Remembering Our Babies- Cary Lewis, McKayla Grace, Elijah Evan, Kelsey Braeden, Jorryn Connor

Every baby is special, every life is important, and every Mom wants to show off her baby. For those of us who lose our babies too soon, we don’t ever get to show them off and we rarely get to say their names or tell people about them. In our country, thousands of babies are stillborn every year, roughly one every twenty minutes. There are even more miscarriages. Here on my blog, I want to remember all of the lost babies and give their parents an opportunity to show them off. These Mamas are so proud of their babies and are going to share them with us here. Since Lucy died on a Friday, I will share a new baby’s story every Friday. We honor these little lives by acknowledging their presence with us, even if it was a very short time. Do you know how these babies are loved? Do you know that each baby was cherished by their families, even if they left only after a few weeks? Do you know how these babies are missed every single day? Please pray for these families, who have to live every day without their precious children.

CARY LEWIS FONDREN

MCKAYLA GRACE FONDREN

ELIJAH EVAN FONDREN

KELSEY BRAEDEN FONDREN

JORRYN CONNOR FONDREN

My husband and I had been trying to have a baby for about a year and a half.  I was shocked when I found out we were going to have problems getting pregnant.  We had planned out our life and this was when we were to begin our family.  I guess I thought it would just happen.  We planned to have children one month and I thought the next month we would.  I was so surprised. I’ve always had irregular periods but I never dreamed this would affect me getting pregnant.  I went to two different doctors.  I went through taking Clomid (a fertility drug) and progesterone.

About 1 ½ more years passed and we finally got pregnant.  We found out on a Monday that we were finally pregnant.  How wonderful it was to hear those words.  To know that all the plumbing did work – with help!  But even from the start there was a damper.  My doctor told me in the very next sentence that my HCG level was really low and that they either detected the pregnancy very early (which by my calculations was impossible) or that there were problems and I would miscarry.  He said to come back on Thursday and they would check my level again.  Three days seemed like an eternity; wondering if the baby was still there; wondering if every thing was going to be O.K.  Thursday rolled around and I went in at 8:15 for them to take blood.  At 2:30 my doctor called me at work and told me that I had lost the baby.  I started my period that very night.  I know it sounds strange to say that I loved this baby that I only knew about for 4 days.  But I did.  I loved this child from the first moment that I found out he/she was inside of me.  We named the baby Cary Lewis Fondren. Cary means “love” and Lewis was my maiden name.

Four months of more fertility drugs passed and we got pregnant again.  As far as we knew everything was going O.K. up till my first doctor’s appointment.  We were so excited to be pregnant with no “buts”.  On my first doctor’s appointment they did an ultrasound.  Since I was 7 weeks we were going to see the heart beat.  But as it turned out the baby was very small for a 7 week old.  It was the size of a 5 week old.  We saw no heart beat.  My doctor told me that either I was not as far along as I originally thought or something was wrong.  I went back in on a Thursday to have my level checked again.  I found out at 4:00 that day that I would probably lose this baby, too.  Three weeks of more ultrasounds passed until we finally decided to have a D&C, since the baby had quit growing and my body didn’t realize that it had died.  Genetic testing showed that the baby was a girl and she died of Trisomy 16.  We named her McKayla Grace Fondren. McKayla means “Who is like God” and Grace means “grace of God”.

We tried for about 7 more months with no visible progress.  We then decided to take a break for a few months. We rested for about 3 months.  Then all the treatments resumed.  We continued on the medication for 2 months and then found out we were pregnant. We received excellent reports all the way up to our 16th week.  That’s the day the nurses and doctor couldn’t find a heartbeat and saw on the ultrasound that the baby had no blood flow.  It appears that the baby died around week 14.  We had to have another D&C.  Genetic testing showed that he was a boy and they couldn’t find anything wrong with him.  We named him Elijah Evan Fondren. Elijah means “The Lord is my God” and Evan means “God is gracious”.

Six months after our third miscarriage we found out that we were once again pregnant.  This time was different however – we hadn’t taken any medication at all!!!!!!!!! It was a total surprise.  8 ½ months later God gave us our miracle baby girl, Lyndal! Her birth was very eventful and I almost died, but God spared me.

