1,000 Thanks to 1,000 Fans!

**GRATEFUL** – We are so close to reaching 1,000 Facebook Fans and we couldn’t be more grateful for your support since we first started.  Once we hit 1,000 fans we will celebrate by giving away a set a of our comfort bags (Candle, Bath Salt, Lotion, and Lip Balm) to TWO lucky fans!

Find our Facebook page, click “LIKE” and leave a comment on the 1,000 Thanks image.  Tell us which scent you would like – Lavender, Baby Powder, or Stress Relief mix.

Don’t forget, you must be our page fan to win!  We will announce the winner on the day we hit 1,000 “Likes”

XOXO!!

1,000 Thanks 1,000 Fans

Kaleb’s Story – Two Empty Arms

After the loss of a pregnancy, a woman’s arms feel empty, her heart is broken, faith has been shaken, and all hope torn away.   Longing for a baby in my arms after the death of my daughter, Viviana (you can read her story HERE), I wasn’t sure we should try again.  I just knew I wanted Viviana in my arms.

My husband and I went back to our doctors to seek advice on future pregnancies.  All of the testing on Viviana came back normal.  They could not find a reason for her illness.  We had nothing to base future pregnancies on – besides the fact that we did have one living, healthy son who was now two years old.

Our doctors advised us that Viviana’s condition was so rare and uncommon that the likelihood of Hydrops happening again was about the same chance of being struck by lightning.  In fact, the doctors told us they had never seen this condition happen to a family twice.  We were told to “go ahead and start trying for another baby!”

For the first time, we were actually trying to have a baby!  By trying, I mean I was researching and learning how to understand when I was ovulating and when the best chances were for us to get pregnant.  3 months later, we were expecting again! It was a bitter sweet moment for me.  I was so excited to be pregnant again, but so frightened that this pregnancy would end like the last one.  I was no longer naive to pregnancy loss.

Pregnancy brings a woman excitement and joy, but also something to look forward to – a set date that will change her life forever.  My date was set… on June 4th I would have this baby in my arms.  I still, however, had a very heavy heart and was still mourning the loss of our daughter.

My pregnancy was going really well.  We were expecting a little boy.  As I approached 27 weeks gestation (when Viviana passed) I demanded a sonogram to ease my worries.  I thought if I made it past 27 weeks that everything would be ok with our son.  He looked healthy and active – just like a normal baby!  I finally felt good about the pregnancy and started planning to have a baby.

Kaleb 29 wks 3 days - profile

We named him Benjamin “Kaleb” – B.K. initials after my great-grandfather, my grandfather, and my father.

At 34 weeks gestation, I suddenly started feeling contractions every 15 minutes.  I knew I had a check-up appointment coming up in a few days so I held off calling the doctor.

Hydrops Fetalis (read Viviana’s story) can also cause the mother’s body to mirror symptoms.  So as the baby retains fluids, so can the mother, causing major swelling in feet, hands, and also Polyhydramnios (extra fluid in the uterus).26 weeks 5 days

The first thing you do at a maternal checkup is weigh in.  When I stood on the scales and saw that I had gained 10 pounds in one week, I began to cry.  The poor nurse had no idea why I was crying.  I told her about my contractions and concern with the weight gain.  She brought the doctor in, and the doctor began to calm me down telling me she was sure everything was fine.  That was until she measured my stomach.  I was 34 weeks measuring 42 weeks pregnant.  I was huge! She looked at me with shock and suggested we do a “non-stress test” to make sure the baby’s movements and my contractions were normal.  Let’s just say, I failed the test miserably!  So they decided to do a sonogram.  At this point, I have had so many sonograms, that I could tell the tech what she was looking at.  So as soon as Kaleb’s image appeared on the screen I knew… I saw the fluid.  No words were expressed; the sonographer turned off the machine and cried with us.  Kaleb had the same diagnoses as Viviana – Hydrops Fetalis.  He had fluid in his lungs, and under his skin.

My husband and I sat in the room for a while, holding each other and crying.  Knowing what our future was, our son had the same chances of survival that Viviana did… 1 – 5%.

I was sent to the hospital where they put me on bed rest for the weekend.  When Monday morning came, the doctors decided to do an emergency C-section to try and help increase Kaleb’s chance of surviving.  At 11:30 a.m. Kaleb was born via C-section.  He was not breathing.  He was purple.  The NICU team rushed to get him on a ventilator.  I didn’t get that joyful moment of hearing my son’s cry, of them laying him on my chest, or even seeing what he looked like.

Later, they wheeled my bed into the NICU so I could see where Kaleb was.  He was connected to so many machines, but all I saw was my handsome little baby boy…  Praising God my baby was alive!!

