'But God said to me, “My GRACE is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9'

Friday, 31 August 2012

Hannah's 1st Birthday

(Post from August 29th – I’ve been a bit slow putting it up on here sorry!)

Happy 1st Birthday to our beautiful daughter Hannah Grace Frances

It's hard to believe it has been a year since we first met you and held you in our arms. Your Daddy and I will never forget the moment you were born – we remember hearing the nurse announce “It’s a girl”, which was followed by your very loud cry! What an amazing sound that was. We didn’t know what state you would be in when you were born, so we were so thankful to hear you cry and to find that you were strong, breathing by yourself, and doing well. 

Although we soon discovered you did have some significant health issues, the doctors thought maybe they weren’t as bad as they had anticipated; and we all hoped and prayed for the best. Your test results at the end of that day confirmed our worst fears, but you beat the odds and fought to stay with us for 6 days. We will forever treasure every single moment from that week we got to spend with you.

We love you so much precious girl and miss you every single day. You have brought, and continue to bring, so much joy into our lives ♥ 

While there is extreme pain in missing you, we are so thankful that the Lord gave you to us for the time that He did. Although we cry, you regularly make us smile too. We can’t help but have joy because of the precious gift that you are to us. And your life has blessed so many others around the world as well - what a legacy you have left. 

Hope you are celebrating your birthday in heaven today Hannah. I like to imagine you having a party with the angels; but I know that whatever you are doing, you are experiencing nothing but love and happiness with the Lord. 

Know that as your family we are celebrating here, as we are so thankful for your life and the precious time we got to spend with you. Your little sister has been kicking lots today by the way – I think she has been excited that it’s your birthday and wanted to make sure we knew it! 

I made you a 1st birthday cake and some party food too. The cake was in your colours of pink and white, and had butterflies on it just like you had on your blanket. I enjoyed making it for you. We lit the one candle, but felt a real sense of loss in you not being here to blow it out. Your Granddad did it for you. I’m sure you would have enjoyed doing it with him and eating your cake if you were here – I can just imagine the mess! Seeing as you aren’t here we enjoyed it on your behalf. I missed you and thought about you with every bite that I took though. 


You got lots of birthday cards and gifts too by the way... you are loved by so many people. 

Your birthday was very hard for me emotionally. I miss you so so so much precious girl. This is not the way things should be. You should be here with us. Celebrating your 1st birthday here with us. We shouldn't have to do this alone. It's not fair, and it's not right. However sadly it is our reality.

But it was still nice to be able to celebrate your birthday and your life, because even though you aren’t here with us any more, you are still part of our family and still worth celebrating! 

God, please give Hannah Grace Frances a big birthday hug from us. Please tell her we love her.We know you love her even more than we do, and are thankful that she is safe in your arms until we meet her again.

Hannah Grace... sending you lots of love, today on your 1st birthday, and every day.
From your Daddy, Mummy, and little sister xxx

Monday, 20 August 2012

Neonatal unit donation for Hannah's 1st Birthday

In just a few weeks we will be celebrating Hannah Grace's first birthday. On the 29th of August. I can hardly believe it is almost a year since we first met her and held her in our arms. 

Sadly a year later Hannah isn’t here with us, and we can’t just buy her the standard one year old birthday presents. But we still want to do something special for her birthday.

Jeremy and I have decided we would like to take a big basket of items to the Christchurch neonatal unit to donate in Hannah's memory. This is where we spent all of our time with her, and we are so thankful for the care she received there. But having a baby in the unit is so stressful for families, so we want to encourage and bless them. Just as we were blessed by friends while we were in there.

I know from experience how difficult it was for me having a baby in the neonatal intensive care unit, and spending all of my time in there with her. Jeremy and I lived in a room on the neonatal floor for the week that Hannah was in the unit, and our whole life revolved around her and her needs. That unit is a world of its own. When you are in there, nothing outside of it seems to matter. Many parents face having their baby in there for months. Some of the babies have life threatening conditions, and each day is a battle. And some of the Mums have other children to still take care of, health issues of their own, or little support from friends and family.

