Monday, December 19, 2011


This is such a roller coaster of emotions!! One minute I’ll be ok and the next minute I fall apart….the ups and downs are ridiculous! Going through the “what ifs” doesn’t help any either. I know that there is nothing that I could’ve done to change what has happened but I can’t help but think what things would be like if I would’ve been taking at least a multi-vitamin (as they tell everyone to). Would that have changed things….would she still be with us? I try not to beat myself up with all of the questions, but at the same time, it’s hard not to think them.

Every night, I walk in to the bedroom….Maddox’s bunk bed is set up but not Brinley’s crib. Maddox isn’t always here so the bedroom is usually empty & quite. I feel cheated out of my little girl! I’ve already given birth to her, so I’m supposed to be going through the sleepless nights because she doesn’t want to sleep. Instead, I go through sleepless nights because my mind won’t stop long enough to go to sleep. Not a day goes by that I don't think about her. Not a day goes by that I don't wish she was still with me. Not a day goes by.......I see other babies and think of all of the things that I'll never see Brinley least not in this lifetime.

Finally!!! I have the answers that I've been waiting on! Well, in my answers are good answers. We did get the results back from all the test that were ran today. The tests showed NOTHING!! The placenta looked normal with normal placement of the umbilical cord. The genetic tests came back perfect (46 XX). The doctors say that it was just "bad luck" because according to all the tests, Brinley was a perfect little girl. Anencephaly happens 1 in every 1000 pregnancies, I just happened to give birth to the one ... I hate to ask "why me" because that would imply that someone else should have to walk this path and no one deseres this... I guess my luck just sucks!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

1 Month

Today is Brinley's 1 month birthday!! Happy 1 month my sweet angel!
We hope you liked the balloons we released for you today!
We love you and miss you more and more everyday!!!!!!

It's hard to believe that it's already been a month since we had to say our good-byes to our beautiful baby girl. I wish I could have her with me right now....I wish this blog could be about the struggles of being a new mom......but sometimes we don't get what we want. Well, I guess I did get what I asked/prayed for.....I prayed the entire time that I was pregnant that Brinley would be healthy and happy. She is most definitely healthy and happy watching over us in Heaven. Although, being healthy and happy in Heaven is not quite what I meant, she is what I prayed that she would be......I guess next time I should be more specific!

A friend of mine found this online and shared it with me, so I thought that I would pass it's crazy how a person I've never met can speak the words that my heart tries to say....

A Bereaved Parent’s wishlist:
I wish my child hadn’t died. I wish I had her back. I wish you wouldn’t be afraid to speak my child’s name. My child lived and was very important to me. I need to hear that she was important to you also. If I cry and get emotional when you talk about my child, I wish you knew that it isn’t because you have hurt me. My child’s death is the cause of my tears. You have talked about my child and you have allowed me to share my grief. I thank you for both. Being a bereaved parent is not contagious, so I wish you wouldn’t shy away from me. I need you now more than ever. I need diversions, so I do want to hear about you, but I also want you to hear about me. I might be sad and I might cry, but I wish you would let me talk about my child; my favorite topic of the day. I know that you think of and pray for me often. I also know that my child’s death pains you too. I wish you would let me know these things through a phone call, a card or note, or a real big hug. I wish you wouldn’t expect my grief to be over. These first years are traumatic for me, but I wish you could understand that my grief will never be over. I will suffer the death of my child until the day I die. I am working hard in my recovery, but I wish you could understand that I will never fully recover. I will always miss my child and I will always grieve that she is dead. I wish you wouldn’t expect me “not to think about it” or “be happy”. Neither will happen for a very long time, so don’t frustrate yourself. I don’t want to have a “Pity party”, but I do wish you would let me grieve. I must hurt before I can heal. I wish you understood how my life has shattered. I know it is miserable for you to be around me when I’m feeling miserable. Please be as patient with me as I am with you. When I say, “I’m doing okay”, I wish you could understand that I don’t “feel” okay and that I struggle daily. I wish you knew that all of the grief reactions I’m having are very normal. Depression, anger, hopelessness and overwhelming sadness are all to be expected. So please excuse me when I’m quiet and withdrawn or irritable and cranky. Your advice to “take it one day at a time” is excellent advice. However, a day is too much and too fast for me right now. I wish you could understand that I’m doing good to handle an hour at a time. Please excuse me if I seem rude, certainly not my intent. Sometimes the world around me goes too fast and I need to get off. When I walk away, I wish you would let me find a quiet place to spend time alone. I wish you understood that grief changes people. When my child died, a big part of me died with her. I am not the same person I was before my child died and I will never be that person again. I wish very much that you could understand ~ understand my loss and my grief. But I pray daily that you will never understand.
<3 Melissa <3

