Sunday, August 30, 2009

Mommy and me! First bottle at the hospital.

Baby Jordan's Memorial Tree

Baby Jordan's Memorial Tree Planted in our back yard. Tree was donated from Randy's office. Chase and Baby Jordan will get to play together and grow together in our back yard for years to come. We are so touched by this generous jesture. Everyone has been so supportive. Thank you so much......

Friday, August 28, 2009

Outpouring of Love

It is Friday evening one week after our nightmare began. All of our Neighbors, Friends, and Family have been so supportive during this challenging time for us all. Family is going to visit with some friends so Chase can go swimming with Haley and Abby. Staying active helps to keep our minds from wondering too much. We miss our baby So Much!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The days do we carry on with life?

The days after the funeral are still a bit of a blur. With all of the planning completed and the families all gone now what do we do? I kind of turned it on auto-pilot to get things accomplished in order and to give my baby girl the best funeral we could. I wanted the songs perfect and everything to go smooth. The attendance is still overwhelming to us and we are so grateful for the outpouring of love that we have been given.

Today was a day to decompress and spend some quality time with Chase. He needs us more than ever at this point and I am pretty sure that we need him even more than we realize. As long as I am around him I feel OK. I can keep the tears controlled and I know that he needs a mom. It still all seems like a really horrible dream. I find myself asking "Is she really gone?"

The day goes by slowly. We play cars and trains. Chase has a new favorite book called " A Pocket for Corduroy" we have read that book a lot today. Our wonderful neighbors bring us dinner tonight so we don't have to worry about it. I am so blessed to be in this subdivision. They have really rallied around to pray for us and help in anyway they can to help us get through this.

Randy and I decide that we need to get out of the house...try to do something fun with Chase so that he will be able to remember a positive experience from this week. That is very hard for us to do, but we load up Thursday morning and head downtown. The Children's museum is our destination. We called our sitter to see if she wanted to join us. This week has to be hard for her too. Her kids are older and are back at school this week so she has too much time to think about what happened. She did not answer so we will ask her to go next time. Chase misses her, she was a second mom to him and part of all he has known. We will definately see when we can get together with her. I miss her too.

This place is pretty cool. Once we get the map and talk to someone who knows what is going on we decide to head upstairs to the baby thru 3 year old room. With Chase 2 1/2 years old we felt that was the best place to start. Shoes come off and the 3 of us head inside the gate. Unfortunately for Chase he is a bit too big for this area. Lots of mats and small slides. The wooden cars are pretty neat and Chase spends all his time jumping back and forth between the car and the truck. "Beep. Beep" "Move cars, GOOOO" says my son. He gets out and uses the pump to pretend to add gas and crawls back into the driver's seat. "GOOOOO" out he comes and looks son is officially bored up here.

The place was pretty crowded with kids of all ages, mom's groups were scattered around and as their kids got to play and the ladies got to catch up on gossip. I feel as if my recent loss is written all over my face. Do they know? Are there mom's in here who went through the same trauma? I never thought about asking that before it happened to me. How many of these mom's have lost a child, am I the only one?

Too many babies up here for me, I am getting a bit choked up and since Chase is bored I agree with Randy that it is time to find something else.

Chase then builds Lego cars and launches them down the track, we also try to build paper airplanes and use their "launcher" to send them up in the air. I guess Randy and I need some more practice on building the plane to begin with. Maybe Chase can teach us that as he gets older. This museum will be a lot of fun as he grows up. We miss Jordan, we see the older girls with their hair in ponytails walking around and realize that we will not see her at that age. We won't get to drop her off for her first day of Kindergarten, or even see her take that first step. I really miss my baby.

We grab a bite to eat at the museum, not so bad prices for not so good food. McDonald's burgers are better than these. Chase has his usual chicken fingers and french fries with plenty of ketchup. Randy and I snacked and were ready to head outside.

Waterworks exhibit was the best part of the day. Chase launched boats and generally had fun splashing in the water. Now that he is soaked, let's head home.