So our plan is to collect new items that we will put together into pretty encouragement parcels for some of those parents and their babies. We will do some packs with baby items that are helpful in the neonatal setting, and some packs with items to help and encourage the Mums themselves. Jeremy and I are collecting the donations, so we can visit the unit and take all the gifts in together.

If Hannah’s life touched you in any way, would you consider donating something??

We are collecting NEW items; such as hand/foot print kits, little hats, prem size baby clothes, blankets, small soft toys, and pampering items for the mums. Or other things you think might be useful. If you have an idea but are unsure if it is suitable, feel free ask me. We would love it if items could be dropped off to us or my parents this week, or at the latest in the next 10 days.

Read on for more information about each of the item ideas…

Hand/Foot print kits: These give the opportunity for parents to create keepsake memories of their baby. Whether or not their baby ends up making it and coming home, having a nice kit to take their hand or foot prints is a special way of capturing these. When Hannah was in the unit a nurse got some ink prints of her feet on a little medical card, and I am so thankful for those prints, but it would have been cool to have something a little nicer to hold this special memory.

Little hats and premature sized baby clothes: These are always useful. Especially for babies that are born very premature, as their parents probably weren’t expecting their birth yet, so may not be prepared. Small woollen hats are especially helpful, as little babies aren’t able to regulate their body temperatures, and these help keep them warm. Little clothes are good too, especially ones that can be easily put on and taken off. And ones that can work around tubes are extra helpful!

Blankets: Having a cute little blanket to wrap baby in is really nice. Blankets made of natural materials (eg. wool) are especially good, as they breathe. It is nice for parents to have pretty blankets to cover their baby, to wrap them in when holding them, and as special keepsakes to take home with them afterwards. I treasure each of the blankets that Hannah used while in the unit, and will always keep them in her special memory box. They bring back a lot of memories. 

Small soft toys: Little teddy bears etc. are nice to have on baby’s cot or beside their incubator in the unit. They also make nice keepsakes afterwards as they are a special reminder of that time of baby’s life. Hannah’s teddy bears were in lots of her photos, and now they sit in her room as a reminder of her.

Items especially for the Mums:  Little items for Mum like a nice hand lotion, lip balm, a chocolate bar, barley sugars, and little boxes of juice for energy, are really helpful when you are spending most of your time at your baby’s side. When Hannah was in the NICU I certainly found these little things handy and encouraging. For example a friend bought in a pack of little boxes of orange juice for us, and they were just the right size for a little pick me up when I was hot and thirsty and tired in the neonatal unit. The unit is kept at a high temperature to keep the babies warm, so your skin dries out a lot too. Another friend sent me a gift box with body lotion and shower gel which was nice, and that scent became something that I will always associate with Hannah. 

Items can be dropped off to us or to my parents. Please do so in the next week! Jeremy and I will then put all the gifts together and take them in to the neonatal unit for Hannah’s birthday.

Financial donations – If you are unable to buy an item/some items and drop them off to us (for example for those of you who live far away), but you would still like to give something towards Hannah’s birthday gift, we are also collecting financial donations. We have talked to the manager of the Christchurch neonatal unit, and she has requested that we raise some money to buy some ‘Play with a Purpose’ packs for their unit. Read on for more information…

Play with a Purpose Packs: These packs cost $5 each, and contain some small toys to provide a distraction for children who are spending time at the hospital (either themselves, or with their siblings). Items vary depending on age but can include things such as bubble mixture, a squeezy ball, stickers or a book. An information card explaining to caregivers how to distract the child using the toys is also part of the pack. 

Christchurch hospital already has Play with a Purpose packs in its Children’s Acute Assessment Unit, and the staff in CAAU love being able to give the play packs to the children they care for as it helps make the experience more positive for everybody. Results from this ward and others that have used them have shown that these packs benefit children, parents, family and staff. Children’s anxiety, frustration and discomfort is managed better and they are less stressed.

The Christchurch neonatal unit doesn’t have any Play with a Purpose packs currently, but would love to be able to buy some. The manager of the neonatal floor would love to see money raised so that these packs can be provided for siblings of babies in the unit, as they have to spend a lot of time in the hospital environment. It is a stressful time for their parents, so these packs would be a huge help in keeping older siblings entertained. We have told the unit manager we will try to raise some money in memory of Hannah, so that we can purchase some packs for them for her birthday.

