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She was buried in a spot that means a lot to Matt and I, and we can visit her often. A few days later we had a memorial service for our sweet Minnie Cate. It was small and perfect. Our friends and family surrounded us. Evie threw flowers in the pond and sent pink balloons to Heaven (and I still feel guilty about the birds, but how else do you let a 4 year old give her sister in Heaven a gift?). It was one of those perfect spring days in NC, with a beautiful, bright blue sky and we watched the pink balloons drift away for what seemed like forever. Then we went back to my parent’s house for a big spread, as you do in the South when someone is hurting. We sat around the table and laughed and cried and I felt so grateful, even on such a terrible day.

It’s hard to explain but those two days were so peaceful and you might even call them joyful. Our hearts were broken, but every detail worked out so perfectly, we felt so loved and cared for, and you could feel the Father taking care of us in the midst of this tragedy. I can point to so many signs that God’s hand was moving: 

I’m thankful that Matt was able to get the first flight out of California, and make it back in record time. I’m thankful that my ultrasound appt. was on Tuesday. My parents and Nicole were both supposed to leave town that coming weekend. A few days later and I wouldn’t have had my support system there. I’m thankful that we didn’t know there was anything wrong until we got home from Europe. I felt great the whole trip. If there had been a problem, navigating a foreign hospital, or having an emergency on a cruise ship would have been less than ideal. I am so thankful we were home, with our loved ones. I’m thankful for the shift change that gave us our nurse, Abby. She was seriously a God-send. I would not be surprised if she was secretly an angel. I don’t know if they assign her to every case where there is a tragedy involved, but they should. She has a gift for dealing with grieving parents. I’m thankful for friends who rallied behind us and they weren’t scared to go to the hard places with us. They held my daughter and cooed over her and talked about how pretty she was, and made me feel like a proud mom, even when she was already in Heaven.I’m thankful for the network of friends praying for us as we spent time in the hospital. We felt the prayers and felt lifted up and strengthened by them when we had no strength of our own. I’m thankful my first midwife of the day was Emily, and we already had a history with her. She has a calm and peaceful demeanor that helped me remain calm when we were discussing all the options in the beginning. She listened to my concerns and advocated for me at the hospital. I’m thankful that I didn’t have to have any type of procedure, and that I never had to get an epidural. (Do you see why I do natural birth. For many reasons, but I sure hate needles, ha.) I’m thankful that everyone made sure we got sweet pictures with Minnie Cate that we can treasure.  

There are so many little details that I can’t even remember now, but they made the day so much better than it could have been. A day that could have been cold, clinical and solemn instead felt warm, safe and sacred.  God is good, even when your world is turning upside down and everything feels wrong. He is still good. My heart is still broken that Minnie Cate isn’t here with us, and I miss her every day. But I think about the fact that she is in Heaven with so many of her Great-Grandparents, and our first baby that we lost. I think about her playing with my friends Elizabeth and Jessica from high school, and so many other people that we love. I hope my Great-Grandmother Ollie is holding her and singing her lullabies. It comforts me to know she will never feel sorrow or pain, and that she is dancing with the angels at the throne of the King. What more could a parent want for their baby girl, when it’s all said and done.

Mom and I went back to my house. Caitlyn picked up Evie from school and brought her home. We just sat and cried and prayed and called people to tell them what was going on, and cried some more. Mom took Evie back to her house and I stayed home to nap and rest.

Nicole came and picked me up and then we went to pick up Mom. We headed to Chapel Hill and met Michelle there and checked into the Labor and Delivery Wing. The man at the desk asked why I was there and I told him to be induced. He looked at my small stomach and started asking questions, but thankfully the nurses at the desk knew I was coming and told me I was going into room 5. Just then my midwife, Emily, got there and gave me such a big hug and I immediately felt more relaxed. I normally choose to birth my babies at the Birth Center. I don’t like hospitals, they make me extremely nervous and I don’t like needles, so would never willingly choose an epidural. So altogether, being at the hospital to deliver a stillborn baby was pretty much my worst nightmare in every way. Having my midwife there, the same one who had given Evie her newborn exam 4 years ago, made me feel so much better. 

