28 Weeks and a Big Fat Thank You!

28 weeks

Thank you so much for all of your love, support, and encouragement during this past week.  It meant more than you can possibly know.

And now here we are, on our own “New Year’s Eve”, looking into the horizon and seeing the third trimester in front of us.  Rainbows at the finish line.

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K4C update!

Thanks to all of you who have participated in Kindness for Callie.  I’ve updated the Kindness for Callie page with the latest acts of kindness that were submitted to the blog.  I hope we can keep up this wonderful project for a long time to come.  John and I truly appreciate all of the very sweet acts of kindness that were sent our way this past weekend.  Your kind acts definitely put some much needed sunshine into our lives.  xoxoxo

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One Year Without Her

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Today, one year ago, is the day Callie left our arms and went to God’s.  Like my friend Katie, a doctor, says,  She wasn’t built for this world.

No, she was built for another.

The hardest part of that day, one year ago, was leaving her.  When they took her out of our embrace, swaddled her, and placed her carefully on her hospital bed.

And we had to take our first steps into our new reality.

As John pushed my wheelchair out of the room, I watched her until she was out of my line of sight.  And my heart broke, shattered into a million tiny pieces.

She was so little.  And so alone.

But she wasn’t really there, I guess.  No, she was already in her new home.  Her spirit went with us that day as we left that room, so I suppose we never really parted.

Even so, I miss my baby something fierce.

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Callie’s 1st Birthday in Heaven

January 27, 2012.  One year ago today.

2:37 a.m.

After a stormy and scary night of labor, a team of doctors and nurses ran past the OR waiting room where my mom sat ready for the big news.  It’s either Kristin or the baby, she thought as they rushed by.

It was the baby.  Our sunshine.

Callie cried, a little teeny cry.  So brief, we had to ask ourselves later if it had really happened.

It had.

Sometimes we wonder aloud about that cry.  Was it a cry for help?  Was she telling us hi?  I’m here.  I’ll be ok.  You will be too.

We will never know.

An eery silence fell over the operating room after that.

1, 2, 3, 4.  Whispered counting as the doctors worked to revive her.  Trying not to be too loud.

What’s wrong?  What’s wrong?  I begged.

The baby is just sleepy.  A doctor said, protecting me from panic as I lay open on the table.

Our Father, who art in heaven… Hushed prayers, as our ears strained, hoping, desperately needing, to hear that cry again.

But we didn’t hear it again.

They brought her to us then.  She was pale, so pale.  And someone was helping her breathe.  She was alive and barely hanging on.

Fight Callie.  Be strong.  Fight.  We love you so much.

And then they were gone.

Go.  Be with her.  She needs her Daddy.

And then John was gone too.

I was alone.  Still open and exposed.  I shivered and shook.  And no one spoke.

Silence.  The loudest noise I have ever heard.

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Today, I wish we were having a cake smashing party.  Loads of presents she didn’t need.  Smiles.

But it’s not like that.

We are still celebrating her birth today.  It is just different.

It’s a heavenly birthday.

There is cake.  There is one candle waiting to be blown out.  There is a yellow balloon.

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An act of kindness.  Lots of sunshine.

We will think of all the ways her birth changed our lives and touched so many others.

Happy birthday sweet girl.  I think heaven sounds like a fabulous place to have a party.  We are thinking of you fondly and missing you like crazy.

We love you, always and forever, sunshine.

Callie’s Playlist

Thank you for the sunshiny flowers and your love and support.

Thank you for the sunshiny flowers and your love and support.

Sweet reasons to smile.  Thank you.  xoxo

Sweet reasons to smile. Thank you. xoxo

One year ago today, I was still innocent.  I woke up wondering, “Will this be the day?”  And it was.

I went into labor right after school.  I rode in an ambulance.  It felt silly…and scary.

I remember thinking, “It’ll all be ok.”  And it wasn’t.

The innocence is gone.

Today, I’m remembering Callie in song.  I think a tiny piece of her spirit shines in each one of these songs for one reason or another.  I listen and think of her.

I love you angel.

For whatever technological reason I don’t understand, these two wouldn’t show up… so here they are separately:

The Beatles “Here Comes the Sun”

Elizabeth Mitchell “You Are My Sunshine”

January

January.

I’ve dreaded this month for a year.  In my mind, January would be her month.  I would celebrate her every day and let myself feel the grief as I knew there was no running from it.  And so, I’ve spent this month doing little Callie projects.

