Kellan Liel

So we have had some major life changes since I last wrote. To call it a whirlwind would be an understatement! Our third son, Kellan Liel Hewitt, was born early on November 29, 2017 at 30 weeks & 2 days old!

 

So the Wednesday before Thanksgiving I woke up feeling really crummy. I was going to take Harry to get his hair cut, but couldn’t muster the energy to leave the house. Who knew a week later our little Kellan would be born?! I was in the hospital Thanksgiving Day for monitoring and then again Friday night to Sunday to try to get my blood pressure stable. Monday I had some doctor appointments. By that point I had been diagnosed with mild preeclampsia and was told to be on a modified bedrest. However, I woke up Tuesday morning and took my blood pressure (the other part of preeclampsia I had to monitor), and it was ridiculously high. I called the OB, and they wanted me to come in. Between Monday evening and Tuesday morning the protein in my body (one of the other parts of preeclampsia) had skyrocketed and my blood pressure was no longer stable. I was transferred from Martha Jefferson Hospital to UVA because of Kellan’s gestational age & their NICU capabilities that Tuesday evening. Once preeclampsia becomes severe, there is no benefit to either the mother or baby to prolonging the pregnancy so they starting inducing me sometime early on Wednesday morning. Our sweet little boy was born at 10:38pm on Wednesday night. It all happened so quickly and still feels a little surreal that I had him!

Being pregnant and preparing for a baby after losing a child was much more difficult than I anticipated. The anxieties and fears were more magnified than in my other pregnancies. My worst fear was that either myself or the baby would die. My second worst fear was that I would have complications that would harm the baby. So if you can imagine, getting diagnosed with preeclampsia at 29 weeks was terrifying. I was very scared once I was transferred to UVA because it was all becoming real that I was going to deliver a 30 week old baby. Not to mention, I felt terribly sick from the preeclampsia and the medication given to me to prevent seizures. I was so swollen that I couldn’t even grip my phone or respond to any text messages and my vision was blurry so that didn’t help either.

Being induced, especially so early, can often take a long time. I was lucky it only took 18 hours or so from beginning to end. It was actually a slow process until a doctor broke my water at 6 cm and within 10 minutes of breaking my water, little Kellan was born. Those ten minutes were the some of the scariest moments of my life. The nurse had a hard time monitoring his heart beat externally and his heartbeat had started to decrease meaning he was in distress. The doctor was trying to some kind of doppler on his head, but the nurse couldn’t find the right cord for it and was kind of frantically looking for it. All during this time I knew he was in some distress and I was kind of panicking. I realized during all of this time I was feeling the pressure to push and with the next contraction and two tiny pushes, he was born crying! I kept asking Chris if he was ok and Chris just kept saying “yes, he is crying, he’s ok” but I remember asking him several times anyway. Then I kept asking if I was ok. I was worried about hemorrhaging like I did with Harry, but I was ok too. 🙂 Kellan had a NICU team of about 7 or 8 people working with him within a minute or two and I had about 4 working with me. It was kind of a crazy experience!

I got to go home on Friday. It was a little hard to leave our littlest buddy, but I know he is in great hands. The UVA NICU docs, nurses, and staff have all been so wonderful. Jackson was in the NICU at Martha Jefferson for a week after he was born, and as a first time mom it was all very sad and traumatic having to be home without him.  My perspective has definitely changed now and having Kellan in the NICU is a little sad and a little stressful at times, but ultimately I’m just thankful that he is alive, has access to all his health care needs, and is growing well. We are planning on him being there until his due date of Feb. 5th & if he does well, we *might* get to bring him home before that. I’m sure in a year his NICU stay will be a distant memory.

Chris & I agreed on the name Kellan when I was around 9 weeks pregnant, before we even knew he was a boy. THAT is a miracle in and of itself! I threw out a few names, and we both liked Kellan. I half held my breath during my pregnancy because we don’t normally agree on a name so effortlessly. Of course, we had our own ideas about how to spell Kellan and I won’t tell you whose spelling one but it wasn’t Chris’s. hehe We had thought about using Davis for a middle name, my maiden name. We kind of liked it and I guess we were waiting for him to be closer to being born before we decided completely.  The night before Kellan was born, Chris wrote on a piece of napkin “Kellan Liel”. Liel is pronounced “Lee-El”. I was kind of confused because we had kind of decided on Davis. During my pregnancy, I had looked at several names trying to find one with a special meaning. Because Kellan is a special  baby boy. If Jackson had not passed away, we would not know our little Kellan. I wanted a spiritual name that reflected that sentiment, but I couldn’t find anything I really liked. I didn’t even tell Chris about that because we had already decided on his name, and I didn’t have any other options to share. I know it was God’s handiwork when Chris shared with me what the name Liel means. Chris looked up some names meaning “God’s gift/blessing” and he found Liel. It has origins in Hebrew and it means “God gave me” or “God’s present/gift”. Further research showed us that it was a name with this associated story “My brother was born against all odds, but very ill, so my mother decided to call him LiEl.” Also, Jackson’s middle name was Eli and Liel is somewhat similar so I liked that. And so, Kellan meaning “mighty warrior” Liel meaning “God’s present” was named!

