Nine Years Old

Today is December 18, 2018. Ten years ago today, we were enduring our second miscarriage. I have thought a lot about this day over the past week and debated many times whether to write about it, always finding an excuse not too…not enough time, nobody wants to read about that, is there really enough to say about it…the excuses kept coming.

Then I popped on Facebook tonight and saw this…

IMG_0517[1791]

So maybe I should write about what was happening to us ten years ago.

We were on top of the world. We had the most precious 18 month old boy and had just found out on December 11, that we were expecting another baby. We were beyond excited, but also nervous. I had always wanted my first two children to be close together in age, but had already experienced one miscarriage. It was the holidays, what a perfect time to celebrate a new life, but we were nervous to share our news. We decided to tell our immediate family, but otherwise, wanted to keep the news quiet until the end of the first trimester.

After a few days, we decided to tell some close friends and spiritual mentors the good news so they could pray for us. The next morning, on December 18, 2008, we had to call these same people to ask if they could come over and stay with our son while we went to the doctor, as I woke up experiencing signs of a miscarriage. At only 5 or 6 weeks gestation, our baby was gone. Exactly one week after hearing the good news and exactly one week before Christmas, we were crushed.

For our own reasons, we decided not to share the news with anybody else that didn’t already know. This included other family and pretty much all of our friends. It’s only because of the joy in our 18 month old’s eyes that we made it through that Christmas.

With a due date of August 2009, this baby would be nine years old now. This was our third pregnancy.

Our first pregnancy also ended in a miscarriage. This happened in May of 2006. This baby had a due date of December 15, 2006, and would just be turning 12.

I’m sure the due date of one baby being December 15, and the date we lost another being December 18, plays into why this has been on my mind lately. Some years it’s more prominent than others. It wasn’t until we lost Kyleigh that we shared the details of our second miscarriage with other people. Everyone handles each loss so differently, and that’s okay. We had reservations about telling others about our second miscarriage when it occurred because of the way some people treated us after our first loss. We didn’t want to go through that again, so we kept the pain to ourselves.

So much of what we talk about and do through Kyleigh’s Gift bears Kyleigh’s name, but for us, it’s about ALL babies who have left this life too soon, at any gestational age. We continue to provide miscarriage care packages for women at Liberty Hospital and hope that this gesture provides even the smallest bit of comfort. We also hope that by receiving the care package, these women know that their baby matters, for we know that they will always know how old this child would be now.

15195897_1124573157661194_2061427510847840468_o

Miscarriage Care Package

 

Advertisements
This entry was posted on December 18, 2018. 2 Comments

Finding your pod

On July 24, an orca whale gave birth to a 400 pound calf just off the coast of Victoria, British Columbia, only to have her calf pass away less than an hour later. For 17 days, this mama orca carried her dead calf for miles and miles, back and forth between San Juan Island in Washington and Vancouver, British Columbia. While this is not an unusual practice for orcas, it is unusual for this ritual to last for so long. People across the country, and perhaps around the world, watched day after day as this mama orca grieved for her baby.

This story touched close to home for me and many others in the baby loss community. As a bereaved parent, I can relate to what this mama orca felt. The aching in her heart, the not wanting to let go. When my baby girl, Kyleigh, passed away at birth on April 5, 2012, I would have held onto her for 17 days and beyond. I would have swam miles and miles, just to be with her for one more day. It was heartbreaking to watch this orca grieve for her baby and then finally let her go.

When the mama orca started to grow tired and hungry, the other orcas in the pod stepped in. They began to carry the dead calf so the mama orca could eat and rest. The other orcas never left her side. For 17 days, they grieved right along side her and carried her grief as if it were their own.

I had my own “orca pod” when Kyleigh passed away. My pod came in the form of Dr. Mary Clare Reardon, who cared for me from the moment my world was turned upside down until now. My nurse, Laurie, who took on extra shifts to be by my side until I was discharged from the hospital. Family, who sat with us, planned a funeral with us and cried with us. Friends, who brought us meals, cleaned our house and helped with our other children. My pod continues to walk with me today and at certain times, still carries my grief as if it were their own, just like they did six and a half years ago.