On Kaleb’s second day of life, I was finally well enough to go visit him.  I stood over him, and sang praises to him…  “Our God is so great, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing our God cannot do!”  When we talked to him, his vitals would go up.  His oxygen levels went up, he looked great – just very swollen.  I was so happy!  Then, one of Kaleb’s doctors came in.  My husband and I were smiling and talking to each other about who Kaleb looked like.  The doctor looked at us and said, “I don’t know why you are so happy.  He is very, very sick and will not survive this.  Do you understand?”   My heart sank.  What? I knew he was sick, but no one told me he was going to die.  As you can image, I was upset…. very upset.

So much happened after that, but I am going to fast forward to Kaleb’s 4th day of life. 1D__5211 This time we were holding Kaleb.  My husband wouldn’t put him down.  He held him for hours at a time.  A different doctor came in this time.  He was older, and he looked emotional as he grabbed my hands and held them tight.  After going over every medicine he has tried, he looked me in the eyes and he began to cry.   He said “I am so sorry, I don’t know what else to do.”  He sat with me and cried.  This meant the world to me!

That night Kaleb was fading fast.  His heartbeat was getting slower and slower.  He was now considered brain dead and we were advised to turn off his ventilator.  This was the hardest decision I have ever had to make.  By me signing a paper, I was authorizing the doctor to end my son’s life.  As I picked up the pen, I was shaking, and started to pray.  “Lord, take my son.  Let him go in peace.” Just as I signed, Kaleb’s heart stopped beating. I rushed over to him and held his little fingers.  He was gone.

V-Kaleb-Kares-non-profit-1My husband and I were taken to a room where they were going to bring Kaleb’s body for us to hold.   A nurse walked in and handed me a “Viviana’s Memory Box”. She had no idea I was the creator of this box.  I went from crying to smiling; the nurse looked so confused.  I was now on the receiving end of my own ministry.  I saw a whole new side to this box.  This time around I had items of Kaleb’s to place in the box.   We sat and placed his footprints and handprints in the box. An hour later, the nurse came into the room to take Kaleb’s body.  I found myself once again watching my child be strolled down the hallway as I felt my heart being ripped from my chest.

I walked out of the hospital – with two empty arms.

Thank you for reading Kaleb’s Story!  Come celebrate his birthday with us at our “Surviving Brokenness Banquet” and I will give you a special gift HERE

Aiden kissing kalebs foot

One empty arm… Viviana’s Story

There is one thing I’m sure of – pregnancy is a beautiful gift from God. The way a woman’s body was built to carry another human being is simply amazing. Yet, so many of us are naïve’ to the fact that not every pregnancy is a guarantee of a baby – At No Point. In fact, studies show that 1 in every 4 pregnancies end in a loss.

My very first pregnancy I was young and had no clue that I was at risk for having a child with a defect, or that there was a possibility I could lose my baby. I can remember around 7 months pregnant I told my mother some items I purchased for my unborn son. She suggested to me (very softly) “Maybe you shouldn’t be purchasing items yet – anything could happen!” I was so confused by her statement. Why would my own mother try to take away the excitement of having my first child? We didn’t have any health issues in our family, and I had never heard of anyone in our family having a miscarriage, still birth, or any birth defects. We actually had not experienced a death in the family at all since I was born, and we have a fairly large extended family. To suggest there was a possibility of my child not being healthy was an absurd statement in my mind. My son ended up being a healthy 9 pound baby!

So my naïve’ thoughts on how glorious pregnancies are continued through to my second pregnancy. That is until the day we were going to find out the sex of our baby. Sitting in the waiting room my husband and I bounced names off of each other. If it was a boy, what would we call him? And a girl? We quickly came up with the name Viviana (a combination of both of our grandmothers’ names).

When my name was called by the sonogram tech, we walked in with a little pep in our step. Ready and eager to hear our little baby’s heartbeat, to see a profile, to dream about who this baby will look like – pure excitement! During the sonogram, the tech stays pretty quiet throughout the process, telling you very few things. The silence was killing me. So with every moment I would ask, “what’s that, what’s this…?” She responded, “it’s just a leg, are you wanting to know the sex?” Ummm… Of course, yes! She told us we were expecting a little girl! My heart melted, my family would be complete. Her profile looked just like her older brother. I was smiling ear to ear.

The sonogram tech turned off the machine and grabbed my hand. She said, “But there might be something wrong.” Wrong??? What could be “wrong” with my baby? I saw the heartbeat. She had two legs and two arms. She looked perfect to me!
We were referred to a high risk doctor and were told she had possible “skin edema.” Crazy thing is I thought the woman had no idea what she was talking about. I was still naïve’. I thought my family was invincible. I walked out of that appointment with excitement… My little daughter – Viviana – I was already so in love with her!

Skin Edema – What did that mean? Of course, when I got home my first instinct was to search the Internet. Skin edema meant she had fluid under her skin. It wasn’t threatening unless there was fluid in two or more organs. This just left me more confused with a bunch of medical terms!