21 months after Lyndal was born we found out we were pregnant again!  To our surprise – no medication this time either!!!!!!  Things were going well up to 7 weeks.  That’s when the heartbeat stopped.  It appears that the baby died about 6 weeks.  We had to have another D&C.  They were unable to analyze the baby for genetic testing.  We named the baby Kelsey Braeden Fondren. Kelsey means “helper” and Braeden means “from the dark valley”.

Just under two months after the last D&C we found out we were once again pregnant.  We had just started seeing a reproductive specialist.  They were the ones who told us we were pregnant – we had no idea.  So once again no medication.  We did find out that I have a syndrome called Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome. In a nut shell, my body sees my babies as something that it needs to terminate. It mainly does this by producing blood clots that clots off the blood flow to the baby. To help combat this, I started taking Heparin injections twice a day in my stomach.  I was at 5 ½ weeks along when we learned that the pregnancy was not viable and that it was probably a tubal pregnancy.  I took low doses of a chemotherapy drug called Methotrexate to help my body realize that the pregnancy was not working.  Two weeks later I had to have major emergency surgery to remove the growing baby from my tube and to stop my internal hemorrhaging. We named the baby Jorryn Connor Fondren. Jorryn means “the one God loves” and Connor means “much wanted”.

Four months after the surgery we learned that my right tube is indeed blocked off from scar tissue and that there was a possibility that I would not be able to bear any more children.

9 months later we found out that we were pregnant.  And boy were we excited – apprehensive – but excited.  We were in unbelief that God would get us pregnant with only one tube and my history of not ovulating.  I started all my daily medications, including twice a day Heparin injections into my stomach.  This pregnancy also brought about some cardiac problems that kept us on our toes and caused much tiredness, trips to the ER, palpitations, etc…  Later in the pregnancy I learned that I had gestational diabetes which meant a drastic change in my diet. At 27 weeks I learned that I had low amniotic fluid, probably due to my syndrome still trying to kill the baby.  So weekly ultrasounds, doctor visits and baby monitoring were set up.  I was also placed on a modified bed rest and took steroid injections to help the baby’s lungs form quicker just in case they had to take her early.  At 30 weeks they had to go ahead and deliver Alina Grace because my fluid was so low.  She stayed in the NICU for 34 days. She is another example of God’s grace.

When Alina was 11 months old we found out we were once again pregnant – no medication. We were totally elated! As before, we started all the daily medications and twice a day Heparin injections. I also had cardiac problems and gestational diabetes again. With this pregnancy, I found out that I had Issoimmunization (I’m RH Negative and my blood came into some contact with RH Positive blood and was producing antibodies to fight against it) which can cause anemia in an unborn child which can be fatal. I had to go to UAB monthly for ultrasounds. Praise the Lord, precious Cohen Wesley was born at 37 weeks with no major complications. I had to have extra surgery after his delivery because my intestines had grown to my uterus. But he, thankfully, was totally healthy and had no complications from the Issoimmunization other than a little jaundice.

When Cohen was about 2 1/2 years old, we found out we were pregnant again – no medication. Again, we were elated! As before, we started all the daily medication and twice a day Heparin injections into my stomach. I once again had cardiac problems and the issues with Issoimmunization. I again went to UAB for monthly ultrasounds. Praise the Lord, precious Elias Arthur Fondren was born at 37 weeks. He, too, was jaundice, but unlike our other children his jaundice was Coombs Positive. It was caused from my Issoimmunization and is quiet dangerous. His billirubin levels would go down but unlike regular jaundice they would shoot back up to dangerous levels. He had to stay in the hospital a couple of extra days. Again, I had to have extra surgery because my uterus had this time grown to my stomach. Thankfully, at the time of this writing Eli is totally healthy and has no complications.

So, we now have four healthy, happy children here on earth and five precious children waiting on us in heaven. Even after everything I’ve been through, I can still honestly say that God is good!

