Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Thankful for friends

There are times in life when you realize who you can truly count on and who you can truly depend on time and time again.

The first time I realized this harsh realization was when my water broke. It's really easy to be there for someone for a couple of days. What really opened y eyes for the first time were the people that were there for me after the first couple of weeks and the ENTIRE 10 long weeks. I learned I have some flippin' amazing friends. I had friends that e-mailed me all the time, sent me text messages, sent me cards and made me feel like I not only mattered, but I was important to them. I had friends visit that I hadn't seen from high school, friends sending fun puzzles and coloring books for Kaitlyn and friends that made my birthday truly special. Those friends (and some are family ), I strongly believe, are the reasons I made it as long as I did. They kept my spirits high and never once told me how I should feel or how I should behave or how I should react. They were true friends.

I learned again while Matthew was in the NICU. That was one of the most stressful times of my life. Staying in the hospital on bed rest was a cake walk compared to life at home without Matthew. There were some amazing people in our life who did so much to make it easier. Whether it was a phone call or e-mail to check on us and Matthew, or an action to make things easier on Kaitlyn or remove some of the tedious tasks of life to life living.

When Matthew came home, I won't lie, there were times that it was hard. Taking care of Matthew was an enjoyable breeze. I loved every moment of it. But, there were times when it was incredibly lonely. I worred about Kaitlyn missing out on things that others were doing, I missed the daily interaction I had with people before I went into the hospital, and I was dissapointed when people didn't come over to see us, for whatever reason. Again, my friends were there for me. They lifted my spirits, they made me happy, they brought me so much joy. They took Kaitlyn to birthday parties, on trips, and made her feel special and loved. They brought Sunday dinner to our house, they made a sincere effort to bond with Matthew and they brought me my favorite food when I was alone with Matthew, without being asked. I had friends during this time (and my hospital stay) that while I had never met face to face, would do the kindest and sweetest things. They would e-mail or call to check on us, they would send fun little things for Kaitlyn, they would stop by and visit with us, they made us feel like we were still an important part of their lives.

With Matthew's passing, I have become so incredibly grateful for these friends. These are the people who have been there for us in ways I could not even begin to describe. There is one group of friends in particular who have warmed my heart more than I can ever describe. They have been so kind and strong for me. They have sent me the most meaningful things, including a tree to plant in his honor with an amazing stone to remember Matthew by, a beautiful necklace with footprints, Matthew's birthstone and his initials. And when I asked for opinions on how to explain it to Kaitlyn they sent a kit to explain grief to a toddler. An amazing friend who had previously lost a daughter, sent me an incredibly meaningful poem that I will always treasure. In addition to those friends, we've had friends that have done what might be little things to them but mean the world to us. Friends that loved Matthew and continue to do so. Friends that have made an effort to be there for us now, friends that still call and e-mail and message me. I may not always respond, but that doesn't mean I don't love and appreciate each and every one. And those that respond to even my meaningless e-mails mean more than you'll know.

I don't know what the lesson to be learned is with Matthew's death. I can tell you, from the bottom of my heart, I do appreciate each and every friend that has been there for me. Thank you. I only hope that I can be at least 1/2 the friend to you that you are from me.

I want Matthew's memory to always live on. I want Kaitlyn to always know what a special little girl she is and how important she is to so many people. I want to make the personal resolution to put those first that have put us first. I think that with good friends (through blood or internet connection or through experience) life can be so incredibly meaningful. Thank you for giving that to me.

In loving honor of our precious baby boy, we will be mailing out flower seeds to be planted in his honor. They should go in the mail Thursday. I have envelopes addressed and ready for our family and close friends. If you are interested, please let me know. Post or message or e-mail me your address. I would love to have pictures of gardens planted in honor of our angel above.

Again, thank you for your friendship, thank you for your kindness, thank you for being there for us.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Being Strong

I've been told a time or two in the past 4 months that I'm a strong person.

I don't feel it though. Not even close.