We got settled in our room, and went through the process verbally with Emily while we waited for Matt to arrive. She wanted me to get an epidural, but I just didn’t want one. I give birth to my babies without drugs. I hate needles. I just.didn’t.want.one. Thankfully, Emily understood and told me she would give me some anti-anxiety medicine in my IV instead. Matt arrived, to the relief of everyone in the room, and we started the process of the IVs, genetic testing, etc. I was calm and relaxed, and feeling fine for most of the night, probably thanks to the anti-anxiety meds they gave me. I was NOT thrilled with the genetic testing which involved a long needle in my stomach…twice. Also, there was a shift change so Emily was headed home and a new Midwife I hadn’t met yet named Belinda came in. We also got a new nurse, Abby, who was such a joy. I loved her so much. 

At some point they started the induction. I didn’t get pitocin, it was something else. For a while, nothing happened. I felt fine, we watched Trading Spaces on TLC, Meesh gave me foot rubs, we ordered food, etc. Then I started to feel something and labor came on quickly. I gave birth to Evie in a fairly short amount of time for a first-time Mom, and this seemed to be no different. Once active labor started, everything happened really fast. Mom and Meesh left the room, Nicole got there just in time to give me a quick hug and then they all went to the waiting room to wait. I have very strong contractions as a rule, so it didn’t take long till Minnie Cate was in our arms. Matt and Abby, took care of her and cleaned her up while Belinda and I concentrated on me getting the placenta out. There had been concern that since I wasn’t quite 6 months along, that my body wouldn’t know to deliver the placenta after the baby. In that case I would have needed to go into surgery to remove anything left behind. And I would have to get that darn epidural. This idea really freaked me out and I had everyone praying that it wouldn’t happen. Thankfully, a few good pushes, and me yelling at the top of my lungs “This placenta will come out in the name of Jesus!”, and it was over. Everything that was supposed to happen had happened. Except, there was no baby crying. 

Matt and Abby had cleaned Minnie Cate up by this point and had wrapped her up for me to hold her. When she came out she had her cord wrapped around her neck multiple times, with multiple knots. I didn’t see her like this, but Matt said you could tell right away that this is what had gone wrong. {We wouldn’t get the results back for a while, but the genetic tests all came back negative, which Emily told us is a good thing. Genetics mean something could go wrong again with another baby. A freak cord accident happening twice is extremely rare, like being struck by lightning. I guess that should make me feel better, but being struck by lightning still hurts.}

We held her for a bit and then my Mom, Nicole and Meesh came back in. Stephanie and Stacie got there a few minutes later, and we spent the next couple of hours getting to know Minnie Cate. She was tiny and perfect. She had 10 little fingers, 10 little toes, and her sister’s eyebrows. I was so glad to have my Mom there, of course. She was a rock for us and helped us with so many little details and decisions we couldn’t think about at the time. She made sure I was fed, and that we got some sleep and that Evie was taken care of by my Dad. I was also so glad to have my best friends there. These girls have been part of my life for 20+ years (30+ for the Snipes girls) and they were in the room when Evie was born. I was always so glad Evie’s birth felt like a celebration, and it felt so fitting for them to be in the room to celebrate Minnie Cate, too. It means the world to me that I have friends out there who met her, loved her, and have memories of her. 

The hospital gave us a box with gifts made by volunteers. A tiny dress made from a wedding dress, a tiny pink knit hat that was still too big. A heart necklace for me to have one half and Minnie to have the other. So many beautiful gifts to help us memorialize our sweet baby. At this point it was Wed around 7pm and the hospital photographers had gone home for the day, so Abby took a few photos for us, but Meesh called every photographer she knew and AJ Dunlap sent Jenna Markiewicz, to take photos for us. Jenna is a dear family friend so it worked out perfectly to have someone I have known since she was a baby come take photos for us. Our amazing nurse Abby helped us dress Minnie Cate in the tiny white dress, and I took a shower, and my friends got to work helping me feel presentable. Meesh did my makeup and Stacie did my hair and Abby and Belinda said they wished they had a team to do this for every Mom who has ever had to have these pictures taken. I felt silly letting them fuss over me when I was so heartbroken inside, but when you look your best you feel better. And when I look back on the beautiful photos Jenna took for us that day, I am so glad that they did that for me. The pictures are heartbreaking, but I will treasure them forever. My one regret is that Evie wasn’t there to meet her sister. I know at 4 years old she wouldn’t have understood, but she’s always been smart and sensitive, and sometimes I wish she would have been able to come meet her. But I know they will meet one day in Heaven, and I hold on to that image in my heart. 