The Kyleigh’s Gift Fund exists today because of part of my pod. We created the Fund in Kyleigh’s memory, but it was because of the loving care we received from Dr. Reardon, my nurse Laurie and others at the Liberty Hospital Birthing Center that the Kyleigh’s Gift Fund was created here, at the hospital through Liberty Hospital Foundation. They carried me when I needed rest. They cried with me and grieved with me.

My pod has changed over time, just as my grief has changed. Part of my pod now includes the Kyleigh’s Gift supporters. Family and friends who join us in remembering Kyleigh at the Run/Walk. Other bereaved parents who join us in remembering all babies gone too soon at the candlelight ceremony. People from the community who recognize the need for infant wellness education and resources, as well as parental support for pregnancy and infant loss.

The orca pod that this mama orca belongs to is dwindling. There are currently only 75 members of this pod, with the last live birth occurring in 2015. My Kyleigh’s Gift pod is growing. Every year, we reach more and more families at Liberty Hospital and within the community through the Kyleigh’s Gift SleepSack program, NICU meal vouchers, miscarriage care packages, the Diaper Drive and more. This can only be done through the support from people who are willing to carry each other.

Will you join our ever growing pod? Will you walk, or swim alongside us and other families who need support?

~Kyleigh’s mama

This originally appeared on the Liberty Hospital Foundation website on September 10, 2018.

Caring Cradle

On May 11, 2018, a Caring Cradle was donated to the Liberty Hospital Birthing Center by Liberty Hospital Foundation – Kyleigh’s Gift Fund.

Kyleigh’s parents, Foundation staff, Birthing Center staff and hospital chaplain, Rev. Dr. Carmen Lile-Henley, joined together to dedicate the Caring Cradle. Rev. Lile-Henley wrote a responsive reading and everyone placed hands on the Caring Cradle during the blessing.

The Caring Cradle is a device that allows a dignified means for parents and families to spend more time with a baby who has passed. This support tool allows families an appropriate atmosphere to say goodbye to their baby.

Thank you to Liberty Hospital Foundation, Caring Cradle and United States Cooperative Caring Campaign Initiative-SOBBS for working together to give families the gift of time during the hardest time of their lives.

For more information:

Liberty Hospital Foundation

Caring Cradle

United States Cooperative Caring Campaign Initiative-SOBBS

Where’s My Sister?

If you’ve ever watched the Disney Junior channel, and really paid attention, you’ve probably noticed that the majority of relationships between girls are that of sisters. Not friends, sisters. A few animated shows depict this, but you especially see it in the commercials and Disney advertisements.

Kyleigh’s younger sister is almost 3 1/2 years old. She loves all things princess, dolls and pink. This means we watch a lot of Disney Junior. A few months ago, when Sister would see two girls at the park, store or school, she would ask me if they were sisters. Then one day, she asked me if she had a sister. Now, if you know anything about our family, you know that we talk about Kyleigh. A lot. Sister has heard Kyleigh’s name since birth, at every holiday, as we’re planning the Run/Walk, as we’re doing the Diaper Drive. A lot. Kyleigh is not absent from our home, so when Sister asked if she had a sister, I was a little surprised. I answered with, “Of course you do, your sister is Kyleigh.”

Her reply was, “Where is she?”

I proceeded to give her the short, three year old version, and after that, the conversation ended. In my mind, she had been told about Kyleigh a lot and had a clear understanding that they were sisters.

A few weeks later, Sister started referring to a friend of hers as her sister. I gently corrected her and reminded her again of who her sister is. This has continued off and on, but it doesn’t upset me like I thought maybe it would.

With Kyleigh’s birthday being next week, and the Diaper Drive getting underway, there has understandably been more talk about Kyleigh in our house. Yesterday, Sister painted a picture. She showed it to her brothers when they got home from school. One brother asked her who the painting was for. Sister said, “I’m going to give it to Kyleigh!” Brother told her she couldn’t give it to Kyleigh, thus beginning the back and forth “yes, I can”, “no, you can’t” that siblings often do.