Monday, December 12, 2011

Focus on the Good

Sometimes I just wish it would all go away! The life that I have been chosen to live is not the one I expected....if I had a choice, I wouldn't even participate in it. As with everyone, I had the beautiful life picked out for me! Although I'm not foolish enough to think that everyday would be this perfect rendition of your favorite movie scene, I knew I'd have my share of bad times simply because that's what life is about.

Fortunately I still have my Maddox! Although he is growing up way to fast for my liking, he's the best kid ever. He may not be my child (actually my 2nd cousin) but I couldn't love him anymore than I do now. I've been there since day 1 for him (and his Momma) and I'll be there for the rest of my life. I'm not his Momma...I'm his MeMe and I claim "daddy rights" on him! :-) He never fails to bring a smile to my face when he comes over to the house just to tell me he loves me and give me a hug. He's 6yrs old going on 15, and as intelligent as could be. I am so very proud of him!! He's polite, courteous to others, has a huge heart.....but he is a typical 6 yr old at times! No he's not perfect and he does act like a donkey at time, but all in all he's a good kid.

Maddox was so ready to be a "big brother" so telling him that Brinley wouldn't be coming home with us was quite difficut. We told him that Brinley was really sick and that God needed her with him, Brinley was going to be an angel. He had a hard time with it at first, he was really sad, but we just kept telling him that Brinley would be in our hearts forever. We tell him that he is still her big brother and that he can talk to her anytime he wants to. We read him this poem several times and he seems to take comfort in it.....

Daddy please don't look so sad, Momma please don't cry.
Cause I'm in the arms of Jesus and he sings me a lullaby.
Please try not to question God, don't think he is unkind.
Don't think he sent me to you and then changed his mind.
You see...I'm a special child, I am needed up  above.
... ... I'm the special gift you gave him, a product of your love.
I'll always be there with you, so watch the sky at night.
Look for the brightest star and know that's my halo's brilliant light.
You'll see me in the morning frost that mists your window pane.
That's me in the summer showers; I'll be dancing in the rain.
When you feel a gentle breeze from a gentle wind that blows.
Know that it's me, planting a kiss upon your nose.
When you see a child playing and your heart feels a tug.
Don't be sad Mommy, that's just me giving your heart a hug.
So Daddy don't look so sad and Mommy please don't cry.
I'm in the arms of Jesus and he sings me a lullaby.

He has asked to have pictures of Brinley in his room and he talks about her a lot. He often asks us to put her urn in his room (he knows he's not allowed to touch it....because I am paranoid & it scared that something will happen and she accidently get knocked over & break) but when she is in his room, he'll show her all of his toys and tell her where things belong in the room. He tells her all about his day and what he learned at school. It is absolutely the sweetest thing ever to watch/hear happen...even though I have to sneak cause he doesn't like anyone to listen to him, he says it's his "brother time" with her.

We don't push things on him, I didn't put Brinley's pictures in his room until he asked for them. We had gotten a fiberoptic snowman for Brinley that he asked to have in his room beside his Christmas tree. Tonight he asked if he could keep the snowman beside his bed all the time, even after Christmas...when I asked him why, he said so he could always remember Brinley and so that she could always sleep next to him. He even play board games with her sometimes....and she even wins! I don't know what we'd do without him, he's the light in all of the darkness!

I couldn't be more proud of him! He's the sweetest, most thoughtful little boy on the planet!

Brighter Days Ahead

"You filled my life with wonder, touched me with surprise. So tonight I light a candle for you my sweet, precious child."

The Compassionate Friend (TCF) support group held a candlelight service for anyone who has lost a child last night. It was a beautiful, heartfelt service...however, it made me realize that the hard times are no where near being over. I'm still on the roller coasters of emotions that, at times, feels like it's completely out of control. Although I hate the fact that another person has gone through the pain of losing a child, I am grateful that I can turn to someone who has survived the beginning stages of the grieving process. I know that I will always grieve the loss of our beautiful daughter but right now the pain is still so raw that some days I struggle to get out of bed.