The next day we went to see a high risk doctor. First, they performed a much longer sonogram. Complete silence. After the doctor reviewed the images, he came into our room. I will never forget him. He was wearing a heavily-starched white dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up just below his elbows. His shirt was open to the second button below his neck. He wore a soft cologne – that if I were to smell today, it still reminds me of that moment. He leaned slowly against the wall and just spit out the words, “your daughter has Hydrops Fetalis, and has a 1% chance of surviving.”
Wait… What?!?!?!? My daughter is going to die???? Yesterday I was told she has fluid under her skin – and now you are telling me she is going to die from this? Fix it!!! Why can’t he fix it?

He sat down and put the sonogram wand back on my belly. At this point, I was crying so hard my stomach was moving up and down, but he continued on to show us that Viviana had fluid under her skin and surrounding her lungs. This made up 2 “organs” of fluid and diagnosed her with Hydrops Fetalis.
This doctor looked us in the eyes and told us he suggested we terminate the pregnancy. I was 18 weeks pregnant and I legally had until I was 24 weeks pregnant to terminate. He sent us home to make the decision. I couldn’t even make it to the car. I broke down in the middle of the parking lot.

At 18 weeks pregnant with my second child my belly was already large. All of my friends knew I was pregnant. Again, I had been so naïve’, I didn’t keep the news of my pregnancy a secret. Everyone in my life knew I was expecting.

I laid in my bed with this heavy decision weighing on my heart. I was raised a Christian, and was taught abortion was wrong. Aborting an unwanted child was considered murder! What about in my situation, when medically there are issues and the doctor is the one telling me to terminate? My family surprisingly told me they would stand by my decision whatever it may be. I was so confused and did the only thing I knew to do… Pray! I asked for guidance and for understanding.

As I was praying, crying, and rubbing my belly, Viviana started doing flips inside of me, and kicking me harder than ever before. I felt like she was saying, “Don’t do this mommy – don’t kill me.” It was after that moment I decided I was not going to terminate this pregnancy. God put Viviana in my womb for a reason. Who am I to decide it is time to end her life? What if the doctors where wrong and she could survivor this – or what if the fluid disappeared on its own? So many unanswered questions running through my head. I decided to get a second opinion.
We traveled 3 hours from our home to a doctor that specializes in Hydrops Fetalis. They did a 2-hour sonogram before telling us the same results. She has a very low chance of survival. They suggested we terminate the pregnancy. When I told them that simply wasn’t an option, the doctor got very angry with me. She told me I was “selfish” for not terminating. It was a very long 3-hour drive home.

A few weeks later (I was now at 27 weeks gestation) that same doctor called and told me that since I made it past 24 weeks they were willing to help me. They wanted me to come back and they would attempt to put shunts (drains) in Viviana’s chest to drain the fluid off her lungs so they could develop and she would have a chance of survival! Finally!!! They were going to do something!!! The day after that phone call Viviana’s movements weren’t as strong. My doctor told me that was normal, I also had extra fluid in my uterus and I wouldn’t feel her move as much. So I didn’t think anything of it. That night I couldn’t sleep; she wasn’t moving. I was going crazy thinking of the possibility that she had passed away. When I woke up, I had my sister take me to the hospital just to check if I was going crazy.

I walked into Labor and Deliver and told a nurse I wasn’t feeling movements since the previous day. She asked me why I waited so long to come to the hospital, and huffed and puffed while she listened for a heartbeat. She couldn’t find one, so she went to get a sonogram machine to see if she could see one. This time she brought a doctor in – A red headed doctor with red facial hair (I won’t name him, so don’t ask). He sat down and turned the screen away from me. I felt like a science project as he was reviewing my daughter’s condition. He called the nurse over closer and said, “Do you see this and that? This swelling is not normal, I’ve never seen anything like this!” I had to interrupt him…. “Excuse me, do you see a heartbeat?” He responded “Oh… no, nope, no heartbeat” and continued on with the nurse.
After that, they gave me the option to go home or to go ahead and be induced. I opted to be induced immediately. The next morning my precious Viviana Iris was born – not breathing. She was swollen and purple, but she was my daughter. She had her father’s toes and looked just like her big brother.

The hospital let us have as much time with her as we needed. We sang praises over her and allowed family to come visit her. A few hours later a nurse came in and asked, “Are you done with her?” We had some visitors so I just said “sure.” This is my biggest regret. I let the nurse wheel her out of the room. Why didn’t I kiss her one last time? Why didn’t I tell the nurse “NO?!?!” I am now left with this horrible image of my daughter being covered up and pushed out of a room. Where did they take her? Who else saw her? I will never know.
The next morning I was released from the hospital with a heavy heart (it felt like a brick) and empty arms. I had nothing but a bunch of flowers that were all going to die and one empty arm where my baby should be laying. But Viviana’s life had a purpose…
At that moment I knew I never wanted anyone to feel what I was feeling. Every woman leaving the hospital after a pregnancy or infant loss MUST go home with something in her arms. Two months after her birth we created and delivered our very first Viviana’s Memory Box.  A box to help comfort families during a loss while in the hospital, and a place for them to hold items and memories of their baby.

We have since delivered over 3,000 boxes to families during a pregnancy or infant loss.