After kicking off Kindness for Callie, next on my list was to put together her Beads of Courage.  About six months ago, the social worker at Children’s Hospital sent us a beautiful bag of beads along with a bead journal for Callie and a note.  It explained that Beads of Courage was started by a pediatric oncology nurse who was tired of watching her patients go through the countless pokes, prods, and procedures that accompanied their long hospital stays.  The nurse decided to give the children beads to collect every time they endured something hard.  Each color bead had a meaning and was uplifting and encouraging to her patients.  Now Beads of Courage has expanded from cancer patients to children with cardiac conditions, burns, chronic illness, and neonatal/ICU patients.

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It is hard to believe how many beads my little Callie earned during her short 35 hours of life.  As I strung the beads, I felt myself telling her story over again and earning a whole new appreciation of what she had to endure as such a tiny baby.  Ambulance ride.  Echocardiograms.  Pokes.  New diagnosis.  Blood transfusions.  Ventilator support.  The list went on and on.  Callie even earned the Strength bead (large yellow and purple bead) and the Courage bead (the tiny, but mighty acorn) during her stay.  I was so proud of her.

Lastly, I held the delicate glass butterfly bead in the palm of my hand.  Her wings to heaven.  I wept as I strung it with the others and tied the final knot.  Her story, told by the beads, was over.

But we all know, that really it had just begun.

As we inch closer to the one year anniversary of Callie’s birth and death, I thought I would share with you some plans that we have to remember her.

  • I’ve made a Callie playlist of sunshiny music to listen to in the coming days.  Post to follow about this 🙂
  • I wrote about financial giving earlier this month.  I’ve researched different websites for donating and haven’t found one that does not take a chunk of your money out for processing fees and I find that just flat out wrong.  My original vision was to create a sort-of virtual offering plate where people could donate for a designated cause on a quarterly basis.  I’ll keep looking for ways we can do that, but, in the meantime, if you are looking to make a donation in Callie’s memory we think that the National Marfan Foundation or our church, Our Savior’s Way, for upkeep of Callie’s garden would be wonderful ways to remember her.  Please do not feel obligated!  I’ve had a few people ask, so I thought I’d share that.
  • On Sunday, Jan. 27th, Callie’s birthday, we plan on tying a yellow balloon to the cross in her garden and it will stay there until we release it the next day, Monday, Jan. 28th to remember the day she left us and journeyed to heaven.
  • I plan on wearing yellow both days.  Will you?

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Kindness for Callie (or K4C as my friend, Mabby, calls it!) Update:

I got so many wonderful emails this week!  Here are the highlights!  Check the Kindness for Callie tab at the top of the page for the updated list:

  • I can always count on my friend, Lindsay V., for the most creative ideas:  

“Your Kindness For Callie campaign inspired me to be more thoughtful of ways we can brighten lives and give back in 2013.  We have given each week a theme.

The first week of January we did random giving.  We taped money to redbox machines, bought gift cards for the cashiers to give to the next person with a child(ren) at Starbucks, and taped coins to the games at an arcade.

The second week of January the theme was blessing someone with food.  We made a meal for a pregnant friend, made baked treats for a working mom who we thought could use a smile, and volunteered to make dessert for a meal at a local homeless shelter.

Next week is for our Armed Forces overseas.  We’ll keep you posted!

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the idea of themes!  I think John and I will follow suit 🙂  Thanks Lindsay!

  • My mom and dad gave a ride home to a man in need and shared Callie’s story with him.  Mom also took doughnuts to the cafeteria workers at her school on a day that they had to work extra hard to get meals made for students who had an early release.  Thanks Nana and Pops!
  • My friend Kerry paid for the next customer in line at Dunkin’ Donuts…and simultaneously changed the sales clerks day as well!
  • From Brenda & Jose Castro:  “Left a $20.00 tip on a $35.00 check to a young server who had recently given birth to her first son.”  So sweet!  I’m sure he appreciated it very much!  Thank you 🙂
  • Ginny Hagee (a friend of my moms):  “When I checked out at the grocery store, the cashier gave me a store coupon good for $2.75 off my next order.  I handed it back to him and told him to use it to get something on his break.  I know it’s little, but it spread a little bit of sunshine his way!”  It’s not little at all!  Thanks Ginny!
  • Those last two are from people I haven’t even met!  I love it!  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

And finally, someone left something special for us on our doorstep yesterday.  We hung it up last night and it looks perfect.  The craziest thing is that I had already created my Callie playlist with this song on it before receiving the gift…how did you know??  We put it in our foyer so that we pass it each and every day on our way out the door.  Whoever you are, thank you!

Week 3:  "8 o'clock"Hanging up our new artwork last night!

Week 3: “8 o’clock”
Hanging up our new artwork last night!

Believe.

Kindness for Callie Update

This photograph is part of a weekly photography challenge I am participating in.  This week's theme was "fresh", hence the fresh piece of paper.  Writing nice letters is a great way to pass along acts of Kindness for Callie!