We have a long road ahead of us with visits to the NICU, but I’m thankful that UVA is only about 40 minutes away, and we are able to go visit and hold our baby each day. We have been showered with so much love and support from so many friends, old and new! So thank you for everything you’ve done for us and thank you for all the prayers on our behalf!

 

 

“That’s just something I’m going to have to deal with the rest of my life. The happiest moments will also be a little sad” -This Is Us

I know some of you watch the TV show “This Is Us”. The characters are all pretty relatable in different ways as they navigate their messy lives. I just catch up with it when I can and let me tell you the last episode I watched really got me.

Holidays and special days, like Halloween, are hard for me. It’s so much fun to experience things with Harrison and watch him have a great time, but it’s always sad to because Jackson is painfully missing. Lately I have been thinking about how amazing it will be to welcome our new baby boy into our family, but again, one piece of our family will not be there. And it’s so true, the happiest moments of my life are also going to be  sad, too. Besides just missing Jackson that is just about one of the hardest issues with learning to live without your child. It’s been on my mind a lot the last week probably in anticipation of Halloween.  I’m not even into Halloween all that much, but it’s just another day with its painfully obvious we are missing our biggest buddy.

Sometimes I feel guilty that I feel a little sad on fun days because I feel like it’s not fair to Harrison. So as we enter in our second “holiday season” without Jackson, I just pray that I can be fully present with Harrison and enjoy so many fun things with him, as well as, allowing myself to grieve and miss Jackson when I need to knowing it’s all ok to feel both happy and sad. That’s just life.

 

oct 2015
Our last Halloween with Jackson. 2015
oct 2017
Halloween 2017

Battle

The summer has been a battle for me. I can’t say that I expected it nor did I realize the struggles were an attack until now that I am on the other side. Depression, anxiety, pregnancy and even grief have all oppressed me. I have recently started a bible study of the satan and of evil. At first, I was hesitant to think about or study the subject because it’s a little scary. However, the more I thought about it I realized it’s hard to fight something that maybe I am not viewing as evil or from the satan. My enemy, your enemy, the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour! Revelations says that our enemy is “filled with fury because he knows his time is short”.  I imagine our enemy like a lion, prowling, whispering words of sadness, guilt, shame, self doubt into our ears in such a way that it will devour us. He plants one little thought in our mind and we can do the rest of the damage ourselves!

I am guilty of asking “God, where were you?” when bad things have happened to me or around me. Although this last year and a half I struggled more with knowing God is near to me, but not understanding why he has let things happen the way they have. I’ve realized I might need to be asking “where was the devil?” instead. I know where God is and it’s the same place he always has been and always will be. Near to me, loving me, and waiting for me to come to Him.  I’m not saying that I think the devil did/did not have anything to do with Jackson’s death. I don’t understand why Jackson died at such an early age and I probably never will while I’m on this earth. However, I don’t doubt for one second that the devil didn’t delight in my pain and try to use it to turn me away from God. However, Jackson’s death has made me feel closer to God that ever. Satan knows this so he tried other tactics such as depression and anxiety while I was already super vulnerable, struggling with the ceaseless morning sickness and vomiting. Whispering to me endless concerns and fears for my unborn child and for my own health, feelings of guilt, and of hopelessness. Even turning my grief over Jackson into something I could not and refused to face at times.

I felt like I was fading into this shell of a person. I was miserably sick and didn’t have a lot of energy to do the things that I enjoy. I never consciously pulled away from God although I know that there were times I didn’t have energy to pray. I was kind of wallowing at times honestly. I prayed for God to take away my sickness, but I also spent a lot of time just dwelling on how miserable I was, how hopeless I was to make it to the end of this pregnancy. Just as the pregnancy sickness started to subside, depression and anxiety increased leaving me in a very gloomy place.