After we got photos and everyone held Minnie, Matt and I took some time alone with her. We held her and talked to her and prayed, and Matt held me while I cried so hard I couldn’t breathe. It had been a day full of love and joy, even under the circumstances, but the time had come to give her back and it all came crashing down on me. Belinda, our sweet Midwife, lovingly wrapped her up with the lovey that Evie had picked out for her when she found out she was a girl. Because of sort of a loophole in the system, Minnie was old enough that she wasn’t considered just “medical tissue”, but she was too young for a death certificate. So we were able to take her with us, to be buried. I left the hospital in a wheelchair, holding my baby in a box on my lap. That may have been the worst feeling of the whole day. It’s that part that makes me cry the hardest when I think about it.

The loss of Minnie Cate came suddenly, with only the whisper of a warning. Matt and I had gone to Barcelona for a European cruise to celebrate our 10 year Anniversary. My birthday happened to be the first day of the trip, and we were celebrating our babymoon, too, and having a little getaway before our family of three became a family of four. The first day we were in Barcelona, we took a nap to deal with the jet lag and as we were laying there, the sunlight with streaming in, I could feel Minnie kicking away. I was about 5 and a half months so Matt hadn’t been able to feel her yet, but this time it was enough that he could feel her, too. We laid there, feeling her kick and talking to her and about having two kids now. It was a really sweet memory, looking back now. The next day we boarded our cruise ship and had a fabulous time. I wasn’t as hungry as a pregnant woman on a cruise ship probably should be, and I noticed I wasn’t feeling her kick much, but Matt said all the right things “she’s still little, we are moving around so much, she’s probably asleep during the day and awake at night”. We were walking a ton in the ports and I was pretty tired at night when we would get back so I just assumed he was right. I was concerned but not  overly so.
We got back Sunday night, the next morning I was subbing some dance classes at NRCA so I got up bright and early and taught classes all day. I felt great. Tuesday, I had a routine ultrasound scheduled to check out some pictures of Minnie’s heart they hadn’t been able to get at her anatomy scan two-three weeks earlier. This same exact thing had happened with Evie so I wasn’t concerned. I told the man doing the ultrasound that I hadn’t felt her move much but I was assuming everything was fine. I kept chatting away like I do when I am nervous or feeling a bit awkward. He wasn’t talking much and after a few seconds (minutes?) of looking at the screen, he looked at me and put his hand on my shoulder and I knew. I immediately knew. He didn’t have to say anything. We had a miscarriage before Evie so I had seen those looks of pity from the ultrasound tech before, and I just knew. He said “I am afraid I have bad news for you today” and I burst into tears. He was so kind and so gentle with me, which was a blessing because the lady ultrasound tech the time before had been abrupt and abrasive and not at all very friendly so I was so thankful for this nice man that day. I cried, he said he needed to get the Doctor, and for me to call my family. I remember calling my Mom but couldn’t get ahold of her so I called Caitlyn to help me find her. I called Nicole to tell her I wouldn’t be meeting her for lunch after my appt. like I thought…and then I knew I had to call Matt. He had flown to California the day before and was in meetings, so I hated to give him this bad news when he was so far away. I texted him to call me, he called and I told him we lost the baby. I told him my Mom was on her way, he didn’t have to come home. I had survived losing a baby before and in my head this was going to be the same process. I told him I was ok ( which I was, at the time. I was in shock and not even crying anymore).
They took me to a private break room or something to talk to the Doctor. She told me I had two choices: to either have a D&C or to go to the Hospital and deliver. I thought this was something I could schedule down the road, but they wanted me to do the procedure there at the Doctor’s office or go to the Hospital when I left. That’s when I started feeling it. I didn’t want to have to make that decision so quickly. I am terrified of needles and procedures but I hate hospitals and I didn’t want to go through labor knowing I wasn’t going to get a baby at the end of it. But, they told me that if I delivered her I could hold her and see her. If we did the procedure, we would only get handprints and footprints. Even though it took me a while to make the final decision, I knew that I didn’t want a D&C.  I told the Dr. “I know this sounds crazy. I know that she’s already gone, but I am scared it will feel too much like an abortion.”  (If you have had one of these procedures done, please know this is not judgement on your decision in any way. I didn’t need one for my first miscarriage, so I was scared of it and this is just my story of how I processed everything).
I called Matt and found out he was getting on a plane headed home. He hadn’t listened to me back when I said he didn’t need to come home. Which was good because when I said that I didn’t know any of this was happening. I thought I would just wait for my body to pass her like it had done with my first loss. But this was such a whirl-wind timeframe they had now given me, I was so relieved to hear he was coming home. He wanted me to have the procedure. He didn’t want me to have to go through the pain of child birth in this situation. But in my heart I was longing to hold her and meet her and I couldn’t do that without delivering her. Ultimately he left the choice up to me.
My mom got there and we sat outside the office in the lobby of the Hospital where I had my appt. We cried and talked through my options when a nice lady stopped by and said she was the Hospital Chaplain and she had seen us crying and could she pray with us. We told her what was going on and she said “I can tell you have already made your decision. I think you need to meet your little girl”. So that was settled and she hugged us and prayed with us and was so kind.
I followed my mom back to my house and on the way I called the Birth Center where I had planned to give birth. One of my favorite midwives, Emily, was on call that day and she talked me through everything the whole ride home. I still was thinking I had some time, maybe we would go to the hospital in a day or two (still in shock, not quite understanding the situation) but she asked when Matt was landing that night, I said 10pm. She firmly but lovingly told me she would meet me at the Labor and Delivery unit of the hospital at 10pm. It was lunchtime at that point, so we had all day to wait.