Mom and Dad are tired from the days past events. Better day than I expected, but I am ready to go to bed. May sleep find me quickly and help me stay that way. The night time is when it gets really hard. There is no one around to put up the "I'm OK" front for. Just Randy and I alone in the dark to grieve for our little girl. The bassinet is still here, we really need to move it out.

Good night again baby Jordan, mommy and daddy love you.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Today is the last day to see our angel...

Well actually we already said good-bye to her in the ER room at the hospital on Friday night. But today is the day that we lay her body to rest and allow her soul to go to heaven. I honestly believe that she is in Heaven with my mom and that they are both watching down over me.

It was a tough morning to wake up to. A very somber day in the Connell household. Both my dad's are here. I put on a fresh pot of coffee and step outside to get a breath of fresh air. Randy's dad bought us a great daily Bible reading book and I figured there was no better day than today to start reading. I find comfort in the words and take a few moments to reflect. I still ask "Why"...why me, why did he take her. I am a good mom and I loved her so much. She was well cared for and loved...I was so excited the day at 22 weeks pregnant that we found out that it was going to be a girl. A little I can raise her like my mom did me and we can grow up together. I was a soccer player and at the time I was worried about if she wanted to be a dancer or cheerleader...I don't know anything about that, but I can learn. I even fast forwarded in my head to the day that Randy would get to walk her down the aisle at her wedding. And as I think about it now, there are so many milestones of a little girls life that we will not get to go through together. She will never get to say mommy or have her first kiss and her first boyfriend. I won't get to put her hair in pig tails, or get to watch Randy learn how to do this too. WHY..WHY...WHY. Life is just not fair.

We arrived at the church at 10:00, funeral service will begin at 11:00 so this gives us time to grieve on our own with the casket. The sight of it makes me weak in my knees and I begin weeping. Well actually sobbing. My immediate instinct is to run up, open the box and hold her. But I can't. We have already had that moment. We kept it a closed casket, the funeral director said that she would not look like she did, on babies it is really hard and that was not the image I wanted of her. I remember her half cracked smile and those blue eyes shining up at me.

We have some pictures that we want to put up. There will be people coming who have never even seen our little girl, but want to be there for us. We are so blessed by the amount of love sent to us. I wanted it to all be just perfect, her last time with us to be treasured.

The flood gates open up and Randy and I are talking to the friend of ours who will be doing the service. He says a prayer over us and we are in the back where the doors are. The influx of people is just amazing. I was able to see so many comforting faces, ones that I have not seen in a long time. And ones that I see all the time, but knowing they are there to support us feels good. Hugs, Hugs and more hugs. At this time in your life you can never get too many hugs, they help make you strong and know that others are there to lean on. They had 160 chairs (I think) and they had to bring in 4 more rows. Some people even were standing in the back. AMAZING to us the number of people who showed up. All for a 9 week old angel.

We make our way up front and they read the poem "When tomorrow starts without me" I found this online actually and thought it was perfect for her. We had another poem similar when my mom passed away but it was more for a grown up. That one still brings me comfort today and hopefully this one will too. Randy posted the lyrics to 2 of the songs that were played, and both were perfect for the time. The third was "Blessed be the name" another great one.

The message was HOPE, that without this you have nothing. And I believe this to be true. Vince did a great job and I found more comfort than I expected. There is hope in the fact that someday I will be with her to hold her again. Life does go on, even if we don't think it should. The tears flowed and my nephew Mitch kept me filled with clean tissues. His mom kept telling him to take the old ones, but he never did. I don't blame him, he is only 5.

What is Chase doing now, is he playing, sleeping? Does he miss her? I hope he is OK and his daddy and I can take the time to spend with Jordan and her day.

We go through the line again and get the opportunity to thank everyone for coming and I get more hugs.

As we load up in the car to head out to the cemetery Randy makes a comment about being dehydrated from crying so much. Halfway we must put her in her final resting place. Those words sound so final, but I guess it is.

The cemetery is a beautiful and peaceful setting. It is hot outside!

