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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Good neighbors and a child's answered prayers

I live in a wonderful neighborhood, the kind most people wish they did. It's out in the country, so we all basically live on at least an acre, but we are close enough together that we all know each other. All but one of the houses has children in it, and they all go to school and play sports together. All of the kids are within a year or two in age. None of the neighbors care if the kids play in their yards, so the kids have the run of the neighborhood. The one neighbor who doesn't have kids is a grandmother (also my aunt), who always has cookies, snacks and drinks for the kids when they come to visit her. It's like something out of yesteryear, where kids don't have to be afraid of the boogeyman, of being snatched by men in white vans, don't need to know anything about good touch/bad touch and can play outside from sun-up to sundown and parents don't have to worry.

I have never been so happy to live in this kind of neighborhood as I was Wednesday night. Our Shih Tzu, Rosie, went missing. Brian let her out around 4:30 p.m. She followed him to the porch, but he didn't realize she hadn't come in. He went to bed as he had to be at work at midnight. Normally, this wouldn't have been a problem, but I was over at my aunt's (across the street) visiting with her and her daughters, while Tessa played with her granddaughter and some of the neighborhood kids. By the time we got home, did homework and showers and climbed into bed, it was 9:30 p.m. I was laying down with Tessa, and all of a sudden, she said, "I don't think Rosie is inside. I saw her outside while we were playing, but I have't seen her in the house."

When I came in, I had seen a lump in the bed beside Brian and just assumed that it was Rosie. It wasn't. She was nowhere to be seen. I searched out all of her usual resting places here in the house and those outside, too. Nothing, she wasn't there. I called my aunt to see if Rosie was on her back porch. Not only does my aunt have cookies and drinks for the kids in the neighborhood, she also keeps treats for the dogs, so Rosie knows to go over there. She wasn't at my aunts. I texted one of my other neighbors who has become a good friend, and Rosie wasn't there either.

By this time, Tessa was inconsolable. She was literally doubled over sobbing. We got Rosie right after my granny died and just a few months before Jenna died. Rosie helped Tessa to get through her grief in both situations, and there were many nights that she was the only one who saw my tears. Brian decided to drive up and down the main highway that we live off of, but he didn't see her. I walked around outside calling for her again. I didn't go far because Tessa and Ella were here in the house alone.

When I got back in the house, Tessa was praying. She said, "Please God, bring my dog back to me. Bring my baby back to me. I just want to hug and kiss her." I wanted to cry, too, because I truly believed at this point that Rosie was gone. I held it together for Tessa and gave her a hug. She told me she wanted to pray, so I told her to go ahead. Brian came back home with no Rosie, which in a way, was good news. I was afraid he was going to find her on the side of the road. He stayed with Tessa and Ella, while I went driving again. I drove next door, and as soon as I pulled in the driveway, the husband came out. He told me the last time he had seen her and offered to help in any way he could. I wanted to go to my neighbors on the other side, but their lights were out.

I heard my aunt calling for Rosie and saw her flashlight. My neighbor that lives in the cul-de-sac (the one I had texted) was out yelling for her, too. I drove down the main highway and back up it and didn't see any sign of her. When I got back home, I didn't see my aunt or her flashlight, so I called her. She didn't answer, which worried me. I sent Brian out to check on her. Come to find out, her neighbors had heard her calling and wanted to know what the problem was.

They have a little boy, Z, who is the same age as Tessa. In fact, they were in kindergarten together. Z came out with his chihauhau Taz and said, "He has a good nose. I've trained him to find things. I bet he could find her." So, they set off. A little while later, as I was consoling a sobbing Tessa, the phone rang. It was Brian. Z and Taz had found her in the woods behind my aunt's house. She was in the mud, laying down, scared out of her wits and cold. She was so scared and so cold she wouldn't even get up and come to them. Z walked into the woods in the dark night and got her and brought her out. He was tickled to death that Taz had found Rosie. They were heroes.

After a warm bath and some loving, she is almost back to normal. I am thinking of taking her to the vet tomorrow because she is still a little off and acts like her backside is painful. I am so thankful she is home with us. Tessa told me God answered her prayers. Maybe he did, in more ways than one. I am just grateful that we live in a neighborhood where everyone pulls together for everyone else, and no one is afraid to help out.

Monday, March 22, 2010

March 23, 2009

Last year, I found out I was pregnant with Ella on March 23, 2009. I will never forget it. It was the day after my cousin's 10th birthday party. We went to get her present, and while we were at the store, I bought some maxi pads and had my Clomid refilled. I was that sure I wasn't pregnant.