In the hospital, I didn't think there was a point in complaining or whining about what was going on. It wasn't going to change anything, so why waste the energy? I was just glad to be pregnant for as long as I was and thankful that Matthew was getting a chance for a healthy life. I honestly don't doubt for a minute that any other mother would do the exact same thing in the exact same situation.

With Matthew's death, I don't feel strong at all. I feel like everything is falling apart on the inside. Instead, it feels more like I am "sucking it up" and taking care of what needs to be taken care of. Kaitlyn just lost her brother, she can't lose her mommy too. It wouldn't be fair. I have absolutely no desire to clean or do laundry or the dishes, but it has to be done, so I do my best on the limited energy I have. I HATE going places. I hate being around all the happy people, I hate being around babies, nursing mommies, and seeing the world go on without Matthew in it. But, I do it for Kaitlyn.

I look forward to the day where I do things because I enjoy them, and not just because I know it will bring someone else joy. At the same time, I greatly dread it.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

We're Home

After avoiding it for as long as I can, we're back at home.

Before, when Matthew wasn't here, we knew he would be coming home. We knew he would be here to grow and to play and to sleep in his bed and to sleep with us and to cuddle with us and just to be here.

Not this time. This time we came home knowing that Matthew would never be here again with us. We'll never all lay together in bed watching cartoons. We'll never here him laugh or talk or play.

His room sets empty. His bassinet is cold and alone. Our bed is lonely and missing him. I miss him so much.

In the next few days, I'm going to start going through his clothes. I will do his last load of laundry. I am going to turn his baby clothes into two quilts. 1 for Dusty and I and a smaller one for little Miss Kaitlyn. I'm fortunate that while I was in the hospital I ordered a ton for him and he was spoiled and had a ton of clothes.

When we got home, there was a package for Kaitlyn. I've learned I have some of the world's most amazing friends. I have no idea how I got so lucky. The package was a grief kit for toddlers. It included a card with ideas on how to deal with the loss of a loved one for a toddler. It had a coloring book that explained a lot of things like feelings and how it's ok to miss the person you love. It had a pinwheel and my favorite part was a super soft teddy bear holding a heart that you can put a picture in. She asked if we could put in a picture of Matthew and I promised I would get one for her tomorrow. She hasn't let go of her Matthew bear once since she saw it.

Earlier this month, I really looked forward to this weekend. I was going to be an awesome mermaid and we were going to have a blast. Now? I have no desire to dress up. I have no desire to go out, I know I couldn't stomach it. I am instead going to let Kaitlyn go to a birthday party while Dusty and I look at grave markers for Matthew and on Sunday I am going to drag us all out to the Pumpkin Patch so Kaitlyn can have a good time.

Everything seems so much emptier and lonlier without Matthew. Even in a room of people, my arms are empty and my heart lo

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

My Story

Like I threatened before, I think writing helps me. I will mark all long winded, personal ramblings with an astric like this (*).

I always knew I wanted another baby. When Kaitlyn was 4 months old, I was ready to pop another one out. Dusty wasn't, and really it didn't make sense to have another so soon.

Dusty and I had planned on getting pregnant in the summer of '07 so we could have a spring '08 baby. Then, the baby could be born during a less busy month.

It was January when I started to feel sick, tired and a little rundown. After a couple weeks, I realized that it had been a while since I had my period and thought I should take a pregnancy test just to rule it out. Really, I just thought that after my IUD my hormones were out of whack and since I kept losing weight, I thought I just needed to work on gaining more weight.

Imagine my shock and surprise when that stick turned pink! I was pregnant. I was scared, happy, excited, nervous, elated and couldn't believe it. We had been so careful, how did this happen? Immediatly, I felt like this was meant to be, our family was going to be whole and we were going to be a big happy family.

Immediatly, I started making sure I was the picture of perfect health. I started my prenatels, started iron (I was anemic with Kaitlyn and knew I would be with this pregnancy), gave up all soda, increased my water intake to 4-6 bottles a day and started eating better and often. I saw my doctor and we saw our little bean. I was over the moon. Kaitlyn was SOOOO excited.