Vince completed the rest of the ceremony, again a wonderful job with words that somehow help me find peace. I look to find where she will be. There is a green mat of astroturf that I assume is where they will bury that very tiny white box. I asked to have 2 roses separate from her flowers. A pink one for her little girl soul and a yellow rose to symbolize my mom. My aunt Judy has always loved yellow roses and my mom used to get them for her. When mom passed away it just started a tradition of bringing a yellow rose to the cemetery for her and Judy in honor of their friendship. So in my own way this was how I memorilize the friendship with her that I won't get to have and to give it to her as a small token from my mom.

Did I mention that it was hot outside. After the final words we just kind of stood around and visited. I placed the flowers on her casket and went to visit. Our sitter was there too and she and I got the chance to hug and talk. We love our sitter like family and I know that she is grieving too. She lost someone very precious to her too in such a short time. Only one word still comes to my mind, WHY. I miss baby Jordan.

We head back to the house for food and visiting. I don't really remember what I ate, I had a few glasses of wine and got to sit with everyone for a little while. It was kind of like at my wedding, you get a small moment to visit because everyone is there to see and comfort you so I tried to spread my time around. I am so thankful for all of the people who made it and the dear friends who came over afterwards. It felt good to be around them all. Chase finally made it home and he was excited. He thought it was a party for him. A house full of people who all want to hug him.

My girlfriend brought her kids over and another group of friends who have children who also were kept by my our sitter brought their twins over so we had a house full of laughing children and the sound was music to my ears. It was the best medicine for everyone.

The last couple left around 9:30 and at that point all I wanted to do was sleep. I was finally exausted and my contacts needed to be tossed. The weight of the situation finally hit me and I could not be strong any longer, it was time to rest.

I really, really miss my little girl.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Is it only Monday....

As I sit here and write this I have reminders of our little girl all around me. We had to move the swing out of the living room because it was a constant reminder that she was not here to sit in it. That is really the only place that she would take a decent nap for me during the day. Otherwise I would sit and just hold her. She could be totally asleep and almost snoring and as soon as I would lay her down and walk away she would cry. My little girl just REALLY loved to be held. Maybe there was something inside of her that knew we only had a short time on Earth together and needed to get all the holding in that she could. These are the thoughts that jump into my head when I look back.

Today is a quiet day in the Connell house. There are errands to run, and we are keeping the florists in the area in business. My home smells so beautiful! Jordan would love the smell. With family coming and going we all had things that needed to be accomplished. First stop for daddy was to take Chase to get his haircut. It was getting really ragged and we had lots of company coming. At this point we are still pretty sure that Chase should go spend sometime with someone who loves him and play instead of coming to the services tomorrow. I know that Randy and I will be a mess and we need to stay strong for him.

Randy's mom and I go to the funeral home to drop off the items that we want to be buried with Jordan. I know we will not have the opportunity to see them on her, but there is a comfort in knowing that they will be with her and she will not be alone.

1. Clothes...what to put on her. I have a closet full of precious clothes, a lot that she had not even had the chance to wear yet. She was not very happy when you had to change her clothes. Her daddy liked that part and was thinking that he was somehow going to save money in the future because his baby girl didn't like changing clothes...but everyone said she would grow out of that soon enough. Now this one of the many tough decisions I have to face these days. All things that you are not supposed to worry about. Do I put her in a beautiful dress? I have one that is very nice and dressy that she would look great in, but is it to formal? No one will know but me and our family but I decide to go with a onsie that I just bought her that says "Little Sister" and is brown with multi color letters. My OB has a great picture in her office of a little boy and girl with "big brother" and "little sister" t-shirts on. It was very cute and it took me months to find this one. She must wear it...she is a little sister and will always be. Ok so that decision is made.

2. Fuzzy pink blanket. This will help cushion her in softness. Again just something for me, but comforting still.

3. Pink bear. She can't be alone in there and every baby needs a stuffed animal.

4. Paci. Both of my kids are pacifier kids. We had to force this one on her, even at 9 weeks she was already reaching for the thumbs and those you can't take away later when they grow up. The paci can be thrown away. She won't need it really where she is going, but it makes me feel better knowing it is there.