happy december!

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i am 10 days late getting this month’s goals up on the blog. i think that goes to show what a crazy and fun month december has already been! november was a really good month. we opened and closed pink panther- that show was so much fun! and then we headed off to the islands for some major relaxation with the family! i read 4 books during the week if that gives you any idea of how much i just laid around doing nothing 🙂

december goals:

  1. prepare for and host my annual christmas party with my girlfriends. i look forward to getting together with this group of ladies all year! 
  2. help make christmas magical for the two little friends staying with us over the holidays
  3. get an eye exam before the end of the year- i have to do this for my lasik warranty, and i am cutting it super close this year! yikes!
  4. deep clean my room, my closet and the rest of the house to start the new year off right
  5. give to others. look for opportunities to bless those around me.
  6. work on choreography and blocking for my shows over christmas break
  7. go see a midnight showing of the Hobbit to support my pea!
  8. get my christmas cards out in time…we just took the photo on the 9th, so we will see how that goes 🙂
  9. bake or cook something yummy.
  10. stage manage the nutcracker at FOD – if you are in raleigh, come see us december 20 and 21st!

november goals:

  1. celebrate adam and amandas wedding! this is going to be such a special day-so excited for these two!!!
  2. have a kick-butt run of pink panther at NRCA!
  3.  celebrate two new lives coming into this world! two of my best friends are due within a week of each other- hooray for baby sterling and baby hirsch!
  4. spend quality time with the family on our annual thanksgiving trip to the islands! its very rare we are all together at once so this is always a special trip!
  5. give thanks. show gratitude.
  6. go through and organize Christmas decorations
  7. organize christmas presents already bought and buy more
  8. clean out my closet. for petes sake.
  9. buy a new jacket to replace my favorite one thats too big now
  10. take a donation to raleigh rescue mission ( this will happen after the closet clean out)

happy november!