When I was 12 weeks pregnant, we found out we were having a baby boy. We were so excited and immediatly started going through 50,000+ names to pick out the perfect name for our little man. After much debating and much deliberating we chose the name Matthew Jackson. It was absolutely perfect.

My pregnancy was going well. At 12 weeks, my morning sickness ended, my energy picked up and I was in bed every night by 9. All was well. At my *big* ultra sound, I started to think something was wrong. The tech kept leaving the room and coming back, whispering with someone else who worked there. The sex couldn't be verified and I wasn't told of anything being wrong. The next morning, Dr. Zielinsky called me at home and told me that our little boy had a 2-vessel cord and within a week we needed to have a level 3 ultra sound.

The level 3 ultra sound showed that Matthew's heart was super healthy. His kidneys looked a little small, but he was healthy. I never stopped worrying though. I was 20 weeks pregnant.

3 weeks and 5 days after that, I was laying in bed when I woke up in a soaking wet bed. I cried out to Dusty and we rushed around to go to the hospital. Had I of known I wouldn't be coming home for a long, long, long while I would have spent more time packing. Turns out, my water broke. I had so many nurses and doctors running in and out starting IVs, taking notes, taking my blood pressure and hooking me up to monitors. I was told over and over again that Matthew would be born in the next 48 hours and we needed to decide if we wanted heroic measures taken. Of course we did.

I spent 65 days in the hospital. Not once did I complain about being there. I was happy to be there. Every day that I was there was another day that Matthew was healthy, growing and alive. Every day was a blessing. Sure, there were times I was upset, vented and bitched about things, but it was never about being there.

When Matthew was born, I was so relieved to hear his cry. Even though it was painful as can be and everyone got to see my prince before I did, I didn't complain. I was so happy that he was a big 4 lbs and 14 ounces. He was doing amazing. Neither of us developed an infection and we were healthy.

Everyday since Matthew was born, I was grateful. I literally thanked God everyday for allowing us to all be here and to all be healthy. We were so lucky, we were so blessed.

Matthew spent 27 days in the NICU. We celebrated every step. We celebrated every ml he took by bottle. We never complained about him being there. Yes, we wanted him home, but more than that we wanted him healthy. We were so happy that he was ok. We were so lucky that he was breathing on his own and just plain stubborn.

We were so elated when Matthew came home. We were so cautious. We didn't take Matthew anywhere. We kept sanitizer all over the house, we had hand washing stations at each sink. We didn't allow smoke around him or sick people. We even limited our kisses to keep him healthy. All we had to do was get through RSV season and then the fun could start.

Again, I didn't complain. Sure, there were times I was really upset by things, but never about us being home with him. I was happy to be at home with him. We all had fun. We spent our days taking Kaitlyn to school and then going home to cuddle and nurse before picking her up. The three of us would cuddle, color, read stories and watch cartoons. Everything was perfect.

When Matthew was home for nearly a month, he got a fever. I took him the ER and Dusty followed shortly after. We spent 4 days in the PICU scared to death he had meningitis. Again we didn't complain. We just got through it. I hated him being poked and prodded all the time, but it was worth it to keep him healthy.

Matthew was discharged from the PICU on October 1, exactly one month after he was discharged from the NICU.

When he came home this time, we were even more cautious. Dusty and I refrained from contact with sick people, we kept him healthy, we took his temp several times a day, we held him all the time and we called the doctor at the slightest thought that something was wrong.

The weekend before Matthew died was great. Friday was a lot of fun, and Saturday we spent the day together as we did Sunday. Sunday night we got home, unloaded the car and I fed Matthew. He wanted to be held and cuddled. Before I washed my face and changed my clothes, I undressed him to his diaper and swaddled him in his swaddle blanket. He slept so good like that. I nursed him to sleep and cuddled him and fell asleep.

When I woke up at 2:30 to feed him, everything went wrong. He didn't look right, so I unswaddled him and yelled for Dusty. Everything was wrong. Nothing we did could help him. When the doctor told me he was dead I thought the world was ending. I thought it was a terrible dream. I just wanted to hold him. How could he be gone? I loved him too much.