Then Sister asked once again, “Where is my sister?”

We explained again that Kyleigh is in heaven with Jesus. Sister replied, “But I don’t want to die.” Insert my heart breaking into a million pieces. Then Brother stepped up and took over. He explained to Sister, in only a way that children can, about why Kyleigh isn’t with us, but that she’s still their sister. Then he had a great idea. He walked Sister over to the cabinet where we keep memories of Kyleigh and proceeded to take the unused picture stand off the bottom shelf and put Sister’s painting for Kyleigh on it. Sister got excited to see her artwork displayed and was content with “giving it to Kyleigh” that way.

Every time Sister talks about sisters, my heart aches. I have a sister. I know what she’s missing. I know that some day she will understand. For now, I have to remind myself that she’s only three and none of this makes any sense to her. And it shouldn’t.

Today is Maundy Thursday. The day that six years ago, Kyleigh left us. The date changes from year to year, but Holy Week will always have an additional meaning to our family. It’s hard to believe that six years has passed. We have come a long way, but are ever so often reminded by questions of, “Where’s my sister?,” that grief will always be present. We do so much in Kyleigh’s name that sometimes I think people assume that takes the pain away. Having Kyleigh’s Gift gives us a focus, but the tears still flow.

If you feel led to remember Kyleigh on her birthday this year, please consider donating to the Kyleigh’s Gift Diaper Drive. We thank you in advance for remembering our baby girl.

Happy Easter!

A Year in Review ~ 2017

Kyleigh’s Gift highlights from 2017 …

January ~

It’s not very often that we see a rainbow in January, but on January 10, 2017, the weather was just right to make one appear in the sky.  One very faint rainbow was seen from our front yard, which is unusual because we have always seen them looking behind our house, and a double rainbow from a school playground. I haven’t updated Rainbows  in quite some time, but take a look at more rainbows that remind us of Kyleigh.

 

February ~

We love to see babies showing off their Kyleigh’s Gift SleepSacks! Kyleigh’s Gift continues to give every newborn at Liberty Hospital Birthing Center a fleece Halo SleepSack to take home. The lightweight cotton SleepSacks are also available in the Liberty Hospital Gift Shop in a variety of sizes.

 

March ~

More rainbows! On March 29, friends from Kansas City North and Liberty sent us pictures of a beautiful rainbow that could be seen about 30 miles away from our house. We continue to be touched when other people see a rainbow and think of Kyleigh.

March rainbow_Kathleen Johnston

“She was my first thought! I pulled over to take this!” -Kathleen J.

 

April ~

Kyleigh consumes the month of April for our family, and that’s a good thing! Many wonderful things happened in April to remember and honor Kyleigh by.

Donate Life Legacy Walk ~ April 1, 2017 – Midwest Transplant Network kicked off National Donate Life Month with the Donate Life Legacy Walk to honor donor heroes and celebrate life. It was a cold April morning, but we had a good time celebrating Kyleigh’s gift of life through heart valve donation!

IMG_2755

2017 Donate Life Legacy Walk

Kyleigh’s 5th Birthday ~ April 5, 2017 – We celebrated Kyleigh’s 5th Birthday with a family day at a local children’s museum, followed by lunch out. Kyleigh’s siblings enjoyed playing at the children’s museum and were happy to get a day off school. Her grandparents joined us and then other family members arrived later for dinner and cake. Releasing balloons at the cemetery is a special time that we share with our children as we celebrate their sister.

IMG_7486

 

Diaper Drive ~ April 5-19, 2017 – This was the third year that we celebrated Kyleigh by hosting a diaper drive to benefit HappyBottoms. Since it was Kyleigh’s 5th birthday, we decided to focus on collecting size 5 diapers. As always, our family, friends, community and strangers pulled through and sent diaper after diaper to our front door! Click here to read more about it, and to see the grand total!

