Friday, July 13, 2012

Guest Blogger-- A letter from Mom

My Dearest Hannah,
Today and tomorrow are the culmination of a year of grieving for you, Mark, the kids and all who love you. It doesn't mean that the grieving will end...ever. But it does highlight the fact that your loving Heavenly Father brought each of you through the first year of a grief you thought you could not survive. Today your mind will take you back hour by hour, minute by minute to relive that last day. And you will feel the awful emptiness as little Ellianna is taken from your arms again...only this time she is celebrating her first year of eternity, of health, of waiting for you.
Do not second-guess any of choices you and Mark made; any of the care you gave; any of the love you poured out on her. You are an amazing mother...Ellie was never more than a heartbeat away from you all the time you carried her, and still, while she breathed earth's air. I think of Ellianna as a Peace Child: she completed the days God had for her, and He brought her Home. And in the wake of her little life, many hearts have been made tender, and many have been healed.
Tomorrow, don't awaken with dread. Awaken with hope. You have new life growing within amazing gift. Not a replacement for loss, but a reason to hope and to celebrate. I have learned MUCH from you...enough that I don't have the days left in my life to practice it all. I love you, precious daughter...and, like Ellie, you are never more than a heartbeat away from me.

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What Was I Thinking?

Ellianna's birthday was hard because I was thinking about what could have been, and what will never be. 

The anniversary of her death is excruciating because I'm reliving every moment from these days a year ago.  I'm reliving them without that fog that socked me in last July, and the clarity is unbearable. 

I am remembering that choice we made, and I'm thinking, "what in the world were we thinking?!"  We said no more.  After CPR revived her twice, we were afraid she would die surrounded by strangers, crushed by pain.  We said no more so that we could hold her while she took her last breath.  What if that wasn't the end though?  Little Bowen Hammitt was gone for 45 minutes... and they kept on working... and now he is almost two.  Could that have been us? 

I wish we had never had to make that choice, and I will never know if it was the right one. 

Tomorrow we try to celebrate... one year of paradise for our little girl.  I wish we had just a little of that paradise down here.  This place is trying to crush my faith.

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That Sweet Little Face

The sweet little girl we miss so much...

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Thursday, July 5, 2012


Many months ago, Mark and I began talking about our desire... and our have another baby of our own.  We talked, we thought, we prayed, and we decided our longing outweighed our fears.

One of the first things we did was meet with an obstetrician who specializes in high-risk pregnancies and complications.  We agreed from the beginning that if the doctors thought it was just too risky and there was nothing they could do to help support a full-term delivery, we would not even pursue it further.

The testing and talking and researching and examining brought a more postive report than either of us expected.  The doctor said he wouldn't advise against a baby, and he said there was much more that could be done this time to help me carry to term.  We actually were not expecting that answer, and were already trying to accept that we would not have another child of our own... but we were thrilled with the news and well... got busy!

Months dragged on and we were repeatedly disappointed with my failure to get pregnant.  Anticipation grew into worry, and when we followed up with my doctor he ran us through some fertility testing.  We didn't get the conclusive results we wanted, and after a few more months of hoping and more testing, we were told that invitro fertilization was probably the best option and it might be time to look into that.  I had spent months arguing with God, wondering why He would not want this for us, accusing Him of not allowing that piece of healing in our hearts.

 After all the exhausting months of disappointment and resentment, I finally came to a place where I realized that trying to control my life was wearing me out.  I threw up my hands, asked His forgiveness, and told Him that if a baby is not what He has for us, than I trust He knows what He's doing, and His plan is even better.  The peace that followed was like a balm to my anxious spirit.  I hadn't gotten the answer I wanted, but somehow I knew that whatever was in store was going to fufill my desires even more completely.

So, fast forward about a week to me pulling out the last eighty-eight cent pregnancy test I had stashed in the cabinet.  Well, what the heck.  I'm not buying anymore of these.  Might as well use it up.  It's waaayyyy too early for it to be positive even if I was pregnant. 

And pause right there to see that look on my face AGAIN when I remember that every time I think I know what's in store for me, God LOVES to shake things up.

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Monday, July 2, 2012


Throughout my career in EMS, I have seen many souls so lost and hurting that they have cut deep gashes in their own flesh.  "Cutting," as it is referred to, is when a person who is distraught cuts their skin as a way to bring relief from the inner pain they are experiencing.  These aren't the people who slash themselves for attention... these cuts are found hidden from the casual glance, carved in layers beneath sleeves and pants.  Although I have resolved to not unfairly scrutinize these individuals for this display of mutilation, I can't say that I've necessarily understood it... until my daughter died.

The first day this revelation came to me was about a month after Ellianna was gone.  I was getting a tattoo of her sweet baby hands and feet on the inside of my arm.  It was one of the most painful tattoos I have aquired.  I remember coming home with a swollen and throbbing arm and saying, "it feels strangely good to have some physical pain to represent what I am feeling on the inside."  It was like a small release of the anguish that had been crushing my soul since the day she died.

Months later, I was looking through pictures my sister had taken of me cuddling with Ellianna.  My hair was long, finally stretching beneath my shoulders after two years of growing it out.  I became overwhelmed with grief looking at those pictures, and the afternoon ended with a pair of scissors in my hand, and my long locks sitting in a pile in the bathroom sink.  When I had long hair that I loved, I had my daughter in my arms... no daughter, no hair.

After that wave of emotion passed, I had the task of explaining to my astonished family that in a moment of irrational grief, I had hacked off all my hair.  Perplexed as they were, they assured me I looked just as beautiful, although to this day my youngest still asks, "So mom, WHY did you cut off your hair just because you were sad???"


I recently enjoyed reading Mary Beth Chapman's book Choosing To See. It is the story of her family losing their daughter Maria in a tragic accident, and the life that followed.  I came to a part of the book where she talked about coming home to find that her husband, Steven Curtis Chapman, had shaved his full head of hair off over the spot where his daughter had been killed in their driveway.  It was then I felt such relief and justification for my hair cutting moment.  Reading that such a man of strength and faith had felt the same overwhelming urge to be able to physically express his grief seemed to validate the reason that I had done the same.

While I never see myself drawing blood as a physical relief for inner pain, I have been witness to the craving we have as humans to express the weight of the emotions that churn within us, and have a new understanding to the amount of pain that would draw a person to "cut".... hair or otherwise.

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A Lot of Dimes

Some time has passed, but I have been wanting to say thank you to those of you who were part of something big for us.

April 28th, our family joined many others to walk in the March for Babies for the March of Dimes.  We were surrounded by families whose lives have been changed by having or knowing a premature baby, and the goal was to raise money and awareness to help these tiny babies grow strong and have the resourses they need to overcome their many challenges.

With the generous help of many friends and family members, we raised $1800 for this cause.  Thank you.  We are so honored by each of you who came alongside us.

Our team was one of the biggest there that day.  You could easily pick us out of the crowd in our bright green shirts. 

Team Hope & Grace

It was an emotional day... a march that represented the triumph of our bubbly little Isabella, and the heartache of losing Ellianna.
The Memorial Mile

Ellianna's name on the Memorial Mile

We walked arm in arm with family and friends, and made a stand for something dear to us... and if that makes a difference for even one tiny life, we have won. 

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