Next stop is clothes shopping for me. Unfortunately I am still not down to my pre-pregnancy size and I needed something nice to wear. This was a hard step. Especially when you are not really in the mood to shop, it seems like you can not find anything. When you are not looking you can always find a ton of things in black for women. But today, there was not a lot of choices.

Errands are done and people are still coming in to see us. It is amazing how many comments and emails we both are getting from Facebook and email accounts. The outpouring of prayer is giving us the strength to continue The prayers and Chase. My sweet little boy. He has no clue as to what is happening. There is a huge loss to him as well and he really doesn't know what he is missing. He won't get to grow up with his sister. She will not get to take his toys and pick on him. I love my little boy and have to be strong for him. I would be a basket case every minute of the day if I didn't have him.

Time for bed, we have a big day tomorrow. Very long night ahead I am sure. The nightmare is still here....this is not a dream.

Good night baby Jordan, Mommy loves you!

Day 3...Sunday trip to the funeral home

Sunday is here....Day 3 and we are still having trouble sleeping. The visions of her on the table in the ER are haunting my thoughts. I thank God that I have such a supportive husband. We have to remain strong together for our family and each other. Chase slept until 6:00 this morning and again he came to finish off his sleep in our bed. He is such a wiggle bug that only one of us gets lucky, he gets sideways on us and one ends up with his head and the other has feet kicking them in the ribs. He is not very easy to sleep with. This morning I was the lucky one, and Randy got up and was reading the bible. We are still trying to grasp what has happened and The Book is our first refuge.

We get dressed and try to get ready for the day, I forgot to pick up waterproof mascara so I just went without any. It is the little things that you don't think about.

Some of the co-workers from my office came by to visit and hug us. We do receive a lot of comfort from hugs. Keep them coming. Uncle Dee came to pick up Chase and bring him over to Vicky and Brent's. They had a fun filled day organized for him so that we could take care of details at the funeral home. We had a 1:00 appointment. Chase's day was going to be a lot better than mommy's.

We got to the funeral home and it was a strange feeling. Introducing ourselves as the family of the deceased. I did this 5 years ago when my mom passed away and it was the same sinking feeling. I start to turn on the auto pilot and go through the motions.

This is not supposed to be happening.

The funeral director was very nice and easy to work with. I think it takes a special person to work with sad people every day. I know that I couldn't do that for a living. They have opportunities to take advantage of people in their time of grief, but not these guys. Very professional and no pressure. Tough decisions...we decided to have the service on Tuesday instead of Monday. Our original thoughts were to just hurry and get it over so that we can try to get back to life. Tuesday was going to be better for everyone involved. It would give people the opportunity to make arrangements to come to the funeral, and with Monday being the first day of school I thought it was too hard of a day for parents and teachers to be able to make it. We wanted as many of our friends and family to be there as possible. We knew we would need their strength that day.

Next trip is out to the cemetery. Our little girl's new resting place will be in the country setting of Tomball. What a beautiful place! Tree's and tons of flowers. There are wind chimes in the trees that families have placed and it is so peaceful. We walked around the "Garden of Innocents" and looked at all the other baby graves. Way too many little lives that did not have a chance to grow. Randy makes a comment "they forgot to put the second date on this one" when looking at a gravestone. "No I said, that little one only lived for one day" Oh my goodness...we decided that we should be thankful for the 9 weeks we were able to have with Baby Jordan. There are parents out there that only got a few hours.

I feel good about the arrangements. Next visit is by our friend and Randy's co-worker Vince. He is a retired pastor and was the first person we thought of to do the service. He was coming over to discuss the details. We talked about Jordan and her life. He brought us the lyrics of the song Home Free. It is a great song and one that we will use at the service. During this process Chase picked up Jordan's photo album. I was waiting for him to have a meltdown. Dear God help me comfort my son, I do not think I can handle this right now. Really not ever, but I may not be able to avoid that. We looked through the book as we have in the past, baby Jordan with mom, having a bottle, first bath. No meltdowns. Thank you Jesus. Each of these moments caught in pictures to cherish forever. I tried not to cry in front of him. I do not want him to be sad.