This photograph is part of a weekly photography challenge I am participating in. This week’s theme was “fresh”, hence the fresh piece of paper. Writing nice letters is a great way to pass along acts of Kindness for Callie!

All I can say is-  WOW!  Thank you so much for helping to get the Kindness for Callie project off to a great start.  It feels so good to know that little bits of happiness are being shared with others all in memory of our little girl.  This month is a tough one for us, but this little project has really brightened our spirits…so again, thank you!  Last night, I just finished up our next act of kindness, a letter to Nurse Cindy, telling her how amazing she is.

I wanted to highlight some acts of kindness that have been shared with me so far:

-My college roomie and her hubby made a sweet contribution to the National Marfan Foundation in Callie’s memory.  The NMF helps fund life-changing research for those affected by Marfan syndrome.  We are so touched!  Love you Barr!

-Our cousin, Anna, wrote a sweet email:

“At Giant Eagle (the local grocery store here), they have these things called “Cookie Cards” for kids.  You only pay $1 and it’s good for the whole year.  The dollar benefits the local Children’s Hospitals.  And every time a kid comes in with their Cookie Card, they get a free cookie!  I bought one for Zack today, and I saw that the money goes towards the local Children’s Hospitals, and I thought of Callie.  So we bought 4 more (I had $5 in cash on me) and attached a “Kindness for Callie” card to it, and I asked the woman at the desk to give them out to 4 random kids she saw come to her Customer Services Desk today.  The woman was so overwhelmed.  She thought it was such a good idea, she “awww’ed” and got so excited.  I think it’ll be a joy for her to give them out, as well as the kids to get them, and then of course for the money to go to the Children’s Hospitals!  Plus, like the little girl who gave you guys the poinsettia, Zack got to see what it was like to give without receiving accolades.  And not to mention, I’m a little emotional about it too myself.I see the sunshine spreading already…good stuff you two!”

What a great idea!  Thanks Anna!  I loved thinking that perfect strangers in Pennsylvania now have been touched by Callie’s story and will hopefully go on to do more kindness for others in her memory.

And lastly, I would never have dreamed of kicking off this project looking for any kind of reward or payback, but it is funny how things come full circle…

-I received a beautiful note in my mailbox at work from an anonymous coworker who had read my blog.  It was a sweet thank you note for writing about my experiences.  I was so moved and the gesture totally made my day.

-Also, our good friends, Jessica & Kyle, nominated us for a local photographer’s “Olivia Act”.  Check out this email:

“Hi John & Kristin,
My name is Erin Rexroth & I am the owner of Erin J. Photography.  I asked people to send me families to be nominated for The Olivia Act.  The Olivia Act is named after one of the children killed in Newtown & was started by the photographer who photographed Olivia and her family. Olivia’s family had family pictures taken a short time before she was killed. Those pictures are precious and now priceless to them. Upon hearing this, this photographer was moved to give away a 30 minute family photo shoot and has challenged other photographers to do the same. She said, “We go about our daily lives and sometimes we don’t take the time or have the resources to have family photos taken.”
I took nominations for a family deserving of this gift and have chosen your family after Jessica told me your story.  I am a Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep photographer and I was just heartbroken when Jessica told me that no one was available to you during the tragic loss of your sweet baby girl. So, I would love the opportunity to be there with you this time.  I also feel you both so completely represent the good in what happened in Newton.  The selfless, generous teachers who show up every day for our kids!
The session will  be completely FREE to you!  I know you are expecting your sweet baby girl this spring!  So, just let me know if you prefer to do it right when the baby arrives or later on.  We can talk more about the timing if you would like some guidance.
I look forward to meeting you both!
Best,
Erin”

Isn’t that cool??  I am so thrilled and neither John nor I cannot stop daydreaming about our little Rainbow’s first photo session.

Thanks for all of the kindness!  Check out the “Kindness for Callie” tab at the top of the blog to see the updated list!

Believe.

“For every brick of kindness laid, the easier this house, our heart, is to build.”

SteveSongs    “Kindness Song” (sometimes children’s songs have the sweetest and simplest way of saying the things that really matter)

24 Weeks

24 weeks

 

24 weeks and doing our first Kindness for Callie.  Just paid for the person’s drinks behind us at Starbucks 🙂

Thanks for all the positive encouragement on this project.  It has really lifted my spirits.  I can’t tell you how touching it was to receive messages so quickly from so many people saying they had printed their Kindness for Callie cards out that very night.  I feel so lucky to know you all.

Check out the new page at the top of the blog!  It has info on the Kindness for Callie Project, as well as a place to log your acts of kindness.

Thanks for all of your love and support!  xoxo

Kindness for Callie–  cards for printing!  Happy happiness!  🙂