Since then, I've kept trying to figure out what happened. How did this happen?? What could I have done differently? It's almost like a part of my mind thinks that if I figure out what I did wrong, we can go back and change it.

I loved Matthew from the moment I found out he was in my tummy. All I wanted was for him to be happy and healthy. I wanted him with all of my heart. He completed our family and brought all of us so much happiness. Sure he cried, but I was grateful that he had working lungs.

There are so many things I didn't get to do with Matthew. I didn't see him smile at me (he smiled a lot in his sleep), I didn't get to hear his first words, or feel his first hug. I have Halloween costumes hanging up in his barely used room that will never be worn.

I know that the time we were given with Matthew was an amazing gift. It was borrowed time. Anything we had after June 2 was a miracle. But still, it doesn't seem like nearly enough time. I feel like we were robbed.

Dusty has always been an amazing dad and he loved Matthew so much. I only wish we all could have had more time with him. Not a minute goes by that I don't think about him and how much I love him and how much I miss him and how badly I just want to hold him. I long to hold him on my chest rubbing the soft skin on his back and memorizing every aspect of his face and head and hands and feet. I miss the warmth of his skin and his breath. I miss his smell. I miss his cry, I miss everything about him.

I don't understand how we can live in a world that is so technologically advanced, yet still have a need for baby caskets. Baby's are the most innocent and amazing people in the world, how are we supposed to tell them good-bye??

Every day, I wonder how it is possible that I worked so hard to bring him into this world and somehow I failed him. Somehow, I wasn't there when he needed me. I didn't get to tell him how much I love him, I didn't get to kiss his sweet head. I didn't get to rub my fingers softly over his birth mark.

A parent should never have to bury their child. It goes against all the laws of nature. Everyday I think of him alone in a cold cemetery and I miss him. All I want is to hold him and to hug him and to have him back.

And really, there is nothing that anyone can say or do to make me feel less guilt or less blame. Dusty tries and tries and nothing changes. I know it's a normal part of grieving. I also know that when we get the autopsy report, I can use that in the grieving process.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Thank you- Matthew's services

Matthew's services were today. It was easily the 2nd hardest day of my life, the first being the day we lost our precious angel.

Matthew looked good. He looked better than we expected, but not like himself. We went to the funeral home before the services so that we could talk to Kaitlyn and say our good-byes. Kaitlyn held his hand, told him she loved him and said bye bye.

Matthew's coffin was perfect. It was light blue and looked like a fluffy blue cloud. The services were really nice and I think honored him very nicely. He was able to fit into the preemie suit we bought him while I was in the hospital.

I wanted to thank everyone for all that they did.

Thank you to my parents, Grandma and Grandpa and Dusty's parents, Nana and Papa for taking care of the arrangements.

Thank you to Auntie Christy for taking care of the special touches.

Thank you to Auntie Christina and Auntie Sammie for being here.

Thank you to Aunt Alicia for making the beautiful DVD. Although it's really hard to watch right now, I know we'll treasure it.

I haven't had the energy to go through all of the cards yet, but thank you so much to everyone for your kindness, compassion and generosity. It means the world to us. We're trying to come up with a way to use the money to honor him and memoralize him.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who came today to honor Matthew's memory. Dusty and I are incredibly blessed to have so many amazing friends. While Matthew will always be missed more than words can ever express, it is comforting to know that he touched the lives of so many. Thank you to those who traveled so far, Penny, Mike, Savannah and Sawyer, your kindness means the world to me. Thank you to Aunt Stephanie, Hope, Uncle Ray and Uncle Calvin. We know the traveling isn't easy, but we do appreciate it.

Thank you to everyone at the Mooselodge for providing such wonderful refreshments.

Thank you to EVERYONE that sent such gorgeous flowers. Matthew has the prettiest site in Baby Land right now. We'll be sure to keep it that way.