TCF is a group that started in Lexington by a lady who lost her son (by reasons that I am unaware of), 33 years later there are 625 chapter around the world. Which is Amazing! They hold an annual candle lighting service to honor and remember our children who are gone too soon. Candles were lit here at 7 the time that it reaches around the world, it's 24 hours of candles lit. The service is intended for any parent who has lost a child, for any reason, at any age.

Meeting the people that we met last night was a comfort to us. They were people who have been in our shoes and have walked the path that we now have to walk. People who understand the pain that we feel and have gotten to better days. People who understand the grief process. It's nice to be around those that I don't have to be "strong" for. Being told that although the pain will always be there, it will get better in time...which is nice to know because it doesn't feel that way right now. Seeing people smile, who have had to say good-bye to a child, lets me know that I can get through this too.

Although I'm not quite as "strong" as a lot of people think that I am...I do know that with God by my side, I can get through anything, I would be completely lost without my faith in Him. I long for the day that I get to wrap my arms around Brinley again, but until then, I'll carry her in my heart and in my thoughts. I pray every night that God allow her to come to me in my dreams. I do feel a slight bit of comfort in knowing that my baby girl is now whole, healthy, happy and in the arms of Jesus Christ, as well as all of our family/friends who have gone on before us.

<3 Melissa <3

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Picking Up The Pieces

It's been almost 3 weeks since I gave birth to my beautiful angel. I should be 23 weeks pregnant with her, I should still be able to feel her move around, I should be preparing for her arrival, I should be complaining because none of my clothes fit anymore.....but I'm not! Instead I have an emptiness that nothing can fill. I have a crib that is still in the box, I have clothes that I had to pack away because Brinley will never wear them, I have toys that she can't play with but most of all I have questions that have no answers. All I have are pictures, memories and a beautiful urn with the remains of my only child in it.

Studies show that anencephaly happens in 1 and every 1000 pregnancies...why did Brinley have to be that one? Not that I would ever wish this to happen to anyone, but why me!?! Is my karma really that bad...I guess that would depend on who you asked. I've done my fair share of dumb shit (maybe even more than my share) and I'm sure others got hurt in the process. But I don't recall ever intentionally setting out to hurt anyone & over the last 7 years I've tried to make amends for my wrongs. I don't think that I deserved this...despite the opinion of one in particular.

Getting ready for Christmas is a trying time. I see all of the "Baby's First Christmas" stuff everywhere but my baby's first Christmas won't be spend with me...or any other Christmas for that matter. I'm putting up a stocking for her & she has her own ornament (as we get a new ornament each year for each of us).

I feel like I'm on a "poor me" kick...which is not me at all. I have always been one who could take a punch. I could get knocked down, get up, dust myself off and move on as if it were easy. Some say it's a defense mechanism that I have....or maybe I've been knocked down so many times that I just taught myself to get back up. Either way, I learned to pick up the pieces by walking away from the situation that knocked my down and put it behind me. This is different though.....I can't walk away from the situation, I can't forget about her and I don't want to either. I want to hold her as close to me as I can for the rest of my life.

This has been a hard day for me.....I've tried to keep myself busy with cleaning & putting up all the Christmas stuff & rearranging furniture. But since I just had shoulder surgery 2 weeks ago, my shoulder doesn't hold out for much of the activities that I've been trying to do today.

<3 Melissa <3

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Brinley Faith....(cont.)

Anencephaly is considered a neural tube defect (NTF)....the neural tube is a narrow channel that folds and closes between the 3rd and 4th weeks of pregnancy to form the brain and spinal cord of the baby (technically speaking, the embryo). Anencephaly occurs when the tube on the head end of the neural tube fails to close...causing absence of a major part of the brain, skull and scalp. According to research material, babies born with anencephaly are "usually born blind, deaf, unconscious and unable to feel pain". However, I have talked with many women who have anen angels who speak very differently! One in particular said of her son, who lived for 55 hours (and I quote her words) "Anencephalic babies DO feel, they feel pain, pleasure, and most importantly, they feel our love." Babies who have anencephaly are usually born asleep, even if they survive the trauma of birth, they briefly live....up to a couple of days.