The next morning, I woke up with heartburn. I never have heartburn in the morning unless I'm pregnant. That was my first clue. By the time I got off work at noon that day, I was exhausted. That was my second clue. I went to Wal-Mart and took a test. When it came up positive, I about fell off the toilet.

I was so happy, but I was scared to death, too. I was so afraid to lose another baby. After all of my time in deadbabyland, I knew about what could happen. Thus started one of the most happy but nervewracking times of my life. I remember going in for the 20 week ultrasound, Tessa and Brian by my side, so scared they would find something wrong. Of course, they didn't. I remember Tessa leaning against the table, praying, "Please be a girl, please be a girl," and she got her wish. We were expecting little Ella Rose.

I felt so bad the last few months of my pregnancy. I don't know now how I ever got through it. I am so lucky my bedrest was only for a month. I especially admire those who have to do it a long time (Jen, I'm thinking of you). Luckily, labor and delivery were much easier than the pregnancy, and when she was placed in my arms, I knew I was looking at someone I was going to love forever, no matter what, just like I do her sister.

It has been a great four months since she's been here. Her big sister is totally in love with her as are her daddy and I. Ella is a wonderful baby, so laid back and happy. I don't know what we did without her. I thought I would share a few pics of both girls.




Thursday, March 18, 2010

I Miss Her Today

I miss Jenna today, but I miss her everyday. Today is National Trisomy 18 Awareness Day, which I think is why she is so much on my mind.

I know if she had been born, she wouldn't have been healthy. While some babies with Trisomy 18 live longer these days, she was so affected, she would not have been able to. But I imagine her healthy and whole. She would be a toddler now, starting to get into everything, learning to talk, learning everything about the world.

It's hard to see little girls who are the age she would be. I wonder if it will always be that way. In 10 years, will I be looking at middle school students and wondering what Jenna would have been like at that age. I hope I will. Because if I don't, it means I've lost touch with the feelings I had for her, and I don't want that to happen.

I imagine her in Heaven, because even though I'm still not sure how I feel about the whole religion thing, I do believe there is a special place we all go when we die, in my granny's arms, happy and healthy there. That picture comforts me on the days when I miss her so much.

So, today, please think of Jenna and all the other babies who have or have had Trisomy 18. Maybe one day, it will be preventable, and if not preventable, maybe the children who have it won't be so severely affected.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


"You just remember that tomorrow, when you meet your daughter, on the first day of the last decade of the entire 20th century, you'll be meeting the person that'll be holding your hand when it's your time to go. And even then, Charlene, she won't be alone. They'll be there."

The above quote is from the show Designing Women, and it's been one of my favorite quotes from the show since I found out Tessa was a girl. I liked the idea that she would be there for me when I go, but also, that she wouldn't be alone, that she would be surrounded by all those we have loved and lost.

There is something about being the mother of a daughter. I have been lucky to do it three times, and each one has taught me something new. Before Tessa, I had only experienced unconditional love from my granny. My spunky, dramatic and funny Tessa taught me the true meaning of it, that I would do anything and everything for her, that she could do anything and it wouldn't matter; I am going to love her and her sisters today, tomorrow and forever. I learned so much from my angel Jenna that it's hard to narrow it down into one thing, but I guess what sticks out the most is that life will knock you down sometimes with a sorrow so intense you don't want to ever get back up again but you have to. And you have to push on no matter what happens. And, from my sweet Ella, I learned there is always, always a rainbow, a brightness, after the storm.

My best friend is finally getting to experience this for herself. She and her husband struggled with infertility for years. She never thought they would be able to conceive, and it affected their marriage. Right before they were going to divorce, she found out she was pregnant. Today, Kendall Dean Burks was born, and Kaycee said she and her husband are happier than they've been in the 11 years they've known each other.

How do I tell her she is about to embark on a journey so wonderful, yet so stressful? How do I warn her that Kendall's hurts are going to be her hurts? How do I put into the words the joy of hearing "Momma" the first time from that sweet little mouth? I don't actually think there are words to describe it, honestly. I think there are only feelings and emotions. And, while motherhood is the hardest job she is ever going to do, it is also the most rewarding, the most wonderful, she will ever encounter.

I guess I can't tell her, but I know she's going to find out. And, I am so happy she is going to get the experience. And sometime in the distant future, Kendall will be there by her side, just as Tessa and Ella will be by mine, just as it should be with mothers and daughters.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

My sister

My sister is six years younger than me. I can remember when my mom told us she was going to have a baby, how scared I was that she would love it more than Tyler and me because this baby had a different father and how much I wanted a sister instead of another brother. Back then, moms didn't find out what they were having. Ultrasounds just weren't good enough to give that much detail.

