as much as we were, and they’ve hardly gotten to see her. We waited to take her until her due date, per doctor’s orders, so she went on Palm Sunday. It was two days after that when she got sick. Today was the second time she went to church. Considering where we’ve been, I’m so thankful.

Keep those prayers coming. I can’t promise how much I’ll be blogging now that we’re home and surrounded by family, but I will try to keep doing it as much as I can. I know I need it more now than ever.

Next post coming tomorrow.