This woman is my hero. She reached out to me when my Lucy died and through her sorrow I have been comforted. Her story encourages me so much. She is one of the main reasons why I am trying again for another baby. Through her story I have been reassured that it’s not wrong to want another baby after losing one. It’s not wrong to keep trying, even when the odds don’t seem good. Tina’s courage and perseverance are amazing, and I know her strength comes from God. What if she had given up after she lost her first baby? Or her second baby? Or her third baby? Or what if she stopped after having Lyndal, the first baby she brought home from the hospital? She very easily could have decided that she had one healthy one and the risks were too high and the heartache too deep to try again. She would have missed out on her four sweet children growing and loving and playing all around her now. And one day, when she gets to heaven and five new and wonderful children run into her arms she will think how thankful she is that she kept on trying. I have to include this quote from Elisabeth Elliot because it reminds me so much of Tina, who trusted God enough to accept whatever He gave her.

“Receive all from His hand, accept with gratitude just the portion and the cup He offers. Shall I charge Him with a mistake in His measurements or with misjudging the sphere in which I can best learn to trust Him?…The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances.”

Thank you, Tina, for sharing your precious babies with us today. They are all so special and I love that you gave each baby such a meaningful name. I am excited about meeting Cary, McKayla, Elijah, Kelsey and Jorryn in heaven and telling them how their story and their Mama helped me so much while I was on earth.

If you would like to share your baby’s story, just e-mail me at bethanysk55@yahoo.com  You can share whatever you want about your baby, and you don’t have to include your name if you don’t want to. Also, I think your baby is just as important if you lost him/her at 6 weeks or at 40 weeks. Even if you never knew the sex of your baby, you might have had names picked out, a due date and lots of hopes and dreams for that child. All of that is important and is welcome here.

Lucy’s Due Date

This is the saddest picture for me.

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I was trying to do something cute that I saw on Pinterest:

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But it never happened. I hardly took any pregnancy photos after I found out Lucy was at risk because I was scared I might lose her and the pictures would make me sad. If only I had known that I would lose her and I would wish I had more pictures of her in my belly. I didn’t know those were some of the only photos of her I would have. cropped-cropped-img_1179.jpg

Today I should be welcoming my first baby girl into the world and taking that third photo of me holding my new little girl. Instead, I am full of emptiness. It feels all wrong. Lucy had two different due dates. First, the doctors told us she was due July 7th and then as she started growing more and more and they started measuring, they realized she was very big, so they moved her due date up to July 2nd. I wish I could just pick one and decide to mourn her on that day, but I have no control over my sadness. Both July 7th and 2nd remind me of what and of who I’ve lost. I know I will cry for her on these dates for a long, long time, probably for the rest of my life. I also thought (and many people guessed) that maybe she would be a 4th of July baby. Now, that holiday will always be painful for me. As soon as the 4th of July stuff was put out in the stores I started asking Josh to go shopping for me more and more. The red, white and blue and the stars and stripes make me nauseated (not saying I don’t love America.) I do think I’m lucky that it’s not Christmas or a holiday that I really like that’s been ruined for me. I have been dreading July since the day I lost Lucy. It highlights my empty arms and my aching heart. All the women who were pregnant with me are having their babies. This week no one will be cooing over Lucy and holding her and passing her around. I won’t be healing from the wounds of childbirth. My wounds are much, much deeper and I know some of them will not be healed until I get to heaven.

After I gave birth to my two sons, one of my favorite parts was being wheeled out of the hospital in the wheelchair with my baby boy in my arms. It was so exciting to take him outside for the first time and tell him, “Look! This is the world.” All the people we passed on our way out to the car had nothing but delighted smiles and encouraging eyes. After I gave birth to Lucy, I was wheeled out of the hospital on a dark, rainy, cold day with nothing in my arms and a forever wound in my heart. People looked right past me, not knowing that I had just given birth to a new baby, my first daughter. The scars on my belly from the two times they went in for her blood transfusion healed, but the scar from the amniocentesis remains, even after all these months, and I treasure it. It’s a tiny physical scar that’s left on my body that reminds me of her. It is a small physical representation of the bleeding, gaping wound that was left on my heart when she died. I love seeing my tiny scar on my stomach. How sad it is that I sit here on her due date, treasuring a tiny scar on my stomach instead of my first baby girl, wrapped in a soft blanket in my arms.