Unfortunately, I wasn't one who was blessed with the ability to have given birth to a baby who was screaming at me. I prayed & prayed.....I asked the Chaplins at the hospital to pray as well....that God grant me the miracle of Brinley being born alive. I wanted so badly to hear her cry, even if it were only for a brief moment. We had listened to her heartbeat for hours but when she was in the birth canal it was hard to keep her on the monitor because she was so far down and she was so small. Even through the hardest part of my labor, I was begging God to let her be born alive!! But I didn't get my miracle....she was born asleep. But they had to cut the umbilical cord before they could hand her to me (the cord wasn't long enough)...I wanted nothing more than to hold her. I didn't care that she was still covered in all the "stuff", I didn't want them to get her cleaned up yet, I wanted her skin on my skin.

After a few minutes they did have to take her briefly to take the tissue sample that was needed from her.          ( .....By the way, Duke University has been conducting a study on NTD since 1993. (They are studying the cause of anencepahlay and spina bifida.) We choose to participate in the study. For the study, Leif & I both had to donate a few tubes of blood and they took a small tissue sample from Brinley (extremely small sample...just enough to get her DNA). We won't get any answers as to why this happened to Brinley, but very little is known about why this happens to any baby....without a definite cause there will never be a cure.)              By the time the nurses got me unhooked from all of the monitors, my IV and the epidural...yeah, the epidural that didn't work....I was able to clean myself up and they had her back to me. It didn't seem like she was gone long at all, but then they had my attention directed in 4-5 different places. At the same time that the room calmed down and the nurses were leaving, the doctor was bringing her back to me.

Our beautiful baby girl was all cleaned up and we were able to take her footprints, rub her down with oil (her skin was so dry), and get tiny bonnet on her head. She weighed 5.6 ounces and was 16cm in length....extremely tiny....she fit in the palm of our hand. Leaving the hospital, later that day, was horrible! Leaving her with the Chaplin was quite difficult, walking out of the hospital while watching other mothers carry their newborn babies out to their awaiting vehicles wasn't any better. I'll never understand "why" God chose me to give birth to an angel...not that I would wish the pain of losing a child on anyone else....but why did my baby have to die. I had to pull it together, Brinley may not be with us physically but this was her birthday and that is something to celebrate! On our way home, we wrote a message to her on a couple balloons and released them as we sang "Happy Birthday" to her. We know that she is watching over us, and we know that she knows how much we love her.

We had her Memorial Service on the 18th....the ceremony was beautiful. The songs we played were perfect for what we were feeling & the thoughts that we were thinking. (*Beauty From Pain by Superchick*With Hope by Stephen Curtis Chapman *What Faith Can Do by Kutless *Homesick by Mecry Me ). We were only expecting a small turnout for the service but we had over 100 people come. It was amazing to see how much support we had and to see just how many lives our baby girl had touched.

Brinley Faith......Meeting Our Angel

Since we decided to induce early... we knew that we would need to plan a memorial service for our daughter. I do believe that having to plan everything and wanting to make it as beautiful and as perfect as I possibly could, helped me make it through the 3 weeks between finding out that our little girl wouldn't make it to live in this world and meeting her for the first time.

I wish I had someone or something to blame for what was happening to me...but I couldn't and I didn't. Anencephaly has no known happens randomly! The only thing that they know that can possibly prevent it (lower the risk by 60%) is a high dose of folic acid. I wasn't supposed to be able to get pregnant, my tubes were supposed to be why would I take folic acid daily? Even if I thought I could get pregnant, I had never heard of anencephaly...and no doctor had ever told me that I should be on folic acid prior to conception to help prevent neural tube defects. I've known many women to get pregnant in my 33 years of life...none of them ever took folic acid...they all had healthy babies, so why wouldn't I. God was the only place I could turn for help!

I have had a close relationship with God for several years so he was the one I turned to. I don't know why he chose Brinley, I don't know what I was supposed to learn but I do know God's plan isn't flawed. I know that God doesn't sit in Heaven waiting to play cruel jokes on people....he didn't try to hurt me or Brinley. I've known some people who lost a loved one and they blame God, but I didn't. Not saying that I'm better than those people because I don't know why I didn't, maybe it was because I knew being angry wouldn't help me at all. Maybe it was because I knew my little girl would be in Heaven....waiting for me to get there and being angry with God wouldn't get me any closer to my little girl. The Bible tells us that we'll have trials, tribulations & sorrows, it also says that He will not give us more than we can where in the Bible does it say that we are going to like what we have to go through on the earth (in my own paraphrase of the says that this life will SUCK),  but it does promise us that it will be worth everything we endure.