I will work on thank you cards as soon as I can, but please, know how much you mean to me and how we will always appreciate everything you've done. Matthew was one special angel.

We would both like to thank everyone that has contributed to the March of Dimes on behalf of Matthew. I didn't expect anyone to do so, but the fact that so many have done so much on behalf of our little boy means the absolute world to us.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Matthew's Services

Matthew's services will be held on Monday, October 22 at 10 AM.

The services will be at River City Funeral Chapel in West Sacramento.

It will be followed by a graveside service at St. Mary's, where he will be laid to rest.

Matthew's website has been updated and will be updated if anything changes.


Dusty and I would like to thank everyone for their love and support. It means very much to us, even if we can't properly express it.

I want to thank everyone

for everything that they've done. It really does mean a lot to me.

Dusty and I both feel incredibly blessed that so many people have shown so much compassion and love towards us. While we miss Matthew more than words could ever express, we do hope that with time the hurt will lessen.

This has been the hardest test we've ever endured. There are times when I think I have a hold on things and then it all comes crumbly down again.

Matthew was an amazing baby and we were so blessed that we were able to be his parents. He endured so much and was such a strong fighter just to meet us. He worked so hard and overcame so many obstacles at such a young age and in such a small body to be able to come home with us and be a genuine part of our family. It seems incredibly unjust, unnatural and just plain wrong that he was taken from us so quickly and in such a manner after all we've been through.

Matthew will always be missed, Matthew will always be loved and Matthew will always be very much a part of our family. Not a minute passes that I don't think of him and long to hold him, kiss him and tell him just how much I love him. I want to keep his spirit alive. I want his life, no matter how short, to have the meaning it was meant to.

Matthew taught me many things. With bed rest I learned that the world does not revolve around me. With his NICU stay, I learned patience. With his time at home, I learned to slow down and enjoy every minute. I have not yet discovered what it is I am to learn with his death, but I am sure I will learn it.

In the meantime, I will probably do a lot of blogging. Sometimes writing makes things more clear to me and helps me sort things out. As time passes, I know I will need it. Because of the sensitivity, I will be making many, if not all, blogs for friends only or private.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Thank you for allowing Matthew to be a part of your life. Thank you for letting his spirit live on.

Matthew now has a star that we can look to every night. Visit his website: MatthewJacksonMiller.com to see the location of the star.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Our Precious Matthew

At approximately 2:30 in the morning yesterday, October 15, we woke to find our little Mathew not breathing. Daddy did CPR with everything he had in him until he ambulance arrived and he was transported to Mercy San Juan Hospital. The doctors used all of their medicines, all of their power and everything they had, but they couldn't get his heart to beat. They believe it was SIDS that took our prince from us.

After 70 days with us on this earth, Matthew was called home to get his wings and watch over us as the angel he was meant to be. Matthew was an amazing baby and we feel incredibly blessed and lucky to have had him in our lives. We were given 70 more days than we were told we were and we wouldn't trade that for anything in the world.

We are incredibly thankful and grateful to everyone that loves Matthew, and prayed for his well being. We know without you we wouldn't have had the 70 days we had.

Later this afternoon, we will be making the funeral arrangements for our little prince.

We take solace in knowing that he never knew hate and he was able to pass at home, with his family who loves him so much.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Happy 2 month birthday Matthew!

Matthew is doing great at home! It's amazing to think that he should be approaching his 2 week birthday, not celebrating his 2 month birthday!

He's getting really good at head control and is so alert when he's awake. He was eating every hour and a half, today he's been eating every 2 1/2 - 3 hours. I think he's going through a growth spurt right now. When he eats, he's absolutely starving, so he thinks. He's starting to get a personality to him, which is fun. His eyes are so big and so bright.

On Monday he goes in for his vaccines, yuck! We'll also discuss his medication. He's been on zantac for about a week and there is a HUGE difference. He doesn't spit up as much, or as violently, he cries less, he doesn't seem to be in as much pain, and he's back to wanting to eat. But we have to determine if this is the best medicine for him. He still spits up a good 3-4 times per feeding, is super gassy, has tummy aches and pulls off a lot when eating.