Kyleigh’s Gift 5 Year Celebration ~ April 20, 2017 – This was a big night for Kyleigh’s Gift! We celebrated five years of the Kyleigh’s Gift Fund~Liberty Hospital Foundation with family, friends and supporters.

Kari Jo Thomann Bear, from Thomann Financial Services, Inc. and Liberty Hospital Foundation Trustee, presented the Kyleigh’s Gift Fund with $10,000 she received as an Asset Mark Community Inspiration award winner. With this gift, the fund has raised over $100,000 in five years! THANK YOU to Kari Jo and the Thomann family for your support!

Kari Jo Gift

Another part of the celebration was the premiere of Kyleigh’s Gift video, created by Northland CAPS students, Madi and Brenden. Watch it here: Kyleigh’s Gift Video

May ~

One piece that has been missing from Kyleigh’s Gift is support for bereaved families. We started providing support through Miscarriage Care Packages in November of 2016, but we knew that more needed to be done. We began hand-painting angels in May of 2017 for families that experience a loss at Liberty Hospital Birthing Center. The angels will be included in Memory Boxes along with photographs, hand and footprints, hand-knit hats and blankets, plus other keepsakes, provided by the Birthing Center.

June ~

Our family spent Saturday in June celebrating Kyleigh’s gift of life through her donation of two heart valves. Thank you to Midwest Transplant Network for providing lunch and family friendly activities for Donor Family Day. It is always a beautiful way to remember all who have given the gift of life!

IMG_3086

Donor Family Day ~ June 2017

July ~

July was a quiet month at Kyleigh’s Gift. We continued to support families in need, while beginning the initial steps in planning the upcoming 4th Annual Kyleigh’s Gift Run/Walk. July is usually the calm before the storm!

August ~

Kyleigh’s Gift Page Facebook post from August 16, 2017…

“Little sister picked out purple flowers for Kyleigh today. It would have been her first day of kindergarten. A day when she’s missed a little more than usual. After helping with the flowers, little sister asked to go “see Jesus” and was quite excited when she got there, shouting, “Jesus!” over and over again. You can’t argue with that!”

September ~

September 16, 2017 … Six years ago today, our family moved from our home of 10 years to a new home located back in the town where we met and were married. I was almost 12 weeks pregnant with Kyleigh. She was with us six years ago and she showed herself today in the rainbow we saw while eating dinner to celebrate our home.

IMG_1116

October ~

The big news for the month of October is always the Kyleigh’s Gift Run/Walk! This marked the 4th year of having a 5K Run/3K Walk, along with a candlelight service for  National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.

The evening turned stormy and cut our activities short, but it turned out to be one of our most successful years yet with just over 300 registrants and raising $21,500! Thank you to everyone who supported the Run/Walk this year!!

Run_Walk Logo 2017

View Run/Walk photos here:

Felicity Portrait Studio, LLC

Zaftig Unicorn Photography

November ~

In the days leading up to Giving Tuesday, we launched a 12 Days of Giving campaign on Facebook to highlight all of the things that Kyleigh’s Gift is doing within Liberty Hospital and the community. Take a look here, Kyleigh’s Gift Fund, or follow the Kyleigh’s Gift Facebook Page to learn more.

December ~

2017 Kyleigh’s Gift donations at work…

An Infant Memorial adorns the walking trail at Liberty Hospital. People visit it year round, leaving flowers, decorative rocks, stuffed animals, toys, wind chimes…anything to remember their baby by. We recently discovered that the area is unknown to some and hard to locate along the trail. One of the things that we love about Kyleigh’s Gift is being able to help when there is a need. An arbor was purchased and installed at the entrance to the Infant Memorial. A big thank you to the Liberty Hospital grounds crew for their guidance and help with this project! Check it out the next time you’re at the hospital. It’s beautiful! What a way to end the year…

More Diapers!

We concluded the Kyleigh’s 5th Birthday Diaper Drive on April 19th and it was another smashing success! This is the third year that we have done a diaper drive to remember Kyleigh on her birthday and this year we focused on size 5’s since Kyleigh would have turned 5.