I had to go into the doctor on November 14th to start the process. Although we know what we were facing, we still wanted to have another ultrasound just to be for sure that there were no changes in Brinley's condition. I know that God has the ability to heal, he preforms miracles has happened could happen again...Right?!? Well, although I guess I knew deep down that my baby girl was to sick, I had to see for more time. Through the ultrasound, we were able to watch her move around...but the ultrasound tech informed us that she had other "complications". She (the ultrasound tech) wasn't able to get a view of Brinley's right arm and her left wrist/hand didn't seem "normal". She did inform us that Brinley hadn't grown any at all in the last 3 weeks and that she had already turned to make her way down the birth canal. She was ready to be born even before they had given me the medicine to make her ready. My little girl was a fighter....she had made it longer than they thought she would but she was growing tired.

We went into the hospital the following morning, although I was an emotional mess on the inside, I knew in my heart that we were doing the right thing. During my stay in the hospital, I had all of those closest to me there. I had the monitors on so that I could hear Brinley's heart beating, I didn't want to go to sleep because I didn't want to miss a beat of it. The chaplins at the hospital came it to ask us what our wishes were. After talking to them throughout the day, we decided to have her baptized at birth...not because we doubted that she would go to Heaven but so that we could rest knowing that we did everything that we could for her. After 28 hours of labor.... I gave birth to Brinley Faith Morgan!!! On November 16, 2011 at 12:01am our daughter was born asleep and she was just as beautiful as I had dreamed!! Now she wasn't "perfect" by society standards but she was perfectly ours and she was everything we had ever wanted.

We were able to spend several hours with her...We were able to take tons of pictures of her & with her (a professional photographer that was with Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep also came to take a ton more pictures). We weren't rushed to say our good-byes, we were able to say the good-bye to our daughter as we wanted to and to take the time we needed......which was the absolute hardest thing I have ever had to do.

<3 Melissa <3

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Brinley Faith....The Beginning

My husband & I had wanted to have a family more than anything. We had tried for several years, went through test after test; only to find out that both of my tubes were completely blocked. We checked into InVetro, adoption, and becoming foster parents. After 3 years of trying and being told that it wasn't possible, we found out that we were expecting our first child!!! The excitement we felt was beyond words...this was the child that we had wished for, hoped for, prayed for...this was our miracle baby!

We were due to have an ultrasound at 20 weeks to determine the sex of the baby...but I am an impatient person and couldn't wait that long! So I scheduled a 4D ultrasound to find out (and see my baby) at 16 weeks. It was a big family event, at 16 weeks pregnant, on October 22, 2011 we went to our appointment. We did find out that we were having a baby girl, which was the only good thing that came out of the ultrasound. The lady stopped the ultrasound and told us that some things with our baby girl didn't "look normal" and that we needed to see our doctor. We watched her heart beating while the lady was trying to get our little girl to wake up and move around so she could get a better look at her. We left there thinking that we may be having a special needs child, which we were ok with. But I had felt her move several times, so I was convinced that she would be fine. Never did I expect what I was about to hear a couple days later.

On October 24, 2011 we went to our doctor....she did an ultrasound and immediately sent us on to a high risk doctor. She told us that our daughter was in distress and that she had a lot of fluid on her body. She told us that the high risk doctor would be able to tell us more. Although  we were both terrified in the truck on the way to the next doctor, I still never thought that our baby wouldn't still be with me today. We got to the office and they did another ultrasound....about 20 minutes into the ultrasound, we heard the most heart wrenching thing we had ever heard on our lives. Our little girl, whom we had named Brinley Faith, had a anencephaly which is a condition that is "incompatible with life". Although, at first it was hard for me to believe as I watched her heart beating and her kicking on the monitor. I don't remember much about what the doctor said after that other than we needed to decide how long we wanted to wait before they induced labor. He thought that with her other complications that "nature would take it's course" within a week or so.

We couldn't make any decisions without educating ourselves on anencephaly, we had never even heard of it. After many hours of research, we had to face reality....our miracle child was going to be born an angel. I was her life support and from what the doctors had told us, she was suffering. We had to make the hardest decision of our lives. With everything the doctors had told us, everything we had read, and many hours of prayer ... we chose to induce early. It wasn't a choice that was easy on us, we took a lot of things into consideration as we made our choices. We didn't want our little girl to suffer but we didn't want to say good bye to her either. Our decision to deliver preterm was based on what we felt was best for our daughter.

<3 Melissa <3