I fell asleep on the couch while everyone was talking, once Randy woke me up to go to bed. The visions came back and it was hard to rest, My eyes were wide open for a while, nothing interesting on the TV. I think we watched the re-run of the Houston Texans game from the night before. They still lost. Same outcome, different day.

Time to rest and try to get to tomorrow. I would do anything to give back the periods of sleep to have her wake me up every 2 hours to eat. I REALLY miss my baby girl.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Day 2...Was it a dream?

We were awakened on Saturday morning around 5:30 to Chase crying "Mommy". Randy's parents were still sleeping in the room next to him and I had finally gotten a few hours of shut eye myself. I went in, picked him up and brought him into bed with us. We try not to do this too often so we don't create a habit. But who cares about the rules this morning. Yesterday was a very rough day.

For a split second I thought it was all a dream, until I looked in the empty bassinet in our room and realized that it was not a nightmare at all but a reality. Chase goes back to sleep until 8:30..very unlike him as well but much appreciated by his exhausted mom.

He goes through his routine in the morning telling every one that "Daddy wake up" and "Mommy wake up" and "baby Jordan wake up". We told him that she was in Heaven and not here. His 2 year old mind replied "baby Jordan is at the grocery store" I guess to him that is his idea of Heaven. We didn't correct him, there will be enough time to give him details on Heaven and where his sister is later.

We all got up, turned on the coffee pot and said "now what do we do?" I received a call from Life Gift to ask for donations of any organs that Jordan may have to help someone else. I wasn't sure at first how to answer this question when they called the night before, we had just walked in the door at that time and my little girl was in the back of the Medical Examiner's van. Not a good time to ask that question, so I asked if we could discuss with them in the morning.

Well that call had come and I was quick to respond "yes" she doesn't need them where she is, there are no organs in Heaven. After a very long 30 minute phone interview about where Jordan and I have been in the past 5 years, from every possible country on earth to every possible drug that is available to take we finally completed the interview part. I asked what they were going to take and can I find out if she is able to help someone. The heart valve is what they could try to save to be able to help a little baby or use for research to help save someone in the future. What a great gift to provide? But too much time had passed and the ME office had already started the autopsy. I was disappointed, I am trying to find a way that something good can possibly come from this tragedy.

We talked about funeral homes and cemetery locations....having never been to a funeral in Houston I had no idea where they were at. You never see what you are not looking for and up until this point there was not a need for one of these.

Someone mentioned Klein Funeral homes and we decided that we wanted to have the service at our church. We made the appropriate phone calls and appointments and spent the rest of the day with family. Chase played and was very excited to have both of his grandparents around. My brother and sister in law came over and so did several of our friends. It felt good to be around family and friends who are just like family to us.

The food also started showing up, every instinct when there is a death in a family is to cook. I think it is just part of our human nature. A way to show comfort and help the family not worry about cooking. We are very appreciative for the generosity. We are truly blessed with great friends and family. I will probably post this statement several times because they mean that much to us. The fridge was cleaned out and the new food found a home.

The phone rings and it is the medical examiner's office, they have completed the autopsy and she is free to be picked up by a funeral home. Oh my goodness...this is still not a dream? My baby girl is in a cold morgue at the medical examiner's office and she is all alone. I need to help her. They have no other news to relay. The cause of death is still in pending status.

We tried to get into the funeral home on Saturday but they were busy. A funeral home too busy to meet with you...that was a scary thought to me. I guess that means that there are other people going through the same emotions at the same time as my family is. What a circle of life we live.

We decided that going to Saturday night service at church was the thing to do. We could not have thought of a better place to drown our sorrows than in the house of God. Ironically the service was part of a series of answers to questions from the church members. 2 weeks ago they had a weekend where the congregation could send text messages to the pastor and his staff live during the service with questions that we needed answers to. The response was overwhelming that they are turning in the next weeks of services into Answers sessions to the 900 text messages that were sent. Tonight was "Why do bad things happen to good people?" What a great question to have answered for us at this time. I cried the whole service, but did feel better. It seemed like Lance was talking directly to me.

We made arrangements for the funeral with the church for the following days and went home. I felt some sort of peace, but still very confused and very sad.