1 in 3 American families struggle to provide enough diapers to keep their babies happy, healthy and dry. The need for diapers in all sizes is real for many people and size 5 is a big need for HappyBottoms, the local diaper bank that receives all of the donations that are given to us. Once HappyBottoms receives a donation of diapers, the packages are opened up and repackaged into sets of 50 diapers and 30 training pants. This is the amount that each family can receive per month from one of the 35 local social service agencies that partner with HappyBottoms to get the diapers into the hands, and onto the bottoms, of those who need them. The idea behind HappyBottoms is to fill the diaper gap, not the entire need. For more information on HappyBottoms, click here. *Information obtained for this blog post courtesy of happybottoms.org

 

IMG_8082

Map of local agencies that work with HappyBottoms to fill the diaper gap.

 

We often get asked how we are able to get so many diapers and where we put all of them. Most of the diapers are donated by family and friends who want to remember Kyleigh on her birthday. Other donations come from people who hear about the diaper drive and want to support HappyBottoms. Some donations come from people we do not know and we never know where all of the donations come from because many show up without a gift receipt or card attached. We are very thankful for those who help to spread the word, and that includes HappyBottoms and the Liberty Hospital Foundation. As for where we keep the diapers…we clear a corner of our living room and start stacking! It’s fun to watch the pile grow and a challenge to keep the children from climbing and building forts! Every time we would get a delivery, our two year old would say, “More diapers!”

Of course, we could not do this without the support of delivery drivers. Once the diaper drive gets going, we often find our front porch full of diaper boxes. And some days we get more than one large delivery. We came home on the afternoon of Kyleigh’s birthday to find the front porch full of large boxes. It’s always a fun sight to come home to! We even had a few delivery drivers stop to talk to us about Kyleigh and the diaper drive this year.

And then there’s our ever faithful helpers! Our kids love to help carry the diapers inside, open the cardboard boxes, count the diapers and add them to the ever growing diaper tower!

We delivered all of the diapers just this past weekend in the pouring rain. With help from family, we managed to get all of the diapers into three vehicles and make our way over to HappyBottoms where we had help getting all of the diapers inside. They are always so gracious and give us the grand tour, including the warehouse which is our favorite spot to see! It’s amazing to see so many diapers in one place! I should have taken a picture.

18199197_1119138884899206_7213300417964416951_n18194889_1119139078232520_1842671861508223367_n

By this point, I’m sure you’re wondering how many diapers we collected this year!

The grand total …

18193996_1119138861565875_979999032410934801_n18157183_1119138834899211_2089095752891780840_n

THANK YOU to everyone who played a role in this year’s diaper drive!!! In three years, Kyleigh’s Gift has collected over 30,000 diapers!! That is amazing and we could not do it without your support!

 

18033098_1110207552459006_7506171804281249482_n

Thank you!!!

 

This entry was posted on May 2, 2017. 1 Comment

Kyleigh’s 5th Birthday Diaper Drive

Help us remember Kyleigh on her 5th birthday by donating SIZE 5 DIAPERS to the Kyleigh’s 5th Birthday Diaper Drive! All diapers will benefit HappyBottoms, Kansas City’s Diaper Bank.

How can you donate?

1) Leave diapers on our front porch.

2) Diapers may be dropped off in the main lobby of Liberty Hospital by the information desk.

3) Order diapers from Amazon.com: http://tinyurl.com/n2trdgy

4) Order diapers from Target.com: http://tinyurl.com/mtzbx5q

*Choose ‘Ship to Kyleigh’s Gift’ on either site and the diapers will be sent directly to us!

Thank you for joining us in remembering Kyleigh on her 5th birthday and supporting HappyBottoms!

~The Weller Family

 

Learn more:

HappyBottoms: www.happybottoms.org

Kyleigh’s Gift: www.kyleighsgift.com or www.facebook.com/kyleighsgift

Liberty Hospital Foundation~Kyleigh’s Gift: www.libertyhospitalfoundation.org

 

 

 

 

This entry was posted on March 27, 2017. 1 Comment