The night she was born, my granny announced she was a girl named Erin Suzanne. However, my stepfather teased us and told us that it was a boy. Me, in all my six-year-old know-it-allness, said, "Uh-uh, granny already told us it was a girl. You can't trick us. I finally have a sister."

Don't get me wrong. I loved my brother. I still do. In fact, because we share a father, I often felt closer to him growing up than I did anyone. A lot of times, I felt like it was he and I against the world, but there was something different about Erin. The whole time momma was in the hospital, I was sad. They didn't let kids visit back then, and I missed my momma. I also wanted to see my baby sister. When they came home from the hospital and I looked at her, I thought she was my baby. I even picked her up out of the crib and walked into the living room with her.

Erin was overweight as a child. Whenever anyone put her down, I stood up for her. I tried to be her protector in every way that I could. I felt like it was my job to do that for her and my brother. She eventually grew up and lost the weight and became a beautiful girl. Up until a few months ago, she still was. I was so proud of how pretty she was, and I wished I could be as pretty as she is.

One thing about her is that she has never had the best taste in men. She's made some pretty lousy choices over the years. Her first boyfriend beat her and caused her to try to commit suicide. We got her away from him; I got her a job at the newspaper, where she did pretty well. Her first husband wasn't a terrible guy; he just wasn't right for her and they divorced. She then got pregnant by a man who dumped her as soon as he found out she was expecting. Since having my nephew, she has dated off and on, but she hadn't really gotten serious about anyone, until last September.

A former co-worker introduced her to this guy. He hasn't had a job since they've been dating. He has had two DUIs. He has at least two children by two different women, and there may be more children out there because his son talked about more brothers and sisters that he had. He just wasn't any good for her. We had hoped the relationship would fizzle out. Instead, in January, we learned she had married him in November, about a week before Ella was born. They didn't tell anyone. I think she knew none of us would approve. The night I found out, I texted her and said that I would never say anything about him again but I had to know if she had totally lost her mind. When I asked her why she married him, she said she had her reasons, nothing about love, nothing about how good he was to her or Miller, nothing like that at all.

Since then, we've all noticed how she has gone downhill in regards to her looks. She always made sure her hair was perfect and beautiful. The last few times I've seen her it was scraggly and thrown up in a messy ponytail. Erin liked pretty clothes, too. She borrowed some money from me a few weeks ago, and that day, she had on flip flops, holey jeans and a holey beer T-shirt. Tessa even commented that she had never seen Erin look that way before. Erin also was very good about applying make-up. She knew exactly how to do it so she looked nice. She has stopped wearing it, and I would say she's lost about 30 pounds. She just looks bad. I figured he was being mean to her or bringing her down, but I never suspected the truth.

Last week, I went to visit my aunt who lives across the street. She told me she had to tell me something. Erin was arrested on meth charges. They had been investigating her and her husband since last year and had finally gathered enough evidence to indict her. She was arrested for promotion of meth, meaning she purchased the items needed to make it and sold them to the people who make it. I'm pretty sure her husband makes it, though, because he told me in a text that he had never cooked it around his kids. This makes me think he has made it, just not around them. He also told me he warned Erin of the risks of it before they started. Erin was also gotten for possession of schedule 2 drug, which was meth. She told the police officer and my mom that she couldn't pass a drug test. She now insists that she isn't addicted, and she's only done it once. I don't believe it.

She goes to court tomorrow. I am scared to death for her. Both charges can bring a sentence of two to four years in prison. Erin thinks she'll get by with a slap on the wrist, because she's never been in trouble before. I talked to a friend of mine who used to be a crime reporter, and my mom talked to her pastor who is a police officer. Both have said that when they do a drug bust like this one they usually throw the book at the people who are arrested. The thought of her being in jail kills me. I am scared for her, for her little boy who is only two and has been staying with my parents since Erin was arrested, and for my parents, one of whom is 65 and the other 59 and shouldn't be raising a toddler.

I know she needs to be punished, and I hope she is. I hope it isn't with jail time, but I am so afraid that it will be. I do hope, though, that her husband gets loads of jail time, to get him far, far away from her. I realize she is a grown woman, fully capable of making her own decisions. However, she is 26 years old and had never done anything like this before she met him, so I do place some of the blame on him. I also feel like I should have seen this coming, that I should have been able to fix it somehow. I know logically that I can't.

Brian and I have discussed it, and if need be, we will take my nephew to raise until she's out of jail. I love the little fellow, and I don't want to see him go into foster care, especially since grandparents have no rights in Tennessee. My brother and his wife are also willing to take him if they need to. Hopefully, he won't have to worry about having a home. I just hope it doesn't come down to that.