So, we've survived the first 2 months and hope the next 2 are much less exciting! ;)

And the countdown begins

In less than a month. Actually, a month from yesterday, I have to go back to work.

I have absolutely no desire whatsoever to go back to work. I dream most nights that a miracle occurs and I can keep my job as the manager of our home full-time and not be forced to share it with another menial job that means pretty much nothing to me.

I know work won't be that bad when I go back. I know it'll be fine and I'll get back into that routine. But *in my best whiney girl voice while stomping my feet* I don't wanna!!

So, I'm going to try and smash as much stuff into the next 30 days as possible. Luckily, it's gorgeous weather and Halloween is around the corner, so I'm sure we'll find something to do that Matthew can join us in :)

And, I took off the day before Kaitlyn's party. (Which reminds me, I REALLY need to get her invites done and mailed out in the next week or two) and the day after Thanksgiving for Christmas shopping! So, hopefully the time will just fly by :D

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

What's Happiness?

It's funny how things work out. I was downstairs doing the dishes and getting my thoughts together. I was thinking about what exactly makes people happy and reflecting on my long 10 weeks in the hospital (I do that a lot, it's still so fresh in my mind and so distant at the same time) when I came upstairs to feed Matthew. I opened the laptop and had 1 new message.

Sand and Stone






















"Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting
some kind of battle"

I believe this to be so true.

I do believe that what makes people happy is so different for every person. What might make one happy may not make the next happy and that doesn't make it any less important.

I've learned, that for me (and I know Dusty feels the same) the people in our lives bring us so much happiness. Material things are nice and can make life nicer, but for us, they are just things.

During my pregnancy, recovery, and the time since, I've had things to write in the sand. Things that were hurtful and things I would rather forget... quickly. But I had so many more things to write in stone. I had so many positive experiences from so many amazing people in my life.

Before I had Kaitlyn, we made more money, we could buy more things, we could do more things and we didn't ever utter the word budget. There was no need to.

Then, with Kaitlyn I worked from home. We made a decent amount where we could live happily without having to stress or worry about buying food, diapers, clothes, shoes or fun stuff.

When I had Matthew, our income was cut, and since we had to pay for more medical insurance and what not, our outgoing money was increased. So, we had to start budgeting more. But you know what? We couldn't be happier.

I realized I get to decide what type of experience I take from the hospital and I get to decide what type of life to have from here on out.

I've decided to take my stones with me and let the wind blow away the words in the sand. I learned so much since June 1. I've learned so much about myself, about Dusty and about the wonderful people in our lives.

From here on out, life is going to be happy. Sure there will be bumps, but that's what reminds us what happiness feels like ;) I am going to surround ourselves with other happy people. I am going to go into every situation with a smile and a realization that I can either go into anything with a positive attitude or negative and either way it's going to affect it.

So, I'm going into everything with a smile, a good thought and the hope for the best. I'm not going to let other people affect my happiness, unless of course they are adding to it.

I know we are incredibly blessed and lucky. I have a husband who loves me so much he spent every night for 10 weeks on a teeny, tiny, uncomfortable hospital fold out bed, intended for 1 or 2 nights use. I have a gorgeous, sweet, kind, caring, energetic and smart little girl who shows us how to rediscover the world every day. I have a miracle little boy who has shown that he is going to beat any prognosis given to him. They both have a daddy who loves them so much. Kaitlyn is so in awe of Dusty most days and is his little clone. She's proud to always tell me that Daddy works so he can buy her new toys, clothes and shoes. We have an amazing family who has been nothing but kind, caring, supportive and consistant.

Dusty and I made decisions in life that have proven to bring us nothing but happiness. We chose for me to work from home and to have no debt and if that means we don't have a house or new things everyday, that's ok by us. It's the choises we make in life that make us happy and we are the only ones that can change make them and do what's best for our own family.

We only have one life. I'm happy with the one we're living. What makes you happy? What's written on your stones?