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wait, really? november? wow!

i feel like i did pretty good on my list in october! it was a much better month than september because i actually had time to breathe and stop moving for a second. i want november to be a good mix of being productive and taking time to slow down and enjoy the season.

november goals:

  1. celebrate adam and amandas wedding! this is going to be such a special day- so excited for these two!!!
  2. have a kick-butt run of pink panther at NRCA! im so excited about this show! if you are raleigh, COME SEE IT! its hilarious!!!
  3.  celebrate two new lives coming into this world! two of my best friends are due within a week of each other- hooray for baby sterling and baby hirsch!
  4. spend quality time with the family on our annual thanksgiving trip to the islands! its very rare we are all together at once so this is always a special trip!
  5. give thanks. show gratitude.
  6. go through and organize Christmas decorations
  7. organize christmas presents already bought and buy more
  8. clean out my closet. for petes sake.
  9. buy a new jacket to replace my favorite one thats too big now
  10. take a donation to raleigh rescue mission ( this will happen after the closet clean out)

october goals:

  1. decorate for fall!
  2. throw a special shower for my special friend, amanda! shes going to be a beautiful bride!
  3. put my living room back together after our new hardwoods were installed!
  4. acquire some new music – new season, new tunes!
  5. celebrate husbys birthday by doing something special TBD
  6. go to the fair! its not fall in raleigh without a trip to the state fair!
  7. continue making my daily routine a habit
  8. clean out my closet (for real this time)
  9. take a donation to raleigh rescue mission
  10. rest. spend time outdoors. be still. seek peace.

happy october!

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i am not going to lie: even though a lot of good stuff happened, september was not my favorite month. if you follow me on twitter, this probably is not a surprise to you, because i certainly did not hide it well. i was so busy i felt like my head was spinning, a jammed hip joint kept me from dancing (and moving in general), and i had to say goodbye to friends that i really didnt want to say goodbye to. i am very ready for october – a new month to breathe deeply and get my life (and my emotions) back on track! i need to get my eating, workouts and life back into a happy groove.

october goals:

  1. decorate for fall!
  2. throw a special shower for my special friend, amanda! shes going to be a beautiful bride!
  3. put my living room back together after our new hardwoods were installed!
  4. acquire some new music – new season, new tunes!
  5. celebrate husbys birthday by doing something special TBD
  6. go to the fair! its not fall in raleigh without a trip to the state fair!
  7. continue making my daily routine a habit
  8. clean out my closet (for real this time)
  9. take a donation to raleigh rescue mission
  10. rest. spend time outdoors. be still. seek peace.

september goals:

  1. get prepared to start titanic rehearsals (read script, watch online videos, etc)
  2. celebrate sweet saylors 2nd birthday! i cant believe my niece is 2 yrs old and shes about to have a little sister!
  3. do yoga twice a week- life got in the way. i just couldnt fit everything in this month. but i did start working out with a trainer! A for effort! 🙂
  4. start my new daily routine, and make it a habit!
  5. clean out my closet- major overhaul
  6. clean out 3 boxes in the attic
  7. read and review manuscript for LK

happy september!

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i know i say this every month, but how is it already september?! august absolutely flew by!

september goals:

  1. get prepared to start titanic rehearsals (read script, watch online videos, etc)
  2. celebrate sweet saylors 2nd birthday! i cant believe my niece is 2 yrs old and shes about to have a little sister!
  3. do yoga twice a week
  4. start my new daily routine, and make it a habit!
  5. clean out my closet- major overhaul
  6. clean out 3 boxes in the attic
  7. read and review manuscript for LK

august goals:

  1. see midnight in paris at the art museum park. havent seen a movie there in years and im so excited!
  2. help Mercy at their MN luncheon in whatever way they need me
  3. spend some quality time with husby in greenville, boston and the smokies. yay for over a week together!
  4. capture a special trip to LA with special friends on my trusty nikon – well, the trusty nikon part didnt work out so well but i got cute pics of the girls anyways!
  5. go wakeboarding on falls
  6. clean our bedroom. its gotten bad. as in, we are past “it looks like a bomb went off” bad. – i did clean it, but now its messy again. smh.
  7. start my dance classes off on the right foot- positive and focused!
  8. continue to eat right and stay active!– can always do better, but i feel like im doing pretty good!