If you would like to donate money for us to purchase some of these Play with a Purpose packs for the unit, please message me and I will give you our bank account number so you can do this.

Thank you SO much to everyone who has already indicated they want to donate something! And thank you in advance to those of you who still will. It means so much to us, as it will to the parents who receive the donations, and we REALLY appreciate you doing this for Hannah Grace. We’re missing her a lot as her birthday approaches, but it is nice to be able to bless others in her memory. It is healing to be able to bring some good out of our pain.

Thanks, we look forward to hearing from you and receiving some items over the next week!! If you have any questions please just ask.

God bless,
Jeremy, Rebecca, Hannah, & Bubs

Baby loss awareness - Day of Hope

August 19th, an international Day of Hope, is about honouring and remembering the lives of babies and children that could not stay with us. By doing this we are speaking out about the death of babies and children.

August 19th is a day to break down the walls of society that keep pregnancy, infant and child loss a hush hush subject. People view the death of a baby as just a sad thing that happened. These babies that die are not sad things that happen. They are people, much loved and wanted children. They are brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, grandsons and granddaughters.

August 19th is about openly speaking about these children and celebrating their short lives.

By having this special day once a year we get people speaking about pregnancy, infant and child loss. And by doing this we break those walls down so that people are not afraid to speak about these children anymore.

I'm not afraid to speak about this. Jeremy and I didn't just lose a baby, we lost our daughter. It wasn't just a sad thing that happened, it has altered our lives forever. Our family will always have a hole here on earth, as our first child is in heaven. Some people may choose to ignore our pain, or push it aside because it's just too hard to think about, but we don't have that luxury. Our daughter died and that is our reality now. And we won't ever ignore or forget her - in our family she will always be talked about and acknowledged. We will always love her, just as we will always love her little sister, and any other children the Lord blesses us with in the future.

I am so thankful to the Lord for my husband, and my two precious daughters.

Family photo taken on my birthday last week

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

August update

Just thought I'd share a brief update, and a few photos. 

I am now 27 weeks pregnant with our rainbow baby, so only 13 more weeks until she is due :) We chose her name very early on in the pregnancy, but won't be sharing it until she is born. We are really looking forward to meeting her! In the meantime we are being kept busy, especially this month with Hannah's 1st birthday fast approaching. More details to come regarding our plans for this. So stay tuned.

Bubs seems to be doing well. She is growing, and is very active just like her big sister was! We are spending a lot of time watching the Olympics which are on at the moment, and some evenings it feels like bubs is doing her own Olympic training! For gymnastics or something maybe ;) Her Daddy is very sporty, so I wouldn't be surprised haha. 

We don't have very much to buy in preparation for her arriving, as we had the nursery all set up for when Hannah was born. Although we have painted it in the past few weeks, as I decided I wanted to change the theme in there, to something that could incorporate things for both Hannah and her little sister. I have also been buying a few girly bits and pieces of clothing for her, which is fun but quite emotional. She will also wear some 'hand me downs' of gifts that were given to her big sister. 

It's not like a normal pregnancy though. There is a lot of stress and worry and it's hard to just relax and enjoy this process. There are many mixed emotions and a lot of tears. Being pregnant again is making me miss Hannah Grace extra much. Although in saying that, there is also a deeper joy due to not taking any moment with this new baby for granted. I am thankful for the help and peace of the Lord, because I definitely don't have enough strength to walk this journey on my own. All we can do is continue to cover this little girl in prayers, and trust that God will allow us the privilege of bringing her home and raising her.

Below is a cute photo from our 19 week scan, of bubs giving us a 'high five'!

And a photo from about a month ago, showing how she is growing.

I also just wanted to share some photos from Hannah's grave. I was walking past a book store a few weeks ago, and saw this pretty windmill. It made me think about our rainbow baby, so I bought it and we took it to Hannah's grave as a gift from her little sister. Seeing the rainbow colours in front of her headstone is a special reminder of the two precious daughters the Lord has blessed us with.

This last photo sums things up well. 
In God's Arms... We love you and miss you Hannah Grace xx