These dates in July remind me of everything I’ve lost, my innocent belief that pregnancy ends with a baby in my arms, my love of babies, my love of pregnancy, my dream of a large family, my precious, beautiful daughter, my heart. But, if I spend so much time mourning what I have lost, shouldn’t I at least acknowledge the things I have gained? Lucy’s loss has been so terrible, but her leaving has also brought me many wonderful things. I know that Lucy’s death wasn’t God’s plan. He hates death and pain and sorrow. I know that Lucy died because we live in a fallen world, poisoned by our own sin. But, God knew Lucy would die and He is using it for good in my life and hopefully, in the lives of others. In some way, I think I dishonor Lucy and her God when I only acknowledge the wounds I have suffered and ignore the beautiful things I have gained.

I have gained a sympathy for people who are suffering that I never had before. I can empathize with people in pain, when before, I would have probably thought, “That’s sad” and just moved on. I know to ask people about their pain, even if it’s awkward, because they probably want to talk about it, and they want to know that people acknowledge their suffering.

I now see my two living children as miracles. Before, they were my sons, my loved ones, but I didn’t see what miracles they were. Before Lucy, I thought of my two boys as the first of many children to come. I now see them as my beautiful miracles; my treasured gifts from God. How blessed I am to have two sons here on earth with me. I think I am a better Mom now. I treasure every moment I have with my two boys and I am even able to brush off the hard times (and there are lots of hard times with a two year old and four year old) and I find myself thanking God in those moments. I never got to ween Lucy from her pacifier or teach her to share or potty train her or discipline her. Before Lucy, I dreaded doing these things, now I treasure them.

I have gained a longing for heaven that I never had before Lucy. Actually, before Lucy, I was scared of death and I dreaded it. Now, I see death as a beautiful relief of the pain of this world. I truly can’t wait. Heaven becomes so much more REAL when your daughter lives there. You know the excitement you feel when your baby is about to be born? It’s the day you’ve waited months for (possibly even years.) You finally get to meet that sweet little baby that will change your life forever; that person you would give your life for. That’s how I feel about going to heaven, but more. Not only do I get to meet my sweet daughter, I also get to meet our Creator, and I get to live without my pain. I never realized how much I feared death until after losing Lucy, and the burden was completely lifted. Lucy has given me a beautiful feeling of freedom from the death-chains of this world.

Before Lucy, I used to feel frustrated because I am not an evangelist. I don’t have a heart for evangelism like my parents do. They are so good at talking to people about God, sharing the gospel and caring for the lost people around them. They don’t care if it’s awkward or difficult. They invest their lives in other people. I prayed so many times for God to help me glorify Him with my life, to impact people for eternity. I felt inadequate and useless. Now, Lucy has given me a platform. My pastor once preached a sermon titled, “Your Misery is your Ministry” and I have found that to be true. God answered my prayers and has given me a chance to glorify Him with my life, to be a sweet aroma to Him. It’s weird, but right after Lucy died I had a lot of moments where I felt honored that God would trust me with this; that He found me worthy to suffer for Him, to make my life count and my Lucy’s life count.

Lucy has given me so much perspective on life. I can’t believe the ridiculous things I used to worry about before Lucy. I know now what is truly important. I know that this life is fleeting and will be gone in the blink of an eye. I know my days are numbered and I want to make them count. I know that my children are not really MINE. They are God’s and He is in control of what happens to them. He has loaned them to me for a while and has trusted me to raise them for Him. I know I cannot base my happiness in life on my children. I have learned who my true source of joy is.

Lucy,

My baby girl, how I wish I was welcoming you into the world today; showing you off to everyone and just now revealing your name; honoring my Mom with her Grandmother’s name, surprising her. How I wish I was breastfeeding you, nourishing you with life, with love; smothering you with kisses. I wish we were starting a lifetime together, but instead I am ticking away my lifetime, day by day, until I can meet you in heaven. I wish I was introducing you to your big brothers, telling them to be gentle with you, not to touch your face. I wish I was seeing your Daddy’s proud eyes as he held you for the first time. He wanted you so very much. I wish I could go on with my naive idea that this world is a comfortable place that has been kind to me and my family. But, I am also glad that I have seen the world for what it is, harsh, broken, in need of a Savior. I see now how urgent it was that He sacrificed His Son to save the world. What beautiful things you have taught me, my Lucy. You have allowed others to be comforted through your little life. You have given your big brothers and future siblings a better Mommy. You have saved your Mommy from a complacent life and a watered down relationship with God. I can’t wait to know you in heaven and be with you for eternity. Thank you for the things you have given me. I am so proud of you.

Love, Mommy