Then about 6 weeks ago, I took some steps to help myself and started to emerge from underneath it all. I am slowly getting back to a better place. It’s not been the easiest but I do feel like I’m making progress. I am trying to enjoy being pregnant instead of just thinking of it as a miserable means to an end. It’s not always easy. Pregnancy after child loss is a whole other beast I could write about. My depression has eased and some of my anxieties have lessened. I really think that the more I acknowledge that those things *could* be from satan the more I feel inclined to defeat it. And he has already been defeated so I know I can do it with God’s help!

I have written and re-written this blog post many times. I really felt it on my heart to share about the struggles I’ve had, but am apprehensive to put it all out there at the same time. If you and I were in person and this came up, I would most likely tell you all about this and in more detail, but it’s weird writing and not knowing exactly who is reading this. So I’m just going to be brave and put it out there anyway. My hope is that in some way it can encourage someone, support someone, and ultimately help.  I know that the satan will use all the tools in his arsenal to defeat us and it’s ok to acknowledge he does have power. However, even with all his power he IS NOT and WILL NEVER BE all-powerful like our loving father and Lord!

 

 

 

 

 

Grief & Milestones

Grief. Such a simple word that envelops an immense entanglement of emotions.

One of my psychology/social work classes in college called Death, Dying and Grief. I remember I was interested in the class and considering it was an 8am class, I really looked forward to it. 😛  I wish I had my notebook handy to browse through now that I have a more personal understanding of grief. Ironically, the night before Jackson died I had gone to the library to get some books on grief, as we were grieving his diagnosis and how our lives were going to change. I knew enough to know that we were experiencing grief then but even that kind of grief does not compare to the kind of grief of actually losing your child.

Imagining all the milestones, happy or hard, you’ll experience with your child starts when a mother is pregnant. It wasn’t until Jackson was a year old that I realized his milestones were going to be different than that of a healthy child. It was disappointing at times, but we learned that it was okay. He was with us, and we would just do the best we could with wherever he was and with what was going on with his health/emotions at the time. So in a sense, we started grieving certain aspects of our life early on with Jackson.

So with grief there are obvious anniversaries and holidays that make life challenging. There are unexpected things that can cause grief to surface like for me a song at church or on the radio, sometimes just a feeling in the air. I think life milestones are especially difficult for parents who have lost a child. There are so many things you look forward to and it’s difficult to see children close to your child’s age hit those milestones knowing that now your child never will.

Jackson would have started kindergarten this year. No doubt it would not have looked like a kiddo getting on the bus off to school. While I would not have grieved that so much as we decided homeschooling was probably best for him, I would have grieved that I didn’t get to choose if he was going to ride the bus or not because after his diagnosis there would have been no way for school outside of the home. No new school clothes needed, no new backpack, no new lunch box. That would have been ok though. Instead, I’m grieving that my 6 1/2 year old isn’t even here. It’s still surreal and probably always will be.

I think it’s important to acknowledge the feelings that come with these milestones. It would almost be easy to say Jackson is in Heaven now, and although he doesn’t get to experience the exciting milestones of growing up, he also does not have to experience the hardships of growing up either. Therefore, I could just dismiss my feelings of grief because he is actually better off. Well, he is absolutely better not for sure BUT not acknowledging those feelings is a disservice to healing. You have to grieve to heal.

I’ll always have my pictures of Jackson’s first day of preschool and those make me smile. Also, our hearts from “The Kissing Hand” by Audrey Penn. It’s about a young raccoon named Chester who is nervous about going to school. His mother kisses his center palm and tells him that “whenever you feel lonely and need a little loving from home, just press your hand to your cheek and think, ‘Mommy loves you. Mommy loves you.’ Jackson insisted I needed a heart too in case I missed him I could put my hand to my cheek and think “Jackson loves you”.

Now I am the one who needs a kiss on the hand! Miss that boy so much!

preschool.jpg

 

 

Sweet Relief & Jackson Day

I think I am over the hump with the morning/all day nausea & vomiting!!!!! For about one week now I haven’t had to take any medicine at all. I still have moments of nausea but I can’t handle that! I am so, so, so thankful!

Obviously, Chris and I knew there was a chance I would be so sick again with another pregnancy, but we decided it was worth it for our family. This baby is such a blessing and I know will bring a lot of joy to us! I was talking to a very sweet & wise lady at church this morning, who also was sick most of her pregnancies, and she reminded me of the song verse “just one glimpse of him in glory, will the toils of life repay” from When We All Get To Heaven. She said, “it’s like that with childbirth. You see that baby and the joy of that new baby makes the toils of pregnancy disappear”.  I’m thankful for her encouragement all the time and then especially this morning when I needed to hear some sweet, encouraging words! So the struggles and sickness will all be worth it! Thank you to everyone who has checked on me, asked me how I’m doing, prayed for me over this, supported me & let me complain about my misery. I’m hoping it continues to decline and will not rear its ugly head again!