Our Worst nightmare...

It was just a regular day. Or so we thought. the morning did not start quite like usual. Our sitter took the morning off so that she could take her youngest to meet the teacher at school. I had a meeting early that morning and Randy was at home with both kids. We traded off at 9:30. I spent an hour hanging out with Jordan and Chase until they could go to the sitter's house.

I took a great photo of Chase holding his baby sister on the couch. I was using a new camera and wanted to test it out before meeting with a client later that afternoon. Sure glad that I took that photo...

The rest of the day went as usual. Until 4:00. I received a call from my sitter that Jordan was not breathing and that the ambulance was taking her to North Cypress Medical Center. I didn't ask any questions, at that point I couldn't, I just knew I had to get to the hospital. I called Randy who was at home and he was on his way too. It seemed like forever until the ambulance would get there. I kept saying "why don't I hear the sirens" "Where is my baby girl"

What we found out was that Jordan had laid down for her afternoon nap. She was a little extra fussy and was not sleeping very well. They went in to check on her 15 minutes after laying her down and she wasn't breathing. The ambulance worked on her for 20 minutes there at the house while Randy and I paced the ER. Once they finally arrived, we watched them work on her for what seemed like an eternity. Timing still is all a blur at this point.

We had a ray of hope for a short period of time, her heart was beating on it's own and they were able to stop chest compressions. They were arranging to have her life flighted to the Children's hospital downtown. But the weather took a turn for the worse and they grounded all flights. It has not rained in Houston for months and now it decides to get bad?? Why is this happening? We prayed so loud that there is no way that God did not hear us.

From that point on we lost all hope. Jordan lost her heartbeat again and they were not able to get her back. I will never forget that image for the rest of my life. They tried so hard but God had other plans.

We had to talk to a sheriff and the medical examiner. Tough questions...did you drink or smoke during your pregnancy? Was she sick? Did she have any congestion...she cried a lot so I don't really know the answer to that one. She just had a very healthy 2 month check up 2 weeks prior. The Doctor said she was doing well. She got her first full round of vaccines and was not happy after that. We spent a whole week holding her all the time, she was extra fussy after the shots. But that too had gotten better. She ate great and was growing well. I was nicknaming her my chunky monkey.

After they stopped CPR I was waiting for them to announce the time of death like they do in the shows on TV, but they didn't. They just all walked out and gave us some quiet time with our little girl. A final farewell from two parents who loved her more than life itself. What do we tell Chase, he is only 2. At that point he was all I could think of. How can I now protect him from this tragedy as well?

How do you say goodbye to a 9 week old? What is there to say? We are supposed to protect them and keep them safe, not say goodbye in a cold ER room.

We were not able to pick her up cause they kept the tubes and all they were using to try to bring her back connected. I held her little hand and told her I loved her. Just like I did every day.

From that point it was still blurry as well. The police officers who were still at the sitter's house finally released Chase to go with friends to eat dinner and take a bath. All the while he really did not know what was going on other than "the boys are taking baby Jordan to the doctor".

My sitter went through her own nightmare, doing CPR on an infant and waiting for the ambulance to get there, along with her own children who had to watch it as well. They are in 5th and 8th grade and this was so hard for them too. They are like our second family and love my kids as if they are their own.

Members from our church came and prayed with us over her and a Father from a nearby church prayed her last rights. At that point I wanted as many prayers over her to make sure she was going to Heaven. Our dearest friends were all there to hold us. It was amazing to feel so much love. I remember asking anyone I saw who had some sort of experience with this how they talked to their kids. I had to find a way to protect Chase.

We got home and the house was full of friends!!! Parents showed up around 11:30 p.m. and I felt like it was an outerbody experience. People were talking about a lot of things and trying to keep us busy and distracted and all I remember is her. Where is she now? Is she alone?

We finally layed down to try to sleep. I think we saw the clock turn 3:30 am and I closed my eyes and all I see is her little body on the ER table. How do I get these visions out of my head. Prayer is all that can get me through this night. I almost crawled in the single bed that my son was sleeping in so I could just hold him.

Good night sweet baby Jordan.