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So today was definitely a Jackson day. There are some days that go by that I may not cry. I think of Jackson everyday, but now I’m able to remember somethings and smile without the tears. On the way to church Harrison started talking about Jackson, and we all talked about him and how we missed him. Then during worship we sang “Just As I Am”. It was one of the songs I used to sing to Jackson when I would rock him at night.  I liked to sing older hymns to him and when he was old enough to ask for a song, he would often ask for that one. A lot of nights when he was little and in a lot of pain, it would take over an hour of rocking to get him settled down enough to go to sleep so I can’t even grasp how many times I sang that song to him. I tried to keep it together when we started singing at church but that was just not happening today. Opened the floodgates! I think I cried the whole way home, and I was happy to nap with Harry to give my heart a break. We had small group at our home this evening and Chris brought up Jackson in relation to what we were talking about and again, more tears. They come on so violently sometimes and for some reason, I don’t much like crying in front of people so I excused myself. I’m thankful for my best pal who was nursing her baby in our spare room that I could go talk to. I kind of wanted to lay down in her lap, but her baby might not have appreciated that at the moment 😛 She told me if she had one thing she could change in life, it would be that Jackson was still here and healthy. She’s one of the best, y’all! I’m seriously blessed with such great friends surrounding me!

I know I will continue to have more “Jackson Days” my whole life. Never could I have ever imagined that I would have to grieve over my child for the rest of my life. But as a wise lady told me this morning “just one glimpse of him in glory, will the toils of life repay”.

 

Pregnancy Update

After much thought and prayer, Chris and I decided that we wanted to add one more little person to our family. If you missed our announcement, you can look here. We though of foster care, adoption and having another child and this is what we dedided would be best for our family. Harrison is definitely a full time job, but I sure do miss the chaos of having more than one little person. Ask me in a year how I feel about that? 😛

Harrison has been quite lonely for playmates since his brother died. I remember when Jackson started preschool and Harry would wake up from his nap. He would often just stand at the door and cry wanting Jackson or for us to go pick him up from school. He did not like waking up from his nap without his brother home!

harrymissingj

This is a picture I took of him after one of those naps when it was not time to go yet. Poor buddy! He really loved his brother so much! He asks me several times a week to go play at different friends’ homes. He cries really hard when we have to leave playing with friends. So I’m very excited for him that he will have a sibling to share life with!

The decision to get pregnant was not made lightly. I wish it was an easy decision, but pregnancy for me is pretty miserable. I had nausea and vomiting with both boys pretty much the entire time. That along with normal pregnancy aches and pains can really wear on a person. And I had preeclampsia with both boys as well. I hoped that this time would be different!

So far, not so much! :/ I’m technically a “high-risk” pregnancy this time. Having preeclampsia twice increases my risk of having it a third time by like 31%. I have high blood pressure when I’m not pregnant (why, who knows! it’s been high since early college) so I do take medicine for that & then I have autoimmune hypothyroidism that I’ve had since I was 12. I have been sick since week 6, and not the little  nausea in the morning kind of sick. That would be so tolerable! I have the kind of sick that feels like I was hit with a bad stomach virus on week 6 and has not gone away. It’s really miserable. At least with a stomach virus you know there is an end in sight. I have a few hours each day if I’m lucky when I don’t feel nauseas. I do feel blessed that there are medications & other natural remedies I can take/do to help the nausea and throwing up. For two weeks now, I haven’t thrown up everyday, just a few due to different things I’m doing to help. I’m also doing several things to help prevent/delay preeclampsia and trying to be as healthy as I can!

I think my body just hates pregnancy and treats it as an enemy. Prior to getting pregnant, I had a physical & bloodwork done and my bloodwork actually looked the best it has looked in awhile! I am really praying that the second trimester energy comes and eases my nausea/vomiting. I can always hope! I KNOW the end result is worth all the suffering,  but can I say one more time how miserable I am? It stinks that I don’t feel well enough to play with Harry like I should and Chris has really had to take on a lot around the house for me. I’m so thankful for my mom who has let me & Harry take up residence at her house several times while I’ve felt so bad & Chris is at work. Thanks mom for being so selfless, letting me complain, taking care of us & helping entertain Wild Harry!

Being pregnant after loosing a child is a whole other beast that I’ll write about when I have more time. Right now, I’d love prayers for first and foremost, a healthy baby and then for some relief in this pregnancy.

xoxo